Forever Indebted

One day, let’s hope soon, I’m going to pay off my student loans. But I’m still going to be in debt. And here’s one reason why..

Last night I was scrolling on social media and a post came up with enrollment day at my alma mater. And there they were. The department I gave way too much sass to and not enough gratitude. And then I kept scrolling.

Fast forward a couple of hours and I’m laying in bed. Tossing and turning. When what runs into my mind? Yeah, that department again. UGH. Talk about conviction. But the thoughts kept growing until they turned into the following…

This department had a list of rules. Rules they expected you to follow…I know, right. What the heck kind of college staff expects that?! Anyways, there are three in particular that still stand out (probably because they are the ones I broke the most).

  1. No cursing.
  2. Always have a shirt on.
  3. No shoes on the trainer tables.

To clarify, I didn’t purposely go in there guns a blazin’ trying to break every rule. But I didn’t respect the rules enough to remember either. Funny though. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to disregard the rules, if the enforcer commands respect, they’ll get it. Even if it’s a year down the road.

Those rules and my disrespect towards them will stick with me. Why? If you look close enough at those rules you may see a deeper meaning…or I may just be losing it.

No cursing. Respect others. You would think that were a lesson already taught…but have you met some young adults? Speaking from personal experience, we can be a bit self-centered at times.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3 ESV

Always have a shirt on. Respect yourself. My mama taught me this at a young age. But I went to college and it fell straight out of my brain.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.              –                                                                                              -1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

No shoes on the trainer tables. Respect your surroundings. There are people who made sacrifices to ensure you were provided everything around you.

He who did not spare [even] His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32 AMP

Now as my brain kept running last night I remembered a couple of other things. You know one of the few places I could go on campus to hear some Jesus music? The training room. The place that gave more respect than was given to them? The training room. Showed true servant leadership? The training room.

As much as college costs, I don’t think I could ever put a cap on it. I mean seriously. I’m still pulling life lessons from that place. Lessons of what it means to be a good person. Lessons of what passion looks like. To see people who cared enough to push you to be a better human being every day…priceless. I must thank them for their boldness.

College is a time of finding yourself, but first you must lose yourself. I’m continually grateful for the treasures I’m able to find from the four years of memories made. I hope this serves as a reminder that rules aren’t always meant to be broken. They actually tend to hold some good life lessons. And if you search hard enough, you might hear God whispering through them.

Forever indebted,

From Her Fortress.

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

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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.