Cardboard Testimony

Do you remember in the early to mid-2000s the start of the phenomenon in churches called the “Cardboard Testimony”?  The premise is a sweet one…in a few words, you share your past before Christ on one side, flip the cardboard over, and share your “now” with Christ. Essentially a quick blip testimony.

I love this concept. Just a few words to showcase what God has done in your life.

Some of the ones that I’ve seen before include:

Battling Infertility to Adoption

Thief to Redeemed

Suicidal to Living for God

Single Parent to Raising Kids with God

Cancer Diagnosis to Fully Healed

Lonely to Fulfilled

Eating Disorder to Feasting on the Word

Inmate to Prison Ministry

If you are anything like me, you’re juggling thousands of tasks and titles.  The concept of a cardboard testimony reminds me to take a moment in the midst of all the tasks to think about my testimony at that moment. It’s potentially an opportunity to change a negative into a positive.

If you had to do one today, what would your cardboard read? 

Dirty Clothes to Clean Heart

Screaming Children to Still Soft Voice of God

Uncompassionate Traffic to More Time With Praise Music in the Car

Canceled Dentist Appointment to Bible Study Time

Wi-Fi Failure to Time for a Book

Regardless of if the cardboard testimony is truly your testimony or if it’s a moment to see positives in the negative, the concept gives us a moment to draw closer to God.

~Emily

cardboard Testimony-2 copy

 

 

 

“NO!”

I kept telling him to come into the living room with me instead of staying in the kitchen.  And every time I’d hold out my hand and say, “Andros, let’s go into the other room and play,” he would stiffen up his arms and yell “NO!”  He wanted nothing to do with what was in the other room.  He didn’t understand I was trying to take him somewhere that had toys and safer objects to play with.  What was important to him was that he found the kitchen fun, and banging drawers and cabinets was what held his interest at the moment.

Andros, my grandson, is almost two, and it amazes me even still how quickly he can get into something that’s off-limits.  I wasn’t trying to make him stop playing.  But the house I live in is older with ancient kitchen cabinets.  The drawers are heavy and not on tracks to keep them steady.  One good lengthy pull, and Andros would’ve pulled the heavy drawer out with all of the utensils and kitchen gadgets.  Opening and shutting the sink cabinet gave him access to the cleaning supplies that I haven’t had a need to child safety-lock in many years.  I wanted him to enjoy his time, but I wanted that sweet child to enjoy it safely without the potential harm that could come to him.

I’m often the same with our Heavenly Father.  God wants to keep us safe and protected.   It doesn’t mean we won’t have trials.  But it DOES mean that He’s guiding us, holding out His hand to lead us in the path that will bring us closer into relationship with Him.  That relationship allows us heart and soul protection from the dangers of this world.  And often, I stomp my foot and tell Him “NO!”  The desire to control what I want to do and ‘play’ where I want to play takes over, and I become the two year old child who thinks they’re having fun where they’re at instead of trusting the Father to lead me to what’s better.

I pray, dear friends that we can all recognize that God is leading us to better, no matter what we think is right in front of us at the moment.  If you’re in a situation where you’re telling Him “No,” ask God to soften your heart to trust Him with where He’s leading you.

~Erin

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Good morning, everyone!

The Art of a “Thank You”

When was the last time you sent a thank-you note? Or just said thank you?  Do you routinely acknowledge when someone has given you something or offered a kind word?

There is an art to thanking someone.  According to my childhood teachings, it should be in writing, it should be timely (as in fairly soon after receiving the gift), and it should be thoughtful.  My grandma and mom taught my brother and I the art of drafting a thank you card and it’s a skill I still use today.

While my mother isn’t shocked to receive a thank you card from me or my child, there are countless examples I’ve seen where people have been surprised by one of my cards.

I’ve written to thank someone who interviewed me for a position I wasn’t offered.  I’ve drafted notes to managers of restaurants or event managers. When I made the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, I sent dozens of thank you letters to people who had invested in me and my career over the years. I have even mailed a thank you to my car repairman.

In each of those instances, the thank you card prompted further conversation.  The surprise of being thanked has always been mentioned.  Why would someone be surprised to receive one?  Is it because we’re too busy to write one? Is it because we haven’t been taught to write one? Is it because we don’t find there to be a need for a thank you card?

Maybe I’m old fashioned, or of a different era, but I value sending and receiving a “thank you.” Why? Because it offers a chance to acknowledge that someone has done something kind for you.  It illustrates that you are grateful for their actions or words.  It also shows them the love of Christ through your behavior.

Scripture gives plenty of examples of how to say thank you, when to say thank you, and what to say when thanking someone.

May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NIV)

And may the Lord reward you for your kindness … Ruth 1:8 (NLT)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom & revelation, so that you may know him better.  Ephesians 1:15-17 (NIV)

I encourage you to hone your skills in thanking others…it will not only recognize their actions, but it will likely open the door for more conversations.

~Emily

P.S.  Thank you, to all the Iron Porch readers….Erin and I are blessed to know that you are out there encouraging us week after week!!!

The Art of a Thank You

 

 

 

Sorrow for Judas

I re-read the couple of verses over and over again in my head.  Then I read them out loud.  These verses were not new to me.  And the story behind it was something I’ve heard my whole life.  Judas Iscariot, the great betrayer, had given Jesus up for 30 pieces of silver.  We all know how vile his actions were, how hard his heart was.  But this day, Matthew 27:3-4 brought fresh eyes to an old story.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  But they said, “What is that to us?  See to that yourself!”

While I’ve never been taught to hate Judas, this disgust of him and his actions has always been forefront in that story.  How could someone who dropped everything to be a follower of Jesus be so easily swayed?  How do you get from listening to the words of Jesus Christ and seeing Him heal the blind and lame to trading him for blood money?

What must have gone through his head when he kissed the face of Jesus?  To see Him calm and ready to go with the soldiers….willing to do what needed to be done to save humanity.  Jesus Himself told them that death was imminent.  Did Judas just not believe what He said?

But today, reading these two verses made me realize how my hatred toward Judas had turned to sorrow.  I may not have betrayed Jesus in this way, but I know that I’ve betrayed Him in the actions of my past more than once.  And I know the sadness and emptiness I’ve felt when I’d realized what I done and just how far I’d gone.

This new perspective of Judas has allowed me to see past the story I’ve learned my whole life, and notice the broken man underneath.  I’ve been there, and I’m grateful that I’ve chosen true repentance over mere remorse.  I’m grateful that we have a God that sees our hearts and loves us right where we are, betrayer AND betrothed.

~Erin

“Dog Down”

I was 19 years old the first and only time that I hit a dog with my car.  I was traveling on a lonely stretch of I-40 from Albuquerque, NM to Altus, OK at about 10pm.  It was dark and I was one of several cars pacing slightly above the speed limit when out of nowhere a dog bolted across four lanes of traffic.   I slowed down as much as possible, but was unable to swerve, as there was a car in the lane next to me.  The front, left bumper clipped the dog in the back left hip.  This caused the dog to spin into a summersault landing in the medium.

During this time, I had been chatting on a CB radio with my then-husband who was in the truck in front of me.  As soon as I hit the dog, I yelled over the radio “DOG DOWN!”

I was so upset to think I may have killed the dog.  I pulled over to check the dog.  Several others pulled over too.

The gentleman who had been in the car one lane from me said, “Thank you for not swerving….you would have hit me for sure and then we’d both likely have gotten hurt.”  By then I was crying.  A local man offered kind words by saying, “Don’t worry…that dog lives right over there and runs into the interstate a couple times a week.  This isn’t the first time he’s been hit.”

How many times in life have you been the dog…running into traffic…running straight into the hurt you’ve already experienced…running straight into sinful behavior?

Continued sinful behavior hurts in many ways:

  1. It hurts us personally.

When we sin, we typically end up hurting ourselves in some capacity.  Lot’s wife hurt herself with sinful behavior.  She disobeyed her husband’s instructions, given by a loving God.  She then faced very serious consequences by giving into the temptation of sin.   “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26)

  1. It hurts others.

Catastrophic events can occur for others when we continue to sin.  For instance, when King Herod was angry about the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:3), he ordered the death of all male children in the Bethlehem region who were under two years old (Matthew 2:16).  In Herod’s rage, his sin caused tremendous hurt to the children and families in that area.

  1. It creates more sin…more hurt.

Often sinful behavior creates more sinful behavior. In Genesis, we see Eve sin by eating from the one tree that was forbidden. That sin creates a scenario where she tempts Adam to commit sinful behavior.  In turn, hiding in shame and covered with lies also becomes sinful behavior.

Sin can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss but know this…we are all sinners.  Every single one of us! And we all have the opportunity to accept this amazing gift of forgiveness and salvation.  After accepting that gift, continuing to deliberately sin is a cycle that creates hurt to yourself, towards others and it potentially cycles into more sin.

You become the dog that runs into traffic repeatedly, even at the cost of hurt.

This week I want to encourage you to turn from sinful behavior…it’s only causing some type of hurt.

~Emily

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

~1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

Dog Down

 

Advil or a Diuretic?

The other day at work I was battling a screeching headache.  I finally gave in and I reached for a bottle of Advil out of my desk drawer.  I shook out two pills and swallowed them down, praying that the pain would leave asap.  Then I looked down at the bottle in my hand and realized that I had just taken two diuretics!

Have you ever made such a mistake?  I’d venture to guess I make mistakes at least once a day.  The mistake between pain medication and a water pill is one that could have been easily avoided.  I just needed to slow down and pay more attention.

Think about the story of Joseph bragging to his brothers about his dream.  He boasts of future greatness and being chosen.  The brothers naturally resent this boasting.  Then they begin to plot the removal of Joseph from their midst. What if Joseph has slowed down and paid more attention? What if he had gauged the reactions of his brothers? Would he have continued to boast if he’d noticed that they were getting angry? Perhaps Joseph could have avoided years of turmoil if he’d simply slowed down and paid attention.

I should slow down and pay more attention throughout my day too. I could have avoided hurting a co-worker’s feelings if I’d paid attention to my words.  I could have avoided spilling water over a pile of bills if I’d slowed down.  I could have avoided swearing if I was watching the road and other drivers’ reactions.

I could have avoided taking two water pills for a headache.

Everyone makes mistakes in their lives, but God can work mightily despite those mistakes.  He redeems sin. He knows I’m weak and He works in my despite that weakness. In fact, he works through my weakness, as long as I admit those mistakes and sins instead of covering them up.

Sweet girls of the Iron Porch, be encouraged in your mistakes! Press in and watch what God will do with those mistakes. Proverbs 24:16 (NIV) states “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

~Emily

Advil vs Diurectic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying With Peyton

Every morning for the last two years, I’ve made it a point to pray with Peyton before she heads off to school.  It never takes very long, and we don’t make a production out of it.  Sometimes, she bows her head and closes her eyes while I pray.  More often than not, you’ll find her applying her mascara in the mirror as I talk to Jesus about her and her day to come.

My prayer is simple.  I pray that she has a good day, free of drama and anxiety.  I pray that if she has any tests or questions the teachers may ask, that she be confident in her answers and that she remember what she’s learned.  And every single time, I ask that God protects her spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally from anyone or anything that would seek to do her harm.

This week I was challenged by a dear friend of mine to continue praying over her even though school’s out, particularly during this season of life where we’re struggling with some life issues.  It really got me to thinking about this idea of prayer over my child.

Why didn’t I keep going?  Just because she’s out of school doesn’t mean she’s not influenced by people around her.  She still sees her friends.  She still has social media.  She still talks on the phone, and she still deals with day to day matters.  Part of the reason I pray over her is to seek protection over her.  The other part, however, is for her to have an example of how we should take our petitions to God in prayer.  And our requests and the need for that protection in Christ doesn’t end when the school day ends or the vacation is over.

The prayers that we pray over our children are important to our relationship with Jesus.  It doesn’t only show Peyton who He is.  It reminds ME of who He is and how He loves us.   I’ve made the commitment, effective today, to pray over her every morning out loud.  She’ll see that we go to our Father in Heaven.  And she’ll see how He provides for us in big AND small ways.  It still won’t be a big production, and there will be days where she may even ask me ‘what’s the point.’  The point, sweet Peyton, is Jesus.

Do you pray over your children or is this something you’d like to start doing?  Comment below and let us know!

~Erin

protects her spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally from anyone or anything that would seek to do her harm.