The Santa Dilemma

I never believed in Santa as a real person.  From the time I was little, my parents taught me Santa was make-believe and a fun game that everyone played around Christmas.  Their explanation was that they wanted me to believe in Jesus, who was intangible and unseen with human eyes.  If I later found out Santa wasn’t real after believing he was, would I also question the existence of Jesus?

It worked for our family and was my game plan for when I had my own children.

Until I was introduced to an adorable 2-year-old who I would later adopt.  The issue?  He already had been told that Santa was real.  He was “all-in” on the fantasy.  He still is as a 3rd grader.  How was I going to strip him of that belief when he’d already had so much turmoil and loss in his short life?

This is probably his last year believing in Santa as a real person. He has started to ask questions about the practicality of delivering gifts around the world. He’s letting us know there are some kids in his class that don’t believe in Santa. He’s paying attention to movies more and is questioning how Buddy the Elf fixes the sleigh or Tim Allen becomes Santa after falling off the roof.

He’s asking about if I believe in Santa.

I’m verbally bobbing and weaving; not lying, but definitely not telling him the truth.  I’m in a grey area that has me super worried about how he’ll take the news that Santa isn’t real.  Will he resent us for letting him believe? Will he accept that it’s a “game” everyone plays?

But most important to me, how will he maintain his belief in Jesus when Santa is no longer a real dude?  I keep coming back to Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV).  As a Christian parent, I’m doing my very best to raise him up in the way he should go, but frankly, the Santa dilemma has me concerned.

“Belief”

This is the newest word that is front and center on my prayer board.  It’s on the cover of my prayer journal. It’s a post-it on my dashboard.

It has become my single word prayer over the last week.  I’m praying with all my might that this little guy will have true and wholehearted belief in Jesus Christ as his Savior.  That the news of Santa will not de-rail that child-like faith he possesses.  I pray that he holds fast to his belief.

If you have time this week, please join me on the porch praying for all the littles of the world to know Jesus…to have belief in Christ…to balance faith with earthly knowledge.

~Emily

Father God, we are so very grateful for the gift of your Son as our Savior.  Please let the children of the world have an opportunity to accept this gift and to know your love.  Let their belief in you be bigger and bolder than the beliefs in worldly concepts, like Santa.  We pray these things in your holy name. Amen.

Santa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of a “Thank You”

When was the last time you sent a thank-you note? Or just said thank you?  Do you routinely acknowledge when someone has given you something or offered a kind word?

There is an art to thanking someone.  According to my childhood teachings, it should be in writing, it should be timely (as in fairly soon after receiving the gift), and it should be thoughtful.  My grandma and mom taught my brother and I the art of drafting a thank you card and it’s a skill I still use today.

While my mother isn’t shocked to receive a thank you card from me or my child, there are countless examples I’ve seen where people have been surprised by one of my cards.

I’ve written to thank someone who interviewed me for a position I wasn’t offered.  I’ve drafted notes to managers of restaurants or event managers. When I made the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, I sent dozens of thank you letters to people who had invested in me and my career over the years. I have even mailed a thank you to my car repairman.

In each of those instances, the thank you card prompted further conversation.  The surprise of being thanked has always been mentioned.  Why would someone be surprised to receive one?  Is it because we’re too busy to write one? Is it because we haven’t been taught to write one? Is it because we don’t find there to be a need for a thank you card?

Maybe I’m old fashioned, or of a different era, but I value sending and receiving a “thank you.” Why? Because it offers a chance to acknowledge that someone has done something kind for you.  It illustrates that you are grateful for their actions or words.  It also shows them the love of Christ through your behavior.

Scripture gives plenty of examples of how to say thank you, when to say thank you, and what to say when thanking someone.

May the Lord now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NIV)

And may the Lord reward you for your kindness … Ruth 1:8 (NLT)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom & revelation, so that you may know him better.  Ephesians 1:15-17 (NIV)

I encourage you to hone your skills in thanking others…it will not only recognize their actions, but it will likely open the door for more conversations.

~Emily

P.S.  Thank you, to all the Iron Porch readers….Erin and I are blessed to know that you are out there encouraging us week after week!!!

The Art of a Thank You

 

 

 

Praying for Kiddos

My little guy woke me up at 4 am to tell me that his head hurt.

“Mama, can I please have some Tylenol? My head hurts really bad.”

Some of you know the mommy-adrenaline that has you upright, out of bed, and functioning before you even truly process what is going on.

This was the beginning of my Mother’s Day weekend. A vigil over my 8-year-old who had horrible headaches, a raging fever, and a lethargic-achy body. He literally slept most of Saturday away.

But it wasn’t restful sleep. He mumbled in his sleep. He moaned.  He asked for more water. He furrowed his brow in pain as he turned over trying to get comfortable.

All this momma could do is sit near him and pray that the fever would break and the headaches would depart.  I specifically inserted my son’s name into a paraphrased prayer focused on Proverbs 3:5-6.

Heavenly Father–Please help me trust you with all my heart – not just part of it. I acknowledge that everything in the heavens and earth – everything that is precious to me including Kambell – belongs to you. Amen.

I spent a lot of time sitting over Kambell this weekend.  Wondering what he will be like as an adult.  Wondering what type of husband and father he will become. Wondering what type of prayer warrior, he will be.  It made me think about how often I pray with him.  How often I pray for him.

When we’re entrusted with little ones, we spend a ton of time helping with homework, carpooling to sports, kissing boo-boos, coloring in the lines, or tucking them in at night.

In the midst of these busy lives, are we praying enough over them?  I mean, are we really praying specific, promise-laced, prophetic, hope-filled prayers? Are we praying God’s promises through His Word over their little lives?

The enemy is alive and well. He would love nothing more than to destroy our children and our families.  He’s attacking when we’re not on guard and he’ll do anything to lure our children towards him.  The counter-attack, the defensive and offensive plays against this enemy is prayer.

On the Monday morning after a sick-kid vigil, I’d argue that we need to increase our prayers over the children of the world. It’s the essential ingredient over our kids and entire families. Prayer will help us stay alert, as well as hearing the whispers of the Holy Spirit against attacks of Satan.

Do not underestimate the importance of prayer over our children.

Whether they need spiritual covering, intercession with a math test, encouragement in a friendship, or because they have a fever…our prayers are necessary and the Lord is faithful to answer.

~Emily

Sick Kid

Snow Boots and A Mother’s Love

My Mom told me the rules.

She warned me.

She told me the consequences.

She tried to train me to remember.

And yet, when I was 8-years-old, I still forgot my snow boots at school on the last day before Christmas break.

The consequence?  Without the boots, I wasn’t going to be allowed to play in the snow for the whole duration of the school break.

God does that with us too.  He tells us the rules, then gives a warning complete with consequences in an effort to train us.

It started as early as the Garden of Eden with the forbidden fruit and continues today.  The standards and discipline come from a place of complete and total love. Those rules and consequences are spelled out in His Holy Word, the Bible.

Like our loving Father’s action to assist in the teaching of His children, my Mom used the forgotten snow boots as a lesson.

She could have made me endure two weeks of snow-related exile.  Instead, as the sky darkened and snow continued to fall, she walked back to the elementary school with me.  As we walked, she explained that there was a strong likelihood that the school would be dark and locked up.  She told me that rules were in place to help me grow into a responsible adult.  She didn’t yell or scold, rather she explained and rationalized.  It seemed like the longest walk ever.

There was one bank of lights on in the elementary school.  After pounding on the door repeatedly, a janitor came and let us in so that I could retrieve my boots.  I don’t remember a single snowman, snow angel or snowball fight from that Christmas vacation.  But I remember my mom’s lesson to keep track of your things.

I love my mom dearly.  And I love the lessons she taught me as a young child and even now as an adult.  As we get closer to Mother’s Day 2019, come to the porch and tell us your favorite life lesson from a maternal figure in your life.

~Emily

“The whole training and education of children.” ~ Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)

Snow Boots

Prepper for Heaven

True confession time…I’m a prepper.

Seriously, I’m prepped for an electromagnetic pulse, a tornado, zombies, drought, or Armageddon.  I spend time watching videos, participating on discussion boards, learning about water purification, or researching homeopathic medical treatments. I have an elaborate “bug-out” bag for each of my family members, which includes three days of food and water for each of us.  In light of the most recent tornados in Alabama, I have recently added whistles to the outside of the backpacks so that we would be able to identify ourselves to first responders if we happened to be buried in debris.

I’m prepared for a disaster.  And I’m okay with both my husband and my best friend making fun of me for it.

I believe that in life, you must be ready for anything.  If you have a plan and don’t need it, does it hurt anyone? No.  But if you don’t have a plan and need one, then it hurts those around you.  I understand that not everyone subscribes to this thought process.  In some instance, I believe people think they have plenty of time to develop a plan so they procrastinate.

I think people also procrastinate when it comes to God.  I believe everyone must be ready for Jesus, for He will come like a thief in the night.

Matthew 24: 42-44 (NIV) says, “Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

If everyone knew when He was coming, then everyone would accept His plan.  But many don’t see the merits of having an eternal plan.  They procrastinate their decision.  Essentially they haven’t acknowledged the need for Christ’s gift of eternal life.

If you were to die tomorrow, would you be prepared? Would you have your spiritual “bug-out” bag already packed with Jesus? Or would you be wandering and helpless in the face of eternity without Christ?

While I am concerned about the lost souls who don’t know a personal relationship with Christ, I am also concerned with the Christian woman who does not know how to share her faith with non-believers.  Just as I am a prepper for the natural needs of humans, we must also be preppers for the souls who do not yet know Christ as their Savior.  It is our role and responsibility as Christians to share the gospel.  It is our role to be Preppers for Heaven.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.  And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”

If you don’t know how to share the Gospel, if you are intimidated by the thought of sharing the Gospel, or if you don’t see that you have any opportunities to share the Gospel, please come to the porch…Erin and I would love to chat with you about how to become comfortable sharing Christ’s love at any time with anyone.

~Emily

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ~Benjamin Franklin

Preppers for Heaven

 

 

The Day Before Surgery

Last month my mother-in-law, Renee, earned herself a helicopter ride to the ER after having stroke-like symptoms.  Less than a week later, she was scheduled for surgery to remove a brain tumor that had metastasized from kidney cancer.  The day before her surgery, five days after her helicopter escort, she still hadn’t regained use of her right arm.

Through all the visitors who trickled in and out of Renee’s room the day before surgery, our little family was well aware that these may be our last moments with her.  We had spent much of the day laughing and storytelling.  Brittney, my sister-in-law, had the outstanding idea to pack a picnic lunch so that the grandkids could share “snacks” with Grandma one more time.

As the evening drew to a close, Brittney and I offered to wash Renee’s hair, which hadn’t been washed the entire time she’d been in the hospital.  We kicked the husbands and the kids out of the room (We weren’t sure how wet we would get, let alone how much skin would be revealed!).  We gathered towels, basins, warm water, and a little bottle of baby shampoo.  While Renee sat upright in bed with pillows propped up against her lower back and a slack right arm, Britt and I pour water and lathered suds.  We rinsed and rinsed.  We controlled drippy water like experts and Renee hummed in the satisfaction of having her hair washed.

A trio of women focused on a humanizing task…no one else in the room.  Two serving one.  Not just because Renee needed her hair washed (which she did), but because two daughters-in-law loved their mother-in-law enough to want her to feel special.

In the hallway, a nurse said, “She’s so lucky to have a family to care for her with servants’ hearts.”

That statement sat in my heart for several weeks. I wasn’t sure that “servant’s heart” was the correct phrase.  Perhaps it was; perhaps it wasn’t.  I didn’t feel like I had a servant’s heart at that moment.  I just knew that Renee had been subjected to humbling tests and treatments…ones that strip a person of their privacy.  I knew at that moment, I wanted to tag team with my sister-in-law to make Renee feel “human.”

Scripture tells us to regard our family members with acts of service.  “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ~1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV).

Scripture also tells us how to regard our elders with acts of service.  “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” ~1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)

The act of washing hair may be worthy of saying “servant’s heart,” but it was definitely a moment where family was taking care of family. It was an act of love.  It was one where humility was exhibited by all three women.

God blessed that action; just as He has blessed every act of service done while modeling Christ’s love for one another. He’s blessed this family and He has wrapped His arms around Renee as she has faced the uncertainty of life and death this last year.  She survived brain surgery.  After a few complications, she is doing well in rehab and is starting to regain movement in her right arm.  God is good. All the time.

Cancer is a terrible road.  I wouldn’t want this reality for any family.  But I will freely admit that I wouldn’t change one moment of that “day before surgery.”  I wouldn’t change the picnic lunch or grandkids’ giggles.  I wouldn’t change the parade of visitors or watching my husband hold his mom’s hand.  I wouldn’t change the group prayer around her bed, as we left for the night.  And I certainly wouldn’t have changed any part of the hair washing.

~Emily

Family Discipleship

Women’s Christian Conferences are a chance for me to refresh and reconnect to the Lord without the everyday distractions of life. It’s a time where I can literally focus 100% on the Bible and prayer with other women.  During every conference I’ve ever attended, I’ve always left with at least one new friend and a pile of scripture nuggets & observations to study further.

Last year, I was blessed to attend the Connecting Ministries, Connecting Women Conference in Birmingham, AL.  I actually blogged about a Prayer Warrior that the Lord specifically told me to engage with while I was at the conference. Prayer Warriors

Fast forward to this year’s Connecting Women’s Conference.  That Prayer Warrior and her mom sat right next to me!

You see, that appointment with God last year has led to my front row seat to watching this Prayer Warrior grow into her new role of leadership for the Kingdom.  She went from a non-volunteer-volunteer on the prayer team last year, to the prayer team leader this year.  She went from receiving daily prayer request emails before the conference to crafting them this year.  She went from praying faithfully privately to praying on the stage this year.  She went from a quiet prayer warrior to a bold and public prayer warrior.

Normally, I would take that as the significant observation and “take away” from this weekend.

But there was one other observation about this Prayer Warrior that is significant….

The Prayer Warrior was with her mother!

They sat side by side. They prayed together and with others. They raised their arms in worship together. They wept and laughed together. They illustrated family worship in a very precious way.

In Matthew 22 and in Deuteronomy 6, we see that Jesus highlighted the most important commandment in the Bible.  He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise’” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV).

Interestingly enough, as soon as Jesus answers the question of the Great Commandment, God focuses our attention on family life.  He speaks specifically to parents on how to pass along the power of faith to children.  At the heart of the Great Commandment is family discipleship…how parents are a primary spiritual teacher for their children.

Now I don’t know the Prayer Warrior and her mother enough to know their entire backstory.  I don’t know when they came to know the Lord and what their trials and tribulations have been.  I don’t know if this is a relationship where the mother taught the daughter about God or if it happened in reverse.

I’ll tell you what I do know:

I know these two women love the Lord.  I know they love each other fiercely. I know they love other women.  I know they model the behavior of Christian love.  I know it was an absolute joy to watch them interact with one another and watch a Christ-focused relationship between a mom and her daughter.  I know it was a beautiful thing to watch.

I am honored to have watched this faithful sister in Christ grow in her prayer life and step into a leadership role for God over this last year.

I am humbled to have watched a mother and daughter praise God side-by-side over this last weekend.

I am grateful to a loving Father who outlined family discipleship and allowed me to witness how it works in 2019.

Watch for the Prayer Warriors.  Watch for the Family Disciples.

~Emily

P.S. Mark your calendar to join us Feb 21-22, 2020 at the Connecting Women’s Conference to see how the Lord is going to move in the next 12 months…

Children