Reading Challenge

Hi friends! I have a bit of a reading challenge for you, but not in the normal reading challenge sense. You see, I have noticed this problem with people taking every author at their word and not challenging the text. More specifically, I see all too often people who love Jesus taking a book author’s viewpoint and running with it without viewing it through a biblical lens. I myself have fallen prey to this mentality way too many times, so I want to help you out in your exploration of books.

Here’s my challenge: when reading a book, take in the message and see how it applies to living a life following Jesus.

Here are some practical questions to ask yourself while reading:
Does this line up with what I know to be True?
Does scripture back up this thought?
How can I take this concept and apply it to my life while showing others the love of Christ?

I applied these questions to a book I recently read, and oh wow did it transform how I absorbed what I was reading. I was able to interact with the text on a whole new level, which helped me take in and process the book in ways I never would have before.

I would love to know: what are some thoughts/skills you apply to your own reading?

One Little Word

As we’re wrapping up 2018, many people have been posting on social media about the one little word they’ve chosen to follow in 2019. I remember last year many people chose the word flourish, and this year I’ve seen people yet again choosing motivating words such as determined, brave, and present, amongst many others. I’ve stressed over this more than I probably should have, considering words such as fearless and comfort, but then I happened upon this quote while reading Live Fearless by Sadie Robertson: work the Word for the Word to work.”

IMG_8977That’s when it hit me.

My word of 2019 is word.

Strange, I know, but word encompasses so much of what I would like to focus on in 2019.

I want to dive deeper into studying the Word of God and be able to live out His Truth during both times of joy and struggle.

I want to be more aware of the words I use towards others, cultivating words of kindness and respect.

I want to continue to use words as my creative platform, watching them pour out into my journal and blog.

It really just makes so much sense for my word to be word. It’s an odd choice, but I love it. I’m excited to focus on my word and to see how much I grow and change in 2019.

Word is my word.

Also I would love to know: what did you decide as your one little word of 2019?

Books of 2018

Hi friends!

If you’ve meandered around my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed I’m a bit of a reader, so I decided to post a list of all of the books I’ve read this year! These are simply listed in the order I finished them. Some of them were new reads, some were books I re-read, and some will be read again! If you would like a review of any of the books, please let me know and I’ll type one up for you!

  • The Great Gatsby
  • When God Writes Your Love Story
  • The Best American Poetry 2012
  • Daring Greatly
  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Color Purple
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • Gifted Hands
  • The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness
  • The First 90 Days of Marriage
  • 21 Days of Prayer for Your Business
  • Messenger
  • Son
  • Big Magic
  • The Glass Castle
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Freedom Writers Diary
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Thirty-One Prayers for my Husband
  • Petey
  • Healing the Child Within
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Jane Eyre
  • Jesus Freaks
  • Fever 1793
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Outsider
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle
  • Love Does
  • Morrie: In His Own Words
  • Shopping for Time
  • Stop Dating the Church
  • The Language of God
  • The Power of Habit
  • Three Cups of Tea
  • Love Lives Here
  • Love That Lasts
  • The Book Thief
  • Brave New World
  • The ONE Thing
  • The Last Maasai Warriors
  • One Thing Workbook
  • The Four Year Career for Women
  • Made to Crave
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Everybody Always
  • The Bad Beginning
  • The Reptile Room
  • The Wide Window
  • The Four Year Career YL Edition
  • The Miserable Mill
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
  • Live Fearless

So let me know: What was your favorite book of 2018?!

Who am I?

Who am I?

Thank you for hopping onto my blog! Before jumping into my main content, I thought I should introduce myself to those of you who may not know me, and reintroduce myself to everyone else!

21077726_10211759166149122_2966551003375106225_nFirst and foremost, I am a forgiven daughter of the One True King, covered in grace, lavished in love, and immersed in mercy. It wasn’t an easy path that brought me to this identity, and if I’m being honest, I still often struggle with it. You see, I don’t deserve this identity. It is by grace that I am able to assume this role. Jesus took on my sin, sacrificed it on the cross with himself, then overcame death in order for me to be His Father’s daughter.

Secondly, I am Erica Jean Baker (previously Grogg)! I was married to the love of my life by my father-in-law on my grandparents’ 57th anniversary (December 31st, 2017) in my parent’s living room while wearing my grandmother’s wedding dress! (Did you catch all of that? Haha!) Joshua has shown me how to love our Savior in a way I believe I am only able to fully see through marriage. He points me to Christ daily, and when I’m struggling, he helps me fight through the battle. He shows me how to rely on Christ, thus putting away my perceived need for control of my life. Marriage is very much something God led me to (I was determined to be single for life, whoops!), yet marrying Joshua is the best thing I have ever done in this life second only to deciding to follow Christ.

Finally, I am a newly established blogger who desires to share my passions and loves with you, my readers. I am interested in all things having to do with Jesus and our body. My “Daily Life” section of this blog is here to keep you in the loop as to who I am and what I’m doing, along with some random life happenings that might not fit into the other categories of this blog.

Anyhoo, thank you for popping in, please sign up for my weekly email (HERE) which will include links to my previous week’s posts, and I look forward to growing in God with you!

Much love,

Erica

Where am I now?

IMG_0778Hello friends, and welcome to my newly revamped blog! I am officially “relaunching” my blog on Monday, but I first want to update you all on my life. Some of you know me well, some of you haven’t heard from me in a while, and some of you have no idea who I am! Let me catch you all up.

If you have followed me on social media, you noticed back at the beginning of August I accepted a job as a medical scribe, then I essentially went MIA. Goodness gracious God has done a lot of work on my heart since then (and I promise there are posts to come with these revelations.) Soon after accepting the job as the scribe, I realized my heart wasn’t as interested in the medical community as I thought it was.

For one, God revealed to me that my heart was full of pride on the pursuit of becoming a medical doctor .I mean, A TON of pride. I liked the idea of the status of being a doctor. Yes, there are many opportunities to serve people as a doctor, but my heart wasn’t fully in it for the people. Do I want to serve people with my life? Absolutely. But, I discovered I was truly on this specific path for myself. God was simply gracious enough to reveal my heart to me in a way where instead of it feeling like the opportunity to become a doctor was taken away from me, I now had the opportunity to walk away from the path myself.

Also, I discovered medical procedures weren’t really my thing anymore. My first week into being a scribe, I realized (word for word), “Oh crap. I love getting to know people, but I have no interest in doing procedures on them.” Please, keep in mind that in high school and college I shadowed a few surgeons and loved every minute of it, but this recent experience made me realize I love learning about healthcare, not actually doing it. I FINALLY had the realization there must be other career opportunities out there that are serving and forming relationships with people that aren’t so hands on with their body and would still bring glory to God’s kingdom and joy to my heart.

Another reason I left pursuing medicine is because my life priorities changed. In short, being in my first year of marriage has wrecked my perception of life in a good way. I still have a strong tendency to be self-focused, but I now have the opportunity to focus on someone else besides myself. As a wife, I want to serve my husband and support him in his work opportunities (and he in turn supports me in mine). I actually find myself wanting to maintain our home and cultivate a place of comfort and rest for others. I never, I repeat, NEVER expected myself to be the person I am today. I had convinced myself I would be single for life, married to my career. Goodness has that changed. In a breakdown driving home from a late night/early morning scribe shift, I realized I didn’t want to spend the next decade of my life pursuing medical education when I could be part of creating a solid foundation for my marriage and future life goals.

Wrapping up, I need to give credit where credit is due. I am incredibly thankful to God for providing the past year of schooling to discover I didn’t truly want to be on the medical path.  Without that opportunity I probably would have spent my life believing the opportunity to become a doctor was taken from me, but this time it was my choice. I didn’t deserve the past year God provided for me, yet He took care of me in more ways than I can name. He’s revealed to me even more yucky parts of my heart (cough cough PRIDE cough cough) yet has offered me endless grace and love.

I also want to take a moment to thank anyone who has been part of my pursuit of becoming a doctor. Thank you for the recommendation letters, counsel via text/phone call/ face to face, and shadowing opportunities. You have all helped me tremendously and aided in shining a light on parts of the profession I love and didn’t know about. You all are incredible and continue to inspire me.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing with you the ministry God is cultivating through me.

Much love,

Erica
(Please sign up for my weekly email HERE!)

PS if you were wondering, no, I am not a medical scribe anymore. I am now spending my days learning more about God, supporting my husband, homeschooling my dog (tehehe), building content for this blog, and dreaming big dreams.

 

Love Birds

As Joshua and I have been approaching marriage, we’ve been asked the stereotypical question numerous times: How did you two meet?

In our story, that’s actually a rather difficult question to answer. How did we meet? Back in Fall of 2016, according to Joshua we met once, but I have no recollection of it. We were at a prayer team meeting for our church on a day when I was incredibly stressed. I had left work for a bit to attend the meeting, and my girls were on my mind. (I worked at The Sparrow’s Nest, a maternity home for teenagers. Check it out: http://www.thesparrowsneststl.org/ )

The next time we met, I remembered him but he didn’t remember me. It was the beginning of January 2017. I had just gotten back in town from my sister’s figure skating competition and was attending a prayer team meeting. Joshua spoke that evening on prayer, and I remembered thinking, “Huh. I wonder if he’s single,” but I quickly shook it off and moved on.

Enter February 2017. I was teaching in our children’s church and Joshua’s small group was volunteering. I went through the typical questions of getting to know a volunteer: What do you do for a living? How long have you been attending this church? Do you know so-and-so? Etc. He asked what I do for a living, and when I told him I worked at The Sparrow’s Nest, he got incredibly excited. I remember asking, “Wait, you know about Sparrow?” From my experience, it was strange that a young man knew about any maternity home, and especially a specific one for teenagers. The conversation continued, and Joshua asked to volunteer, so I passed on his email to our volunteer coordinator.

Leaving that conversation, my coworker friend who was also part of it, called it out that Joshua was interested in me. I blew it off and thought there was no way.

Now, it’s my understanding that Joshua did volunteer at Sparrow once without my involvement in the planning. Since then, I found out that he did want to volunteer to catch my attention, but decided that would not be the best way to go about pursuing me.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Joshua watched the Facebook Live videos I made for Sparrow. This next piece of information is important: I always wore a ring on my right ring finger and a ring on my left middle finger. In Facebook Live, the image is flipped and Joshua thought I had an engagement ring on my left ring finger, thus giving up hope on pursuing me.

May 13th, 2017. I had forgotten about posting a video on Sparrow’s Facebook page asking for someone to help with overflowing gutters, thus also forgetting that Joshua had offered to come over and clean out the gutters. I also typically did not work weekends, but I was working this entire weekend to accommodate for being short staffed. Around 5p, here came Joshua ready to clean out gutters, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember why he was there, much less his name. An awkward conversation begins, and then all is well in the world. I show him the gutters and offer to hold the bag while he scoops out the grossness.

Following my typical routine of engaging in conversation with volunteers, I ask questions to get to know him and let him know we are thankful for his help. As the conversation continues, my little brain secretary’s jaw drops as I begin to realize we share many similar interests and views on life. I asked God a simple question: “God, is he mine?” I received a simple answer: “Yes.” My brain secretary closed her mouth, flipped her hair, put her hands on her hips, and with slight attitude told God, “Welp, then you’re going to have to make it happen.”

You all know where this is going… God made it happen.

Before leaving Sparrow, Joshua asked me to let him know next time I would be going trail running. (Guess who didn’t let him know… This girl right here.) A couple of weeks later he found me teaching in children’s church and invited me to go trail running Saturday at 6a. I thought, “Goodness, this guy is crazy!” But, I agreed.

And the rest was history.

Remember that little blurb about my rings? It turns out that on the way to Sparrow to clean out the gutters, Joshua couldn’t figure out why he was on his way to help out, especially because he thought I was already betrothed to someone else. At Sparrow he discovered that I was single and had crazy big hopes and dreams for my future.

Beginning there, God knitted our hearts together.

From the beginning, I noticed Joshua’s kindness, something I was lacking in offering myself. Through Joshua, God kept reminding me to be kind to myself and to not run from this forming relationship. I personally was shown that there are God-fearing trustworthy men in this world who respect women. Possibly most importantly, I saw, and still see, how God orchestrates each of our lives perfectly, even when we can’t see it. There were many, many opportunities and possibilities that could have kept Joshua and myself apart, but even before we knew each other, we were turning down opportunities to take new jobs and to travel long term to foreign lands without knowing why we felt called away from them, only to be led to each other.

I can also tell you this: When people ask why we chose each other, we both can confidently reply that we didn’t choose each other. God chose us for each other.

mzungu.

Emotions are stirring and memories are flooding back. I’m sitting here in St. Louis at a time of racial tension being reminded of how the Lord our God made His presence known to me in Africa. Until today, I had yet to beginning blogging about my time spent in Uganda and Kenya, two weeks that changed my heart and mind forever.

You see, there were many, many moments that grasped my heart, begging me to think past myself and question the world around me. Right now, I could choose to write about the malnourished children, the sewage flooding the streets, or even the beauty of the landscape, but I’m being prompted to write about something deeper. Specifically, my heart was stirred every single day I as there on my outlook of ethnic differences.

Up until stepping foot in Entebbe, Uganda, I had never been a minority. I grew up comfortably white suburbia middle-class. With what all I’m about to say, I need to set some disclaimers. I am not claiming to understand what it is like to live life as a minority. I understand that with what I experienced in Africa as the minority, it was still widely known that because I am white, I am also affluent. Now please, continue to hear me out.

From the time we landed in Uganda to the moment we left Kenya, I could count on my fingers how many white people we saw outside of our group. I found myself embarrassed to be white, wondering why God created me this color and why in the world I have been incredibly blessed while so many people are in a deep need that I will never understand. I had to consistently remind myself of the truth that God created me this color for a reason, even if the reason had yet to be disclosed to me.

Being blatantly honest, to walk around and hear people call out to you (not in a derogatory fashion-I asked about this), “Hey, mzungu! See you, mzungu!” quickly became annoying. From my understanding and brief google search, mzungu simply means white person or one from European descent. Why was I being pointed out because of my skin color? Something I stood by going into the trip and something I still stand by is this fact: we are all human.

I shared this with a lady with whom we met in the slums of Nairobi, and after reading Psalm 103:1-5, in her beautiful Swahili tongue she stated it so perfectly:

“We all have the same Strength in us. Our colors don’t matter because our souls are the same. We remember what God has done in our lives. We wear the crown He has given us and we fly like eagles.”

For clarification, Swahili and English do not translate directly word for word but from the translation I received, my heart soared. This woman, I have no doubt from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, shared nearly exactly what had been on my heart. I think we can all learn from her wisdom. Though we all look different, our souls are the same.

My friends, I will never be able to say this enough. We are all human. For my friends who are madly in love with our Heavenly Father, always remember we are called to love God and love His people.

Walk in love and soar like eagles.

-Erica

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)