Are You Frazzled?

This week in Wetumpka, the next town over, they had a “Kickoff to Christmas” celebration, and I definitely wanted to go!  So I picked Emily’s son up from school and she met us in town to walk the Main Street and visit Santa.  It didn’t take long (small town living), and within a ½ hour we had visited the tables and seen the sites.  As we headed back to our cars, I started talking about how I still needed to stop at the grocery store to pick up bread, go home to pick up the house and finish up food since it was my turn to host the family dinner night.  Emily looked at me and said “Stop being so frazzled.”  It seemed like such an easy suggestion and actually kind of funny, but on my way home, I started to think about how frazzled I’d let myself get over my list of things to do.

There are many times this year where my list has grown long and full of checkmarks to be filled in.  But sometimes, that list doesn’t leave enough room for my quality daily time to spend with God. 

I’m thankful that I’m leading a great Bible study that’s going through Psalm right now.  We’re learning about what it means to meditate on scripture and really soak in God’s Word.  Because of this, it really reminds me of how important it is to reflect on who God is and what He’s done.  The more time spent in prayer and study of Him and His Words, the more calm I feel.  My long list of to-do’s would feel more manageable if the first checkmark I fulfilled every morning was my time leaning into God’s word.

“I will meditate on all Your work, and on Your deeds with thanksgiving.” –Psalm 77:12

When I’ve meditated on the grace and mercy He’s provided to me, the peace of God covers me.  It allows me to know that He will provide the time I need through the day to get things done.  He will see me through.  If I can’t get through it all, He sustains me as I reach further.  And if it has to go on tomorrow’s checklist, I’m thankful He’s allowed me to get done what I could.

During this busy holiday season, I encourage you to remember Psalm 77:12.  Take time to meditate on His work, and trust Him to help you stop being so frazzled!

~Erin

Breaking Bread: Recipes for a Happy Mouth

Food is such a valued part of the American experience.  If someone is celebrating a birthday, wedding, promotion, or new house, we use food to expand that celebration. If someone is mourning the death of family member, the loss of a job, the devastation of a natural disaster or the end of a relationship, we use food to comfort.  Want to catch up with a friend? Go to lunch.  Need to exchange a gift at Christmas? Give fruitcake.

Breaking bread with others is a very special occasion, regardless the reason for food exchange.  The early believers in the Bible understood this concept of expanding community through the breaking of bread.  They further understood that Christ did not intend for us to live in isolation, but rather to interact with others.  In our culture, that often requires the use of food for those interactions.  

Jesus modeled the behavior of interacting with others while breaking bread for us.  We see him feasting at Matthew’s house with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10).  We see him dining at Martha’s home.  We see His last and very impactful last “breaking of bread” while in the Upper Room prior to his trial and execution.

Jesus did not retreat from others while they were celebrating or in pain.  He used it as an opportunity to reach out and connect with others.  Like in the time Jesus was on Earth as a man, we are also surrounded by those who are longing for the invitation to break bread with us.    They want connection and inclusion.  

The American way is through food.  More importantly, it’s also the Jesus way.

As we move into the craziness of the Christmas season, think about inviting someone to share a meal with you this week…break bread with them.  If you’re feeling really ambitious, take them a baked good or casserole and encourage them to break bread with others.  

Break bread together…make happy mouths!

~Emily

During Thanksgiving through Christmas, my “go-to” breaking-bread-dessert is my Great-Grandmother’s Cranberry Pudding, which is a dense cranberry cake with a warm buttery sauce to pour over the top. The recipe is listed below:

Great-Grandma Johnson’s Cranberry Pudding

Cake Batter:

6 TBl Butter

2 cups white sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk!)

1 (12 oz) package of fresh (or frozen) cranberries

Hot Butter Sauce: (I double the sauce recipe because I LOVE extra on the cake slices)

1 cup butter

2 cups white sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan (or you can use a 8×8 pan). Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the 6 tablespoons butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the evaporated milk. Stir in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the Hot Butter Sauce:

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve slices of cake generously covered with hot butter sauce. (Sauce can be re-heated for leftover cake)

Spoiled Fruits by Guest Blogger: Lacie Adams

Recently our area was hit by Hurricane Zeta. I’m neighbors with both Erin and Emily, so you likely remember that our neighborhood was without power for 93 hours. 

My family did not have a generator until more than 48 hours into the outage, so we had stuffed each freezer full of ice hoping it would be enough. We were also out of town for some of that time and so we could not run the generator while we weren’t at home. 

In the end, everything in our kitchen refrigerator was lost. When we returned from our trip on Monday, I knew that I was going to have to clean the fridge out. I also knew, that it hadn’t been done in over a year.  It was going to take a lot of elbow grease. 

As I emptied jars of pickles (some we had made and others had been gifted to us), jellies, sour cream that had gotten warm, and any other perishable item that was in the fridge, I was worried about having to replace it all. 

Then I had a thought; we had been holding on to some of the condiments in the fridge for a while. I hate to admit it, but some had been there for years, so surely it was time to throw them out anyway. 

Don’t we tend to do that in life? We hold on to old, familiar things, even if they are way past their prime. They have served their purpose, yet we will not let go of them. Until God intervenes, that is. God knows that it is hard for us humans to let go of things, even when they are not the best for us. Yet He longs to get the spoiled fruits out of your life so that he can fill it with new, better tasting ones. 

It was very painful to throw all of that food away to make room for the new, unspoiled replacements; yet, when it was done there was relief that things were new and we knew that they would not harm us. 

The next time you feel a pulling on your heart to let go of something you have been hanging onto for way too long, let God rid you of it so He can fill you again with newness. It might mean forgiving an offense or asking for forgiveness of another. It might be trading a new car for an older one so that you can tithe more. It might even be cleaning out your fridge because the darkness spoiled the contents.  Now that there is light, things are made new. 

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” ~2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB)

 “…and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” ~ Ephesians 4:24 (CSB)

~Lacie

Guest Blogger on Saturday

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and Emily felt God wanted to provide, so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

On Saturday, we will be posting an entry from a woman who is going to share her heart for the ‘spoiled fruits’  from Hurricane Zeta and how God turns the bad into the good.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of Lacie Adams, our guest blogger.

~Emily & Erin

My Dog Is So Brave

Every morning between 4-6 am, my 10-month-old lab stands by the front door and hits the bells with his nose indicating he would like to go potty.  Every morning, I open the door to the complete darkness of early morning and he just stands there for a few seconds sniffing the air.  Once his sniffer assesses the air, he trots out to do his business.

He is so brave.

Nearly every morning I think about just how brave he is.  I certainly don’t want to step out into the darkness every morning to relieve myself.  We live in the country…do you have any idea what types of critters are hanging out around our house?!?!?!  There could be racoons, opossums, coyotes, spiders…lions…tigers…bears!!!!  Not to mention the bad guy or the zombie that could leap out of the woods!!!

He sniffs the air and then proceeds about his task.  He’s brave.

I want that type of bravery in regards to sharing the Gospel.  I want to “sniff the air” and proceed with telling people about Jesus.  However, more often than not, I allow my fear of the “critters in the yard” to dissuade me from stepping out into the darkness.  

In John 20:21 (NASB), we read, So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be to you; just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  In this passage, there is clear direction that He is specifically sending us to share the good news.  

Furthermore, He tells us in Matthew 4:19 that once we choose to follow Him, we will be made as fishers of men.  There is a task associated with being a Christ-follower…and that task includes sharing the gospel.  

From a knowledge perspective, I understand this.  I know the scripture, I know my responsibility in relation to this task, and I know how I should proceed.  The issue comes into play when I allow the fear of rejection or judgement of man to overshadow the need to proclaim Jesus as my Savior.  In order to combat this fear, I am committing to memorizing and implementing Romans 1:16 (ESV) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

This next week I plan to be brave, like my puppy.  I will sniff the air and then proceed out the door to proclaim the Gospel and what Jesus has done in my life.  Will you join me?

~Emily

The Cranberry Jelly Can

My granny was a jellied-cranberry-sauce-out-of-the-can kind of lady.  Every Thanksgiving as we purchased our stock for the big dinner, she always reminded us to get her can.  She was the only one that ate it, and we always teased her for eating it.  It just seemed weird to me.  The jelly vacuum-packed into a can that took the shape of a can when it came out was just…weird!

In 2014, I forgot to pull out the beloved can of gelatinous goo for her!  I hadn’t forgotten to purchase it.  But I left it in the cupboard and we only remembered after we were done eating.  Granny teased me about forgetting her favorite dish.  Not to worry, I told her.  We’ll pull it out next Thanksgiving!  But it never happened.  That was the last Thanksgiving we spent with her before she went to heaven. 

The following November, we pulled out that can of cranberry jelly and it sat, unopened, on the table.  We laughed and shared memories of her.  It was beautiful.  And through two moves and five years later, I still can’t get rid of the can.  It’s been on our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter tables every year.  Every time I think about throwing it out, the contents long since expired, I just can’t let myself put it in the trashcan.  It’s belongs to one of the fondest memories I have of her.

I was unpacking here in Eclectic in September when the can came out of the moving box.  I showed Emily, and she took the can from me.  I thought she was going to throw it out and I panicked.  She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.  “No!” she said.  “Something this special needs to be displayed, not hidden in the pantry.”  It now sits in my cupboard with glass doors, a prize to look at every time I wander into the kitchen.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that a simple, dented, and dirty can brings me such joy.  It reminds me of the strong Christian grandmother who helped raise me and the faithfulness to God she displayed.  She loved the Lord and gave thanks for the family that she adored. 

This Thanksgiving, I have no doubt that the feast at the table in heaven holds a shiny new can just for her.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with jubilation; Come before Him with rejoicing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courtyards with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His faithfulness is to all generations. –Psalm 100:1-5

~Erin

The Fallen Leaf

The Fallen Leaf: Your Purpose

In the past, I’ve been asked what my favorite season is and I’ve always struggled to answer.  I love different aspects of each season. I like the process of transition and I like the knowledge that it will soon change again.

When Autumn arrives, I cherish the changing colors of the trees and the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet as I walk through the woods.  Leaves fluttering through the air as they fall to the Earth is one of the most peaceful moments I can think of (next to watching snow fall slowly).

Does the leaf know its lifespan is over? Does it know it’s fulfilled its role for the tree? 

Or…

Is the leaf able to recognize that it’s about to create joyful play-space for small children and dogs as they jump into piles?  Is it able to recognize that it’s about to fertilize the ground beneath the tree, continuing to provide nutrients for the tree and the vegetation nearby?

In the same way that the leaf has continued purpose, even after it falls from the tree, we have purpose in transitions during our Christian walk.  

  • As you step down from a committee at church, you are steered towards a different ministry.
  • As you complete a Bible Study, you are given opportunity to share what you learned with others.
  • As you watch others leave your church, you are able to volunteer in new roles.
  • As you observe a seemingly fruitless prayer life, you become aware of the work God is doing in your life.

Most of us are familiar with Ecclesiastes 3:1, which states “For every season, there is an appointed time. And there is a time for every matter under heaven.”

We may even be familiar with how that passage gives us direct guidance on the timing of transitions in verses 2-8:

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.


A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.


A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

If we read further to Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB), we read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.”

Each time we think we’re done, we must remember that God has purpose for our lives.  He has purpose for each of those endings…and each of the subsequent beginnings. 

Just as the fallen leaf continues to have purpose, keep in mind your Christian walk has purpose in all of your transitions.

~Emily

Forest for the Trees

I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I can’t see the forest for the trees.  Does anyone else ever have that issue?  I can become so wrapped up in what’s going immediately around me, and I forget that the bigger picture is much clearer than the focus on the tiny piece. 

God reminded me to pay attention to this idea in my Bible reading recently.  In Mark 8 after the Pharisees tried to test Jesus, He and the disciples climbed into a boat to travel to the other side of the sea.  They left the bread for dinner behind.  As they were traveling, the disciples began discussing the fact that they had no food for this leg of their journey.  I would like to picture Jesus looking at them like ‘You boneheads!’, eyes rolling at them the whole way across,but that would be my translation and not the bible’s translation.

Verses 17-19 says, And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?  Do you not yet see or understand?  Do you have a hardened heart?  Having eyes do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear?  And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?’ They said to Him, ‘Twelve.’

He goes on to ask them if they remember the SECOND time he broke the seven loaves for a group of four thousand!  They were with Him!  How on earth could they have already forgotten?! 

The truth is, I can be the same way with His provision and gifts to me.  We often thank Him for what He does in our life, and then forget that He’s still there the moment a new problem arises. 

Verses throughout the bible tell us that God provides all we need.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:19

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. –Psalm 23:1

The lions grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. –Psalm 34:10

We don’t need to be focusing on the problem.  We need to be focusing on Jesus.  He’ll take care of the rest.  We can’t forget how loving and gracious He is to us in our time of worry.  When we focus on the work God has already done in our lives, we have the hope of further provision given to us by our Heavenly Father.

Before we make the same mistakes that the disciples made and forget so quickly of the of what the Lord has done, let’s sow these verses into our hearts to always see the forest AND the trees.

~Erin

Despair in the Air

Pandemic/COVID 19. Loss of income.  Election results. Hurricane/earthquake/tornado.  Loss of a friendship or marriage.  Adultery.  Division of a Church.   Financial hardship.  Miscarriage.

I’ve really been thinking a lot about everything that seems to have gone wrong in 2020.  In particular, yesterday was a bad day.  A sad day.  A day where I actually cried at church…in despair.

Have you been thinking about it too? When have you experienced despair?  And have you ever felt repressed by despair?  

Was it this last week, when the election showcased how politically divided Americans are?  Did you feel it when you heard Sean Connery or Alex Trebek had died?  Do reports of another natural disaster overwhelm you? 

Maybe it was a time you had to decide about school or career paths.  Perhaps a relationship had you feeling despair.  Sometimes it could be a church related issue.  The weight of that feeling; the despair feels overwhelming.

Repressed means to put down or subdue by force. For instance, to repress a rebellion.  It can also mean to end, limit or restrain by intimidation or other action.  For instance, to repress a heresy or inflation.  Essentially, you begin to feel such despair over a situation that you are repressed.  You are “put down or subdued.”  

When we feel repressed, as a result of despair, we can be blinded to the goodness God has for us.  Throughout scripture, God reminds us that despair does not mean repressed.  

we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” ~2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NASB)

In this one verse, we have such rich promises from God:

We can be afflicted, but we can’t be crushed.

We can be perplexed, but not despair.

We can be persecuted, but not abandoned.

We can be struck down, but not destroyed.  

While I felt despair today, I know that there are promises from God that counter that.  And when I remind myself of those promises, I begin to see the greatness of 2020.  I can see the blessings of family time, of school work with my child, of the antics of a new puppy, of sunshine on my face, and greatness of neighbors who share so generously.  

My feeling of “despair in the air” is slowing becoming “stressing the blessings.”

I pray that the last two months of 2020 can show you the blessings…despite the despair.

~Emily

How Desperate Are You?

Did you know that it’s hard to find Fresca?  And it’s been hard to find Fresca for months now?  I know…this seems horrifying.  Please don’t go blowing up Coca-Cola’s email address.  They’re working hard to try and get it back but it’s going to take some time.  Pandemic protocol requires excellently flavored drinks to disappear from shelves.  Weep with me.

I check Amazon to see if it’s being sold at non-highway robbery prices, and I check my Walmart Grocery link to see if my local store happens to have it.  And yesterday I hit the jackpot!

My grocery-pickup Walmart in Wetumpka had it and within 3 minutes of checking and seeing it was there, I raced to purchase Fresca before someone else did.  Now mind you, it’s a 22-minute drive to get there.  Twenty-two minutes in which I called my mom and legitimately asked her to pray that there would still be some. (God says we can ask for anything.)

I hit the aisle, looked around and found it!  One.  Lone.  Bottle.  I was thrilled.  I grabbed just a couple of other truly essential things, went to the self-checkout lane and scanned that beautiful bottle of delicious drink.  And then opened my purse…to find NO WALLET.  I had left it sitting at the house.

I’ll spare you the remainder of the long story, but what ensued was moments of digging through my purse and then my car for even some change to purchase just the soda.  Followed by a conversation with the local branch of my new local bank in which I verified 67 things (because my driver’s license is kept in said wallet) to get some cash out to go back to the store to purchase the ONE DOLLAR bottle of Fresca.  Me thinks I was desperate.

How desperate are we to run to God?  Are we racing to get closer to Him, seeking His comfort and peace?  Do we grab for every little piece of Him that we can find, poring over His word and praying for direction? Or are we lackadaisical about it…getting to Him when we have a few minutes here or a few minutes there? 

“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.” –I Chronicles 16:11

We are to be looking to Him continually.  And I would even go as far as to say AS FAST AS WE CAN!  The faster we are to run to Him, the quicker we hear His direction and the sooner we can follow His commands in immediate obedience.

I pray that we are desperate to seek Him.  I pray that we race to Him with breakneck speed!  I encourage you to be as excited to run to Jesus as you are for the earthly things that are temporary.

~Erin