Stuck Like Glue

I’m pretty sure Winnie has separation anxiety.  I’m slightly teasing, but our 11-month old pup cannot stand to be away from me or Chris.  She gets up on the couch and will “nose” you to get you to start petting her.  She has the weird sitting stance where she sits up straight like a statue as you pet her and then she slowly falls backwards until she’s almost off the couch.  If you stop, she nudges you again with to get close and get some petting time. 

When we get up, she gets up.  When we walk to the kitchen, she’s right there.  It’s become the running joke in our house that we tell her that we’re just “going to the bathroom and we don’t need her to watch.”  She still follows.

As she followed me into the other room this morning, I thought about my relationship with God.  Is it the same way? 

We often lean in close to Him when we are struggling.  We praise Him when a prayer has been answered.  We go to church on Sunday or attend a Bible study once a week.  But what about the rest of the time?  There’s so much scripture about drawing close to Him.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” –Isaiah 55:6

“Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” –Hebrews 4:16

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.  He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them.” –Psalm 145:18-19

The Bible tells us him can approach with confidence.  It doesn’t say TRY and seek the Lord.  It says SEEK the Lord.  When we are always making our day about Him, leaning into Him, praying with ceasing, praising without ceasing, what does that do for our emotional and mental well-being?!  It brings contentment.  It brings a joy and a peace.  It cloaks you with the Armor of God; it brings protection!

If I followed God as faithfully as Winnie follows us, there would be no room for Satan to step in between.  Oh, he’ll try.  But when we are firmly planted by Jesus, the devil’s plans will be thwarted.  God will have the victory because we have not left a gap in our walk!

Do you have a pet (or even a child) that can’t stand to leave your side?  As you go through the week and you’re spending time with them, remind yourself to stay that close to our Heavenly Father.

~Erin

The Sting of Pride

Pride…what a seemingly two-edged sword.  We’re taught to be proud of who we are and of what we’ve accomplished.  We’re encouraged to be proud of the stand we take or decisions that we have made.  Yet there are multiple verses in the Bible that tell us pride is wrong.

“But He gives a greater grace.  Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” –James 4:6

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Let no wise man boast of his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast of his might, nor a rich man boast of his riches;” –Jeremiah 9:23

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor; but with the humble there is wisdom.” –Proverbs 11:2

“Through overconfidence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.” –Proverbs 13:10

You may be asking now, “Erin, how do you know whether the pride you feel is godly?”  That’s a great question!  Pride is not just an unbeliever thing, as we all know.  It’s something that I struggle with, and I’m constantly having to ask this question of myself.  That sin applies to all of us. 

I PRIDE MYSELF on the fact that I know a little about a lot in the Bible.  It makes me feel good to know that I can help people get an answer to something that they might not have previously known.  But am I being prideful in the wrong way?

Have I acknowledged that my parents, BECAUSE OF GOD’S MERCY, accepted the Lord as their Savior and took me to church from birth.  The Sunday School teacher, BECAUSE OF GOD, decided to answer the call to lead children and talk to me about the Bible stories.  The private school I was sent to that was affiliated with my church…GOD provided the opportunity.  GOD led the preachers to teach on topics.  GOD gave me my brain to be able to soak up the knowledge.  GOD directed conversations that I have with people that allow me to tell them what I know.

I know that’s a lot of capital letters in that paragraph, but the point is, I shouldn’t be taking pride in myself.  I should be humbled that through GOD, I was given amazing opportunities.  The difference in Godly pride and ungodly pride (if I may distinguish), is our humbleness about what we’ve achieved and WHO has allowed that achievement.  Who is really getting the glory?

We can be proud of every single accomplishment or decision or of the things we say.  But if we don’t understand and acknowledge that it would have been nothing without God’s kindness, grace and mercy allowing it, it’s simply sinful pride.  We must be able to have humility and recognize that apart from God, we can do nothing (John 15:45).

I pray that as we go through this week, we can be humble in what we do and recognize what God has allowed us to do and who He has allowed us to be!

~Erin

Why A Chin Whisker?!

Sweet God in heaven, why would You bless me with a whisker?  Every time I turn around, I have a random hair growing out of my chin.  Or how about the mustache!?  Do I look like, at age 40, I would enjoy having hairs ripped out above my lip???

This is the current state of affairs.  My hair, my weight, my skin, it’s all become the comedy show content for my life.  I was standing in a line one day a couple of months ago with Peyton when I leaned over to her and whispered to her that she had some stray brow hairs in the middle section that borderlined unibrow status.  She leaned over to me and said if I didn’t shut up, she’d talk about my mustache out loud.  Oh, sweet girl, have you not learned in your short, 14-year life span that comments like that are what I live for.  “WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY MUSTACHE?!  I THOUGHT YOU LIKED MY CHIN WHISKER!”  I’m pretty sure the people in the back of the store heard me!

Or how about my skin!  Melasma has become my best friend.  What is melasma, you ask?  Please, let me tell you!  It’s hyperpigmentation that appears as brownish patches in different sizes or shapes.  I get it because of my hypothyroidism.  But I’m just curious why I was blessed with two patches of it symmetrically above my upper lip.  Now I just look like I have a chocolate-milk-mustache-mustache!!

All joking aside, how many times do we pick ourselves apart in a day, in a week, in a lifetime?  We’re so critical of ourselves because society standards say our skin needs to be perfect, our weight needs to be trim, our clothes perfectly trendy, and our lives with as little mess as possible.  No one can see the real us because we’re too busy snapping 16 pictures of ourselves to get the perfect selfie.  I would know.  I’m guilty of it.

But I’m learning a lot as I get older.  My daughters are watching.  Even at age 20 and 14, they see and mimic how I talk about myself and my image.  People around me hear what I say.  Maybe they have the same issue and it doesn’t bother them, but they see me talking about it as if I’m leprous and it changes their outlook of themselves negatively.

Here’s what God taught me, though and what I need to keep saying to myself over and over….GOD MADE ME.  He made me with dark spots on my upper lip.  He created me with a girl mustache of baby hairs, and he grew that whisker in my chin that makes an annoying appearance every couple of weeks.  He knew exactly what He was doing, and He tells us that over and over in the bible.

Psalm 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it well.

Genesis 1:31a And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

And if that weren’t awesome enough, He could care less if we’re short, tall, skinny, heavy, have a hairy mole, or just one lone tooth.  When the priest, Samuel, was looking to anoint the next king of Israel, he met with each of Jesse’s sons.  Samuel incorrectly thought when he saw Eliab that he would be the chosen one.  Listen to what the Lord said, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (I Samuel 16:7).

Isn’t that wonderful news!?  He made us.  He sees us.  ALL the parts of us, not just what’s on the outside.

What does this mean for me?  I’ll still be pulling that chin whisker.  But I know I don’t need anyone’s approval of my outward appearance, and I need to learn to be happy with all the parts of me, not just the parts that I think others will think is beautiful.  Because I’m ALL beautiful.  God said so.

~Erin

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Be Bold

I’m sitting here and staring at a blank screen.  This happens a lot.  I sit down to write only to be stumped with what God is telling me to write.  I think a topic is a good idea.  Then I wonder what the topic will bring to the table in my writing.  I pause, and then I erase.  A new idea enters my head.  Yet again, I think about where I want it to go, and then I erase.  It’s a vicious cycle I have in my head.

And now, I have this crazy thought…how often do we start to tell people about us and about our testimony when we stop ourselves, erase the potential conversation and start talking about something completely different because we’re afraid of what people will think or say?  I know I’m sometimes guilty of it.

I want to start off on the right foot with people.  I don’t want them thinking I’m some crazy Jesus Freak who is unable to relate to them because I do things “God’s way”.  I gauge the temperature of the conversation before I jump in with my story or what the platform is of my ministry.

But really, what’s so wrong with being a Jesus Freak?!  I love Jesus.  My life is about serving and glorifying Him.  It doesn’t mean I’m not fun.  It definitely doesn’t mean I’m boring. I’m not going to judge someone for their sin or how they live their life…I’ve got my own sin to worry about.  So why should I be ashamed to talk about what I live for or what my calling is when they ask me about myself?!

Being a Christian is what defines me.  While being a mom and a grandma is about the best thing I could ever ask for, my life would not, could not be what it is without Jesus Christ and what He did for me.  I should not nor do I need to be ashamed or hesitant to share my love for Jesus.

I know this may not have been what you stopped by the Iron Porch to hear today, but I feel like someone, even if it’s only me, needs to hear that you don’t need to be afraid of who you are in Jesus.  It’s ok to have your life in Him and to be bold about it.  Don’t fear sharing with others what He’s done for you or how He’s changing you.  He loves you, and that just may be what someone else needs to hear.

~Erin