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She talks to Jesus.

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:

  • I’m growing deeper in my faith journey. I’m learning more. I’m learning to love others which has never been my cup of tea. I’m making myself available to people, which I supposed is part of that whole loving thing. Again, it hurts. (The fact that my husband and I routinely joke about my icy heart and RBF should tell you a thing or two. Which he kind of loves because I can’t be moved, y’all.)
  • The world is ending. I feel like one of those crazies on a street corner with the sign and unwashed hair but the crazy has worn off and all I see is a deep commitment to truth in their eyes.
  • I’ve cut the fat. There are so many distractions on the daily. I’ve removed so many in my life that I now feel like I have my finger on the pulse of who God is and who He created me to be.

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:

“Hello.”

Insert Adele sound clip here.

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How to choose Jesus and still write fiction.

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.


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To suffering: until we meet again.

My Job period is coming to a close.

If you haven’t heard me screaming from my rooftop and seen the clumps of hair I’ve been scattering through the city, then let me bring you up to speed: I’m thirty-three-years-old. And I’ve been battling acne.

It’s been a hard turn of events for someone who was once stopped in the street by a member of the male sex in his mid-twenties and was told point blank, “You are really naturally pretty.”

It also may have been in the middle of the night. And that guy might have been stumbling drunk out of a bar.

But still.

I’ve learned this: I’m a very vain person, and I put a lot of stock into my looks. Which is really too bad because despite the acne, my looks are leaving me and will continue to do so.

Age, man. It’s a losing battle.

But I’ve chosen better instead of bitterness. I’ve chosen the Job route: getting angry at God only to have a conversation with Him and to really understand that He is the Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth. And maybe this point in my life isn’t a punishment but an opportunity.

An opportunity to get over myself and learn who I really am.

Without all that wretched prettiness getting in the way.

I have a purpose, a calling. An urge to write truth and let it sting the page.

Maybe I’ll focus on that for a little bit. And let the catcalls of a mid-twenties drunkard be the faint whisper of a bitterly sweet life.

Once here. Now gone.

Bring on the future.


Never fear. I’ll be writing another post about how exactly I cured my acne in case you, too, are an early-thirties victim of this Job-like epidemic. Prayers and hugs to you. And perhaps start walking around aimlessly in the city to find some drunk dude willing to give you well meaning compliments.

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Three easy ways to save the world.

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.

Jerks.

Right?

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:

  1. Christ. Follow him. Give up everything else that is shiny and beckoning and makes you believe you’ll have it all figured out “if just.” If just nothing. Satan knows your heart and your mind. He’ll keep playing you. And he’s very good at it.
  2. Stop the pack mentality. Stop the -isms. Stop grouping yourself into a category and grouping everyone else into another. JUST. STOP. IT. I know you think you’re helping, and if we could just cut that other group down, then wow, we’ll really get somewhere! No you won’t. You won’t get anywhere.
  3. Instead? Look everyone in the eye as the individual they are. Look at every situation as a specific occurrence you can handle with God’s help. Otherwise, you’ll move through life like a mindless pack animal who starts to get twitchy every time somebody posts something on Facebook that’s counter-intuitive to your way of thinking. Nobody like twitching. Nobody.

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.

Otherwise?

We’ll all start to drown.


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Cuter than a bucket full of baby chicks.

Like, no.

I’m writing with the purpose of publishing my work and achieving my dreams.

This is insanity when you think about it.

I had a short stint of blogging and getting somewhat popular with the whole blog thing and publishing a book with a publishing company and being a small time big star on the interwebs.

But mostly in my head.

So where do I get off thinking I can do this again and turn it into something bigger than before?

Well, you know, God and what not.

STORY TIME!!!!

There was once a girl named Ericka who was as cute as a baby squirrel born in a basket of daffodils and she was given the ability to write. From whom? No one because she didn’t believe in God and was convinced the afterlife was nothing more than a cold dead existence sitting still in a cinder block room for hours on end.

Adorable.

Ericka lived a life that was mildly entertaining and posted about it on the internets. People came from all over: their lackluster Facebook profiles, that article about how skim milk can give you acne, that Reddit thread where that one guy keeps spelling “their” incorrectly… And they laughed and clapped and screamed “Dance, monkey dance!” when reading one of her posts or watching her videos and Ericka did just that. She danced on her two legs that were cuter than a baby deer who’s just opened its eyes for the very first time.

But then sadness: unforeseen circumstances, sleepless nights, sleep paralysis, extreme depression all came at her at once and sucked out her small woodlandesque creature cuteness until she became kind of like Meredith from The Office.

But one night she prayed and told Jesus she’d trust him and promptly remove her head from her backside. The next night? Pure, unadulterated sleep.

She started listening to God. She took a real office job that hurt every ounce of her creative being but knew this is what Jesus was calling her to do. She stood up for her employees, garnered friendships, led by example and watched quite a few regain their love of Jesus.

And then that part of her journey was over and the next call was to come home and homeschool her daughter which has not yet ended in the house being set on fire.

Miraculous.

The voice is calling again and Ericka is listening. It says “Ask and you shall receive.” It’s telling her that her faithfulness will be rewarded and she has a gut deep inkling that this will result in a real writing career, some way some how.

Because God doesn’t disappoint. The world does and sometimes He asks very hard things of people. But these things are the very best things.

If only because they help you regain the gorgeousness of a doughy-limbed bunny frolicking through the first winter snow.

The End.

First steps have been taken. I’ve entered my poetry manuscript into a contest, and I have an eerily good feeling about it.

I know that writing is the way I bring people to Jesus. I know God has plans for me (and you, too, by the by). So I’ve decided to stop getting in my own way, to stop getting down that I’m not where I want to be right this very moment.

Because I feel the path beneath my feet, and I know it will get me exactly where God needs me.

Even if that means turning into a round-eyed kitten lovingly embracing her puppy best friend.

I’ll sacrifice if I have to.


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Let the dead bury their dead.

Ego.

I have a heaping pile of that to give away.

I’m smart. No, really.

I get that I can’t tell time and have a hard time doing simple math (“simple” is really a misnomer and should be ashamed of itself for hanging out with math in the first place), but I once took an Internet IQ test, and let’s just say I should be doing your taxes right now.

And here’s the thing: we’re all at fault.

And maybe not just ego, but pride, too.

I kind of think the worst thing in the world is to be proud. 

I can’t tell you how many people (myself included) strut around this place (Earth) like we’re the fourth member of Hanson.

Have you taken a hard look at us lately?

We kind of suck, you guys.

The world, our world, America is quickly dissolving into a pot of stewed tomatoes. We smell terrible and are the most hideous shade of vermilion.

And even if we mean well, storming to the polls, shaking our Internet fists at the wrong in the world…we still think on an individual level that we got it all figured it out (our way is the right way, correct?).

But do we?

I have a hard time believing in collective thought, meaning, I have a hard time fitting inside the restraints of what “I SHOULD BE” and doing anything at all that somebody tells me to do.

It’s why I sacrifice a majority of my time as a living mannequin for the auto section of Wal-Mart.  

And I’m always in awe of people on the interwebs, how self-assured they are of their thoughts, beliefs, social acceptances, political alliances, when in the background, the bills aren’t getting paid, the violence is getting worse, the sickness is worming its way in.

The car won’t start.

Pride is the tip of the mountain, the zenith (shout out to my fourth grade vocabulary test. I owned you like a beast), the uppermost point of something built on hidden failures and too much time spent pointing fingers instead of taking a hard, long internal sweep of the soul.

And that dang mountain has a stench about it that’s worst than a whole vat of stewed tomatoes.

You can’t love Jesus and serve two masters, his heart and your staunch convictions.

You can’t worry about the state of everything and call yourself a Christian.

“Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

Meaning? Let go of it all and start walking His path.

There’s a lot of talk in the Bible about those who call themselves Christians truly not getting it. And not getting it is the worst thing in the world.

Because when you don’t understand and are frustrated by the state of things that you truly can’t control, you’re too busy fretting to love.

And love, complete faith in Christ, and moving through the world with an empathetic heart will get you much farther than taking sides and teetering on your soapbox.

SPOILER ALERT: you’re going to die. But you have today. You have your home, your children, small steps to make changes where it counts.

You might not be able to take the whole world in your hands and conform it to what you think is best. But you can you start praying and listening and doing what HE thinks is best.

And I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something to be said about closing your eyes and letting go.

Well, I better get a move on. Those heavy duty windshield wipers aren’t going to artfully model themselves. 


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Everything must go.

Not everything.

Clothes are probably a must.

But I don’t know.

We (my husband and I…just assume from here on out that “we” refers to me and a man I tricked into marrying me ten years ago and stays because I’ve hidden his keys…in the ice maker…shhh…) love watching Naked and Afraid.

At first, I just assumed it was a bunch of naked people running around for the sake of ratings.

And yes, it kind of is.

But it’s also so much more.

Take for instance the three alpha males who continuously pray to God before they score during a hunt and even though they reek of testosterone and electric eel slime, they check their egos at the door and even keep offering the other naked group on the show the food they’ve killed because, and I quote, “It’s the Christ-like thing to do.”

You’ve never seen so many naked Christians.

I think I’m writing this because I wanted to tell a fellow Christian friend how much this show rocked but then I didn’t because I thought she’d judge me.

HOW. MESSED. UP. IS. THAT.

Here’s why I think we shouldn’t judge: there’s a very intricate web being woven at any given moment and you only get a glimpse of a few basic strands.

What I mean is that God is moving all of us, those who believe in Him and those who don’t. And just because you assume certain things shouldn’t be done/said/thought by those who love Jesus doesn’t mean that you’re the final authority on what should be done/said/thought by those who love Jesus (Matthew 7:1-5).

That’s…well…kind of Jesus’s domain.

Things aren’t as defined as I once thought they were. I think we wade waist deep in a big ‘ol sea of gray when walking this Earth.

But God knows that. He knows our hearts, and He’s molding us as we tip toe down the path he’s mapped out for us even when our feet are tired.

So when you see someone walking down their own path, open your heart and snap shut your criticism. Pray that God has them as tightly as He’s holding you.

And if you notice their feet are bare, don’t judge. But maybe offer them some shoes.


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The lost art of listening.

I can feel the Lord talking to me.

A lot of times I make myself too busy to hear it.

Dishes and laundry and teaching a nine-year-old and car washes and grocery pick ups and gymnastics classes and homeschool co-ops and field trips and family time and hurt and love and pain and laughter.

And my fingers purposefully jammed in my ears.

I love God. I love what He has to tell me.

And sometimes I love the sound of my own voice better.

He’s gifted me so much.

The way my mother, by all accounts, should have died at least five times by now.

Once when she was younger and skidded under a moving truck on her bike but just dusted herself off and kept on biking (she was the original Ava) and here most recently during her reconstruction surgery after battling (and winning) against breast cancer.

A double mastectomy didn’t get her down.

Crohns doesn’t keep her down.

Having organs plucked from her insides doesn’t keep her down.

And if you ask her what keeps her so alive she’d never say her own will.

She’d say God’s.

So you’d think I’d live ear glued to the golden telephone listening and existing through every word spoken.

I won’t make the mistake of the Israelites. I won’t turn my back on God.

Ha.

Turning, sometimes, is the only move I know how to make.

Fortunately, God’s got that move covered, too.

So He’s always seeking my face.

My soul.

My heart.

He is always on the ready to call me back home.


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When in doubt, meow.

I keep coming back to Zipporah.

Zipporah was Moses’s wife, and she had a really cool name.

You’re learning so much today!

I think about her a lot now, whereas in her place, I’d usually think about things like what my super hero capability would be (learning to speak cat so I could properly meow) or that time my dad told me that maybe what we think of as existence is really just the fleeting thought of a hungry beetle.

I should call him. And ask him to stop talking to people.

In a kind of crazy passage of the Bible (hahahaha….all of them??), there’s a part where Zipporah intervenes on behalf of her husband to keep God from killing him (Exodus 4:24-26).

Moses REALLY dropped the ball by not circumcising his son (which is kind of like saying “Oh, God, we’re good over here, we don’t really need to follow you or anything and also more steak, less mana?”), so Zipporah picked up his slack and did it for him and she was so MAD (I mean, ew, right?). But she did it because she feared God and she loved her husband.

What I’m trying to say is that Zipporah was, well, a smart cookie, observant, and a woman of action.

And she didn’t crumble.

But let’s talk about the crumbling.

I’ve spent a good thirty-three years breaking apart like a delicious cookie.

My usual drug of choice was a depression/anxiety/body dysmorphia cocktail that I used to chug on the regular.

And I tried the whole inner ME thing. The tapping into the space that exists apparently right behind you breastbone, and if you magically turn that key, you’re in control of your destiny, your feelings, your onslaught of sneaky emotions that choke you up and leave you regretting breath the first thing in the morning.

And maybe, just maybe you start believing my dad’s beetle theory.

But Zipporah just didn’t roll like that because really, that truth just doesn’t exist. She trusted God even when everything was on her shoulders, namely the fate of her husband, which in turn, affected her own fate.

She wasn’t a super human on her own accord and actually, wasn’t really a super human at all (her meowing was terrible…look it up), but yet another regular ‘ol person God used to do great things.

That is YOU. YOU are suffocating right now, are you not? YOU wake up and are watching your world burn at the edges, the flames licking your cheeks. And YOU are doing that thing where you’re clawing at your breastbone, looking for the answers.

And ME? I’m going to ask you one simple favor: please stop.

I know what it’s like to keep spinning, uncontrollably, and look in the mirror to find the eyes of somebody who’s unhinged and floating through life like the momentary thought of a beetle.

YOU are amazing. But YOU can’t do it alone.

And Zipporah couldn’t either or Moses or David or Jeremiah or Mary or that guy down the street who keeps parking his car in his yard like he wants me to angrily meow at him.

We’re all just human, friend. And there’s no secret recipe you need to tap into. But there is a God who’s patiently waiting, who can keep you from crumbling like the delicious cookie you are.

All you got to do is ask.

Also? Meow.


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