“God Knew” By Guest Bloggers: Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler

“God knew our mothers couldn’t handle us as sisters so he made us best friends instead…”

That’s Kelsey’s favorite quote to use when it comes to describing our friendship and how close we truly are! When I say close, I mean we are almost identical when it comes to beliefs, work ethic, goals, dreams, and visions for what we see in our future. We both carry the same love and passion for horses, barrel racing, rodeoing, traveling, and love a good productive day for either one of our businesses! Basically, we are sisters…not by blood but by choice!

Where did it all start? Originally the friendship started out as a coach-to-client relationship when Kelsey contacted me about barrel racing lessons and shared her dreams of making it to the NFR. At first, I was a little hesitant and explained to her that if we started lessons, especially with that type of goal, it was going to be for the long haul! Needless to say, that didn’t faze her. The most interesting thing about that moment in time is that we met at probably one of the most difficult times in both of our lives. God knew…

I often think back on that moment in time and how God most certainly knew that our paths had to cross in order for us to grow and challenge one another in a way that we both would appreciate and understand. Kelsey and I both agree that we challenge one another in the most positive and in some cases, most aggressive ways that pushes us past our comfort zones. Ironically, that’s what we both needed. It’s quite amazing to think that was only three short years ago…Kelsey and I have grown so much since then, not only in our friendship, but as individuals as well!

Kelsey is now the proud owner of a small western boutique in downtown Prattville, Alabama called “Wandering Coyote Company,” and has achieved great success on the road traveling to various equine and cattleman’s events across the Southeast. On occasion, we travel together when my singing career coincides with an event and we just decide to make a girl’s trip out of it! It’s work for sure, but we’re able to help one another and ensure that we each have what we need to be successful!

I happily spend majority of my time on the road touring with my country music career, but still find time to enjoy a barrel race or two on the weekends and an occasional vacation trip when Kelsey and I can find time! The best part about our friendship is that we don’t have to be together to be close and we both know we are just one phone call or text away if one of us needs something or just need a girl talk moment. Believe me, there are plenty of those!

Quite frankly, I believe if you had asked either one of us “did we expect this friendship to turn out the way it has,” I think we both would have said no. Funny thing is, when God is in control of the company you keep and the people you have to surround yourself with in order to make it, He sends the right person at the right time! There’re no questions, no doubts, and everything works out as it should!

Yes, we’ve only been best friends for three years now, but believe me when I say, it’s a friendship that has been built off of the Lord’s word, strength, direction, and most importantly His love for both of us! Kelsey and I often discuss our dreams and quite frequently reassess our goals and plans for the time at hand, and to see what the Lord has placed in both of us to help one another is indescribable! Both of us reach for the star that just so happens to be out of reach, but when one of us does, it encourages the other to boost them up and to keep working towards their goal and dream. To give you one word to describe it: Balance!

Kelsey and I hope that this story encourages you and your best friend to place the Lord first in all that you do and completely trust Him with every aspect of your life! You do that, and He will bless you richly for it! 

-Written by Jessie Lynn® with contributions by Kelsey Stahler

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Coming this Saturday to the Iron Porch: Guest Bloggers Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler

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 a submission by two lovely, hard-working, best friends who have chosen to put the Lord at the center of their friendship.  The Iron Porch is pleased to introduce you to Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler.

Jessie Lynn®: Alabama’s Singing Cowgirl is a multiple award-winning independent country music singer/songwriter, Nashville recording artist and a proud CMA and Recording Academy member.   She has “Opened” and performed on sets with The Oak Ridge Boys, Ronnie McDowell, Montgomery Gentry, Jimmy Hall, Jessica Meuse, Shane Owens, Kirk Jay & Corey Smith.  Jessie Lynn received her Master’s degree in Agriscience Education from Auburn University in May of 2018.  She is a morning talk show host at Bluewater Broadcasting, LLC.   She is the 2021 Miss Limestone County Sherriff’s Rodeo Queen.   https://www.jessielynn.net

Kelsey: Growing up in a military family meant living in places like Los Angeles, Tampa, and even Europe. Most wouldn’t think these circumstances would create a cowgirl. However, add in Montana roots, a rodeo-loving uncle, and tractor-building relatives. Some might say it was inevitable. Kelsey comes from a family who has never been afraid of hard work and understands the importance of a God-driven life. There’s no doubt that her favorite verse is Proverbs 16:3. She has learned that life sure is a lot more peaceful when you hand it over to God. Mix all of these, and you get a girl chasing her dreams. Using her God-given talents and passions, she hopes to build a platform where she can use her testimony to share God’s love for every one of us.  She is the proud owner of “Wandering Coyote Company,” a Prattville, AL boutique. https://www.wanderingcoyotecompany.com

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read “God Knew,” an inspirational chat about Godly friendships by Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler.

We look forward to “seeing” you on the Porch tomorrow!

~Emily & Erin

Press On

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

I recently started Invisalign orthodontic treatment. I have to wear plastic trays on my teeth 22 hours a day. They are uncomfortable, create a lisp when I talk and every time I eat or drink anything other than water, I need to take them out and brush my teeth and the trays before I put them back in. What a pain! I need to remind myself how nice it will be to have straight teeth and a pretty smile at the end of my 2 years of treatment because right now, I am not seeing any immediate reward, other than the fact that I may have lost a few pounds because the aforementioned post-eating ritual makes me think twice about whether or not a snack is really worth it. 

It can be hard to wait for a reward that seems so far in the future. Life gives us tough seasons. Sometimes even our walk with Jesus can be challenging. It’s tempting to chase instant gratification, however, these things that can satisfy us immediately are temporary. The eternal life Jesus promises is forever. Living with an eternal focus often goes against the messages we are constantly bombarded with in the world today, but let’s look at what Jesus says:

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29

I love that when Peter asked the very human question of “What’s in it for me?”, Jesus did not admonish him but instead reminded him of the reward given to all who follow. 

What can we do to continue to press on toward our heavenly prize? 

1.    Read the Bible- Staying in the word reminds us of Jesus’ love and promises. 

2.    Prayer- God wants to be in authentic relationship with us. Crying out to God when we are sad and even angry allows him to comfort us and draw us closer.

3.    Community- It’s important to have a good support network of fellow believers who can help encourage and pray for us when we are struggling. 

When you feel discouraged or find yourself asking “Is this worth it?”, remember the promises our Lord has made and the reward waiting for you at the end. Press on toward the prize of eternity in heaven. It will be so worth it.

~Sherry

Sherry Bliss Haase lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Guest Blogger: Sherry Bliss Haase

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 a submission by our sweet sister in Christ and fellow blogger, Sherry Bliss Haase.  Sherry lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read Sherry’s thoughts in “Press On.”

~Emily & Erin

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

Iron Porch Interview with Khandi Wagner: Christian Women and Race Relations in America

The following is the transcription of an Iron Porch Interview with Khandi Wagner concerning race relations and what Christian women should know.  Khandi is a Christian wife and mother, as well as an Active Duty Airman who is active in her church, her community, and her family.

Khandi, please describe yourself, as you would imagine God describing you.

I believe that at times He would describe me as lost.  I’m a fairly new Christian and often feel like I have no idea how to be a Christian.  He would be proud of me for finding my way back to Him. He would call me a sinful being who is repentant.  I do feel bad about my sin and I try to do the right thing.  I think He would also describe me as hungry for knowledge about Him and His Word.

 Tell us about your testimony.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and I hated it because I never understood the Pastor. The church was corrupt and the Pastor had very sinful behaviors, which caused several members to leave.  The next church I attended I loved, but I wasn’t ready to commit to being a Christian because I identified as a lesbian.

During my college years, I stopped going to church because I was going to school and working full-time.  I thought I had no time for church.  Later I was sexually assaulted in college and partially blamed God.  I couldn’t understand how a God who is so loving could allow this hurt.  No one told me that God was just and loving.

I then got married to my High School sweetheart, who happened to be a girl.  I joined the military and still didn’t go to church.  I wasn’t happy and felt my soul was at unrest.  I was in constant turmoil, which only got worse when my wife decided to transition into a male.  After his medical transition, he brought a woman to the house and cheated on me.  My heart was broken with a hurt I’d never experienced before.  I did not think I would survive the hurt.

At that point, I found God on my back porch as I begged Him to take the hurt and pain.  At that moment, the weight of all my life’s heaviness was taken away.  I knew I needed to find a church and after weeks of church shopping, I was given an invitation to a church called Crosspoint.

It was a strange transition to see casual clothes and a coffee shop, but the music was great and the first message touched my heart.  That first sermon was titled, “Loneliness is a Liar.”  Essentially the pastor stated that the enemy wants you to think that you are the only one with your hurt, sadness, anger, situation, hatred in your heart, but you have to surround yourself with love and those who are good Christians (they will share your weight). Jesus said, lay your problems at my feet. After service, the pastor introduced himself and knew me by name the following week.

A change had happened in my heart.  I no longer was interested in women.  I had a fire inside of me.  It was a hunger to know God and His Word.  I knew then that Jesus was the only love I’d needed my entire life.

In light of the recent conversations being had Nationally about race relations and social injustice, what would you want Christian women, and specifically white Christian women, to know about the discussion?

I would want to remind her that we are all God’s children and that some of His children are hurting right now. I would want her to know that I wish she would read the Bible and really understand it rather than using it to justify current events.  I wish she would understand there is love, sadness, defeat, and immense power right now in America.

White Christian women have an enormous platform that they may not even realize that they have, just based on the color of their skin.  They could spread so much love while spreading the Word.  Because love is the Word.  Because the Bible is love. Because God is love. With that platform, white Christians need to take that love and run with it.

White people have a power that they may not even realize that they possess. For instance, your presence alone can deescalate a situation.  Your presence alone can keep an unnecessary killing form happening.  Your presence alone can get the truth out.  There is an obligation to use your whiteness to help people.  Perhaps it means you could intervene with the police.

What do you find the most challenging when dealing with Christians and racial injustice? 

One of the things I find most difficult is when Christians are selective about what parts of the Bible they use to justify their thoughts or actions. There are examples in the Bible of people fighting for freedom, but there’s an expectation about Christians, especially African American Christians should be passive in fighting for their freedom.

For example, a lot of Christians reference Jesus being non-violent as a way to justify a stance against protesting, looting, or rioting that is currently happening in US cities.  They fail to use examples like Joshua marching around Jericho for 7 days before taking the city.  To some Joshua is an example of protesting for the promised land.  It was violent. It was not passive.

I find it difficult that Christians say “don’t judge” when they fail to realize that God did not say “don’t judge,” but rather He said, “judge righteously.” This means that he’s given us permission to judge those who know the love of Christ.  Therefore, you can’t stand in judgment of the wicked who haven’t accepted the gift of salvation.

What do you find the most rewarding when dealing with Christians and racial injustice?

One of the things I find most rewarding is that Christians seem to be the group of people most willing to listen and amend their preconceived notions about race.  When I give examples of black suppression (need another word?), Christian people seem receptive and are willing to open eyes for Biblical examples. Christians are open to a fresh perspective and it’s rewarding to get them to see something in a new light.

Another thing I find rewarding about recent conversation opportunities is that it’s creating an atmosphere to establish relationships.  These relationships are likely with those who you wouldn’t have previously had conversations or friendships with.

In your opinion, how can Christians help with race relations?

Khandi Graphics

  • Get involved. The time for being passive is over.  White allies are needed in order for there to be equality for all in America.
  • Give a black person a hug.  You have no idea how much this would mean to some people.  We are tired and we need encouragement.
  • Listen to the discussion.  Don’t just hear the words, listen to the struggle, and see it through someone else’s eyes and experiences.
  • Pray for us and with us.  We are in desperate need of uplifting prayers.
  • Educate yourself and those around you.  Do some research on black history, watch documentaries, read books, listen to experts or podcasts.   In today’s climate, social media is GIVING you tons of information…read it!

 Do you feel there is a difference between a person being racist and having a racial bias?

There is a difference, but it’s a fine line.  Racial bias is something everyone has and it could be subconscious.  For instance, you may begin picking up behaviors from others like if a mom grabs purse every time an African American man walks by, then the child begins to identify with that bias even if they don’t understand that they are behaving a certain way.

Racism cross over the line when someone has a closed mind and aren’t open to new experiences in regards to an entire grouping of people.  It’s closed-minded and it festers until it directly begins to impact behavior and thoughts.  This type of behavior is also taught and can be as subtle as a tone or demeanor or as overt as racist comments or violence.

To counteract that racism, people might simply have a conversation, which could lead to an epiphany. Much like when Christians realize that they need to accept Jesus as their Savior.

The Iron Porch is grateful for the time and energy Khandi spent sharing her testimony and her thoughts on race relations.  If you have any further questions for Khandi, please do not hesitate to contact us on the porch!

~Emily & Erin

Khandi Photo

Khandi Wagner and her husband.

Preview of Iron Porch Interview: Christian Women and Race Relations in America

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come to share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that we felt God wanted to provide so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  In the past, we’ve encouraged guest bloggers to join us on the Iron Porch.

This week we have the honor of posting an interview on the porch concerning Christian Women and race relations in America.  The guest blogs and this interview are always posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of Khandi Wagner, our 1st interview of 2020.

~Emily & Erin

Khandi Photo

Khandi Wagner and her husband.

Regaining Quiet Time with God During Quarantine: Guest Blogger DeAnna Barber

In 2019 I ended my last day of work at an amazing job on a Friday.  On the following Saturday, I frantically packed up my life to escape the worst and scariest experience of my life; emotionally, verbally and leaning towards a physically abusive husband.  With the help of my family coming to my rescue I moved all my belongings, myself, and my son 200 miles back to my hometown to stay with my parents until I could get us back on our own again.   That Sunday was a blur, as was Monday, which was a holiday, and I began work on Tuesday.  I never took the time to breathe.  I never took time to just be still.  I was afraid to be still.  I was afraid I couldn’t make it through.  I didn’t want to reflect or think.  I wanted it all to disappear.  So I kept very busy all the time from then on.

But keeping so busy caused me to be exhausted and to struggle with setting aside quiet time with God; something that used to be my lifeline.  I never went a day without it before.  But catastrophe hit and I didn’t want to be quiet. I still had my faith and I wasn’t angry at God, I just didn’t want my mind to think about what had happened, what I had escaped, what would have happened if I had stayed or why it ever happened in the first place.  I had so many questions but I chose avoidance.

March of 2020 rolled around and another catastrophe hit which forced me to do nothing but slow down: the Covid-19 pandemic.  I was out of work and quarantined at home for 6 weeks which provided plenty of time to think and be quiet.  So I chose to take that time to rest, breathe, and get back into the groove of my daily quiet time with God.  And although I am still struggling to get back into that groove like I used to be this pandemic has helped me realize how desperately I needed this time to just be quiet, to slow down, reflect, and to enjoy the quality and quantity of time.

God’s word tells us in Psalm 46:10 to be still; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says to rejoice ALWAYS, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks no matter what; 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all our anxieties on Him BECAUSE He cares. His word also offers comfort in Psalm 34: 17-18 that He hears us and delivers us from our troubles and that He is near the brokenhearted; Deuteronomy 31:8 promises that God goes before us and will never leave or forsake us; Isaiah 41:10 says we should not fear because God is with us, He will strengthen and uphold us.  Matthew 6:25-34 is certainly a wonderful set of verses to comfort us and remind us not to worry during this particular time in our world.  Lastly, Hebrews 7:25 states to draw near as well as James 4:8 which adds the promise that He will draw near to us.

I wish I had taken more time to be still and get closer to God this last year because 1) God commands it and desires us to get close to Him and 2) I know it would have helped me heal in a healthier way than I was choosing.  So, despite all the uncertainties of what is to come with Covid-19, I am thankful for the quarantined time I had because I was able to slow down and choose to be obedient and be still and quiet, to listen to God’s commands and to take comfort in His promises.  I allowed one catastrophe to disrupt my quiet time but God used another kind of catastrophe to help me get that quiet time back.

DeAnna

Regaining Quiet Time with God during Quarantine copy

Guest Blogger: DeAnna Barber

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 we felt God wanted to provide so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we have encouraged potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs are always posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

This week, we will be posting an entry from a sweet sister in Christ who is sharing her heart in trying to regain quiet time with God during quarantine.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of DeAnna Barber, our 2nd guest blogger of 2020.

~Emily & Erin

Deanna