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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The Car Saga Contiues

We’re into week 2 of my car saga, and I’m not sure I see an end in sight.  While it took a bit for the adjuster to go and see the vehicle, once there, a vast difference appeared between the two companies in the ideas of how to repair my sweet car along with the cost of said repairs.  Alas, still no car.

I was starting to feel a little frustrated.  While having a car is assuredly a first world problem, I’ve been irritated about being at home without a vehicle in the event I wanted something…like an ice cold fountain Coke (that I don’t really need).   This has felt slightly overwhelming at my lack of control or answers to the problem.

This entire process has flown right in the face of what I’m studying.  We’re clearly told in the bible to trust God for everything.  Why is it so hard to let go of that control and hear what He’s saying?  Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.

That verse doesn’t say He’ll give me a quick answer.  It doesn’t even say He’ll give the answer I want.  What it does tell me that no matter how out of control I feel and no matter how long this process will take, He won’t forsake me.  Forsake means to abandon, and that’s one thing God never does.  He doesn’t just leave me to handle it on my own.  When I seek Him and when I trust, He is right there with me walking with me every step of the way.

I have no idea when I’ll get my car back.  But no matter the length of time or how frustrating the outcome, I can be assured that my situation and I are not forsaken.  He is right there holding my hand as we navigate this water together.

Iron Porch, have any of you been in a situation where you had to remind yourself that God was standing with you and walking beside you during a tough spot?  Let us know in the comments below.

~Erin

The Check Engine Light

The ‘check engine’ light is a big deal.  Especially to a budgeter.  Or to someone who just simply likes to drive a vehicle.  Mine came on last week, and I couldn’t get in to the dealership to have it checked until this last Monday.  So I left it undriven (for the most part) because I was terrified that I would break down on the middle of the highway, cars speeding towards me at 87mph as I tried to maneuver off to the side of the road.  Turns out, I have a bigger problem.

RODENTS.

Yes, you read that right.  Some annoying tiny rodent footprints were found in the dusty underbelly as the technicians came upon 6 wires those buttheads enjoyed chewing through along with plenty of insulation missing from a cover for a harness-something-or-other they dined on.  Can you see the appreciation for the squirrel/mouse/rat/something with teeth written on my face?

While those lovely little creatures are going to cost me big time, it got me to thinking about the ‘check engine’ light in my life.   When I’m struggling with a situation or dealing with a problem, am I going to the place I need to go to fix it?  It’s easy for me to dwell on the anxiety and concern.  I feel like I can figure it out on my own.  Maybe the issue will just go away.  But it never really is that simple.

As a Christian, my answer to the ‘check engine’ light is my Heavenly Father.  He is the One who can diagnose the problem and work you back to wholeness.  Through prayer and bible reading, we are able to see God’s goodness and provision as we weather a storm.

“Like a shepherd He will tend to His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” –Isaiah 40:11

This verse is so loving and powerful.  Not only will God watch over us and shepherd us, He holds us close and carries us as we brave the burden.  When it’s a situation that we need answers for, He lovingly leads us.  What an amazing Savior we serve.

I encourage you today…if you feel like that ‘check engine’ light is on in your world, call to Jesus Christ and open your bible.  He will guide you home.

~Erin

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This is not the evil beast that is costing me money.  If it was, he’d be looking scared towards me, not relaxed after eating such a large Happy Meal of my car. (Photo courtesy of unsplash)

One Bathroom

A house with only one bathroom is a recipe for disaster.  And I still have one teenager left living at home.  It’s practically unbearable!  It’s a juggling act, sometimes, to figure out who can get in for their shower and who gets to brush their teeth or wash their face first.  This week, was no exception.  Chris, Peyton’s dad, needed to go to work and I hadn’t thought to let Peyton know.  (I mean, he’s had the same Tuesday schedule for three years, so it didn’t even cross my mind.)

The idea that Peyton had to shorten her shower and get out was not a pleasant solution in her 15-year-old mind.  When she emerged she looked at me and said, “Why can’t he get up earlier to get ready?!”  To which I reminded her that he’s had the same schedule for years.  She retorted, “I’m irritated with you too, mom!  You should’ve told me he was going to work!”

Do we have that reaction when it comes to knowing what the bible says?  Someone else will give me the answer!  I expect that when I go to church my pastor as the leader should be telling me what the bible says.  When I attend a bible study the writer gives me direction in my homework.  When I’m speaking to my accountability partner or mentor I think they’ll give me the answers.

But as Christ-followers, we shouldn’t be waiting for the advice alone of our mentors and leaders.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the scripture is God-breathed.  The answers that we need are in the book that we should be studying!   We should be researching, reading, and seeking the answers for ourselves in the Bible.  We have a responsibility to do the work, as well.

I know I can be guilty of this.  Just like Peyton with the idea of ‘someone will let me know,’ I can very easily wait for a Sunday service, hoping the pastor will eventually touch on a topic that’s been on my mind.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You,” –Psalm 119:11

This verse reminds me that I should be in the Word, studying and growing in my walk.  I don’t need to wait for someone else to give me the answer.  God gave it to me in the form of a bible, and I’m going to make sure moving forward that I’m using it to mature my faith in Jesus.

~Erin

What Does 2020 Bring?

Two years ago, I had a ‘word of the year.’  It was a word to describe how I would enter into everything I did.  That word was sharpen.  Last year, I never even thought to pick a word…or a resolution for that matter.  My oldest daughter, McKenna, had just been through a hurricane and we went down in December to help do cleanup on her house.  It was just the furthest thing from my mind.  A few weeks ago with the hustle and bustle of 2019 almost behind me, I decided to sit down and pray about where God wanted to take me for the upcoming year.  This led to a new word:

Quality.

I’ve done a lot in 2019.  While I wouldn’t say I was disengaged, I would say that sometimes my attention was divided.  I give a little here, a little there, spreading bits of ‘Erin-time’ over a lengthy list of projects without really giving full attention to any one thing.

I like to read, but was I really taking the time to absorb the words?  I like to have conversations with my children; was I putting down the phone to listen to what they were saying?  I enjoy writing, so was I making sure that the time spent was uninterrupted and focused?

2020 is where it changes.  This year is calculated, because quality needs to mean something!

While I absolutely loved my hobby job, Boudin’s needed to go for a bit.  My last day was the 26th of December.  I’ll miss my co-workers there, but my allegiance was divided between two jobs and my daughter, Peyton, still in high school.  And while one of my jobs is from home, we all know how work from home does NOT mean I can just stop what I’m doing and take care of my kid!

Because I work better with a written schedule, I have times written in my planner in 2020 for prayer time, for bible study group, and for date nights with Peyton.  I have writing scheduled, and I’ve rearranged my office space (and times) so I have the least amount of distractions while maximizing the times with my family.  We’ve even planned a family cross-stitch project!

I want to enjoy good quality friendships and family time.  I want to spend quality time on the hobbies I love.  I want others to feel quality interaction with me.  And I want my time spent with God to be time well spent…a time of maturing and growth that leads me closer to Him which in turn leads others closer to Him, as well.

Do you have a word you want to represent 2020?  How about a resolution or commitment?  Share in the comments below!

~Erin

Word of the year

Merry Christmas!

The hustle and bustle of Christmas has come to an end.  Presents have been opened.  Christmas breakfasts and dinners have been cooked and eaten.  For me and my family, we’re sitting lazily in our living room enjoying a Christmas movie, the last piece of warm apple pie eaten and enjoyed.

I’m so thankful for this time of year.  It’s a season to really soak in the story behind Christmas.  I know it’s a story we should all be aware of.  But during the holiday season, it’s a peaceful feeling to think about Jesus coming in the form of a tiny baby, the Hope of the world.

As we step out of Christmas and into the new year, my prayer is that we hang tight to the hope and love that is Jesus.  This gift that was given to us is a gift that never fails us.  I’m forever thankful for the gift of the newborn Lamb.

Merry Christmas to all of Iron Porch!

~Erin

Find the Time

As a full time professional in the billing department of a hospital, I need to know what I’m talking about.  The majority of us know that medical insurance can be so frustrating and hard to understand.  My job requires me to have extensive knowledge of insurance billing for physicians, and on occasion I have to spend time explaining to patients what the charges/payments mean so that they can understand it in laymen’s terms.  It’s important for me to be doing continuous education on the insurance companies.

Do we treat our study of the bible the same way?

God wrote the most beautiful book for us.  It’s a history lesson of this earth prior to Jesus walking the streets of Jerusalem.  It’s the true story of the greatest sacrifice for love, and it’s the written promise of what’s to come.   God’s love letter is available to all of us to learn from, to grow from, to mature ourselves in our faith.  And yet I let days go between opening it to really read what God has written to me.

The psalmist wrote, “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.  I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” –Psalm 119:15-16.  My prayer is that I take those words to heart.

I want to develop a strong understanding of who God is and what He’s done and one of the best ways I can do that is to spend time each day meditating on His written word.  I want my study to be meaningful and give me true opportunity to dig in.  My bible can’t remain closed until I “find the time.”  Believe me, I’ve been there, and it happens to me even now.  I let things, people, phone calls, or TV take precedence over a chance to allow a scripture meaning to be revealed to me.

The challenge to myself, and one that I’m extending to you, is to set aside at least 15 minutes each morning when you first wake up.  Ask God to reveal Himself to you in the passage or verse you’ve chosen to read, read it aloud, and then use the rest of the time to find out “What does this mean to me?”  Allow yourself time to meditate on His ways.  You won’t regret it.

Is there a verse or passage that you’ve read that might encourage someone to start this challenge?  Come to the porch and share in the comments below.

~Erin

I will meditate (used)

The Blessing Jars

Table 8 met for our last meeting of 2019 just this last Monday, and I wanted to give something to the ladies that I had seen Emily do and had done myself a few years ago.  It wasn’t a big or expensive gift.  It was a gift that would allow them to see the blessings of their daily life.  It was a blessing jar.

For those who don’t know what this looks like or what it is, a blessing/thankful jar is a container that you can use to hold your good and fun memories for the year.  I kept mine on an end table with scraps of paper beside it.  If something exciting happened like a promotion or a visit from a friend from out of town, I’d jot down what happened along with the day’s date.  When I had mother/daughter dates, I would keep the receipt for where we went or the ticket stub from the movie to throw in the jar.  At the end of the year, my girls and I had so much fun going back through the papers that I had saved!  It reminded us of the countless good times and memories we had.

I haven’t had my jar out in several years.  But I realized this year, that it felt as if stress levels for people in general have been at an all-time high.  I decided that it was time to counteract the stress of everyday life with the blessing reminders of what God provides for us.

Rather than have one big jar for each my friends, I made smaller jars.  I explained that the smaller jars work almost identically to the large jars.  Rather than look at them at the end of the year, however, I encouraged them to do their blessings by the month!

“At the end of every month,” I explained, “pull out what you’ve put in your jar to remind yourselves of the blessings you’ve been graced with.  Save the papers in a baggie with the month marked.  At the end of the year look over all of the blessings from the last 12 months and be thankful for what God has done!”

It truly makes a difference in our attitudes when we can be reminded of the good things God allows in our lives.  I encourage you today that if you don’t have one, start one!  And if you’ve put yours away like I did, join me in bringing it back out and being encouraged by the blessings that come your way.   It’s a great way to be thankful!

~Erin

Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; –Ephesians 5:20

Black Friday Contentment

I can count the number of times I’ve gone Black Friday shopping on one hand.  My most vivid memory of this shopping day was about 11 years ago when I managed to get a KitchenAid mixer for the fabulous price of $159.  The downside to that purchase was waiting in the line at Kohl’s that literally wrapped around the entire store to get to the register.  I still use that mixer to this day, so it was a great purchase.  But standing in line for an hour made me realize that I hated being out in the crowds during Black Friday.  Every year, even now, I get anxiety thinking about the potential brawls and arguments that will be displayed in front of small children over a vacuum or a 65” tv.

More and more, we’ve become a society built on what we want and not what we need.  We put value in things that we can own…the biggest TV, the best stereo system, the newest car.  I’m guilty of this myself in certain areas.  In the last three years, I’ve actually become addicted to, of all things, eye shadow palettes.  Never mind that I have six in several color tones.  Four weeks ago, I bought my favorite YouTuber’s new launch and a week later, a new one from another YouTuber that Peyton, my daughter, wanted.  Just this last Thursday, I went online and bought two new eye shadow palettes as part of a set because I’d never used the brand and it was a “great deal.”  When does it end?  When will it be enough?

The bible talks about being content with what we have.

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” –Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)

I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. –Philippians 4:12 (CSB)

While it’s nice to have things, I want to know that I am content with what I have, what’s been provided.  Just because I have the money or just because it’s the newest thing doesn’t mean it has to be what I get.  There are much better uses of my money than the third palette I’ve purchased or the extra five inches of a TV screen with surround sound.  Am I tithing regularly?  Am I giving to charity?  God commands us to take care of the orphans and widows.  Am I spending my time doing that rather than purchasing ‘junk’?  Am I using my time and funds to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?

This season, I pray that I begin to have a new outlook on what it means to be content.  Moving forward, I pray that the words in Hebrews and Philippians mold me into a woman who’s satisfied with what I have and who longs to do more for the kingdom of God.

How about you?  Do you ever struggle with this?  I’d love to hear your ideas and stories about how you’ve learned to be content with what you have!

~Erin

Black Friday Contentment

How Often Do You Share?

Disclaimer:  I know that some may have concern that I’m writing on this topic because the anecdote is about my younger daughter.  I asked Peyton if she would be ok with me sharing this, and she told me that she would be fine with it.  In fact, her exact words were, “Everyone at school knows I see a counselor, because I’m not afraid of my mental health…”  (Only my kid.)

 

Every other week Peyton heads into the office of a counselor to chat about what’s been going on in her life.  And every other week I tease her going in with, “Don’t forget to tell her how awesome I am,” and coming out with, “Did you tell her how I awesome I was!”  I’ve said it to her for a year and a half now.  She’s knows I’m joking, and she laughs every time and replies, “We don’t even talk about you, mom!”  It’s become this ‘thing’ between us that cracks us up.

This last visit as she got into the car, we did the routine.  You could’ve blown me over with a feather when she said, “Actually, yes I did.  I told her how you helped me with something I was struggling with and it was nice.”  I wasn’t quite sure how to respond….except in true Erin-fashion, “YES!!!!  I’M AWESOME!” which of course had us both laughing.

Truth is, in my heart I was truly happy that she had talked about me positively.  Whether selfish or not, I adore my kid and would do anything to help her.  I loved that she had vocalized that to someone else.  I wonder if God feels the same way.

There are times where, sadly, I don’t take opportunities to share Him with the people around me.  I get busy or distracted and the chance to witness to someone about His love passes me by.  When I share the Good News, does He get excited because it finally happened?!  Is He surprised that I actually said something?

He directs us to be telling the world about the gospel and His Son’s sacrifice, and I get sidetracked with chatting about what was on TV last night.  I don’t want it to be this way.  I desire for my conversation with Him to be not “did you FINALLY tell her how much I love her” but rather “who did you tell how much I love her” because He’s not astonished that I actually spoke up.

I would encourage you to be bold in your words about Jesus and His sacrifice.  Share and share often!  Don’t let days or weeks go by without telling the people around you about a love that knows no bounds.

Does anyone else struggle with this?  Come to the front porch and share your own stories!

~Erin