Put Down Your Phone!

We were seated at a small table in the corner.  The restaurant wasn’t very crowded as we waited for our family to be served.  As we were talking, I noticed my younger daughter staring into her lap.  Her father, right beside her, pulls his phone out of his pocket and scrolls emails.  My eyes wide, I exclaimed, “We’re having a conversation!  Could you put your phone away?!”  To which he did the obvious….he threw his daughter under the bus.  “She’s checking her phone, too!”

Anyone else have a meal like that?!  Really, it doesn’t even have to be a meal.  It happens all the time.  People check their phones as they walk down the street with their friends, chatting with the neighbor, or standing in line with their sibling while waiting for their coffee.  We pull out the phone to keep busy as we wait for Bible study to begin or church service to start.  It’s as if we can’t function without that little piece of hardware! 

I’m guilty of it, too!  There is absolutely no condemnation coming from this end of the keyboard.  I’d like to think I’m much better about it than I used to be, but I know that I’m sometimes not any better than anyone else in this department.

For whatever reason, though, this thought has continued to pop into my head for the last couple of months:  Put down your phone! That phrase has plagued me when I’ve pulled out my phone in the middle of a conversation.  It’s hit me when I tried to film some event and realized that I’d spent so much time trying to make sure I got the perfect angle with no noise or movement that I’d missed the real enjoyment.  And it’s even hit me when I’m in the middle of my Bible studies and I pick it up to check my newest Facebook notifications.  Is it really that important?

Table 8 (my California Bible study crew) is currently going through the book of Romans, and there is a verse in there that I’m leaning into now more than ever.  In a society that’s burdened with this feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out), I’m clinging to this.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor,” –Romans 12:10

I don’t feel I’m being honoring to my friends when my face is buried in the most recent Facebook post about my neighbor’s horse.  I’m not honoring time with my family when I’m checking the headlines on an app.  I’m not honoring the work that someone put into something when I’m more worried about the right lighting than what they’re saying or performing.

I think relationships would be enriched if we all devoted ourselves as the Bible encourages us to do.  Paul, here, was encouraging the Romans to walk with one another in love as they navigated a life in Christ.  He advised them to be humble and honor others over themselves.  What better way than to put down the distraction and really engage with each other?!

I’m laying down a challenge to all of us.  Let’s spend less time on our phones and more time in real fellowship!  Let’s get back to the days where we forged our friendships and family time in conversations and face-to-face interactions.  Let’s honor each other with true quality time.  Let’s put down our phones!

~Erin

Bystander to the Hurting

I recently read a devotion that began with the question, “Which is harder; going through a painful ordeal yourself or watching someone close to you face a trial?”

I can think of dozens of examples where I would gladly go through a trial in order to save someone else the pain.  But that wasn’t the actual question….is it harder to do it yourself or watch someone else?  For me, it’s much harder to watch someone else and to know how best to support that individual.  

In Acts 16:16-24, we see that the faithful Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy had gone to preach the Gospel in Philippi.  It was a time of turmoil with great danger to those proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.  “and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, ‘These men, Jews as they are, are causing our city trouble, and they are proclaiming customs that are not lawful for us to accept or to practice, since we are Romans.’” Acts 16:20-21 (NASB)

Only two of them were arrested and flogged; Paul and Silas.

Why only two and not four?  

During a crazy time in Philippi, as a Roman colony, there was great prejudice and anti-Semitism.  While Christianity was not completely understood, Luke and Timothy were likely seen as Gentile and subsequently not arrested.  Whereas Paul and Silas were of Jewish heritage and were arrested out of hatred for that Jewish background.  

It is not easy to have the role as bystander to the hurting.  I’m confident that Luke and Timothy struggled with watching their friends punished.  They probably had turmoil over the unfairness of the situation.  Likewise, I know that I struggle watching those that I care about struggle and I certainly have trouble understanding when things seem unfair.  

God understands that it’s hurtful to observe the hurting.  Often it seems unbearable to bear witness to someone else’s pain.  He understands it so well, in part because He watches us hurting.  If He didn’t understand, He wouldn’t have given us so many examples within scripture to learn from. 

It’s not easy to watch someone else’s hurt.  Luke and Timothy had to endure that pain, as have I.  I’m sure you have as well.

In the next week, I’m praying for those around the porch who are hurting. And I’m specifically praying for those of you who are watching someone else’s hurting.  Rest assured you aren’t alone and that God understands.

~Emily

Little Moments and the Main Event

A week ago, my family was involved in one of the most beautiful weddings that I’ve ever attended. The bride was gorgeous and the groom was dashing.  The floral arrangements were perfect in the soft glow of candle light. The food was amazing and the blueberry wine was fantabulous.

The main event, as at all weddings, was the moment the bride and groom meet at the altar and pledge their love and faithfulness before God and all their friends and family members.  This wedding was no different.  The main event was a covenant between two people and their God. Everyone attending was sure to witness the main event.

But there were dozens of little moments that lead up to the main event.  These little moments are missed by many as they focus on helping the bride and groom. For instance, how many saw all the breakfast preparations that morning?  How many saw the wedding coordinator triple checking the details? How many saw the DJ take a moment to chat with the mother of the bride? How many witnessed the night-time prayers of the flower girl and ring bearer?

In the midst of constantly being told to keep their clothes clean, to be quieter, or stay off the grass, how many got to see that flower girl and ring bearer trying to blow dandelions without getting dirty clothes?UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_d611These are snapshot moments that make up the entire day.  They are the little moments that lead up to the main event.  They are examples of how each moment is in support of the bride and groom…each moment in support of a covenant with God.

It made me reflect on all the little moments that lead up to another main event that created a covenant between all of us and God: The Crucifixion of Christ.

Imagine the events of the crucifixion, as you would a wedding.  All the preparation and planning.  Ensuring all the right people were in place.  The long walk.  The prayers to the Father.  The declaration “it is done.” Everyone attending saw the main event.

But how many little moments were missed?  Who was responsible for the tree being cut down and the cross being constructed? Who was witness to the beatings and whippings of Christ the day before? Who was bore witness to the nails being created? Who watched Mother Mary weeping for her child?

All little moments that lead up to the main event.

But each of those moments were snapshot memories that made up an entire day.  They lead to the main event.  Examples of how God’s perfect plan was in motion before any of them…or us…knew we needed that perfect plan.

The little moments, such as the flower girl and ring bearer blowing on dandelions, are mere memories offered to a selected few. Yet they represent the love and support that lead up to the main event of a bride and groom uniting as one.

Each of the seemingly little moments leading to Christ’s death were seen by few. Yet they represented God’s love and support of all of us.  All of us.

This week, I’m praying that each of us takes a moment to reflect on the little moments that lead to the main events of life.

~Emily

Grandma’s Prayer Closet

Seeing someone’s prayer closet is exciting.  Seeing my grandmother’s prayer closet was an honor.

Wilma, or Grandma as I like to call her, is one of the most influential Christian women I know.  My Pop’s mom has been a believer since long before I was even a notion in my parents’ thoughts, and she raised her children to love and believe in Jesus Christ.  My Mom often describes her as the glue that holds the family together.

Long road trips across the country began in my late 20’s to take my children to meet Grandma and Grandpa in South Carolina.  During those vacations, there weren’t many days that went by that didn’t include Grandma meeting with shut-ins to pray with them, teaching the Sunday School class, or going to assist with the prison ministry in the women’s division.  She’s dealt with more heartache and struggle than almost anyone I’ve known.  And yet.  Her resilience is astounding.  I know that this is due to her strong faith in her Savior.

I surprised her with a quick overnight visit when I was back east several weeks ago. She had no idea I was coming, and the look of shock on her face as Pop told her that someone had left “2 hams at the door” as Emily and I strode in behind him was priceless!  It was wonderful to have a little visit with her.

The morning I left, as I chatted with her, she asked me if I wanted to see her prayer closet.  I was thrilled to be able to say yes.  As we went into her room, I saw how she had transformed the space into a cozy area to be with Jesus.

A pile of devotionals, studies, and notebooks sat at her makeshift desk.  A little side table was set up with stationery for notes to be sent out for encouragement. Concordances and commentaries were behind her chair on a bookshelf.  She even added a little coffeemaker in the room!  She told me she could get out of bed, make it, and then brew her coffee to get her time in with Jesus first thing in the morning without even having to leave the room!

Grandma knows that the time spent with Jesus to start her day is not only encouraging to others, it’s needed to help her day be well from the start.  She enjoys and loves the time she spends talking with God and soaking in His wisdom and instruction.  In that prayer closet, her children all the way down to her great-great-grandchild are prayed for.  Her friends and church members are prayed for.  Her town is prayed for.

Maybe you don’t have a prayer closet, or maybe you don’t have enough space to commandeer a space just for that.  Get creative!  I use a wall in my tiny home office to tape up prayers that I want to remember to pray for.  Because I didn’t have a lot of space, I have a large open container where I keep my Bible study materials.  It has notebooks, different Bible versions, and devotionals.  When it’s time to go to my prayer closet, I take the items from the container that I need for my time with Him.

Perhaps you don’t even have room for that.  Here’s what I would say to you.  Make whatever chair or couch or porch you sit on your prayer closet and just spend some time with Him….a little bit every day.  That time with Jesus will change you and grow you.  It always does.

~Erin

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Me, Grandma, & Andros, my grandson. (Ignore photobombing Peyton in the background!)

Cockroach Leg Eyebrows

As a small child, my mom would smooth down my eyebrows as soon as I woke up in the morning.  As a teen, I would make my eyebrows a mess by pushing them backwards against the grain…just to see if my mom would notice. She always did.  Apparently, those eyebrows were wild!

Interestingly enough, my mom has never worn make up.  Therefore, she didn’t teach me about make up.  Other than smoothing my eyebrows down, she taught me nothing about taming the beasts above my eyes.  It wasn’t until I had been in the Air Force for over four years that friends took me to a tweezing session.  That first tweezing was HORRIBLE!  My eyes were welled up and I was sneezing. I thought my brains were being pulled out!

Since then, I’ve experienced cultural eyebrow grooming throughout the world.  Most notably, the string technique in Turkey, a wicked stinky mix of wax in Korea, and a hefty German woman plucking away while swilling beer.

My eyebrows have been beaten into submission.

My husband’s eyebrows? They are a different story.  He has one that shoots out like cockroach legs. I’m constantly smoothing his eyebrows down.  What I would give to take a pair of tweezers to his caterpillars!

Alas, last week while wiping a roach leg into place, I suddenly had a thought.  Does anyone, let alone God, really care about the appearance of our wild brows?  Instantly a verse came to mind.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”                ~1 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV)

Each of us have such potential to be great in God’s sight…with or without the outward adornments. God doesn’t equate the outward adornment of our eyebrows with our inner worth.

My eyebrows will continue to be tamed.

My husband’s will probably continue to get my attention.

With 1 Peter in mind, I’m going to try to give his brows less attention.

~Emily

Eyebrows