Coming this Saturday to the Iron Porch: Guest Bloggers Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and Emily felt God wanted to provide, so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

On Saturday, we will be posting a submission by two lovely, hard-working, best friends who have chosen to put the Lord at the center of their friendship.  The Iron Porch is pleased to introduce you to Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler.

Jessie Lynn®: Alabama’s Singing Cowgirl is a multiple award-winning independent country music singer/songwriter, Nashville recording artist and a proud CMA and Recording Academy member.   She has “Opened” and performed on sets with The Oak Ridge Boys, Ronnie McDowell, Montgomery Gentry, Jimmy Hall, Jessica Meuse, Shane Owens, Kirk Jay & Corey Smith.  Jessie Lynn received her Master’s degree in Agriscience Education from Auburn University in May of 2018.  She is a morning talk show host at Bluewater Broadcasting, LLC.   She is the 2021 Miss Limestone County Sherriff’s Rodeo Queen.   https://www.jessielynn.net

Kelsey: Growing up in a military family meant living in places like Los Angeles, Tampa, and even Europe. Most wouldn’t think these circumstances would create a cowgirl. However, add in Montana roots, a rodeo-loving uncle, and tractor-building relatives. Some might say it was inevitable. Kelsey comes from a family who has never been afraid of hard work and understands the importance of a God-driven life. There’s no doubt that her favorite verse is Proverbs 16:3. She has learned that life sure is a lot more peaceful when you hand it over to God. Mix all of these, and you get a girl chasing her dreams. Using her God-given talents and passions, she hopes to build a platform where she can use her testimony to share God’s love for every one of us.  She is the proud owner of “Wandering Coyote Company,” a Prattville, AL boutique. https://www.wanderingcoyotecompany.com

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read “God Knew,” an inspirational chat about Godly friendships by Jessie Lynn® and Kelsey Stahler.

We look forward to “seeing” you on the Porch tomorrow!

~Emily & Erin

Press On

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

I recently started Invisalign orthodontic treatment. I have to wear plastic trays on my teeth 22 hours a day. They are uncomfortable, create a lisp when I talk and every time I eat or drink anything other than water, I need to take them out and brush my teeth and the trays before I put them back in. What a pain! I need to remind myself how nice it will be to have straight teeth and a pretty smile at the end of my 2 years of treatment because right now, I am not seeing any immediate reward, other than the fact that I may have lost a few pounds because the aforementioned post-eating ritual makes me think twice about whether or not a snack is really worth it. 

It can be hard to wait for a reward that seems so far in the future. Life gives us tough seasons. Sometimes even our walk with Jesus can be challenging. It’s tempting to chase instant gratification, however, these things that can satisfy us immediately are temporary. The eternal life Jesus promises is forever. Living with an eternal focus often goes against the messages we are constantly bombarded with in the world today, but let’s look at what Jesus says:

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:27-29

I love that when Peter asked the very human question of “What’s in it for me?”, Jesus did not admonish him but instead reminded him of the reward given to all who follow. 

What can we do to continue to press on toward our heavenly prize? 

1.    Read the Bible- Staying in the word reminds us of Jesus’ love and promises. 

2.    Prayer- God wants to be in authentic relationship with us. Crying out to God when we are sad and even angry allows him to comfort us and draw us closer.

3.    Community- It’s important to have a good support network of fellow believers who can help encourage and pray for us when we are struggling. 

When you feel discouraged or find yourself asking “Is this worth it?”, remember the promises our Lord has made and the reward waiting for you at the end. Press on toward the prize of eternity in heaven. It will be so worth it.

~Sherry

Sherry Bliss Haase lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Guest Blogger: Sherry Bliss Haase

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and Emily felt God wanted to provide, so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

On Saturday, we will be posting a submission by our sweet sister in Christ and fellow blogger, Sherry Bliss Haase.  Sherry lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenage children. In addition to her favorite role, being a mom, she works in the finance industry as a Retirement Plan Educator. She is also writing a women’s devotional. You can read her blog at www.sherryblisshaase.com.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read Sherry’s thoughts in “Press On.”

~Emily & Erin

Spoiled Fruits by Guest Blogger: Lacie Adams

Recently our area was hit by Hurricane Zeta. I’m neighbors with both Erin and Emily, so you likely remember that our neighborhood was without power for 93 hours. 

My family did not have a generator until more than 48 hours into the outage, so we had stuffed each freezer full of ice hoping it would be enough. We were also out of town for some of that time and so we could not run the generator while we weren’t at home. 

In the end, everything in our kitchen refrigerator was lost. When we returned from our trip on Monday, I knew that I was going to have to clean the fridge out. I also knew, that it hadn’t been done in over a year.  It was going to take a lot of elbow grease. 

As I emptied jars of pickles (some we had made and others had been gifted to us), jellies, sour cream that had gotten warm, and any other perishable item that was in the fridge, I was worried about having to replace it all. 

Then I had a thought; we had been holding on to some of the condiments in the fridge for a while. I hate to admit it, but some had been there for years, so surely it was time to throw them out anyway. 

Don’t we tend to do that in life? We hold on to old, familiar things, even if they are way past their prime. They have served their purpose, yet we will not let go of them. Until God intervenes, that is. God knows that it is hard for us humans to let go of things, even when they are not the best for us. Yet He longs to get the spoiled fruits out of your life so that he can fill it with new, better tasting ones. 

It was very painful to throw all of that food away to make room for the new, unspoiled replacements; yet, when it was done there was relief that things were new and we knew that they would not harm us. 

The next time you feel a pulling on your heart to let go of something you have been hanging onto for way too long, let God rid you of it so He can fill you again with newness. It might mean forgiving an offense or asking for forgiveness of another. It might be trading a new car for an older one so that you can tithe more. It might even be cleaning out your fridge because the darkness spoiled the contents.  Now that there is light, things are made new. 

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” ~2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB)

 “…and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.” ~ Ephesians 4:24 (CSB)

~Lacie

Regaining Quiet Time with God During Quarantine: Guest Blogger DeAnna Barber

In 2019 I ended my last day of work at an amazing job on a Friday.  On the following Saturday, I frantically packed up my life to escape the worst and scariest experience of my life; emotionally, verbally and leaning towards a physically abusive husband.  With the help of my family coming to my rescue I moved all my belongings, myself, and my son 200 miles back to my hometown to stay with my parents until I could get us back on our own again.   That Sunday was a blur, as was Monday, which was a holiday, and I began work on Tuesday.  I never took the time to breathe.  I never took time to just be still.  I was afraid to be still.  I was afraid I couldn’t make it through.  I didn’t want to reflect or think.  I wanted it all to disappear.  So I kept very busy all the time from then on.

But keeping so busy caused me to be exhausted and to struggle with setting aside quiet time with God; something that used to be my lifeline.  I never went a day without it before.  But catastrophe hit and I didn’t want to be quiet. I still had my faith and I wasn’t angry at God, I just didn’t want my mind to think about what had happened, what I had escaped, what would have happened if I had stayed or why it ever happened in the first place.  I had so many questions but I chose avoidance.

March of 2020 rolled around and another catastrophe hit which forced me to do nothing but slow down: the Covid-19 pandemic.  I was out of work and quarantined at home for 6 weeks which provided plenty of time to think and be quiet.  So I chose to take that time to rest, breathe, and get back into the groove of my daily quiet time with God.  And although I am still struggling to get back into that groove like I used to be this pandemic has helped me realize how desperately I needed this time to just be quiet, to slow down, reflect, and to enjoy the quality and quantity of time.

God’s word tells us in Psalm 46:10 to be still; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says to rejoice ALWAYS, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks no matter what; 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all our anxieties on Him BECAUSE He cares. His word also offers comfort in Psalm 34: 17-18 that He hears us and delivers us from our troubles and that He is near the brokenhearted; Deuteronomy 31:8 promises that God goes before us and will never leave or forsake us; Isaiah 41:10 says we should not fear because God is with us, He will strengthen and uphold us.  Matthew 6:25-34 is certainly a wonderful set of verses to comfort us and remind us not to worry during this particular time in our world.  Lastly, Hebrews 7:25 states to draw near as well as James 4:8 which adds the promise that He will draw near to us.

I wish I had taken more time to be still and get closer to God this last year because 1) God commands it and desires us to get close to Him and 2) I know it would have helped me heal in a healthier way than I was choosing.  So, despite all the uncertainties of what is to come with Covid-19, I am thankful for the quarantined time I had because I was able to slow down and choose to be obedient and be still and quiet, to listen to God’s commands and to take comfort in His promises.  I allowed one catastrophe to disrupt my quiet time but God used another kind of catastrophe to help me get that quiet time back.

DeAnna

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The Gum Machine, Of Course! Guest Blogger: Nancy White

Gumball Machine

With kids at home, this has been a trying time for all of us.  I know I would never be a great stay-at-home-mom or homeschool mom.  Having lots of time with them has given me time to see what the focus of their little lives is.  In a conversation with my 16 year old, he wanted money.  It went a little like this:

Him: Mom, can I have some money?

Me: No, I don’t carry cash.

Him: What, why?  That makes no sense.

Me: It is not new, I never have cash!

Him: Well can I have quarters?

Me: I don’t have quarters.

Him:  How can you not have quarters, that’s impossible!

Me: What would I need quarters for?

Him:  The gum machine…of course!

This made me think about if I am being a good example for my kids when it comes to money.  No, I give them money when they want or need it without question.  I wanted to change my ways immediately!  My youngest, 12, is now in charge of many things in the house to make money.  He will save his money and put it into an account until he has enough to buy what he wants.  And my 16-year-old who has had chores for some time is searching for a job because the chore money is not enough.  His problem is that he wants to spend money as soon as he gets it, whether for the gum machine or a video game.  He doesn’t understand he needs to build savings.

With COVID-19 affecting many aspects of my life, I am using this as a teaching moment for my boys on having savings for emergencies.  The economy is going to take a hard hit and they have been following the news with me and see how it is affecting our neighbors and friends and the community we are living in.

I want both of my boys to understand that being a good steward of money can help them later in life.  In Matthew 6:24 it says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”Nancy2

In light of the COVID-19 slow-down, start some conversations with your children.

Nancy White

 

Guest Blogger (Nancy White)

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that we felt God wanted to provide so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we have encouraged potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs are always posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

Tomorrow we will be posting an entry from a sweet sister in Christ who is sharing her heart as a single mother to teens in the midst of a pandemic.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of Nancy White, our 1st guest blogger of 2020.

~Emily & Erin

Tight Spaces

Recently, I was scheduled for an MRI of my neck. I am a rather large female with lots of “extra” around my arms, belly, and hips. We all know that MRI machines are not built for those of us with “extra.” On this particular day, at this particular imaging company, I was told to lie on a hard table that was, maybe, large enough to hold ½ of one butt cheek.  The radiology tech placed a sheet over me and told me to cross my arm over my chest as she slid me into the machine. As I am just about to enter the machine she tells me that it will be “real tight going in but will open up a little once you are inside.”

Man! She wasn’t kidding. As I was passing through the opening of this machine I felt as if I were being squeezed back into the womb. My arms were so squished on top of my chest that there was absolutely no wiggle room.  My hips were against the cold hard machine and I felt every fat cell being displaced so that my upper body could enter the machine. Once inside, I quickly realized that the radiology tech wasn’t exactly correct in her assessment of, “it will open up a little once you get inside.” Apparently our definitions of “a little” is quite different.

I tried to relax my arms a little, as my shoulders were surely touching my earlobes. They didn’t move more than a nano-inch. I then recalled how tight it was going into the machine and started getting worried that getting me back out might resemble “birthing” a breech baby since the smallest portion of me was now the only thing sticking out of the machine. I began to imagine coming out of the machine and getting stuck at the shoulders.  That lead to worry that I would get wedged so badly that they would have to call in extra people to witness this event and assist with my removal or, at the very worst, I would be so wedged that the pressure of my arms on my chest would suffocate me before I could be removed.

At that very moment, the radiology tech sweetly asked, “are you ok in there?” To which, I replied, “No, Nope, No, I am not!” She told me to hang on a minute and she would have me out. As my head exited, I felt a huge relief and a heavy burden at the same time.

At that moment I felt like a huge failure. I mean, all I had to do was lie on a skinny table and be uncomfortable for a short time (if you have ever had an MRI you know that the 20 minutes the scan takes seems like the longest 20 minutes of your life), and I FAILED!  I went to the office that had scheduled my MRI and asked if there was a facility that could better accommodate larger individuals. The scheduler set me up at another local facility (I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t originally sent there, as I was obviously fat when the original appointment was made). I was grateful for this second chance. As I returned to my car with a new appointment on my calendar I sat and thought about how uncomfortable of an experience this was.

Aren’t our experiences with God sometimes like this?? There are times when God wants up to be uncomfortable. He squeezes us and applies the pressure until we are certain we can’t take anymore and start screaming, “No, Nope, I can’t do this!” We will do anything in that moment to get to a place that is more comfortable, even if it means running from what God wants of us. Although, scripture has shown us that running never works.

In Jonah, we see a man that God had placed in an uncomfortable situation. He was told to go and do something that Jonah was sure would lead to his death. When Jonah ran from this instruction God placed him in a very tight space, the Lord appointed a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).  I would imagine being in the belly of a whale would be an extremely uncomfortable place. When Jonah prayed to God from the belly of the whale. He was given a second chance to go and do what God had asked.

I am so thankful for 2nd chances (and sometimes 3rdand 4th). How many times does God ask us to do something and we say “no” because it feels uncomfortable to us? What “whale” does God put into your life to get your attention and let you know that He wasn’t kidding? When God asks us to do uncomfortable things He does not expect us to do it alone. He will equip you with the tools you need to complete the task.

The next time you are placed in a situation where your first instinct is to run, take a moment to pray and reflect instead. God will always provide what we need for the job He asks us to do, you just have to trust Him.

Lacie Adams

Tight Spaces-Graphics

Guest Blogger-Lacie Adams

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come to share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and Emily felt God wanted to provide so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

On Saturday, we will be posting an entry from a woman who is going to share her heart for the uncomfortable tight spots that God puts us in.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of Lacie Adams, our guest blogger.

~Emily & Erin

Guest Blogger-Dawn Green

The purpose of the Iron Porch is to allow a space for women to come to share with one another without the fear of reprisal and judgment. It’s a space that Erin and I felt God wanted to provide so that women could encourage and comfort one another.  After prayerful consideration, we would like to encourage potential guest bloggers to submit a post for consideration.  These guest blogs will be posted under ‘fesharp’ rather than ‘Erin’ or ‘Emily.’

This weekend, we are pleased to introduce you to Dawn Green, a beautiful mom, wife, friend, and our Sister in Christ.  Her heart for servanthood is seen through her faithful leadership at Isaiah 58 Ministries, as they prepare suitcases for women leaving prison.  Dawn will share her heart for slowing down our busy lives to observe what God is doing all around us.

Please join us on the porch this Saturday to read the thoughts of  Dawn Green, our guest blogger.

~Emily & Erin