Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

At the Table

This past week I made my fifth move in two years. It was a big milestone in the sense that this time, I knew it would be the move that I could settle into for awhile. There has been a lot of wandering, wondering, and waiting and finally having a place to call home again has brought a lot of joy and gratefulness.

If there is one thing in my apartment that sort of bridges my time of being married to now, it is my dining room table. We had originally bought it when we moved into our house that was a step up from our starter.

It is a table that holds a lot of memories for me. Many people have gathered at that table whether it be from a life group, Bible study, family, friends, or church fellowship. Many meals, some family style, have been eaten and accompanied with laughter and joy.

In times of solitude, it was a place I could sit and get the best view of green jays on the bush outside the dining room window. Occasionally, I could see hummingbirds and mockingbirds building their nests too.

It also held mismatched plates that were my grandmothers, moms, or were specifically picked out at an antique store.

I loved my table for many reasons and it was one of the things my husband bought for me as we made our new house our home.

This past week as I settled into my new place, I was able to have company over. I made my first meal to serve at the table for a couple of high school youth and a youth leader. As requested by one of the youth, I made sure to not over cook the chicken.

Out came my favorite platters and dishes.
Out came the focus of planning a meal again for more than just one.
Out came a happiness in my heart to entertain and show hospitality in my home again.
Out came the holding of hands as we prayed over the meal.
Out came the great conversation that people encounter when they share a meal and sit face to face.

When everyone left….
Out came the tears as I realized how long it’s been and the memories of a past season.

But, out came the realization that I get to do it all over again in a new way. Maybe my spouse won’t be with me at the table as I begin to break bread with others in my new place. However, God is still there. He will still be at the center as we gather. He will still be there when it’s just me and my plate. He will still bring the opportunities to share the gospel and fellowship. And for that, I’m extremely grateful and blessed. I look forward to the many meals and friends that I will get to share life with at the table in this new season.

Proverbs 9:1-6
Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her servants, and she calls
from the highest point of the city,
“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
“Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.”



Dry Wood Come Alive

Saturday morning was glorious.  As I took my worship walk, I decided to climb a small mound that had been beckoning me since I first started walking that area with my dogs.

Going up, I felt as if I was starting my ascend at Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. The dirt was a hue of red like a ball field, but with the sporadic growth of small vegetation.

A couple of Bible stories were running through my mind as I looked down to watch my footing and then back up to see where I was going.

First, I thought about Moses and the burning bush. Then, I thought about Abraham and Isaac walking up the mountain with the pile of wood on Isaac’s back.  Last, as I would see minature canyons cut into the earth from recent runoff, I thought about the valley of dry bones.

I was thoroughly enjoying a moment of peace and joy when a dead piece of wood caught my eye.  I back tracked, picked it up, and continued to explore the top of the mound.

I began to notice that there were a lot of these pieces of wood despite the fact that the vegetation growing near was small, scraggly, or ground cover.  It was after a few observations that God revealed to me a message.


These pieces of wood use to be alive, however now they are dead.  In fact, they have been dead so long that they are dry.  But, in a moment of revelation it became clear, “Dead and dry wood is what is used to build houses.” It is a resurrection of sorts that actually brings more life because of what it holds inside.

So why did God share that with me today?

Because looking down at that dead dry wood reminded me of a situation I’m in.  Like When the Lord called Ezekiel to prophesize to the dry bones in the valley, he has asked me to prophesize to this situation and call it to come alive.  God will take the pieces of death and restore, resurrect, and renew all that was lost.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 New International Version (NIV)

The Valley of Dry Bones
37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

To God be the Glory,


Breaking Free

This morning I was praying for someone very special to me. While I was praying, I was seeing that person on a bed chained down. However, he would sit up and the chains that held him down broke off. But, the enemy’s hand came upon him fast and pinned him back down on the bed. The chains were back on and the enemy started whispering lies to him.

I started to pray that angels would block those lies and that the Lord would put his hands on that person’s heart and beat it back to life. Then when he would wake-up and sit-up again, he would reach out to embrace the Lord who was waiting with open arms and unconditional love.

As I journaled afterwards, I started to draw what I saw and asked, “What keeps the enemy from getting a hand in there to pin him back down?”

I asked that because I was seeing a vicious cycle: sit-up, chains break, pinned back down, and repeat.

The word STUCK kept coming to mind.

Although I was praying for someone very specific, the answer was applicable to everyone.

When we sit up from sin, we must embrace the Lord and accept His open arms and love. We can’t be afraid that we have messed up too much. We can’t sit up, but still let those lies lay in our mind. If we do, the enemy just pushes our body back down in the bed of his beliefs.

If we….
1. Sit up from sin
2. Leave the lies on the pillow
3. Quickly cling to the embrace and love of the Lord…..

Then, the enemy’s hand cannot get to us. There is no room between the embrace we have with the Lord. We must cling to TRUTH and LOVE. The enemy’s hand cannot squeeze in between us to separate us from our father. He is not that strong.

James 1:13-15
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Psalm 63:6-8
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

To God be the Glory

God Gave Me a Stone

My dogs favorite thing to do is have time off the leash. This means they can run fast and crazy without bothering anyone.  It’s complete freedom and bliss for them, which also makes me happy to see.

A couple of weeks ago, we were doing our normal off-the-leash trek when I decided to cut through the grass to a nearby waterhole.   Once there, they did their normal swim and stick fetching until it was time to head back.



As I was walking back across the grass, I stubbed my toe on something hard.  As I reached down into the uncut grass, my hand stumbled upon a sphere shaped object. Pulling it up for inspection, I found it to be a rock. I found this to be quite unusual. So when I got back to the street, I had to test it.  I threw that rock down hard to see if it would break like mud but it didn’t. Therefore, like all other times an oddity occurs in nature with me, I took it to be some sort of message from God.

As I walked back home, I tossed that rock up in the air repeatedly.  As I did that, a couple of things came to mind:

1. Heft-This rock has the perfect heft to throw far and do damage.

2.  Catapult-This rock would be perfect for a medieval sling that catapults stones to hurt the enemy.

3.  David killed Goliath with a stone.

4.  Jesus’ tomb was covered with a large stone.

When I got home, I looked up the definitions for heft and catapult.

Heft: the weight of someone or something

Catapult: a device in which accumulated tension is suddenly released to hurl an object some distance, in particular.

So what was the message…..

God revealed to me that this stone represented a burden I am carrying.  As difficult as the burden is, he told me the heft and heaviness is exactly what is need to create a deadly blow to the enemy.

My arm on the other hand is like a catapult that the stone rests upon. The heavier the burden/stone gets, the further my forearm will hinge back and down closing in towards my shoulder   However, like a catapult, it will only go back so far.    Eventually, the tension will build upon the hinge until it can go no further. At that moment, with unleashing force, the stone will be released causing a deadly blow to the enemy.

Therefore, the burden that I carry of what is dead, will come back to life.

To God be the Glory




Week 2 Altars and Offerings: The Golden Calf

This week’s study will focus on Exodus 32. Like last week, will start with gathering some background information befor jumping into Exodus 32.  Some of last week’s information will be beneficial for this week, but it required.

Like last week, a burnt offering is part of this story as well as a fellowship offering.  Of course there is the golden calf along with an altar that Aaron made

Monday: The Rest is History

1. Read Exodus 3:1-4 and describe how Moses was called, who called him, and what punctuation was used?
2. How did Moses respond?
3. Compare this to Abraham in week one and write down your thoughts.
4. Read Exodus 3:5-6 and write down the command God gave Moses.
5. Who does God say he is the father of and how does that make you feel after reading about Abraham and Isaac?
6. Read Exodus 3:7-11. Who is this about? What is he concerned if and why? What is he going to do? How is the LORD choosing to do this?
7. What is Mose’s response and compare it to Abraham’s response?
8. What mountain is Moses on and what mount did the sacrifice of Isaac take place?

Tuesday: There are Two Brothers

1. Read Exodus 4:10 and write down what Moses’ concern is and compare it to Isaac’s concern that he raised with his father.
2. How does the Lord respond to him in verse 11 and how did he respond in verse 13?
3. In verse 14 what feeling did the Lord have to Moses’ response and what solution did he provide for Moses’ insecurities? Write down the specifics of the arrangement and include why Moses is given the staff.
4. Read Exodus 4:22-31. Did God only speak to Moses?
5. Who did Moses and Aaron relay the message to and how did they respond?
6. Read Exodus 5:1-23. Write down what happened that caused the Israelites to doubt and question Moses and Aaron?
7. How does Moses respond and what emotion would you describe him having when he returns to the Lord?

Wednesday: Aaron Falters

To this point, we have gathered some background information that will help us get a more detailed picture on what is going on.

First, as we move forward, keep in mind that Aaron at times would speak for Moses. Therefore, his words would be respected. Also, since he was the face speaking, it would be easy for his face to be sought.

Also, remember that this situation is not the first time “the people” have had doubting seeds growing in them as something dragged on.

Read Exodus 32:1

1. How did the people approach Aaron? Explain how that would make you feel.
2. What are they requesting from Aaron?
3. How do they refer to Moses? At this point if the story, Moses has led them out of Egypt. Therefore they are no longer in slavery and bondage. What is your opinion about that?
4. Read Exodus 14:29-31. What did the Israelites do. Write your thoughts about the contrast of the Israelites trust in Moses in 14 to 32.
5. Read Exodus 20:22-26 and Exodus 23:20-25. What was communicated to the Israelites and how is their request in 32:1 complete disobedience and unnecessary?
6. Read Exodus 32:2-4. What is Aaron’s response?
7. What did Aaron do next and how is he being disobedient to the Lord’s request.
8. What did the Israelites declare when Aaron was done and how does it contradict to what we read in 14:29-31?
9. Read 32:5-6. What did Aaron do to try and rectify the mistake of making a golden calf?
10. What does Aaron declare will occur the next day?
11. What kind of offerings are to occur?

We learned about the burnt offering last week. A fellowship offering, which was also known as a peace offering, was the only one that the Israelites would get to partake in eating some of the meat.

12. After the presentation of the offerings, what did the Israelites do?
13. Write down the definition of revelry. What are your thoughts about the Israelites partaking in revelry after giving an offering?

Below is a link for more information on the fellowship offering.

Thursday: Moses Fixes

1. Read Exodus 32:7-8. How did the Lord refer to the Israelites when he spoke to Moses?
2. Why is the Lord upset?
3. Read Exodus 32:9-12. How does the Lord describe them now?
4. Describe the Lord’s emotions to the situation. Can you relate? Explain.
5. What does the Lord say he will do for Moses and how is this connected to the covenant he made to Abraham?
6. Read Exodus 32:11-14. Why does Moses plead for the Lord to not destroy the Israelites?
7. What details of the covenant does Moses remind the Lord that he swore to?
8. What was the result of that conversation?

Friday: Moses Sees for Himself

Read Exodus 32:15-19
1. What was Moses carrying and who made it?
2. What did Joshua and Moses hear as they were coming down the mountain?
3. At this point, Moses had only been told by the Lord that the Israelites had bee corrupt. He did not know exactly what was going on. What did Moses see and how did he react?
4. What did he do to the calf?
5. What did he have the Israelites do? How does the action reinforce that an image made of gold is not not a god?

Read Exodus 32:21–24

1. How is Aaron’s account the same and different compared to how it actually happened in 32:1-4?
2. What are your opinions about Aaron’s responses to Moses?

Read the rest of Exodus 32 to wrap up this week’s study.


Altars & Offerings: Week 1-Abraham Tested

Genesis 22: 1-19 Abraham Tested

Monday: The Rest is History

Read Genesis 22:1

Verse 1 says that “ Some time later, God tested Abraham.”

1. Read Genesis 11:30 and write down what it says about Sarai.
2. Read Genesis 15:1-5. Keeping in mind what was stated in Genesis 11:30, write down all the logical responses/emotions Abram could have after hearing this statement.
3. Read Genesis 15:4-5 and write down what the word of the Lord said to him.
4. Read Genesis 15:6 and write down what Abram’s response was.
5. Read Genesis 17:1-8. Write down and explain the covenant that God made with Abram and also include the major change that occurred.
6. Read Genesis 21:1-6 and write down what happened and how old Abraham was when it happened.

In verse one, “some time later” is the time following a chunk of Abraham’s history. Starting in chapter 11, we are introduced to Abram. We begin to journey with him as he enters into his calling, travels, family highs and lows.

However, the most important thing we are privileged to is the relationship he had with the Lord.

At least 19 times, from chapter 11-21, we read where scripture gives us the direct dialogue or communication of the Lord to Abram/Abraham.
1. The LORD had said
2. The LORD said
3. Then the word of the LORD
4. Then the LORD said to him
5. The LORD appeared and said
6. Then God said

Keep this mind as we continue to read Genesis 22:1-19.

Tuesday: Weren’t There Two Sons?

We learned Monday that when God promised the impossible to Abram, scripture said he believed when the promise was initially given to him in Genesis 15:1-5.

My mind wants to think that the promise was a test to Abraham. But according to Genesis 18:10-15, it seemed to have tested Sarah’s faith and belief in God’s strength.

Read Genesis 22:1-2

1. When God called Abraham, what punctuation was used?
2. How did Abraham respond and did he ask who was speaking?
3. What are the two ways God describes Abraham’s son in verse 2?
4. Read Genesis 16:15-16 and write down what happened and how old Abram was?
5. Read Genesis 17:19-22 and write down who God’s covenant was going to be established with.
6. According to 17:10-13, what is God asking of Abraham in order to keep the covenant?
7. Read Genesis 17:23-26 and write down how old Abraham and Ishmael were when Ishmael was circumcised.

Wednesday: Burnt Offering

Read Genesis 22:1-2

1. According to Genesis 21:32-33, where was Abraham living and where was he suppose to take Isaac according to Genesis 22:2.
2. What kind of sacrifice was Isaac to be?

Burnt Offering Facts
1. Was voluntary as a personal offering
2. Most common and offered on a great variety of occasions
3. Could occur during the morning, day, or night
4. Required for cleansing and offered purification, consecration, atonement for sin
5. Offering could be a from a herd (bull), flock (male sheep or goat), birds (turtle dove or pigeon). Your wealth determined which of these you could afford to use as an offering.
6. The animal offered was of highest quality. It was offered at an age when it was about to mature and could have been used to multiply, except it was sacrificed as the offering.
7. The offerer was the one who put the animal to death and would then cut it into pieces unless it was birds. The priest provided the fire.

3. After reading these facts, write down what Abraham would have known in your own words the moment he heard God tell him Isaac was to be a burnt offering. Think back to God’s covenant with Abraham as well.
4. Based on prior reading, about how old was Ishmael and what would disqualify him from being a burnt offering?
10. What was Abraham called at the age of 99?

Thursday: The Journey

Read Genesis 22:3-5 three times.

1. When did Abraham leave? What does the time of day show about his obedience?
2. Who did he take with him? Could any of them become a “back-up plan” for the burnt offering? How does this show Abraham’s obedience.
3. Why do you think Abraham brought enough pre-cut wood prior to departure and how does that his show obedience?
4. How many days did it take to get to the location?
5. Who does Abraham say will come back with him?

Friday: Isaac Asks

Read Genesis 22:6-12 three times.

1. What can we infer about Isaac’s age since Abraham placed the wood on Isaac’s back to carry?
2. How does this relate to the burnt offering requirements?
3. What did Abraham carry?
4. In the NIV version it says that Isaac spoke up. What are people feeling prior to when they speak up about something?
5. What punctuation is used when Isaac says, “Father,” and why is it important?
6. What observation does Isaac have and what question does he ask his father?
7. Base on this information, what knowledge does Isaac have of a burnt offering?
8. How does Abraham respond?
9. Who provided Isaac?
10. What does an offering of a lamb communicate about the wealth of Abraham in reference to a burnt offering?
11. Did Isaac have any further questions?

Saturday: The Moment of Truth

Read Genesis 22:9-three times.

1. List the first four steps that Abraham took before reaching for the knife.
2. Who called out to Abraham?
3. Where did he call from?
4. How many times was Abraham’s name called and with what punctuation?
5. Compare how Abraham responded to his response at the beginning of Genesis 22.
6. Read Leviticus 1:3-4 and pay special attention to verse 4.

Next read Genesis 22:12. What is Abraham told not to do which is part of the burnt offering?
7. Compare how Isaac is described in verse 12 to verse 2.
9. Put yourself in the shoes of Abraham. Imagine you are in the moment of holding the knife about to slay your son. If your eyes were closed during this event, what could possibly happen as you bring the knife down? How would your hand have to be positioned over Isaac?
10. Read verses 13-14. When Isaac looks up, he is looking straight ahead. What did the Lord provide?
11. How is it beneficial that the the horns were tangled in a thicket?
12. Does the ram meet the burnt offering requirements?

Sunday: Promise Completed Through Obedience

Read Genesis 22:15-19

1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. In your own words, what promises is the Lord making.
2. Read Genesis 15:4-5. How is the promise further clarified here?
3. Read Genesis 17:1-8. How has the promise been reinforced?
4. Read Genesis 17:19-22. How has the promise been clarified even more?
5. Read Genesis 22:15-19. What promise has come to pass? What promise has been reinforced? What promise has been enhanced due to Abraham’s obedience?


Reading the Bible: Why Should I and Where Do I Start?

Attempting to read the Bible can be intimidating. This is because we have the misconception that it’s too hard, too long, and we really don’t understand why we should.  We think we are too busy, it’s not relevant, and it’s made up of stories that aren’t real. Most of all, we think it’s filled with a bunch of rules we must follow.

When it comes to attending a Bible study, we are afraid to participate.  We think reading the whole thing is a prerequisite for participation. We think we have to actually own a Bible. We think behind those church doors are really smart people engaging in this high level conversation.

But none of that is true.

However, just a little over ten years ago, I was there.  I believed in God and that Jesus died on the cross.  I had faith.  I wanted to start attending church regularly.  I tried to be a good person

Wasn’t that enough?

Well the problem that I ran into once I started reading the Bible was…..

  1.  I realized that prior, I didn’t know what it actually meant to be a follower of Christ?
  2. What I thought was good, ok, or not a big deal, did not line up with the Word of God.
  3. The “rules” were a protective covering that kept me feeling whole, loved, safe, and not lacking.

What I started to gain by reading the Bible….

  1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  2. A desire to read the Bible out of enjoyment and not out of requirement.
  3. I started to feel alive and complete.
  4. It became my anchor in a storm.
  5. It gave me ability to heal, love, and forgive when I should naturally be bitter.
  6. Etc…..The list could go on forever.

Overall, it unlocked this whole new world that was better than before.  Sure, life still happened.  But, more and more instead of turning to outside solutions to make me feel good, I turned to my Bible.

It is the place where God guides me.   It’s the place where He speaks to me. In there is the truth about life, circumstances, and choices.

Its the only place I can go that gives me peace, comfort, excitement, adventure, purpose, and an understanding of the condition of my heart.

I encourage you in 2018 to give it try.  Journey with me, by reading a Proverb a day.   It’s a great place to start and very applicable to everyday life.

Don’t be afraid.   Be ready to be amazed.


Ready for War

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.

Isaiah 49:2

As the year comes to an end, 2017 has been a year of new firsts, a season of waiting, and a total dependence on the Lord.

As the past lingers with unexpected reminders, so does God’s Truth. It hits hard and is a constant reminder of how things work when someone steps out of God’s will and when you remain under his covering.

It’s been a year of experiencing the truth of living in the light and witnessing when someone chooses to live in the dark.

It’s been a year of focus when God is first, and yet a year of distraction when a career grabs a hold of my heart.

It’s been a year that magnifies the areas of my flesh that need to be scrubbed away. At the same time, I’ve seen how he has also slowly transformed me and my heart.

Overall, it’s been a lesson that’s preparing me to pick up the Sword of the Spirit in 2018 and really fight for the kingdom of God.

I’ve been too passive.
I’ve been too complacent.
I’ve been too worried what people will think.

All the while, people are lost.

I haven’t spread the gospel the way I’ve been called to. I’ve kept too much in, because I’m so focused on something that is God’s business. It involves me, but the saving, healing, and mending is not mine.

He has simply called me to obey Him and wait.

I however, have been too busy wasting time trying to understand it. I’ve wasted time letting my flesh fight being obedient.

But not anymore. I choose YOU-God.

As 2018 approaches, let me encourage you to choose Him too.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that choosing Jesus meant dying to self and living by the Spirit and not the flesh.

It is a constant wrestling, but the Spirit is winning more and more. I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought possible. But it is undeniably comforting, peaceful, and exciting.

When I gave my life to Christ, if I would have known before hand the fire and refining I would go through, I would have been too afraid to proceed. But coming out of it polished and sharpened, I can’t imagine living my life without going through it.

2018 will be a year of conquering and gaining ground.  It will be a year of harvest and hard work for the kingdom.

Set your eyes and heart on the Lord this year.   Let he truly be the king that reigns in your heart.

To God be the Glory



My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.




He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.


Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.


It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical


Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

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