Project 365: Day 85 Lazarus Bible Study


John 11:35 “Jesus wept.”

It is the time of year when we consider resurrection. At senior high Bible study tonight we discussed the story of Lazarus. Read Luke 11:1-44.

Found in John chapter 11, A quick summary of Lazarus is story is that Jesus and Lazarus were friends. Jesus is away but gets word that his friend Lazarus is very ill and needs Jesus’s healing. Before Jesus can get to Lazarus, Lazarus dies and is entombed. Once Jesus arrives, he finds that his friends are wailing and weeping & Jesus wept too. He opens the tomb (much to the objection of Mary and Martha and the others) and tells Lazarus to come out. Alive, a resurrected Lazarus comes out of the tomb.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a story that comes right before the leaders coming and turning against Jesus. Through this story of Jesus with his friends we can sense God’s humanity and his empathy for others.

What do you think about resurrection?
Do you think the next thing you’ll hear after death is Jesus calling you?
Which person in the story do you relate to best? Why?

An unexpected bonus tonight was that we talked about how to read and study the Bible. We still lack a clever acronym, but we came up with this process:

After reading a passage, ask:
What does the passage Say?
What does the passage say about God?
What does the passage say about Us?
What does the passage say about the Relationship between God and Us?
What else stands out?

I also shared that Google can be a great starting point as long as you’re careful.

We suggested following a Bible reading plan and I use this list of reading plans.

Where would you begin?&p;

Project 365: Day 80 Psych Assessment


Continuing on my journey toward ordination, today I took the ministerial candidacy psychological assessment. Over 500 true/false statements about myself and my psyche, 30-something complete-these-open-ended-sentences about my family system and beliefs, and 185 online personality assessment questions concluding with logic reasoning and math (I think that last part was to see if my brain could still function after 3 hours of stress).

I underestimated the mental exhaustion I would have, but hours later I feel normal. Now I’ll just have to wait for the results to confirm that I’m normal I guess.

Project 365: Day 78 When I Grow Up


My husband Dennis recently told me a story about an interview he saw in the late 1980’s with Howie Mandel. Way before the days of a shaved head, “Deal or No Deal” and AGT, Howie got his start to fame as a comedian, and then played a serious role as a doctor on the 80’s show St. Elsewhere. The interviewer asked Howie what it was like to change from comedian to serious actor. Howie shared that he didn’t see it as a big change, when he woke up, he was always “just Howie.” Sometimes Howie did comedy, sometimes Howie played a doctor, but he was always “Howie.” I like how this way of thinking frees us up from being our job title. We are not really meant to be a particular job title, we are always just ourselves doing certain tasks.

Since becoming an adult, I’ve been “Erin the college student,” “Erin the salesperson” and “Erin the Youth Director.” What I learned is that the trouble with identifying yourself as a particular job title is that you can lose that title. Who are you then? How do you answer the “what do you do?” cocktail party question?

When I was little, there were a lot of things I wanted to be when I grew up – a mom, teacher, author, artist, veterinarian. As a high school student, I even said I wanted to be a business woman and maybe volunteer with the youth group (I have a senior memory book to prove this, by the way!) What I didn’t realize then was that the process of growing up takes a lifetime, providing opportunity to be more than one thing in a lifetime. I am still growing up.

I’ve punted on veterinarian, but, in a beautiful turn of events, I have managed to become all of those things I dreamed of becoming. I am even getting to dabble in the “impractical” roles…the ones where even the people you love most respond with “good luck with that” when you say you want to be that role. Depending on the day or hour, I am taking in the role of mom, teacher, author, speaker, coach, artist, business professional, entrepreneur and youth minister. Yesterday, I wore my painting clothes pictured above, today I was primarily a writer. Throughout all of this adventure, I am “just Erin” doing different things. I am having an amazing time living beyond a specific job title, even if it makes explaining what I do extraordinarily complicated.

What do I do? I’ll get back to you when I grow up.


What are you called to be?
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

Light-hearted Yet Deep St. Patrick’s Day Lesson

Monday is St. Patrick’s Day, so I can’t think of a better time to share the following YouTube video with you, St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies:

I was introduced to this video during the Intro to Theology class I visited when I was checking out SMU Perkins School of Theology. I love how the video is very deep theologically, but fun as well.

If you are a youthworker sharing this video with your youth ministry, or even an adult sharing this with your Sunday School or Bible Study, you might want to ask the following discussion questions:

  • Who is God to you?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • Who is the Holy Spirit?
  • Before this video, how did you describe the concept of the Trinity?

Read through John 1 and discuss who is the Word and what this passage says about God, about the Trinity.  You could follow this up with reading through historical creeds found in the United Methodist (or your denomination) hymnal.

And there you have it, a quick and easy Bible study on the Trinity and St. Patrick, just in time for St. Patty’s Day!

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you, Erin Go Bragh, etc,

Erin (or as my dad always called me, Erin O’Seamus O’Shansky O’Toole)


Project 365: Day 57 Senior High Sabbath Bible Study


Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Tonight I gave SBUMCSHBS the gift of quiet time with God. We have been studying time, Sabbath and connecting with God a lot this year. We began the hour by centering ourselves, getting the noise out of our heads and putting aside our phones:


Students, journals and pens in hand, quietly rotated through five prayer stations. Each station had a description, Scripture, reflection questions, an activity and a prayer.

They lit a candle and asked for God’s light in the areas of life that needed guidance:


They wrote on a stone as they remembered what God has delivered us from and what He has given us:


They enjoyed grapes and bread as they remembered God’s blessings from the earth:


With water, they were cleansed and made whole and renewed:


And, perhaps most importantly, they
simply rested in quiet meditation:


What a joy to share the gift of quiet time with God!


How do you observe Sabbath time?
What can you do today to quiet yourselves and just be in God’s presence?

Project 365: Day 42

At the Academy, we spend hours in silence. When you shut off the noise, you can actually listen. It is such a gift.

My day in pictures:











In limited ways, I still access the rest of the world, read emails and the like. I have been limiting this to maybe 5 minutes a day. While here I received an email from a colleague in youth ministry asking for my advice about a difficult situation. I have been in her situation so I could empathize. What a gift I have been given by having days set aside to pray about it and wait for God’s answer.

Project 365: Day 36 SBUMCSHBS


As a lifelong United Methodist, I love a good acronym. I present to you SBUMCSHBS, pronounced s-bum’-ick-sh-bis. Teaching Wednesday night Senior High Bible Study is one of my favorite parts of my week.

Bonus: It’s also my weekly Texas Youth Academy reunion with Jake.

Tonight we talked about how God communicates with people. We came up with these ways: through Jesus, through other people, the Bible, nature, letters, prayer, burning bushes, music, situations, feelings in our gut and voices in our heads. And the occasional donkey.

How have you experienced God’s communication?
Where have you heard or sensed God?