My name is Erica and this is my testimony.
Like many people, I grew up in the church. My dad is the Pastor of a congregation in Northern Michigan and my mom plays piano and teaches K-5 music. I have three younger siblings. We are a classic “Pastor’s Family” and I love it!
Growing up in a church where the average age was 60 and above, my siblings and I enjoyed the perks of having about eight sets of grandparents. We were loved on in so many ways which was amazing.
But we essentially lived in a fish bowl; always being watched to make sure we stayed on the “straight and narrow.” It was always done lovingly, of course. Some criticism was warranted, like the day I wore a short skirt and flip flops in the middle of a Michigan winter. But I was a dumb teenager and I clearly didn’t care about hypothermia or frost bite at the time. I got a harsh talking to from a lady named Dorothy that day!
As kids, we got in plenty of other trouble rolling around under the pews, laughing during the sermon, and running away from the nursery staff. We were in all of the productions for Christmas and Easter; we attended all the banquets, fundraisers, church camps, VBS, and of course, Sunday school. While getting to church every Sunday (usually late) and staying a couple of hours after sometimes seemed like a drag at the time, I look back on it all fondly. It built the foundation and shaped me into who I am today.
My parents showed me what it looked like to follow Christ in a way that wasn’t overbearing or shoved down my throat. I remember seeing them both reading their Bibles, taking notes, and studying scripture. I heard them singing to God and praying. I saw them trust God fully in providing for their family. It was a way of life and God was always a part of it. That life was what I wanted to develop as I got older. I’ve never known a time without God.
My siblings and I were always going to VBS or church camp. I always enjoyed it. I remember doing Bible verse challenges in the summer. You set your Bible under your chair, the teacher would call out a verse, and you had to be the first one to find it, stand up, and read it out loud. One time, I won a snickers bar! I loved everything about camp: the crafts, games, snacks, friends, and singing. Though it was mostly fun, I still learned about Jesus. I memorized scripture, probably because I’m a rule follower and I like tasks (especially when a treat at the end is involved!), but I wouldn’t realize how much I would need these verses until later in life.
I can look back on my life and see times when I deliberately turned away from God. This was usually caused by a boy, wanting to fit in with a group of people, or sports. Silly. These were times where I thought I would test the waters and try things on my own. It always felt off, wrong, and unfulfilling.
I remember challenging times when I questioned God: who he was, why certain things happened, and if his promises were true. Each time, the scripture I learned as a kid flooded my brain and pointed me back in the right direction. From these experiences, I grew in faith and wisdom.
But this last time was different. This last trial rocked my faith to its core. I didn’t choose this path. I didn’t choose to walk away and test the boundaries of my faith as I had before. This time a tragedy, unexpected and prayed against, happened. I was shattered.
I met my husband when I was 16 and he was 17. He is a goofy, fun-loving, very tall (and handsome) guy. He is also extremely intelligent, a calculated risk-taker, dreamer, and inventor. Dan is an amazing combination of logic and creativity. He usually follows the rules, but more often finds clever ways around the ones he thinks should be challenged. Dan’s capacity to love others is what fascinates me. He will do anything, big or small, for a friend, family member, acquaintance, or stranger on the street if they need it. He once gave my leftover Chicago style pizza to a homeless person. I really wanted that for lunch the next day! Come on! But I knew that person needed it more than me. Dan makes me a better person.
Together, throughout our seven year courtship and now seven years of marriage, we have grown even more in love and respect for one another. We push each other to be better people and long to make the world a better place. We are goofy together and love experiencing life by each other’s side.
In 2013, we made the decision for Dan to quit his job in banking and pursue starting his own business. I was working a commission-based job as a Personal Trainer and soon moved up to Assistant Manager. Though my paychecks were inconsistent, I made enough to live on (though it was tight some months). It was a stressful job, but I loved my clients and the people I worked with. But after six years, I was ready for a change. I was burned out, sometimes depressed, and felt that I wasn’t getting better as a a trainer or person. My relationship with God was more going through the motions of church, Bible study, and quick prayers to make it through work and that Dan’s business would take off.
In 2015 I got pregnant and thought, this is it! This will change it all. We bought a fixer-upper house and got the paperwork to take 12 weeks of leave. I would finally, definitely, get some much needed time off work. At that point Dan was making some money from his business. It would all come together.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. I miscarried at 14 weeks. I felt like a porcelain doll shattered on the floor – raw and broken.
I remember lying in bed one morning and asking myself, “do I believe in God? Is there a God?”
“Yes,” I whispered to myself.
But that was it. It wasn’t my God or my faith. I could only fathom that there was a God out there. Never had I experienced that before.
At work, I told myself to just turn my heart to stone so I could get through the day. If I didn’t feel anything then I wouldn’t cry every time a client or coworker asked me how things were going. It was exhausting.
Slowly, the verses from my childhood started coming back to me. They were like water to my parched soul. My heart started to beat again, it seemed. I could actually catch my breath.
One night I laid down to rest, hurt and exhausted. An image of the broken doll, lying in pieces, came to my mind. The doll was me. I then saw God walk towards me and pick up a piece and start glueing me back together. He was so gentle and gracious and slow. In that moment, I saw that I didn’t need to do anything right then to put me back together. I just needed to rest in the God I new as a child.
It wasn’t easy. It took constant surrender and perseverance. I felt like I had to wrestle through some things with God. But it changed me.
It forced me to expand my emotional and spiritual capacities that I didn’t know were possible. I didn’t know I could love, hurt, or feel as sad and empty as I had. I didn’t know that my faith could get that raw. It literally felt like a mustard seed sized faith. I didn’t know that going through that would feel like I was drowning, clawing for air, grasping for my life.
More than that, it taught me the greater capacity of God and his goodness, graciousness, protection, and provision for my life. In the midst of my weakness and loss, he revealed his strength and power. It was in my surrender that he strengthened me. It was when I just laid down to rest in him, that he stitched me back together. He turned my stone heart into a beating heart that could feel again. He gave me breath and life through his scripture. When my heart was too weak, he protected me against fear, doubt, and darkness. He was my shield.
Soon, I began to hope again. I started to believe that life could be good even though it was different than I had planned.
I want others to know that this type of redemption and hope is possible in their lives. I want people to know how constant, loving, and big God is.
My fervent prayer and purpose in this blog is to share how powerful and true God’s word is. It saved me.
We will be exploring the Old and New Testament chronologically. God has been speaking amazing things to me through his word this past year and I want to share it.
Check out the How To page to see how you can follow along and deep dive into God’s word no matter how much time you have.
Disclaimer: My goal is to share God’s word in honesty and truth. I make sure to write only that. If you feel that I have spoken falsely, I want to know (in a loving way, of course). Please make sure it is based on scripture and not just an opinion. I want a verse attached. I’m not perfect and I don’t have a degree in the Bible, but I am a truth-seeker and want to make sure that I am sharing that.