The Big Breath Mantra

Parenting is hard.

A lot of things are hard, but I digress. 

The phrase “His mercies are new every day,” keeps hitting me like a ton of bricks.

My mercies are hardly ever new. They’re barely refurbished.

I can hold a grudge so hard, it’s a miracle if it doesn’t break apart in my hand. And I’ve realized, I store up these angry little rocks in my heart even when it comes to the ones I love most.

Even when it comes to my daughter.

She’s a beautiful girl. She’s funny and outgoing and incredibly athletic (girl practically back handspringed out of the womb…ow), and is one of the most street smart people I know.

The only reason I’m not still looking for my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot is because of her.

But she’s strong-willed. And divisive. And manipulative. And an 8 on the enneagram (just like Stalin…but so was Dr. Martin Luther King so there’s hope, y’all).

And a sinner.

Just. Like. Me.

His mercies are new every day.

My mercies have to be new, too.

So that’s my big breath mantra getting me through this tween stage of parenting.

Nobody’s perfect. Not me. Not my daughter.

Only the Lord who grants us favor even when we least deserve it.

I Am

I am.

Our children’s pastor shared a sermon yesterday that politely smacked me in the face.

See, I have this issue of being a control freak.

As a writer, I create worlds. And I very much want this one to be my own.

I like to dictate who I am in any moment, how my family comes off to other people. The way things “look” has always been a subject near and dear to my heart.

But that kind of grip on the world can be exhausting. And fortunately, I’ve learned to let go.

But there still are two very real problems that I face: 1. I like to believe I’m the main character in this story called life. 2. God is whatever I imagine Him to be at any given moment.

Both are incredibly hurtful lies that start to unravel my edges.

This story isn’t about me. Which is a great thing because we’d all be watching a thirty-something (emphasis on the something) woman wearing ankle-biting sweatpants in the middle of summer, trying to pretend she knows what “on trend” means.

She obviously does not. Just look at those sweatpants.

This story is about the Lord. We’re all here for His glory, and the suffering that sets our teeth on edge? It’s the crescendo, the final movement of sound and light that leads our eyes to the cross.

God redeems even when we’re too busy pointlessly gluing the pieces of our broken hearts.

I am.

He exists whether I want to believe it or not. He is the all powerful and wonderful mighty creator.

Everything starts from something. It’s the cymbal clash that’s always been audible behind my sternum.

And I know where the noise comes from. Why it keeps me writing until my fingers fall off and my eyes go blind.

This isn’t about me or you.

We only are because He is.

It’s Not a Competition

There are too many amazing people in my life.

And I don’t necessarily mean successful ones.

Sunday’s Sermon reminded us that Jeremiah was a “failed” prophet. He never was able to persuade one person to follow the Lord.

But Jeremiah wasn’t a failure. Because maybe the point wasn’t His ability to change people.

Maybe the point was His utter reliance on God.

I think too often we associate our blessings, our financial gains, our business success with God’s favor for us.

But I’m not sure that’s always the case.

We were reminded during that same sermon that nowhere in the listing of the fruits of the spirit is the idea of being successful.

It’s certainly not a bad thing. But it’s not where our hearts and focus should be.

It should be for God and His people.

And I know so many who sacrifice and give because of their strong faith in Jesus.

And sometimes, I feel like I just don’t measure up.

But then I remember a few things:

1. God’s called each one of us to run a different race. I’ve been called in this season of life to write a book that gives Him all the glory. That takes time, effort, and dedication. And even though I take other opportunities to show my love for God and His people, right now, that’s where He wants my focus to be.

2. It’s not a competition. One person’s humble offering will far outweigh the bravado of someone the world deems successful.

3. It’s for Him, not for us. Like Jeremiah, everything we do is for Christ alone. We shouldn’t be in the business of gratifying our own hearts (or even the hearts of our family and friends). Everything we do should be for God alone, and only when our eyes are on Him can we truly serve those around us.

I may never be a New York Times best selling author. And I’m okay with that. Because the measure of my “success” hasn’t been made with human hands but with with a heavenly heart that will always far outweigh my own understanding.

Damaged People

I wake up in a weird panic sometimes.

I recommit myself to Jesus and pray for his mercy and forgiveness.

Something hits me squarely in the chest at night. Maybe it has something to do with the darkness.

There’s a lot of “us” versus “them” lately, no matter the particular issue. No matter the particular side.

What I feel in every inch of my being is that there are no good guys. We are all God’s people, created in His image.

And we’re all fallen creatures that will only come to see God when we submit our lives to Christ Jesus.

There is no such thing as all ways leading to heaven. There is only one way.

Don’t be fooled.

And this is why my heart spins in my chest sometimes. We’re getting closer to the end all the time. And there’s so much to do. And I will never ever measure up.

But my God takes me in His arms, and I can finally breathe again.

Because when we repent and we seek His solace, there is no “us” versus “them.” It’s only a damaged people yearning for a good, good Father.

And a good, good Father who will weed the bad from the good, an act of judgment that was never originally intended for our fragile human hearts.

Hole in the Brain

My mind is shot.

I’m having a typical moment. Well, really not so typical as of late.

Just a moment that’s similar to ones in the past. Where I’m tired and coiled into myself and regret every choice I’ve ever made.

Hi, I’m Ericka. Nice to meet you.

It’s just a few things. Little things that weave together into a much larger blanket.

Or straight jacket.

It’s a moment where I walk away from the God of the universe and sit and pout because “life isn’t fair.”

This is apparently going to take a awhile.

Life’s hard when ADHD is thrown into the mix. It’s just…hard. But everything’s hard.

I’m not naive to that fact.

It’s just nice sometimes to recognize it. To say it out loud. To drop all need for pretense and picture perfect photos that angle out the dumpster fire in the corner.

And there God is. Waiting patiently in all His glory.

And there I am, hole in my bleeding brain, offering him that alongside my weather-beaten heart.

I’m afraid He might be getting the raw end of this deal. But something tells me He is and always will be okay with that.

Blessed Be the Fruit

“Blessed be the fruit.”

I absorbed The Handmaid’s tale when it wasn’t a show but a book that only hardcore feminists who didn’t shave under their arms read.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about that last part.

I wanted to be Margaret Atwood. I wanted to be a million things.

I realize now “I want” is the epidemic that’s slowly killing us all.

I want but does He?

When you reframe your perspective, you start to understand things from someone gentle, someone who loves you.

It’s easy enough to say “You hate me!!” when life starts to taste like a lemon, and you’re being redirected from your hoard of wants.

But how would I ever be a good parent if I just gave that pile of everything to my child and watched as she slowly burned and fizzled out?

Sometimes, “no” is the most loving word a person can say.

I’ve learned that. I am learning that.

No, I’m not going to be the next Margaret Atwood.

I’m going to be the first Ericka Clay.

And I won’t be blessing the fruit.

But as I look up and around, I see He’s blessed me. 

What Is True?

“The Bible isn’t true.”

Okay. Then what is true?

Your individual feelings on a subject?

Well that won’t work. Everyone has feelings, and they’re not the same.

Maybe the way you were raised? The particular paradigm you ascribe to in order to process the world.

But there‘s a mixed bag of paradigms, some the complete antitheses of others.

Maybe everyone’s right. Maybe morality is relative.

Fair enough. Can I borrow your purse? I’d like to swipe a twenty.

What?? Morally, it’s all relative, man. Chill out.

A lot needs to change. We’re all in agreement with that. But I what I think needs changing are the hearts of those who keep fighting against Christ.

Because deep down, the electric undercurrent that keeps our eyes focused up and collectively structures all of us within an authoritative realm is absolutely no mistake.

God is the head of all things. He has hierarchically organized law and order to keep the ones we love safe and to bring consequence to wrong action.

It’s people who bastardize that initiative. It’s people who allow their own rotten hearts to beat.

Heart change. It only comes when you humble yourself and submit completely, giving every ounce of yourself to Christ.

Heart change.

The hardest choice you’ll ever have to make.

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Romans 13:1 (NIV)

The Winning Team

I am not a very political person. I barely survived Team Britney versus Team Christina and really dread experiencing that kind of heartache again.

And Team Britney. Duh.

A friend and I were discussing the current political climate and the recent phenomenon of human beings everywhere vomiting their staunch beliefs all over their keyboards.

It is, beyond a doubt, a horrifying scene to witness.

My takeaway? I’m not going to so tightly interweave myself with any form of thought that could possibly lead another human being away from Jesus.

And this most definitely applies to both sides of the issue.

People are talking about politically homeless Christians right now. If you can’t even remotely relate to that, then I implore you to assess your heart once more.

There is a common understanding of what we as Christians need to vote for: the right to life for all people, honoring the Lord through our government policies, protecting our freedoms because once freedom is lost, man, well let’s just say you’ll have a little more to worry about than how to get your kid to sit still during a Zoom call.

We vote for principles, not people. That’s the only option we have at this point. But the process in that should be a respectful one.

We can have thoughts. We can have opinions. But they should never rise above our hope in Jesus Christ and our duty in preserving the heart of our fellow man.

We have to die to ourselves.

So why waste time painting pictures of ourselves in memes and one ups and adorable eye-rolling quips?

Why not lay it all down? Why not stop wasting the time and save it in bucketfuls instead for the friends and family and strangers we want to save from the enemy before we look in the mirror and start seeing him before our very eyes?

It’s All Been Done Before

I’ve always been a huge Bare Naked Ladies fan.

The band, I mean. Let’s just make that clear up front.

There’s a song called It’s All Been Done Before, and it reminds me of right now.

And every “right now” for that matter.

I think it’s pretty easy to label the darkness in this world as “new.”

It never was and never will be.

Satan has been playing this game for a long, long time, friend. (1 John 5:19)

So I suppose my issue isn’t that there’s evil in the world.

My issues is when I scan the faces of other believers, and all I see is a cloud of anger and resentment.

Yes, it’s heartbreaking there’s a strong current turning against our children.

But maybe it’s more like this: there is a strong current turning against God’s children.

We are merely the ones designed to raise them. An unfathomable honor in a sea of chaos.

Righteous anger is a very real and appropriate reaction. But we can’t let the darkness turn the current in our own hearts.

It’s too easy to create an us versus them divide.

We are to be Jesus, extending a hand to the hurt and broken souls that take what we mistakenly believe to be ours.

There is no “mine” in this game.

There is only God’s. And to Him goes ALL the glory.

He sees what’s being done. He knows.

So let the bitter taste curdle. Take a strong drink of fresh water. Ask the Holy Spirit to turn the raging tide inside into love. So you can hold your children close and teach them the one thing that’s chafing at your skin: love your enemy.

Because if we don’t, no one will.

Above the Burning Streets

“This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.” 2 Peter 2:10-13

It’s too easy to be afraid of people.

Sure, people damage the whole world when it’s left unchecked in their hands. Specifically, people with broken hearts who have yet to surrender them to Christ.

But I like to think of the world as if I’m watching it from a crater in the moon. Little ants, all of us. A world of tiny beings, walking with our chests puffed out and our minds in the dark.

You have to realize what this looks like to an infinite God.


I think on a few things: how some people speculate that Adam was at least fifteen feet tall. How some even think him to have been much taller. How man can kill your body and not your soul.

That last one is comforting, even if it takes a minute to sink in.

Man wants so much to play God. To hold you hostage and take your rights and dominate in the name of peace although peace is truly the furthest thing from his mind.

But are you truly a captive if you don’t allow yourself to be? Because it’s not your body in need of freedom. It’s your mind, and your heart, and your soul.

You have the choice of in whom you entrust those things.

So there’s nothing powerless about the tiny beings who walk this planet.

But there’s nothing more powerful than an all powerful God.

So take a moment. Think about it. Will you align yourself with the ants that march mindlessly in a burning pocket of their own desires?

Or will you stand as tall as Adam and rise above the burning streets to hold the hand of God?