Persona Non Grata

Monday, I felt like a failure.  Tuesday, pretty much the same.  And today?  Let’s not even get into today.  Anyone else raising children?  My girls are six years apart; my oldest is grown, out of the house, married and has my grandbaby while my youngest is a sophomore in high school.  I think I’d forgotten in the last few years what it was like to have a teenager in the house that thinks you’re a dumb lady who gives too many rules and asks too many questions.

Every day lately, it seems, I’ve let the enemy sneak in and ransack my thoughts.  “Your daughter thinks you’re stupid, and she’s right.  You DO ask too many questions.  Why can’t she sleep in and skip church EVERY SUNDAY OF HER TEENAGE LIFE…what’s the big deal?  It’s what everyone’s doing these days—leave her alone.  What’s your problem, Overbearing Crappy Mother?”  And because I fall prey to human nature, I listen to those words in my head and fear that I’m screwing up my daughter.

This verse pops into my head on occasion.  This week, however, I’ve found that by drowning myself in it, the verse helps remind me I’m not doing this ‘raising kids’ thing alone.

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6

When I say I drown myself in it, I’m serious too!  I’ve been writing and rewriting it.  I’ve been reading and rereading.  I say it out loud.  I pray it.  I made it a graphic to put on my phone.  I don’t want to forget that what I’m doing is trying to raise a child with the help of my loving Father (and when I say help, I really mean that I know God’s doing the heavy lifting).  I’m trying to instill in her a deep and meaningful love for Jesus that can’t be satisfied by the outside world.

She may feel as if I’m the adversary, but I have confidence in Jesus that I’m doing just as He instructs.   I can know that this is a short season in the grand scheme of things.  God sees the bigger picture, and I’m grateful that He’s in control.

Anyone out there had the same struggle with teenagers or children, in general?!  I’m very suspicious that I’m not alone in the “my mother is a persona non grata” feeling!  Share in the comments below.

~Erin

Train up a child in the way he should go,

Set the Pace

I stood on the balcony of our room on the ship and watched the ocean pass by at what appeared to be a snail’s pace.  It seemed as if we were barely moving.  I’m unfamiliar with how fast a cruise ship actually goes, but I was sure it needed to be faster than the speed we were going if we were going to reach any of our ports!  But somehow every morning we arrived on time.

Sometimes, I look at the race I’m running for Christ and wonder the same thing.  Am I even really moving?  Am I making progress, growing closer to Him?  It feels like I’m not really gaining any traction in my pursuit of a Godly walk, and it can be discouraging.   I want to see big victories and huge advances in thoughts and feelings.  When I struggle day after day, I feel like I’m just not making any headway.  This ship reminded me of a beautiful truth.

Even if it FEELS like I’m not going anywhere, I’m still moving forward if my eyes are on God.  He is guiding me at a slow and steady pace, a pace that’s set just for me.  Struggles don’t just disappear.  Victories aren’t always big.  When I seek Him and have Him set the speed, He advances me at the rate I need so that I can grow confidently and with purpose.

Thank you, God, that you know where we need to be and when we need to be.  I pray that we always look to You to set the pace, trusting that You know what we need to get to our next destination.

~Erin

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Late to the Game

I feel sometimes like I’ve come late to the game.  I knew I had a calling in my life to minister to women, specifically to women who felt broken or sometimes unworthy.  But it never really occurred to me to give it a “face” or to even just actually move forward with the vision from God!  I had helped in bible studies, facilitated DivorceCare classes, and met with women to mentor but felt like God saw it bigger even when I didn’t.  It wasn’t until Emily pushed me out of my comfort zone and said “God said we’re doing it, so we’re doing it” that Iron Porch was created.  I was 39.

I was reminded of that feeling when I read Matthew 20:1-16 a few weeks ago.  It’s the parable of the landowner who went and found workers in the morning, in the afternoon, and again in the evening, paying them all the exact same thing at the end of the day…even the ones who only worked an hour.  The idea behind the parable was two-fold.  And while both ideas are important, this is the one that stuck to me.

There is reward in the willingness to serve whether you come early or late.

It’s ok that God put it in motion at 39.  I could’ve started sooner.  Maybe I should’ve started sooner.  But God’s timing is always perfect.  And the Holy Spirit gave the conviction at just the right moment to begin when it was supposed to begin.  Perhaps at 30 or even 38, I wasn’t ready.  God was still shaping that desire to serve women.  When I start to feel like I wasted years, I can read Jesus’ words in Matthew and be encouraged that God sees my heart to serve, not the length of time I’ve served.

How about you?  Share at the porch a time that Jesus has told you “now is the time” no matter how late to the game you felt.

~Erin

God's timing is always perfect.

“NO!”

I kept telling him to come into the living room with me instead of staying in the kitchen.  And every time I’d hold out my hand and say, “Andros, let’s go into the other room and play,” he would stiffen up his arms and yell “NO!”  He wanted nothing to do with what was in the other room.  He didn’t understand I was trying to take him somewhere that had toys and safer objects to play with.  What was important to him was that he found the kitchen fun, and banging drawers and cabinets was what held his interest at the moment.

Andros, my grandson, is almost two, and it amazes me even still how quickly he can get into something that’s off-limits.  I wasn’t trying to make him stop playing.  But the house I live in is older with ancient kitchen cabinets.  The drawers are heavy and not on tracks to keep them steady.  One good lengthy pull, and Andros would’ve pulled the heavy drawer out with all of the utensils and kitchen gadgets.  Opening and shutting the sink cabinet gave him access to the cleaning supplies that I haven’t had a need to child safety-lock in many years.  I wanted him to enjoy his time, but I wanted that sweet child to enjoy it safely without the potential harm that could come to him.

I’m often the same with our Heavenly Father.  God wants to keep us safe and protected.   It doesn’t mean we won’t have trials.  But it DOES mean that He’s guiding us, holding out His hand to lead us in the path that will bring us closer into relationship with Him.  That relationship allows us heart and soul protection from the dangers of this world.  And often, I stomp my foot and tell Him “NO!”  The desire to control what I want to do and ‘play’ where I want to play takes over, and I become the two year old child who thinks they’re having fun where they’re at instead of trusting the Father to lead me to what’s better.

I pray, dear friends that we can all recognize that God is leading us to better, no matter what we think is right in front of us at the moment.  If you’re in a situation where you’re telling Him “No,” ask God to soften your heart to trust Him with where He’s leading you.

~Erin

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Good morning, everyone!

Sorrow for Judas

I re-read the couple of verses over and over again in my head.  Then I read them out loud.  These verses were not new to me.  And the story behind it was something I’ve heard my whole life.  Judas Iscariot, the great betrayer, had given Jesus up for 30 pieces of silver.  We all know how vile his actions were, how hard his heart was.  But this day, Matthew 27:3-4 brought fresh eyes to an old story.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  But they said, “What is that to us?  See to that yourself!”

While I’ve never been taught to hate Judas, this disgust of him and his actions has always been forefront in that story.  How could someone who dropped everything to be a follower of Jesus be so easily swayed?  How do you get from listening to the words of Jesus Christ and seeing Him heal the blind and lame to trading him for blood money?

What must have gone through his head when he kissed the face of Jesus?  To see Him calm and ready to go with the soldiers….willing to do what needed to be done to save humanity.  Jesus Himself told them that death was imminent.  Did Judas just not believe what He said?

But today, reading these two verses made me realize how my hatred toward Judas had turned to sorrow.  I may not have betrayed Jesus in this way, but I know that I’ve betrayed Him in the actions of my past more than once.  And I know the sadness and emptiness I’ve felt when I’d realized what I done and just how far I’d gone.

This new perspective of Judas has allowed me to see past the story I’ve learned my whole life, and notice the broken man underneath.  I’ve been there, and I’m grateful that I’ve chosen true repentance over mere remorse.  I’m grateful that we have a God that sees our hearts and loves us right where we are, betrayer AND betrothed.

~Erin

Praying With Peyton

Every morning for the last two years, I’ve made it a point to pray with Peyton before she heads off to school.  It never takes very long, and we don’t make a production out of it.  Sometimes, she bows her head and closes her eyes while I pray.  More often than not, you’ll find her applying her mascara in the mirror as I talk to Jesus about her and her day to come.

My prayer is simple.  I pray that she has a good day, free of drama and anxiety.  I pray that if she has any tests or questions the teachers may ask, that she be confident in her answers and that she remember what she’s learned.  And every single time, I ask that God protects her spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally from anyone or anything that would seek to do her harm.

This week I was challenged by a dear friend of mine to continue praying over her even though school’s out, particularly during this season of life where we’re struggling with some life issues.  It really got me to thinking about this idea of prayer over my child.

Why didn’t I keep going?  Just because she’s out of school doesn’t mean she’s not influenced by people around her.  She still sees her friends.  She still has social media.  She still talks on the phone, and she still deals with day to day matters.  Part of the reason I pray over her is to seek protection over her.  The other part, however, is for her to have an example of how we should take our petitions to God in prayer.  And our requests and the need for that protection in Christ doesn’t end when the school day ends or the vacation is over.

The prayers that we pray over our children are important to our relationship with Jesus.  It doesn’t only show Peyton who He is.  It reminds ME of who He is and how He loves us.   I’ve made the commitment, effective today, to pray over her every morning out loud.  She’ll see that we go to our Father in Heaven.  And she’ll see how He provides for us in big AND small ways.  It still won’t be a big production, and there will be days where she may even ask me ‘what’s the point.’  The point, sweet Peyton, is Jesus.

Do you pray over your children or is this something you’d like to start doing?  Comment below and let us know!

~Erin

protects her spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally from anyone or anything that would seek to do her harm.

 

 

He Is My Refuge

You have your life planned out.  You know what college you’re going to, who you’re going to marry, how many kids you’ll have, where you want to create a home.  You have this idea of what your life is supposed to be like.  It’s like this perfect movie playing slow motion in your head.

But life doesn’t always work out that way.  You don’t get accepted to the college of your choice.  You marriage ends in a mess of a divorce.  The house you intended to make memories in is just a memory itself.  Nothing is the way you ever envisioned, and you cry out wanting to know why this shamble of a life you feel is not the dream you ever envisioned.

You cry out, “God, where are You?  Where WERE You?  I thought I heard You and where You wanted me.  And yet, here I am. Lost and feeling like I’m fighting this battle all on my own.”  It’s so easy to feel the loss of a dream by yourself, not recognizing His presence there with you.

Are we really alone, though, in the middle of our pain?  The truth is, I’ve felt that way more than once.  I’ve never questioned God as to where He was.  But I’ve certainly prayed that I wanted to feel Him closer to help take away some of the ache of change and loss.  Even when we’ve helped create that change, it can still be difficult to manage that hurt on our own.

God tells us often that we’re not alone…that He sees us even if it feels like we don’t see Him.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”  For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark.  –Psalm 91:1-4

I’ve had to play that verse over and over in my head.  One too many times, I felt the shift of my life in a direction that I never imagined.  I’ve gotten to the point where I decided I had to work through transition on my own.  But I didn’t.  Our Father saw me then and He sees me now.  He covered me with protection and comfort then, and He does the same even now.  He is my shield from the uncertainty and struggle.  He doesn’t remove the hurt, but He protects me as I go through it.

What about you today, dear friends?  Have you reached a moment in your life where you’ve had to remind yourself that God sees you and that you’re not going through life alone?  Share in the comments below how we can pray for you.

~Erin

His faithfulness is a shield and a bulwark.