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

Uncomfortable Moments

This last week, I’ve had a few uncomfortable moments.  There was the afternoon where I got insulation on my forearm, which became an itchy mess. Friday around midnight, I let the dog out and then had to stand outside in my PJs calling for him repeatedly when he wouldn’t come in.  And then today there was the sliding sock in my work boot while I turned the compost piles. 

Each scenario was an uncomfortable moment, that was annoying.

I also get uncomfortable teaching Sunday School.  I start to doubt my abilities to lead the class.  I wonder who will actually show up to class. I worry that someone else will know the lesson better than me. I occasionally feel like I’m not prepared enough. 

Every week, without fail, I have a slight uncomfortable moment as I walk into the Sunday School class.  And every week, without fail, I remind myself that God is in charge of the Sunday School class. It doesn’t matter with someone is in the class that is more knowledgeable than me. It doesn’t matter if one or twenty people come to the class.  It doesn’t matter if I’m prepared or if I have the ability to lead.  God will take care of it.  

There are numerous examples in the Bible of God providing in the aftermath of uncomfortable moments.  Imagine being Jonah in the belly of a whale.  That would have been uncomfortable, but God provided.  Imagine being Lot, realizing your wife just turned to a pillar of salt.  That would have been an uncomfortable moment, but God provided.  Imagine being Eve, having to admit to God what you have eaten.  That would have been an UBER uncomfortable moment, but God provided.  

Here’s the deal—God wants us to step out of our comfort zone and experience that uncomfortable moment.  Why? Because that’s when we are most able to see just HOW He is providing for us!  

Whether it’s itchy insulation, midnight runaway dogs, lazy socks, or teaching Sunday School, each of our uncomfortable moments are a reminder that God will provide.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone this week…watch how God provides!!!

~Emily

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Emily & Erin

Khandi Photo

Khandi Wagner and her husband.

All Alone In This World

Do you ever feel as though you are all alone in this world?

You’re surrounded by people every day at work, at home, at church…even at the grocery store or gas station.  You’re with your mom, your best friend, your boyfriend or husband.  And yet, you feel alone.

Throughout our lives, women tend to have similar moments where we have felt especially alone.

The few moments after your High School graduation, when you feel excited about the future, yet there’s a moment of knowing you’re leaving home to “go it alone” in the world.

Some moments at church leave us feeling solo when we see groups of other women gathered in chatty-hug-filled circles.

There are moments in a marriage where you feel so misunderstood or undervalued that you feel completely and utterly alone.

Those nights where you can’t figure out why the baby is still crying and you’re exhausted or the nights after your last child has turned 18 and moved out of the house…those are also moments where you may experience that sense of complete aloneness.

In my own life, I’ve felt alone during military deployments, in the failure of IVF, in the aftermath of divorce, when hearing of someone’s cancer diagnosis, or in the misstep of dieting.  Often when I’ve felt most alone, I’ve also felt hopeless.  And right there in that hopelessness is the lie that the enemy tells us…that we are the only ones who have ever felt that “alone” time.

In 1 Kings 19:1-18, we read that there was a time that Elijah felt utterly alone and hopeless.  At that moment, the Lord gives Elijah questions that will allow Elijah to understand that he isn’t alone.  Rather than concede that God is with him, Elijah repeats the lie two times that he is alone.

In the middle of the chaos and fierce winds, God whispers to Elijah, “You are not alone!

I think it is time that women remind each other of God’s constant whispering, “You are not alone!”  God is literally with us each step of our journey.  Yet it’s easy in the moments of despair, the moments by ourselves, or the moments steeped in sin, to forget that God has a plan for us.  And the plan was never for us to be alone.  Ever.

If you are feeling alone, remember the whisperings of God’s promise that you aren’t alone.  Remember that you are always welcome on the porch if you need to be reminded of that soft-spoken promise.

~Emily

all alone in this world

Is it COVID-19?!?!?!

My throat is sore…is it a tickle?  Is it COVID-19?

I have a raging headache…can’t think.  Is it COVID-19?!?

Am I hot…or just warm? Do I have a fever? Is it COVID-19?!?!?

Every single little twitch or twinge these days leads me down a rabbit hole of wondering if I’ve been exposed to COVID-19.  I start contemplating whether I’ve been diligent in wearing a mask or social distancing.  I wonder if I’ve been exposed…or worse, could I have exposed someone else?

Am I alone if hyper-analyzing each little upset tummy or ache and pain?

The crazy thing is that I’m not afraid of getting COVID-19.  I know my family is fairly healthy and we would likely weather the storm well.  More than that, I know that God would heal us in the physical or we would be healed completely in heaven.  There is great comfort in knowing that the believers will be healed no matter what.

This never-ending saga of not-knowing how the pandemic ends is wearing thin on each of us in different capacities.  In my case, I’ve been leaning heavily on Psalm 55:22 (NASB), “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

How are you dealing with the continued pandemic saga?  Come to the Porch as share your thoughts!

~Emily

Is It COVID-19?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Sunburn

The first sunburn of summer 2020 is in the books.

Year after year, I never learn that my pale Scandinavian skin needs a thick lather of sunscreen… as evidenced by the annual first sunburn of the summer.

Once I suffer through the first searing, and subsequent shedding of peeled skin, I won’t likely burn again for the rest of the summer.  In the past, I would claim that I only started to tan after the first sunburn, as that sunburn is the “base” for the rest of the summer’s sun-filled activities.

While there may be some truth in the “base-tan-sunburn,” the reality is the pain of that first sunburn creates a scenario where I remember my sunscreen protection for the rest of the summer.

The same is true with our sinful nature.

As with the sunburn, often our first brush with a particular sin is the “base” for continued sinful activity with or without protection.  Sinful scenarios can cause pain. They can cause a tangible reminder of the sin.  They can have “peeling” regrowth, as a result.

Also, like the sunburn, our sin can be painful enough that we will remember our protection against it.  Essentially we will experience the pain of the sin and subsequently do our best to avoid experiencing it again, as with the use of sunscreen.

What is the sunscreen protection against sin? The Word of God.  He’s given us the instruction manual on how to protect ourselves, as well as what to do when we fall short within that sinful nature.  This is why it is so vitally important, as Christians, that we are studying the Word and placing it firmly in our hearts.  It is the protection that we need.

Remember what Paul shared with us in Romans 6:14 (NASB), “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Whether your sin/sunburn is a base for further activities, or if it is a stark reminder that you need protection, I would encourage the ladies of the Iron Porch to seek God’s will this week about how best to protect yourself.

~Emily

sunscreen

 

A Tribute to a Father

Life is so fragile.  I know you know what I mean.  We feel like we have all the time in the world to enjoy each other, to laugh with each other, to cry with each other.  We sometimes take for granted the hugs and the kisses, the jokes, even the fights because we’ll see them tomorrow.  Our family is invincible and we have forever.  But unfortunately, that’s not the case.  And our family felt it recently.

We pulled out a big box of pictures this week.  We started looking through it, and came across a home movie of a surprise party we gave Chris’s dad, Allen, for his 70th birthday.  That was 12 years ago!  It seems like a lifetime ago and yet so recent.  Last night, we popped it in and watched it.

There’s probably 50 family and friends laughing, eating, talking, there to celebrate an amazing man turning 70 years old.  Allen pops into the picture, and he’s larger than life.  He’s walking around the room talking to everyone, reminiscing about this story from the past or that friend they saw last week.  Old business partners are there.  Brothers are there.  His children-Chris and Rita, his grandchildren, nieces, nephews, everyone….there all there to celebrate a man that loves his family more than just about anything.  (Except maybe hunting.  He loves to hunt, and you can tell when he opens his gift of a rifle!)  You watch him belly laugh, head thrown back, the sound of happiness coming from him, hanging in the air.

You’d love to see his hair.  I tease him all the time about his “luscious locks” because Allen has the thickest head of beautiful white hair against his tan skin from enjoying the outdoors so much.  The man looks like he’s permanently retired on the beach!  He just looks like….joy in this video.

Back to last night when we watched this video.  It’s been 12 years, but we wish it was yesterday.  Because following a leukemia diagnosis just 2 ½ months ago, this man, this father, this brother passed away on June 7th.  It still doesn’t seem real.

We all wish there was one more moment with him.  A moment to joke with him, a moment to squeeze our arms around him, a moment to watch the news with him (it seemed to be one of his other favorite things).  And we’re left with memories.  But good ones.  Great ones.  He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of man.

Allen, you were….you are…an amazing human being.  And your legacy lives in every life you touched over your 82 years.  We love you and we miss you.

~Your family

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2005, Idaho Family Trip

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May 2020, 82nd birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

DeAnna

Regaining Quiet Time with God during Quarantine copy