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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

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jesus christ

Mountain and Joy of Motherhood

This was actually my notes to a message that I gave at a Mother’s Day brunch in 2016.  For some odd reason, it was showing up in my email to edit.  Two years later, a lot has changed but not the truths that God revealed to me in preparing for that event.  It was a great reminder to me about moms and spiritual moms within the church and how important their walk with the Lord is to their children.

Intro

When I got the call from Gracie about speaking this weekend I was really excited. I had prayed to God that Saturday before, that he would need to make it clear about being called to speak. The call that Monday was an answered prayer.

However, as she was giving me details I was faced with a big uncertainty.

I had said yes to the date, but then she mentioned that it was Mother’s Day weekend. Inside my brain I had a quick panic and then I remembered that she knew that I wasn’t a mom. RELIEF.

II. Dog Mom

Savannah
The closest I’ve come to being a mom is having my three labs, well now two. I remember the day my Savannah swam across a water hole for the first time. I would take her to the local golf course as a puppy and let her learn how to swim. She always stayed close to the edge, but one time she ventured out toward the middle. By the time I realized what was happening I was struck with fear. What if she can’t make it across she is just a puppy? What if she gets scared and is in the middle of the water trying to figure out what to do? Do I or don’t I swim to her rescue. As a “mom” I only had one choice. I had to stop being afraid. It was obvious that she wasn’t. So I ran to the other side and started encouraging her to keep swimming. I was so proud of her.
Watson
My other dog mom situation was when I took all three labs to the pool at the local Navy base. It was the last day of summer and they opened it up for dogs to swim. Getting out of the car with two full grown labs and my newest addition, my baby Watson, was what I would call a safety hazard. I was holding onto three leashes and each dog had a mind of their own. I was getting pulled, wrapped, and almost tripped as we, or I struggled up to the entrance. Once inside the fence, I could let the two oldest swim and run freely while I got in the pool with my baby Watson. This was going to be Watson’s first swim. He was not a natural like his mom, but he sure did draw a lot of attention from everyone else. He looked like a clydesdale swimming with his body straight up and his paws hitting the water as if he was galloping. There was nothing graceful about it. However, everyone thought he was so cute and adorable and I was totally loving it. Again, a proud mom moment.
Sam
The last “dog mom” memory I want to share is when my husband and I took all three labs to Bark in the Park Hooks game. By this time all three were full grown. When we arrived, we let each of them go out and to the restroom. I told each of them to make sure you go “out” before we get inside. Some listened…some didn’t. Just like my pool situation, my husband and I struggled with the three dogs on the leashes. Their excitement and leadership skills had us stumbling and tripping all the way to the outfield berm area. Once there, we had to have a strong hold on the leashes and constantly tell them to sit down. Since the getting to the outfield berm area was a struggle, my husband and I decided to take turns getting our food so one could stay with the dogs. I remember how stressful it was because most of the time we were trying to get the dogs to behave and sit down and eating was almost impossible. When it was my husband’s turn. He was too stressed to eat. I tried getting a family picture, but that was nearly impossible to get all three of them to face me at the same time. We decided to leave early since it wasn’t the fun we had envisioned. As we were walking out our oldest dog Sam decided to do #2 on the walkway behind the outfield. Of course, the other two were going in different directions. We felt helpless.

They just wouldn’t listen.

So, as moms I’m sure you can relate, that with the joys there are also the struggles despite your guidance.

III. God as Our Guide

Just like moms, God experiences the same things with us…..joys and moments where he shakes his head because we are not listening.
The reason I’m not a mom is because when I was in college I faced the mountain of motherhood.
Looking at my situation and looking up that steep mountain wall I was afraid and I panicked. I panicked because I had this dream and a vision of what my future what look like and it was blocked by this circumstance.

Genesis 3:1-6 States
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say You must not eat from any tree in the garden.”

The woman said to the serpent we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die.”

“You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be open and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom she took some of it and it shows I gave it to her husband who was with her and he ate it.

IV. Transition-Mountain of Motherhood

In this passage God clearly gave GUIDANCE, but Eve let her guidance be directed by the enemy. Notice, the serpent made God’s guidance seem illogical and his logical. So taking all the factors, she allowed herself to be misguided.

I did the same thing. My Guidance before the situation was God. But when confronted with the circumstance I let the world’s logic be my guide because I thought it would ruin the dreams I had of having a husband, family, good job, and nice house. Sure I wanted to be a mom, but I didn’t plan on it happening then. So this mountain, was blocking my dream, and I was too afraid to climb the mountain with God and see what he had in store for me on the other side. So, I walked in a different direction to avoid the trial.

Why did I do this?

I knew of God, but my relationship was minimal. So, when crisis struck, I didn’t know what the Bible said. I didn’t have those experience of turning to the WORD and letting God direct me. I hadn’t heard His truths for all circumstances.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Today, I face another personal mountain. Learning from the past, I don’t want to take things into my own hands. I have spent probably seven years kneeling at the bottom of the mountain praying for God to move it. It has been frustrating, because it hasn’t moved. It tremors sometimes and I think it is going to crumble down, but it hasn’t yet.

I’m sure all of you are facing mountains right now. You could be dealing with the stress of being a single parent. You may be struggling to watch your children go through mountains. Maybe your child is your mountain. You tried your best to raise them, but they are being very defiant. Maybe your adult child is your mountain. For some maybe your mountain is how to move forward in life with the loss of a child.

No matter what your mountain is as a mom. God is calling you to really trust him and CLIMB

You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3

V. What to Expect-

At the Bottom of the Mountain
When we are at the bottom of the mountain we can be gripped by fear. We stare at that mountain wall and wonder which way is the best way to tackle it. We stand paralyzed in worry and anxiousness. At some point we start climbing, but it is rough. We stumble up and we are constantly strategizing how to navigate our way. We become so mentally and physically exhausted that we end up right back at the bottom. The burden is too big for us to carry, and we end up crying in despair broken. After multiple attempts and multiple fails, you will realize that you are trying to do it alone. You may be praying about it and trying to do all the right things, but your heart is not truly trusting in the Lord. You are still wanting to know that if you climb this mountain, you will get your desired outcome. This does not work. At some point, you have to CHOOSE to CLIMB and let God be your Guide. This means you trust him every step of the way, pray that this be used for his purpose, and go up no matter what the outcome will be. In a sense you climb blind allowing the Holy Spirit to lead.

When you make this decision, you will feel peace.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

Middle of the Mountain
The middle of the mountain is where you start to really lean into God. Your focus is on him, knowing whatever step you take, he takes it with you. It’s a time of some trials, but more progress. Your confidence builds because of who you are with. It is faith in action every step of the way. Not everyday is easy and at times you will have setbacks. But overall you grow closer to the Lord.

Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Micah 4:2

Approaching the Peak
This becomes a very dangerous time. You have journeyed for quite some time now. You are more exhausted than before. The enemy tries to send forth unpredictable elements to get you focused off God and onto the hardships.

It seems unbearable at times the closer you get. It becomes tempting to quit because of the difficulties. You have to stop more often to pray, refocus on the Lord, and dig deep. You need that oxygen to stay alive and to continue going. You look back at how far you have come and remember the beauty in the pain that you are experiencing. You are reminded that Jesus has been there too. You push on and persevere in Him as he continues to guide you up.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

The Peak and the Descend
When we get to the top, we will see his will. We will have a new perspective and a testimony of how the Lord guided us through it.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

The descend will be like this:

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

 

Why is This Illustration Important to Being a Mom and a Woman?

Your Children will Look to you as Their Guide
It is really important that you know what it takes spiritually to make it up a mountain, so you can be there for your children as they face their ascend. The less involved you are in reading the Bible, praying, and fellowship, the more likely your advice to them will be based more on the world’s guidance instead of God’s guidance. It’s important for that internal compass to be calibrated to God, that way when your children lean on you, your guidance will be in line with the Holy Spirit.

This is easier said than done for all of us. It is a daily challenge when we let life pull us in all directions.

When you have chosen to climb a mountain with God, you are a great testimony to your kids. You can relate to their struggle and yet testify about God’s goodness no matter what you face.
Everyone Needs a Mom
No matter how old you are, you need a mom. Some of you your mother’s have passed away. For some women, their mother had struggles of her own and couldn’t show love or make the best decisions as it pertained to her children. Some moms live far away and can’t be there on hand in a crisis. For the women of the church, each of you are a mom. Someone that another woman may need to call on when faced with a mountain. Someone who can help her lean on Christ and encourage her as she begins to climb.

You see all of us climb mountains. Some are bigger than others, but every time we get over one, there is someone else about to start. The mountain wall looks a lot less intimidating when you have support at the bottom cheering you on, reminding you to pray, is praying for you, sending you scriptures, and reminding you of God’s truth.

Closing

The definition of joy is
1: a feeling of pleasure or happiness that comes from success, good fortune, or a sense of well-being
2: something that gives pleasure or happiness <It’s a joy to have you visit.>

Whether you are a mom of natural children, playing that role within your church, encouraging a child’s or woman’s relationship with Jesus Christ, you will have joy.

No matter what you are going through, there is always joy in nurturing others. There is always joy in showing God’s love and there is always joy when others see God’s guidance in you.

I want to leave you with this last scripture.
Proverbs 3:13-18
Blessed are those who find wisdom,those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways,and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

To God be the Glory

Erica

 

 

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Relentless

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.

 

RELENTLESS.

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

I am a STANDER.

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.

RELENTLESS

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

So….

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

The Power of IT: Marriage

In my life there have been certain focuses and strongholds that have falsely formed my value and self-worth. Therefore, this series is a sort of testimony on each area before and after coming to Christ.

This IT has definitely been the one I put all my hope in instead of Christ. However, the Power of this IT placed in its proper order allows me walk in obedience to the covenant despite being divorced.

Before Christ:

As a little girl I remember picking white flowers in the backyard pretending that they were my wedding bouquet. As I grew up, I couldn’t wait to get married, love my husband, show him he was special, and have fun together. For the most part, when dating, I was always looking for someone who was marriage material.

The first time I saw my spouse walk into a class in college my mind went, “That’s him. That’s who I’m suppose to marry.” It was like this little checklist in my head of who he was and what he looked like just appeared and the only one who new the list was God. This is going to sound funny, but this was the list: Mexican-American guy (but a “coconut” like me), 5’10, hair on arms (I like fur but not on the back), looks good in a baseball cap, athletic, reserved, disciplined, morning person, hardworking, hardworking, hardworking, parents that are around the same age as mine, comes from a similar family background, believed in God, and had similar values.

Now of course, all of this I didn’t know the first time I saw him, but it’s like I knew it was all there. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we started dating.

What was going on when I came to Christ.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but entering into the marriage I was already committing a very dangerous sin. I was idolizing my husband and also the institution of marriage.

How did this affect the marriage:
1. It put an unspoken pressure on him that he was perfect and could do no wrong.
2. My self-worth was deeply connected to how my spouse chose to love and treat me.
3. My value rested on whether or not I had a man who loved me.
4. Number #2 & #3 also put an unspoken pressure that he existed to meet all of my emotional needs.

Once I became a follower of Christ, the idolization of my spouse diminished, but not the institution of marriage. Christ alone wasn’t enough for me. I needed my marriage to be healed. I needed my dream to materialize. I needed to feel like enough which was through the status of being a cherished and loved wife.

I did learn how to lean on God and walk through the fire during the storms, but my method of choice in dealing with some major marriage issues made me an enabler and allowed toxic things to become deeply rooted in the foundation of our marriage.

I needed to be willing and ready to shut the door on the enemy instead of allowing him to linger. But I was afraid of losing IT: my spouse and marriage.

How is God working in my life today:

If I could go back just this past year, I would have suggested to myself to separate with a long-term mindset. Under the circumstances, I would need to start functioning independently of my spouse and focus solely on my relationship with God and let God take full control. This would be necessary and would have been better than divorce.

My six month separation followed by filing for divorce in hindsight wasn’t really long enough after eleven years to allow the Holy Spirit to workout and undo the damage done. Not because It couldn’t, but because as humans we are stubborn. Plus, it was a little late in the game for me to make such a strong stance of “enough is enough” and expect the mountain to start moving.

Ultimately, my situation today would not be too different except that maybe we would still have some communication.

It’s hard that I regret making that decision, when I was constantly seeking God, seeking out knowledge, and had pastoral guidance. I know that I had every right to move forward and was always out to only do God’s will. But, being emotionally detached from the relationship now, I have a clearer picture that long-term separation was an option instead of a divorce.

Filing left my spouse even more vulnerable to the devil’s schemes. Sure, he made his decisions and acted in his free-will, but there is a spiritual battle at play and at the root of the divorce.

Conclusion:

Today I still feel called to pray for my spouse and marriage reconciliation. This hasn’t always been easy. First, when I think about the entire situation, I don’t really want to. Second, I know what I’m dealing with and it is quite an impossible situation. It will literally take an act of God and a miracle to resurrect and restore the covenant legally. But if it does, it will be rebuilt on the foundation of God for His glory.

At this point I just have to trust and rest in God’s character determined to do His will.

1. God weighs all sin the same.
2. Therefore, one spouse’s sins are not greater or less than the others.
3. None of us are worthy of God’s love, because we all rejected the death of His son Jesus Christ in our habitual sinful nature before becoming saved.
4. Therefore, there is not another person more or less worthy of my love as a wife then the spouse I married on August 14, 2004.
5. We are called to become Christ like and His love is not withheld because of our sinful behavior. We choose not to accept His love when we continue to sin. Therefore, I will not withhold my love if an opportunity for restoration presents itself.
6. God is in the business of redemption, restoration, and reconciliation.
7. God loves my spouse more than I do and is pursuing him daily.
8. Sin causes a breakdown in a marriage. Who caused that? The devil.
How? Through temptation and deception
Why? To make a mockery of the marriage covenant and prevent us from becoming witnesses
9. God has already defeated the enemy and given me power over the enemy. I just need to activate it and engage in the battle no matter how long it takes.
10. Being single does not make me less valuable or desirable. It allows me to spend more time working for God’s kingdom.
11. A restored marriage makes a greater impact for the kingdom of God.
12. “It takes two to save a marriage: one spouse and God.” https://www.rejoiceministries.org/

Now, what IF I’m wrong and I am misunderstanding God. Well the following things are happening.

1. I’m seeking, searching, learning the power of prayer.
2. I’m learning to exercise my authority over the enemy.
3. I’m focusing on me and the areas that need to be refined and removed: pride, jealousy, competitiveness, lack of discipline in some areas, and food as a source of comfort.
4. I’m learning to find my value in Christ.
5. I’m challenged daily to view things from God’s truth and not what appears to be.
6. I’m learning to be complete outside of a relationship.
7. I’m developing into who God intended me to be. It’s like He is tearing everything down that was shaped by the world and starting to build me back up into what He desired all along.
8. I’m learning patience. Grrrrr 🙂
9. I get to share restoration resources I have found as an option to others who feel the same calling as I do.
10. God is and will always be my unfailing husband.

Am I really losing anything if I’m wrong? No, in fact I’m gaining so much. It’s a win-win situation for me no matter the outcome. My spouse, no matter what path he takes has someone praying for him with specificity that no other person can do because I know the battle he is under and how the enemy attacks him.

Luke 9:23
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

1 Corinthians 7:34-35
….An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Proverbs 21:21
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

To God be the Glory

 

Just Me

In early June of 2016, I had filed for divorce. It was my worst nightmare and a decision I had put off for many years in hopes that God was going to do a needed miracle in order for me to remain. Unfortunately, I had to let go of my dreams and my husband who I dearly loved.

I cannot begin to explain the loneliness I felt during the separation, the frustration of the “mountain” not moving, and the desperation for God to fix it. Emotionally and mentally, the entire scenario and the process afterwards proved to be a hurt that challenged my worth and value as a woman and as a Christian. Many situations would bring me to tears and a breakdown. Sometimes alone in my apartment and sometimes in the arms of my mom, but always in the presence of God.

Today, I am so thankful that God is my anchor. He has healed me mentally and emotionally in so many ways that I find it quite unbelievable. There is no bitterness or hate. By all worldly standards, there should be. I should hate all men. I should hate marriage and I’m sure the enemy would have loved it if I turned on God.

But no! God during this process has revealed himself so brilliantly. His covenant with me remains. He has blessed me abundantly and has proved His Word to be true. He has truly positioned me to be exactly where I am today and is bringing me into deeper relation with Him.

How?

1. He has shown me to have Agape love towards someone who has hurt me.
2. He has shown me how to be a concrete image of Jesus Christ’s love no matter what sin has been done against me because it has first been done against Him.
3. He is redirecting me to find my value in Him and not man.
4. He is challenging me to believe that His promises are for me too.
5. He is asking me to trust him and have faith.
6. He is calling me to intercessory prayer and stand in the gap, so that I can believe that prayer works.
7. He is asking me to believe in the impossible miracle that will show His Glory even if it’s just me believing in it.

8.  He is showing me what it means to take up my cross if I am going to follow Him.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

To God Be the Glory

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