I have been described a straightforward speaker with engaging humor and practical approaches to life. My passion is to speak, write, and encourage women in relevant ways that allows them to grow in their relationship with Christ, their families, and their friends. In January 2018, I co-founded Iron Porch Ministries with my best friend, Erin Petersen, as a mechanism for women to have space to “sharpen” one another based on Proverbs 27:17. I am a retired Air Force veteran, having served 25 years. I've been married for six years and am a mom to son, Kambell and step-mom to daughter, Kiyana. My hobbies include reading, photography and scrapbooking, but I spend a fair amount of time on the “Shade-Farmette” taking care of the chickens, ducks, pond and garden. While I was born in Wisconsin (Go Pack Go!), raised in Oregon, and lived all over the world as a military member, I now call Alabama home.
This last week I had several moments of anxiety and I’ve felt so overwhelmed. I have been super weepy and easily irritated. I told my mom that I felt like I’ve hit a wall.
According to internet idiom sites, “hitting a wall” is to become completely exhausted, fatigued, or worn out. By that definition, I truly have hit a wall this week…at work, in finding a church, with my knee diagnosis, with family dynamics, and with coordinating schedules.
I’m anxious. I know I’m not alone. Anxiety is an issue for several people, but I’m seeing more and more people talking about their mental health issues. It’s important for us to recognize that God has always been concerned about every aspect of our lives, which includes our mental health.
Even King David experienced anxiety. In Psalm 94:19, he wrote, “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” David’s heart was overwhelmed, just as mine has been this week. David expressed confidence in God and choose to find joy and peace.
As I continue to walk through this week of ‘hitting the wall,’ I take comfort in knowing that there is noting that God doesn’t already know. And there is comfort in knowing He is always available for me in times of need. His Word provides the comfort when I can’t find comfort myself. In John 16:33 God told us “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This assurance helps me know that through His victory, we can claim victory over all anxiety.
I may have hit the wall, but soon I’ll either go through it…or around it. With God’s help.
I’ve officially been a beekeeper since March, but this last weekend was my first time being stung. I immediately started humming the song ‘My Favorite Things’ where Julie Andrews starts singing about “when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad.”
That pretty little gal got me right at the end of my index finger. And it was my own fault. Up to this point, my girls have been pretty docile and haven’t minded me going into their house. I needed to add a small box to one of the hives because they’ve been so busy making honey. I got bold and went into the hive without my bee suit or gloves because it was supposed to be a quick task.
She wasn’t having any parts of it, and she caught me unprepared.
Scripture tells us that there will come a time when many will be caught unprepared…and it won’t be over a simple bee sting.
The return of Jesus Christ will be a surprise to those who believe in Him, but they will be prepared for this coming. It will be a surprise to those who believe in Him, but may be unprepared for the second coming. And it will certainly be a surprise to those who don’t believe in Him, but thought they had had it figured out or that they had more time.
Yet, each group should be prepared and should be on alert.
In Matthew 24:42-44 (NASB), scriptures states “Therefore be on alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you must be ready as well; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
For the believer, preparedness means knowing the Word of God.
-Know it well enough to pray it back to God
-Study different versions of the Bible
-Understand apologetics and how to explain God’s Word to others.
Preparedness also means having an active relationship with God and others.
-Active & deliberate prayer life
-Daily study and reading
-Sharing the Gospel with others
-Fellowship in a church and small group
We have no idea when Jesus will return, just like I had no idea when I would first be stung by the bees I’m keeping. As a beekeeper, I have suits, gloves, & smoke to help me be prepared. Likewise, we have the Bible, prayer with God and fellowship with others to assist us with getting prepared.
When the second coming occurs, don’t be unprepared; that would be way worse than getting stung on the tip of your finger by a honeybee.
Last week I got to chat with a Colorado police officer after seeing his swirling blue lights in my rear-view mirror. He clocked me going 50mph in a 35. The worst part? I could see the 65mph sign just a little further down the road.
I could blame the rental car company because they set ‘set me up’ with a 2022 cherry red Ford Mustang. I could blame this little Colorado town because it felt like a speed trap. I could even blame the police department, since it was the end of the month and I’m wondering if quotas were being made.
The reality was I was in the wrong. I was speeding. It was me. Not the car and certainly not the rental agency, the speed trap, or a potential quota.
It’s easy to blame someone else when we’re in the wrong with a traffic infraction. The same is true with sin. We can justify sinful behavior in ourselves, when in reality we’re really in the wrong.
In the speeding ticket scenario, I was wrong…and likely I deserve way more speeding tickets than I actually receive. Why? Because I’m not caught by a cop every time I speed.
Yet, God sees every sin. Every day. And the reality is that we are essentially “caught” each time.
Isaiah 1:1-8 tells us about how God sees the persistence of sinful people rebelling against Him. The Bible also discusses how God acknowledges that we are a broken people who may be generally good at heart, but must be rejected because of our sinful nature. Several chapters to the right we find that the New Testament offers us salvation through Christ on the cross. Our sinful nature should get us immediately rejected. Instead it is forgiven when we accept Jesus as our Savior.
Sin is sin to our Father. But sin is forgiven by the act of Christ’s crucifixion and our acceptance of that gift.
While we deserve the flashing lights and issued ticket for each and every one of our sins, God has provided a path towards salvation through grace to cover each of those infractions.
On 25 June 1996, I was an Airman First Class stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. I’d been in the Air Force for two years, but had not yet been tagged to go on a deployment. I sat in the lounge at the hospital and watched news reports about a horrible terrorist incident in Saudi Arabia, where Airmen in a dorm area known as Khobar Towers had been directly targeted. It wasn’t easy for my 20-year-old, fairly sheltered, self to reconcile that these were my brothers and sisters who had been killed or injured.
We lost 19 Airmen that night; 17 were enlisted. Hundreds, and I mean hundreds, were injured. Over 500 purple hearts were awarded for that night alone. This event changed lives. For forever.
Fast forward 26 years to 2022. This last week, the museum where I work, was able to host over 200 guests who were members at the Khobar Towers, family members of those hurt and those killed, as well as currently serving members representing the KIA units. It was the first time in Air Force history that we specifically honored those who had survived the events of that horrific night.
The courage of the survivors is also covered with mourning. Mourning of the loss of dreams, opportunities, and loved ones. In Matthew 5:4, Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn.” It’s appropriate to call on this scripture when our hearts hurt from loss.
It’s also appropriate for us to recognize that Jesus was talking about mourning over our sinful nature; not just loss. In response to understanding our brokenness, we may be sad. But it allows us to see our desperate need for God and that if our sin is not addressed, it keeps us from Him. The separation from God, due to sin, is worthy of mourning.
The true good news is that God has provided a way to maneuver through the mourning of sin towards Him. It is belief that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that by accepting that free gift, we can have the offered grace and forgiveness of our sins. The way to happiness is often through sadness. The road to rejoicing is often through mourning. When you come to the cross, you full comprehend just how happiness and mourning can co-exist.
Each year the anniversary of Khobar Towers is hard for hundreds of families, friends, and survivors. As I keep in mind their hearts, I am grateful for Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:4.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Recently our family added one of those manual push mowers that are reminiscent of the 1950s. My husband wanted it to mow the steep bank near the road. I wanted it to mow without an engine near the beehives. While I calmly pushed the mower back and forth in straight lines by the hives, I watched the bees flitter to and fro.
While doing a seemingly menial task, I had several moments to mentally review a scripture that my small group has been memorizing as a group this last month.
Philippians 2:14-15 (NASB) “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generations, among who you appear as lights of the world.”
I recited it a couple times, but I kept getting distracted by the rolls of sweat that were coming off my face and straight into my eyes. I blinked several times and then started reviewing the scripture again. Only to have it happen several more times.
Finally, I stopped mowing, took off the bee suit hat and face shield, removed my glasses and started wiping my face off. Put my glasses back on and they instantly fogged up. Put the bees hat/face shield back on. Sweaty hair stuck to my forehead and glasses. Take hood off, fix hair, glasses smudged…and then…sweat rolls into my eyes.
Insert frustration, some real tears, and a few choice words.
And then a bubble of laughter came out of my mouth. There I was half in a bee suit in 100-degree heat of Alabama, with a 1950s-ish mower, and sweat stinging my eyeballs, when the first part of my memory verse came to mind. “Do all things without complaining or arguments…”
While the verse is specifically addressing the previous admonitions that Paul had mentioned in the Philippians letter, it sure did feel like it applied directly to me in that moment. All the murmurings…all the discontentment…all the complaining in that moment were not useful. They weren’t assisting me with completing the task, nor were they going to exemplify Christ in that moment.
I’m so grateful for the corrections that God’s holy word provides us; the conviction from the Holy Spirit for us to change course.
It got me to reassess my own attitude in the moment of “lawn mowing time” with some heat, humidity, sweat and tears all mixed together.
For each of us, I pray this next week will be one without complaining or argument.
Now that school is out for the summer, I feel like I can share a conversation that I had with one of my son’s teachers this last year. The students were studying space; galaxies, planets, stars, and specifically the history of constellations and how to identify different constellations. While in that section, the teacher taught of the constellations affiliated with what is commonly known as the zodiac signs.
I was 100% behind the lessons to this point.
Once they learned about the constellations associated with the zodiac, they were introduced to horoscopes. One step further; they were tasked with looking up their birthday, figuring out their zodiac sign, reading the personality traits associated with that zodiac, and then determining if they were aligned with their zodiac sign.
My son came home that day and pretty innocently mentioned this activity that they’d conducted in class. I must admit, I nearly lost my mind. I asked dozens of questions to the point that Kambell became alarmed that something was clearly not right. I contacted the teacher for further clarification. I expressed my displeasure that Kambell was introduced to something that I believe is pagan and against scripture.
She responded that it was “just a fun way for them to learn about the constellations.”
Ummm. No, no it’s not “just a fun way…” for them to learn anything except the ways of the world and a path that Satan would love to have them on. One that takes this kids away from God, not closer to God. 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to destroy.”
It only takes one introduction to something pagan…one careless thought…one glimpse at a worldly concept…one misstep, which can lead to something so much more sinister.
Please know that I’m very pleased with the public-school education that my child is receiving and I’ve fallen in love with our school district and the teachers dedicated to assisting with raising future productive citizens of our Nation.
Please also know that I recognize that I’m a tad hyper-sensitive to pagan activities, due to having being a practicing Wiccan for seven years.
As a result, please know that I fully understand that some think I’m taking it too far to be upset about my 5th grader learning about horoscopes.
Those some who think I’m taking it too far…they won’t be in front of God one day justifying how they raised this child. They will be accountable for their own actions and behaviors. As for me, I don’t want to explain to God why I made decisions (or allowed others around my child) to decide to introduce him to less-than-Godly behaviors. Scripture shows us in 2 Corinthians and Romans that we will each be accountable.
“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.” ~2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB)
“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” ~Romans 14:12 (NASB)
When someone says “it’s just for fun,” but you still have unrest about the scenario in your heart, you should listen. That is often the nudge of the Holy Spirit for you to further analyze and pray about the situation. Remember also, you stand before the judgment seat by yourself. Are you comfortable reporting to God regarding your behaviors, thoughts, and actions?
Finally, remember that what is fun for some is likely folly for others.
I miss living in Germany. I loved everything about it while I was there for two years…from the food to the people to the ease of travel to the crazy driving…even the obsession with Christmas markets and ornaments. I loved it all.
I didn’t recognize just how much I missed it until this last week, when we were on summer vacation in Helen, Georgia which is modeled after a little Bavarian town. This town has it all…the cool temps, the lazy tubing river, the schnitzel, the German bakery…even the spaghetti ice cream.
It’s interesting how you don’t know you miss something until there is a memory jogger. If you think about it, I’m sure there’s a song or a scent that takes you to another place. Perhaps the song takes you back to your first dance. A smell has you reminiscing about Grandma’s kitchen.
It makes me wonder if these experiences happened to people in scripture. Was there a moment after Jesus’ death, where Mary was preparing his favorite meal and it made her miss him more than normal? Did Paul ever pass a well and think about his boyhood well in Tarsus? If Peter passed a fishing net, did the smell take him back to his time as a fisherman?
Did the disciples miss Jesus after His death?
In Luke 24:44 (NASB) scripture reads, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
This offers an assurance that all prophesies about Jesus will be fulfilled. And if that is true, then it is also true that God has provided us with a means to be continuously surrounded by aspects of the Trinity. Jesus’ departure from the Earth enabled Jesus, as the Son of God, to no longer be subject to time, but rather embody the full power and authority of God in Heaven.
As promised, Jesus is available to all of us for guidance, for prayerful conversation, for forgiveness, and for grace. Most of all, He is available as the Savior to those who believe.
Did the disciples miss Jesus after his ascension into heaven? From a human perspective, I’m sure the answer is yes. Mostly because the face-to-face immediate responses were gone. However, God’s fulfillment of the Holy Spirit allows for continued relationship. Perhaps, the promise of God’s continued presence in a believer’s life mutes that emotion of missing the physical Jesus.
Missing Jesus in our lives isn’t as simple as missing Grandma’s cooking or the experiences living in another country. It can’t be replicated by something similar, like going to a small mountain town.
In this instance, you need the real deal relationship with Jesus to fulfill the emotion of “missing.”
If you are missing Jesus in your life, please come to the porch and let us know…we’d love to tell you how to become a believer!
It seems that every year around this time, there are a number of posts explaining the differences between Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day. I’ve posted something similar on my own social media platforms. As a retired military member, it seems like a teachable moment that civilians would see the differences between the three military recognition days. It seems to offend some people when others don’t know the differences.
Memorial Day is one to remember those who have fallen. When fellow citizens wish a “Happy Memorial Day,” it can get some upset. There’s nothing happy about having lost our comrades in arms. Nothing happy about remembering and reflecting on those who died as a result of their serve to our Nation.
I heard a different perspective this last week. One where the military member said, “Rather than be offended, I’d offer that we should appreciate the spirit in which they offer that. It comes from a good place, with good intent, from people in our society who don’t understand us but are thankful for what we do.”
This sentiment is so kind-hearted and simplistic. Even now while writing about it, I feel chastised for previously thinking I needed to “educate” others on the differences of these dates. Perhaps I need to appreciate the spirit that they offer the comment in.
I’d like to carry that sentiment over to Christian beliefs. While there are very important central beliefs to Christianity, such as Christ died for each of our sins and we individually have to claim that gift in order to spend eternity in heaven, not every single interaction with others has to be a teachable moment. I need to repeat that for my own benefit. Not every interaction has to be an overt teachable moment. Sometimes the old adage of “actions speak louder than words” is true.
Like with the non-military member wishing a Happy ‘whatever’ Day and being accepted where they are, the non-Christian’s interactions with Christians could be as simple as observing love and kindness in action. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t always be a Sunday School lesson or Gospel tract presentation. The helping hand, the monetary donation, the passing smile…each of those things show others the love of Christ; even when we aren’t actively sharing the Gospel.
As we reflect on this Memorial Day about the sacrifices of military members through the decades, I’m going to also reflect on how I can better serve our Lord by loving others through my own actions.
“All that you do must be done in love.” ~1 Corinthians 16:14 (NASB)
These days I’m at an age and a point in my faith where I tend to not overtly sin. Of course I slip up here and there with a bad word or a silent judgment, but for the most part I’ve got Christ in my spirit and God on my mind. That being the case, now what I find is Satan using even sneakier tactics to interfere in my hardline connection to my Savior.
I call these interferences “distractions,” and the tactic is a lot like distracted driving. I think most people immediately think of texting, but if we’re honest, messing with your seat, changing the radio station, taking a drink of water…all of these seemingly benign actions also distract your eyes and attention from the road, and you have important business to perform when you are driving!
Applying this to Christian life, we are “at the wheel” during all waking hours (1 Cor 15:58). God has a purpose for our lives (Jer 29:11) and we are called to always be a beacon of His light (Matt 5:14-16), intended to point to His glory. And yet, how often do you find yourself focused on a myriad other things in life, from what’s for dinner to the laundry that must be washed before Saturday morning’s little league game? There’s a reason our earthly culture keeps us busy: it is a well-devised strategy employed by the enemy to keep us focused on anything other than bringing God glory.
Listen, there is no perfection in this world outside of Jesus Christ; don’t beat yourself up because you live in a broken place temporarily. Rather, simply be aware that the enemy is always looking for ways to set stumbling blocks in our path and disconnect us from our Lord and Savior (1 Pet 5:8). Develop habits of continual conversation and returning your thoughts to Heavenly Father. Let it be a normal part of your routine to talk to God while doing laundry or washing the car, and when you notice your mind wandering to all of the chores next on your list, extend yourself lots of grace and gently return your thoughts to your relationship with the King of Kings, knowing one day you shall live in the place he prepared for you (John 14:2).
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.
On Saturday, we will be posting a submission by our sweet sister in Christ and fellow blogger, Heather Kaufman Pamplin. Heather is a wife, mother of two, and Nonna to one sweet 4-year-old boy. She lives in Battle Ground, Washington with her family, and she and her husband own a small bookstore (replete with cat!) as well as a local real estate company. Besides her relationship with Abba, Heather enjoys community-building, volunteering, serving others, cooking, and she recently purchased a piano with intentions of learning to play like Beethoven – we’ll be expecting updates on how it goes!
Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read Heather’s thoughts in the guest blog “Distractions.”