Retreat in the Pines

760F1BA0-335C-44C5-968E-29EC9B1008ED.jpegWe like long walks in the woods and cozy fireplace chats…..if you’re laughing at that right now, you should see me and Emily! What would you put on your dating site as your tag line? In all seriousness, the verse that we both meditated on this weekend was “Be still and know that I am God” ~Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

Where can you be still? We’ve gotten to spend the last 3 days together on a 30 acre plot in the woods of Texas experiencing a place of stillness in the midst of mosquitos. And pollen. And strangers. As we’re packing up to head back to our homes, we want to share some thoughts with you that we gleaned from this weekend.

This stillness has allowed space for us to prayed on several different levels. We’ve been able to pray silently, pray with laughter, and pray with tears. We’ve taken prayer requests and been able to ask for prayers for ourselves.

Times in stillness create a platform for you to focus on things that make you grateful. We’re incredibly grateful for 2 hours, 3 days, 10 days..whatever time we can get together in person. We’re also grateful that our friendship allows the growth of a community of women from all over (Shanen, Lori, Michelle, Tricia) that can come together to just hang out. We are grateful for these women in our lives.

Stillness offers a chance for sharing. Sharing a cup of cinnamon coffee, a debate over whether or not start a fire, pollen covered sneakers, and sharing bug spray are all forms of sharing. It also offers space to share your heart. We were openly able to talk about our relationship with Christ.

While this space in the Texan woods was an opportunity for prayer, gratitude, and conversation…you can create that stillness anywhere in your own life. Your space may be a local park, the beach, or a hiking trail. It could even be in your own home. Wherever your space, the “being still” in His presence is the important piece.

Where are you still? What do you glean in your stillness? Come to the Porch and share…

~Emily and Erin

My Hobby Job

Click, click, tab.  Enter, enter.  Tab, tab, tab.  Click, click.  Enter, enter, enter.  If you ask Emily what my job entails, that’s what she’ll say I do.  You do actually hear those noises if you’re on the phone with me when I’m working.  I work full time from my home office in California for my hospital in Wyoming where I’m from.  I was fortunate enough to have continued employment even though I moved.

And yet.  I’m a talker.  Some might say I would talk to a wall if it would answer back.  I would say that I’d probably talk to a wall even if it DIDN’T answer back.  Talking to my dogs during the day in a Californian city I wasn’t very familiar with wasn’t cutting it for me anymore.  So, I went on a long and tedious journey of finding me a part-time job that would allow me to get in front of human beings.  And by long and tedious, I mean that I drove down the street on a 45-second car ride to a local restaurant, Boudin SF, who’s “Hiring” sign peaked my interest.  (They had people AND fresh baked bread….how could I go wrong?!)

This job is what I call my “hobby job.”  I don’t need it financially, but I need it mentally and emotionally.  I love it!  I have the most amazing co-workers and management team.  Work is fun to go to.  I get excited when I see a regular guest walk in the door and can greet them by name to ask how their day is!

One of my favorite things to do while I’m working is singing.  I will literally sing the menu while I’m pouring out soup with our guests watching!  “Claaaaam chowder is where it’s at!  Giiiivvvveee meeeee the bread bowl to eat it wiiiith! Don’t forget the butter!”  I’ll also sing to the cooks through the large open concept kitchen window while they’re preparing the food.  Here are some of my better creations…

Kevin, your ‘maters are cut great!
The turkey avocado will be perfect for their date!”

And, “I think, Kate, that the grilled cheese,
Should come with havarti, pretty please.

This usually ends with Kevin offering to pay me to stop singing.  Of course I don’t!

Erin, get to the point, you might be thinking.  One of the things my co-workers always say about me, is that I’m happy.  Every day is a “fabulous” day, and I’m always smiling.

I hope this doesn’t sound boastful.  It isn’t meant to sound like I’m praising myself.  I have a choice to walk through the doors and be excited for what’s coming or dreading the potential disasters I may face.  I have to pray every morning that I have a positive attitude and my light from Jesus will shine through me and impact others around me.

It doesn’t work every time, either.  I’m still human.  I still get irritated or frustrated when it gets busy and I’m pulled in four directions.  When that happens, I take a quick second to regroup, silently pray for Him to redirect my thoughts, then take a deep breath and start over!

My encouragement to you, today, is that whether your job is a click-click-tab job or a “how can I help you” job, the light of Jesus will live and shine out of you.  Pray for ways to shine that light on others.  Maybe, just maybe, what they need is a little song.


The Little Extra

We’ll just take a little extra….just in case.  Never mind the fact that He provides exactly what we need, right?!

This has been weighing heavily on my mind all week.  I’m using a bible reading plan that gets me through the whole bible in a year (let’s be honest–it’ll be more like a year and half or even two for me, but I digress).  Anyway, I’m currently reading through Exodus.  The Israelites are feeling as if they’re going to starve in the wildernes and wonder whether being hungry in the wilderness is a better choice than being a slave in Egypt.  God says to them that He hears their grumbling and will provide meat in the evening and bread (manna) in the morning.  He was pretty specific in instruction for gathering the manna, too.  He said to gather a portion for each family member ONLY for the day, except on Friday.  On Friday, gather two portions as Saturday was the sabbath, and the Israelites weren’t permitted to work on that day.  Anyone trying to save some for the next day’s meal would would wake up to find it foul smelling and filled with worms.  Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?! And despite what they were directed to do by God Himself, a few still chose to try and save some extra or go out on the morning of the sabbath to gather manna only to find some wormy leftovers or the desert ground dry and empty.

I’ve read and heard this story a million times since I grew up in Sunday School and church services.  But I think it’s the first time I really stopped to overlay it’s meaning to my life.  It amazes me how many times the Israelites tried to do it their own way, not relying on God’s direct provision and protection over their deliverance from Egypt.  Like, seriously, you dummies…did you forget the parting of the Red Sea or the flies, boils, and locusts you were spared from?!  And after railing on how ridiculous the Israelites were, I thought about this: How often do I do the same thing?

I’m guilty of taking situations or problems or complaints to Jesus, asking Him to provide in some way or even assuming that He’s going to deliver exactly what I ask for.  And when He answers, or more accurately when I feel He hasn’t answered the way I would like for Him to, I start to handle the issue myself.

I can’t possibly be alone in how I manage this!  We often try to bypass His plan or provision in some way to get extra, to fix it, or to help ourselves because we know exactly how we want it handled.  And a dear friend reminded me this week that this isn’t just a new Christian or a seasoned Christian problem.  This is a human problem.  It’s difficult for a new Christian to let go of the idea that we’re not really in control of our lives.  For the Christian that has been walking with Christ for a while, we forget that we can take and trust everything to Jesus, not just the heart-hurting issues.  How much better off would we be if we trusted in His mercy and believed that He has our best interest in His hands and will take care of it as He sees fit?

Jesus reminds us of exactly that in Matthew 6.  He tell us in verses 31-33, Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or what ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This, then, is our charge–to rise up against the worldly view that we must take care of ourselves without the trust of having an amazing God in our corner.  His provision for us is unending.  His love for us is good and beautiful.  Lay down your burdens at the cross of Jesus and let Him supply your needs and desires as He will.  Let’s trust HIM for the extra instead!


How about you?  Do you struggle with this like I do?  Comment below with a verse that helps remind you that God’s provision is best!



Resolutions—I stink at making them. I’m even worse at keeping them. Inevitably, I always make some kind of weak promise to quit drinking soda or a vow to walk around the block every day before work for exercise. Sometimes, it’s been that I read a devotional a day or have a verse for the day that I meditate on. And I get past week two and my resolutions are gone, scattered like bits of post-celebration confetti blowing in the breeze.
I wanted to do something different this year. Something more than a half-hearted resolution on a reminder sticky note. I wanted this year to be about real resolve. I’ve seen people doing a word of the year in the past. You choose a word that describes your purpose for the year. The word is intended to bring life to your decisions, choices, and actions for the next 365 days.
I prayed and thought on it for a while about what I wanted my word to be. I didn’t want something so vague that it didn’t accurately reflect what I wanted the year to be about, but I didn’t want it so specific that it didn’t fit with the direction my life was moving. And just like that, God gave it to me. A word that not only has very emotional meaning for me, but one that literally sums up the course He designed for me to take: sharpen.

Sharp·en /SHärpən/ verb 1. Make or become sharp, 2. Improve or cause to improve.

Both definitions seem so relevant to me in this season of my life. Those who read my first post know that Proverbs 27:17 is my life verse with Emily. Our goal with each other and with all of our friends who hang with us on this porch of life is to sharpen each other as iron does. My aim is to be intentional in our friendship and in our walk of faith. We’re asking each other questions, sharpening our knowledge of the Bible and of Jesus. We’re challenging in thoughts and ideas, always pushing to become more aware of the will of God. And I’m constantly learning to improve my walk, my faith, and my compassion.
I want to sharpen my focus on God’s call for me. I’m carving out specific times during the week to hear God’s voice and listen to what He would have me write. I’m sharpening my attention on my family time. I’m making sure that the things I’m doing with them are engaging us in real conversation and quality time together. And I’m sharpening the act of listening. I want to really hear what people around me are saying, and I also want to hear the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit guiding me in my journey here on earth. And I believe that as I do this, Proverbs 16:3 will be a real truth in my life, “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.”
I may not have a lengthy list of resolutions this year, but I trust that the resolution in this word, sharpen, will lead me to one of the best years of my life—a life of obedience and fulfillment like I’ve never seen before. And I’m looking forward to it!
So what’s your word? Did God give you a word or a phrase that you’re using for the year to help you be intentional with your time? Let us know what it is in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!


Erin’s Thoughts

Fe….two of the most important letters of the alphabet to me. They represent strength and love, kindness and compassion, accountability and fairness. It represents my closest and dearest friend, the friend who’s going on this journey with me of God’s calling for us. Let me tell you a little bit about her.

When I met Emily 8 ½ years ago, I was an outsider in a close knit group of friends, the new girlfriend accompanying her guy to an awards ceremony and then more intimately one week later at Emily’s house. It was this wacky “dinner” experience with 20 other people that included having no real clue what was coming out on my plate next and not knowing whether I’d even have silverware to eat it! (I’ll have her tell you more about that, but let’s get back to the point.) Truth be told, she intimidated the heck out of me. She’s a beautiful, Type A, very organized woman who knows how to throw an event to remember with 12 minutes notice, knows exactly what she wants, and speaks her mind while doing it eloquently. I’m not scared of much, but Emily? She made me nervous because she was so put together.

Now you should know this about me….I’m outgoing. I can walk into a room and converse with strangers and make a speech and it feels like I’m talking to a group of people I’ve known all my life. But when it comes to making true friendships, I freeze. It’s that fear of being rejected or hurt that keeps me at bay, knowing that it’s just one more person that’s secretly judging me about my past and my sins. So, I tend to hold people at arm’s length because I know that one day, they’ll just walk away.

It was different with Emily. She called me randomly and we grabbed lunch. I went to visit her after a knee surgery. She’d check in on me and see how I was doing. I didn’t feel judged or weird or less than. I felt like she was truly just trying to be my friend. When she moved away for her job, we kept in touch and still talked, despite the miles apart. And over those miles, it went from acquaintances to friends. From friends to close friends. And from close friends to my best friend. We’ve planned vacations together, spent holidays together, driven hundreds of miles to be able to spend a few short hours together before we have to be off again, back to our lives. Two women who love Christ and want to follow His calling in our lives. I know God designed this meeting between us years ago. Because since that time, the boyfriend that introduced us is out of the picture. Relationships and friendships around us have come and gone or grown. Life has not only sometimes kicked us in the gut but it’s given us sweet memories and joys that we’ve been able to be a part of together. God had a sovereign plan for our lives. He took two women with a desire to write and speak about God’s mercy and meshed it into a beautiful adventure that’s taking two best friends down this trail of obedience.

Back to the Fe…..I have them inscribed on my arm in the form of a tattoo. So does Emily. But what does it mean, Erin, for crying out loud?! It’s the symbol for iron on the periodic table of elements. It was taken from our verse, Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. It’s a daily reminder to us that not only are we best friends, we’re Christ followers and we’re meant to build each other up, love each other in grace, and hold each other accountable. Two women with a vision from God to share our lives—our screw ups, our mistakes, our victories, our journeys—and help women know that God’s grace is sufficient and that our mistakes don’t define us. Jesus Christ does.

So grab a warm cup of coffee and pull up a chair. We’re inviting you to sit and relax on our front porch and live life together with us. Welcome to the journey!