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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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God

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.

So…
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.”

 

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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.

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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

 

 

 

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

 

Uprooted

I had a really difficult time about thirteen years ago moving from Houston to a small south Texas town. Even though I had gone to college there, it was still a drastic change from the big city of Houston.

My second year living there was the first time I had heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” From that moment on, I began to embrace the differences and adapt to my new home. It was slow progress, but eventually I loved it. Everywhere I went, I ran into somebody I knew. Wal-Mart was my go to place when I was bored. A drive down the backroads was always relaxing and the outdoors was always near. Friends were like family and across town (15 minutes) seemed far. Traffic was never an issue and summer always brought the best snow-cones and fire flies. No matter the season, the stars were always in view and home was where my heart was.

Uprooted.

Everything I grew to love began to slip through my fingers. It started small, but eventually led to me moving back home to Houston to be near family, find work, and start over with a divorce in the works.

Uprooted.

It hurt. Every root that grew down was tangled around a dream, a spouse, normal routines and friends. And then, it all got pulled out. Trying to cling to every grain of old soil, I fpund that the process rips. Roots don’t let go easy and they take a piece of that earth with them no matter what.

When I saw this tree in the middle of the road I found it to be very interesting. It’s so grown and not like a seed that’s expected to bloom where it’s been planted. No, this seed bloomed already. In fact, it even reproduced. It’s gone through years of growing, storms, branch breaking, and leaves falling and growing.

I wondered, how does it live and not die of shock in the replanting? How do the roots get ahold of something that they never held before? This is new soil. A new territory.

For me, it took support. Luckily I had family to lean on. But, the biggest support was God. Only through the Word of God, could I receive healing. Only through the Word of God, could I receive understanding. Only through the Word of God, could I receive the most delicate pruning. And only through the Word of God, could I have received comfort through this shocking process.

I’m not going to lie. Some of my roots feel a little lost as if nothing quite feels right. Part of my heart isn’t home. Some of my roots are growing deep excited about the new growth to come. But my core root knows to hold tight to only one thing. The root of Jesus Christ. It will always comfort, always provide, and always bring life to my soul.

“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. “Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

To God be the Glory

 

Winning Vs. Victory

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in a high school alumni softball team game. While I was in high school I was blessed to be part of a two time state softball team and enjoy in the blessings, trials, and the joy of competition, and winning. Above is a selfie of myself and two teammates. (April, myself, Robin-Taken by April on the left)

It was neat to see Robin, one of two seniors in 1993 who did quite a bit if our coaching and leading us to our first state title, now coaching our alma mater softball team. It was also a blessing to see my teammate April doing double duty from the dugout as a mom while playing the game. It was also a blessing to see beauty from ashes as I was able to participate for the first time in the alumni game only because going through a divorce led me back home.

In reflecting on those moments, I realized that we were not only winners but victors. As we have all moved along in our own paths, we in some shape and form sow into others.

As a Christian, there is the concept of winning people to Christ. But, sometimes that requires us to sow into others through personal testimonies. While the walk in the Lord can be joyous, it can also be very challenging and filled with losses. It can seem by outward appearances when things don’t go our way, we are losing. In actuality, a victorious testimony is being written by the hand of God.

Victory is a different kind of win. It is eternal and cannot be signified by a one-time trophy or medal. It is ongoing. It is transforming into the image of Christ. And most of all, no matter the circumstance, it multiplies.

Winning requires only one person or one team to enjoy in the celebration. Victory allows celebration all of the time, everyday, in every circumstance.

So no matter what the outcome of the battle you are in, you will be victorious if you allow God to coach you through the game instead of focusing on the outcome of the battle.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Not What I Pictured

 

In 2011, I took a similar picture on this porch with my husband.  We were celebrating our first Thanksgiving in our new house.  It was almost a dream come true. It was almost what I had always pictured.  I thought the goal in life was to be happily married, have good jobs, and buy a nice house.  The only thing missing from this picture were the kids we never had. However, beyond the image, what was hidden inside was real life.  A real struggle and spiritual battle that had existed almost since the beginning.  And, why wouldn’t it.  The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Marriage is his #1 target.

So today, Thanksgiving 2016, I take a picture that isn’t…. what I pictured.  What sits behind me is an empty home with various types of memories and a dying dream.   It appears that the enemy is winning and tearing apart what should never be torn apart and Biblically never will.  However, beyond this image, what is hidden inside is real faith.  Faith that I couldn’t have dreamed of having without this trial.  Mainly, because  the forgiveness that is now in my heart  is authentic.  Mainly, because more than ever have I grasped the importance of being a praying wife and cherish my remaining days as my husband’s wife to do just that.  Mainly, because the story of the Prodigal Son that I hated so dearly in the Bible (since I’ve always empathized with the older brother), has now become my favorite because I now have the heart of the father.

This is not what I pictured my future would be, but I also would have never pictured this new level of conviction I have moving forward to stand for God’s truth and truly believe He can conquer all. This isn’t what I had pictured, but I know this picture rests in God’s hands.

To God Be the Glory

Ezekiel 11:19 NIV

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone an give them a heart of flesh.

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