Noah and the EMP

The power went out unexpectedly at the radio station that I listen to while I was driving home.  With clear skies, I wondered what could possibly have knocked out the power.  Ironically, when the host came back on he said something to the effect of every time the power goes out he thinks maybe an enemy country has launched an EMP attack (electromagnetic pulse attack) on America.  

An EMP would literally change almost every aspect of our lives.  No more electricity, non-working ATMs, no more internet, cell phone inoperable, no vehicles working…chaos.

There is global technology that could make it happen.  Our enemies could use this as a weapon.  We may or may not be ready for the impacts of an EMP event.  While some think it’s a conspiracy theory, the reality is that based upon our technological advancements, an EMP attack is a possibility. 

The knowledge that there are those in the world with this technology at the exact same time that there are others who disbelieve this is a possibility, makes me think about those nay-sayers during Noah’s time. 

Starting in Genesis chapter 5 though chapter 10, we see Noah following the guidance from God to build a ginormous ark. The story unfolds with Noah and his family getting animals onto the ark, as well as the time on the ark during the unrelenting rain and subsequent global flooding.  

Here’s a beautiful story of the faithfulness of Noah.  Yet while Noah was committed to the directions from God, there were countless doubters, troublemakers and nay-sayers.  They showed up day after day, in disbelief of the prophecy, causing issues for Noah and his family. 

By no means am I comparing the anger of God to flood the earth with a potential enemy EMP attack.  Nor am I comparing the faithfulness of Noah with those who might believe in an EMPs possibility.  However, I am interested in how there are people in both scenarios who are in doubt and create chaos for others.  

In both scenarios, the doubters have an opportunity to prepare for the coming chaos.  One could say that preparation could come in the form of your own boat building…or having a collection of extra canned goods. 

The reality is that the preparations in both instances should be focused on knowing God.  When we know Christ as our Savior, when we are prayerful, when we study the Word, and when we assist others in their walk with Christ…that is when the preparations are meaningful and impactful.

It doesn’t have to be a global flood or an EMP that upends a life.  It could be a loss in revenue, a new bill, a divorce, a death, or countless other things. The preparation for every single event of chaos includes a stronger relationship with Christ.   

When the power went out, the local radio host was joking about an EMP, but it’s a reminder of just how quickly everything could change for society. How prepared are we when it comes to our faithfulness to God’s direction? 

~Emily

“Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” Psalms 119:90

Waiting on the Huddle House

As a surprise reward for our son, my husband and I woke him up early on a Saturday morning to go to breakfast at his all-time favorite restaurant: Huddle House.

As we walked in, the cook told us that it might be a little while, as they were waiting on the arrival of a waitress.  We noticed that there were several tables with full coffee cups, but waiting to order.  We sat down, not knowing how long the wait would be, but our son was nearly giddy in anticipation of Oreo pancakes.

About 20 minutes later, we had ordered and fairly quickly were served our breakfast choices. Kambell said, “The wait made the pancakes taste even better.”

Isn’t that true of so many things in life?  

When we wait on God’s timing, wouldn’t so much of our lives be better?

For instance, instead of racing towards a new job, we wait on God’s timing on a promotion.  That tastes so much sweeter than being miserable in the job we thought we wanted.

Or what if we prayerfully considered God’s choice for our marriage partner.  Wouldn’t that be much more satisfactory than settling for a less than Godly marriage?

What if God’s timing on a major decision was markedly different from your own?  Would you appreciate that difference if you choose to wait on God’s timing?

In James 5:7-8 (NIV) scriptures says, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

These verses are reminders to the oppressed and persecuted disciples of Christ that the Lord will soon be coming back. At that time, He will relieve us of the pain and suffering we have endured.  At the same time, punishment will come for those who reject His Word.  

Patience is the key to waiting.  If we are faithful to the waiting in God’s timing, then we reap rewards that we were not expecting. 

Essentially the Oreo pancakes become that more delicious.

I’ll be praying for the Iron Porch readers to have patience in the waiting this week.

~Emily

Fishing Obsessions

On our first date, my husband told me that he loves to fish.

That may go down as the biggest understatement that he (or anyone in the history of the world) has ever said.  

Eight years after that first date, I would argue he doesn’t just love fishing…he’s obsessed with it.

I’d also contend that he’s really, really, really smart about fishing. He knows all sorts of nuances about line strength, reading water, colors of lures, how to make replica eggs for bait, predicting fish behavior, and how to tie flies.  

He works for a fishing related company. He owns a fishing related business.  He owns multiple boats for different aspects of fishing…freshwater, saltwater, lake, river, pond, or brush pile building. There is a ginormous barn/shop on our property dedicated to the art of fishing.  Not a week goes by where there aren’t at least 3-4 nights that fishing consumes the dinner table chatter.  

He fishes morning, noon, or night (*Well, not technically noon…if you are the wife of a fisherman, you know high noon and mid-afternoon are not good times to go fishing).  He can fish with a fly rod…fish with bait…fish with lures..fish with custom rods…fish with a center pin reel…and the list goes on and on.   

I’ll go with him occasionally, but I’m more obsessed with reading, hiking, or hanging with friends. In the last few months, I’ve been trying to increase my memorization skills for Bible verses.  For most of my life I’ve struggled with memorization of anything, but especially scripture. I’m now employing some new techniques in memorization and attempting to master an entire chapter of Bible.

A few days ago, I read an article about the importance of scripture memorization. A notation at the middle of the article captured my attention. In my own words, it said something to the effect of we memorize or remember what we make most important to us.  If you can memorize lines from a movie, or sing along with your favorite song, then you don’t struggle with memorization.  You struggle with what is a priority for your memorization.  

Talk about getting my toes stepped on.  Ouch.  That’s me.  I can insert movie lines or the chorus of all kinds of songs into just about any conversation.  And yet, I’m telling myself that I’ve got this block about memorizing verses. 

That gut punch reminded me that I need to make Bible verse memorization a priority.  I need it to be the most (or at least one of the most) important things to me…so that I can be successful at placing those verses in my heart.  

I essentially want to take my husband’s approach to fishing and apply it to my own understanding of scripture. 

I want to be a subject matter expert.  I want to know it inside and out. I want to recall information instantaneously.  And I want to have confidence in my own abilities to appropriately handle the Gospel and scripture.  

I love that my husband has a fishing obsession.  I want to have a scripture obsession.

Come to the porch this week and let us know how you are making the scripture a priority in your life.

~Emily

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

The Stages Of Cancer

While some physicians still use stages and grading in cancer explanations, did you know that the medical profession is moving away from letting you know what “stage” of cancer you or your loved one may have?

Why?  Mostly because cancer, while not entirely curable, is treatable.  Even the most horrible of diagnoses usually have some type of treatment plan.  

According to WebMD, there are still distinct stages, regardless of if your doctor tells you a stage.

Stage 0 means there’s no cancer, only abnormal cells with the potential to become cancer. 

– Stage I means the cancer is small and only in one area. This is also called early-stage cancer.

Stage II and III mean the cancer is larger and has grown into nearby tissues or lymph nodes (Stage III also can indicate that the cancer has crossed a diagonal sphere in the body…for instance left breast and right kidney). 

Stage IV means the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. It’s also called advanced or metastatic cancer.

How do I know all this?  Most of this knowledge is from 2013, when my younger brother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lymphoma.  A deadly diagnosis that had me praying like I’d never prayed before.  

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22 (ESV)

Eight years later, my brother is thriving.

Eight years later, our family is facing a slightly different scenario with just as scary diagnosis for my Dad.  The dreaded words cancer…with a physician who doesn’t use staging or grades.

But our family has been through this before, so we know the lingo and understand all the scans.  We know…even if they aren’t saying it…that this is Stage 4.

And so we start praying against cancer again…without ceasing. You see, our family has seen the Stage 4 cancer miracle before, so we know that our mighty and all-powerful God can deliver again.  

No matter what the outcome, my Dad will be healed.  On Earth or in Heaven…there will be healing.  

If you have room on your plate of prayer requests, can you please add comfort and painlessness for my Dad (Steve) and calm nerves with a full night of sleep for my mom (Wendy).  All prayers are appreciated!  

~Emily

What is the One Thing You Would Change?

During a visit with my dear friend Amber, she asked me a thought-provoking question.  

It’s one that I’ve thought about frequently for 2 years. 

If there was one thing in my life I could change, what would it be?

Does that mean right now?  As in, I want a different car? A different career? A different shirt?

Or does that mean something significant that would have changed the course of my life or my impact on others? 

Would it be accepting the assignment to England earlier in my Air Force career?

Getting baptized earlier? Starting a ministry in the midst of doubt?

Would it be starting my Doctorate immediately after my Masters or wait?

Adoption sooner?  More kiddos in my house?

A different retirement location?  

One thing I know without a shadow of a doubt that I would change is from the night of my Senior prom.  You see, my mom had to work that night and I’d told her that my date and I would swing by her workplace so she could see us all dressed up.  But we were running behind…and rather than be late to dinner, we skipped going by to see my mom.  I distinctly remember her face the next day saying that she was sad that she didn’t get to see me.  


I can only imagine her anticipation at work slowing turning into the realization that I wasn’t coming.  To this day, I regret disappointing my mom so completely.  

Other than disappointing my mom on prom night, my answer is pretty simple…I don’t know that there is much I would change.  Even the awful decisions and consequences of my life had purpose.  I would not be who I am today without many of these “learning opportunities.”  

I wonder if Paul (formerly Saul) would change anything from his life.  At the time of his conversion to Christianity, he was a well-known, educated Jew, who actively participated in the persecution of Christ-followers.  He was aggressive in finding Christians.  He was meticulous in punishing them. He wanted to eradicate Christians.  And he was mean in that desire.

An example of his actions is seen in Acts Chapter 7 when he gladly holds the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, the 1stmartyr for Christianity.  In Acts 8:1 (CSB) it states, “Saul agreed with putting him to death.”  Other versions state that Saul was “delighted” by Stephen’s death.  

Delighted?   

To me, that screams of maliciousness.  It seems extremely mean-spirited.  

Yet just a one chapter later, we find ourselves reading about Saul on the road to Damascus, where he encounters the voice of Jesus and is struck blind.  Talk about the Lord getting his attention in a major way!!! The good news is that at that point Saul believes in Christ and the conversion through salvation.  He is forgiven of his sins, his sight is restored, he is renamed Paul, and he becomes a staunch supporter of the Gospel.  The epitome of forgiveness, grace and salvation.  

I imagine there was then moments of great doubt, remorse, and regret about the life he had previously led.  Hypothetically if I were Paul, I would have a few things that I’d like to change about my past.  In 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV) we see that Paul said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

Paul believed he was the Chief Sinner.  The worst of the worst.  

While we understand that God doesn’t rack-and-stack sinful behavior, counting one more egregious than another, what we do see from 1 Timothy is that Paul did have remorse and acknowledgment of his awful behavior in the past.  

Would he have wanted to change the past?  Probably, yes.  But I would argue that it was his aggressive persecution of Christians in his past that made him so much more relatable and a solid witness for Christ later in life.  Perhaps in the midst of regretting the past, Paul was wise enough to know that his past, while terrible, would serve a future purpose.  

You see, every bad decision and tragic event of our past makes us who we are today.  And God will use every experience in our past for His glory now.  

There’s not much in my life that I would change. Every single decision and event has shaped me into the person that I am today. 

Is there something you would change in your life? Come to the porch and share your thoughts. 

~Emily

AC-47 Testimonies

For those who don’t know, I work as a curator at a military museum.  While we have fantastic displays and precious artifacts on display, my favorite thing about working there is interacting with veterans and their families.  This last week we hosted a group of Vietnam Veterans who had each been involved with one particular aircraft; the AC-47, known as Spooky or Puff the Magic Dragon. 

During the ceremony, one of the pilots of this aircraft during the Vietnam conflict was the guest speaker.  His speech, titled “Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow” started with what it meant to be part of the “Spooky Brotherhood.”  

He discussed where they were yesterday and when each of their yesterday’s began.  

Then he recapped how they came to design monuments, selected where they were placed, and how they have reunions.  It was the today portion of his speech.

Finally, he spoke about their tomorrows.  At that pivotal point in his speech he told them he was concerned about their salvation and if he would see them as a brotherhood in their tomorrows.  He launched into sharing the Gospel and challenging them to get right with the Lord.  

I could not believe my ears!  You see, it’s rare at a military event for the Gospel to be presented in such an overt manner.  I was so proud of him for his boldness to speak truth in a military group.

He was truly living Romans 1:16 (NIV) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

While I’m not ashamed of the gospel, there are plenty of situations I find myself in where I lose the opportunity to share. Maybe it’s the timing, or maybe it’s my own fear of rejection, or maybe it’s the atmosphere.  Regardless of why I don’t share, it’s a lost chance to win souls for heaven. 

I love that this Vietnam Vet took the step to care for the eternal souls of those in the audience.  He was not ashamed…not at all.

~Emily

The Trolls of Life

According to internet slang, a social media troll is someone who creates conflict on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit (although it can be any site) by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking a typically negative emotional response from other users.

We’ve all seen them in action. 

On the Iron Porch, we’ve been blessed to have had minimal interactions with social media trolls.  However, the social media accounts that I am an admin for at work…those have plenty of social media trolls.  People who love to create conflict and drama. At work, we’ve found they use their real names, but they occasionally use fake accounts in an attempt to hide their cyberbullying.    

Some ways to spot a social media troll is that they occasionally use derogatory language, have an inability to listen to reason, and their internet fights seem to indicate lots of free time to start arguments.  They are soooooo persistent.  

Do you have the aggravating and provocative trolls in your personal life?  The people who create chaos and thrive in drama?  

In the world of social media trolls, the advice includes not taking it personally and not engaging with the troll.  

That’s hard to do with real-life people.  

As Christians, we’re often reminded to turn the other cheek, but that’s just as difficult in some scenarios. We’re are also reminded that our tongue becomes a weapon, so not speaking back to a troll is also a hard part of Christian living.  Of course, it’s also hard to not take it personally when we’re attacked in degrading ways.  

A verse that has been helping me keep the social media trolls at bay is Proverbs 20:3. “A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent person conceals dishonor” (NASB).  I particularly like the New International Version of the same verse that states, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” 

I keep the verse written out in the folder that holds all my documents concerning my work-related social media accounts.  It helps remind me that I don’t have to engage with the trolls, nor do I have to take it personally. 

I know it’s not easy to have a troll in your life…in person or on social media.  I’d love to hear what scriptures you have been using for yourself while dealing with the trolls of life.

~Emily

Focus, Squirrel…Focus!

During the creative process of writing academically, fiction, or the blog, I often find myself following a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with my original intent in writing.  I start researching or reading tangents (likely the reason I know so many bits of useless information).  I become engrossed in the television if it’s on.  I start singing to music even if it’s background noise.  

I am notorious for distracting myself.  Squirrel.  

The point is that I often have to tell myself, “Focus, Emily, Focus.”

I need that phrase for my life’s walk with Jesus too.  Focus, Emily, Focus.  

Paul does a fantastic job of teaching us the need for focusing in Philippians.  

“Not that I have already grasped it all or have already become perfect, but I press on fi I may also have hold of that for which I as even taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having taken hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.  I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB)

This text reminds us that in order to grow in our faith with Jesus, we have to remain focused.  We must reach forward.   We must press on towards the goal.   No rabbit hole research projects allowed. No distracting media platforms.  No squirrels.

Our salvation is clearly outlined in the Bible as grace alone through faith….but the growth in our relationship with God requires work to remain focused.  

A few verses before, Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10 (NASB), “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”  In this verse, we can glean a few goals that Paul had for remaining focused on the Lord, and they are goals that I want for my own focus.  

He wanted to know Jesus in a more personal way, as do I. 

He wanted to really know the power of Christ’s resurrection, as do I.

He wanted a similar attitude to Jesus in the face of suffering, as do I. 

He wanted connection to Jesus through His death, as do I. 

Like any other goals in our lives, we can’t be successful at accomplishing the goals without being specific with the goal writing.  In the military (and in other leadership courses), I was taught the SMART method in regards to goal writing:  

– Specific (details of the goals)

– Measurable (how do I know if I’m accomplishing the goal)

– Achievable (can I actually accomplish what I’m setting out to do)

– Realistic (is it within reach and relevant to my life)

– Time-framed (is there an end/stopping point to determine goal accomplishment)

If my generalized goal is to remain focused on the Lord so that I can build a closer relationship with him, then I know I should use the SMART method to refine that goal.  Otherwise I risk not fulfilling my goal.  When going through a goal setting process, I often find that I begin to set “mini-goals” in order to accomplish the larger task.  

For instance, my larger goal is that I want to have a stronger relationship with God.

My mini goals, that will assist with attaining the larger goal, could include:

– Specific Bible reading plans

– Planning prayer times

– Making corporate worship a priority

– Stretching myself in personal study of the Bible

Each of those mini-goals can be tracked with the SMART method and lend themselves to the larger goal.  Utilizing goal setting, specifically a method that showcases growth, allows for me to stay focused.  No distractions…just focus.  

I’m sure I’ll have to keep saying, “Focus, Emily, Focus,” but I’m happy to know I can redirect that focus back to something very specific.  

Will you join me in “focusing” this week?

~Emily

Automatic Doors of Life

A little boy stepped on the automated rubber mat…jumping on it over and over again as the glass doors slid open and shut. He was not deterred by the gentle tug of his mother’s hand.  The jumping continued even with his arm stretched out further and further by his mom.  All he saw in that moment was that he controlled the opening/closing of the sliding glass doors.  He was enthralled with his new-found superpower.  

If only I could control my life like that!

Have you ever wished that you had the ability to jump on a rubber mat in order to open and close doors?  I’ve desired the control over simple and more complex things of my life. 

You know which opening and closing glass door I can control?  My own mouth.

While there are dozens of examples in the Bible of how we should control our mouths.  Here are just three of those examples:

Proverbs 13:3 (ESV) “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

1 Peter 3:10 (NASB) “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” 

James 1:19 (NASB) “You know this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger…”

Scripture gives us clear direction that our mouths are controllable, but we often let them go wild without constraint.  We lose control over our mouths in such detrimental ways.  It may be through gossip, or a false statement. We lose control when we use a swear word, or a harsh criticism.  It’s even when we repeat an inappropriate joke or sing along to the popular song that is not so wholesome.  

Instead of randomly jumping up and down on a rubber mat; allowing our mouth to open and close at any ol’ time, perhaps now is the time to slow down and become more deliberate in controlling our tongue.  

By no means do I have control over my own tongue (and as evident by prior blog entries, I have struggled with profanity).  However, I’ve written down some goals that I’m going to implement so that I have better control over what I am saying.

1. Slow down on the cursing (stopping all together is the ultimate goal)

2. Replacing sketchy lyrics from the radio with Gospel Music/Contemporary Christian Music

3. Offering a compliment…even when I want to offer the criticism

4. Issuing silent prayers/pleas for help to the Lord when I’m in contentious conversations

I may not be able to control everything in my life, but I can wrangle in some control over my tongue. I’m going to stop jumping on the rubber mat, watching the door open and close on its own.  Instead, I’m going to start being deliberate about closing my mouth when it should stay shut, and opening it only when necessary and when its kind words flowing from it.

How are you working on the automatic doors of your own life?  Come to the porch and share your goals with us!

~Emily

Restoration 49: A Coffee Shop Story

One town over from where I live, there is an adorable coffee shop, with the most amazing coffee that I’ve had in the South (and that is high praise from the girl who grew up in the Pacific NW).   Bonus points because they make their syrups in-house!  I go there often, for hours at a time, to study and work.  Most frequently, I complete Bible Study preparations for the Tuesday night class I facilitate or work on blogs for Iron Porch. Check them out on their Restoration 49 Facebook Page!

The coffee is fantastic, the Wi-Fi password is sweet and memorable, the décor is fascinating, and the people are lovely.  It’s truly a bunch of lovely baristas, who serve customers with a smile and a parting “have a blessed day!”

I have never had an in-depth conversation with any of them about religion or faith.  But if I had to guess, I’d say that most of them, if not all, have Christ in their lives.  Why would I guess that?  

I can’t guess that from their confession of faith.

I just admitted I’d never spoken with them about their faith.  Clearly, I’ve not asked and they’ve not volunteered that information.  

Maybe I could guess from subtle clues.  

Often contemporary Christian music is softly playing overhead.  There are old Church pews that separate the sitting area from the restrooms.  Based on my experiences and observations from their social media it seems like Bible Study groups meet frequently in the establishment…and so do Daddy-Daughter dances.    

I would guess that, based upon their behaviors. 

In the hours that I’ve spent working on my laptop with a notebook and Bible open at a lone table tucked in the corner, I’ve also been privileged to watch their interactions with others. 

Their behaviors:

I’ve seen them assist someone in a wheelchair with getting drinks to the table.  

I’ve seen them cleaning with a distraught mother, whose toddler went nuclear in mess-making.

I’ve seen them greet customers like old friends.

I’ve seen (and heard) them humming/singing along with the Christian music.

I’ve seen them stop and pray out loud with patrons.

This adorable coffee shop is more than just fantastic coffee.  It’s a showcase in humanity and caring for others.  

In Matthew 7:20-21 (NASB) Jesus said, “So you will know them by their fruits.  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”

We will know them by their fruits.  

Scripture is clear that our actions will tell others about Jesus.  If a person does not show any fruit—for example, visible evidence that a change has taken place in their heart since receiving Jesus as their Savior—then perhaps they aren’t truly living a Christian lifestyle. 

Evidence of kindness, of Godliness, of humility…those are possible indications of fruit.  All of those are characteristics that I have seen while studying and sipping coffee at Restoration 49.  

Someday, I may ask. Someday, I may initiate a conversation.  But for now, I love watching them interact with their patrons in a loving manner.  

It’s soul-soothing to watch their behavior.  Plus, they have amazing coffee!

~Emily

P.S. Do you have any examples of witnessing fruitful behavior in others this week?  Feel free to come share with us!