Monsters

Once upon a time, in the very recent past, there was a girl who was consumed by Monsters.

Wait, pause. We need to learn more about the Monsters in this story. These Monsters aren’t the typical monsters of books and movies, but rather Monsters that are around us everyday. They have actually been known to surround us without us even realizing it due to our attraction to their ways. They start out as cute little things, but can grow into large Beasts.

Continuing on. During the day, the girl’s Monsters followed her around, but she managed to keep them hidden. At night though, oh, at night they came out. You see, these Monsters thrive in the dark. They attack in unexpected ways, biting you when you sometimes don’t even realize it.

This girl, in her ever drifting ways, was an easy target for the Monsters. At first, she wasn’t well aware of them. During the day she was the teacher’s pet, but at night she was the life of the party. Her stories of her life were almost so unbelievable that her friends joked she should write them all down in a book that would most likely become a best-seller. The problem, though, was that in writing them down, her Monsters would become visible to the world. They begged her to keep them a secret.

Moving around in her days, her Monsters were getting worse and worse about remaining hidden. You see, these Monsters have an ego. They want to be perceived as life, but they are darkness. They yearn to be seen without truly being seen. Before she knew it, the girl was being drowned by her Monsters, and she was silently screaming for a life free of them, not even realizing exactly how free of them she needed to be.

It didn’t take long for her hidden Monsters to begin revealing themselves. Eventually the Monsters began creeping into the daylight, wondering what it would feel like to risk being noticed. They wanted fame. Sneaky as they are though, they masked themselves even when slightly revealing themselves during the day. You have to have a trained eye to see them.

Carrying on through her days, the girl was seeking freedom, yearning to stand firm without her Monsters crawling all over her. They weighed her down. It took her being knocked down multiple times, but eventually she was torn free from her Monsters. Their masks were ripped off and they were revealed in the Light. She was finally able to stand up to her Monsters with the Light holding her hand, pulling her into a warm embrace.

Now, her Monsters still try to pester her, trying to get her to let them back in. They nip at her ankles and scurry through her mind. The Monsters try to tear her down and hide from the Light, but she knows better. Because of the Light, she is no longer slave to the Monsters. She has found Freedom.

Dear readers, you may have caught on by now to the characters in this story. The Monsters are the enemy, wearing many disguises that we may seek for without necessarily realizing it: popularity. alcohol. food. drugs. money. That’s just naming a few. Many Monsters lurk around without their hosts even realizing they are there.

But what about the Light? Who is this Light character? The Light is the victor of this story: Jesus.

In this story, Jesus ripped the enemy off of the girl and pulled her towards Him. He revealed her Monsters, revealed the enemy. He is our Savior. Our Lover. Our Protector. He wants to yank the Monsters off of you and pull you into Him.

Friends, this is just a little description of how Jesus saved me. He saved me from my Monsters.

Will you let Him fight your Monsters for you?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” John 8:12

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Biblical Work

A couple of months ago I was convicted of how I view work. You see, I am perfectly content spending my days reading by the pool, beach, mountains, fireplace, etc. I’m assuming you see my point. I had no desire to put in work in any area of my life. As you can see in THIS POST, my life has not turned out to be what I expected. Therefore, when my life went a very different direction, I essentially gave up on myself.

IMG_0339Then came the work conviction. So, I decided to do some research into what the Word of God says about work.

Genesis 2:2 states, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” SLAP. IN. THE. FACE. Hear this: GOD WORKS. He didn’t rest until his work was done. Okay, then. What else is there?

Psalm 8:3-4 states, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Wow. We have constant reminders of God’s work around us every single day, yet here I am only wanting to enjoy his work, not put in work of my own. Also, God is mindful of me… I don’t deserve this grace, yet he lavishes it upon me.

Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Yeah, about that one… I very much tend to try to do things on my own, not asking God to bless my pursuits. I have very much found that if I’m trying to do something on my own, the motivation to work just doesn’t present itself like I expect. On the other hand, when I have committed my work to the Lord, it has been blessing after blessing after blessing.

I’m going to go ahead and stop here. There are many verses about Biblical work, and if you’re interested in them, most Bibles have a concordance where “work” may be listed with verses following. I personally took the time to go through the list and write down each verse word for word in my journal so I was taking the time to digest what I was reading, which helped me refocus my view of work.

To wrap up, goodness gracious to work is so very Biblical. I pray often for the motivation and strength to continue to become more and more skillful in my work in order to glorify God. I would like to know, how have you committed your work to the Lord?

Rest Well

Life can be pretty messy sometimes, can’t it?

Okay, okay… who am I kidding? It often seems like it’s messy ALL of the time. But, there are definitely times when it seems messier than others.

This might sound crazy, but I firmly believe that if it feels like we have it all together, then we’re probably doing something wrong.

Pause. SAY WHAT?!

Hear me out. If life feels put together with no mess, then what are we doing? As a follower and lover of Jesus, it’s expected that spiritual warfare will often play a part in life. If we’re doing Kingdom Work for Jesus, then of course Satan is going to try to stop us. You hear me?

So here’s part of my point: if you are a follower of Jesus, and you are actively pursuing His will for your life, then you are going to face spiritual warfare. If you’re like me, you’ll question why in the world this or that is happening to you. You may even kick and scream and throw a few punches at God.

Real talk time. I may or may not have been doing just that a few minutes ago, before I was inspired to write it in a blog post. And by “may or may not,” I mean I was doing just that. I was angry at God for allowing this or that to happen to my life and to the lives of others around me, and trust me, I was letting Him know that I was mad.

Then, He reminded me of this following statement, another part of my point: we were not made for this world. We were made to worship God while we’re here and to do His work in this world, but this is not where our soul rests. Our soul finds rest in our Heavenly Father, our Creator, our Lover.

And now, the final part of my point: while we are here, I think there is power in radical acceptance of what is, but there’s even more power in prayer and remembering these next six words…

It is well with my soul.

Though it may seem this world continuously drags us down, we must remember our Firm Foundation, our Rock, our Protector.

Rest well, dear friends.

 

Take Flight

Life can get crazy pretty crazy, agree?

Oh goodness. Since my previous post, I have:

-met the man of my dreams
-quit my first full time job
-moved to my own apartment
-returned to school
-began a new job
-married the man of my dreams

In all of these things, I have had to lean on God more than ever before, trust His guidance, and take leaps of faith.

Also, it’s time to take flight. I’m relaunching this blog.

The past few months I have craved the freedom of writing, yet never set aside the time for it. I’ve missed this form of expression, of sharing with the world what I have learned, of helping others through their struggles.

So what is this blog about? It’s about life. It’s about what it looks like to be a married post-bacc premed student who douses herself in oils and periodically eats cookies for breakfast. It’s about being a precious mess trying to meander through this world.

This is my invitation to you to join me on this journey of faith and love. Will you please take my hand and come along?

Much love,

Erica

Courageous Warrior

This new thought of courage has been bouncing around in my brain. What is it? What does it mean to be courageous? According to a simple Google search, to have courage is to have “strength in the face of pain or grief.” To be courageous is to be “not deterred by danger or pain; brave.”

Confession time: Previously when I would think of the word “courage,” I thought of large animals like lions or warriors dressed for battle. Both of these images show outward strength and potentially the absence of fear. Well, my view has been shattered and I’m realizing there are so many more courageous people in this world than to whom I previously gave credit.

Courageous warriors are all around us. They’re the invisible army, marching into battle with their sword and shield. They’re vulnerable, admitting fear but not letting it stop them in their tracks. They’re sharing their story, speaking out in truth and love. They’re the ones looking fear in the face and saying, “Not today.”

They’re the survivors, the fighters, the warriors.

They’re you and me.

And dear Courageous Warriors, you are so loved.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Headlights

I’m one of those people who prefer things to be my way. I guess you could call me a bit of a control freak. (And I think it’s safe to say quite a few of you reading this probably feel the same way.) I often find myself questioning God’s plan for my life, wondering what in the world He could have up His sleeve for this journey.

As of lately it seems like He’s asking me this question more and more: “Do you trust Me?” My initial response is usually, “Well yes God, of course I trust you.”

But then I dig deeper…

Do I really trust Him?

Do I really trust that He’ll lead me to places that are best for me, even when I don’t see it?

One of my favorite quotes for the past few years has been, “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the entire trip that way.” (Shout out to E. L. Doctorow for your wise words!) He speaks so much truth in that statement.

Isn’t that how life works? You can’t see far into your future, but you’ll make it.

If you’re like me though, this can be pretty dang tough. I want to know now what God has planned for me. It’s so difficult to give up the small sense of control I think I have of my life.

Friends and fellow control freaks like me, I want to encourage you to keep pursing God and His will for your life. Have an open heart, open mind, and open ears. Take pit stops to fill up with gas, but stay on the journey laid out ahead of you. As difficult as it sometimes may be, trust our Navigator.

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lost heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1

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I Believe…

Hi friend!

So you found your way onto my blog… Fantastic! You’re probably wondering what this blog is all about. Let me share a bit about what I believe:

I believe in dancing in the rain.

I believe in being the voice for those without.

I believe in helping others find their voice.

I believe education goes beyond the classroom.

I believe coffee is life support.

I believe in love.

I believe in loving those who long for love.

I believe in loving those who deny love.

And most importantly, I believe God’s love is the most beautiful, the most precious, love.

This love of God’s, this love so full and complete we cannot fathom its depths, I believe every single soul longs for it. I also believe that not everyone knows this love is what he or she is searching for in this world.

This brings me to my goal of this blog:

Love Him and love His.

How do we love others without first loving God? I believe we don’t. I believe the way we authentically love others
is by first loving Love Himself.

“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all y
our soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:36-39

Thanks for reading! I would love to know, what are your thoughts on love?design.png

The Heart of Authenticity

Okay ya’ll, it’s real talk time.

Remember that word I mentioned 10 days ago? That word that kept appearing in my life? If not, or if you need a refresher, check it out here: https://egroggbaker.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/authenticity/

Are you caught up? You can probably guess where this is going.

It. Keeps. Appearing.

Authentic.

Let’s investigate: to be authentic is to be raw, known, and accepted.

Wait. Did you read those last two?

Known.

Accepted.

Maybe that’s it… maybe the heart of living an authentic life is being known and accepted.

It’s time to dig a little deeper. One of the definitions of “authentic” I found a week and a half ago was “worthy of acceptance.” I wonder, is that at the heart of living an authentic life? Bear with me just a bit.

You see, I have this theory that every single person who has lived on this earth craves acceptance. The problem is where we turn for acceptance. Maybe a few of these ring true for you:

Opinions.

Relationships.

Performance.

Status.

Success.

The list could continue on, but here’s the thing: what if I told you that there is someone out there who doesn’t care about any of the words on that list? Would you believe me if I said there is someone who already finds you worthy of acceptance?

Okay, okay, I know I probably sound kind of crazy right now. Who in their right mind would ignore that list and only look at your heart?

Ready for it? God.

Yep, I said it. God.

He knows the depths of our hearts. He longs for us to invite Him to pour on us the surplus of grace He offers. He deems each of us as being worthy of acceptance.

So, here’s my question: are we willing to open up our raw and vulnerable hearts to Him, allowing Him to fill them with His grace and love, thus bringing us the opportunity of feeling true freedom and acceptance?

That, my dear friends, is what I believe to be a constant struggle. Our humanness can’t fathom a love so deep, a love so authentic, a love so pure. Yet, there is a Love that accepts us as we are, presenting us with the opportunity to be deemed worthy to drink of its overflowing cup.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27cropped-img_72901.jpg

Authenticity.

Authenticity.

Every time I read or hear this word, a picture of a young child learning how to pronounce it pops up in my mind. Can you see it? Can you hear it? AWE-THIN-ticity.

This word and versions thereof have appeared in my life numerous times this past week. When this happens, I ask myself, “What could God possibly be trying to tell me?” You see, this seems to be a pattern of His, bringing something to my attention numerous times to the point I can’t deny it must be from Him. I would like to assume it’s because I am skeptical and ask Him to make things obvious to me, which He so graciously seems to do.

Before continuing on, let’s examine the meaning of the word, shall we? From reading the definitions as presented by the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, I gather that to be authentic means to be: true, worthy of acceptance, and original.

But, here’s the thing. When I see or hear this word “authentic,” I tend to add another to it: love.

Authentic love.

Hmm… I continue to sit here questioning why this combination of words would be brought to mind so often.

Pause. As I am sitting here typing this, I audibly sighed when it hit me: If to express authentic love means to show truth, acceptance, and originality, haven’t I just described our Father’s love for us?

He, who loves us so dearly, so authentically, opens up His arms for us. This true love so vast we cannot fathom the depths of it is lavishly poured on us. And this love, isn’t this the love we are called to display for all to see? To live a life of authentic love, pointing everyone in our life to Christ, isn’t that our mission statement for life?

To not ignore the obvious, I continue to fail time and time again at living an authentic life of love. My prayer is that I would relentlessly continue to strive for actively living out this authentic love, continuing to be held in our Heavenly Father’s loving arms.

Will you join me?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7-12

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At the Cross

Last night, I pictured myself on the cross, and I fell even more in love with our Savior. Have you ever done this before, pictured yourself on the cross? It’s rightfully our spot, but Christ bore the weight of our sin for us. He hung on a tree and was crucified even though He was blameless.

Picture this with me for a moment.

You’re walking, but you’re barely picking up your feet. You feel heavy, heavier than you’ve ever felt before. You’re dragging a cross, your cross, the one you’re about to hang on. It’s weighing you down. You pause, take a breath. A whip cracks on you, making the pain you feel even worse. How can you carry on? You must, though you are marching to your death. You look down at your naked, bloodied body. Is it really you? Look left, look right. People yelling at you, cursing you, mocking you. Their words blur together, but you hear some of the lies. Unlovable. Damaged. Dispensable. Look ahead, there’s the hill on which you will die. It’s so close, yet so far. The sky is grey, the air somber. Must you keep going? The whips keep cracking, but then something changes. You hear the whips, but you don’t feel them. The words stop penetrating your soul. Look left again. There’s a man, dragging along beside you. His flesh is torn, he wears a crown of thorns. You feel light, then you realize you are no longer dragging your cross, but he is carrying yours, too. You recognize him, you know he’s blameless. Why is he here? He looks at you, and says, “I will carry you, all you need to do is ask.” 

Do you run the opposite way? Do you continue on to your death alongside him? What do you choose? 

You look around, the people are now inviting you, luring you with riches of the flesh.

You look at the man, considering carrying your cross alongside him, the cross that is rightfully yours. You hear the crowd turn against you as you look at the man. 

He offers more, a drink of water. “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

You look back at the people, tempted by them. But, you choose. You drink the water he’s offering. You take your cross from the man. The suffering begins again, but this time you feel unexplainable joy. You carry on to the hill, this man beside you. It’s your joy and honor to walk this path with him. To die with him. To give him the glory in your death, a death from hanging on the cross beside the man whom you love, the man who loves you. The nails, yes, they hurt. The thought of living in death hurts even worse. You know the riches for you are not of this earth, but in the kingdom of heaven.

This picture stuck with me all night. How could Christ possibly love me so much that he would walk this earth, suffer, and die on a cross, offering himself as the sacrifice for my sin? I deserve that death for my sin, yet all he asks of me is me. I have nothing to offer him except myself, my life, my service. I come to the cross with my arms stretched, hands open, because that’s all I have to offer: myself.

What about you?

At the Cross as performed by Johnny Cash

Alas and did my saviour bleed and did my sov’reign die
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

Was it for crimes that I have done he groaned upon the tree
Amazing pity grace unknown and love beyond degree

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

But drops of grief cannot repay the debt of love I owe
Here lord I give myself away it’s all that I can do

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

At the cross at the cross where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away
It was there by faith I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day