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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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ESalazar

Stories: Abortion & the Loss of Motherhood

The other day I attended a small gathering of Christian men and women.   As the speaker started to talk about families she also started to talk about abortion.  Hearing that one word was a reminder of why Women in His Presence exists.

If you were to ask me the purpose of Women in His Presence, I would tell you that it is going to be a women’s ministry without walls.  It will be a ministry that any woman can participate in no matter what church she does or doesn’t attend.  It’s to provide a service that creates opportunities for women to gather, be encouraged, and use their gifting.   But the foundation will always point women back to the Bible because the decisions I made without it, scarred me forever. The Bible and Jesus eventually saved me and if I would have had this in my life in college, it would have saved my unborn baby.

It was my 3rd year in college, spring semester that I found out I was pregnant.  I remember being in the dorm restroom taking a test while my friend waited outside the stall.   The double line appeared quick and like that fear struck me.  “Crap, I’m pregnant.”

My mind had such quick thinking in that moment induced by fear.

  1. I can’t have this baby.
  2. I’ll lose my college softball scholarship.
  3. I won’t be able to play softball.
  4. My boyfriend is not the one. “Though he was 10 minutes before.”
  5. I don’t want to be a single parent.
  6. Who is going to want a girl with a baby unmarried.
  7. Will guys think I’m easy?
  8. I’m going to have to move back to Houston and go to school to be a teacher instead.
  9. I’m not the kind of girl who sleeps around.
  10. What will people think of me.
  11. I know not to get pregnant because my parents had me in high school.
  12. If I have this baby, I won’t be able to give it up for adoption.  I know the moment I would see it, I would want it.
  13. I’m going to be single forever and my dream is to be married and have kids.

This was not what I planned and it wasn’t a part of my dreams.  I was pro-life before, but when it happened to me I felt as if I needed a way out of this mistake…this accident.

My next step was to call my boyfriend and tell him I was pregnant and that I was not having it.   He didn’t say anything that day and I didn’t give him the chance to anyway.

I remember getting it scheduled pretty quickly.   That day, my boyfriend drove me to Corpus to an abortion clinic.  I cried the entire way up there.  Part of me wanted him to say something. Part of me wanted him to ask me to marry him so I wouldn’t have a baby in shame.  Once we got inside, I continued to cry a lot.  I remember a worker coming up next to me telling me that if I didn’t  stop crying the doctor wouldn’t do it.

Once I stopped crying enough, they took me back to the room.   It was determined I was almost 6 weeks. They explained the procedure and what would follow and then it happened. I mainly just remember the sound of the suction and thinking it was all just a clump.  I never thought it had a heartbeat.

After that, I remember filing it away pretty quickly and living life.  After that I had two serious relationships, in which there came a time it was appropriate to share that with the other person.

Each time, I was afraid they would no longer like me and each time the facial expression was of disappointment.

It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties, that the abortion came back and effected me emotionally and mentally.  As I started to become a follower of Jesus Christ and not just a believer and church attender, I began to know Jesus.  In reading the Bible I started to see how the Lord is a part of creation from the beginning.  I began to realize that my decision out of fear could have been given to the Lord.  If I knew the Lord, I would have known that life wasn’t perfect and that I can’t control my life and make decisions that aren’t mine to make.  Had I known the Word, I would of held on tight in the storm knowing that there would be a blessing waiting on the other side that I would treasure forever.  A treasure far more valuable than my career, relationship status, or myself.

The years to follow I struggled with infertility.  At first it was unexplainable and then low levels of endometriosis.  Not the best case scenario to conceive, but not impossible.  The infertility was a constant reminder that at one time I could, but it wasn’t happening now.  At church retreats or conferences, I would hear other women tell their stories of the after affects of abortion.  The emotional pain, regret, shame, and secrets.   Yet, they always testified, “But God gave me children.” So there I sat, wondering why I didn’t get a second chance.   

Divorcing in my 40’s brought another reality.  The opportunity to even attempt to have kids looked real impossible.   

So when I first moved back to Houston it hit me again.  “Here I am in Houston, single, and working in education (which I do love but didn’t plan).” And at the time of the abortion, the thing I was most trying to avoid was being unmarried,  working in education, and living in Houston.

I can’t begin to tell you how different I feel not having kids when around women my age.  I can’t tell you how many times I feel regret when a kid asks me, “Do you have kids?” The answer is, “I don’t,” but inside I’m saying I did.

The regret never goes away no matter how forgiven I am and grieving still comes for what should have been.  God’s will is always better than my will.  Sometimes, it’s a hard lesson to learn and live with.

This is my story of loss and the insight I gained when I became a follower of Jesus Christ and sought God’s truth and wisdom through scripture.

Erica Salazar

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

 

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Psalm 51:6

 

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Tools of Reconciliation

Anytime I hear the word reconciliation, I automatically think of a relationship being restored.  Luke 15 contains popular stories of reconciliation: The Parable of the Prodigal Son and The Parable of the Lost Sheep. 

However, nestled between those two parables is The Parable of the Lost Coin.  This is also a story of reconciliation, but of a different type.  In accounting, reconciliation has to do with being able to account for all money that has been brought in and out.  And in this situation, the woman is in a panic because she has lost one of ten coins. She cannot account for what she has been entrusted with.  Therefore there is a problem in her reconciliation until she finds the lost coin. 

She knows that the coin did not walk off and choose to leave her.   She knows that each of her coins was worth a day’s labor.  She knows she is responsible for its disappearance.  She lost it. Luckily, she does know she lost it under her roof.   

The woman chooses to search for the coin using two tools: a lamp and a broom.  She lit the lamp and was willing to let it burn until she found the lost coin.  This observation should not be overlooked.  It would have taken oil for the lamp to work and oil was valuable. However, she was willing to sacrifice one valuable resource for the sake of finding the most valuable resource. 

The next thing she used was a broom.  This was a simple tool that worked in partnership with the woman.  Unlike the lamp, she had to hold it and put it into motion for it to work.   Without the woman, the broom was worthless.   With the woman holding, pushing, pulling, and directing it, the broom became a tool that could get to hard to reach places and draw anything far back into close proximity of the woman.  

Reflecting on this parable, we need to think of a few things. 

  1. Who “under our roof” is lost that we need to account for and have access to? 
  2. As a lamp, are we a vessel full of oil that can be lit? Or is your lamp empty unable to hold a fire?
  3. Are you using the tool God gave you to reach the lost? Or, are you leaving it propped in a corner, relinquishing your ability to get to those in hard to reach places?  This could be your giftings, but also prayer. 

We need to reflect on this parable to realize that we are tools and have been given tools that God wants to use to reconcile the lost.  

You are a Tool of Reconciliation!

Be Blessed,

Erica

The Parable of the Lost Coin Luke 15:8-10

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Devotion Jan. 28

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted……

First of all, I love all of Isaiah 61.  It’s one of those chapters that declares what the Lord promises even in the midst of unpleasantries.  It’s full of future hope along with present duties.

How it starts though is very important.  It is really easy to think that your personality, giftings, and desires to serve bring forth fruit for the kingdom. However, it is very clear that the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord that is UPON you allows you to be sent forth with purpose and productivity.  It also reminds us that the anointing does not need to be earned, but instead is given freely.

 

 

 

 

Devotional Jan. 14, 2019

Luke 4:16-19 

16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the [a]book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the [b]book and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind,To set free those who are oppressed, 19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

There are two quick things I love about this passage that we can easily apply to our daily lives.

  1.  When handed the book of Isaiah, Jesus knew where to find a particular scripture.

Reading the Word regularly allows us to be so familiar with the Bible, that we can find and reference scripture to declare, encourage, and state Biblical truths

2.  Jesus read scripture that declared who he was.

We can do the same thing by placing our name in place of scripture that has the word “You” or “Me.” This is perfect during prayer and also putting other people’s names in scripture who you are praying for

Know the Word and use the Word daily.

 

Devotional Jan.9th, 2019

Luke 1:6-7 New International Version (NIV)

Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Here our two main characters are pretty close to perfect.  They are walking a blameless life that is pleasing to God. However, their situation brings undeserved shame with little hope of change.

Sometimes, life seems really unfair. Sometimes we feel we are getting what we don’t deserve. Sometimes, we think God is punishing us for a past mistake.

This frustration however is self inflicted. Keep a perspective that this is life. We falsely have a mentality of, “If I do this, then I will get that.”

At times life will be exactly what we thought it would be. However, in some important areas of our life, it will be not what we expected at all. Don’t let your situation determine your joy. Keep in mind no matter the hardship, God will some how bring a wave of mercy and a moment of redemption.

57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.  Luke 1:57-58

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Lap

Joshua 6:15-16

On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!

The Bible is full of miracles.  Some are foretold and some are surprises.  In Joshua 6:2-6, the Lord tells Joshua of a miracle that is going to occur.  The impenetrable walls of Jericho are going to come crashing down and the city will be theirs.  However, obedience of a couple simple requests was required.

The first request is to WALK. 

*Walking is movement, but it’s a simple movement. 

*Walking is not what we choose when we are in a rush. 

*Walking is an option when we want to get from one location to another. 

However, the Lord requests that Joshua, the priests, and the army walk in a circle once for six days and seven times on the seventh day.  This means they aren’t walking to gain ground in the natural. Seems simple, but purposeless. 

To be frank, this simple task also seems silly. 

This shows us that obedience is hardly as simple as it seems when what is being requested seems silly to the point that it couldn’t possibly be effective.  

The second request was to SHOUT.

Sounds simple. 

But to shout of victory before the moment has occurred is bold. Under the circumstances, it’s not as simple as it seems. Shouting for everyone to hear feels not only silly, but scary. What if the wall doesn’t come crashing down? 

SIMPLE, SILLY, SCARY

UNLESS, you are fully confident in the Lord. 

Then obedience becomes quite simple.  You simply just do it.  You walk the last lap and shout when you are suppose to shout because the Lord said so. You don’t think about how it may seem to everyone else.  You ignore your own reasoning and natural instincts. 

And why? 

Because, he has foretold a miracle to you and you don’t want to miss it. 

I am currently experiencing a miracle unfold.  A miracle foretold to me in my dreams, journals, and prayers.  A miracle that required the simple obedience to just WAIT.  

WAITING seemed silly to others.

But to me, WAITING made perfect sense. I had full confidence in the Lord and what he had been speaking to me in prayer and in scripture. 

It’s not time for me to SHOUT yet. I’m not on that seventh lap. However, I’m definitely closer to walking that last lap then ever before. And when I’m done, you better believe I’ll be shouting LOUDLY! 

To God be ALL the Glory,

Erica

Sea Glass Lessons

This morning, I stumbled across a sea glass honey hole.  I didn’t set out to hunt for this special treasure, but amongst the debris washed up on the Corpus Christi Bay, laid a piece of sea glass. 

Sea glass has a unique frosted look from being tumbled in the ocean.  It has lost its clarity and it’s brokenness has been rolled over by the water, beat against the sand, until it has lost its edge and eventually settled upon a distant shore.  

I couldn’t help, but think about this beauty amongst the debris that kept appearing and relating to the brokenness in life.  

So, as I wandered the shore on a sunny chilly day in Corpus, the Lord spoke several gentle lessons that I would like to share with you.  

  1. The broken pieces are the most beautiful. In life, at first it doesn’t seem like it.  But, after the tossing, turning, and beating of the circumstances, you reappear as unique desired beauty.  
  2. They are beautiful, because they have been tumbled.  The pieces of glass that still have their translucency, I would pick up but then discard. They weren’t pretty yet. I kept some of the iffy ones, but kept the frosted ones without hesitation. 
  3. You have to look for the beauty. Although it was a honey hole, I still had to look for it.  I didn’t find the amount I found, because of chance like the first one. In life, we have to intently look for beauty in the brokenness.
  4. Finding a piece, brought pure joy and excitement.  It kept me motivated and persistent.  When you realize the beauty of the brokenness, you are encouraged to know that any future brokenness will be just as beautiful. 
  5. One interesting thing was, the best pieces tended to be in close proximity of each other.  This reminded me that brokenness brought together is better than brokenness alone. 
  6. Last, the broken glass only went so far.  I noticed that the debris was washed up in levels.   Very little settled close to the water’s edge.  The farthest line of settlement had wood and plastic.  In the middle is where the sea glass and shells  laid. Too heavy to be washed too far, but light enough to be washed up and away from the water.  God patiently waits for us to come out of the deep.  He is waiting, ready to pick up and gather us all into his hands. 
  7. There is only so much focus and time you can give to the broken pieces.  At some point, you have to take their beauty, pick your head up, and move forward in Christ.

1 Colossians 1:20

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.

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To God Be the Glory,

Erica

Checklists & Ladders

Myself and two other friends are going through very similar experiences that to the outside seem as if it is a hopeless cause.  Not all friends fully support or understand us in our calling to wait for our spouses to be restored to the Lord which then leads to marriage restoration. 

Sometimes they think we are misunderstanding God or not hearing from God correctly.  Sometimes they think it’s us not letting go.  Sometimes they think that our spouses don’t deserve us after what has happened and that there is someone better for us.  

When facing this type of doubt by other believers, it is frustrating.  

It’s frustrating because it is a HUGE step of faith and an act of obedience on our part to really TRUST God in the impossible.  We are very confident in conversations, but you have no idea the many conversations we have with God in our head and prayer closets. 

“Are you sure God?”

“Am I hearing you right?”

“Why is it taking so long? Are you sure it’s going to happen?”

“I’m tired of waiting.”

“Why is it worse?”

Deep down, we have more than enough doubt that tosses us around from time to time.  But to be honest, we have the courage to step out of the boat when Jesus calls us. 

The best peace that I experience comes from being focused on Him and this calling.  He tells me His truths about the situation and provides scripture and Bible stories to support what he tells me. In those times, it makes perfect sense.  In fact it seems crazy not to wait on the Lord to do His thing. 

Why would God ask me to do this?

  1. Realize no man can ever make me happy or complete…only God. 
  2. Seeking out another husband or a “better” one is a lie.  My original husband, living his life for the Lord is the best husband for me.  Until then…God’s got me. 
  3. Experience completeness in Him, not trying to be completed by him(spouse).
  4. Learn what crazy faith is.
  5. Get me focused on how God has to grow and refine me, instead of pleading with God to change my spouse. 
  6. So God can have my full attention
  7. Show me that I’m not in control of my life.  I can’t choose my path or the outcomes. All I can do is be guided daily by Him. 
  8. My favorite…what unconditional love truly is. 
  9. To experience laying down my life for someone else like Jesus did. 
  10. To show me what it feels like to be rejected, even when it was my best and I loved with all my heart.  This experience put a better perspective on what Jesus felt as he was rejected on this earth and still is today. 
  11. To realize, this life on earth is not perfect and having a spouses doesn’t make life perfect.  

I could go on and on about this growing list. 

In a way, this list has become a checklist of milestones.  A list that reflects the spiritual maturity that has occurred ONLY because I’m being obedient to the IMPOSSIBLE.  

A checklist that as I go down, makes me think I’m closer to the promise.  But, God reminds me it doesn’t work like that. Instead this checklist is more like a ladder I’m climbing up that gets me closer to Him. 

And for that….this crazy journey is VERY worth it! 

To God be the glory,

Erica

The Black Widow

Post 4: July 17

I have this funny fascination with spiders when I see them at night in their web.  Plenty of times I’ve tried to get as close as I can to capturing the animal up close without it jumping on me. Do not be mistaken though.  I do not like spiders.  Not at all; but there is a curious naturalists in me that still admires how they make their web.

A few weeks ago I was out on my night walk/run when I saw a decent size spider web on a tree.   As I approached the web I was thrilled to see that the spider was still making it.  It was creating the outer rings of the web going around counter clockwise as if it was a satellite orbiting the earth.  The curiosity lured me closer in with my camera at hand.  The trick would be to see if I could capture a picture with very little lighting as well as remaining undetected by the spider.  My attempts failed and I knew that I was going to have to try with the flash.  Now this entire time, the spider hadn’t ceased spinning its web until the flash.  How interesting that the light in the darkness scared it and ceased all operation.   In fact, the spider left its post scurrying off to another part of the web.

My prayer session for July 8 started after midnight making my prayers for that day on July 9.  This week I had been continually praying between 12:00-3:00 am, which is the Third Watch also known as the Breaking of Day Watch.  By this time, I was becoming more comfortable going to war in prayer. I was having a good prayer session and in the middle of it I saw a spider web being cut strand by strand counter clockwise at the same speed and pattern I had seen that spider a few weeks earlier spinning it.  With each nip, it was becoming more and more slack.  I sat up and opened my eyes surprised, because it’s like it came out of nowhere. I didn’t know what to think since it happened so fast and out of the blue.  So, I just drew it in my prayer journal and gathered that the web was losing strength.

On July 10th, I woke up with a very vivid dream that was quick but carried a specific meaning.  It was very personal and it was mocking me as a woman of God.  It was a picture of a post from a specific woman who was publicly displaying her lewdness and promiscuity.  But, it was in her lewdness that she revealed the tactic used to lure her victim.

As I drew it in my journal, the word black widow came to mind and so I jotted it down under the picture.  I immediately went into intercessory prayer.

July 11,  I finished up my prayer session at 12:02 am.   During this prayer time, I had wondered if there was a connection to the Jezebel spirit and spiders.  I specifically honed in on Jezebel because of the dream the morning before.  I had done enough research in the past to know she was a major cause to the destruction of something very dear to me and I was constantly praying during intercession that a particular person was anointed with oil which would cause her grasp to slip.  So, in my research I found that in fact she is represented by the black widow.  Crazy!

The pieces were starting to click.   God was showing me her web was losing its hold. The dream was showing me the desperate attempts and tactics she is using to keep her victim headed toward death.  In doing research, I found that a black widow will fake her death if her web is disturbed. This was showing me to be relentless in prayer….always. Last, I learned that the black widow’s web seems as if it has no pattern like other spider webs.   It looks chaotic.  But that is actually a huge deception. Her web is actually in layers that have a purpose, and only when the victim is completely lured into all layers does it become apparent that the web is skillfully crafted to intentionally trap him/her.  Therefore, the plans of the evil one will be exposed right before death.

There is truth and life in the Word.

Job 8:14 New International Version (NIV)

14 What they trust in is fragile[a];
what they rely on is a spider’s web.

God led me to this scripture that prayer session   The takeaway was, Jezebel is fragil. She is easily broken. Her web is easily broken and her captives will be set free.  I serve the God Almighty and the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  There is nothing impossible for my God.   I just got to learn to wait patiently as he disarms the evil one nip by nip.

 

 

 

 

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