Pigs and pearls
And little girl dreams
And the nothing
More than what I’m not.
Birthed by an
Your flint tongue
Grass on fire,
But can you
Like skin dying
In the sun.
Sin is sometimes
The only thing
I eat, less
Calories, slim waist,
And I take
That quick image
With my eyes
Like it’s the only
A fiery heart.
Good deed goes
Let me know
Like I know
The hard parts
Of the dark.
I need to get my stuff published.
But my stuff has a heart for Jesus and a gritty way of expressing itself.
So, “Good luck, Ericka” right?
Because my good friend, Veronica, just solved all of my problems.
She’s created the Heart of Flesh Literary Journal that is seeking writers like me.
And if you happen to be just like us, please submit your work, too.
Think of the ministry this could be, connecting Christians and non-Christians and aptly producing works that ACCURATELY portray the Christian faith.
No hair braiding or hand holding here, folks.
Can you do me a favor and share this post so we can get the word out? Tweet, Facebook, call your grandmother.
You should probably call your grandmother anyways.
I’d appreciate it. And so would she.
Here’s to creative genius, a deep love for the Savior, and painting the dark with light.
I talk to Jesus all the time.
But not in a super weird religious way that doesn’t fit right but in a sort of, “Oh hey there, best friend, this guy is offering us free popcorn. You want some, too?” kind of way which often gets me kicked out of Wal-Mart.
It’s like I take Him in by osmosis, deep breath by deep breath.
And I think it might be for a few reasons:
Perfection? Ah, heck no.
But growth? I’ve got that one down pat.
And really, it all began with one little word to the Father Almighty:
Insert Adele sound clip here.
The before and after.
I was writing a novel before choosing Jesus (I hate saying “became a Christian.” It just sounds like I filled out some sort of information card and put fifty cents into a jar. It was more like seventy-five so whatevs…).
This novel was a small child I carried in my brain, and I did everything I could to write it into submission and “Christianize” it so to speak, but as all writers understand, you can’t make your characters do anything other than make you go crazy.
(There were an awful amount of curse words in it now that I’m thinking about it. But these things happen. Maybe not to other people but definitely to me.)
So I stopped writing. I started blogging and even toyed with the notion of writing a non-fiction book about my faith journey.
But I figured I should probably read the Bible first so scratch that.
So then I submitted a brilliant poetry manuscript to a poetry contest and guess who didn’t win first place and a one thousand dollar grand prize?
Me. It was me.
I started to get frustrated, but then I realized whenever things get frustrating, it’s God saying, “Ericka, for the love of tripe, quit freaking out. We all know you’re terribly good at it, but nobody is giving away awards to thirty-four-year-old homeschooling mothers who just got coffee on their sweatshirts and are trying to clean their kitchen floors with their tears.”
But can you imagine? I’d absolutely toast the competition.
God speaks to us in a million different ways. My favorite is when I’m quiet and turn down the surrounding noise and my journey starts to click in place again without me even trying.
Right now? That’s writing a blog where I share my thoughts and the heart I have for a savior who never stops saving me.
And it’s also writing a collection of short stories I’m keeping close to my soul, the “after” Jesus piece that’s sparked by His will for my life and my passion for following the curving line that leads from one person’s life to another.
I don’t have to be the old me.
I can just be the better one.
I termed it this way to one of my very cool blog readers (Hi, Daniel!), and it’s stuck like gum to the shoe that is my brain.
Or something like that.
I don’t know if you feel it, but it seems pretty prevalent. Doctrine based on the prosperity gospel (this concept that financial blessing and physical well-being are always God’s will for a person…um….have these people met God?) and other false doctrine tends to lend itself to this new-fangled term.
Or maybe it’s old-fangled. Maybe there’s a whole Wikipedia page about it that I’m too lazy look up. In that case, apologies.
I guess my issue now (as well as back in the day when God was the last thing on my mind…right after getting an “oil change.” I mean, that just sounds gross) is that people turn the grit and grime of Biblical living into a beautiful little present with just the cutest little bow on top.
Have you gone outside?
Nothing cute about that mess.
This life is no different from when Moses was wandering out in the desert, face in his hands.
True, Christ came and He rose and we have that good news (no wait, BEST news) in our hearts that makes this life so worth living now.
But there is absolutely nothing cutesy and safe about this walk with Christ. In fact, let me remind of you something:
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:1-5
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62
It might just be me, but I’m getting the sinking suspicion Jesus isn’t too concerned with how many Lexuses I own.
I’m not saying having money is bad. I’m not saying being prosperous is bad. And I’m definitely not saying that’s not God’s will for you.
What I am saying is that your security, safety, and good fortune are not the point of the Gospel.
Jesus is the point of the Gospel. How He lived and died and loves you and me and every sinner in this world despite the fact that we certainly don’t deserve it.
Maybe, just maybe we shouldn’t read the Bible to learn about ourselves, and instead, read the Bible to learn about Him.
One last note: Have you ever read the Book of Job? Do you understand the point of Job’s story? It’s this idea that God allowed so many horrible things to happen to poor Job, not to punish him, but to elevate him to a spiritual status like none other.
God loved Job. So God gave Job a trial to further their relationship together and to release Job of everything that doesn’t matter in this world.
Everything but God.
And I can assure you this: Job never received a Lexus.
And I have a feeling that Job didn’t care.
Last week I started getting panic attacks again.
An all out black fear that wouldn’t let me breathe.
It tried to convince me God doesn’t exist.
And I was choking on that lie, that misguided belief.
Before Jesus, I pretty much ascribed to the theory that my mind was dented sometime during the manufacturing process and all of my thoughts were simply the result of an imperfect production process.
I think differently now.
Sometimes I’ll be thinking something and it’s woven into something darker and larger than myself which facilitates such a deep fear that I know didn’t do this all on my own.
I’m not that talented.
I know I had help.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
And I think sometimes Satan still roams, preys on those whose eyes are finally open and now live with the deepest faith.
On the intuitive ones who have known him for the longest time.
I mean, wouldn’t you want back what you were once convinced was yours to keep?
How easy to take a mind, to snatch at what God has created and render it fruitless.
But how easy to know and love a God who’s never really let it go in the first place.
I started an email account for my daughter when she was a baby.
And I wrote emails to her pretty regularly so you have to imagine that inbox looking like the chronicled thoughts of a post-partum lunatic.
I mean, I don’t want to brag, but at some points in my life, I could have definitely given Sylvia Plath a run for her money.
There was one evening, driving on the JFK bridge (John F. Kennedy Causeway if we’re going to get all technical about it) that connects Flour Bluff to Padre Island. And to this day, that bridge is representative of the very thin veil that exists between my heaven and hell.
Because that day, her screaming was so bad, I thought about it. About what metal and concrete and the slow-fast glide into a solid sheet of water would feel like.
How nice it would be if everything just got a little bit quiet.
It’s not something I’m ashamed of as much as it’s something I refer back to, thumbing through to my beginning chapters and telling myself: “See. That was what darkness felt like.”
And then I turn my face to the sun.
But sometimes it comes back, that old familiar feeling. I break bread with it in my closet, give it a little room to sort through my shoes and rifle through my shirts. I imagine it looks at me and smirks, “Look who thinks she’s all grown up.”
But we never are. Not on our own.
There’s you. There’s that voice telling you to venture out. To search that quiet.
To make everything stop.
But then there’s God.
Because that night, who do you think steadied my hands and straightened my gaze, my eyes finding road, not water?
I can guarantee you, it wasn’t the post-partum lunatic.
So here. One last email:
Your mother’s crazy.
But she loves you.
And she’s never needed anything except for God’s unfailing light.
If that’s the only thing I teach you, then I think we’ve won.
Somebody on Instagram mentioned how things haven’t changed for us women.
And she’s absolutely right.
And they haven’t changed for the men either.
Or the children.
Or every person every shade under the sun.
We all live in a personalized hell. And Satan has an uncanny way of making us feel like we’re drowning in a pool of our own making.
He also does this cute little thing where he allows you to bob your head awhile to stare at somebody else’s pool. And there they are, lazily floating on their pool float, soaking up the sun.
I’m not a fan of the “-isms.” Which is a major 180 from the person I used to be. When I was twelve I asked for books about Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan for Christmas. I soaked up every ounce of their lives, their existences, what they fought for. I had no God, not really, so I needed people.
I needed people to save me.
My teenage years were very dark. I ran for miles and miles and miles in the incredibly chest crushing Houston heat. I hated my body, myself and in some sense, I wanted to disappear. I ate nothing but small portions of grapes and pretzels with a little bit of mustard (how I thought this was a brilliant idea is beyond me, well, this older version of me, but I digress) and every time I sat in my closet to read Cold Mountain (summer reading), I started to cry. But not just cry. Panic cry like someone was trying to kill me.
People talk about money and privilege like it solves everything.
It solves absolutely nothing. And I’m convinced it’s just another shiny thing Satan uses to get you to lift your head.
Like fighting for something you believe in even if that means fighting against somebody else.
I’ve thought about it for a long time. Prayed about it, too.
This world will not change on our own accord. We are not the brilliantly evolved beings we like to believe we are just because we have indoor plumbing.
The same issues that arose in biblical times arise now. And we still solve them the same way: with the force of our hands.
So how do we really solve the problem?
Here, let me help:
And here’s one more I’ll throw in for free: don’t judge. I firmly believe our paths as Christians are highly individualized and even though we come together as one body, we all have separate purposes. Some of use might be missionaries, some of us might be called to stay right here. Some of us will be hanging out with the used and abused, some of us will be working with those who label themselves as the quintessential Christian and are under the impression their feces gives off the scent of fresh, cut roses (mmmm!).
So if you happen to be bobbing along in your pool, skin soaking in the sun, hop off your float. Get into someone else’s pool. And help them out.
We’ll all start to drown.