The Gum Machine, Of Course! Guest Blogger: Nancy White

Gumball Machine

With kids at home, this has been a trying time for all of us.  I know I would never be a great stay-at-home-mom or homeschool mom.  Having lots of time with them has given me time to see what the focus of their little lives is.  In a conversation with my 16 year old, he wanted money.  It went a little like this:

Him: Mom, can I have some money?

Me: No, I don’t carry cash.

Him: What, why?  That makes no sense.

Me: It is not new, I never have cash!

Him: Well can I have quarters?

Me: I don’t have quarters.

Him:  How can you not have quarters, that’s impossible!

Me: What would I need quarters for?

Him:  The gum machine…of course!

This made me think about if I am being a good example for my kids when it comes to money.  No, I give them money when they want or need it without question.  I wanted to change my ways immediately!  My youngest, 12, is now in charge of many things in the house to make money.  He will save his money and put it into an account until he has enough to buy what he wants.  And my 16-year-old who has had chores for some time is searching for a job because the chore money is not enough.  His problem is that he wants to spend money as soon as he gets it, whether for the gum machine or a video game.  He doesn’t understand he needs to build savings.

With COVID-19 affecting many aspects of my life, I am using this as a teaching moment for my boys on having savings for emergencies.  The economy is going to take a hard hit and they have been following the news with me and see how it is affecting our neighbors and friends and the community we are living in.

I want both of my boys to understand that being a good steward of money can help them later in life.  In Matthew 6:24 it says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”Nancy2

In light of the COVID-19 slow-down, start some conversations with your children.

Nancy White

 

The Wisdom of Elihu

This week has been a long week of difficult conversations with Peyton.  She’s 15 and old enough to truly understand what’s going on.  We’ve talked about what closing school looks like and what hanging out with friends looks like.  We’ve discussed what it means to truly social distance.  And we’re, even now, learning what a real “essential” is in our household.  It was only a couple of weeks ago that needing a quart of ice cream was deemed an urgent need, dropping everything to get our sugar fix.

The night before we went into mandated shelter-in-place orders, Peyton had a chat with her counselor that included ideas as to what she would do in regards to this pandemic and ways that could help rebuild the state and country as we recover from this ravaging virus.  She chose to share those ideas with me after the phone call.  My daughter….is brilliant.  She was insightful and logical and whether or not an idea like hers could ever be put into play, it showed her compassion for people along with a desire to give citizens their sense of responsibility and dignity back after such a nationwide crush of devastation.  When I told her to write it down, that maybe someone might want to hear her ideas, she looked shocked.  She mentioned that too many people discount what young people have to say.  When I mentioned the 20-somethings currently in politics, she said, “No, I mean people like me…kids my age who have good ideas.”

My bible reading this morning reminded me of this very conversation I had with Peyton.  As I’m reading the book of Job, I see the devastation surrounding him.  Everything he’s loved, cared for, and worked for, has crumbled.  Death and devastation are on all four sides.  And his two friends, older and therefore at that time considered wiser, told him repeatedly it was because of Job’s sin.  He was suffering at the hand of God and if he would repent and repent appropriately, God would remove the burden.  Chapters of conversation between these two friends and Job are written, begging him to see it was his fault.

It wasn’t until Chapter 32 of Job where you see Elihu come into the conversation.  He had refrained from speaking out of respect to the older men, but he couldn’t contain it anymore.  He reminds Job how great our God is and that there isn’t a single thing that goes by God without Him knowing and being in the end result.  He encourages Job to think about what’s God’s purpose was in his suffering.

I don’t know how old was Elihu was when he spoke into the conversation.  What I do know was that he was smart and was closer to the truth than either of the elder friends who tried to convince Job that he had offended God in some way.  He offered such sound wisdom in Job 37:13, “Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen.”

During this time of uncertainty and struggle, I encourage you to talk to your children.  Let them give ideas and suggestions.  Encourage them to come up with ways to make other people smile while they’re hunkered down.  Embolden them to come up with an idea to help ease the stress in your own home.  Let them know you’re listening.  I guarantee you it will feel therapeutic for them to feel like they’re part of the bigger solution.

And they may just have the wisdom of Elihu.

~Erin

The Wisdom of Elihu

Wedding Anniversaries

Last week my parents celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.  I joke a lot about if they have been married 50 years yet, to which my mom always responds “you’re lucky we got married at all.”  To most, that would sound like a more modern establishment of co-habituating rather than committing to marriage.  In reality, my parents are a product of the 60s and were more likely to reject the entire institution of marriage.

In Genesis 2:22-24, we see that God created woman from man and intended them to be united together forever once committed to marriage.  There was a specific intent from God about how our marital relationship should be constructed.   In today’s society, it more difficult to find God’s intent on display in American marriages.

I believe that we need guidance strictly from the Word of God on how marriage should be.  However, I also believe Godly counsel from others is often needed.  In relation to marriage, it’s helpful to find Christians who have long-standing marriages in order to see and hear what has worked for them. It’s helpful to be reassured in good times and assisted in turmoil.  Those Christian examples, with a healthy prayer life and studying God’s word, help us figure out how God wants us to behave within our own marriages.

I’m a lucky girl that I was able to see that modeled behavior first hand in my parent’s marriage.  They were kind to one another.  They always supported each other’s endeavors.  They dreamed together.  They stood united against any force. When things were bad, they worked through it together.  When things were good, they rejoiced together.

Despite them having been a part of the hippie generation that typically rejected the institution of marriage, they are still so in love.  So much so, that they have a tree in their backyard that has their initials carved inside a heart.

~Emily

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man.  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.      ~Genesis 2: 22-24

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A New Grandbaby!

I just met my newest grandson, Kalan.  He’s so perfect in my eyes.  I always say that you love your children, but grandchildren are just so special!  To see a little piece of your own child in the little ones they’ve brought into this world, reflecting how they’ve grown up, is beyond compare.

As we prepared for his impending birth both McKenna and Indy, her husband, were hoping the bundle of joy would be born on a Friday night.  With her first pregnancy resulting in an incredibly quick labor and delivery of Andros, there was hesitant confidence this would be just as fast.  If she went into labor after Indy got off work on Friday, the three days he was given for father-baby bonding time would mean he could have a total five full uninterrupted days with his family to begin a new normal with two small children.  However, there was a bit of disappointment when the doctor told them on Wednesday she was going to be induced and they were going to do it Friday morning.  There was no telling how long labor would last with inducing and he was going to have to take Friday off to be with McKenna as the procedure began.

Prayer team—ACTIVATE!  The prayer team of family and friends was initiated, and we prayed fervently for 48 hours that if McKenna was going to be induced on Friday that the labor would go quickly.  We prayed for not only a healthy and safe delivery, but also that Indy would have as much time as he could with his family.

And of course as only God can, He delivered.  McKenna delivered just three hours after starting induction and they were able to enjoy those first few precious days!  This scenario just reminds me that God hears and knows our prayers.  He tells us to ask, that He knows even before we ask (Matthew 6:8).  Our Father just wants us to seek Him in our needs.

Prayer can not only bring the will of God into your life but also the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with Him.  Prayer can change how you view your life around you.  It can else be a benefit to others who see your desire to put Christ at the center of all of our requests, pleas, and adorations.  Seeing strong Christ-followers looking to Him for all of their needs can encourage surrounding people to look to Him for their answers.

I encourage you, dear friends, to take the time to pray to Him for everything in your life.  He wants us to know Him.  And while the answer isn’t always what we want, there are moments like Friday, February 21, 2020, where your answers can be oh so sweet!

~Erin

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The Halo Eye

I believe strongly that I need to be a parent first to my children.  While I love being friends with them and I love that they feel they can come to me, at the end of the day they  know that my job as a mother to them far exceeds and outweighs any kind of friendship I can have them.  I’m thankful that my children know this.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun!  This week, I decided to try a new eye shadow look.  Now, for those who are beauty gurus reading this, I am FAR from experienced at any kind of fancy makeup look.  But I thought why not try a halo eye?!  For those who AREN’T beauty gurus, it’s essentially darker color across the eyelid with a lighter pop of color in the center of the lid.  (Don’t you feel ultra-informed now, (insert eye roll here)!)

Anyway, I forgot to tell Peyton I tried to do it and so I texted her (don’t judge) from the living room and asked if she’d seen it.  She wrote back that she hadn’t and what ensued was picture after ridiculous picture of my eyes, my face contorted in glorious fashion.  She came out of the room and let me know it was ‘very nice.’  We had such a good laugh over that.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’  The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. –Psalm 126:2-3

The Lord HAS done great things for me.  He gave me two parents who love the Lord.  He gave me wonderful children that I brought up in the church.  He’s provided for me day after day even when I didn’t deserve it.  He’s filled my soul with the everlasting love of the Father.  In turn, I find great joy in sharing time and laughter with Peyton!

I encourage you today to find the joy in your surroundings, no matter how big or small.  Focus on how God has blessed you and let laughter and joy flow out!  He is so good!

~Erin

P.S. You have to know I would show our text messages with proof I like to torture my daughter!

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Suicidal Dream

Recently, my 9-year-old son came to my bedside in the middle of the night asking to lay down with me.  He said he’d had a bad dream and wanted to snuggle. I asked him about the dream and he shared that it included a pretty explicit description of me committing suicide in front of him.

Through the years, I’ve comforted him several times after a bad dream, but nothing had prepared me for him dreaming that I’d shot myself in front of him.  I held him tight and prayed with him to have a calm spirit so that he could fall back to sleep.  He recalled a scripture from Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord, your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

I felt his heart rate slow down and his breathing level out as he fell asleep.

I, however, was wide awake and troubled by his dream.  Why on earth would his little mind have created a scenario where I would abandon him in such a manner? Are these residual ideas from his birth mom and the adoption process?  For that matter, how did he even know something so horrific could happen to a mom or a child?

I untangled myself from the blankets and the kiddo so I could get on my knees and place this burden at the feet of our Lord.  While I don’t understand the dream or why my child had it, I do know that I felt relief in sharing my concerns with God.

In the days after that situation, other verses of comfort came to both me and my son.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:4

For the Lord says…do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine. ~Isaiah 43:1

Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” ~Isaiah 35:4

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ~2 Timothy 1:7

The Iron Porch is a place to be transparent about real-life events.  With that in mind, I’ve got to admit my son’s dream has shaken me up for a few days.  The one thing that has kept me calm is scripture and prayer.  The constant provision of God’s word has encouraged me and reminded us that he does not want us to fear anything.

~Emily

Deuteronomy

 

The Christmas Train

When my son was 2 years old, we bought him a Polar Express train to set up under the Christmas tree.  Every year he waits anxiously for us to get the Christmas tree decorated so that we can set up the train.  As a Christmas gift, he receives one new car or piece to his train set each December.2014

He loves this tradition and occasionally mentions how many train pieces he’ll have to share with his own children someday.  He’s not obsessed with trains, but he certainly likes to ride on them and he definitely likes to play with his Christmas train set.

As I was watching him play with the train this last week, I got to thinking about how much he anticipates Christmas traditions because it includes this train. I also have great anticipation for the Christmas season. I love the anticipation of family heirlooms hanging on the tree, the sending and receiving of greeting cards and the process of finding, wrapping, and delivering gifts to those around me. IMG_5714

Scholars debate if December 25th is actually Jesus’ birthday, but indulge me for a moment and think about the anticipation Mary would have had for the birth of her child.  The anticipation of holding your small child for the first time and hearing those strong lungs announce their arrival.  The anticipation and longing to be done with the health changes pregnancy brings.  The anticipation of blending a family together.

You know what she didn’t anticipate in the days leading up to Christmas?

She didn’t anticipate fear of a king killing all the under-two-year-old boys in the region.  She didn’t anticipate life with an intelligent child who would teach Priests. She certainly didn’t anticipate watching her son suffer humiliating torture only to be crucified on the cross.

There is so much in the lives of women that we don’t anticipate: loss of wages, deaths of friends, failing relationships, miscarriages, smart-mouthed kiddos, dents and dings on our cars or on our hearts.

But there is so much good to anticipate when we know Jesus as our Savior.  To know you are heaven-bound makes many of the unexpected anticipations a tiny bit more bearable. IMG_8077Wouldn’t the best Christmas gift be to share with others that heaven-bound promise…the anticipation?!? That precious gift of His death for our sins is so much better than the anticipation of Christmas trains and heirloom ornaments!

In the last few hours of anticipation of Christmas 2019, let’s reflect on what we’re anticipating for our own lives and the lives around us.

Merry Christmas from the Iron Porch!

~Emily

2019