Garden Sowing

Every spring, my family plants a garden.  Some years it’s been a couple tomato plants, while other years it’s been much more extensive.  Some plants are starters from a garden shop, while others are grown from seedlings.  Each year there’s great hope that there will be enough harvest to augment our family meals.

In the weeks preparing for our garden, there is inevitably disagreements about how much we should plant and which variations of vegetable we should grow.  My husband is what I call an “over-planter.” He puts multiple seeds into one pocket of soil or multiple plants in close proximity.  On the other hand, I’m an “under-planter.”  I will place one or two seeds in a soil pocket or I’ll allow plenty of space between plants so there’s lots of space for growth.

According to scripture, I’m likely the one in the wrong, as I should be sowing generously.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (NIV) states, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’”

While it seems chaotic in the world in the midst of a pandemic, there have been extraordinary acts of kindness reported on the news and in social media.  The neighbors who mow the lawns they don’t own.  People who escort the elderly veteran in the grocery store.  The medical professionals who are coming out of retirement to help assist.  These are the people who are cheerful givers.  God has blessed them abundantly so that in ALL times, they are able to abound in every good work.

According to the Bible, I should be sowing generously in both my heart of giving and in my garden.  Despite being confined to the house through social distancing, I’m going to use this season to practice sowing into those around me.

And I’m going to support my husband’s over-planting…

~Emily

Garden

 

 

 

 

 

Cilantro Pandemic

As a professionally trained chef, I know it’s an unwritten rule to state that you hate a type of food or seasoning.

And yet, here I am.  I hate the taste of cilantro. There, I said it. True Confessions of a chef.  To me, cilantro tastes like soap.

Fun fact: The people who dislike cilantro for its soap-like taste have a genetic likeness.  It’s a variation of olfactory-receptor genes that allows us to detect aldehydes, which is a compound found both in cilantro and is also a by-product of soap.  We even have a name: “cilantrophoes” which are the people who taste soap when they eat cilantro.

Two groups of people associated with cilantro.  Those who like it and those who don’t.

In the last few weeks of apocalyptic behavior with the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m also seeing two “reaction” groups of people.

One group is the chaos group.  These are the “sky is falling” people. These are the people on social media who are flaming the fire of chaos and drama.  They’re the ones trying to profit off an unstable stock market and the ones running to the store to “stock up” on more than they could possibly need for two weeks. These are the fighting in the grocery store aisles on YouTube people. They are the ones blaming everyone for everything.

The second group is the hope-filled group.  These are the “glass is half full” type of people.  They are our realists, as well as our optimists.  They are the ones giving us hopeful memes and helpful tips for survival.  As far as leaders’ decisions they hold some accountable while praising those who are doing a good job. These are the visit nursing homes through a window or open the stores early for the elderly type of people.  They might have worries but they are prepared for the outcomes.

Either group can include Christians, but I believe Christ would want His followers to be the optimists and realists who are providing guidance and hope.  They recognize that God may provide differently than we are expecting, but that He will provide.  He will provide. Every time, all the time, always.

DNA dictates which cilantro group we fall into.  Our heart and relationship with the Father dictate which “reaction” group we belong to.

As we look at the next few weeks of pandemic uncertainty, search yourself about which group you’d like to be known for…the chaos group or the hope-filled group.

~Emily

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17 (ESV)

cilantro

 

Wedding Anniversaries

Last week my parents celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.  I joke a lot about if they have been married 50 years yet, to which my mom always responds “you’re lucky we got married at all.”  To most, that would sound like a more modern establishment of co-habituating rather than committing to marriage.  In reality, my parents are a product of the 60s and were more likely to reject the entire institution of marriage.

In Genesis 2:22-24, we see that God created woman from man and intended them to be united together forever once committed to marriage.  There was a specific intent from God about how our marital relationship should be constructed.   In today’s society, it more difficult to find God’s intent on display in American marriages.

I believe that we need guidance strictly from the Word of God on how marriage should be.  However, I also believe Godly counsel from others is often needed.  In relation to marriage, it’s helpful to find Christians who have long-standing marriages in order to see and hear what has worked for them. It’s helpful to be reassured in good times and assisted in turmoil.  Those Christian examples, with a healthy prayer life and studying God’s word, help us figure out how God wants us to behave within our own marriages.

I’m a lucky girl that I was able to see that modeled behavior first hand in my parent’s marriage.  They were kind to one another.  They always supported each other’s endeavors.  They dreamed together.  They stood united against any force. When things were bad, they worked through it together.  When things were good, they rejoiced together.

Despite them having been a part of the hippie generation that typically rejected the institution of marriage, they are still so in love.  So much so, that they have a tree in their backyard that has their initials carved inside a heart.

~Emily

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.      ~Genesis 2: 22-24

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The Crooked Path: A Redemption Story

Until recently, I thought a childhood that included an introduction to Jesus seemed normal in America.  More often than not, individuals stray from a childhood relationship with Christ.  Perhaps we stray in High School or College with poor decisions.  Sometimes that straying is a conscious decision to pull away from God as a result of a life event.  In nearly every case, it’s a result of the enemy meddling in our thoughts and with our hearts.

It becomes a crooked path from Christ, away from Christ, and hopefully back to Christ.

In the book “Saving Me From Myself” by Brian “Head” Welch, the reader is taken through a biographical example of how a child accepts the gift of salvation and then crumples under the snare of Satan.  The story of Brian, as the former lead guitarist for the metal band Korn, is fascinating from several levels.  It shows the long-term impact of evangelism.  It illustrates the persistence of the enemy. It demonstrates how far we can veer from a righteous path. It shows the absolute beauty of grace and redemption.

I read this book, cover-to-cover, in one night.  It was a story that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the night…long after my typical bedtime.  My fascination with Brian’s story was driven by his return to Christ.  Our God loves us through thick and thin.  He loves us when we are disobedient.  He loves us when we make horrible decisions.  He loves us most when we return.

Each of us has a story of the enemy trying to impact our lives.  Each of us has an even better story of that grace and redemption. Brian chose to share his story very publicly through total lifestyle changes, through quitting the band, and by publishing multiple books.

What is your story?  How has the enemy meddled in your life?  How have you persevered in your walk with Christ?  Who are you telling as an example of God working in your life?

~Emily

“In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” ~Ephesians 1:7

“In Him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” ~Ephesians 1_7 copy

Culinary School Expectations

My husband and I often tag-team in the kitchen.  We normally work as a pretty good team on favorite recipes, but new ones tend to create drama. I begin to lose patience and get some attitude.  It’s usually accompanied by a snotty comment. Inevitably, my husband throws up his hands and says something to the effect of “you’re the one who went to culinary school, you do it.”

I think this is a more common reaction than we recognize.  When we lose patience or when we get aggravated, we have similar reactions.  When we feel we know better or when we feel that someone should behave a certain way, we have similar reactions.  It’s the reaction of literally or figuratively throwing up your hands and saying “you’re the one who…blah, blah, blah” and you’re able to insert whatever finish to that statement that you want.

At work, one could add “you’re the one who is in charge or has the degrees.”

At the grocery store, one could add “you’re the one who works here.”

At church, one could say “you’re the one who went to seminary or has been a Christian longer.”

I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks, and I’ve concluded that when we use this reaction at work, in relationships, and especially at church, it’s not helpful.  It becomes blame-shifting in a passive-aggressive manner while justifying why we should be held more accountable for the interaction.

When you look at the Garden of Eden, you see Adam react in this blame-shifting manner when God asks what has happened after they ate the fruit.  In Genesis 3:12-13, Adam states “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Adam blames God and the woman.  In turn, Eve replies, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.”   Neither takes responsibility for their own role in the sin.

Because we don’t accept our own sinful behavior, we end up not exercising grace. And that dear sisters is when we start to say things like “you’re the one who….blah, blah, blah.”

Even though I really did go to culinary school, I’m going to try to control my patience level and not push my husband to the point he throws his hands up at me.  I challenge you to find an area of your life that you can work on too!
~Emily

chef

Tripping Hazards

Have you ever tripped and fallen?  I’m not talking a little misstep.  I’m talking about the full-on-fall to the ground type of trip.  Have you ever experienced that?

This last Saturday morning, I got to experience that very thing.  As I was walking with a group of ladies in the streets of Birmingham to attend the Connecting Ministry Conference, I misstepped on a lower portion of asphalt and went crashing to the ground.  While flying through the air, time stalled. I literally thought “please don’t let my jeans rip, please don’t let my coffee splash on anyone else, please don’t let my purse get scratched.”spilled coffee

And down I went.  Smackdown on my bad knee.  I managed to bloody up both palms, twisted my ankle, and bruise my knee pretty good.

I also managed to startle my group.  Imagine this…I’m at the back of the group when I conducted my solo-ballet performance. However, a city worker saw my antics and came running towards our group (as though he was going to make it super-speed and catch me).  As I went down, Erin felt me brush across her hip and she immediately thought I was trying to move her out of harm’s way.

As I’m on the ground in the middle of the street in downtown Birmingham, the rest of the group turned and assumed their appropriate friendship roles.  They each assessed the scene for danger, but it was more than that….they each played a specific role.

Cheryl, the founder of the ministry hosting the conference event, immediately starts asking if I’m okay and what she can do to help.  Carrie, our prayer team leader, immediately cried out for some heavenly assistance.  Janice, the mama bear of the group, immediately tried to start helping me up.  Erin, the best friend, asked if I was okay, took my purse, and then started laughing at me.  (Okay, she didn’t really laugh right then…but she did later!)

Sometimes falling into sin looks similar to me tripping in the street.  We don’t see the danger of sin ahead of us and it “sneaks up” on us. It jumps up and grabs us when we are least expecting it.  It pulls us down…sometimes quickly…sometimes as though time stalls so we can really think through the impacts of the sinful behavior.

Each of us needs to surround ourselves with women who will assume specific roles when we trip into sinful behavior.  We need a friend who will ask if we’re okay and try to help. We need those who cry out to Heaven on our behalf.  We need the one helping us up. And we need the closest confidant, who will hold our purse and will later laugh with us when the situation is over.

That circle of ladies, who each assumes a role, are the ones that help us live a more Christ-like life.  They hold us accountable while praying with us and assisting us with recovery.

I love those ladies who each assumed their roles when I fell on my hands and knees in the streets of a big city.  I love them more, knowing that they would each assume similar roles if they saw me trip into sin.

~Emily

“…remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” ~James 5:20 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

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)


Cats