My Spicy Eyes!

This week, my daughter called me with an urgent request.  “Take a look at this photo.  What are your thoughts?” The left eye of my grandson, Andros, had turned sharply and suddenly veered inward, it was wobbling, and he was seeing double.  She made an appointment to see the eye doctor and as he sat in front of the provider that same afternoon, he was told that he would need some eyedrops.  The optometrist explained that just like when you get something spicy on your tongue, his eye would feel that way for just a minute but it would be ok.  Now, Andros does NOT like spicy food.  If it has a drop of pepper on it, he can taste it.  And as the gentleman placed the drops into his tightly squeezed, terrified,  waiting eyes, that sweet boy started crying and yelling, “MY SPICY EYES!  MY SPICY EYES!”  It’s a story we’re laughing about now days later.

I began to think of Saul as he lost his sight on the road to Damascus and reached for his story in my bible.  He was a man who took great pleasure in persecuting Christians.  He didn’t do it because he was a sociopath.  He did it because he was a Jewish scholar who genuinely believed that what the Christians were saying was blasphemy to God.  He felt he was expelling a problem.  He was even present at the first martyr, Stephen’s, death.  Then we see in Acts 9 him on the road to Damascus because he had found out about people there who were teaching about Jesus as the Son of God.

“Now as he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do.”  The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.  And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” –Acts 9:3-9

He was literally blinded by the light of Jesus!  What a way to get his attention, right?!  I wonder what he must have been feeling. There is nothing mentioned in the verses following about anyone witnessing to him.  I’m not sure if there was.  My personal belief is that he sat in his own darkness and fasted, recognizing the weight of what had just happened. 

An encounter with Jesus is nothing small.  Here was a man who felt confident his persecution of the Christians was acceptable.  And in one brief moment, everything he believed was turned on its head as Jesus revealed EXACTLY who he was. 

And lest we think that’s the only ‘WOW’ moment in that interaction, how about what Jesus told him to do!  He told him to go to the city and it would be told to him what to do.  Jesus didn’t give him the 3-year plan.  He didn’t tell him he was going to become one of the greatest missionaries of all time.  He wasn’t privy to knowledge that He would eventually be given direct revelation by God!  He was told to go and he would be told to what to do.

How many of us are willing to just take that first directive and then sit and wait?  I’m afraid disobedience would kick in for me.  I’d be calling my friends, asking my mom to come to me.  I’d be asking Emily to do some research.  I’d be thinking of every scenario of what “will be told to do” implies.  That, friends, is where we trip ourselves up. 

Sometimes, the wait is part of the answer.  There are times where God wants us to have a period of waiting until He’s ready to give us the next step in our walk, and we screw it up by thinking we know the next step.  How easy it seems to just sit and wait for God, and how hard we make it by trying to navigate it ourselves.

The rest of the story for Paul is beautiful.  He waits.  God sends Ananias to him and tells him what to do.  And literal scales fall from his eyes.  Paul not only regains his earthly sight, but he’s given his spiritual sight!  He goes on to lead thousands to the Lord and dare I say millions with how his words h shown people even today how to fully surrender to our Savior.

Iron Porch, I pray that as we encounter Jesus through Bible study, reading the scripture, and learning of God’s love, that each encounter is one that shows us who He is.  I also pray that we learn to wait on the Lord, that we be patient in the space between, and that we trust God to fill in the blank. 

~Erin

The Hard Decisions: Labor and Delivery

When I was a young Airman, I worked in Labor and Delivery as the primary surgical technician for c-sections. More times than I care to count, I was present when hard decisions were made about maternal or baby health.  Sometimes those choices had to do with a plummeting baby heart rate, a few times it had to do with a prolapsed cord, and once it had to do with a teratoma mass (this is a very rare cell tumor that can contain fully formed tissues, teeth, hair or bones).  The outcomes of those decisions were typically positive with both mother and baby surviving.  Sometimes those outcomes were much sadder.

In Exodus, we know there was a pharaoh trying to control Israel’s population through hard labor and ultimately by ordering Hebrew midwives to kill any male infants that they delivered (Exodus 1:15-16).  This is a much hard decision of the labor and delivery kind.

Within the scripture we see Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives, put into a scenario where they had to choose to follow the orders of the earthly leader or the commandments of the heavenly one.

It’s important to note that Moses refers to these two midwives by name.  Perhaps out of the multitude of other midwives, these two are most important because of their seniority in the area.  Perhaps they were mentors or teachers of the other midwives. Perhaps because of that leadership role, they would have been expected to follow the pharaoh’s orders and become an example to the rest of the midwives.  Perhaps they are remembered in the Old Testament scrolls because of their fear of the Lord and their disobedience of the murderous order (Exodus 1:17).

They could have been simply lost to the years as historically insignificant. 

But they were not. 

Why? Because they refused man and chose to obey God (Acts 5:17-19).  They did not kill any babies, let alone just the male infants.  In that choice, they remained faithful to the Lord.  They were able to stand before God as righteous servants rather than wretched ones.  They changed the course of world history by preserving God’s chosen people.

Their decisions were life and death ones with eternal implications.  Like modern obstetrics, they were making the hard decisions of labor and delivery. 

~Emily

“The midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” Exodus 1:17 (NIV)

A Hurting Heart

My heart is hurting tonight.  Really, it’s been hurting for several months.  I can feel spiritual warfare down to my bones happening in this house.  And it feels like I’m powerless against it.  The heaviness is oppressing.  It’s a sadness that I almost feel I can’t escape.  I long to have the joy of the Lord back in this home, but it’s seems like an uphill battle of biblical proportions. 

And while I can feel this settling into the cracks and crevices, I know that I have a God that is greater than any spiritual warfare in this home and in my life. 

He promises me that He is faithful and assures me that He is protection. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” –2 Thessalonians 3:3

He tells me that I am His.  “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” –John 1:12

He gives me strength.  “He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power.” –Isaiah 40:29

He gives me armor.  “Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” –Ephesians 6:14-17

He gives me respite.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28

He is my Defender.  “The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.” –Exodus 14:14

I’m flooding this home with praise music.  I’m reading my Bible out loud.  I read it from room to room.  I pray throughout the house.  I know that even while I’m facing spiritual warfare, my God is defending me from every hit Satan and his minions try to take.  And I’m not giving up without a fight.

Thank you, God, for who You are.  

Is anyone else currently struggling with spiritual warfare?  Share in the comments below and know that Emily and I are praying faithfully for you.

~Erin

The Weeds

I have the most annoying vine looking weed that has thorns on it growing in one of the raised beds in my garden.  When I set it up two years ago, I fluffed the soil and added additional dirt, but I didn’t really pay attention to what was already around the area.  As a result, we’ve got this vine that chokes out whatever it is that’s planted along where it snakes around.  I went to grab it one day last year only to be stuck with one of the thorns.  Because I didn’t take it out by the root then or remove it properly from the garden, this year, it’s weaved its way around my flowers and nothing is really growing.  My flower garden is stagnant.

This is what happens when we allow sin to enter our lives.  When bitterness, resentment, and sin come into our lives, without taking the proper steps to ensure it doesn’t take root, it’s allowed to grow and fester.  It begins to take over our lives in ways we could never imagine.

God tells us that the fruit of the Spirit include joy, peace, patience, and self-control.  But when we aren’t properly weeding our faith garden, it affects those fruits.  The weed takes hold of the peace and leaves us with a feeling of jealousy that someone has something we aren’t able to have.  It stunts the patience we have learned to understand when the anger takes over at being passed over for a promotion we thought we deserved.  It strangles the self-control we have as we find ourselves trying to live in the world but not be of the world (Romans 12:2).  Those menacing vines steal the joy we have in the Lord when we don’t remove them…and remove them at the root.

Just as it is in gardening, we can pick the weed out.  We can pull at the vine to remove it to allow for more growth on the surface.  However, when we don’t remove the full root that it’s attached to, it’s allowed to continue growing and being a menace.

We can’t just ask for forgiveness of sins and “hope” it doesn’t come back.  We must repent—meaning to turn away—from what we have allowed to grow.  Then we must take the root out.  It may mean removing certain music from your life to prevent you from feeling a certain way.  It may mean reexamining your friendships.  It may mean recognizing that you need deeper study in the Word and less time on social media.  But when we take out the root, we remove the hinderance and can see the beauty in the growth of a full and complete garden.

This doesn’t mean that other choking vines or weeds won’t come, but when we take out the root of the issue, we can find our hope in the Lord that says we can be more vigilant about what may come next.  We can be prepared for what satan sends our way.  God can have the victory in our lives!

This week, I’m praying that God reveals what the weeds are in my garden so that I can take them by the root and remove them!  How about you?

~Erin

Dog Days

Last week I had a big scare with our dog, Ruger.  Ruger is a sweet 8 year old lab who Chris has had since he was a pup.  I was home alone with him when he started acting funny.  He was opening up his mouth and leaning toward the sky like he was trying to grab something.  When he would look down, his jaw was tremoring, and then he would dig his nose into the floor for 15-20 seconds at a time.  I truly thought this loveable lug was having a stroke.  I shot off a couple of quick videos to Chris at work and then called him, begging him to watch them right away and tell me if I needed to get him to the vet ASAP.

After 2 minutes or so, Chris called back.  “He’s acting like he’s get something stuck in his nose?  Does he have something in there?”  To which I dutifully picked this dog’s nose like a newborn with a raisin up his nostril (THAT happened the week before).  Nothing.  Chris said, “Then check his throat.  I think he’s got something stuck somewhere!”  Ruger let me gently open his mouth.  In the very back, stuck between his farthest molars was the cap of a marker that he had chewed and managed to wedge in there!

That dumb dog, despite the fact he’s been trained as a duck dog and knows not to chew things, decided to enjoy an awesome plastic snack that ended up causing him pain and discomfort.  I was so grateful I called Chris and asked what he thought.  After I pulled it out, I started crying because I had truly thought that the dog was going to die on my watch!  I was glad he was ok.

As I sit and write this blog and share the story, I can think of so many biblical applications oddly enough that resonate with me and hit me in the eyes.

How about the fact that my husband knew what to look for?  He has taken the time to get to know his dog and how he acts.  He knows what a dog looks like stressed.  He took years of experience with dogs and was prepared for odd circumstances like this one.  Am I that prepared for the sneak attacks of Satan?

We should be vigilant because the Bible tells us to be!  It clearly tells us that satan isn’t just letting us be.  He roams around seeking those to devour (I Peter 5:8).  Have we trained ourselves to be ready for whatever affliction comes our way?  And the best way for us to be prepared is to fully surrender to God, be in constant prayer with Him and use our Sword–the Bible–daily!  When we have trained ourselves well, when things come up unexpectedly, we will be equipped with the proper outlook to help us.

How about that silly dog knowing he’s not supposed to be chewing things like that and yet he did it anyway?  Do I hide from sin that stupidly?!  Do I know what I am commanded to do biblically and still slink away trying to hide what I’m about to do as if God doesn’t see it or doesn’t know about it?!

I’m guilty of this more times than I can count!  I wish that I was constantly in God’s Word as much as I should be.  I wish I didn’t lose my temper and say mean or hurtful things.  I wish that my past didn’t include drunken nights and sexual immorality.  But I’ve done exactly as Ruger has done.  It looked fun.  It looked inviting.  So I took part.  Then shame takes over as I hide my behavior, knowing that what I’ve done is pure and simply sin.  The reminder of the disobedience, however, is never far away and then like a child caught with their hand in the cookie jar, or a dog caught with a marker top stuck between his teeth, our sin has found us out and God is waiting for repentance!

My prayer, Iron Porch, is twofold.  First, I pray that we are vigilant and aware of our surroundings, building up our faith with active prayer, Bible reading and worship so that we may know when we have a problem.  Second, I pray that we don’t hide in our sin.  I pray that we are so steadfast in our relationship with God that we actively pursue a sinless nature.  And when we DO sin, I pray that we are immediate in our repentance and turning away from the sin.  God is quick to forgive when we come to Him with a broken and repentant heart.

~Erin

Our Buddy, Ruger!

Your Biblical Arsenal

From the time my children were little, they were taught gun safety.  They are aware of the ways in which to handle and carry a gun.  They know how to load and shoot guns, as well.  It was important as their parent for Chris to teach them how to use and take care of guns responsibly.

While I don’t believe in a “zombie apocalypse,” it HAS been the running joke for years that we need to have protection, know how to defend ourselves in the event of an attack and what an arsenal would look like in a situation like that. 

This makes me think of our own personal Biblical arsenal.  The Bible is the sword of the Spirit.  It is the part of the Armor of God that allows protection against the devil’s schemes and attacks against us.  It is to be used at all times!  A biblical arsenal can be a book of scripture or your actual Bible that you have with you.  Maybe you have a notebook that you’ve written some verses down in or a Bible study book that you keep handy.

Many verses in the Bible speak to knowing scripture and having scripture handy as a necessity.

This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.” –Joshua 1:8

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

“The Law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” –Psalm 37:31

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

I know that I write a LOT about knowing scripture.  I do this twofold. 

The first, because I know how important it is to have a Biblical arsenal handy in times of struggle, attacks, and trials.  I can’t stress enough how calming it feels when a verse that you’ve memorized or read dozens of times pops into your head courtesy of the Holy Spirit during a time of need.  It’s comforting.  It feels like confidence.  It feels as if you’re not alone.  It also opens up the opportunity to take a moment to pray and thank God for the arsenal He’s given.

The second, because I need the reminder even now.  And I know I’m not the only one that needs this reminder.  It’s work to look up and learn verses.  But it’s work that isn’t regretted. 

When you are struggling to find joy in your day and the Holy Spirit lays on your heart Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” it allows for a moment to reflect and give praise to our Father.  It allows a change of direction in our attitude.  When we feel the attack of the devil, perhaps one of the verses you’ve got in your arsenal is “Go away, Satan!  For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only,’” Matthew 4:10, the words of Jesus to Satan.

If you’re not great at memorizing, I’d like to suggest something that has worked for me for years.  I’ve carried with me 3×5 spiral-bound notecards.  I found it in Walmart and started writing verses in it that were important to me.  There are verses about salvation and verses about God’s love.  There are verses like the previous ones mentioned.  There’s verses in it about prayer.  They are simply my own hand-written biblical arsenal that I can carry to help me through at a moment’s notice.

I encourage you to put together your own arsenal!  Let us know in the comments below what your biblical arsenal looks like!

~Erin

Appalachian Trail Conversation

I hiked last week.  A lot.  Emily is training towards a monumental goal in a couple of years, and so on occasion I’ll go on hikes with her.  And what I really mean is, we were on vacation and I had nothing better to do, so I let her take me all over northern Georgia area and got sweaty.

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I’m not shy, never have been and I never will be.  And on this particular day, she had picked a hike that was actually part of the Appalachian Trail (AT).  Because I know her goal, I make it my mission in life to talk to anyone that looks like a “serious” hiker.  If you don’t know what a serious hiker looks like, they have a pack that looks too heavy (even though it’s usually not), a bedroll or tent attached to make the pack look even bigger, filters or Life Straws in water bottles, great hiking boots, hair maybe a little messy, you get what I’m throwing down.

It was a great hike orchestrated by Emily.  However, there was a moment that God orchestrated that day that we simply would never have imagined on our own—a moment that you know was simply the hand of our Maker.

We walked around two miles of this particular stretch called Hog Pen Gap and were headed back to where we came from.  The group got separated and Chris and I ended up bringing up the rear at about 5-10 minutes behind Emily.  As we were walking, we passed a woman who looked like one of those serious hikers.  We exchanged hellos, but as she passed us, she stopped, turned around, and inquired about whether there was a water source ahead going in her direction. 

That led to a small conversation with her.  She was, in fact, one of those serious hikers!  She explained she was “couch-to-trail” meaning no training.  She just got up one day, decided she wanted to hike the AT, made a few plans, put some stuff together and hit the trail!  She then explained that she was hiking by herself and that one of the hardest parts of hiking that way was the loneliness that sets in.  She said in one stretch, she went four days without seeing another soul!  As she spoke, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging.  I wanted her to know that she wasn’t alone.

I asked her for her name.  She said “Rochelle.”  I said to her, “Rochelle, I don’t know if you’re a believer, but I am, and I’m going to be praying for you on this journey.  I want you to know that you have people everywhere rooting for you.  And I’ll be praying that you won’t feel alone.”  She replied she was and thanked me.  Before we left, I told her Emily was right up the trail and I was going to tell her about Rochelle, too.  I told her I was going to have Emily look her up on the Appalachian Trail FB groups to find her and we would be rooting for her and praying for her!  And then we went our separate ways.

When I got back to the car and told Emily, she knew exactly who I was talking about!  She’d seen her on the trail, but hadn’t really had a chance to talk.  And wouldn’t you know, that going off of only her first name and a guess of the way it was spelled, we found her on FB among dozens of Rochelle’s in about five minutes later that day!  We were able to connect with her, shoot her a word of encouragement and keep up with her journey!  God knew exactly what He wanted when He planned that moment.

You see, maybe that moment was meant for Rochelle.  Maybe God wanted her to hear from another sister in Christ that she wasn’t alone and to be encouraged.  But I think that moment was just as much for me.

While I’m no stranger to strangers, it still takes courage to talk about God to people.  I constantly have to exercise that commandment, and it means sometimes I have to open the conversation and be willing to be vulnerable.  In today’s culture, while we don’t have it as bad as the apostles did with persecution and stoning, we still have to be prepared for rude remarks, demeaning comments, and ridicule.  It can be nerve-wracking!

The bigger lesson, however, to me was a reminder that even when we feel alone, we are never really alone. 

I’ve been walking through some very rough waters these last few months.  Just read a few of my blogs since March, and you’ll understand my need to completely rely on God.  I know there are many people around me that are doing and feeling the same.  It can feel lonely and discouraging, wishing the heartache would just stop.  We want God’s miracle and we want it now because the feeling of being alone in the storm feels so heavy.

Because of that moment with Rochelle, I was reminded of a verse in the Bible that I can hold on to in those moments, Isaiah 41:10.

“Do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, I will also help you,

I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

We do not have to feel alone.  Our greatest strength, our Heavenly Father, is with us as we navigate through sickness, mental health, and despair.  He hasn’t left our side as we struggle through marital problems and job worries.  And He even walks with us when we’re alone on the Appalachian Trail.  Even when we feel the heaviness, we can be assured that He will carry the burden and that He will uphold us.  We never have to do it alone. 

I pray, Iron Porch, that each of us always feel His presence in our moments of loneliness. 

~Erin

Prayer for the Hurting

I was just listening to the radio and they were speaking of the innocent children that were killed in Texas.  It’s just devastating.  I can’t even pretend to put myself in the shoes of those parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or community members to understand what they are going through. 

My first thought, if I’m being completely transparent, was to be grateful it didn’t happen at the school here, and the second thought was that I was glad all of my children have graduated.  Those thoughts don’t make me a bad person or a bad Christian.  They make me human.  However, in that moment directly following, I realized those thoughts hurt God’s heart and are sinful because they go directly against what the bible tells us to do.

Romans 15:1 says, “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

And Psalm 143:8 tells us, “Let me hear Your lovingkindess in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.

Both verses speak directly against what I thought.  My thoughts were built around fear and mistrust.  They were rooted in self and not rooted in Christ.  As believers, we are called to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.  I bet those family members, those friends, that community are without strength.  Suffering a senseless loss brings unimaginable pain, and during this time Christians are called to lift them up.

Perhaps it means to write a letter or send a card to them.  Maybe you’ve gone through something like this and can relate to them on a more personal level that can help.  It could possibly mean writing your representative or senator.  And it could mean that we just pray.  Pray hard.  Pray faithfully.  Pray fervently.

The second thought speaks directly to mistrust towards God.  I long for my children to always be safe, but the truth is, my children are His.  He knows the hairs on their heads and the last breaths they will take.  I must lay aside the fear and trust that God will see them through, no matter the outcome.  They’re safe from school now that they’ve graduated but it doesn’t mean that the same thing won’t happen in a local grocery store or outside a gas station.  I must trust Him in all things.  I will never be able to completely protect my children, but our God will protect them whether it’s this side of heaven or the other.

Please be praying for the victims’ families as they grieve.  Lift them up to the Lord and do it often.  My desire is that they will be so covered in prayer by believers all over this world that there will be a tangible feeling of God’s love surrounding them.

~Erin

11 Pills

There’s this moment where you feel as if you’re the only one that has ever gone through this.  And that moment lasts for days, weeks, maybe months.  No one ever talks about it.  Maybe because you feel it’s not your story to tell.  Maybe because you feel embarrassed.  Maybe because you’re afraid you’ll be judged. But those thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth.  So here I am, ready to break this stigma wide open, because it needs to be done.  Particularly in the Christian community.  And I share it with the full support of Peyton.

On March 6th of this year, my sweet Peyton tried to kill herself.  Even writing it now makes me cry.  I never thought I’d be the parent who wrote those words.  But my daughter was so overwhelmed that she felt like the best option was to go to sleep and never wake up.  So she filled her small hand with pills, downed them with a glass of water and laid down. 

She has absolutely zero recollection of waking up about an hour later.  She has no memory of trying to go to the bathroom and talking to us…or attempting to.  She doesn’t recall the next hour of her dad and I trying to talk to her, putting her in the shower to see if she would be coherent, and us searching her room for the alcohol or drugs we were sure we would find.  

We thought she was drunk or high.  She’d sleep it off.  While I was going through her phone to see how she’d gotten the stuff, I made the single biggest mistake I think I’ll ever make in my life.  I opened her phone’s internet browser and I saw her search history, “How much amitriptyline do I take to overdose.”  And I thought, “WHAT A RANDOM THING TO LOOK UP.  NOT MY KID.” If it had been a neon sign, it would’ve blinded me and I still don’t think I would’ve acknowledged it.  Instead, I just kept looking for where she got the alcohol or drugs.

She laid in the living room on the couch asleep while I laid down on the love seat beside her, checking her throughout the night.

When she woke up the next morning, she was completely disoriented and didn’t understand why she was in the living room.  I looked at her and asked if she felt ok.  She said yes and just sat there for a moment before she looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“Can I tell you something without you getting mad?” 

I said, “Tell me.”

“I tried to kill myself last night.” And she started to cry.

What we had witnessed was my daughter’s body reacting to an overdose.  Miraculously, despite my willful ignorance to her Google search, she survived.

When you’re going through a tremendously painful time like an attempted suicide, you’re not really sure who to call or talk to.  Which one of your friends will understand?  Who is going to judge you or your kid?  Who’s going to pray, and not just pray in passing but pray the host of heaven down on your child to heal her physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?  Who’s going to treat your child differently?  Who’s going to treat YOU differently?

There’s such a stigma attached to mental health and it can feel embarrassing.  But as Chris and I walked through the next 6 days of a trip to the ER followed by some inpatient time for Peyton on an adolescent psychiatric unit, we found out we weren’t the only ones.  We knew a surprising number of people who did or were going through the exact thing we were. 

It’s been two months since her attempt, and it’s been a process to work through healing for her as well as for us.  We find that the more candid we are with Peyton about what happened and what her feelings are currently, the more she feels ok to open up when she struggles.  We can’t put her in a protective bubble (which, believe me, I’d love to do) but we can ensure that we’re walking WITH her during this.  She now knows that she’s not alone in this fight because her entire family is here to fight with her.  In turn, this has allowed her to be very open about her mental health and attempted suicide with others.  She wants to know that her miraculous gift of failure in that attempt will help someone reach out before their attempt is a permanent consequence.

My walk with God is even more important than just walking with Peyton.  As a Christian mother, I know that God is bigger than trauma, than hurts, than depression.  He is bigger than the lies the devil tells her. 

These two verses are ones that I’ve held strong to since March.

“When you pass through the waters I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,

Nor will the flame burn you.” –Isaiah 43:2

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33

I know that God is with us.  He sees her and He loves her.  And though there is a fight going on in her head and in her heart, He has not left her to fight this alone.  In fact, He wishes to fight on her behalf.  He wants to fight on my behalf.  I praise God that even though the world is often too invested in ‘self,’ He is invested in US.

If you are struggling with this in your home, please, I beg you, know that you are not alone.  Not only do you have a Heavenly Father who is 100% for you, you have friends here at the Iron Porch who understand and have walked in this valley, as well.  There is no judgment here.  There is no stigma here.  There is the love of a Savior and friends who stand with you.

~Erin

**If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.** 

Studying Revelation

Table 8 has talked for months, maybe even years, about studying the book of Revelation.  It’s been brought up casually, but I’ve never given it much thought.  Instead, after praying about what our next study would be, every time I would feel God leading us to a different book of the Bible. 

Emily has talked about studying Revelation.  She’s started and I’ve seen the copious amounts of notes she’s taken.  At one point, a church we went to was going through the book of Revelation while we were visiting.  It seems I can’t escape the book of Revelation…even though that’s an impossibility! (See what I did there?  Christian humor!)

In February, it got brought up again with Table 8 and I explained that I don’t know enough about the details of Revelation to go through the book as a leader.  Dianne replied, “You can learn along with the rest of us!  Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you have to have the answers up front!”  And, just like that, I felt the conviction to be leaning in.

You see, the reason I was never interested in digging deep into the book of Revelation was because the depth of the book actually scared me!  I know enough to know there’s a tribulation.  I’m confident I won’t be here when it takes place.  I know lots of PIECES due to excellent pastoral leadership throughout my life.  But to understand Bowl Judgments versus the Seals versus the Horsemen…it all just feels overwhelming!  Do any of you feel that way about studying this book of the Bible?!

However, Dianne was right.  While, as a leader, I’m responsible for knowing and understanding the material and guiding the women to better comprehend, it doesn’t mean I have to be the subject matter expert.  That’s what they create…mic drop…Bible study for!  There are dozens of great commentaries and study Bibles that can really teach you as you walk through Revelation.  I just have to be willing!

It’s so funny to me when I think about it.  I’ve been intrigued this last year or so with the idea of Christian Apologetics and learning from some great teachers, that I forgot that I can do the same as them!  I can read and study and grow in the knowledge of what the book has to say!  And lest you think the Bible doesn’t say something about that, 1 Peter 3:15 states “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

Peter is telling us that we should be ready to make an argument or defense FOR God at a moment’s notice.  Part of speaking to that hope that is in us involves not only who Jesus is and what He did for us, but what will be to come and what awaits us in heaven!  That is the full picture!

I was convinced.  Beginning in September, we’re going to be studying the book of Revelation.  I’m taking the time over the summer to learn more about it with Emily so that I can be at least a little prepared.  And Emily’s Tuesday’s Table is joining in to study Revelation alongside us!

I pray that if you’re on the fence about studying scripture, whether it be a verse or an entire book, do not be afraid like I was about what’s involved.  Studying brings maturity and with maturity comes a better understanding of what it says!  Let’s all get to cracking open the beautiful Word of God.

~Erin