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

Fun vs. Folly: The Slippery Horoscope Away From God

Now that school is out for the summer, I feel like I can share a conversation that I had with one of my son’s teachers this last year.  The students were studying space; galaxies, planets, stars, and specifically the history of constellations and how to identify different constellations.  While in that section, the teacher taught of the constellations affiliated with what is commonly known as the zodiac signs.   

I was 100% behind the lessons to this point.  

Once they learned about the constellations associated with the zodiac, they were introduced to horoscopes. One step further; they were tasked with looking up their birthday, figuring out their zodiac sign, reading the personality traits associated with that zodiac, and then determining if they were aligned with their zodiac sign.  

My son came home that day and pretty innocently mentioned this activity that they’d conducted in class.  I must admit, I nearly lost my mind.  I asked dozens of questions to the point that Kambell became alarmed that something was clearly not right.    I contacted the teacher for further clarification.  I expressed my displeasure that Kambell was introduced to something that I believe is pagan and against scripture.  

She responded that it was “just a fun way for them to learn about the constellations.”  

Ummm. No, no it’s not “just a fun way…” for them to learn anything except the ways of the world and a path that Satan would love to have them on.  One that takes this kids away from God, not closer to God.  1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to destroy.” 

It only takes one introduction to something pagan…one careless thought…one glimpse at a worldly concept…one misstep, which can lead to something so much more sinister.  

Please know that I’m very pleased with the public-school education that my child is receiving and I’ve fallen in love with our school district and the teachers dedicated to assisting with raising future productive citizens of our Nation.   

Please also know that I recognize that I’m a tad hyper-sensitive to pagan activities, due to having being a practicing Wiccan for seven years.  

As a result, please know that I fully understand that some think I’m taking it too far to be upset about my 5th grader learning about horoscopes.  

Those some who think I’m taking it too far…they won’t be in front of God one day justifying how they raised this child.  They will be accountable for their own actions and behaviors.  As for me, I don’t want to explain to God why I made decisions (or allowed others around my child) to decide to introduce him to less-than-Godly behaviors.  Scripture shows us in 2 Corinthians and Romans that we will each be accountable.

“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad.” ~2 Corinthians 5:10 (NASB)

“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” ~Romans 14:12 (NASB)

When someone says “it’s just for fun,” but you still have unrest about the scenario in your heart, you should listen.  That is often the nudge of the Holy Spirit for you to further analyze and pray about the situation.  Remember also, you stand before the judgment seat by yourself.  Are you comfortable reporting to God regarding your behaviors, thoughts, and actions? 

Finally, remember that what is fun for some is likely folly for others.    

~Emily

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.** 

Spiritual Attacks

If you are a believer, you won’t go long without encountering spiritual warfare.  The enemy would love nothing more than for us to forget that there is constantly a spiritual battle going on amongst us.  We may not always see it and we may tend to forget that it’s going on, but it continuously brings chaos, turmoil, discouragement, fear, stress, and even defeat. 

The Bible reminds us that we should stay aware of Satan’s schemes, while staying close to the Lord. We’ve been armed for battle through the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17), and also with the entire Word of God.  When we are able to pray God’s Words back to Him, we are utilizing a powerful weapon against Satan, as it’s the Truth being spoken out loud. 

Here are scriptures to read, pray, and memorize in regards to Spiritual Warfare:

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. ~Luke 10:19 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~John 10:10 

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.  ~1 Peter 5:8-9

Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  ~James 4:7

For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.  ~Psalm 18:39

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:3-5

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 54:17

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:11-17

Remember sweet readers, when we belong to Christ, Satan never has the final word over our lives. We are fully in God’s hands.  Our responsibility in spiritual warfare includes being ready to pray, meditate, and speak the Word of God.  This battle belongs to the Lord, and He has the final victory…so fear not.

~Emily

Psalm 63

There are days when we can barely hang on.  Those are the days we have to lean on God the most.  Trust in God requires our whole heart.  Tonight, I’m leaning heavily on this chapter in the Bible.  I have no other words.  Just scripture that tells me to hold on to Jesus with every fiber of my being.  Perhaps one of you need this, as well, today.  I pray it comforts you and reminds you that God is our strength.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. 

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. 

So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. 

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, for You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 

My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. 

But those who seek my life to destroy it, will go into the depths of the earth. 

They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes. 

But the king will rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him will glory, for the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped. –Psalm 63

Remember, dear friends, even in the times of hurt and despair, we praise God for what will be a victory in the outcome.

~Erin

The Pit of Despair

I tend to write about the season of life I’m in.  Today is no different.  This week, I’ve reached the pit of despair.  I have been beyond grateful that I have been surrounded by Christian friends who have lifted myself and my family up in prayer…who have made dinner or fed my pups (you rock, Emily).  I have always trusted in God to see me through, but this week has truly been the toughest week of my life.  And while I’ve had to put my faith in God, it’s been something I’ve literally been forced into doing.  Nothing I can do can create the outcome I desire.  It is solely in the hands of the Father.

As I’ve struggled these last few days, I’ve thought about what I can do to help me remember to lift my eyes to Him.  I’ve poured Christian music into my car, my house, my headphones at work.  I’m listening to anything that reminds me that He is the Waymaker (Thanks, Kim, for that song) and whatever glorifies the Creator of my family.  I’ve been praying nonstop…I have taken the verse, “Pray without ceasing,” and have put it into action.  I have dozens of prayer warriors interceding on my behalf, praying at different times throughout the day.  I’ve stayed in my Bible, reading anything in there.  It doesn’t matter to me what passage I’m reading.  I just want to be reading God’s Word because it a Living Book.  And I read it out loud.  There is no room for satan and his attacks on my family.

Tonight, I read a passage of scripture that felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking directly to me…

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” –Jeremiah 17:7-8

Because I trust in the Lord, because I have no choice but to trust in the Lord, as the heat of despair comes at me full force, I’m still being nourished.  In this moment of drought, God still sustains me.  Praise Him for His everlasting grace and faithfulness to a woman who doesn’t deserve it.

I encourage you, dear friends, those who are in this season of despair, to be comforted by the words of God.  I pray that you know that you are not fighting alone. 

If you have something you would like us to pray for, please message us or leave it in the comments below.  Iron Porch would be honored to be a prayer warrior on your behalf.

~Erin

All The Cursey Words

If there had been a swear jar in the room, I would’ve owed it a $10.  Maybe $20.  In a moment of anger, frustration, and worry, I said enough expletives to make a sailor cringe.  During a conversation with my daughter, I became angry and worried about a story she told me that involved her.  I was not cursing at her, but I definitely said some things about the situation and the other people involved.

Ironically enough, the week’s Bible study for Table 8 was on the taming of the tongue—not really what I wanted to think about in that moment.  In James 3:5-12, there is plenty of scripture that reminds us that the tongue, while such a little part of the body, carries a great weight.  What come from our heart flows out through the tongue. 

It’s so true.  In the moment, I felt anger, fury, irritation.  The words that came out were exactly those feelings.  At a time where I could’ve been an example to my daughter about being slow to anger or watching my words, I did exactly the opposite.  I simply showed her words with shock-value and no substance.  What exactly does an “F-bomb” bring to the table? You’re right…nothing.

Our words should bring glory to God.  They should show people who our Father is.  They should be edifying and spirit-lifting, without malice.  Yet, often we speak what we want without thought to who around us can hear, whether it be little ears or the Holy Spirit Himself.   

“Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” –Ephesians 4:29

How do we do that?  How do we strive to purify our speech?  We can’t do it on our own, friends.  We have to ask God to tame our tongue.  We need to ask Him to help control your tongue.  And then, Iron Porch, you lean in.  Lean into the God who saves and trust the Holy Spirit will continue to do a good work in you.  And fight….put on the armor of God that you might be prepared for your heart to stay strong and not allow vile speech to flow from it.

Praise God for forgiveness! I know that with my repentant heart, God has forgiven me for the sin of my speech in that situation.  Now, I must remember to guard my heart so that it may not tempt my tongue.

~Erin

The Broken Shells

As Chris and I walked along the beach, we jut could not believe the amount of broken shells we saw lying around.  Thousands of pieces, shards of clams and oysters, conch and olive shells rolling up and down the shoreline were a sight to see.  I told Chris that I couldn’t remember the beaches in California having this many shells and he agreed.  As we walked down to the edge of a waterway, the entire bottom of the bed looked like a mass of jumbled gravel…it was more shells!

We spent close to an hour every day that we were there walking around and picking up the shells to take home for display.  As each of us selected one, we exclaimed to the other about what we’d found and would decide if we wanted to add it to our collection.  However, as we chose, I told Chris how sad it seemed to see so many little pieces of shells scattered about.  So many of them were broken into tiny pieces—pieces that no one wanted to pick up.

Sometimes, I feel that way about circumstances in my life.  With sadness and pain comes the pieces of my heart feeling as if it’s broken into hundred of shards.  They’re pieces so small that I’m sure they will never be put back together.   It’s the brokenness from a damaged relationship.  It’s the brokenness from a death.  It’s the brokenness from a sin that I so willingly committed.  Those pieces can never be brought back together to make me whole again.  But is that really true?

Those broken pieces can be loved and healed by God.  The bible tells us in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, God, You will not despise.”  Those pieces that are broken due to sin…when we come to Our Father with the fragments and a repentant heart, He can restore that beauty.

When we come to him with the shards of pain from a hurt or a devastation, He molds them in His hands to heal them.

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our Potter; we are all the work of your hand.” –Isaiah 64:8

Thank you, Jehovah Rapha, for healing those broken pieces and putting us back together.  Without your loving touch, we cannot know what wholeness truly means.

I encourage you, dear friends, to lean into God and allow Him to take what’s broken and trust that He will make it whole.

~Erin

Prickly Ball Things

I don’t really know what else to call them.  I never really thought that much about them when I first moved here, except that they were all over the ground and they fall from some kind of tree.  They reminded me of something you might see in a Dr. Seuss book! 

But I sure thought about them the other day when I walked out onto my bedroom deck and stepped on one.  I will say that I did not use any cursey words.  I will also say that about 14 of them, however, ran through my head.  It hurt.  I’d put it on the same level as a Lego, so captivating.  Until it’s 1030 at night and your child needs a drink of water.

These little thingies from the tree remind me of how sin can sometimes be.  We see it.  Something attracts our attention.  Maybe at first we don’t think much of it.  Perhaps we think it’s interesting or different.  We get used to it being around.  We know it’s there but it’s not really that big of a deal.  And then…  

WHAM!  You misstep.  You take your eyes off of Christ and the sin has ensnared you.  You didn’t even think it was that big of a deal, but before you even realize what you’ve done, satan has sucked you into something that you know isn’t the thing that you’re supposed to be doing!

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8

We must be aware of our surroundings.  We must be on guard at all times.  This is why our daily Bible reading is so important.  This is also why studying scripture is key.  When we study the scripture, we know what is pleasing and honorable to God.  When the little innocent looking objects/surroundings/people come our way, we can be better equipped to recognize the dangers or missteps that can happen.  This, then, allows us to avoid them and keeps the devil from devouring!

Iron Porch, let’s begin to recognize where those pitfalls lie around us and working on keeping them at bay and our Heavenly Father right in front of us!

~Erin

P.S.  If anyone knows what these prickly ball things actually are, you can leave it in the comments!

Brush Your Hair

(*I have been given permission to share this personal story in the hope that others might let go of the stigma behind mental health issues.)

My daughter, Peyton, texted me the other day begging to come home.  She didn’t want to be at school and felt overwhelmed.  Her depression was hitting a low and she was really struggling.  To make matters worse, she had been confiding in a friend about the struggle on the bus when another girl, overhearing, leaned over and made a comment that she’d noticed something was wrong because it looked like she hadn’t brushed her hair in a few days.  It felt like a gut punch.

I encouraged her to tough it out at least until lunch and if she was still struggling she could give me a call.  The call came as soon as lunch began.  She drove herself home and walked into my office.  I asked her if she was ok, and she broke down in tears, “I’m so tired of feeling like this, mom.  I just want to feel better.”  As I hugged her, I told her over and over again that she would get through this.  We would walk with her in this and that it was ok to feel like this right now.

The diagnosis doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I was diagnosed with depression in my 20’s and have worked through the same kinds of feelings for 20+ years.  I’ve learned that with medication and appropriate techniques, I can manage the symptoms and work through the ups and downs.  I’m not ashamed of it.  It’s just part of who I am.  But over the years, I’ve had to learn to figure out how to take those lows and channel them into leaning into my Creator.

More often than not, when I’m in the mire of an episode I’m not thinking, “Take this to God.”  I’m thinking how horrible this feeling is, how overwhelmed I am, how can I make this feeling go away.  I want to hole myself up in a dark room under the covers.  Sleep the day away.  

But none of those solutions are really solutions at all.  One of the first things I should be doing is calling out to my Protector and asking Him to cover me.  It’s something I’ve had to train myself to do.  It absolutely does NOT come naturally.  But when I purposely call attention to God, I allow myself permission to stop trying to control what I can’t control and give it to Him to take on.  Here are a few verses that help me when this happens.

“Answer me quickly, Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Your face from me, or I will be the same as those who go down in the pit.  Let me hear Your faithfulness 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.  Save me, Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You.” –Psalm 143:7-9

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

“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may take refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and wall.” –Psalm 91:4

When I pray on these verses and ask God to help me through the depression or anxiety, it allows me to recognize that my hope is in God, that He knows exactly what’s happening, and that He’s walking with me through it.  It doesn’t change the fact that I’m in the middle of a depression cycle.  But it changes who I rely on in that cycle—HIM!

I encourage you, dear friends, if you struggle with depression or anxiety to know and understand that you are not alone.  God is there beside you, fighting the fight.  And you have friends here at the Iron Porch who support you, too!

~Erin