Not Your Average Book on Singleness

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on Altered before the Altar in the 2+ years the book has been published. Women tell me they were caught of guard or not prepared for what they read. They are surprised at the amount of scripture or the tone of the book. But by far the most common thing I hear is the book was right on time and helped deepen their faith and walk with the Lord. That pleases me to no end. It’s exactly what I wanted to do with this book–push women toward Jesus.

In my author’s note, I make it clear marriage isn’t the end goal of Altered before the Altar. The goal is to help young women become spiritually mature and equipped to handle whatever season of life they are about to enter on their Christian journey, to alter their lives in a positive way, and help them realize their worth as well as their responsibilities as Christian women. Yes, Altered before the Altar provides women with the wisdom to become wives, but it also seeks for women to be altered before the spiritual altar as well, to become better wives to Christ.

I am in a number of online groups and hear women bemoaning singles’ conferences and books all the time. All they seem to be focused on, they say, is how to be content single until you get married. They treat singleness like a disease. They set single women aside. I am more than my marital status. You get the idea. Many of these women will lump Altered into the same category of other resources for singles. They expect it to be light on scripture and spiritual refinement and heavy on Steve Harvey-esque, how to get a good Christian man tropes. I would be offended if I didn’t know their frustration so well. It’s the reason I wrote Altered the way I did.

I’ve neglected this space for a long time. The plans I had for it, and Altered before the Altar, were placed on the back burner while I pursued other things. Yet I’ve felt a tug on my heart and a nudge in my spirit to get back to the mission at the heart of Altered before the Altar. I finally have the seed of the sequel to Altered planted in my heart and am tending it patiently as the Lord leads. I’m ready to highlight other single women who are walking in their singleness well. And I’m finally ready to teach single women to live lives Altered before the Altar.

January 16th, 2017, I will start the Altered before the Altar Master Class. I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through this class. There are two ways to join the class: you can purchase access to the class via my online shop for as low as $5.00 (enter promo code TEAMSERIOUS at checkout for $5.00 off), or you can get in for FREE by sending your name, email, and a picture of you with your copy of Altered before the Altar to inquiries@aseriousseason.com.

I can’t wait to  spend time with all of you beautiful women of God!

XOXO,

Erica

P.S. There’s a major sale going on in my store. $5.00, free shipping, reduced prices on existing books, and pre-order pricing on the newly revised prayer journal and my bible study, coming in February 2017.  Everything bought from my store is signed by me and comes with free gifts. The Season for Getting Serious, my newest release, is the book you need to start 2017 off right. Order your copy and receive the first two chapters to begin reading immediately.

Needing My Space…Or Not

long hair meI’ve been evaluating my goals/progress on my word of the year for this year, and as is usual for me, I am failing miserably with most of it. The sad part is my goals and word of the year, on the surface, seem very simple. Attendance. Just show up to things. Be a willing participant and open to new experiences. That doesn’t seem hard to do. But it is. So. HARD. 

There have been far too many days where I’ve called out sick to life. If life were a job, I’d probably be fired. If life were school, I’d have missed too many days to pass the classes I have. I fail at getting up early enough to study, pray and write before getting ready for work like I used to. I fail at making time to exercise, cook instead of eat out, and spend time with friends. Though I’ve had some successes, they are a drop in the bucket compared to all the times I’ve dropped the ball.

If I haven’t exactly been rocking the attendance goals, I’ve found that I’ve been learning and growing in other areas. Growth is good, right? Growth is necessary for life. I should be doing cartwheels over all the growth I’ve been experiencing. Here’s the thing, though: growth sucks. Nobody really likes growth. Growth is that nagging, pain in the butt, fault finding, always pointing out the room for improvement mean girl that no one wants to sit with at lunch but we do anyway because she can make our lives miserable if we don’t. Growth is the reason that vegetables don’t take like sugary, buttery awesomeness that we wouldn’t mind eating. She’s that friend that can’t compliment you forwards, only backwards and in a backhanded way. She is the bane of my existence, but you have to tolerate her life family. If I were her, I’d pack my raggedy duffle bag and leave instead of staying where I’m merely tolerated, but she doesn’t even blink. Rude.

What looks like growth for me on a sunny September day? Growth is moving, twice, each time parring down the number of your worldly possessions and making hard decisions about what you want to keep. Growth is also moving offices twice at work, getting used to the rhythms and preferences of different office mates. It’s changing job responsibilities and dealing with uncertainty with a smile on my face. It’s taking classes to learn things I already thought I knew and humbling myself enough to accept that maybe I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing here at this stage of life. It’s figuring out that the reason people aren’t supporting some of the things I’m doing the way I want them to is because this isn’t the stage of the process where other people are involved. It’s spending most of my time realizing I need to get my crap together, and the rest of the time realizing I’m not the one who does the getting together.

Reading book

 

Which brings me back to that pesky attendance goal. I have to show up where God told me to go and wait for Him to lead me. I’m in a place where many of the things I think I need to really be present and focused before God just aren’t there. I no longer have a writing nook to sit and write my books (see: moving/downsizing), a home I live in alone in which I can let the dishes pile up for days while I seek the Lord on this or that. I have much less physical space. I can’t spread out with Bibles, notebooks, commentaries and etc on every surface and work feverishly through the first draft of this book. I don’t have the luxury of hiring a cover designer or using a free trial period of software to format the new book. I have no outline of how this book should be organized. I don’t know what to do with my websites. Every time I peruse other sites, I’m assaulted by all the things my sight doesn’t have to make it look as nice or function as well. I don’t have the money or resources to put into this. I don’t even have a metaphorical ride to this place God is calling me to…and yet, He’s still expecting me to meet Him in the same place He told me to meet Him. So I have to get there.

I don’t know if any of my ramblings actually have a point, but if they do, it would be that perhaps we don’t need all of the things we think we need in order to do what God wants us to do. Maybe we don’t know how we’re going to do it. Maybe we don’t know where the help is going to come from. Perhaps we will have to give up some things before we are given others. I have to believe that all of this has a purpose. It can’t escape my notice that while none of this is what I planned for when I set the goal of attendance at the beginning of the year, it all leads me back to that very goal. It says, pay attention. Be here. Participate in this. Live in this moment–right here and right now. 

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Altered Sig

 

 

 

Your two cents: Is there something in your life pulling on your shirt sleeves and trying to get your attention? How do you plan to attend to it?

 

You’re Doing It Wrong! The Waiting Edition

So, I had this idea for this blog. I wanted to do all of these wonderful features and have all of these awesome interviews and guest posts. I really wanted to make this website into a space for single women to come together and share and learn. Sort of a single Christian women’s lifestyle blog. Dreams of building a brand danced in my head. I just knew I could call together the right women to make this happen. I wrote out what I wanted to do. I sent out emails to women that I thought would be interested or might know of some interested women. I got in touch with any women I thought may be like minded and wanted to help. And I waited. The response was immediate. Yes! That sounds amazing! I’ve wanted to see something like that come together! Of course I want to be a part!

Then nothing. It all kind of stalled. Everyone got busy with other things. Life intruded. I looked up and it had been months since I’d written down those goals and I still hadn’t put up another post, let alone lined up any of those special features. I was deep into writing–a manuscript for a fiction contest and my second non-fiction book. I was taking Altered to different events and trying to line up other events. I was doing my best to make fetch happen with a brand, looking at cost comparisons to bring out other products and figuring out how to sell things from my site. Maybe I just need to let this idea go, I thought to myself. I’m tired of trying to force this site to be something it’s not. If it’s supposed to happen, the people will come and the features will fall into place.

But see, God is good! He always has a ready word exactly for your situation. While working on book 2, I began to study waiting in the Bible, and the difference between waiting and wasting (time). I found an interesting thing. The Bible says a ton about waiting, from how to wait to when to wait to what happens when we wait. But the waiting is almost exclusively connected with waiting for God. Sometimes, as with Saul, it was waiting for the man of God to give a sacrifice so that God would go with them, but the wait was for God and His presence, His deliverance. When the children of Israel waited instead of taking the land, God wouldn’t let them enter it, even when they changed their minds and decided to do what He said. I say all of that to say the waiting we do should be waiting for God. We can wait for God to move on our behalf. We can wait on His instructions for the next step or stage of life. We can wait for His peace. Whatever we want to wait on God for, we should. But nowhere is it endorsed that we should be waiting on people or events or for things to line up a certain way, and I was guilty of waiting for someone else to be as excited about what I thought God was calling me to do as I was. No bueno.

I feel as if I need to say this so no one misses the point: I’m not upset at anyone who wasn’t able to help out when I first started looking for collaborators on this project. In fact, it is my personal belief that some of them got so busy because God needed me to see that I needed to do what I needed to do even if no one else was ready, willing or able. Thank God folks were busy doing what God told them to do and not what I wanted them to do! God got me out here in the wilderness by myself, so to speak, for the same reason He had the children of Israel in the Wilderness:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.- Deut. 8:2, NIV

And it wasn’t for God to know what was in my heart and whether or not I would keep His commandments, but for me to know it. How amazing is that? God wants me to know what I can do, how strong I am, how weak I am. He wants me to see where I fall short and when I ask, He gives me more grace to become stronger in Him. Awesome.

So what does that mean for this site and all my other ones? What does this mean for my idea of a “single Christian women’s lifestyle brand?” To be honest, I don’t know. I am starting over. I am waiting on Him to tell me what He wants me to do, and I’m going to obey that. I still think that interviewing is one of my strengths and I still want to highlight single Christian women doing amazing things on my blog. But what shape or form that’s going to take is still up in the air. I do know that I plan to post more here and elsewhere. I also know that I plan to import some Altered before the Altar related content from my other sites here as well.

I’m working really hard on book 2 (translation: the Lord is taking me through some things so I can share some of His marvelous truth with you). Unlike book 1, I don’t have a cover designer and will have to do some other things myself.

I want to start helping others independently publish as well, but I’m not sure what that will look like for me. Many of you have asked me about publishing when I’ve met you in person, and I want to address the need for educating people on publishing and helping others to publish. We will see where the Lord leads me on it.

I’m still praying on some opportunities to share Altered before the Altar with a wider audience. Please keep me in prayer that I’m able to do do what I need to in order to be in the best position to be used for God in whatever capacity He wants to use me, and I pray the same for you.

Your two cents: Have you ever waited on man to cosign something instead of God? How did it turn out? What would you do differently this time around?

My table at Message, Mingle, & Masquerade: Southside Church of Christ's Singles' Conference, June 2015

Confidence & Conferences: Day 1

My table at Message, Mingle, & Masquerade: Southside Church of Christ's Singles' Conference, June 2015
My table at Message, Mingle, & Masquerade: Southside Church of Christ’s Singles’ Conference, June 2015

I have a not-so-secret secret to share: I’m not very good at vending. This is not to say that I don’t sell things when I vend, but I’m still working on being the type of person who can sell people something they didn’t know they wanted when they came up to the table.

I find that I do best when I’m able to speak to a captive audience about my book, even if only for a few minutes. It doesn’t matter if I’m just introducing myself as a vendor and saying what I’m selling or speaking at the event, when I have an opportunity to tell people about the book, people will stop by and get a copy. But when it comes to someone casually walking up and glancing at the table, I’m not as good translating that into a sale.

For this conference, I wanted to try to improve on my “cold sales.” This is my target audience–single Christian women (and men)–and they’ve come to the conference to learn more about what God has to say to single Christians, so it’s not as if I don’t have an “in” with this group.

The first area I decided to focus on was making my table stand out with signage and by hosting a giveaway. Unfortunately, my banner didn’t arrive in time for yesterday’s table (and it probably won’t be in my mail until after I’m at the event for the day today–grr!), but my other signs are out and ready to go. I added a price list sign and a guestbook sign. Today I’ll make a sign encouraging people to enter the giveaway with the prizes listed. I’m hoping the giveaway will draw people to the table long enough for me to begin a conversation with them.

The second thing that I’ve added was gifts with purchase. The gifts aren’t much and are while supplies last, but I thought it would be a good idea to have a little something to give to people who buy both the book and the devotional as a special thank you. They aren’t pictured with the table because they are behind the table.

The one thing that I’m still lacking is confidence. I didn’t call much attention to the table or to myself. You know how you’re in the mall and those pesky phone people call out to you? The really good ones, instead of asking if you’re happy with your phone service or yelling out free phones, get you to stop by complimenting you or remarking on a bag you have from another store. They know how to get you to linger at their display before they launch into their spiel. I didn’t inherit that gift of gab, and it’s not the easiest skill for me to acquire. As much as I love to talk, when it comes to selling things, I usually flake.

I know I can’t depend on my attractive book covers and signage to make all the sales, nor can I depend on being able to speak to a captive audience if I want to reach the people I should be reaching. Not everyone who would benefit from reading Altered before the Altar is going to walk up and plunk their money down on the table. I have to do better with reaching out to women and letting them know what this book is really about: being a satisfied single woman who’s open to love & loving God’s way, with an eye on eternity and Christ’s coming for His bride, the church.

Day one wasn’t a success for me because I didn’t reach my goal of engaging more of the people who walked by my table. I didn’t show my confidence in the product I was selling. It’s not about the numbers; I’ve been at events longer and sold less. While I have a monetary goal, my ultimate goal for this conference is to be more active in spreading the message of the book.

It’s time for me to grab breakfast and get things together for day two. Pray for me to have the boldness to share my heart for singles with each individual who comes by today.

XOXO,

Erica

dad and I

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to 30…

A friend of mine "accidentally" tagged me to this on FB.
A friend of mine “accidentally” tagged me to this on FB.

I spent most of my life pre-30 dreaming and drifting. I knew what I wanted to be and do, the type of impact I wanted to make on those around me, the kind of life I wanted to live, but I just couldn’t figure out how to get there. I was writing when I felt inspired, which wasn’t very consistently. I would get into cycles of reading my Bible and really getting into the word and then looking up Sundays and realizing I hadn’t picked up my Bible since Wednesday night Bible class. I went through cycles where I was really productive and times I was overwhelmed. I had a few days where I felt like I looked “fierce and fabulous,” but many more where I just felt fat and flabby. My mood swung like a pendulum between hopeful and depressed. I was in a relationship that didn’t seem to be going anywhere, at a job that wasn’t going anywhere, living a life that wasn’t going anywhere. There was so much on the inside of me that I wanted to get out, but I just couldn’t figure out how to start “walking in my purpose,” as people say. And not living out my calling was making me a less desirable person, even to myself.

When I turned 28, I was really struggling to get it together. Going into 28, I suffered some big disappointments and setbacks.

One of my setbacks in 2013
One of my setbacks in 2013

The first quarter of 2013 nearly wiped out all the progress I’d made up to that point, and it felt like my heart had been ripped wide open. When I tell you 28 tried it, I kid you not. But losing so much in so short a timespan allowed me to have so much clarity. It was like I’d removed a line of trees that was blocking my view of the horizon, and now I could see a path to it. So I stepped onto that path in faith.

 

 

 

 

In the next two years, I completed my first novel, found critique buddies, and did the million and one things it took to get Altered before the Altar and the Devotional study guide out into the world. I planned and executed my first book launch party:

 

Book Release table
The book table at my book release party

There were times I felt out of my depth and in over my head with all of this, but there’s always been help where I’ve needed it, even if that help was me covering everything in prayer as I tried to do it myself. I’m still far from truly living the life I know God has for me. I still have a long way to go before I can give up the day job, pay off my student loans, or write/speak full time. But I’m finding my way, learning a little more, doing a little better each time.

I’ve had a few events since I last wrote. I’ve been somewhere selling Altered every month of this year so far. I’ve sold books at teas, women’s conferences, a march for marriage event, my dad’s appreciation banquet, and ladies’ days here in Florida. The women that I’ve encountered have been gracious and supportive of my efforts to get my book in the hands of as many young women as possible. There are still more conferences and events I hope to get to this year, and hopefully I’ll be invited to speak more as I prepare to release my next book.

march for marriage table
My vendor table at the March for Marriage event, March 2015

This week, from Thursday June 11th to Sunday June 14th, I’ll be a vendor at the Southside Church of Christ’s Message, Mingle and Masquerade Singles’ Conference. This weekend promises to be a weekend of firsts for me. It will be my first singles conference, my first singles’ conference as a vendor, and my first solo vending gig. Usually Mr. Perfect (my boyfriend) or ladies from my home congregation are around to help me, but this time, it’s just me.

I’m doing things differently this time around, adding signage, offering a giveaway, and doing a few other things that will (hopefully) take my presentation to the next level and get the word out about Altered before the Altar.

Brunswick Table
My table at the Facing Your Giant Women’s Conference in Brunswick, GA February 2015

 

It’s been my plan to add new voices and content to this site for a while now. So far, those new voices haven’t worked out. But I’m ever faithful that God will provide the right people to help me revamp this site and make it a place where single Christian women can come together in fellowship & share the trials and triumphs in their lives, as well as fashion tips and pop culture and everything else being a single Christian in today’s society entails. If you’re interested in working with me to create quality content for single Christian women, comment below or send me an email at: mz.zeyzey2@gmail.com (mz[dot]zeyzey2[at]gmail[dot]com). Stay tuned to see how it all unfolds.

Hope to meet many of you at the conference!

~Erica

dad and I
My Dad and I at his Appreciation, April 2015

 

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My Thoughts on: Married at First Sight

MAFS-S2-Key-Art-Gradient-DYesterday, I watched the first few episodes of season 2 of Married at First Sight. If you’ve never heard of the show, Married at First Sight is a reality show in which singles allow 4 experts in the fields of sociology, psychology, and spirituality to match them with their spouse. The couples meet at the altar, marry, and after six weeks of living as man and wife, decide if they want to stay married or get divorced.

Oh, friends, I am so on the fence with this show! Here’s my major problem: you can’t test drive marriage! I really don’t like that aspect of the show. This was brought home to me as I watched each couple wed. When the officiant asked them if they took this person to be their spouse and we were able to hear voice overs of their thoughts, I wanted to grab some of them and run them far away from anybody’s altar. Some were having serious doubts and weren’t getting over them in a healthy way; others had unrealistic expectations. By far the worst, though, is that at least one person just seems really in love with the idea of love and marriage and being able to call someone her husband.

I don’t have a problem with arranged marriages. I think they can work. I also don’t have a problem with someone allowing experts to match them. But the reality TV element, that escape clause…it gets under my skin. I think that the experts make the best matches they can. I haven’t seen a couple that couldn’t make a success of their union if they are both committed to it. I don’t see the couples being put together for ratings gold or anything, so in that way, I don’t see this as exploitative. But there’s something about it that just doesn’t sit well.

Yet I still watch it. I watched the first season. I loved how the couples really worked through their issues. I loved watching the follow up show showing their first year. I’m fascinated with people who live in a society where you can choose your mate who decide to let someone else choose for them. And as a single, the show intrigues me.

Here are a few of my takeaways/opinions about this show:

  • I’m a huge proponent of having elders involved in the mate selection process.I think that the experts here do a really good job of choosing mates for each individual based on what the individual has told them is important to them as well as what the experts know about human nature. I think many singles can learn to be less closed off to wise counsel in their romantic lives, and that their openness could be very beneficial to their future relationships. However…
  • Sometimes people can’t communicate what’s really important to them. Last season, I think a big reason the couple that divorced weren’t able to make it work was because even though they got the person they said they wanted, they didn’t get the person they wanted. Some people outright lie and give the expected answers when asked what they want in a mate, but more often I think people don’t have a good idea of the cons that come along with the positive characteristics of the things they want. I may say I want a hard worker, but then I’m mad that he’s never home, etc.
  • This show stinks of desperation. While some of the people on this show are older than the traditional marriage group and seem to be taking a mature approach to this, it’s apparent that some of them are just tired of being single, are in love with the idea of marriage, feel like this is their last chance, and generally seem to be grasping at straws while they’re still young enough and look good enough to get somebody. The overwhelming majority of women on the show are hovering around 30 who have been previously engaged or single a long time. I don’t want any of you reading this to see any upcoming dates on the calendar as reasons to despair about your relationship status. Don’t end up saying I do to just anyone because an imaginary clock is ticking in your head.
  • The institution of marriage is no longer being held as something sacred by the world. It’s now a step above a game show in some instances. People try it on like running shoes and exchange one mate for another just as quickly as you’d change running shoes. But God still says the same things about marriage. What He has joined together, let no man separate. Marriage isn’t a fad, a whim, something to do, a logical next step. It’s an illustration of Christ and His church, the beginning of a family, a God created and ordained institution, a lifelong commitment, a ministry, and the fulfillment of a need God saw in His creation had. Let’s not minimize it or reduce it to sin free sex, someone to split bills with, responsibilities to meet, the prerequisite to babies, someone to take care of us, or a way to escape loneliness.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Feel free to leave yours in the comments section

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When You Don’t Have Discernment

I see a lot of things on my social media, most of which I don’t feel led to comment on. However, sometimes I see something that I want to expound upon or look at from a different perspective to help us grow in Christ.  Scrolling through Facebook, I saw a friend’s post about developing wisdom and discernment and not living our lives based off of “how to know” lists. This post gave me pause, not because I disagreed with the sentiment, but because I felt the subject of discernment should be expounded upon.

I think sometimes those of us who have discernment, or at least think we do, downplay what those who are struggling to develop discernment are going through. We want them to have this intuitive grasp of how to develop something they’ve never had without going through the same trial and error process that many of us stumbled through, but we don’t show them any other way to gain wisdom (mostly because we don’t know).

I spent a good deal of time in Altered before the Altar dealing with the notion many have that the only way to develop criteria for a mate is through trial and error dating. I don’t believe that dating around is necessary to developing criteria for a relationship. I don’t believe experiencing everything yourself is necessary. But I would be remiss if I sat on my “I have it together” hill and looked down on those fumbling to get it right.

At this stage of Christianity, we are all about the relationship with Christ. I see billboards all the time that say “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Based on our relationship with God, we won’t do certain things. The love of Christ compels us. All that jazz. But many of us don’t know how to do relationships correctly in the human sense, let alone how to have a relationship with God, our Creator and sustainer. So when we tell those who are babes in Christ to just have a relationship, to be able to discern, we sometimes forget to tell them how a real relationship is supposed to work, assuming they know at least that much.

So how does one develop a relationship with God and cultivate discernment. Is there a useful “how to” that we can use to see if we are on the right track? Yes, there is.

1. Communication. Prayer is how we talk to God. It is how we approach His throne of grace. We can ask for anything in His will in prayer, and if we believe it, we will receive it. In order to know if something is in His will, we have to hear from Him. God speaks in these latter days through His son, Jesus Christ. According to the first chapt of the Gospel according to John, Jesus is the word who dwelled among men in the flesh for a short while. The word of God, the Bible, is how we hear from God. Not feelings. Not signs and wonders. His word. When people say things to us, it has to be confirmed by the word of God. God gives wisdom to those who ask for it. Wisdom is rightly applying knowledge. The best way to develop discernment is to ask God for wisdom and read His word. If you have no clue what to do and what not to do, what God requires in your mate regardless of who that person turns out to be, READ GOD’s WORD. More importantly, DO WHAT IT SAYS. What God says is consistent. It stands the test of time. It never changes and it never fails.

2. Understanding. Whatever ministers, elders, books, blogs, or godly counsel you listen to, adopt the attitude of the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to see if what they were being fed spiritually was true and consistent with God’s word. There are many resources that can help guide you in the right direction. I mention many of them in my book, Altered before the Altar. I included a ton of biblical references for the positions I took and I invite anyone who wants to have a godly relationship but doesn’t know where to start to read it.

3. Application. I give people principles instead of laws or rules. The difference in a principle and a law, in my opinion, is that a law is something you have to do whether you understand or agree with it. A principle, at its core, gives you direction. What I try to do with scripture is to extrapolate, or pull out, what it means to me and my relationship to Christ. What is God trying to show me in this scripture? While I don’t believe that God owes any of us an explanation as to why He demands what He demands of us, I think some of us can better appreciate His commands when we understand the purpose behind them.

4. Discernment. Discernment is developed by reading God’s word, rightly dividing it, seeing how it impacts our lives, and then acting based on the information we have. Discernment is not a feeling; it is a sense. Like the other senses we have, it works by interpreting the information we are receiving. Just as a judge or jury hears both sides and considers all the evidence before making a decision, we as Christians must evaluate all the information before us, filtering it through the word of God to make the appropriate decision.

This process isn’t easy. Because we are involved, it is often imperfect. Sometimes we seek information from the wrong source or depend on our own abilities to try and acquire wisdom, only to realize God wants to give it to us without all the hard knocks and set backs. Those of us who have any discernment in an area need to reach out to those who are struggling to make decisions with discernment. Gods love does compel us when we have a healthy, functional relationship with Him. We should help others to learn what that looks like instead of telling them they should just figure it out.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comment section.

XOXO,

Erica

Why I’m Sick on My Birthday

I’ve been fighting getting sick for a few days now, but it’s official: I’m sick.

It’s also my 30th birthday. Yes, I know, I don’t look thirty. Until I got sick I didn’t feel thirty, either.

As I coughed up most of a lung this morning, I made a realization: I am sick right now because it’s the first time I’ve had time to be sick in a while. That sounds weird, but hang in there with me. I spent all last week in a frenzy at work, trying to get everything done before I took a week’s vacation. I felt more tired than usual, coughed a couple times, or had a scratchy throat in the mornings, but I rebuked them. “I don’t have time to be sick!” I told myself. I have to do eighty million things before I go on vacation. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Well, this week, I have time. No that I intended to have time. No, I had a full agenda. I was going to catch up with these people, write these things, run on this trail, and go out of town here for a long weekend getaway. I ran all over the place all weekend, meeting up with my dad to deliver books to him for his church, going to morning service, the congregational meeting, and evening service, all in an effort to get things done so I can focus on getting other things done. When I’m supposed to be resting, like when I’m sick, I’m not resting. I’m cleaning, following up with people, writing, reading–doing. I’m not altogether sure I understand the concept of rest.

One thing about being sick and on vacation, though, is that is forces you to slow down. I’m finally able, for the first time in a long time, to really look at my life with something other than blind panic about what I haven’t managed to get done yet. There are things that aren’t working right now, and instead of panicking, I have time to say, how can I change this? What new strategies can I try?

Since I’m out for a whole week, someone else is going to be taking over my responsibilities this week. I don’t have to worry about coming back to a mountain of work and feeling like I’m never going to get caught up–or at least, that’s the hope. So I don’t have to borrow worry from the future about what’s coming down the road. So, instead of trying to build Rome today, I’m going to rest a bit. My rest will probably include writing, reading, getting out in the fresh air, meeting up with a friend or two and a little cleaning, but it will be rest. The turn down this week is going to be so real.

XOXO,

Erica

P.S. If you’re looking for a more introspective post, you may want to try my Indigo Moods blog. That’s for the experienced swimmers in the existential crisis pool

Facing Your Giant Ladies’ Conference, Opportunity, and the Next Book

I’ve committed myself to making sure that I post here more frequently to keep everyone up to date on what’s happening with the book and me in general. That starts with this post. Way back when I had my book release party in November, a sister in Christ reached out to me regarding going to some conferences to promote the book and get it out beyond Orlando, Florida. Most people don’t know this about me, but I am an introvert by nature. I don’t like being out front talking and I’m horrible at selling people on things (at least, this is how I see myself, but more on that later). The last thing I want to do is go to a bunch of conferences. I agreed to speak at my aunt’s conference because I knew it would be mostly family and others I’d met before, but I didn’t have anything else planned beyond mailing some flyers to churches.

Well I decided in January to try and attend some conferences and events and sell my book. I called up the sister who had invited me to a ladies conference and got the information on it. Then I registered for the conference and a vendor spot. I didn’t know how many women would be attending.

In between when I asked and the conference the next weekend, this sister called me and told me about a minister in Tampa who was looking to develop a program centered around remaining pure until marriage at the request of a young lady in his congregation. This sister mentioned my book to him and wanted me to go to Tampa to present my book to him for consideration. At the beginning of this month, I went and met with him, explaining what my book was about and leaving him copies of the book and the devotional study guide. I will be hearing back from him later this month, but I was so proud of myself for being able to speak about my book to him confidently.

The Facing Your Giant Conference this weekend was a whole different animal. Instead of introducing my book to one person, I stood in front of hundreds to give a brief description of what was available at my vendor table. The other unique thing about this event, other than the massive size, was that it was my first “away” event. I only knew a handful of the women that attended. It was truly the first time I stood in a room full of strangers and was able to share with them a bit about what I wanted to accomplish with this book.

Afterwards, many women came up to purchase books and offer words of encouragement. So many of you told me how important you felt this ministry was to the church. Ministry? My book was a ministry? My mind immediately rejected that idea. I didn’t think writing a book qualified me to be one of those people who had a ministry. I’m still not used to thinking of what I do that way. But I appreciate the encouragement. I also appreciate how many of you are waiting for the next book. I am working on a couple of projects now. One will be for married and single people and will speak to dealing with life transitions examined through the lens of the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage and wanderings in the wilderness. I’m still studying and mapping out where I want to go with it, but if the book is half as powerful as my study has been…look out!

In my pursuit of my goal of attendance for this year, I’ve reached out to several people about coming to conferences to sell the book or possibly speak. Some of those inquiries have been enthusiastically received and responded to, and some haven’t turned out the way I imagined. At first I was a little disappointed at the opportunities that didn’t line up, but I’m learning more and more on this journey not to worry about the things that don’t work out or come to pass. Whatever is in God’s plan for me will happen. I don’t have to force the fit in this anymore than in a romantic relationship. The opportunities that are meant for me will come to fruition at the time they are supposed to come to fruition. So I’m resting in knowing that I stepped out on faith and took the steps to live out my purpose. If it’s a wrong step, it isn’t the end of the world; God will work all things together for good for me because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). But even with the setbacks, I’m basking in the opportunities that are coming my way and hoping to meet many more of you before this journey is complete.

In Him,

Erica

*sips tea*

Are You Really Single?

DSCF1542 (2)A few weeks ago, I was listening to a minister out of Miami, Florida giving a Motivational Monday to singles entitled “Single, Saved and Serving.” In his exposition of the subject, he gave definitions for these three terms, many of which I’d heard before. This time, however, his definition of single gave me pause.

In I Corinthians 7, a very familiar passage to Christian singles, Paul is talking about how he would like for us to be free from distractions. The married person, he insists, has to be concerned with pleasing another in a way a single person doesn’t have to be. A single person is able to serve the Lord without distraction.

This caused me to wonder: am I really single?

I’m single in the sense that I’m not married, yes, but do I have a singular focus trained on Christ, free from distractions? I found I couldn’t say that I did. I’m often distracted by things at work I need to do, things around my apartment to take care of, the issues of family and friends, being in a relationship and considering marriage. So many things pull on my attention that sometimes I feel as if I’ve been split into so many pieces to deal with so many things that I’ll never come back together.

Yet this is the time when I’m supposed to be able to FOCUS. I’m supposed to be getting my priorities in order so that when I am married, I will not forget about God. When I do own a house, have children, get involved with various ministries, or rise up the corporate ladder, God will still come first. But some days it fills like I’m losing the battle to keep my attention on the Lord.

I needed to repent. I needed to go before the Lord in prayer and confess that I hadn’t been as single as I should have been, that I hadn’t been as devoted to Him as I should have been. Then I had to sit down with my list of things to do and adjust it until what was really important was at the top. I’m still tweaking things and making adjustments, but I”m trying to make my primary focus that of seeking the Lord and allowing Him to add everything else to me. That means some things have fallen further down the list, and some days I fail to get to them at all (like this blog–sorry). But unlike before, it’s not the soul salvation and sanity securing things anymore.

So, I want you to ask yourself this question, as you are waiting for God to give you more, better, different in your life–Are you truly single? Have you really devoted yourself to pleasing Him? Are you able to handle what you already have with grace and mercy or are you already being pulled and prodded in every direction except the one that leads to Him?

It’s time to get serious about who we’re really living to please. That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.

XOXO,

REALLY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica