Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fisherman

The Fisherman

The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
everyone else has gone home.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
the odds are against him.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
it seems the prize is furthest away.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
he is willing to forsake is comfort and take the greatest risk.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
he stands firm in the midst of the storm.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
he chooses to sit in the boat, not abandon ship.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch when
he finds a refuge even in the greatest  downpour.
The fisherman hauls in the greatest catch because...
he waits, because he stays, becuase he sits in the storm.
Because he sits through the storm.

This afternoon I drove to Lexington in the rain.  It was nice. 
I drove down to the water just to sit and read.
I looked up and watched a young fisherman walking to the pier.
He and I were the lone water-keepers. 
I admired him for heading to the water, maybe to seek the
same solitude I sought. 
Even in the rain.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fighting For It (or against it...)

Sometimes I muse.  Sometimes I anger.  Sometimes I confuse.  Sometimes I sometime.
This sometime I ramble.

When you think about the front lines of battle, you can never really know what it is like to fight...what it feels like, what it smells like, what you see, who you fight with, who you fight against.  The things you'd rather not remember.  And you can never really know what any of that stuff is like unless...
you're there.  And most of us have never seen the front lines (much less the back lines) of an actual battle.  We rely every night for the reporters on the other side of the world, standing in a sand storm, under an umbrella which has been turned violently inside out because of the whirring winds.  And some of them even jump into a Hummer with a helmet on and protective gear, bullet proof vests.  And they cover war from as close to the front lines that any of us will ever get a peek into without having been in an actual war.

So I'm peeking into my front lines.  I'm the camera dude(ette) that is giving you the peek inside my front lines of battle.  I can smell the war, I can feel it, I can see the ones fighting with me.  And the "fighting for it....or against it" I'm referring to in the title is not a prize on the other side of a wall of enemies bearing down against me, it's not a crown or a chest of gold, it's not a kidnapped journalist or wrongly-accused tourist.  It's not even an enemy I wish to gun down, pick off with a sniper rifle.  It's not what you'd's not what I'd think.  What I fight for (or more accurately, against) is surrender.
It's one of my most hated "S" words.

It's not in our nature to surrender.  It's just not!  It screams weakness.  It bleeds cowardice behavior.  It wreaks of the stinking smell of failure.  So then if surrender is failure...

----> a page ripped from my journal.
'I don't know how to surrender.  I'm not sure if I can.  What does giving up ACTUALLY mean?  In real life if you surrendered to something, that means you don't get to do what you want.  You don't get to do what you're used to doing.  When you surrender, you are left to survive on someone else's terms.  When you surrender, you have to give up all your things; your ammo, protective gear and sometimes you're forced to give up your battle plans.  Everything you once used to survive will not work anymore.  If you want to survive, you must do what you're told.  That means you have ZERO control.  Your survival depends on someone else's actions and decisions.  And they might not even care if you get gunned down.  They might use you as a bargaining tool to get what they want.  They might use you as cover in a shower of gunfire.  Completely giving up means; you're outnumbered, your shelter didn't work, your ammo ran out.  Your best decision isn't to fight till the death, it's the actual thought that is tempting; it's that you might actually stand a chance at living if you just...give up.'

The dictionary defines 'surrender' like this:
To relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion.
To give up in favor of another.
To give up or give back (something that has been granted)
To give up or abandon

 Then it lists some synonyms of the word surrender:

Not sounding like anything I'd willingly jump into.  Even if it's to Him?  Even doesn't sound so enticing.  But that's exactly what Jesus did ... He surrendered to God and what He wanted.  Even
though He knew His surrender wouldn't immediately yield anything good...He still did it.  And there was even a time in this trying journey of surrender where Jesus Himself asked God if maybe this didn't have to happen (Him dying on the cross).  Jesus basically said, "man, if there is ANY other way for this
to happen, I'd like to do that..."  But He made a choice.  He said, "Nevertheless, Your will be done, not mine."  And Jesus...had EVERY RIGHT to say, "I'm done, this isn't fair, I'm outa here.  Dad, You're CRAZY!"  But He didn't.

And so I'm left with 2 thoughts ... 2 torturing, almost tantalizing questions before me as I take a step back and actually take into  account of what is at stake;

1.) have you ever considered that the reason you're not winning is because you haven't surrendered?
2.) have you ever considered that the reason you keep losing is because you keep fighting?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Bloody Surrender Isn't Always What He's Looking For

Some battles are yours to fight.  They're worth every drop of sweat, every ounce of blood and countless tears.  Others have already been won.  They've already been fought.  Some battles, we try to spill enough of our own blood to claim the victory.  We continually run to the front lines, arrogantly trampling over sacred ground, where blood has already been spilled for us.

Just as well as His blood covers a multitude of sins, so it also covers multiple battles.  What would a faith that waves a clean, unblemished flag of surrender look like?  Certainly not the ones I wave.

We wave a blood-soaked 'surrender' flag in His face as if to say, "look, Jesus, look what this cost me!"
Instead of, "Ok, Jesus, Your blood was more than enough."

The bloody white flag of surrender we wave is only bloody because of our self-inflicted wounds.
Pride.  Stubbornness.  Selfishness.  Greed.  Glory-hogging and stinking agendas.

Oh that we would know, no weapon formed against us will prosper.  And oh that we would know...that His blood works, better than ours ever will.

Friday, September 20, 2013

This Is My Confession

My name is Erica…and I have a confession to make.
If I’ve learned anything in the past couple years, it’s that sometimes, writing is the only way to soothe the pain that sits in my heart…unattended.  When I write it out…I feel a little less chained to it.
One of my only prayers as I venture out to write this is that behind the words, you see and hear a real person. One that has feelings, emotions, thoughts, ideas, made mistakes, is working on her stuff, failing, falling, trying, learning, hoping.  And even as I write this, fearfully, I don’t want anyone to think, “well gosh, she must be thinking about me.”  You can relax, I’m not thinking about you.  Remember up there when I said writing helps me…it’s purely selfish. ;)
This is my confession, Usher.  Sometimes…it’s hard for me to see other people…happy.  I realize that in the social media realm we, at times, addictively partake in, life is either black or white.  Those facebook statuses and Instagram photos and Tweets are normally, “I love life” or “Why me, God?!?!” Most of those social media outlets only target ourselves.  They aren’t even social.  Well, social about ourselves I guess is what I am trying to say. 
So when I say sometimes it’s hard for me to see others happy, I mean it in the social way.  Let me explain.  The last movie date I had…was with my mom.  And the one before that…was with my sister.  I spend most of my weekends either sitting with a complete stranger at work, or watching the time painfully tick forward.  Forward into…what?  Sometimes nothing. 
I would probably need a third hand to count all the weddings I’ve attended.  Alone.  I would need a bank statement to see all the newborn outfits I’ve bought.  And zero hands to know how many times I’ve been someone’s girlfriend.  I know…I can hear you thinking, “poor thing.”  And while maybe even 6 months ago I would have welcomed such pity, the word I cling to is “promise”     


I’ll be honest…there are nights, like tonight, when I spend time with Him just being honest about how I feel.  Remember, im a person…I have feelings, too.  I spent about an hour sitting on the edge of my bed, crying to my Father.  Asking Him questions.  Telling Him as best I could how much my heart was aching.  Even though He already knows.  There used to be times when I would go an entire day without ever acknowledging Him.  How rude, right?!  But if this statement is true, that we are a product of our environment, then it would make sense that I hardly knew God was my Father and that He cared about every little detail.  Why?  Because there have been days on end where my own dad could get away without saying a word to me for the entire day.  Did it phase me?  No.  it was what I was used to.  And though there have been times even in the last year where I would physically feel pain over the fact that I could walk into the house and not have a word said to me by him, I’ve learned that he is a product of his environment, too.  What am I saying?  Im saying ive let him off the hook.  He was probably ignored as a kid, too unless he was doing something wrong.
So I cling to the word “promise” because wrapped up in that word…is hope.  And there are a few different reasons why hope is packed into that word.  The first reason is that if I have been promised something, my responsibility as the one whom has been promised, is not to try to make that promise come true.  It’s the responsibility of the One that has promised.  The next reason why the word “promise” has hope tucked in there is because if I’ve been promised something from Him, it must be more amazing and unfathomably extravagant than  I could ever dream up.  Beyond beyond my wildest expectations.  It’s better than I could do.  And the last reason why hope is embedded into promise is because any promise that He has made me is not selfish.  I may think the only reason He has promised me something is so I am the only one who benefits.  I’ve learned He doesn’t work that way.   I’m not the only person on this earth that needs hope.  And maybe, just
maybe…the promises He’s deposited into my heart will bring others hope.
So…what is my responsibility?  To rest.  My responsibility is to rest…not in the promises that He’s made.  My responsibility is to rest in Him.  And even though my heart bursts in angst sometimes, even though I swirl in “why”, and even though I find it hard to see others happy, watching their promises come true, this is what I know; He is faithful.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Before the Scar

Sometimes all I have is writing.  That's how i can most accurately get my feelings out of my brain.  What I'm thinking, what I'm processing, what (or who) im wrestilng.  And its safe real feelings on paper
instead of shared with somebody.  the innerworkings of trust are difficult to follow and trust...go figure; trusting trust.  I dont know what trusting Him even LOOKS like!  Im not expecting to just BOOM! overnight understand can't be understood.  It has to be proven, experienced, broken, rebuilt.  And that's scary... trust cant be "thought of, or about" it's not intellectual, it has to be felt and sometimes at a cost.  Trust is a sacrifice. risky.  It can be incredibly rewarding, or incredibly messy.  Trusting the wrong people, trusting even the right people...then having it smeared in your face.  And I've had my share of broken trust and incredible heartache....and sometimes my heart has been broken...while trusting Him. 

You put so much of yourself into the action and art of trusting and in an instant, in a hot minute, it could be turned to dust.  And maybe because of the things I've prayed for and hoped greatly for and beggged and pleaded for....maybe they are a cause for me to have to trust Him...SO MUCH.  The desires i have...aren't just and only rewards for my sacrifices or my tough decisions. 
but i'm just getting ahead of myself.  those were just my innerworkings of trust...before i dove into the hurt of having trust broken...then slowly begin to see it rebuilt.

Every good and decent story has some kind of battle. Whether it's the kind that involves blood and guts and gore and winners and losers.  Or the kind that may not seem to blatant; like battling the sorrow of disappointments that life inevitably deals us a time or two (thousand).  Those battles result in scars just as well as the blood and guts battles do.  They just arent as noticable...if at all.

if we're honest with ourselves, we could all pinpoint a specific time in our lives when something just didn't go our way.  A job fell through, we didn't ace that test, we missed the cut on the soccer team, the car broke down...a week after the basement flooded.  you get it.  And there are an infinite amount of things in life that just plain suck when we dont get the results that we wanted...maybe even hoped and prayed for. 

But after each fallout, we can make a decision; give up or have the courage to say, "I get to try again tomorrow."  Both decisions produce a wound.  One will just remain an open, unhealed wound and the other will go thru the various stages of healing, producing a scar.  But before the scar, something happened that didnt go our way and it wounded us. 

This is where it gets juicy. I still have a fresh, unhealed wound right now.  It's not even close to being a scar yet.  But i know the battle that caused the initial hurt; the battle of trust.  And as human beings, trust may be the most fragile element in our makeup.  It takes the most time to read the instructions, begin the assmebly and build brick upon brick. takes the least amount of dynamite to demolish it. 

It's been 9 weeks (yesterday) since i hyperextended my right knee.  An injury that has a simple plan of recovery...of about 8 weeks.  I have spent the greater part of my summer walking with a limp, with crutches, with a brace, without a brace, elevating it, icing it, biking it and in pain.  And this morning...i ran on it for the first time in 9 weeks. it was only 8 minutes.  and 9 doesnt really sound like such a large number...but when you break it down, 9 weeks is 63!!! days. SIXTY-THREE days.  And i've had enough..62 days ago.  

There have been many things that ive had to miss out on because of this very intruding injury.  A wedding. a normal paycheck.  a couple church services. a couple youth events.  a couple family functions.  and most recently, a mission trip to Colorado.  And that last one...stung the most.

And if im honest...still stings, sometimes more than once in a day.  And if anyone has ever taken a road trip...whether it be a family vacation, a day trip to go shopping or a mission trip, they'd know that lots of the bonding and memories happen on your way to and from your destination. (<---- that's an important statement. think on it).  And i had to miss out on those things.  I had to miss out on something that was more than a trip.  It was an investment of time, money, prayer, sacrifice and other things too.  For 6 months, i planned for, prayed for, fundraised for, and trusted God for...the ability to go on this trip.  And then after doctors visits, tests, MRI, Xray and a mirale cortizone shot proved to do nothing other than give me false hope of being healed a heck of a lot sooner than i was (will be), i made the tough decision to stay back....4 days before the trip.  So 6 months of anticipation all came crashing down...96 hours before the 2 vans headed toward the mountains of Colorado.

Though i shared a physical injury as something that physically hurt me and has been very visible and has even earned me the not-so-unique nicknames that come with walking with a limp, the hurt i experienced (and still do) was not a visible wound.  it was the wound of disappointment.  and a little deeper....the disappointment of having your trust broken.  I trusted God to provide the finances and time off to go on the trip.  Those things were provided abundance.  I trusted God to heal my knee in time for me to go on this trip...and that didn't happen.  that's extremely painful.  And i bet my other knee that if you took a moment right now, you'd come up with a laundry list of things that you've trusted God for that haven't worked out.  And i'd also be willing to bet that it hurt terribly.

And to be honest, i could try to assign words to the absolute hurt and devastation i felt for the 10 days that the mission team was gone, but i promise they would not accurately encompass the hurt that i felt, the way i felt my heart break every morning i realized where i was...and where the
y were.  I saw pictures, read text messages, watched video and prayed tirelessly for them every single day.  and yea...i kinda felt connected. but we all know...being somewhere is not the same as not being somewhere and wishing like hell you were.

Now they've been home for 10 days.  and so ensues another stage of healing.  Trying to not stay crippled by the pain of feeling left voluntarily checking out and feeling left out.  By continuing to be around them and the inevitable inside jokes, God-moments and other bonding that took place while they were together, I'm choosing to stay in the pain and make an active choice to believe that even though i missed out on all of that, I'm not somehow less of a person, less of a friend, less of a youth leader just because my journey didn't include a Colorado trip in the summer of 2013 with people that I really dearly love.  It only means that i played a different role.  And I'm learning that if God only ever knows the importance of that role, I can trust Him that it was the best spot for me.

Trust is not without pain, cost or sacrifce.  Even Jesus endured that knowledge.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

In A Year's Time, I've Learned I Can Risk Again

If there's one swirling thought I have about this past year, it's this;  if people who have passed into heaven are really able to watch from up there, I wonder if she would be proud of me. And then I have to stop, bc I've already assumed her answer. It would be my answer...not hers. And then I realize that she was already proud of me. I think.

One year ago today, barely an hour into the new day, my grama faded peacefully into new territory. Her temporary struggle defeated and her bones made new.  I've visited her gravesite a few times. All few have proven too much for me to handle.  The realization, each time a little more searing, that she's really gone unravels my tightly wound heart into potent sadness. The grass still hasn't even grown over the unearthed ground. A picture not unlike my heart. With jagged stones and clay-like dirt dusting over the pictures and balloons and other knick knacks that have made their home in the uneven ground.

Journeying thru the very tangible grief of losing a loved one has proven many things.  Most I'm not proud of.  I've shut down, held bitterness towards God, stayed angry, punched a few walls, given up running and a slew of other things that I like doing.

Why? Because how is it ok for me to be happy? I've meandered my way thru the levels of grief and each one is deeper than the one before it. I've tasted the salty tears that drip from my eyes as I lie awake at night. I've gone thru an entire box of tissues as my nose catches all my tears and snot rockets. I've journaled till my fingers had indents in them from squeezing the pen too tightly. I've screamed and cried at Him in my car, in the shower, standing in her old room in our house.  And the greatest pain of all...I've held all that in a time or two.

And even though yes, I am human and I can't possibly understand all of why things hap

pen the way they do, or why "bad things happen to good people," I can't explain that...This is what I've come to learn, but not without cost; whether God chose to heal my grama on earth or in heaven, he still healed her. How do I know this? Because He is a healer. Though He does not always heal on earth.
Take risks
Circumstances do not change who God is. What kind of god would that be? His word says He is the same; yesterday, today & forevermore. His faithfulness is not circumstantial.  He's watched his own Son murdered at the hands of spitting doubters, scoffing Pharisees and bitter betrayal.
He sent his own son to encounter all of that...for us.

So why do i still feel pain?  because im normal.  i can't help the way i feel sometimes as i remember vividly even now, 365 days ago, to the minute, nearly, racing thru the halls of work to punch out to meet my mom to see my grama one last time before she moved on.  She was gone before i ever made it to my car to head for home.  Im convinced even now that she purposely waited until all her kids had left the hospital room...then she went home.

ive driven by her old apartment building, slept in the room she stayed in, been smacked in the face with the reality that yes...she's really not here anymore.  i was angry, devastated, numb, paralyzed, and then angry and devastated at the same time.  and then angry some more.  confused and questioning who God was to me.  If He actually cared that I was hurting.  If He had a time limit on my hurt and pain.  

ive found little comfort in the truth of what His word says, and sometimes the "little" is all I need to get thru.  "To be absent from the body is to be at home with Him."  And although my expectations were not met by Him, it does not mean that He is any iota less faithful, or even an ounce more faithful.  He's just faithful.  that's it.  

And that alone has taken me through a year of hell and questioning whether or not He was still good. Whether or not i could still trust Him.  It may have even knocked down the makeshift shack of a house i had my trust in Him built on.  It was built on the sand beach of "maybe" best.  And sometimes the best thing to do when you want to change something is to completely destroy it first.  My trust in Him looked like an inexperienced tight-rope walker.  Now it looks different.  But it didn't happen overnight.  He's begun to cement the foundation of His truth in my life; He cares for me.  And if it matters to me, it matters to Him. 

It's been hard to reach my hand back out to Him and say, "ok, I'll risk my heart again."  Because that's what relationships are...risky.  And I've learned that sometimes, the best ones are worth all the risk in the world.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mini-Vans to Colorado & a Huge Thank You

Most of you know by now I'm taking a mission trip to Colorado at the end of June.  I just wanted to update to let you know how things are moving along. And how God has been faithful in supplying the funds for me and others to go on this trip.
The cost of the trip was $525. Last week, we announced to the group of youth going that the cost had been cut...nearly in half! Total cost of the trip is now $300.  And we are now driving instead of flying...which means I won't need a puke bucket on the way there and back.  My trip has been fully funded bc of some awesome people in my life that believe in me and the reason behind this pour out some love to others, with no strings attached. The way Jesus loves.  All of the money has been given, none of it is my own. 
I sold spaghetti dinner tickets, boxes of candy bars & and carnations on Mother's Day.  Then of course the remaining money was all donated by some pretty awesome people. 
I just wanted to thank all of you for contributing to this part of my journey. I really could not have done it without you. You know who you are. 
It's been really cool to see God move in the lives of those going on this trip with me. I've heard of many of the youth receiving anonymous donations for them to go on this trip. Most if not all of them, will be experiencing their first mission trip. 
It's so cool that they're seeing God's faithfulness move in their lives before we even get to Colorado. One of the youth's trip got completely paid for and he wasn't even planning on going.  I mean...come on!! That's amazing!  

Here's a little sneak peak into what we'll be doing while we're there;
Home makeover, youth rally, kids rally & white water rafting. (ok, so I may need the puke bucket for that.)
Just to name a few things.  Thank you again for supporting the vision of serving others that I hope to live out my life doing, with no strings attached. 
Here's a list of names of those going on the trip that you can be praying for. I love them all and can't wait to see how God helps them grow in this part of their journey with Him.
Pastors Mark & Tracee 
Pastor Sarah
Youth Leaders;
Tristan & Kerina (and me)
Alyssa, Tina, Cory, Evan, Donovan, Alex & Dustin. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


One week ago I was packed into a sold out stadium at a concert. It was the most fun I've had in...well, it's been awhile. Sometimes I find myself reflecting. I've come to understand that reflecting is also part of the way I begin to heal. Reflecting inward brings healing to me. Reflecting outward brings healing to others. 

my first T-Swift concert!
So I reflected on what my day looked like one week ago. I was giddy with excitement to go see one of my favorite music artists in concert. I was beyond excited to scream "We are never ever ever getting back together!" along with 49,999 other raving fans. Well, 49, sister isn't a fan of Taylor Swift, but she went (and I'm pretty sure she had a fun time).  I actually felt like a girl, worried about what outfit I was going to wear, putting on my mascara in the car to save time. It was fun. And I remember as the the lights darkened and the color red filled the stage, I looked at my cousin as Taylor Swift appeared from behind a giant curtain and asked, "is this really happening right now?? Seriously?" 
It was. And I had so much fun. Have I already said that?? 

And as I keep reflecting on that night, I just cant get away from the feeling I have. I actually kinda
felt...inspired...? Yes...after a concert...I felt inspired. So over the course of my reflecting, I kept asking myself, "what has got me so worked up about Taylor Swift?!" 

And then I realized it. She is sharing her story. Over and over and over again. Night after night. Sold out, sold out, sold out. I watched a documentary a few nights ago and felt that same nagging inspiration. And it's because of something that she said in a personal interview. She talked about vulnerability. She said it hurts to be vulnerable and most would agree its not safe to be vulnerable. But that she does it anyway and shares her vulnerable stories with millions of people. 

In her song called, "Forever & Always" she addresses a break up that was hurtful & messy. The way she performs it onstage is nothing like I've ever seen before. She does it so...real. It's really her.  Not a singer singing about someone else's heartache...but her own. She drops to her knees after the song progresses from anger to sadness. She puts her head down and stretches a hand out toward the end of the stage and faces her palm up. About half a dozen girls reach for her hand and just hold on. Soon after, Taylor reaches out her other hand, palm up and it's swallowed by more reaches of comfort. The girls just hold her hands and rub her arm with a real vulnerable kind of comfort. Taylor has her head down on the stage the entire time and just let's the guitar play in the background as she just soaks in the comfort of touch. And yes, she DOES throw a chair! (check out the link to the video below, specifically starting at 3:55, but the whole video is good. i do not own this video)

The part of her interview comes back up and she shares what she was feeling during that moment with her vulnerability pouring out onstage. She describes it as the touch of their hands being comforting. She was sharing a real time in her life of real hurt with thousands of people. She described that moment as a very personal one, that "holding someone's hand is such a personal thing."
That inspired me...? But why? Maybe bc she doesn't seem so superhuman after all. Taylor Swift is personal. She spends hours before and after shows with fans, visits oncology florors, does special meet and greets before and after shows bc she knows it could all be gone in an instant. She still remembers where she came from. 

Sure shes super famous...but she's also super normal. 
Why am I so inspired? Because she tells her story and she knows it's risky, but she does it anyway.
I'm inspired bc I want to share my story, too. 

Hateful...a week later I'm in a fast-paced, patient-packed ER at work. The EMS wheels a patient into one of the trauma rooms, and shortly after, an alarm starts buzzing loudly. Nurses scurried out of rooms like ants escaping an ant hill and ran past the room I was in and into the trauma room. I've learned in my 2.5 years here at the hospital, that's never a good sign. I heard the secretary whisper, "that's the patient coding."  another nurse comes around the corner and says, "go get the husband. Is the husband here?"  Not good. After about 15 minutes, the nurses that pounded the floor to get to that trauma room emerged, their faces blank. They peeled of gloves and shook their heads. The woman died. They all went back to doing what they were doing before. Like nothing happened. About an hour later, the charge nurse lead the husband, the daughter and another relative to the room. On Mother's Day...someone's mom died. And I watched from 2 rooms away the shock that causes tears to dry up in deep wells of the soul. I almost forgot what I was doing until the young guy I was with sat up and asked, "how much longer until you're done babysitting?" 
It jolted me out of my empathy & I wanted to snap back, "I'm NOT your babysitter." but I didn't, even though the second time hearing it made me want to fly outa my chair and explain that I'm not a babysitter. That it offends me when people call me that. But I just answered somberly, "7am."
I snapped out of my empathetic state and accompanied him to the bathroom, where he spewed vomit all over the floor and walls. 

I shook my head to myself. 
"I can't wait to be done babysitting." 
It was then that I began to reflect on my day/night one week ago. How different it was. How polar opposite my Saturday nights were in the span of just a week. And the word 'reflection' holds tightly to my emotions. It chokes the life out of me sometimes. Reflection. It peels back layers that have since scabbed over and as milestones in life hit, the scab of reflection itches for healing.  

This mothers day I reflect. 12 months ago, instead of packing into a stadium with 50,000 people in it, I was crammed on a couch in a tiny apartment, pouring over old photos. About 14 of us piled over each other in my grandmas tiny apartment laughing and "remembering when." the same thought loomed in all of our minds as we turned pages of sepia-colored memories, worn with age & life. it would be the last mothers day for my grandma. And even though that sick feeling and nagging thought wove thru our minds, we continued to look at pictures, eat bean dip & make fun of the big-haired photos. 

Cancer. I reflect on that. It's what laid the final brutal assault on my otherwise healthy grandma, and stole her life. We remember & reflect on certain days. After 11 months, the scab of death itches & I want to rip it off in anger, but I know it'll hurt

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm Erica. I'm 26. And I Love Taylor Swift.

I'm not sure I'd consider myself as being vocal about things that I like. Sometimes I feel it & other times I don't. Sometimes I just feel like its not worth the time it takes to argue out my point. And sometimes it's bc I really really want to be right...and other times I'm fine with believing why I want to like something even if no one else understands or thinks like I do. 

With that being said, I think Taylor Swift takes a lot of crap from a lot of people. And I'm guessing that the people that give her grief have no connection with her at all.  I dont have any connection with her that is two-way...I do follow her social media outlets (twitter, instagram) but other than that and having the most fun I've had in a long time at my first Taylor Swift concert over the weekend, me and TSwift aren't best friends.  

It's too easy to google something like, "Taylor Swift critics" & see loads of links pop up in under 2 seconds.  And yes, I mean literally, 2 seconds. I often wonder why it is that people criticize her & talk bad about her. I've heard the same thing year after year every time one of her new albums wins an award, or a new song of hers climbs the charts to the number one slot...and stays there for weeks. I've often thought, "who cares? What's your beef?" this is usually the answer I hear; "oh my gosh, ANOTHER song about a boyfriend. What a ______(insert inappropriate verbiage here)".  And for some odd reason, it kinda ticks me off.  I've heard numerous times how awful she is live in concert.  I've heard it all, it's no stayed secret.  
So I thought, "why does it make me mad when I hear someone raise a rebuttal to my explanation of why I love Taylor Swift?" I feel as though I have an answer, but I'll share it later.

I may even take some flak for "going public" with my secret of really loving Taylor & her music. But I don't care. And I say that not with venom spewing out of my mouth at 'Taylor haters' but with...feelings & emotion. 

I'm deep into the thought of story. 
And what's a story without feelings & emotions? Usually a biography. (joke). I think there's a common thread of DNA in all of us.  It's the thread of story. It's the thread that connects us to people we will never know & even those we know very well. Story connects human beings. Why? Because our story is the truest one someone will ever hear.
We like juicy facts. It intrigues us. It keeps us lunging for more, craning our necks to hear the next thing.  It reminds us, "hey, I'm not actually alone in this." 

Story connects us with God. Why? Because His Word is a story, the other truest one you'll ever read.  He's the Author & Finisher of every last story represented on earth and in heaven. God chose the method of story-telling to teach us about His relentless pursuit for us...we imperfect humans. He gives us rules to follow bc He loves us & wants His best for us. It's laced all throughout the Old & New Testament.  Stories upon stories of countless people, following Him, disobeying Him, but He still pursued them. Murderers, thieves, Pharisees, liars, gossips, unfaithful cheaters, betrayers, etc..  But...He STILL chose them, He still loved them. He loved them as much as He loves me now and even in 5 years from now, no matter what I do or don't do. His love is constant & unconditional. I know this from reading it time after time in His Story. 

I think it's just in us, the need we have to share our story. And there are handfuls of ways to do it and 
the way I'm good at it may not be the way that you're good at it.  And that's OK!! 
It's what makes us unique.  For some, it might be short, pithy sayings on a twitter account or fb post.
It may be public speaking. It might be in a lengthy text message, or email. It could be over coffee
once a week with a dear friend or mentor. Or it could be a stranger in the grocery store. Or like
me...writing a blog...about how much I love Taylor Swift. We're all linked and wired to share our

Have you ever considered, just maybe, Taylor Swift is sharing her story through song-writing? That she shares her talent (yes, I said talent) with grave vulnerability each time she writes in her journal and puts guitar chords to it? Or sits down at a piano and spills her emotion onto the keys in front of her? Have you ever considered...that Taylor Swift is a real human being? Like you?

I think that's what got me.  Of course I was EXCITED to see her live in concert.  Obviously. Of 
course I felt like a teenager stuck inside my 
mid-20's as I sat in angst, waiting for her to take the stage (and praying it would never end.)
Absolutely I felt like a little girl getting spoiled on Christmas when i opened my new Taylor Swift cd
& the concert ticket with it. Her cd was at the top of my Christmas list...I NEVER expected a concert

But the thing that got me was this; the look on her face after she sang her first song. It was on the big screen for 50,000 screaming fans to see.  But for some strange reason, I doubt 98% of them saw what
I saw.  I stared at the screen as I cheered and clapped. And it hit me. The look on her face, as she
scanned the crowd, made it feel like she was trying to connect with each face individually. 100,00
eyes staring at her 2, staring back at us. The look on her face said, "they all came" it was as
if her dream had come true right on that stage and she was really witnessing it for the very first time. 
She was sharing her story with thousands upon thousands of people. It's her way of sharing her story; 
writing music & performing it. 

What an amazing gift of influence she has. A sold out crowd came to hear a 23-year old's story.  She
sold out Ford Field...The Lions can't even do that on Thanksgiving day.  The show she did a couple
days prior in Kentucky sold out at 17,000. That's like filling up Joe Lous Arena 3 times & putting it into Ford Field...that's how big her crowd was on Saturday night.

In that moment of ear-deafening screaming, it was like I could hear her thoughts. She was astounded. More than we were. Much of her fans idolize her, but in that moment, I humanized her. She has feelings, emotions, tragedies, fears, family, friends & a story. Just like I do. Just like you do. The way we express our stories is different...and that's good. 

Earlier in my rant, I said it really ticks me off when I hear ppl complaining about who Taylor Swift is & what she's not. And heres the reason I came up with; bc shes a person to me, not just some idol on a pedestal.  I don't see her as some crazed alien with no feelings & no heart. She's a human...just like me...just like you. She has an address, a cell phone, a mom and dad and even a cat.  You can argue that she's different bc of the amount of money she has. You can say she's a stuck up _______ whatever that has no feelings.  You can criticize her for being fake.  But I have a hunch that she just wants to be herself....and then share that.  

Jeeeesh! Why you gotta be so mean? 😉

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beautiful Betrayal

Over the last quarter century of my life, a seed was planted in the soil of my heart that caused me to believe I was unworthy of the pursuit from God.  God created each of us with the desire to be pursued by Him. And over the course of our lives, there've been wounds, scars & harsh words spoken over us that would cause us to believe otherwise.  

And with good reason!  People we've trusted, loved and done life with have let us down. Maybe even betrayed us.  And in the end, our greatest wound comes from ourselves; the wound of self-betrayal. 

It says we're not worthy of something that God declares we are. 
It says we're not really interested in our hearts desires.  it literally kills any dreams we've dreamed or hopes we've hoped.  It's the deepest, most painful wound one could ever inflict. 

And the crazy part is that it could take a really long time before you even realize what is actually happening.  Things like, "I'll never be good enough!"or "I'll always be alone." or "that's just the way I am" are phrases that have rolled off of our tongues a little too easy.  A lot more often than maybe we're even realizing it.  And certainly more in our thoughts than we care to admit. 
Each phrase a vow of self-betrayal. 

There's nothing beautiful about betrayal.  Perhaps one of the greatest recognized acts of betrayal is the kiss of Judas.  Jesus was betrayed by a holy kiss...a sacred greeting between intimate friends.  If there's anybody in history that we can look at and say, "they understand what I'm really going through. They've felt this pain." it's Jesus.  He chose Judas as one of His disciples already knowing he would betray Him.  

In my title, I'm not insinuating that betrayal is a beautiful thing.  Quite the's probably one of the most painful things to experience.  I'm referring to the longing of a woman to be beautiful.  In my experience, I felt I was betraying myself by acknowledging something deep down inside of me; i really DID want to be beautiful!  My belief for so long was, in order to be beautiful, I had to betray "myself", or who I thought was myself.  An unauthentic version of myself was the one betraying the actual me.  The me that really does long to hear, "wow, you're beautiful." And not bc I've spent hours in front of a mirror, or ditched my glasses, or took the plunge and bought heels...and then actually wore them.  

I said the ultimate betrayal is the one that is self betrayal.  It kind of feels like you're cheating on you...with you. 
You're cheating on the outside version of you with the real version of you that stays locked up airtight inside.  There've been little glimpses of what the real you actually looks like...and it seems too good to be true.  I'm not REALLY good enough to be beautiful.  Am I? 

With each stroke of mascara, the knife of self betrayal slips a little deeper into my back.  Every brushstroke of nail polish, each dab of blush, every line of eye liner, every spritz of glitter...the blood of betrayal spills out and ive done everything possible to keep my mouth shut.  white-knuckled the transformation that screams "You're beautiful. You're beautiful, YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!"

Until finally you can't take it.  You've betrayed yourself for so long that it doesnt even feel like betrayal anymore. It just feels...normal.  

And I got tired of feeling...normal. 
For over 25 years, I walked in self betrayal,  And being betrayed by a quick glance in the mirror followed by a silent admission of, "this is as good as its gonna get" became normal.  

Something that I was born with, designed for, got shut up very early on in my life.  I was born to WANT to be beautiful.  And throughout certain times in my life, I stomped on that like a spider that just wouldn't die.  It's taken me a very long time to know that I can throw a pristine spiral, take a mean slap shot & get good and sweaty running miles in the summer time, yet still know I'm just as beautiful as if I were walking thru the mall with friends, wearing a pink shirt or shoes that aren't necessarily  sneakers. 

Beauty doesn't just continues to yearn. It yearns to be showcased. Not just in the batting of your eyes, or in the pain a woman endures in her feet to wear that pair of heels.  But it yearns in your heart.  It spills out through compassion.  It spatters out through generosity & kindness.  Beautiful is betrayed when you believe it doesn't exist in any part of you.  

I've not arrived, I'm not there yet.  It's a painful process...betraying the 'self' you've known for 26 years for your real self that you barely know.  It's asking a lot to trust someone you don't really know very well. And the 'me' inside that screams to be beautiful is not the me I've known.  
It's the me I never wanted to know. 

And so, the betrayal has begun. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Outta the Box

There was a time in my life when I went through the anxiety of deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I 5th grade.  I remember what I wanted to be...the first female professional hockey player.  Then I grew up a little & by 7th grade I realized, at best, I'd be a really good street hockey goalie that just happened to be a girl.  By high school, I revamped my dream of playing hockey into...a chef.  Even though I had absolutely zero desire to do that.
I chose it to get my less-than-concerned high school counselor off my back.  

It took me a long time to see that I was slowly becoming (at least on the outside) what people wanted me to become.  It was hard fitting into so many different boxes. "Be a teacher...they get summer vacation!"
"you've missed your calling if you don't become a photographer!"

And so on...

It was exhausting trying to be what others thought I should be.  Since I can remember, I've just always wanted to be happy doing what I'm doing. If that's at the expense of others' expectations they had for me,  then it's no longer my issue.  

For so long, I've tried to close the lid on the box. Stuff my arms inside & sit Indian-style & poke holes just large enough for me to see what I was missing.  For so long, I've believed I had to do one thing. I had to pick one thing and do that for the rest of my life.  I had to pick one box to sit in forever.  

Only recently am I beginning to realize that's not how I was wired.  There's more adventure inside of me than I ever thought.  There are more desires in my heart waiting to be fulfilled. And they wouldn't have ever been discovered if I hadn't decided to bust out of the box. 

Never in my life did I think I could do and be a part of more than one thing at a time.  And although I know for sure what I do is never who i am and no role or title will ever completely & accurately define who God has called me to be, I know this; I'm a part of many somethings that all boil down to one something.  Even though I serve in numerous roles, theres always one thought in mind, Jesus is changing lives.  And as long as I can be even a small part of that something forever, I know I'm living life outta the box.  

Because God doesn't fit in any of the boxes we've ignorantly tried to shove Him into.  He doesnt fit snug into the box of religion. How do I know? Because Jesus turned His back on the Pharisees in order to have relationship with people.  People that were constantly looked over.  He constantly stepped out of the box of religion & law. Why? Because He was and is always motivated by love...not lists of dos and donts.  

If Jesus was motivated by the Law, He would've never been crucified.
If Jesus was motivated by the Law, the entire Gospel would be backward! 
It's easy to do. Even as a follower of Jesus. The moment we begin to stuff Him into a box is the moment we begin to stuff our trust in Him into another box