Mismatched Socks

My sister-in-law works at a sock company and often supplies us with fun-loving, colorful foot coverings.  In the past we’ve gotten fish, kittens, avocados, sloths, mermaids, firemen, dragons and countless other ankle or knee-high socks.  

My son has taken to wearing mismatched, knee-high socks.  He doesn’t care if he’s wearing shorts or pants and he certainly doesn’t care if the socks match. 

I want to believe that he’s making a statement of individual thinking.  However, I think his mismatched sock fashion is a result of his not wanting to match the socks out of the dryer.  

Sometimes our thoughts are like mismatched socks.  We try our best to think one way, but there’s another version of the thoughts right there.  Scripture in Matthew 14:29 (NASB) reminds us that Peter’s thoughts were on Jesus and the faith to walk on water.  Jesus called him, and Peter was able to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus on top of the water.  

Moments later, another thought enters Peter’s mind.  A mismatched thought; if you will.  He begins to doubt himself and subsequently begins to sink into the water.  Jesus saves him but chastises him for being of little faith.  

How often are mismatched thoughts entering your own mind?  

I’d like to help that single mother; contrasted with: I don’t have enough money to assist her.  

I want to spend more time studying the Bible; contrasted with: I have to pick up kids/make dinner/clean the house.  

I have an opportunity to present the Gospel to an unbeliever; contrasted with: I’m too scared that I’ll be rejected.  

Like my son’s mismatched socks, our thoughts are often in contrast with other thoughts.  This week, I’m praying that you have the wisdom and the strength to determine which thoughts you want to follow.  

~Emily

“And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” ~Matthew 14:29 (NASB)

Barn Raising; Not The Amish Way

A barn is being built on our property.  It’s a very large barn structure with electricity and a cement floor with super high rafters.  And it seems like it’s taking forever to complete.

The process has been tedious.  First trees stumps were removed.  Extra dirt was brought in and leveled.  Poles (or are they called studs?!??!) were cemented into place and structure began to take shape.  All this before the cement truck arrived to pour the flooring.  

We still need walls.  We still need a roof.  We still need two ginormous garage doors and a man door installed. We still need insulation and electricity.

If I’m honest, this barn raising process feels like it will never end!  There’s construction equipment and supplies all over my yard.  We play “shuffle” the vehicles every day to make room for whoever happens to be leaving for work first the next morning. If we were near the Amish, where my husband grew up in Pennsylvania, our barn would have likely been done in one weekend.

If this were a brick or stone building, we would have started with the cornerstone, which is the first laid stone and guides the construction of the rest of the building.  Most Christians have heard the metaphor of Jesus being the cornerstone of the church.  Jesus being the rock, in which we are each built upon.  He is he strength of the first laid stone; the guide for all the geometry that follows. 

For me, the barn raising journey isn’t a reminder of the cornerstone piece; rather it’s a constant reminder of my need to practice patience.  While I want the barn done and the yard cleaned up, I need to recognize that the process takes a little bit of time.  From a safely perspective, I don’t want this to be a rushed process. 

Patience is not natural to me.  For either the barn raising project or with the people in my life.  In my experience, the more I practice being patient, the more likely I am to actually naturally exercise patience.  When we are able to behave with kindness and patience, we are more often demonstrating Christ-like behavior towards others.  

As I struggle each day with the chaos in my yard during the barn raising, I am also reminded to be patience.   

~Emily

 “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…” Ephesians 4:2 (NASB)

Busted Can of Biscuits

I was sitting on the couch when I heard an explosion in the kitchen.  It sounded like a shelf had fallen and multiple glasses were rattling around in the cupboard.  I jumped up and ran to the kitchen, praying I hadn’t just lost a family heirloom.  I searched the kitchen and found nothing amiss. 

Until about 2 hours later when I went to refill my sweet tea.

Inside the refrigerator, a can of biscuits had literally exploded all over the top two shelves.  When I say everything was covered in unbaked biscuit dough, I mean EVERYTHING was covered on those top shelves.  

I heard the explosion and knew glass had been rattled.  I search for the cause and the effect, but couldn’t find what had made such a racket.  I went back to life.

There are times in our lives that God speaks to us with a loud voice.  An explosion, if you will, but we can’t find the root cause.  So, we choose to simply go on with our lives without properly assessing God’s message for us. 

What type of loud explosive noise will it take for us all to pay attention to God?

The Bible tells us that there will be a great trumpet sound. In most commentaries, the trumpet sound will be followed by an event we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around. Will that be the sound that gets our attention? 

 “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:31 (NASB)

“…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52 (NASB)

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.” Revelation 1:10 (NASB)

I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’” Jeremiah 6:17 (ESV)

A point to ponder this week.

When the trumpet sounds, will you pay attention? Or will you be like those in the Jeremiah scripture who declare that they won’t pay attention?  Will you be searching for the sound and responding to God’s calling?

Or will you go back to living your life, like you heard the busted can of biscuits but didn’t find the cause?

~Emily

Humble Honey

As I was bragging about never messing up in the kitchen, I dropped a one-pound glass jar of honey, which promptly exploded and then oozed on the counter and floor.  An “eat your words” type of moment and a ginormous mess, to say the least.  It was a humbling moment considering I had just been boastful about not dropping items.

According to dictonary.com, humbling is a verb which means “to bring down the pride of another or to reduce her to a state of abasement: to humble an arrogant enemy.”  While I don’t classify myself as an arrogant enemy, I certainly had my pride reduced in that moment of oozing honey and glass shards.

For the rest of the day, I was humming a childhood song based on James 4:10. “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo) Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo) And He shall lift you up. Higher and higher and He. Shall lift you up.”

The song, on constant repeat throughout the day, drove the question; “Why should we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord?”

First and foremost, we should humble ourselves before God because we are instructed to imitate Christ, who was in fact, humble.  As seen in Philippians 2:5, we see that Christ did not state equality with God was an attainable goal, but rather Christ humbled himself to become human for our benefit.

Perhaps another reason why we should humble ourselves is found in James 4:10 and in the song itself.  As we humble ourselves, God promises to exalt us.  When we are humble in the sight of God, we receive His blessings and grace in a unique manner.  He will lift us up.

 The song, still on repeat, drove the next question; “How do we humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord?”

Speak well of others…on purpose (Ephesians 4:31-32).  When we speak negatively about others, we are putting them down and often making ourselves out to be better.  When we speak positively about others, we build them up and edify them.  Throughout my life, I have caught myself being less than humble in this regard.

Always Pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  When we pray, we are acting in a manner of dependence and humility. Prayer becomes a declaration of weakness.  In the moment of prayer, we admit to God that we can’t make it without Him and that we need Him in requests and in praise.  There are plenty of times that prayer is an afterthought in my life when in reality it should be my 1st thought.

Confess your areas of sin to God (Luke 18:9-14).  All of us are sinful, but few of us routinely and honestly tell God about that sinful nature. Every day, it’s easy to ask God to “forgive my sins” as a blanketed statement.  For me, it’s much harder to specifically assess areas of my life that are steeped in sin and then admit them to God.

Confess your areas of sin to other Christians (James 3:2). A test of true humility is when we are willing to confess our sins to others, just as we would confess it to God.  Obviously, discretion is needed about who you confess sin to, but the act of telling someone about our sin allows us space to be completely honest with ourselves and ultimately with God.  I struggle with this one because I don’t want others to know where I am weak or where I am failing.  Thus, pride interfering with humility in my life.

As I hummed the song “Humble thyself in the Sight of the Lord,” I was reminded of why I should want to be humble and how I can practice being humble at the feet of God.

A broken honey jar is just one tangible reminder of how much work I have to do in this area…

To those on the Iron Porch this week, I pray you seek humility in your daily interactions this week!

~Emily

honey

 

 

Doritos Annoyed

My 9-year-old crunching Doritos, like I imagine a T-Rex would crunch through a bucket of KFC, is enough to drive me completely bonkers.

Loud, open-mouthed, chewing annoys me.

You know what annoys me even more than Dorito crunching?

Gossip under the guise of sharing a prayer request.

Christian women are usually fairly good at stopping themselves from outright and blatant gossip.  We understand that the Bible specifically calls gossip out as sinful.

However, some of us are guilty of gossip under the guise of sharing a prayer request.  We feel as though when sharing a prayer request, we are justified in sharing someone’s personal hurts or prayers.

As I have previously shared in the blog “The Sanctity of the Prayer Request” I take prayer requests very seriously and rarely will share them with someone else, as I want to make sure I have the original requester’s permission to share.

I recently heard an interesting thought about sharing prayer requests.  If the requester was standing right next to you, would you share their prayer request with a third party? If the answer is no, then you should not share.  Even if the answer is maybe, then you shouldn’t share the request.  This seems to be a fairly reasonable gauge to whether or not prayer requests are becoming gossip-centric.

Whether you get annoyed by chopping doritos or gossiping prayer requests, I’m praying that you are steadfast this week that your sharing does not become gossip!

~Emily

“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” ~Proverbs 11:13

Dorito Annoyed

 

 

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

Dear Diary

Day 4:  This could be interesting!  It’s an opportunity to really bond with my child and spend that time under one roof.  I’ll learn so much about her.

Day 20:  This is interesting.  It takes 12 steps to walk from my couch to the refrigerator and it’s the exact same amount of steps from my office to the refrigerator.

Day 32:  Interesting.  My daughter can say “yes, mother” in a way that evokes slight fear that I should sleep with one eye open.

Day 48:  I wonder what would happen if I took a four-hour shower.  Do you think they’d leave me alone?

Day 127:  Can I social distance from myself?

And so goes the days of shelter-in-place orders here in California.  I’ve officially been sheltered in place for four weeks….28 days of little interaction with the “outside.”  And, like Emily wrote last week, this is really starting to suck.

All of these great intentions that I’ve had for all this extra time have flown out the window, and I’d give anything to order at an actual restaurant and sit in an actual booth and hold an actual menu and laugh with an actual server.  But that’s just not how it is anymore.  And the reality is that it’s not going to be that way for a while.  And some days, it’s a little harder to deal with than others.

I find myself going from high to low to high again depending on how “claustrophobic” I feel in the house.  I wonder if that’s what David felt when he battled his own feelings of depression and despair.  One moment, he’s favored and then next, he’s despised.  While my circumstances might not be the same, my feelings of despair and loneliness mimic his own.

As I wade through what feels like Day 164, I hold to Psalm 18:19.

He brought me forth also into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

A broad place…Matthew Henry’s Commentary read like this, “He brought me forth also out of my straits into a large place, where I had room, not only to turn, but to thrive in.”  I don’t have to feel that claustrophobia that depression brings during a season like this.  He’s given me room to breathe and trust Him.  Thank you, God, for a broad place that gives you ample room to help me with my struggles.

~Erin

The options are endless.

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

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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