Hospital and Lighthouse.

Flash back to Friday morning… I have just finished a meeting with a couple of coworkers. As I’m heading for the door I hear one of them call out. I am now looking behind me…trying to continue a meeting that has already ended. However, I’m still heading for the door. And then…SMACK. I walk straight into a cabinet. Missing the door by a good three feet or so. How embarrassing…

How many times have I done this in my life? Focusing on what has already ended while trying to head for the door. To a new beginning. Only to be thwarted by my own efforts. In that moment I felt the Holy Spirit say, “You question why you aren’t getting anywhere. You wonder why I have not opened new doors for you. Perhaps they are wide open, but you’re too busy looking back. Spending time where the hand has already past. Your consequence? You’re stuck making your own obstacles. Making the enemy’s job too easy.”

Now move to today’s message at church. The three categories of fear.

  1. Fear of the past.
  2. Fear of the present.
  3. Fear of the future.

Let’s really focus in on past. As Pastor put it, “The past always has an opportunity to haunt. And when it haunts, it strangles.”

Failures. Relationships. Missed opportunities. They demand our attention. They call our eyes from the current journey. The problem is, our feet can’t stop moving as time never stands still. Leaving us to blindly navigate the present…scared out of our minds.

This message was everything I needed to hear. The answer to my cries from the night before. “God, why am I facing this? How am I supposed to make it through?” It was as if He lovingly grabbed my face with both hands. Ya know, like when you’re a kid and your grandma is trying to get your attention?

“Erika, you’re making it through right now. As we speak, your feet are shuffling forward. If only you would stop turning around, you would see the progress we are making.”

But another point was hit even harder. In the moments where we feel our blindest, there are people who are willing to be our guides. To be the snapping fingers that keep us facing forward. The pull to our push.

Today, I was reminded once again why Church is important.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

I can’t explain the encouragement that comes from watching an entire church surround one who is struggling. The selflessness and vulnerability of sharing your struggles with someone going through the same thing. This is church. This is family. This is what God intended for His people. He never leaves us, but it takes faith to believe since it can’t be seen. He knew we would struggle with such a truth. So He gave us His church. The place filled with family and love. With compassion and humility.

The place where this fortress goes to be fortified.

Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 AMP

This life isn’t about looking back. It’s not about silently drowning in your own heartache. It’s about family. Guidance. Love. Compassion. Hope.

When left to our own devices, we tend to get sidetracked. Or should I say backtracked. But thank God, for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

My God, thank You for the body of believers You have drawn me to. Thank you for a people who do as Your Word says…Rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep (Romans 12:15). The ultimate hospital. And the lighthouse that grows brighter every day.

With gratitude,

From Her Fortress. ❤

Confessing Love

It doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing, but at the truth. So I give you the truth. It isn’t rude and it doesn’t insist on it’s own way. Therefore, I can’t carry on pretending. I respectfully confess….

It bugs me how the flesh can’t let go. And maybe it’s because you were never all that bad. Truth be told I guess my heart never moved on. But I thank you. Yes, thank you. For waking a level of love I never had. For jump starting this heart.

If not for the love I felt for you I wouldn’t have been forced to redirect the immense brokenness.

I never believed something better could lie ahead. Typical. But to my surprise, there was someone.

One who could give love. Love beyond measure. One who silenced every fear. And trust me, I know you tried. But He does it better. Your words still offer light among the mundane. But His are brighter.

I was used to “earning” love. Not because you made it that way. I did. Feeling guilty and worthless if I didn’t give you affection. But this One, He loves me even when I neglect Him. Not saying it’s okay, but I’m still not perfect.

I tried worshipping you. But it only offered temporary happiness. Happiness that I later learned was artificial.

I wanted to show you how special you were to me. So I gave you all of me (or so I thought), over and over again. This new One, though, He fulfilled a promise you never could – He gave me all of Him. All while teaching me how to truly give everything, including my heart. He awoke feelings I never knew I had.

I say all of this not to boast. But to tell you of the One who could be everything I couldn’t. The One who can give you purpose and soften your heart into the One you’ve always wanted.

You never said it, but I think you get scared. And tired. Oh so tired. To the point where your soul just drags.

I wasn’t invited to stay because my embrace couldn’t calm the storm in you. I used to take offense to such a reality. But now? I offer you the solution I never could be. This One will be there for you always…with no expectations. They’ll even give you space if you want. Though after the first encounter I promise you’ll never let go.

I wasn’t “it” because it’s not my role to fill. But I find true joy in my new role as your matchmaker.

He’s the one. And I want nothing more than to share Him with you. Let Him steal your heart like I thought you did mine. But lucky you, He plays for keeps.

38 For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:37-39 AMP

He’s with you no matter where you go. Halfway around the world and He’ll still be by your side as bold as a lion. He doesn’t expect you to bear the stresses of this world. Or to stand strong without ever shedding a tear. He welcomes every part you’ve hidden from everyone else. Your fears of the future. Your moments of loneliness. He understands it all without you having to try and form the words.

And His love? It’s better than life. So open your heart and receive His perfect gift.

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” ~ Psalm 63:3

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As you read this I hope you feel my love. Though never stated you knew it was there. And despite our wishes, our souls are tied. Which means you aren’t easily forgotten.

But to feel the immensity of His love, it should no longer be shadowed by our poor example. I finally must give Him the one thing I’ve been holding onto…you.

With empty hands but a full heart,

From Her Fortress. ❤

 

 

 

Confession: Take 1

I heard a powerful message at church this morning. One that has been pulling at my heart for the past couple of months. And though God has forgiven my hypocrisy, I extend my apology to you as well.

I was that one Christian…the one who posts bible verses with the pretty background on Facebook. Ha, but then I would use Twitter and Snapchat as an outlet for my anger and party posts the same day. I wouldn’t doubt that there were some moments where I was in the act of “sharing” a bible verse on FB while sitting in a room with friends talking about the guys we “hung out with” the night before.

I prided myself on being the strong-willed woman who didn’t care what you thought. I addressed my friends as b****** and my favorite word started with an “F”.

I wasn’t afraid to belittle someone and telling a lie or two was always acceptable. I encouraged the consumption of alcohol and a large percentage of conversations circled around sex. I ravaged through friendships and relationships, taking what I wanted and then ghosting.

ALL WHILE CLAIMING GOD EXISTS AND LOVES US ALL.

So this apology is to you. Whether you believe in God or not. I failed you.

It’s still true — about God existing and loving you. No matter where you are in your walk. Whether you believe in Him or not…He longs for a relationship with you.

My apology comes in not accurately depicting who He is. And what He can do. In feeding you lies and focusing on myself.

Why would anyone drop everything they are and run after a God whose believers are worse than the non-believers? I understand. I’m sorry. I was confused as well. I thought I had it figured out. WOAH was I wrong.

But if you allow me, I want to clear up some confusions…the poor advice I gave you.

Taking the shot of vodka is not going to make your life any better. Texting the girl to come over and spend the night is not going to keep your heart from hurting. When you’re bored, having sex is not the proper solution. And going off on the person who hurt you isn’t going to make you happy.

When I got bored, I moved on. When I was mad, I let everyone know it. When I hurt, I drank. Did it fix anything? Nope haha. Often times it made everything worse.

One of you asked me a couple of days ago, “What changed? …I could just see after you graduated it was like a match was lit.”

What happened? God left the 99 and came after the one. Matthew 18:12

When I graduated, the distractions were taken away. Sunday mornings turned from hangovers to hallelujahs. And curses turned to bible verses. (That was cheesy but I had to …HAHAHA).

None of my past coping mechanisms could outperform a good ol’ praise sesh with my Savior. Perhaps because I was no longer coping, I was healing.

I’m sorry. The old Erika had you guys riding blind on the train straight down. Let’s start over. God turned this lukewarm girl into one on fire.

I’m on a new journey. One that is absolutely astonishing…But I promise, this time, it’s in the right direction.

With love,

From Her Fortress

 

I Do…

Words. I heard yours. And as they entered my mind they fell straight to my heart. Maybe it was gravity, but they tore me apart.

As the bricks began to crumble I knew I had to know…You who did more with your soul, than anyone else could show.

But no, I can’t spoil this. And my heart knew before I. To capture that kind of love it had to be right.

So syllable by syllable, I give you my mind. In hopes I’m the treasure you never could find.

These words are for you. Let them ring through your ears. May they water your heart but dry your tears.

Each letter flowing through your body slow. They feel familiar. And yet they glow.

See, we were created by these same words. Spoken by Him to make this place. But as my love letter meets His script, it will not be replaced.

No, instead, these words magnify His. So let this love be created as is.

Two hearts thread together by a Master’s whisper. And by His will, it will not blister.

And though I can’t match His love, I pray that it flows, from me to you so we may grow.

But after I say all these words to you, I will sum it up with only two.

Infiltrated.

This morning I was scared to step through the church doors. Everyone looks at me with such hope. They always comment on my inspiration, energy, and joy. How do I walk through those doors with a tear stricken face? With DEFEAT clearly marked on my forehead? I didn’t want them to be exposed to rock-bottom Erika.

So there I was, in the parking lot. They say the church is a hospital for the broken, right? Well I was about to find out.

Walking through those doors was hard. Like, really hard. Eyes to the ground I almost made it to my seat. But nope, haha. Snatched halfway by the Senior pastor. Hug number one. Ope, there’s two more women. More hugs. Make it to my seat where I received the fourth and fifth hugs. Just an FYI…I’m not a hugger. But there is something different about church hugs. ❤

Next thing I know I have one woman speaking truth over me. “You are strong. Powerful. A daughter of the most high God. No weapons formed against you shall prosper.”

Then praise and worship started…I don’t even know if we made it through the first song before the Holy Spirit moved. Next thing I know I’m receiving 50 hugs. Multiple people stopping to pray over me. And then, Pastor gets the mic. “When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us has joy, we all have joy.” That my friends…is family. There were people crying with me. For me. And for my sisters in Christ who were also hurting this morning.

And in that moment a picture came to my mind. You know when you are trying to light something on fire and the wind is blowing too hard? So you have to cover one side while trying to ignite the object with the other hand? Alright. So that object was me. The hands, though? Both hands of God around me. And I could physically see them. How? My church family. Surrounding me as the enemy’s attacks hit from every side. As my flame flickered in danger, they didn’t comment. They didn’t ask how or why. They surrounded me. They covered every hole and fought the battles I couldn’t.

People say, “why do I need to go to church? God and I are on the same page.” Well. I talk with Him every day and still managed to find myself under the enemy’s foot. Why church? Because you can’t do this on your own. You can’t see and protect every side. It was never meant to be that way.



I was infiltrated this morning. Somehow the enemy broke into my fortress. I wish I could say this was the first time. But it wasn’t.

I woke up this morning and something just wasn’t right. As my chest began to burn and my stomach lost its mind, the symptoms were all too familiar. Panic attack. I knew next my chest would continue to tighten and I would literally feel as though I wasn’t going to survive the moment. Some of you know what I’m talking about. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. And the anxiety of having the attack makes it even worse.

The first two times I experienced something like this I had no idea what it was. But this time I know. And it doesn’t make any sense!! I’m in a great place in life. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally…etc. WHY NOW?! I’ll tell you why… because the devil plays dirty. He doesn’t care where you are, what you are doing – if he sees a hole, he’s going for keeps.

Though I didn’t know this was going to happen, I found myself a bit more equipped. I began to speak truth over myself. “I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind.” “Do not fear.” “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Ya know, all the basics. Did it work? Well, it didn’t end the attack. But it did help me realize I was going to survive it. Sounds dramatic, but trust me. These things are no joke.

It was like every punch I threw was answered with 20 missiles.

In my car, I watched as the rain fell upon the windshield; praying that God would wash over me the same. A little more calm. A few deep breaths. Making progress. Then BAM. In comes the negative self-talk. “Seriously, Erika? You can’t even keep your own mind right. You can’t survive this. You won’t. It was so much easier when you sat in your house and did nothing. Church can’t help you. You can’t help you.” And here is where it got a little scary. The enemy went one step farther, “I can end this. All you have to do is stop fighting. Go back to your old life. You didn’t have panic attacks then. You’re a smart girl – drop your weapons and I’ll drop mine.” He was seriously asking for a truce!!!

Yes the devil was talking to me. What do you think negative self-talk is? Why would you ever say those lies to yourself? He is the father of lies.

“…He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44 ESV

He has deceit down to an art. I honestly admit that he had me convinced. Why continue something that I can’t win? That’s insane. A suicide mission. But those are LIES.

The war has already been won.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 ESV

The devil likes to walk around with his chest pushed out. He is so desperate to win any battle because he already lost the war. He was humiliated and clearly isn’t too happy about it.

But here is some truth:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7 ESV

Not today, satan. Or tomorrow. Or the next day…or the next! I will resist. I will fight against every lie he tries to throw at me. I’m a child of God and I don’t have time for him.

The last source of confidence I tapped into this morning was from Steven Furtick’s song I Will Be Confident, “My assignment was conceived in His heart, His mind,  and the blessing ahead will always be greater than the battle behind. So this is not the time to compromise or entertain a thousand lies and a million reasons why I can’t or it won’t or it’s not or I’ll never. I’ve heard it before, So shut up, devil.”

Devil, it honestly has me excited how scared of me you are. It tells me my God is about to do some crazy amazing things through me. May the odds be ever in MY favor.

With confidence,

From my heavily guarded fortress. ❤

A flower with Jesus power.

 

To have a relationship with Jesus? I cannot explain the peace and power that will flow through you. But I can paint you a picture.

This morning, I received some flowers from my Secret Sister. Let me just say that it happens to be 28 degrees here with some sleet. Hello Spring. Those poor flowers were struggling. Every single one was holding on for dear life. As they drooped I wondered if there was even a reason to fight for them. They were done for. Maybe I’ll just keep the vase and toss the flowers…

When God looks at us what do you think He sees? I’ll be the first to say that I was a droopy flower. This girl was not a very loving and joyous person. When the wind blew, I went with it. When the temperature dropped, I shook. When I was picked, I turned brown. Does our God look at that and say, whelp, open the trash can – there’s no hope for them, let’s save our energy? NO. In fact, He was so adamant about our potential that He sent His only Son to die for us. Before we were even born!!! This is important to note as we continue with my flower story…

So I cut the stems off and placed them in water. Sprinkled the packet of flower food in and went on my way. Fast forward just an hour and those troopers are standing straighter and shining brighter. They’re completely different flowers! Ones that went from making me want to cry to me doing a victory dance in my kitchen.

When we choose to follow God, when we jump in our flower vase, there are certain steps that we have to follow, otherwise we will continue to droop. Woah, woah, woah. I just said that following God wasn’t enough…that doesn’t sound right. Stick with me. When we say we are a Christian, what does that mean? Does that mean I’m instantly brighter and more beautiful? Nope.

When we decide to run into our Father’s arms, we have to do it with Jesus holding one hand.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 ESV

That’s why those flowers were still dying even though they were in the vase. They didn’t have water! Or food! Some of you may be starting to get it. Jesus is like our food and water that will lead us to our Great Father. But don’t forget one super important detail. I had to cut the ends of each stem. You say, “Erika, I don’t know what you’re into but I’m not cutting a finger off for Jesus.” Y’all stop being so dramatic. I’m just asking you to cut off the dead in your life…………..oh, is that worse?

We have to cut out that sin. As my pastor said today…we have to sacrifice our temporary happiness for our eternal holiness. We can’t receive the power Jesus has for us if we don’t cut off the dead first. Those flowers could of been in two pounds of miracle grow and still wouldn’t have recovered if the dead ends were still on. We can stand in church every Sunday for years and never once experience the presence of God that is moving on everyone around us.

But when it all comes together? When we come into communion (relationship) with our Savior through our own sacrifice? Oh goodness! The same power that resurrected Jesus will live in you! Those flowers became one with the food and water and they were revived! R-E-V-I-V-E-D.

For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection. – Romans 6:5 AMP

Even so, consider yourself to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:11 AMP

And remember, God had hope for every single one of us droopy flowers. No trash can resting place. Jesus was sacrificed so that you could ALWAYS have another chance at life. But we have to make sure we partake before it’s too late. There are people in this world who desperately need you to fulfill your purpose so they can experience the vase life, too.

Do you need some revival? Let’s get some Jesus.

 

With resurrection power,

From her fortress ❤

Storage Wars – Heart Edition

As life happened, I began using my heart as a storage unit. Each box sealed shut, labeled, and stacked. We’ve all moved enough in our lives to have a mental picture. Each disaster, each love, each loss…all represented by a taped box.  And storage units aren’t the greatest living quarters. They usually don’t have electricity. No heat. The bad ones can be damp. And don’t forget the many bugs that inhabit the place.

One day I had a conversation with a friend. She was speaking from a place that I had never lived. She had peace in her heart. Passion that surpassed anything I had ever possessed. As I sat there, trying to pretend like I was in the same headspace, I couldn’t help but feel jealous. How the heck did she get to this place? And why can’t I?

That conversation stirred some feelings in my heart. Feelings that I didn’t understand or know how to handle. Something was moving in that storage unit. At first I assumed it was just another one of those bugs, looking for food in a desert. But I had nothing more to offer them. I couldn’t feed them. No more fear. No more depression. No more alcohol. They were starving to death. Too weak to move. Which means something else was in that storage unit. I tried to ignore it. But I couldn’t.

Ya’ll know what heartburn is? Well, I was experiencing that. But not physically. No, it was almost emotionally. Where was this coming from?! I had to know. Step one? Start unpacking that storage unit. I needed to find whatever was in there. And woah, talk about not being ready for that kind of labor. There were boxes in there that I didn’t even know about!! Others were mislabeled. We all know that frustration. Nothing like having the kitchen pans placed in the bathroom. I had “Heartless” on a box that contained abuse and abandonment. That feeling of being unworthy and not good enough wasn’t a “me” issue. It was the result of something that happened to me. And by mislabeling it I never had the chance to really unpack and evaluate its contents.

Some boxes were too heavy to move on my own. Others were so old they were falling apart. But I kept going. I couldn’t see anything moving. However, one day I caught the faint smell of smoke. Strange. I couldn’t see the smoke so it must be someone else’s unit. I eventually made a path to the very back wall of my unit. There were still many boxes around me. But a path is better than nothing right? As I pushed a small box (labelled “Lonely”) to the side, I saw something unexpected. There was a fire. The size of a candle flame, maybe smaller. That wasn’t even the craziest part. There was a man huddled to the flame.

How in the world could a man survive where not even insects were thriving?! He looked up at me with eyes that spoke for themselves. It was like the last hug you received before your grandma passed away. The late nights sitting in a field gazing at the stars. Listening to birds chirping in the distance. Waves crashing against a shoreline. His gaze silenced everything else. We were no longer in a damp, dark storage unit. We were among the clouds. And his embrace brought comfort and peace that I couldn’t understand.

If I told you my heart was no longer a storage unit I would be lying. I’m not perfect. My heart is not perfect. BUT! I do have a Healer, a Counselor, a Father helping me get through those boxes. They no longer come in taped up. They are wide open. Ready to be sorted and trashed just as fast as they come. He also helped me move those boxes that were too frail or heavy to move on my own.

The small flame that He was guarding when I found Him is still burning strong. In fact, it glows brighter and burns hotter every day. On my weakest days He is there with His arms wide open. All while protecting the flame. And on my greatest days He is there gazing with the satisfaction only a Parent can give. Throwing all of the useless boxes into the fire. Causing sparks to fly and smoke to rise. He plans to use my heart to start a wildfire that stretches to the storage units of others.

Our relationship has grown and I visit Him daily. I no longer have to search for Him at the back because He has helped me make a place for Him front and center. Day by day we turn my heart into a home; where love grows, joy thrives, and darkness is defeated.

I hear some of you. “What if I’m too weak to even make that initial path to find Him?” Well, my friend. I would love to help. We weren’t placed here for some of us to succeed while others drown. More than that, He doesn’t expect you to make a solo journey to Him. No. His word says all you have to do is SEEK Him with all your heart and you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He isn’t behind those boxes hiding. He’s waiting for you to pursue Him.

Look into your heart. What do you see? Boxes? Start moving them. Toss them. Ask someone to help. Go find Him. He’s there. Just like that game that you played when you were a child. “Marco?” “Polo!”

He’ll direct you. “Jesus?” – “Erika!”

With love, from my fortress. ❤

Hello, Maker of the Moon

 

Last night I was driving home with my mom and sister. I was admiring all of the stars and decided to play a song called “Maker of the Moon”.

“Hello maker of the moon. Your creation has inspired my every move.” But there was one little problem. I couldn’t find the moon. It was nowhere to be found in this clear, Saturday night sky. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and look above us. Determined that it was there the whole time. As I jumped out and looked up…I found nothing.

Where did the moon go?! How did we go without noticing up to this moment? I’m the kind of girl who likes answers. So I had to Google this mystery. This is what I found:

“A new moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day. It’s only as the moon moves in orbit, as its lighted hemisphere begins to come into view from Earth.. [earthsky.org].”

I was content with this new found knowledge but felt something significant hadn’t hit yet, so I took a screenshot and moved on with my night. Fast forward nearly 24 hours.

“I feel like you’re the woman I always knew you’d become but I don’t know you. It’s beautiful.”

Woah, what an impactful sentence. One that doesn’t seem too pleasant coming from a friend. Talk about a heart check. Have I been changing that much? But hey, if she is willing to accept my change and think it’s beautiful…she’s a KEEPER, ya’ll! ❤

Erika has officially become MIA. As I was hashing this statement out in my mind and heart I thought about last night and the moon. Those around me finally noticed my absence, just as I did the moon’s. But oh man, what a glorious revelation.

When the moon cannot be found it’s because it’s rising and setting with the sun. Talk about a God moment! For a moment I was sad to hear the statement from my friend. But it uncovered so much more.

The old Erika has been missing. Unfound by those around her. Why? Because she’s going through a transformation. And now? She is rising and setting with the SON.

Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. – Romans 6:4-5 KJV

The AMP version…

…we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways]. For if we have become one with Him [permanently united] in the likeness of His death, we will also certainly be [one with Him and share fully] in the likeness of His resurrection.

If abandoning self means that I have to go AWOL for a bit…I’m alright with that. Why? Because sharing fully in the likeness of Jesus Christ’s resurrection tells me that I will experience more love, mercy, and grace than my human mind could ever possibly fathom.

Father, thank you for showing that change is good. My friend said it best. It’s beautiful. Being unrecognizable and missing in You is BEAUTIFUL. And when the time is right I will be revealed to those around me. Your light shining through me, lighting the darkness around.

As Chris Tomlin sings in one of my current faves,

“I’m dressed in Your royalty. Your Holy Spirit lives in me. I see my past has been redeemed. The new has come. Now, I have resurrection power living on the inside.”

Thank you, Maker of the moon…Maker of this new Erika.

From Her Fortress. ❤

Love defined.

Lately I’ve been struggling with knowing the purpose of new relationships in my life. Struggling because I have such a hard time accepting the love of others.

I felt drawn to that one quote, “you accept the love you think you deserve.” Hmm…so true.

But what about with God? His love is so crazy! It’s unfathomable. It’s constant. Unwavering. Perfect. As one song puts it, “More faithful than the rising sun.” The sun rises every day! How can something be more faithful than that?!

But if we accept the love we think we deserve, shouldn’t we look at our definition of love?

The dictionary gives three main ones:

  1. An intense affection for another person based on personal ties
  2. A strong affection for another person based on shared experiences or interests
  3. The deep tenderness, affection, and concern felt for a person with whom one has or wishes to have a relationship based on sexual attraction

Mmm.

So what is our definition? Many of us have or are living by that third definition. And if that is my definition, and that is the love I’m willing to accept…then how in the heck do I accept God’s? We seek relationships based off of this definition and then we ask God, why can’t You send me someone who loves me…well by using your definition then He technically is sending you someone who “loves” you.

Meanwhile, you’re missing His love because it is nowhere near your definition. It flies right on by.

So imagine if He sent you someone who is a definition of His love, would you recognize it? You say, “nah Erika, that doesn’t exist. I’ve watched every person I love abandon me either physically or emotionally.” I thought the same. But mmm. Take a second and close your eyes. Every time that happened, God was standing there. And you just kept crying out for Him to send you someone who loves you….by your definition. So it became a cycle.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3

Imagine a love like that. You think woah, what happened to all that self-love talk Erika. No, it is still there. We are to love ourselves but then consider others as more important. And if you’re worried, think of it like this. While I’m busy making you more important, you do the same…holy smokes. Talk about a balance. That’s love.

So I’ll leave you with this:

What is your definition of love? What love do you accept? I challenge you to seek God’s love in those around you. And watch what happens when you open your hearts to His type of love. Because God thinks differently than that coffee cup posted above. He loves you more than coffee, and He LOVES proving it.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. I asked for a love like God’s and then didn’t prepare myself for His answer. There is nothing on this earth that can hold the same definition. Everything is changing. Even yourself. Shoot, I’m pretty sure I change at least once a day. Always improving and growing. But God…CONSTANT. In order for our human minds to comprehend that, we must create a definition of constant. We cannot base His love on any of our previous definitions…it has no rival.

We must intentionally prepare for and seek His kind of love because it will go by unnoticed otherwise. So open your eyes, your ears, your heart and soul and watch as God renews every definition you’ve ever had.

And don’t think that after one sign He’s done with you. It took me 5 signs before I even got this message. It’s always amazing what happens when we allow the dots to connect.

With love, From Her Fortress. ❤

 

Beloved.

Love used to look like that one boy who caught your eye. His smile sending shocks through your chest. And when you were ignored, your heart melted. His lack of love sent your self-love running.

And you wish you could say it only happened once. But ten years pass and you can predict the motions that follow. Now you look in the mirror and you see a blur. Who is she, staring back? A mind imprisoned by the words and actions of others.

Where do you go next? This place is so desolate. The opening above seems so far up. How will you make it?

One day you find solace in whispering your own name. As the word presses past your lips a step appears. Excited, you say it again. This time louder. Nothing. What happened? Why didn’t it work?

As time passes you slump down on the step. One day you recall your favorite memory. Another step appears, almost causing you to retreat to the bottom. Your favorite memory creates a smile. And you start seeking what else used to make you smile. Several more steps appear. Now you’ve figured out the system.

The mission is to find yourself. Each day you must choose to rediscover who you are. When you make it close to the opening, you find yourself tired. You haven’t rested in so long. It’s hard to lay down during the constant climb.

You think that maybe it would be better to climb back down to take a break before continuing. But as you take your first step down, the top one disappears. And what worked to reveal that step before, no longer works. Now what do you do? What haven’t you done yet?

At just that moment you say, “maybe I don’t need to climb any higher. I know who I am, and I love her for it.” At the utterance of those words, you can’t even blink before the hole begins to shrink. It’s over.

And with a new definition of love, you climb out. Ready to pass onto others the gift you have received.

With self-love, from her fortress. ❤