Two Lanes at the Drive-Thru

True confession time.  If I pull into a drive thru and there are two lanes taking orders, I always (as in 100% of the time) contemplate leaving the establishment.  Seriously.  It does not matter if I’m thirsty, if I’m hungry, if I lack caffeine or even if I have screaming children in the back seat.  I despise the two-lane drive-thru concept.  

Inevitably, someone doesn’t understand the zipper concept and cuts into line ahead of the other lane.  At the window, chaos ensues due to the cars being out of order. It happened today when the lady in front of us ended it with our son’s chicken nuggets and our bag held her child’s cheese burgers without onion.  

I understand that the two-lane ordering assists with quicker service, but I still dislike the process.  I wish there was a green-yellow-red light for the merging part of ordering.

While I wish there was a green-yellow-red light at the drive thru, we often use the green-yellow-red thought process when it comes to sharing the Gospel.  We may use yellow as a caution (or red as an out-right stop) that the person isn’t ready to hear the Gospel.  We think they may not be ready, so we decline to fulfill our portion of the Great Commission.  Perhaps a better approach would be to assume that everyone is a green light and start sharing with everyone. 

Like the merging of two lanes requiring patience and a little intuition, the sharing of the Gospel also requires both.  The patience needed when sharing God’s love with the world is most often seen when presenting the Good News repeatedly to the same person or groups of people.  We may get frustrated that they don’t “merge into their lane at the right time” when in reality, God has their hearts ready at His time.  

In Matthew 28:19 (NASB), we read the following command, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

God said, “Go…”  He didn’t say, “convince them” or “argue with them” or “brow beat them.”  He simply said, “Go.”  We can rest assured that our God is going to take care of the rest.  

If we approach the unbelievers in our friend circles, in our workplaces, and even in the grocery store, as though they are a Green-Light, we will have accomplished the “Go.”  God will handle the rest. 

The merging of two lanes into one at a drive thru will likely always cause me grief.  But that merging of believers “going” with God’s “doing” will create an eternity filled with sinners who heard the Gospel and believed.  

This week let’s strive to be the green light and Go!

~Emily

Care for the Widows

Losing a parent is a roller coaster of emotions.  

My Dad died on Saturday morning and I felt like it was a chaotic series of ups and downs.  Joy that he was finally pain free.  Sadness for the loss.  Relief that my Mom doesn’t have to be the primary caretaker anymore.  Anxiety over all the paperwork.  Annoyance that the screen door was broken by the Funeral Home employees.  Amusement that the 1st visitor from my parents’ church brought lemon muffins and toilet paper.  

I’m not worried about my Dad. He’s home with Jesus. Not a darn thing for me to worry about there. 

But I am concerned about my Mom.  She’s got plans to create a craft room and start going to water aerobics.  She wants to shampoo the carpets and purchase a new couch.  From a grieving perspective, she’s got a healthy thought process about staying in the house for at least a year before she makes big life-changing plans.  She’s going to keep herself busy…and she’s going to get some rest.

I’m most concerned about when the sun sets.  When she has to go to bed alone after having slept in the same bed with her husband for 52 years.  I’m concerned about her finances as she waits for Social Security to transfer over.  I’m concerned about when she has to go to the funeral home alone to pick up paperwork.  I’m concerned about her safety, her sanity, her well-being.  

How can I be so assured about where my Dad is, but be so concerned about my Mom’s well-being?  It’s a sliding graph of hypocrisy to trust God with my Dad’s eternity, but question my Mom’s earthly care as a widow.  

Scripture has helped these last few days with answering those questions.  

“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.  God makes a home for the lonely…” ~Psalm 68:5-6

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…” ~James 1:27 

“Learn to do good;  Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” ~Isaiah 1:17

When I turn to scripture, I’m comforted and know that God will take care of my Mom better than I ever could.  God has already put in place a plan for us, as believers, to care for the widows and the orphans.  From across the country, I will rest assured her church family will care for her when I geographically can’t.  

Losing a parent is such a hard rollercoaster, but so is caring for the parent left behind.  

I’m requesting prayers this week for all the widows of the world, but most especially for those who are newly titled “widow.”

~Emily

The Monday After Easter

When I was a child, the Monday after Easter always included potato salad in order to use up some of the dyed hard-boiled eggs that had been hidden the morning before.  Watching my son, the Monday after Easter includes smuggling candy to school and breaking in new shoes that were in his baskets.  As a child the Monday after Easter did not include much reflection on the significance of the “day after” the resurrection.  

On this Monday after Easter, I wonder what you are doing and thinking?  Was Sunday a day of family gatherings, a day of matching clothes, of delicious food, of family photos, or even one of wonderful worship at a church you only attend a few times a year? Are you reflecting on family fights, messy kitchens, or money spent on Easter baskets and clothes?  

Are you thinking of Jesus and his sacrifice?  Are you wondering about the glory of this miracle of saving Grace?  Does this Monday mean the start of real Christian living and serving?  

Or is the Monday after Easter a letdown for you?  Another start to the work week, complete with baseball games and ACAP testing for the kiddos, and laundry or grocery shopping to be done?  

Both Luke and Matthew record doubt and bewilderment on Resurrection Sunday; what we now know as Easter.  After reading the Gospels, I wonder what the Monday after Easter was like for the disciples, the women at the tomb, Jesus’ mother, and the followers of Christ.  They were likely still filled with wonder and excitement over all of the events the day before.  Word was still spreading and it would have been filled with anticipation and rejoicing (and probably some skepticism which led them to be labeled as delusional).  At that point, the resurrection of Christ was so new and in some cases so terrifying, that many may have been filled with fear and trembling rather than pure excitement about the implications of Christ’s resurrection.

The Monday after Easter for them would have been one of wonder…but also one of dismay and uncertainty.  The Monday after Easter would have been when the work of spreading the word began in earnest.  

In 2022, we have a different perspective on the events of Jesus’ life; specifically, Easter.  We celebrate this as a major Christian holy day.  We rejoice in our relationship with the Savior.  We worship diligently and find our place in pews with other believers.

But most likely our Monday after Easter is just another Monday.  Or is it?  Could we capture the wonder and excitement of the past?  Can we be just as diligent in sharing the Good News?  Can we hold on to the knowledge we hold tight to our heart on Easter morning?  

Whether you are a child smuggling candy to school, a New Testament disciple being labeled delusional, or a current day Christian working to emulate the life of Christ, please know that the Monday after Easter is the day we have a chance to show the world the Grace of God.   We have great opportunity on the Monday after Easter to initiate the Great Commission. 

Make a difference in someone’s life this Monday after Easter.

~Emily

“When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.  And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, ‘Get up, and do not be afraid.’ And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” ~Matthew 17:6-8 (NASB)

Tax Day: What Do You Owe Uncle Sam vs. What Do You Owe God?

Throughout the decades, April 15th has been one of the more dreaded days for Americans.  It’s tax day.  The day we owe the government our income tax forms and possibly money.  

In today’s society, there seems to be a less frantic filing frenzy due to the internet.  In the past, those who waited until the last minute would count on the post office staying open until midnight, just to ensure that the filing was postmarked by twelve o’clock.  

Seems pretty straightforward: We owe the Government our Tax Forms by April 15th.  Sometimes they owe us a refund…sometimes we owe even more money.  

Jesus told us “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

The question then becomes, what do we owe God?  

The easy answer is that we owe Him everything.  We have literally been purchased at the terrible price of Jesus’ torture and execution on the cross.  As a result of that very high payment, you would think we would have a laundry list of what we’d like to “owe” God.  

Because we belong to God, if we have accepted Christ as our Savior, God has a right to expect that we will render certain things unto Him.  Similarly, if we are citizens of the United States, the government has the right to expect we will pay income taxes. 

But the eternal impact of our salvation is a much greater rendering than simply paying taxes.  We have an obligation to present ourselves as a “living sacrifice, made holy and acceptable to God.”  We are commanded to present God with our tithes and offerings (this includes the offering of our time and talents through service to others).  God desires relationships with us and fellowship that is meaningful.  There is an expectation that we will speak to Him through prayer and that we will study His Word.  It is expected that we will share the Gospel, guide others to the gift of salvation, and continue to mentor others as we mature in our own walk.

– Present myself to God as holy and acceptable.

– Tithes and offerings.

– Relationship with God.

– Prayer and Study of the Bible.

– Share the Gospel.

– Make Disciples.


Sounds pretty reasonable, considering the price that was paid for my salvation.  

At a time when we are preoccupied with what we owe the American government, we would be better served to consider what we owe God…on tax day…and every day…and especially when Tax Day and Good Friday coincide.  

~Emily

Get on the Train…or Get Out of the Way

Last week I had a dream where a lady from my previous church was with her husband at a table across from mine at a charity luncheon.  In front of several people she leaned over and told me that she was sick and tired of reading my blogs on Iron Porch and that I should figure out what to do with my life.  In the dream I was shocked, as I imagine I would be in real life. I calmly told her she could easily unfollow the blog.  In my dream, I then said, “or you could write a guest blog about why you are so tired of reading other people’s blogs.”

I gave her two choices: stop reading the blog or help contribute to it.  

This was a leadership lesson that I learned early in my military career.  Get on the train (and help) or get out of the way (and stop complaining). 

In the Bible we see countless examples of complaining and grumbling.  Martha complains to Jesus about Mary.  In the Old Testament there’s complaining to Moses and Aaron.  The Disciples complain about all the riff-raff waiting for a millisecond to chat with Jesus (that was a total “Emily” paraphrase!). Even the Psalmist in Psalm 55:17 (NASB) stated, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and moan, and He will hear my voice.” 

All these complainers need to consider getting out of the way of the train.

Instead, what would happen if they got on the train? If they helped those in need? If they started expressing gratitude for God’s blessings in their lives? If they started sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Think about the impact they could have on the kingdom!!!

We have guidance to help us pray for one another and become hospitable to each other, which is us choosing to “get on the train.” 

What if we followed Galatians 6:2 (NASB), “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”  And what if we were able to “contribute to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” as seen in Romans 12:13 (NASB).  Would we be better equipped to pray for others? Would we know their needs before they had to ask for help?

Perhaps if we choose to get on the train, we’d be able to live out 1 Peter 4:9…while choosing to not get out of the way with our complains.   “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” ~1 Peter 4:9 (NASB)

Each day we get these choices. You can “stop doing” or you can “help contribute.”   Regardless of the circumstances of your choices to “get on the train or get out of the way,” they are yours to make.  I’ll be praying this week that you have peace with your choice.

~Emily

Bad Luck Bananas

During a recent fishing trip, my son and husband told me I brought bad luck to the boat because I had some Mike & Ikes in my bag that were banana flavored.  They said it could cause them to not catch any fish, for someone to fall overboard, or even for the motor to quit working.  I thought they were joking with me. 

No.  Apparently they were not joking around.  Apparently in the world of anglers, it’s bad luck to have a banana on board.  Being the social historian that I am, I dug in to research the origins of this fishing superstition.  

Some believe the superstition originated in the 1700s because bananas would float to the surface of a ship wreck. Others argue that bananas, which are quick to ripen, ferment, and rot, would cause fires in the boats of the 1700s and 1800s. Another thought is that bananas are a delicacy to both spiders and termites, which anglers would not want on their fishing vessels (especially in the early years of primarily wooden boats).  Some even believe it’s just because they become super smelly or the peels become a slipping hazard.

Regardless of how it came to be a superstition, it’s a real thing.  So much so that some boat owners won’t even allow Banana Boat sunscreen on their property…or even banana flavored chewy candies!!!

It made me start to think about how completely routine driven and superstitious fishermen are in 2022…and if they were that superstitions during the time Jesus walked the earth.  

Fishing during New Testament times was labor intensive and did not involve the rod, reel and lures we know today.  Rather, they would have cast nets from the boat or the shoreline (see Matthew 17:24-27). Cast, Cast, Cast, Repeatedly.  Until they caught enough fish.  By today’s CrossFit standards, that would be quite the shoulder workout!

Any given superstition is a belief that actions, which are not related to another task, could be altered by an action, belief, or object.  It’s thought to change our luck in some regard.  And in Biblical times, they would probably have had some superstitions.  They likely had a preferred day or method to mend the nets.  Maybe they had a favored side of the boat to throw the nets off or maybe they had thoughts on how many people could be on a boat on any given day. 

The Bible cautions us about superstitious behavior as a means of idolatry.  For instance, in 1 Kings 18:20-40, Elijah diligently explores the foolishness of superstitious beliefs.  Furthermore, he challenges the priests of Baal to articulate the realness of their god verses the One True God.  Paul also cautioned against superstitious behavior with “little g gods” lest the audience become confused about what our Lord was requiring of us in followership.  

Clearly these are two examples dealing with worship of idols and ultimately where one would spend eternity, which is much more serious than if a boat motor would quit or one wouldn’t catch fish for the day.  The superstitions are real…but one is very serious…and the other seems more jovial.  

I’d urge the readers on the Iron Porch to use discernment this week about superstitions.  Are they playing a serious role in your life?  A fun-loving jovial role in your life? Or no role at all?  

And for goodness sake…don’t plan on bringing banana bread on your next fishing expedition!

~Emily

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

The Business of Dying is Hard Work

Last month my mom said, “This business of dying is harder work than being born.”

She’s right.  It’s hard work for the one who is dying, but it’s especially hard work for the friends and family left after the death.  

In the last year, I’ve had friends mourn family members who died from COVID.  I’ve watched my Mom make the hard decisions about hospice for my Dad, just months after he was diagnosed with cancer.  I’ve watched my husband’s family mourn the death of their matriarch, Deea.  I’ve had High School classmates die from suicide and cancer.  

The business of dying is hard work.

So is the business of living.

In each scenario where someone has died, there are families and friends doing the hard work of continuing to live…paying bills, going to school or work, loving children, putting on a smile…all while grappling with the very real stages of grieving.  In the scenario where a spouse becomes a caretaker, it’s hard work to keep living…to juggle the knowledge that you aren’t a medically trained professional, but you are expected to advocate for your loved one.   In the instances where we just want to give up, it’s hard work to keep trucking along…to keep putting one foot in front of the other while wanting to scream profanities into your pillow.   

In John 10:10 (NASB) scripture tells us “The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  

In this verse, Jesus promises that He’s come so that we’ll have life to the fullest.  We’re warned against an enemy whose primary mission is to steal our joy and taint our memories through destruction.  How can we have that promise of a full life?  

When we choose to intentionally make God the foundation of our lives, we receive clarity about the hard work of living.  As we walk through creating focus on Jesus, we are able to see ourselves making it through the “narrow gate” that is discussed in Matthew 7.  Through that scripture we are able to see a few foundational principles.  1. The rightful place of God is on the throne of our lives. 2. Jesus Christ and our faith in Him is the requirement for entry into heaven.  3. As Lord of our lives, Jesus allows us to focus on Him, which then allows all other priorities to become easier to walk through.  

This doesn’t mean we won’t have strife and trials.  It does not mean that we won’t grieve the deaths of those around us.  It certainly doesn’t mean that we won’t be anguished and full of questions when struggling with all the issues around dying.  

It does mean that we can have comfort, peace, love, and even joy in the midst of those horrible moments…if only we allow Jesus to help us with these difficulties.  


You see, both dying and living are hard work.  

But both can be made slightly easier with our reliance on Christ. 

I’m praying this week for each of us who are facing or have faced death recently.  Specifically, I’m praying that we each find comfort in knowing God is walking right beside us in these trials. 

~Emily

Leadership Lessons: Moving Up The Banquet Table

Have you ever wondered how some people are given a promotion over others?  Was it because of their merit? Their work ethic? Their personality? Or was it at the expense of others? Was it because their own ambitions drove them to promotion regardless of those around them? 

In the military environment (I’m confident that this is likely true in any corporate environment), I’ve witnessed this set of questions in regards to leadership.  Specifically, when someone is given increased responsibility and/or rank, those around the leader will often remark that they are either well-deserving of the promotion, or they will comment that they were moved ahead as a result of stepping on others to get there (this self-promotion can be overt or subtle, but it eventually shows itself for self-promotion, given enough time).  It does not appear that there is an in-between, but rather only the two extremes.  One leaves the followers happy, the other leaves them scratching their heads.  

How does one end up in the category of leading the happy followers?  How do you end up being promoted based on merit, rather than circumstances that are at the expense of others?  

In Luke 14:8-10, we see the example of waiting for an invitation to move to a place of honor.

“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.  But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”

In this parable, Jesus noticed how guests have ranked themselves at a wedding banquet.  Through this example, He is teaching the concept of humility vs pride.  In human nature it is easy to place oneself higher than others may see you in status or positional power.  Jesus is teaching us specifically to allow for the host to choose where we sit at the table, lest we embarrass ourselves (and those around us) with our own false sense of importance.  

Proverbs 25:6-7 (NASB) cross-references this concept.  

“Do not boast in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the same place as great people: For it is better that it be said to you, ‘Come up here,’ Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.” 

These scriptures remind me of a time when I attended a family wedding.  The ushers seated me in the 2nd row of the groom side, as part of the family.  I noticed many rows behind me Uncle Kevin and Aunt Barbara, who by rights of being in the groom’s family, should be in the same row with me.  I waved to them and invited them to come sit with me.  As they moved to join me, I distinctly remember Aunt Barbara saying that it was better for them to have sat at the back and waited for the invitation to sit in the family row.  

In a seemingly innocent conversation, two people illustrated a real-life example of living out the parables that Jesus taught us about humility and waiting for the invitation.  Clearly it was an impactful showcase of this lesson, if years later I can still distinctly recall the scenario.  

Something as simple as waiting for an invitation to be moved to a position of honor, translates to humility.  It would serve us well to remember this in our daily lives, in the military promotions, in corporate American, or our political parties.  

Our promotions to the head of the banquet table should be at the host’s discretion…not because of our own self-promotion.

~Emily

Insignificant Me

Last Wednesday, I felt insignificant.  Cue the “oh whoa is me” Eeyore type of background music.  

There’s been countless times in my life when I’ve felt so insignificant.  Sometimes it’s been in relationship to nature. For instance, I’ve felt particularly insignificant standing in front of Niagara Falls, staring up the trunk of the Redwoods, or at the edge of the Grand Canyon. There are other times it’s been in relationship to others.  For instance, I distinctly remember being overlooked for selection on a team in 7th grade gym class or the feeling of insignificance while working at Labor & Delivery while struggling with my own infertility journey.  

Part of my reaction in feeling insignificant comes from not being grounded in the truth of just how significant I am to our God.  Our loving Father did not create us to have a feeling of insignificance when standing near His creation.  Nor did he intend for us to have negative feelings about ourselves through comparing ourselves to others.  

As I contemplated insignificance this week, I read Chapter 40 of the book of Job.  Interestingly enough, I’m really struggling with reading Job for my one-year Bible reading plan because it seems so “Debbie-Downer” in its wording.  

However, the Job reading today caught my attention pretty quickly. Job actually tells God exactly what I was feeling on Wednesday!

“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth.” ~Job 40:4 (NASB)

God’s response made me giggle, especially because I was reading a Christian Standard Bible at the time. “Get ready to answer me like a man; When I question you, you will inform me.” Job 40:7 (CSB)  For comparison, here is the NASB version of the same verse.   “Now tighten the belt on your waist like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me.” Job 40:7 (NASB)

Answer me like a man?  Tighten your belt like a man?  That’s God’s response to saying “I feel insignificant”?!?!?!  This simple phrase, which did make me laugh, is a strong reminder that expressing to God my feeling of insignificant could be seen as a child-like response.  He wants us to be mature in our relationship to Him and with that maturity comes acknowledgment and embracing the significance He has on His children.

Further down in verses 10-12, we see God go one step further in instructing us about that significance.  “Adorn yourself with pride and dignity, and clothe yourself with honor and majesty.  Let out your outbursts of anger, and look at everyone who is arrogant, and humble him. Look at everyone who is arrogant and humble him, and trample down the wicked where they stand.”  Job 40:10-12 (NASB)

Ladies, let’s take off the cloak of insignificance this week and remember that God has such plans for our lives.  He’s told us to adorn ourselves as significant with pride, dignity, honor, and majesty.  Now we just have to do it…

I’m praying for a week of significance for each of us!

~Emily