Passed Up

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 NIV

My God place is a trail that runs along a creek.  Most of it is hidden from the road. Only a few people know about it or dare to venture off to the unpaved portion.  It is commonly referred to as my “secret place” to friends and to God it’s referred to as our place.  I feel most in God’s presence outdoors and living in an area covered by concrete, it is my nearby escape when I need to listen to what God wants to speak to my heart.

Now, I should let you know that God speaks to me in feathers. It is directly associated with a situation I’m in and I tend to collect them when I see them.  Lately, they have been everywhere in indoor locations which is kind of odd.  They have been constant reminders of what I want to ignore, give-up on, and forget.  But, he seems to be bringing them like rain coming in through a roof.

This morning on my walk, I unexpectedly ran across one that was white.  I picked it up because it reminded me of purity, salvation, and also out of habit. On the way back when I was almost home, again my eye unexpectedly saw one in the grass.  But, this one didn’t look pretty.  It was kind of wet from the dew and mangled.  So after a short pause, I continued in my stride determining its value was not worth bending down to pick up.

And then came the download from God.

People like to pick what is pretty, what looks fresh, and what seems valuable.  The ones that seem dirty, disheveled, and discarded are the ones that get passed up.  The one who is so entrenched in sin, to the point it is obvious to others, is given a quick glance and then ignored.  It seems as if they are not worth the time anymore to pick-up and carry along.

But with a perspective of salvation, God revealed what those two feathers represented. One is the before and one is the after.  We need to be willing to pick a person up and carry them when they don’t seem worth the time of day. By no means are we meant to literally carry what only God can handle and hold.  However, there is much value in a person’s testimony even if their present tells a different story. Passing them up in prayer can be tempting when they seem too far gone, but today was a great reminder that there is always hope that their trial will lead to salvation and a mighty testimony.

With hope,

Erica Salazar

 

 

The Power of IT: Abortion

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.

Before Christ:

I remember a distinct memory from Girl Scouts. We were making a clear ball ornament and decorating it with puff paint. I chose to create three babies holding hands. There was a peach, light yellow, and a baby blue one. I wrote across the bottom, “Save the Babies.” I have faint memories of abortion and women’s rights protests on TV which must have been the motivation of me choosing a side. Sometime between the age of 11-13, it just didn’t seem logical to kill a baby inside a woman’s body. Fast forward to my first couple of years in college; I felt the same way.

However, one day I realized I was “late.” After softball practice, I sat in the dorm community restroom taking a pregnancy test while a teammate waited by the sink to hear the results.

Very quickly two pink lines appeared indicating I was pregnant. Panicked, I told her, “I’m pregnant and I can’t have this baby.” Like that, my position changed because it was happening to me.

Many things raced through my mind at once:

1. Why is this happening to me? I’m a “good” girl. (To my false standards)
2. I’m going to lose my softball scholarship.
3. I don’t want to go back home and live in Houston.
4. I don’t want to become a teacher. (I don’t know why this popped in my head because I was an international business major.)
5. I don’t want to be single forever. Who is going to want to marry me if I have a child already? I want to be married. (Keep in mind I was 20, and having a child outside of marriage was uncommon to me.)

I called my boyfriend immediately and told him that I was pregnant, but was having an abortion. I never asked what he thought or for his opinion. It was a done deal. When I told my coach, she said that she knew this was going to happen. However, I was the last person she thought it would happen to.

The day of the abortion I was wearing black jeans and a gray shirt. My boyfriend drove me in my Ford Ranger to Corpus Christi which was 45 minutes away. I cried the entire way up there. I sat there hoping he would ask me to marry him so it would be “ok” in my mind to have the baby. As we sat in the lobby, I cried uncontrollably. Selfishly, adoption wasn’t an option because I knew if I had the baby I wouldn’t let it go. A lady from the abortion clinic told me that if I didn’t stop crying then the doctor wouldn’t perform the abortion. At some point, I gathered myself together and had it. At that time, they didn’t do an ultrasound, so I just convinced myself at six weeks of pregnancy that it was just a blob.

Following the abortion, I just picked up and moved on with life not giving it too much thought unless I was getting into a serious relationship. That information was always difficult to break and always received with some hesitation and disappointment.

What was going on in my life when I came to Christ:

Again, I was married during this time, but not in a hurry to have kids. I wanted everything to be perfect in my career, our finances, and our quality time. As I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord in Savior, I began to read the Bible and that’s when I was convicted again of what I had done.

I remember reading Jeremiah 29:11 and realizing that everything would have been ok had I had the baby. I also realized had I read the Bible, then I wouldn’t have made that mistake. Fear wouldn’t have dictated my decision. Instead, God’s truth would have and I could have rested and held onto that comfort.

I didn’t know it at the time, but later I struggled with infertility. Many times I would hear testimonies from women who also had abortions and their emotional struggles and scars. However, their testimony always ended with, “But God blessed me with kids.” My story wasn’t having that result and I started to wonder if God loved me less.

My Life Now as a Follower of Christ:

Although I am forgiven, I still struggle with that decision. However, there were three things I was trying to avoid that happened anyway.

1. Living in Houston.
2. Being single
3. Being a teacher
(I happen to actually really love teaching.)

Going through a divorce, one thing that also sticks out is that I would have never met my spouse had I not gotten an abortion. That decision ended up being course altering.

Conclusion:

The truth is, an abortion was a way for me to control my consequences not my body. I exercised my bodily rights/freedoms when I engaged in intercourse. It was a false sense of control much like the deception Eve fell for.

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

Psalm 139:15 NLT
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

Jeremiah 29:11

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.

To God be the Glory

 

 

The Power of IT: SEX

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.

Before Christ:

I think of all of the human components that have been a part of my life, this has been the most detrimental, although I didn’t realize it until after coming to Christ and going through a divorce.

I remember at a very young age being exposed to pornography or pornographic images (unintentionally I believe and not by my parents).

I remember pulling up my socks high in the back of the daycare bus at the age of 5 because I wanted to be sexy like the girl in the Legs video by ZZ Top. I remember after seeing a Playboy at a slumber party at the age of 6 wanting to be that girl when I grew up and being upset when the city of Corpus Christi wanted to take down the huge bigger than life stripper cutout that towered above the strip club by the freeway. There are several other memories, but what is sad is that these are just some of earliest ones. I hadn’t even made it out of first grade.

Luckily, I had lovingly strict parents, so although this seed was planted at a young age it really couldn’t blossom into action beyond the occasional late night sneaking around trying to catch a glimpse of something on TV with my hand strategically on the remote (or knob) in case my parents woke up and some other boundaries I should not have crossed.

When I got into college, I was really naive and planning on waiting until marriage. Unfortunately, I put myself in a situation and around the wrong type of person and lost IT. I remember crying afterwards and feeling so devalued and ruined and the guy had the nerve to ask me, “Why are you crying?”

I turned on God that day.

From that point on, it was ok as long as I was in a long term relationship. As a marketing major my motto was, “sex sells.” As the president of my college’s American Marketing Association chapter, I hosted a best chest (shirts on for females) contest as a fundraiser. My dancing at clubs definitely didn’t Glorify God and I would say I finally relinquished that playlist from the not so glory days about 3-4 years ago.

What was going on in my life when I received Jesus Christ:

When I received Christ I was married, but carrying this warped image of sex to the point that a lot of my value was tied into it. I would fall for the lies/tricks that the magazines such as Cosmopolitan promoted to supposedly make me irresistible and make the marriage fool proof. Satan knew this, and knew exactly how to destroy the marriage and my self-worth. But, around the third year of marriage I found Christ. My relationship with Him, put me on a trajectory that continues today in discovering that there is only one foundation that sustains a marriage and my value cannot be based off of being enough or not enough for my spouse.

My life now as a follower of Christ:

After being divorced this year and single, I knew that SEX was going to be one of the litmus tests that would show if I’m really a follower of Christ. At first, realizing this after filing for divorce was a double gulp.

But, being in a relationship with Jesus Christ and being able to see in hindsight the damage premarital sex had on me before and after marriage, I saw the truth about SEX and any form of the “everything but sex” category.

1. Anything outside of marriage or the marriage covenant is a cheapened form of the beauty it is intended to be.

2. Sex before marriage or outside the marriage covenant focuses on the flesh: pleasure, performance, ego, control, and lust. In its proper Godly relationship, it is about communion, oneness, unity, and peace. These things bring a deeper pleasure beyond the flesh, because it was not driven by romance as an exchange of “being in love.”

3. Sex before marriage cheapened me and lowered my self esteem when the relationship ended. Was I not good enough to keep him?

4. Those experiences prior to marriage mentally filter their way in, do not prepare you for marriage, or make you better in the bedroom for your spouse. In fact you compare even when you don’t want to. It’s a sort of rolodex of memories that interferes. This includes pornography.

Conclusion:
I’m a sinner saved by grace, but still have to rely on God to keep me protected and pure in this area. Although I have never been addicted to pornography, I know it’s the area that can take me down if I even start to entertain it. I have to guard my eyes from things on the internet and TV. I’ve actually become quite sensitive to things because I’ve gone without TV for over a year. I have had to repent when my finger scrolled back up or slowed down to get a longer glimpse of something that I saw on Facebook that I shouldn’t have. I have also had to unfollow some people due to the images or videos they post that I know can be a stumbling block to me.

Why?

Because it does not glorify God in THAT context and in the end is short term, a quick fix, and an empty void in the long term.

It also devalues me and devalues women. It also communicates to men that our purpose is to be looked at, lusted after, and purely for pleasure first.

God created women (and men) in his image. So to be viewed through the lens of lust is a defilement. Instead we should be viewed through the lens of dignity which respects, lifts up, and protects.

Galatians 5:19-21

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

To God Be the Glory

 

My Testimony

I’ve always felt that I didn’t have a clear testimony. I’ve always thought a testimony had to be a sudden miracle or personal transformation.

Looking at my Bibles that I have had since becoming a follower of Christ, they tell a different story.

My first one on the left is used, but when I look inside, the pages reveal the hunger and curiosity I had when my personal relationship began with Jesus Christ. Inside was this burning fire to know HIM more, learn his wisdom, and know how I should be shaping my life.

image

It taught me how to STAND on God’s truth and conformed my mind.

The second one has definitely been through the fire and more. You can see from the outside and inside the scars, broken dreams, and uncertainties I had taken to Him. This Bible has seen many things and has been what I had clung to in order to endure the fire.

image

It taught me how to KNEEL and hold tight to the only One that could save me.

The last one is my newest one. I didn’t want a new one. It was hard to let go and start over when I had been through so much with the other Bible. But, it had been damaged and I needed one. Picking it, required much thought. I had to like the cover and what was inside. It had to “calI” me too. The cover shows its newness, but the inside shows where I left off.

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This one I can tell is going to teach me to walk in faith, WALK out my calling, and SPREAD the fire  

(Side note: I’m writing and laughing to myself because it’s like I’m writing about a relationship with a guy. Which I guess is a good thing when Jesus is my guy and the Bible is how he talks to me.)

So, looking at these three Bibles side by side, I realize I do have a testimony over time. The enemy has tried to crush my heart, silence my spirit, and steal my calling. But, I have come out with a heart still able to love, a spirit still full of joy, and a calling being confirmed.

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I can testify….
Let God be the Glory

Daniel 3:24-25 NIV
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”