Meet my new friend Erin Rich! Although I feel like social media can consume us sometimes in the wrong way, I do have to admit that I love the interactions with numerous people and the relationships that we gain from getting to be a part of a persons life on social media. Without having met Erin in person but seeing her posts on instagram and reaching out to her as a sister in Christ, I love that we get to be a part of each others life by simply, social media photo's and posts. This amazing gal is a beauty. I love love her vintage/western lifestyle. Everything from clothes and style, her life represents one that I truly admire, faith and creativity. As Erin told me, she met her husband in a really funny way. She was out walking at a park one night, 6 years ago and noticed this cute guy playing tennis on the courts. She said to her friend that she thought he was cute and in turn her friend knew him. Erin's friend contacted him and said that her and her friend would like to play tennis with him sometime. The two of them got to talking, about Erin mostly, and he finally worked up the courage to "cut out the middle man" and contact her directly. And, since then they have been together ever since! Erin is a loving and encouraging wife, a mother to an amazing little man, an artist, a Christ follower, and has a passion for creativity! Meet my new friend Erin!
My name is Erin Rich and I am 26 years old. My husband's name is CJ and we have a rowdy year and a half old son named Jeremiah. I grew up in a Christian family so I've been going to churches my whole life. My father was a Command Master Chief in the Navy so it's safe to say we moved around quite a bit. When I was eight years old we lived in Pensacola, Florida and every Sunday my mom would drive us kids an hour each way to the Bible Baptist Church. Under the preaching of Dr. Peter S. Ruckman I gave my life to Christ. Dr. Ruckman, who went on to be with the Lord earlier this year, had an amazing ministry called "Drawing Men to Christ." He was an incredibly gifted artist who would get to the heart of his message through his giant canvas chalk drawings. As a child all I ever wanted was to be an artist so I related well to his "visual preaching." Every Sunday night I would sit up front on the floor near the pulpit with my drawing pad to try and copy his artwork. I still remember the sermon he preached when the Lord spoke to my heart. It was entitled "You Reap What You Sow." It was then and there that I realized how badly I needed to be saved and gave myself over to the Lord. I'd never been so filled with joy. I couldn't wait to tell everyone about Jesus!
Currently my husband CJ, our son, and myself live on our church's property. Our church, Shiloh Youth Ranch in Sebastian, Florida, is not only a church but a cattle ranch, school, and has small cottages for staff and a few church members. My husband and I were married in January of 2014 and my husband was in "job limbo" at the time. He had been on several out of state interviews and it was really looking like we were moving to Texas within a few months. As we journeyed further along it felt like things kept getting in the way and prolonging the hiring process. In May of 2014 our apartment lease was up and we were essentially homeless and still stuck in job limbo. My parents graciously invited us to come live with them until CJ got the green light for the new job. For the whole summer we stayed with my parents. As for the job in Texas, the plans just completely fell through. This ended up being a total blessing in disguise as the Lord answered our prayer with a more "permanent" place to live that October. The hiring process abruptly stopped and it was obvious the Lord was closing that door. Not long after CJ didn't get hired the company suffered a huge financial loss and let dozens of employees go. Fast forward a few months to September of 2014, when we found out we were pregnant. I'd never wanted anything more in my whole life! But, we couldn't stay at my parents house forever. That October a cottage opened up on Shiloh and we were invited to stay. What a blessing! Talk about seeing the Lord's handiwork. This really brings to life Matthew 6:26, "Behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" And verse 33 of the same chapters says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Wow. His plans are so much better than anything I could ever set for myself.
Growing and maturing as a Christian hasn't always been easy. In fact it never really has been, that's what makes it so sweet. But, the hardest trial I had experienced was after our son was born. I suffered from postpartum depression. I didn't eat for weeks after coming home from the hospital and in turn didn't produce any milk to feed him, leaving me racked with guilt every time I made him a bottle. It didn't help that my poor son had colic and a sensitive tummy. There were lot's of tears shed between the two of us! There were times I couldn't even find the words to pray. I'd just sing old hymns to myself and to Jeremiah. My favorite was "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." I'd repeat the stanza, "Oh, for grace to trust him more," over and over again. When I was suffering from the depression I went directly to my mother. She's my best (girl)friend and I knew I needed her because she would understand me. It took me a long time to reach out to my husband though. I didn't go to him at first because I wanted him to think I was a strong, capable mother and not struggling. In all honestly, he reached out to me. He finally sat me down one day and asked me to open up and let him in on how I was feeling. Opening up to him and then us continually lifting the issue up in prayer is what truly helped me. It encouraged us to come together and confide in one another. This definitely made us stronger as a couple. Through the tender love of my mother and husband who would pray with me daily and support me, I finally felt that dark cloud of depression lift. I've never felt closer to the Lord in my walk and daily fellowship than since Jeremiah's arrival. He's such a blessing to everyone he meets!
Lately, I've also felt the inspiration to work on art again. I've been seeing and feeling the Lord direct me to something that's both exciting as it is terrifying, writing and illustrating a children's book. For the last 5 years I've worked in an independent bookstore. The first year there I started getting an inkling of an idea for a children's book. I always knew I wanted it to be a western but I wasn't sure what else. No real plot line. When I was pregnant, after finding out we were having a boy, I wanted the story to be about a little cowboy. Using my son as the model and inspiration. But again it didn't go any further than that. Last December, the wonderful lady who had been doing the children's story hour at my store fulfilled her lifelong dream of getting hired as an elementary school teacher full time so she could no longer do Friday morning story hour. I immediately was chosen to take her spot. I was honored, excited, and a bit scared. Kids can be the toughest crowds! I've been doing story hour for almost a whole year and we've had record numbers in attendance, which really helped through our slow season. Recently I started thinking about my book again and I feel now that I have experience with what books resonate with kids and what they like to see and hear.
One early morning in October I awoke at 4:30am and for the life of me couldn't fall back asleep. So I started talking to the Lord. It was then that I got the plot line for my story. It would follow a little cowpoke named Jem who lives on a ranch. Our church property would be the inspiration for the location along with a new calf that was born named Coconut. We had an albino calf a few months back that was a bit of an oddity because he was all white! I'm pretty sure all the cattle here are red angus, but I'm not totally positive on that. Either way it was the only white calf they've ever had! To get back to the plot, it's the time of the year that they have to move the cattle to another pasture so they can start making hay. Jem is helping his dad move cattle and they break for lunch. Dad says to close to gate but in Jem's haste for lunch he doesn't shut it all the way. Jem's cattle dog notices a cat sneaking around the field and causes a big ruckus, in turn frightening all the cows to stampede out the gate. Jem and his dad must then wrangle all the cattle. At the end of the day they've collected them all except poor baby Coconut. In the end they finally find him and Jem learns a lesson about always listening to your parents (Ephesians 6) and doing the right thing. I've always considered my "life verse" to be Romans 8:31. "What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" So powerful and inspiring to chase those dreams!
Please pray for me in this new artistic venture and pray God's will for this project idea.
Shine like a light. Eyes on the Kingdom. Hearts on fire for Christ.