We’re all sponges.

When From Her Fortress takes to video…

Every now and again I share a video on my social media feeds. Writing is my passion, but as we all know, some lessons are better shown than typed. Below is something I recorded about a year ago. No fancy recording equipment! Just me, my iPhone and a toaster to hold it up!

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It’s important to know what to keep and what to wring out at the end of every day. Hope you all enjoy!

With love,

From Her Fortress.

Domestic violence, you lost.

I give it to abuse…it’s a cruel demon; a highly sophisticated one. Fourteen years of physical and emotional abuse and I’m still finding new wounds. Since the age of six my life has been ruled by hate.

I hated the way my dad treated my mom.

I hated the way she stayed with him.

I hated the way my family did nothing to stop it.

I hated lying to protect them.

I hated the way my heart broke over and over even when I knew what to expect.

And a fresh one: I hate reading what the beautifully charismatic woman pictured next to me has gone through.

Domestic violence is a cycle. My parents’ childhoods couldn’t be more proof of this. They both became entangled in the net not knowing how to live their lives without this demon. And that’s heavy. How can I hate people who were simply trying to survive themselves?

That’s why I wake up every morning with the agenda of slaying this demon. The cycle will end at my feet. Not because of my strength, but God’s.

It’s been five years since I escaped the world that left my heart suffocating every day. And only in the past year have I begun to grow again. To find out who’s underneath all the false identities I’ve been given since childhood. If left to my own efforts I would still be laying shattered in a corner. But God has been working for me.

  • He gave me hope when I couldn’t see past the night.
  • He gave me mercy when I wanted to hate my mom for staying.
  • He gave me forgiveness to walk up to my dad and show him the love he never could give.
  • He gives me strength to see the blessings that come from living such a dark childhood.
  • And finally, He guides me as I avoid situations that have the potential of starting another cycle.

The only victim here today is the demon of domestic violence. In this room is his final resting place; the survivors around me standing over him with unimaginable strength.

Domestic violence, you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. [Gen. 50:20 NLT]

My past has given me a voice. And I will use it for every person who is fighting so tirelessly to survive.

Standing tall,

From Her Fortress


 

The area agency in my county held a fundraising event to honor the story of a woman who lost her life earlier this year to domestic violence. Survivors were given a platform to share their stories alongside pictures taken by an area artist, Carrie Louise Wood. The above post was my entry, with featured photo by the artist mentioned above. Thank you to those who continue to bring awareness to the demon of domestic violence.

Rain.

I’m afraid I can’t even write it out anymore. The lack of feeling leaving the words without emotion.

As my feet hit the pavement I feel liberated. Raindrops hitting my cheeks where tears fail to form.

Wind deafening my ears. Yet every puddle brings a conversation that was lost years ago.

Stop lights illuminate sidewalks where old friends used to stand. This is home. Dark streets glistening.

Soaked jacket pressing against my skin. Its touch feeling safe yet suffocating. I must run faster. Make it hurt.

The fear of the monsters lurking in the dark is oddly satisfying. At least there is reason for panic. Unlike the chaos unraveling in my head before standing in front of a crowd.

It makes me want to vomit. Run faster. Ah, there it is.

How amazing the rain is. Engaging all five senses. Leaving you unaware whether you are here or there. Present or five years in the past.

The smell bringing back every spring memory. Eyes blind, yet in awe of the blurred colors. The rhythmic patter of every drop. Each one fighting to be heard. Until they meet.

The rush of water flowing through my shoes as each innocent drop streaks down my face. Falling to my mouth. Where it takes only the smallest taste to rejuvenate.

Set me free. Renew my soul. Let the sorrows fall from my body and into the drains. I thought this would help.

It didn’t.

From her fortress. ❤


 

I wrote this entry around 6 months ago. I thought I was drowning. And I wish I could say this was rock-bottom of the anxiety but it was only the beginning. Keep pushing. Keep fighting. Here I stand months later, stronger than ever. Sometimes you can’t see the hope around the corner. You simply have to have faith in it.

Living on His success.

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to sit on a Q&A panel. The panel was organized for the local high school’s Senior Day on the Job. Obviously the idea was to inform all of our soon to be graduates what opportunities existed in their hometown.

Needless to say I was stoked for this panel as I was in their exact seats six years ago; my class being the first to go through the Day on the Job event. As I toured what would be my future company I did not think I would be working there. I didn’t even think I would remain in the same town. I had one goal. Graduate and get the heck out of dodge. And I did just that. Until three years passed and God had other plans. When an internship leads to a company making a position for you there isn’t much to argue with God about. Anyway, this gave me a chance to present an interesting perspective to the teens.

The other reason I was so excited is because my baby sister just happens to be a senior this year. Which means she finally had the chance to see what big sissy does to make all her moneys.

The kids asked really great questions and for the most part seemed to be interested in what we had to say. But as I was talking I realized this experience wasn’t only impacting them but also me.

It was such a humbling experience to be on the other side of the table. Eighteen year old Erika did not see this as her future. No way could she be in a job that allowed her to travel and meet people from all over the world. To sit and put myself back in their shoes had me excited for their futures. Of everything that would come their way that they couldn’t dream of right now.

I thought that would be the highlight of my day. That was until my little sister’s group came in. She sat right in front of me. And wow. Honestly, it hit me hard. A prayer was answered in that moment.

You all know the saying that seems to circulate social media every now and again? The “be the person you needed when you were younger” one? Yeah. On Tuesday I got to be that person. As my sister sat there, I had the chance to be someone for her. To be the proof that says no matter how much Hell you went through up to this point, there is hope. A chance to be her example. An example I had to make up for myself. I’m not saying all of this to toot my own horn. In fact, this is the part where the real whammy hit me.

In that moment, I understood how much God will fight for you. How much of a plan He really has. It will go down as one of my favorite moments and here’s why:

  • When I was a toddler and flew out of a moving vehicle I could have died. But God.
  • When I lived in a drug addicted home I could of fell through the crack (this pun was an accident, I promise). But God.
  • When I went through physical and emotional abuse I could have been broken. But God.
  • When I was a teen I could have followed the example shown to me my whole life. But God.
  • When I was severely depressed I could have ended my life. But God.
  • When I thought there was no hope I could have stopped looking. But God.

My entire life has been orchestrated by no one but God. And that panel was just one instance where I had a chance to see His blueprints line-up perfectly.

Sis, if you’re reading this know I couldn’t have been more proud to be your big sister this week. I will always strive to be the example you hope for. May God also show you how precious you are to His plans. Life has been rough and will continue to have its moments. But God. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

…but God.

Living on His success,

From Her Fortress.

 

My God is not a Care Bear.

Fearing God. Woah. Touchy subject. But we’ll get through it…on three conditions.

  1. This is not a finger pointing session. Know I’m talking about myself as well.
  2. Read all of what I’m saying. Not just between your own lines.
  3. If you have questions, simply ask. We’ll figure them out together.

Alright, let’s dive in.

My God is not a Care Bear. Love-a-Lot? Nope, not Him. Woah, wait. What about…”Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8 ESV

I didn’t say God doesn’t love. Oh, He does. More than we could ever fathom. But Love-a-Lot has one purpose. And it’s to love and be loved. No one would ever have reason to fear such a plush example of love. My God is a bit more complex. Powerful I should say.

My God created the universe. My God speaks like this:

Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? ~ Job 38:1-7 NLT

Whew. Definitely not Love-a-Lot. I bet Love-a-Lot doesn’t have the ability to get angry. I didn’t watch much Care Bears but I imagine Love-a-Lot as someone who is all about keeping peace and definitely doesn’t go around making demands and telling people they sound ignorant. Luckily, my God also speaks like this:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  ~ Isaiah 41:10 ESV

What the heck? Is He bipolar? No, no He is not. He is love, remember? He loves you and He wants the best for you.

Often times people describe the subject of fearing God as reverence. And yes, that’s part of it. The same way you fear fire or sharks because, well, they can be terrifying. But if we respect them, we enjoy them. Reasons why you would get out of the water if you saw a shark, but you wouldn’t run. You would watch in awe. God is kind of like that.

If we could wrap our minds around how utterly amazing God is, we would want nothing more than to be closer to Him. Fearing God gives life. I know, kind of goes against every perception of fear. Luckily He left us His truths…

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.  ~ Proverbs 19:23 NIV

Think about it. If I fear God. If I admit to myself and the world that the only force strong enough to make or break my life is God, then I find freedom from any other fear I previously had. Fear of social situations? Ha, but God. Fear of spiders? But God. Fear of death? Eh, but God. He takes the cake every time. The best part?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ~ Proverbs 9:10 NIV

When you begin to understand and accept the fear of God you truly start to understand and fall in love with the Holy One. You begin to yearn for the moments where God corrects and leads you in His direction. It’s all about humbling ourselves just as Job did. After trying over and over to argue who God was, God finally showed up to speak for Himself. Did Job turn around, rolling his eyes and mumble, “ha, this guy”? Nope. Instead, Job listened to every word God was saying. And He said a lot.

Then Job replied to the LORD:

“I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”   ~ Job 42:1-6

I picture Job shrinking smaller and smaller as God tore into Him with every syllable. And I can only imagine the disappointment he felt in that moment. Like a child being reprimanded for spreading lies about their parent. We know Job loved God. I mean just look at his response. He humbled himself to the dust and ash. He knew better. So what happened? He got caught up. That’s what. And we know all about that don’t we? Well I do anyway.

It’s hard for me to read Job chapters 38-41. I can feel God uttering those very words to me. You see, a couple of years ago I believed in God. But wow the box I had Him in. He was my little Care Bear. Soft. Plush. The One who only came into conversation at funerals and the One I cried to on the darkest days. Nothing wrong with either of those by the way. But because I limited God to those few occurrences, my life was a whirlwind.

God fearing? Ha. Try FOMO. Fear of missing out. Fear of missing the party. Fear of being alone. Fear of not having anyone.

I still struggle with fearing God. It’s a daily action. And some days the world consumes all my energy to fear. Quick story…

I recently traveled to Alaska. AMAZING trip. But the first day held the greatest panic attack I’ve ever had. Like I never want to feel that way again unless it’s because I’m standing before God Himself. So I was confiding in a friend when I said,”…it gives me anxiety.” And immediately I heard a voice in my head, “you don’t have to accept everything you’re given.” HOLY SMOKES. Talk about an epiphany. How true. Muttering those words to my friend was like signing the dotted line for the UPS man to drop the package of fear and anxiety at my heart’s door.

So yeah, some days I put my fear where it doesn’t belong. If I would clutch the fear of God with both hands I would have no way of accepting the anxieties being given to me. And thus further explaining Proverbs 19:23. Freedom in God-fear.

My life has changed radically the past year. No more alcohol. No more…a lot of stuff. And WAY less anger. People comment all the time, “it’s just ____”, insert sin. But those are the same people who think, “it’s just God”. And here’s the thing, my God is WAY too powerful and big to ever be put in the same sentence as the word “just”.

And one other thing. I kept wondering how enemies and demons could keep infiltrating my life. What the heck, God? Aren’t You supposed to protect me? Welp. If I don’t see Him as intimidating, why would He show up to the fight? If I don’t have faith in His might what’s the use? That would be like bringing a pillow to a knife fight, right? Reason 7,777,777 to fear God. So your enemies do, too.

I encourage you to sit down and ponder who you think God is. Do you really think the Great I Am can be defined as just your Care Bear? Or should we allow Him to be our judge more often? Because I for one need to follow Job’s lead…

God I have no idea what I’m talking about. Yes, I know You love me. But I don’t get to decide when You can and cannot correct me. Father, lead me. And rebuke me when I go off the rail. You’re more awesome than I could ever fathom. I kneel before You. Humbled not only by Your love, but also by Your might.

With fear,

From Her Fortress.