As Christian as I want to be.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Why I'm No longer (1)

I talk here about Ghandi and why he didn’t choose Christ.

I talk here about why I’m no longer Catholic.

And right now, right here, I want to talk about how people have ruined Jesus.

TGIF, you guys!!

But seriously, a little backstory: We’re going to a new church and the pastor has an uncanny way of having a brain in his head. I love that. Someone who can speak Jesus but also knows what an Oxford comma is.

Hint: it’s not a type of pie.

And so we’re talking after the service because he’s just smacked me in the face with the concept that maybe the point of the Christian church is to help others understand that God is already within them and maybe not to keep church planting in the name of prosperity.

Because when you think about it, there’s a fine line between followers of Christ and followers of YOU.

And dude, he’s just so self-deprecating and humble when he says these things whereas I’d be adding “you fracking losers!” after every statement.

And this is why I need Jesus.

Look: there is a need for community and extending yourself to others. But sometimes I think we miss the pony (auto-correct changed “point” to “pony” and you know I won’t argue with that logic) and instead of looking at the Christian church as a means to an end (the end being a pivotal heart change of everyone on this little planet and an acceptance of Him), we look at it like a really cool club with a jumbo screen, free air conditioning, and a Hillsong cover band.

The point/pony is not a cool, comfortable Sunday experience we’re going to Instagram all over the  pizazzle. The point is talking to that guy you don’t like and smells a little and who sometimes steals your hot pocket from the freezer in the break room.

The point is building meaningful relationships with others so they can see the patience and humility you offer them, even when the day is holding steady at “WTF” on the craptastic meter.

I’m not saying churches aren’t needed or that growing as a church is necessarily a negative thing.

I am saying that your reasons need to reflect HIM and not YOU.

A few others thing I’d like to randomly throw in here because rules are my proverbial jock itch. Ew:

  • Just because someone claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean they necessarily are. And if they are an incredibly evil person who treats you horribly and have never even watched the Simpsons, don’t let that change your opinion of Jesus. People have a knack for ruining things. Just ask the writers of The Office. #withoutMichaelScottthereisnooffice
  • Saying that you don’t like Christians because one was pretty sucky to you is like saying you don’t like doctors because the one you went to wasn’t actually a doctor but a guy who sells half-priced candy behind the movie theater
  • I’m really mad about The Office thing.

People aren’t perfect. But Christ is. Your relationship with Christ won’t be perfect. But Christ is. Every day is going to be some shade of craptastic on the one hand, but on the other hand there is a forgiveness there that sprouted before you and I were even born and keeps winding it’s mercy around us.

And that, my friends, is the ultimate pony.

Advertisements

What happens when my brain splits in two.

dear hearts

Unkept may be the two sides of my brain, but Dear Hearts is the two sides of my heart.

It was difficult to write, not only canvassing the pain that comes when infidelity inflicts a marriage and family, but writing from the perspective of a man who loves said family and adores said marriage yet has an affair with another man? Well, all I can say is life is gritty and Mitch’s life? It ain’t no exception.

Each word sheared away a piece of my heart.

Mitch and Elena are characters that are deeper than characters. They’re a pulse, working together and withering apart. They are victims to their own love story, craving happy endings when understanding what true, devotional, Godly love is has never glimmered on their radar.

They’re the prime example of what happens when life shuffles its cards and you’re left empty-handed.

What can we learn? Appreciate everything you have, even when  life feels like a single grain of sugar boring through a tooth.  Talk openly, honestly. Do no judge but do not blindly accept either.

Love with a sacrificial heart and an expanse of pure dedication.

Know that we only flicker here for a little while. So use every moment.


Dear Hearts is for the over eighteen crowd so please keep that in mind. Also understand that this book is not a promotional platform for any particular viewpoint. It is an examination into the human mind and heart and the struggle life brings when you leave God out of the picture.

You can read Dear Hearts for free here on Wattpad.

Click here for the ebook.

Click here for a paper copy.

A low-cal social media diet.

social media image
Every once in a while I take my life’s pulse.

Simply put, I scan for areas of improvement and start working on the better version of me.

(Blame Oprah.)

I’ve recently found one such area that I’m tweaking (twerking? hahaha…no), and I’m already feeling oodles better: my social media life.

My teeth are rotting. Help.

I hate Facebook and Instagram. There, I said it. And I know, I know, you’re all like, “But Ericka, you’re a social media maven with slightly decent hair and a Romanesque nose that just won’t quit.” And yeah, maybe the old me was. But now?

I’m tired. I just want to live. I want to stop comparing my life to others’. I want to stop inwardly seething at blatant political posts and getting all frazzled, not because somebody I know has a particular political mindset, but because they’d much rather exercise their right to incessantly chatter into an online void instead of realizing how it might make others feel. I’m also tired of taking photos of my sandwiches.

This me, me, me generation is starting to rot my teeth, you guys. And frankly, my soul.

And I don’t want to add to it.

Let’s start a different conversation.

When it boils down to it, I think blogging gives me the freedom to fully express what’s dancing between the sheets of my brain. Instagram and Facebook are just tiny nuggets of truth, and half the time, they’re not even that truthful.

Do you know how many times it takes me to snap a selfie? 72. And that doesn’t even include choosing a filter.

Here’s my truth: my skin isn’t always clear, sometimes I’m a little hungover, I snap at my kid, I snap at my husband, I love them more than my heart can take, I fail God like I’m Judas Iscariot’s twin sister Jane, and I don’t always shave my legs.

But I’m still loved and accepted and don’t need to worry about mindless swiping, mindless likes to make me whole.

Know thyself.

If you’re eyeing my home page right now, you’ll see links to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. For me, these don’t count. I’m never on them and if I do happen to take a stroll down Pinterest lane, I’m probably looking up 5 million ways aloe is going to turn me into Jennifer Lopez (I’ll keep you posted).

You gotta know what’s working and what’s hacking at your inner peace with a chainsaw.

And for me? Those channels barely tickle.

Challenge time.

So if you want to chat with me, human being to human being, I invite you to check out this page and send me your inner thoughts. I’d like to get to know you while having absolutely no clue what your lunch looks like.

(Oprah would be proud.)

Oh and one more thing. Which social media channel do you need to give the ax to?

Why I’m no longer Catholic.

Why I'm No longer

A friend of mine wrote a post about doing yoga while Catholic, and I of course had to scour every word because I’m a true blue Christ follower who happens to practice yoga. My comment on her post led her to ask me why I stopped going to Mass, but before I get into that lengthy and layered explanation, let me give you a little insight into how I replied to her post:

Cristina, are we the same person?? Seriously, if I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I’m gonna get cranky. I am a Catholic (although I go to a non-denominational church now) and an incredibly strong Christian and took a hiatus from yoga for the following reasons:

1. Before I committed my life to Christ, I was battling depression, sleep paralysis, night terrors and astral projection (I was going through some serious shiznit) that I feel were all related to demonic activity due to my pushing God out of my life. I was also heavily into yoga and doing it for the spiritual benefits, not just the physical. After committing my life to Christ, I immediately stopped suffering from the above craziness and stopped practicing yoga so I wouldn’t accidentally venture down that path again.
2. Everything I read that was in any way Christian-related told me yoga was a no-no.

So why did I start practicing again? Because, much like you, I enjoyed the physical benefits of yoga and had grown so strong in my faith in Jesus, I knew there was no way I’d be persuaded to leave God’s side again. It wasn’t until we were reviewing 1 Corinthians that I realized yoga was a lot like the “sacrificial meat” issue that the early Christians were dealing with. Followers in the early church were wondering if it was sinful for Christians to eat meat that was sacrificed to the gods. Here is what Paul says:

1. No, it’s not sinful as long as the Christian has a truly strong faith in Christ and is merely filling his belly. To insinuate eating the meat is sinful is to insinuate that we believe those gods exist which would therefore mean the meat is a no-no. And obviously, we don’t believe that.
2. Should we promote eating sacrificial meat to non-Christians or those not as strong in their faith yet? Nope! We can eat the meat all we want but shouldn’t advise others to do the same because they may start venturing down the road of worshipping the gods, not having the same relationship with God we do. Ultimately, we live to love others, and if we mislead them, even unintentionally, we aren’t loving them and doing all we can to bring them closer to God.

I find yoga to be our “sacrificial meat.” We don’t believe in the Hindu gods, so for us, yoga is a fun stretching exercise and nothing more. But if we’re constantly vocal about it and teaching novice Christians that it’s all good in the hood, then we run the risk of changing a person’s heart.

Make sense? Or do I sound like a crazy person? Hashtag wouldn’t be the first time.

So Cristina respectfully asked me what made me stop going to Mass and of course my brain and heart started whirling away into what I hope is a coherent blog post:

Like I mentioned in my reply to Cristina’s post, I used to suffer from depression, night terrors, sleep paralysis and eventually my good friend, astral projection (insert sarcasm here).

I started having panic attacks and depressive episodes once I turned sixteen. I used to go to an incredibly challenging private high school (it was an academy actually and blazers were definitely involved), and our way of life consisted of doing whatever we could to have the highest GPA while all the other girls around town were focused on landing a boyfriend.

Snort. Silly girls.

What I didn’t realize is that I’m not as smart as I thought I was, until of course, I actually started to realize it. All that stress, all that concentrated criticism that started like a soft whisper in my ear had me running miles in the Houston heat and knocking on anorexia’s door before the summer to my junior year had ended. I used to try reading Cold Mountain, the book assigned as our summer reading, only to slam the cover shut each time I started to read a line just so I could cry in my closet.

Loathing grew and never really took a breather. But let’s fast forward a little bit, shall we?

I’ve seen some strange things. Ghosts, I guess, although I don’t believe in ghosts anymore. I believe that evil exists, and I believe he can work our minds like a fine piece of glass. Mine stretched to its limits and there was a deep-seated fear that even that psychic could sniff out when I visited her on my twenty-fifth birthday.

The “Oh, girl!” look on her face was priceless. She could practically taste the possession.

I don’t know what made me so weak to the evil, although deep down, I truly do. I had denied God for so long that the denial set like concrete and broke me apart, inside then out.

I was smarter than everyone else. A feminist. Brilliant. Talented. Better. There was no room for your silly God in my life.

And yet? And yet I was miserable.

I was Catholic but I wore it more like an ethnicity than a transformation of spirit. I think a lot of us who grow up in a church, regardless of denomination, do that very thing. We become used to “a” plus “b” equaling “c,” never stopping to take a good look at “x” in the corner. We check off boxes, consider ourselves a good little religious girl or boy, but sometimes the world wants more than your Sunday morning attendance.

Sometimes the world needs every inch of you, every moment of your life.

So let’s slow down a bit now, focus on “the moment” as I like to call it.

My brother’s sister wanted us to go to their church. We had stopped going to Mass for awhile now and even though this was the case, I would never ever ever ever go to a church that wasn’t a Catholic church because I was a good little religious girl deep down, right? I would never break the rules.

But eventually we went if only to say we did, get this whole shebang over with.  And then the best worst thing possible happened. My heart changed.

I wanted to go again, thirsty for more words, the Word, and during this time the worst of everything was happening:

Night terrors where I could feel the stench of evil on me, my soul ripping out of my body and spinning on the ceiling, paralytic attacks where my body couldn’t move and no sound would leave my lips.

Fear of sleep.

But one night in November, after a rough year of battling my personal hell, I gave my life to Jesus before I closed my eyes to go to bed that night.

And ever since, that hell has been a thing of the past.

I was blind and now I see. I’ve been transformed, born again, made anew. I never in a million years believed in that kind of talk. As a Catholic, I believed in doing good works and holding my breath, holding out hope that one day that would be good enough to get me close to God in Heaven.

As a follower of Christ, I know I’m already accepted and that absolute love and grace is what drives me to share that kind of hope with others. I’ve gone beyond the rules and focus instead on life’s every day moments and the ways I can deliver God’s message through my actions, not my empty words.

What it all boils down to: The way I feel now, the way I feel about Christ and his love doesn’t perfectly align with the Catholic philosophy I used to hold onto, and that’s why I no longer go to Mass. I’d be denying the truth I know now, and that wouldn’t be fair to anybody.

Things I’d like to address:

  • I am in no way insinuating or implying that a Catholic can’t be transformed by Christ.
  • I am insinuating and implying, however, that the Catholic faith for me was a series of rules I forced myself to follow and then felt guilty if I faltered. I think we can all agree that this is no way to live. Not everyone encounters the Catholic faith the way I did, and that is a very good thing.
  • I currently go to a non-denominational Christian church.
  • My beliefs do not align with Protestantism either.
  • My beliefs align only with Christ and his message, and I do what I can to live that message every day.
  • A lot of times I fail.
  • A lot of times I get back up.
  • I don’t believe one religion is better than another. In fact, like Jesus, I’m not a huge fan of religion altogether.
  • I am a fan of people. Of meeting with church friends on Sundays to pray and meditate for about an hour. To check in and see how everyone’s doing.
  • I am a fan of hanging out with non-Christians, getting to know them and their lives. Their stories.
  • You never know who you’re going to meet or why God wants you to meet them. Always, keep an open mind like Jesus.
  • This is all a journey and each one of us is at a different point on the path. Knowing this tends to soften a heart.
  • Keep that heart soft, y’all.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I just published a new book of poetry online. Click here to read for free.

Dear Ava,

I’m a horrible mother. And a terrifically good mother. And a no nonsense mother and a spastic, nonsensical type of female who keeps parking crookedly and forgets the word for fork sometimes, and then other times I feed people my brilliance.

I don’t think any of us were meant to be good at this.

But I think that’s okay. I think for the first time ever, there’s no good mother Olympics, no gold to be won.

There are mistakes and bruises and tears and the way she looks at me like she’s known me before she was born and wishes she’d never met my face.

It’s the same way I look into the mirror sometimes.

But there are those other crystal clear moments, a love abundant, a love like Christ’s, where I can feel it all weaving together, broken skin healing and that sound she makes when she breathes.

Step one, we are alive.

Step two, start living,

Step three, write down, paper to pen.

Dear Ava,

I’m sorry.

But dear Ava,

You now know the truth.

Mountain


The scraps

Fall from

Your mouth and I

Mound them

Into my

Little mountain,

Conquer

The peak

Of all

You’ve

Discarded.                          -e.c.

Evolution

IMG_3822

Here’s your
March
Of time
And Evolutionary
Progression
But burning
Your offspring
And tasting
The sharp note
Of blood
When nobody
Loves you
Is like a sweet
Reminder
That your
Death
Is the only
Real truth
You know. 

– e.c.

Energy

IMG_3630

An

incredible amount

of energy

is spent

forgetting

all that’s left

to remember.

-e.c.

Gold

Ava's Soccer.jpg

Once, I was a little girl, too, until the sun prospered then withered and all the gold drained to gray.

But now I see it in your smile.