The Tongue

I hate embarrassment.  But I hate embarrassment more for someone else than for myself.  I can handle something happening to me that makes me look or feel foolish.  But I can’t stand to see someone else’s awkwardness when they’re uncomfortable.

The comedian roasts they do “for fun?”  I can’t stand to see someone squirm, so those are a no-go on my tv list.  The idea that we can be sarcastic to someone in jest makes me worried that it’s being taken personally and then humiliation ensues.  Emily and I were talking about this today…how it’s funny that it doesn’t bother me to be embarrassed but it bothers me when someone else COULD be embarrassed!

This really made me think tonight about my sarcasm.  I’m sarcastic by nature.  My family loves to throw out one-liners.  My kids do it, too, thanks to me.  But how do words affect others when I speak them?  I know that I feel for others in third- party situations, but how about when I speak them.  We often see someone else’s hurts, but do we pay attention to how our own words can hurt others? 

We’re reminded in the book of James that our tongue, while a little part of the body, can produce great harm when it’s not tamed.  God also tells us many times in the bible that our speech should be glorifying to Him.  It’s meant to be seasoned with salt and full of grace (Colossians 4:6).  When my sarcasm becomes snotty and rude, it fails the test of glory to God, instead bringing to light my irritation with the question or comment being asked.

I’m going to be praying that I rely heavily on Christ to season my speech.  I don’t want to be the person that causes the embarrassment that I hate to see from someone else’s actions.

How about you?  Is this an area in which you struggle?  Let us know down in the comments how we can pray for you.

~Erin

Are Spiders Really THAT Important?!

Let’s move on to spiders.  Never in my life have I seen so many creepy crawlies in one place!  I have seen the most ginormous/tiny/intricate/fat/ugly/weirdly pretty spiders in the last four weeks.  They’re everywhere.  And it doesn’t help that my new home is surrounded by woods.  My house is a magnet for long silky strands of sticky web. 

Today, I saw this tiny creature and had to snap a picture….it looked like a stinking crab floating on a web!  Turns out it’s a spiny orb-weaver which is a fancy name for harmless spider that eats bugs.  I suppose I can handle that.

As I walked away (feeling disgusted) from the spider, the Holy Spirit nudged me to remember that everything has a purpose.

For the body is not one member, but many…If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?  If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But now God has placed the members, each of them, in the body, just as He desired.—1 Corinthians 12: 14, 17-18

Every person in the body of Christ has a role.  The sick or hurting benefit from the prayer warrior that kneels at the foot of her bed at night.  The clean rooms that the Sunday School classrooms meet in are courtesy of the volunteer who made sure it was tidy and sanitized.  The meal that was provided to the shut-ins by the hands of the family who love serving others is vital to our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

What one piece of service or action loved by one member of the body may be a dreaded task to another.  That’s the beauty of how God created the body of Christ.  Each function is meant to complement the other.  If we were all doing the same thing, other areas that could lead people to God would suffer. 

It’s vital for us to remember that each member of the body is valuable to our Lord.  I pray that as I go through the week, I remember that each of us is a loved piece of the body of Christ.

~Erin

Stop Budging

For me, budgets are meant to not budge.  As in, I better figure out where every dollar is going and spend it according to my spreadsheet that is neatly typed in an Excel spreadsheet.  I’ve gotten pretty good about recognizing the difference between a need and a want and where something might fall into my budget.  As rigid as I am in my desire to stick to my budget, I should be the same way with my dedication to my Christian life with Jesus.  It can be very easy to waiver in a life lived for Him one “transaction” at a time.  I know.  I’ve been down this road.

Living a life that treats my body as a temple and trusting Jesus to create good and honorable desires in my heart can seem daunting.  Christians tend to be stuck on the ‘major’ sinning points, like drinking, swearing, and sex but we forget sometimes that God told us to love our neighbor as ourselves and forgive.  We forget that those are sins of the flesh, as well.  I will never judge someone who drinks, smokes, curses, has sex without being married, etc.  I’ve done it.  As a Christian, I’ve done it all.  But no matter how far I’ve strayed, God has always turned me back to the verse, Romans 12:2.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

When I’ve fought with temptation, I remember this verse.  It helps remind me that while I live in this world and I have family and friends in this place, my mind should be renewed in Christ Jesus as to what HIS will is, not mine.

I know that people have struggled with this idea.  “Where does it end, Erin?  When do you say no?”  My answer is an easy one for ME.  It says don’t get drunk, so I don’t get drunk anymore.  It says to treat my body as a temple, so I choose not to smoke anymore, and I haven’t had a cigarette in years, anyway (so that’s an easy one)!  The bible says my speech should be honoring to God, so I try to watch my mouth, my mean words, and my cursing.  Am I perfect?  Absolutely not!  It’s a struggle every day.  No sex outside of marriage?  Well, that’s either a do or a don’t, so I made the choice to honor God in that.

Is that what you should do?  I can’t answer for you, but I would say if you’re struggling with how to stand your ground and not budge on what God desires for you, then call on His name and talk to Him.  He’ll guide you to where you need to be.  Trust Him.  He knows and wants what’s best for you.

How about you?  Is there anything you’re struggling with giving to God that we can pray for?  Let us know in the comments below.

~Erin

The Scorpion Sting

Scorpions.  Who actually likes these horrifying creatures?  They are monstrous little pincher-bearing, tail –stinging beasts that make you want to burn your house down.  Never mind that the scorpions native to Alabama are generally about 1-2 inches long.  It’s 1-2 inches too long.

Enter my 16-year-old daughter, Peyton, into this discussion.  Today, as she sat completing school work in the safety and comfort of her bedroom, she noticed something fall from the ceiling to the floor, and for one brief second, she wondered what it could’ve been.  (She told me she actually thought it was a leaf in that brief second…..because we’re growing trees in our house???) 

Now, I wasn’t here to witness this event.  But as Peyton tells it, she leaned towards it.  And it started moving.  Recognizing it as a scorpion, she began screaming bloody murder, grabbed the closest tennis shoe and proceeded to beat it to death, yelling the words, “DIE! DIE, YOU STUPID SCORPION!”  Wouldn’t you know she actually left it for me to see as evidence rather than picking it up and disposing of it.  But whatever.

The sting of the scorpion could’ve produced much pain.  But she had the victory over it in standing firm against it and declaring it gone. 

Satan reminds me of that little scorpion.  He comes in, unseen, moving around without notice.  He drops in, unannounced, at the most random times and disguises himself as something that we might want to get a closer look at or notice.  And then, BAM.  He’s stung us, and we’re caught in some web of sin.  But thanks to God, we can have victory over that.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 15:56-57

We can let go of the sin and temptation when we do it through Jesus Christ.  He stands against satan on our behalf when we give it Him and let the victory be THROUGH Him.  Forgive me for sounding irreverent, but He’s the giant tennis shoe that stomps out that nasty devil as he crawls towards us!  He is our Savior!

How about you, dear friends?  Has there been a time where you’ve seen victory through Jesus as he stomped out a sin or sinful desire that needed to be gone?  Share how you feel led on Iron Porch!

~Erin

Get Down, Dog!

Ruger is NOT allowed on the bed.  Absolutely no way!  His gigantic yellow lab butt is way too big for a queen size bed.  But he’s been under a lot of stress the last couple of weeks as I’ve started packing up the house.  He doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, just that something’s happening.  So I wasn’t surprised when he randomly jumped up there as I headed to bed.

I tried to call him off.  Then I yelled at him to get down.  Didn’t work.  I tried pulling by his collar to which he immediately pulled against.  I tried shoving him off by the rear, and he dug his heels in.  My final effort was to push him by his side off the edge.  That lug rolled over onto his back and stuck his feet in the air.

I went to bed with him right beside me.

We should be that stubborn and set on doing the things that God asks of us.  When the world asks us to jump in and do what ‘everyone else is doing,’ our response should be one of firm standing.  We shouldn’t be jumping off the edge because it feels good.  We should be rooted in the foundation that is Christ Jesus.

When satan attempts to shove us off the path, we should be ready and determined to not budge.  When we are planted firmly in our faith in Christ Jesus, the world will see.  Satan will know, and he’ll have no choice but to step back and resign himself to knowing we’re not going anywhere he has planned for us.

I encourage you to be stubborn and steadfast in your following of Christ.  The payoff is worth every minute in the soft refuge of His arms.

~Erin

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith -Colossians 2_6-7a

Goodbye, California!

I was struck with the weirdest thought on Sunday.  I was putting my freshly laundered sheets onto my bed when I suddenly thought to myself, ‘This is the last time I’ll be washing my sheets here in California, and it made me a little sad!  This weekend, my belongings get packed up into a moving truck, and they’ll be bound for Alabama.  I bought a house directly across the street from my best friend, and I’m set to begin a new adventure.

It seemed like such an odd thought to have.  I have actually lived in California for four years.  I’ve said for the last four years that California wasn’t a place I really wanted to live and I couldn’t wait to move!  So to have a pang of sadness seemed like such an odd reaction.

The truth is, I AM a little sad.  While I’m so excited to be closer to Emily and positively thrilled over the fact that we can work on other Iron Porch projects, God brought me to California for a reason.  For almost a year, I couldn’t figure out why but the fact is that I’ve had tremendous growth in the Lord during this time.  I’ve had to rely on what God’s vision was for me instead of my own.  He allowed me to be a part of the most amazing community of women from different backgrounds that all came together to study and grow in God’s Word through Bible study.  He taught me how to truly lead a group of women.  He also gave me a valuable lesson in learning to not always lead them and to let them teach me.  He taught me that it’s never my time, but His.  God also taught me how to be courageous in my witness for Him.

I’ve prayed for four years that I would find a church that was strong in the Lord, fearless in their declaration of God’s glory, and bold in the Truth.  I found Doxa Church right before I’m leaving! It’s almost comical that by the time I was led there, it’s time to go.  But the eight short months I’ve been a part of that church, I’ve been fed the biggest, fattest spiritual steak you could ever imagine!  Pastor Scott has lived out Hebrews 5:12-14 and given me some serious spiritual food to gnaw on!  I now have an even bigger arsenal in my spiritual backpack with which to boldly proclaim the gospel.

While I’m sad to be leaving, I must lean into what the Word of God says in Isaiah 1:19.  The prophet proclaimed, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land;”  I am willing.  I strive to be obedient.  And because I do, the Lord will allow me to know what the good things of the land were in California and what the good things are in Alabama.

I’ll miss you, California!

~Erin

If you are good

The Jalapeño Plant

I transplanted a jalapeño plant tonight.  It’s not something I’ve done before.  I had a vertical garden that I had planted a starter in and decided it needed to be in a container of its own.  So I put it into the new container.

I gently began working around the soil, loosening the dirt and getting rid of the dead plants in the vertical garden that were surrounding it.  I didn’t want to damage the roots, so taking as much time as I needed, this master gardener (that term is used VERY loosely for myself) did not rush the process, instead little by little loosening the plant for its extraction and into the fresh new home that was awaiting her.

When I’m doing things like this, I talk to my plants.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I tell her how brave she’s being letting me disrupt her work so that I can give her a new location, a better chance of survival.  And when I think of these things, I often think of how we, as humans, can be like those plants.

Sometimes, we’re uprooted and we take on new locations, new jobs, or new adventures.  It can be quite unnerving starting over with something different.  We can be scared and unsure of what it will look like even though we often know that what’s waiting on the other side of the newness is good and fresh.

I know a Master Gardener who has talked to us this very same way.  Joshua 1:9 says to us, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

God gently works in our lives, extracting the distractions, moving people or objects or places out of the way.  He lifts us in HIS time into more perfect surroundings—surroundings where we can praise Him better or trust Him more.  He tells us He loves us and He’s right there with us even though our new or upcoming circumstances can be changing drastically.  He does this because He knows that His plan is better.  We just have to trust.

I pray, dear friends, that you find the Master Gardener tending to you during a time of transition that you may be having at this very moment.  Or perhaps He’s already replanted you into a refreshing new spot that has allowed for growth and trust.  Come to the porch and share your story.

~Erin

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The Free Gift

A few days ago, I put two boxes of books out on the corner of our lawn with a sign that says “Free books!  Help yourself!”  These were some books that we’d already read and decided not to keep in our collection.  We thought to ourselves that maybe someone walking by would see the books and grab one or four so that they could enjoy one of the titles we had left.

The pile started with about 40 books and slowly, we’ve whittled the pile to about half that.  I’m kind of surprised that they’re not gone.  I’ve seen people walk past, stop and peek in as if to see if there’s really something in there.  I’ve also seen people start to take them and then change their mind, looking around as if to see if there’s some kind of trap I’ve set up!  Like I’m going to spring out of the bushes screaming, “IT SAYS FREE, BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE ALL OF THEM!”

Sometimes, people can be that way when we present the truth of Jesus.  God encourages us to spread the gospel to every creature.  Telling everyone about the gift of salvation is so simple and the steps to accept Christ as your personal Savior seems so easy, yet does it really have the “FREE…take it!” sign in front of it?!  It’s ours to just take?!

The answer is yes!  Choosing to have a relationship with God is a gift that He gives us freely and openly.  We only need to repent of our sins, ask forgiveness, turn ourselves over to Him, and ask Him to live in us forever.  There’s nothing fancy about the request.  There’s no special handshake or secret code you have to know.  We can take that free gift, knowing that it completely changes our lives.  I’m so thankful that I accepted that free gift so long ago!

How about you, dear friends?  Is there someone you know that needs to hear about that gift of salvation?  We can be praying for them.  Or perhaps you want to accept that gift yourself?  Message us at the Iron Porch, and we’d love to show you how.

~Erin

The Free Gift

My Big Mouth

I have a big mouth.  I don’t mean I share secrets or anything like that.  I just know that sometimes the things I say gets me into trouble.  I’m sarcastic to a fault and my humor is often biting.  (When I write it like that, it doesn’t sound so humorous or witty!)  I don’t mean to be.  I’ve been this way for so long that it just naturally comes right off the tongue and out into space before I think about who’s around me.  And currently, the person around most to hear it is my 16-year-old daughter, Peyton.

I know I should be careful and more diligent.  I want to raise a respectful child, not one who thinks sarcasm or cutting humor is the way to go.  I want her to build people up, not say something funny at their expense or feelings.

There are about 9,245,479,111 verses in the bible about watching your speech, and of course, I ran into one when I was reading my Bible yesterday morning.

“The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. –Proverbs 13:3.

Really, God?  I need this lesson?  And the answer is YES, I DO.  I have children and grandchildren watching what I’m doing.  I have a Bible study group that counts on me to be a leader.  I have friends who need community around them that support them and share the gospel with them.

While none of these reasons hold me to a higher standard, my faith in Jesus Christ does.  He made me in His image. The last time I checked, there wasn’t a Bible verse that said I can just spew words willy-nilly out of my mouth without thought and not have an impact on my life or the lives around me!

I’ve now written this verse from the Bible on sticky notes and have it posted around the house.  My prayer and goal moving forward is that the words I speak are exactly as Christ intended.

How about you, faithful friends?  Anyone else have this speech issue?  Come to the porch and share.

~Erin

Packing Up the Memories

We’re still reeling from the loss of Allen, my father-in-law.  As you read this we’re driving up to Fort Bragg, California to go through his things and start packing mementos away.  This is an especially hard time for both Chris and Rita, his son and daughter, as they’ll begin to go through the memories of their life without him at their side.

With an ache, we’ll go through his clothes, his watch collection, his knives, hunting gear, and photos and sift through things that the grandchildren might like to have as a tangible item of their Grandpa.

I’ve often thought over the last couple of weeks how I could help them work through this coming weekend as we do this.  A verse in Romans comes to mind.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” –Romans 12:15

What beautiful words.  We will mourn for the missing piece from our family here.  I’m going to hold their hands as they cry, and I’ll feel the sadness along with them as they grieve.  I’ll comfort them as they remember.

But we’re also going to rejoice for the happy times.  We’re going to remember his laugh, his return from his hunting trips, the outings he had with his family.  We’re going to remember him constantly reminding his grandchildren to call him “Uncle Allen” instead of “Grandpa Allen.”  We’re going to remember his vibrant personality and his heartfelt desire to give to those in need.  We’re going to remember him for the great spirit he had and the love that he gave.

Thank you, Jesus, for providing me just the right verse to help us as we walk through this weekend.

~Erin