Hairballs & Prayer Requests

I take prayer requests very seriously.  I carefully place them on scraps of paper and pin them to a bulletin board in my bathroom.  I can pray over each of those requests as I get ready in the morning for my day and at night as I get ready for bed.

This last week I came home to find that my cats had taken down all of the thumbtacks and prayer requests.  The tacks were scattered around the bathroom like a “Legos versus bare feet” game of frogger.  The prayer requests were scratched, torn, and bitten.

Out of a dozen scraps of paper with valued words, I could still only read three.  Apparently, my cats’ slobber melted ink and those sharp little razer teeth (or possibly claws) shredded the few that weren’t wet from the slobber.

I stood there for a moment in stunned silence.  As I started gathering tacks, I chatted with God.  I asked that if there were prayer requests that still needed to be prayed over, then He was going to have to lead my hand to rewrite them. If they didn’t need to be prayed over anymore, then I was asking for discretion to throw the scraps away in the trash.

I was worried that I was throwing away requests that people had entrusted to me.  Even though I’d chatted with God, I was worried about the scraps I threw away.  I worried about a full night and part of the next day.  With His perfect timing, He then let two separate people come to me with updates on their prayer requests.  Guess what?  They were praise reports and I would have removed those slips of paper anyways.

Maybe the cats were just giving me a “reset” message on the prayer board.  Or maybe I just needed to listen to God’s perfect timing in confirming how He works.

In this next week, I’m praying all the Iron Porch readers to have a prayer-filled week with listening ears attuned to God’s direction!

~Emily

 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~Mark 11:24 (NIV)


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My Navigation System

I can’t live, it seems, without Google Maps!  Sacramento is a very large area compared to Cheyenne, Wyoming and I’m constantly losing direction with so many streets and highways to choose from.  Because I don’t have a navigation system in my car, my phone lives in the center console constantly giving me directions to my final destination.  If I didn’t listen carefully, I’d find myself easily lost in this big city.

My journey with God reminds me of this very system.  Many times, I my heavenly Father tell me it’s time to do something…something I see a finish to, and I’m all in!  I go for the gold, sprinting to the finish line at 100 mph to make it happen.  However, more often than not, He was only giving me the next step, not the entire route.

In order to trust Jesus with our walk, we need to follow the navigation one direction at a time.  If we skip to the fourth turn 26 miles up the road, we miss the blessing at the first left.  We bypass the trial that leads to God’s victory at mile marker 12.  And we lose sight of the missed opportunity three houses from our destination.

When we get ahead of what God has planned for us we can just as easily get lost, taking us off the path and leaving us to try and navigate a new route or attempt to reroute us to the original direction.  While we can grow in Him from those mistakes, imagine how much sweeter the journey when we follow the beautiful trip He laid out for us in the beginning.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not into thine own understanding.  In all thy ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.

 ~Erin

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not into thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknlowedge Him and He'll shall direct thy paths.

When You’re Known

During the two years that I was stationed at the Pentagon, I visited the same coffee stand every morning.  I always ordered a large hot coffee with cinnamon.  Unless it was Christmas time, which was when I switched from cinnamon to peppermint.

On one fall morning, I ordered my typical cinnamon coffee.  After the first sip, I was pleasantly surprised to taste peppermint, rather than cinnamon.  The peppermint syrup had come in a few weeks early and the barista knew that I swapped over to the alternate flavor for a season.  He knew my daily order well.  But he also knew my annual coffee habit.

I still reflect back on that time and marvel at the moment of feeling like I was known.  It reminds me of the psalm, written by King David, about how wonderful it is to be known by God, the Father of us all and Creator of the Earth.  David wrote, “Lord, you have searched me and known me.” ~Psalm 139:1 (CSB).  The phrase to be known signifies how those closest to us would know us personally.

That is an amazing thought.  God knows us more personally and intimately than those closest to us here on Earth.  He knows us because He is pleased with what He created.

What a marvelous gift it is to be known by God and that we can claim friendship with the Lord. It is because of that intimate knowledge, we can trust Him with all aspects of our lives.  He knows what’s best for us.  Occasionally, that knowledge surprises us with something unexpected but in our best interest.

Much like a surprise sip of peppermint coffee…

~Emily

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The Thermostat Needs a Reset

My stinking thermostat is a jerk.  I mean it…I’m pretty sure it’s secretly got some kind of brain that knows how cold I get and devises a plan to freeze me out of the house.  It doesn’t help that I’ve officially turned into a “Californian” when it comes to the weather.  When I lived in Cheyenne, I could run out to get into my car for work with a comfy sweater rather than a coat in the frigid snowy temperatures.  Nowadays, the number “50” sparks fear of frostbite to my tender toes.

Lately, it’s decided to work only when it wishes to.  I’ll set the temperature to 70.  (Don’t make fun….I don’t like being cold!) I’ll realize an hour later that my nose is like a miniature iceberg on my face, go to check the temperature, and it’s reading 67.  I told you….total Californian.  When it’s not working, we reset it.  We turn it off and give it a rest for about five minutes.  When the waiting period is over, we start it back up again and it works like a charm.

Sometimes, our own minds need a reset.  We’re on the go all the time.  Work is long.  Our kids have this program or that homework.  We need to meet our friends for Friday night trivia.  Bible study on Monday.  Volunteering at the Safehouse on Thursday.  And don’t get me started on the amount of TV and social media we consume!  Trying to train your brain to not need to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram every four minutes conjures up its own set of problems.

During all of this craziness we call life, it’s usually our focus on God that is first to go.  I’m guilty of it myself.  I love Him and know He’s there, and because I’m confident in this, I lose sight of Him being my recharging station.  The bible tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” –Psalm 46:10

Commands like this are all throughout the bible, and that’s on purpose.  We are to know Him and know His greatness.  He commands us to slow down, to take time, to be still and be in His presence.  My challenge to all of us this month is to push away the chaos that prevents us from being still in His presence.  Rather, let’s take the time to lean into the stillness and feel who He is and what He’s done for us.

~Erin

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Flattened Frogs

My cats would not leave the pantry alone and I couldn’t figure out what was intriguing them so much about cases of bottled water.  I moved the cases out and found two flattened frogs on the ground.

Flattened, like they’d been dead for a very long time.

Flattened, like dehydrated beef jerky.

Flattened, like smashed, dried, and brittle.

I was totally grossed out to think that these two frogs were once alive in my pantry. More than that, I was grossed out to think about how long they had to hang out in order to become so flattened!

As I cleaned up frog carcasses, I reflected on the passage in Exodus, when the Lord sent frogs (through Moses and Aaron) to catch the attention of Pharaoh.  Imagine frogs being all over your body and your house. Imagine them on your family members and your friends.  Imagine them taking over the kitchen and being in your ovens and bread bowls!?!?!?!  That would certainly have gotten my attention!

I’m grateful that the Lord hasn’t sent hordes of frogs to my house to get my attention, but I imagine that He gets frustrated when I don’t pay attention…or worse become deliberately disobedient.  I’d argue that God uses other tactics to get my attention.

Some of those tactics include:

-Feeling convicted by the Word or a sermon

-Lack of peace

-Stormy days (ie: work, relationships, finances)

-Hitting a rock bottom AKA: a road to Damascus Moment

-Unusual or unexpected blessings

Even if you aren’t picking up flattened frogs in the pantry, I urge you to conduct some self-reflection about how God is getting your attention.  Are you listening? Or do you need to have the frogs sent in?

~Emily

Exodus 8:2-14 (ESV)

But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls.  The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants. And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’”  So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.  But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.  Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.”  And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.  The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” So, Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields.  And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.

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The Halo Eye

I believe strongly that I need to be a parent first to my children.  While I love being friends with them and I love that they feel they can come to me, at the end of the day they  know that my job as a mother to them far exceeds and outweighs any kind of friendship I can have them.  I’m thankful that my children know this.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun!  This week, I decided to try a new eye shadow look.  Now, for those who are beauty gurus reading this, I am FAR from experienced at any kind of fancy makeup look.  But I thought why not try a halo eye?!  For those who AREN’T beauty gurus, it’s essentially darker color across the eyelid with a lighter pop of color in the center of the lid.  (Don’t you feel ultra-informed now, (insert eye roll here)!)

Anyway, I forgot to tell Peyton I tried to do it and so I texted her (don’t judge) from the living room and asked if she’d seen it.  She wrote back that she hadn’t and what ensued was picture after ridiculous picture of my eyes, my face contorted in glorious fashion.  She came out of the room and let me know it was ‘very nice.’  We had such a good laugh over that.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. –Psalm 126:2-3

The Lord HAS done great things for me.  He gave me two parents who love the Lord.  He gave me wonderful children that I brought up in the church.  He’s provided for me day after day even when I didn’t deserve it.  He’s filled my soul with the everlasting love of the Father.  In turn, I find great joy in sharing time and laughter with Peyton!

I encourage you today to find the joy in your surroundings, no matter how big or small.  Focus on how God has blessed you and let laughter and joy flow out!  He is so good!

~Erin

P.S. You have to know I would show our text messages with proof I like to torture my daughter!

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Peeling Wallpaper

The wallpaper in the master bathroom of my house was probably pretty popular in the 1990s.  In 2020, it’s just too much.  I have had visions of tearing it down and refurbishing the bathroom, but after three years of owning the house, I haven’t done a single thing.

Until I noticed a tiny little corner lifting up above the shower.  It was like I had zero control over my hand, as I peeled that corner up and away from the wall.  Now there are whole swaths of wallpaper being torn away in various places in the bathroom.  Peeling corners, sections of 90’s wallpaper being torn, and sections of plaster and paint peeking through.

It looks like there’s an affliction that has overtaken the bathroom walls.

Just like my own life.  Affliction and unattractive blemishes all over the walls of my life.

On occasion, I question if I’m worthy of God’s affection in the midst of my afflictions.  I know that I’m not the only one who has questioned my worthiness and God’s attention.  You may have questioned your own worthiness as well.  The Israelites probably questioned it when they assumed that God didn’t care about them either.  In Exodus 3:16 God said, I am concerned about you as a reassurance to the Israelites.

Just like He was concerned about the Israelites, He’s concerned about me and He’s concerned about you too.  Throughout scripture, we see affliction in Leah, Rachel, Hannah, David and countless others.  Yet we also see that God worked for each of them through their pain.

As you go through the week, possibly complaining like the Israelites, remember that God sees you.  He sees your afflictions, like peeling wallpaper, and He’s working on your behalf!

~Emily

“Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt.” ~Exodus 3:16 (NKJV)

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