Hi everyone! I am so thrilled and excited to share a piece of my heart with you each and every day. I’ve always enjoyed activities that bring people of diverse backgrounds together so when God placed the desire for a blog in my heart, I was overjoyed!
I’m an Immigration Attorney in Houston, Texas, but everyone who knows me knows that I’m an encourager at heart. When I’m not at work, you can find me somewhere volunteering in the community because serving and encouraging others are the core values of my heart.
I first began writing messages of hope and encouragement about five years ago when I began law school (I would post short inspirational messages on my personal Facebook account). My first year of law school was extremely challenging for me and the expectations that were set for me, often caused me to doubt myself. I despised waking up and feeling defeated so I began to do what my grandmother taught me to do–pray. As I began to pray about the way I felt, God began to place messages of hope and encouragement in my heart. He began to give me words to uplift, inspire and motivate myself and my peers to keep going and keep striving.
The time passed and I was blessed to graduate from law school May 2011! I was so excited and ready to begin my life as an attorney when I was hit with a life-changing event. In addition to completing 3 rigorous years of school, law students also get the pleasure of taking the Bar Exam! (insert sarcasm). In Texas, the Bar Exam is a 3-day examination that tests your knowledge of EVERY single subject you learned as a law student…ummm, yeah not fun! In order to prepare for the exam, students devote their entire summer to studying. The timeline of a law student looks like this:
- 3 years of law school
- 2 hour graduation ceremony
- 2-to-3 days of relaxing
- 2 ½ months of studying
- 3 days of testing
Students endure almost 3 months of non-stop testing to earn the right and privilege to practice law in their respective state. Though I followed a rigorous and disciplined schedule of study for 2.5 months, I was unsuccessful on my first attempt of the bar exam and I did not pass. While my friends were out celebrating and starting new jobs in exciting areas of the law, I was sitting in the bedroom of my apartment with a bed full of tissues and tears. Nothing made sense to me. In my head, I had done everything that I was supposed to do. I studied 10-12 hours each day, eliminated my social life and attended my bar exam prep classes each day–I even made time to attend church every weekend no matter how tired I felt. I thought to myself “how did this happen God, and why me?”
I was hurt and confused but more than anything, I was embarrassed because I felt like a failure. The thing I feared most (failure) had happened to me and I did not know what to do, and suddenly I was left with the reality of asking myself “Do you really believe the words that you post each day? Do you really believe that God has a plan for you even in the midst of your failure?” In asking myself these questions, I realized that while I believed the messages of hope that I would post everyday, I lacked the faith to believe God’s faithfulness to keep His promises. I lacked the faith to believe that God could make a way out of no way but most of all, I lacked the full understanding that if I was going to pass the bar it would be by God’s work and not my own. In the coming months God would show me that it was not about the knowledge, education and training I possessed–it was about Him and Him only. If I was going to pass that bar, it would not be because of my works or brilliance, it would be because of God, His power and His love.
After I learned that I did not pass, I gave myself about 2 weeks to cry and mourn. Once those 2 weeks passed, it was time to develop a game plan called “Jesus.” I decided that the only way to achieve everything in my heart was to give my all to Him. I looked up every scripture I could find about faith. Each time I found one, I posted it in my room, the bathroom, my notebook, my phone and anywhere else I could think of. Over time, I began to find so many scriptures that I ran out of places to post them so I began to memorize them. When I began to study for the bar exam the second time, I recited those scriptures each time I sat down to study. I recited them during study breaks and throughout the day until everything in my heart and mind said “YES GOD CAN” instead of “YES I CAN.” I recited them until they became ingrained in my heart. I recited them until the fear of failure was erased from my thoughts, and until my confidence in God became the source of my hope and the foundation of my faith. Most of all, I recited those scriptures until pride could no longer be found in my heart.
I continued to do this each and every day, and in May 2012, I passed the Texas Bar Exam and became a lawyer in the State of Texas. That experience showed me how to develop, stretch and enlarge my faith, and overcome fear. As I opened the door of my heart to faith, God opened the door of my dreams and fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. When I passed the Bar Exam, I made a promise to God to continue to pursue Him. I promised to continue to enlarge and increase my faith by keeping Him at the center of everything that I desire. In working to keep this promise, God has revealed the depths of His faithfulness and goodness to me in unimaginable ways. In experiencing God’s faithfulness through one of the most difficult and challenging seasons of my life, I developed a deep desire to encourage and uplift others like never before. I began to desire to support others the way God and close friends supported me during my darkest hour. I began to desire to inspire others to believe in God, increase their faith and believe in His promises. I learned to have the faith to support the words of encouragement that God places in my heart each day. It is this experience, that birthed the desire in me to become an encourager and it is this experience that birthed the name Erika The Encourager. =)
Each day, my goal is to bring hope, support, encouragement and love to each person who reads my blog. I desire for each person to walk away inspired and encouraged to believe that God has a plan and purpose for their life because He truly does (Jeremiah 29:11). If God was faithful to me during one of my darkest hours, I know that He will be faithful to you too.