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

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

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

The Meek Mouse

In America, it seems like the social media influencers, the wealthy, or the aggressive leaders are the ones who always have success.  These are the movers and shakers who get things done with all the right networking connections.  Take a peek at any Fortune 500 company, successful military unit, or LinkedIn profile and you’ll see the expectations and self-reported tips to become successful.

When did we become such a success driven society?  When did we flip to a “me-centric” society?  One which is more drawn towards success, towards supposed-beauty standards, and towards financial savvy.  Do you associate success with the word meek & mild?  

What do you think of when you hear the word “meek”?  Perhaps you associated it with being quiet or reserved.  Some may even associate it with being a pushover.  The “me-ness” of Americans typically would reject the adjective meek.  It’s as though, we associate meekness with weakness.  As a society, we don’t believe you can be successful if you are meek.  

From a Biblical perspective, meekness is not weakness.  Rather, this is a person who is able to control themselves.  Their emotions, reactions, and power are well under their control through submission to God.  

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

The meek are those who choose to die to self for the greater good.  This may be the missionary who forgoes materialistic items, or it could be the military member who sacrifices themselves for the country.  We see examples of this when teenage football players rush a school gunman or when there is quiet praying in the midst of chaos.  Another example is Jesus, who surrendered himself to the soldiers at Gethsemane rather than escape. You see, Jesus, above all others had the ability and power to save himself from death on the cross. 

The meek are content. Why? Because they trust God’s will over their life.

Do you?

In the next week, consider how you are able to display meekness in your daily life.

~Emily

Complaints via a Packers Fan

I’m a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan.  This last weekend’s loss in the NFL playoffs left several fans in a state of despair and complaint.  On social media, blogs, ESPN commentaries, and over the water cooler everyone had an opinion on the game and most had a complaint.  Interestingly enough, the Green Bay Packers are the only “publicly owned” team in the NFL, with fans being the stockholders.  When one purchases stock in the Green Bay Packers, they agree to not complain publicly about the team players/leadership/facilities, etc.  Apparently that did not dissuade hundreds from voicing complaints about the loss on Saturday night.  

Isn’t this true of any sports entertainment?  If your team loses, you complain about something regarding the game.  The referee made a bad call, the coach should be fired, the QB was lousy, politics have too much influence over the games, the baseball was greased up, the fans were obnoxious…or the special teams lost the game for the entire team.  The complaints are countless in the face of not winning.

Like when the Packers lose, I’m often tempted to complain to God about supposed loss in my life.  I’ve complained to God about military moves, finances, infertility, ex-relationships/ex-friendships, my weight, even my injured knee.  I’ve complained to God.  But I’ve also complained to others about all of those things.  More times than I’d like to admit, I probably even complained about God in relationship to those topics.  

I’m sure there are others that can relate to this train of thought. It’s easy to complain about not getting the promotion you prayed for.  It seems justified to complain about not receiving the child you’ve desperately wanted for years.  Perhaps the death of a friend or family member seems like a good time to let God know exactly what you think of His timing.  

Yet complaining is contrary to the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, as it flies in the face of joy, peace, and patience.  In fact, complaining about what God has or has not done in your life actually makes witnessing to the world much harder.  If we aren’t naturally drawn towards those who complain, what makes us think that we can present the Gospel while complaining and capture the attention of the unbeliever?  

There’s a distinction that is important to make…it’s not wrong to complain to God, but it is wrong to complain aboutGod.  He’s given us permission to grumble with Him; in fact, He’s asked us repeatedly to bring all of our troubles, cares, praises, and requests to Him through prayer.  We must be careful to not cross the line of bringing grievances to God and making God one of our grievances.  Scripture is full of examples, such as Moses’ sister Miriam, who complained about God and subsequently about the anger of God that they met as a result.  

Despite that distinction, it’s also important to strive towards not complaining and grumbling with God or amongst ourselves.  When we are grouchy in complaining, it is likely from a worldly perspective, such as unfulfilled desires which can lead to jealousy or coveting.  While it might be hard to always have a joyful heart, it certainly puts us in a better place to love others like Christ loved.

As with our favorite sports teams’ losses, it doesn’t help to complain regarding God.  If our team isn’t great, we’ll still support them if we are true fans.  If it feels as though God is or isn’t doing something for you, it’s important to stay true to your Christian path.  

This week’s challenge: Don’t be a fair-weather fan. And don’t be a lukewarm Christ-follower.

~Emily

P.S. Go Pack Go!

Bookworm Beliefs

True confession: I’m a self-proclaimed-avid-borderline-obsessed reader….a bookwork, if you will.  

What does this bookworm believe?

1. there are always more books to read

2. you can never have too many books waiting to be read

3. all children should be granted access to books

4. reading is my 1st choice for learning & recreation

I probably have more books in my house waiting to be read, than dollars in the bank account (now, that may be a tad bit of an exaggeration).   I always have a book in close proximity to me.  I have to check the copyright date of books prior to reading them.  I keep lists of books I have read, want to read, and want to read again.  I follow authors rather than celebrities on social media.  

My obsession with books is 2nd only to my obsession to Chapstick.  

One of my 2022 goals was to read the entire Bible.  So, when the Pastor of my church recently challenged the entire congregation to read the entire Bible together in 2022, it aligned perfectly with my own goal and with my fixation on reading.

During that challenge the Pastor also mentioned that our personal choices of how we spend our time often trumps our choices of how we spend time with the Lord.  He gave the example of how we may say we don’t have enough time to pray or read our Bible during our busy week, but we manage to make time to watch several football games.  The point?  What is more important…the football game or your relationship with God? 

That has marinated with me for several weeks.  Every single time I’ve picked up a book to read for recreation, I’ve questioned if I had finished my Bible reading plan for the day.  More often than I would have predicted, I had neglected the Bible for another book.  With some reflection of that revelation, I realized that the Holy Spirit was nudging me closer and closer towards focusing on Biblical reading before pleasure reading.  

In John 16:5 and in verse 16, Jesus repeatedly told the disciples that he was leaving them.  He was preparing them for a time that they would not be able to physically see Him anymore.  However, in between those two verses is an interesting statement about the work of the Holy Spirit.

But I tell you the truth; It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. ~John 16:7 (NIV)

It’s easy as a Christian to think that being with Jesus forever would be the best thing for us.  Yet, in John 16:7, we hear Jesus tell us that it’s better for us to not be with him and that if he didn’t leave, the Holy Spirit couldn’t come. Essentially Jesus was saying that it’s better for us to have the Holy Spirit. With that assertion, comes the knowledge that having the Holy Spirit in our lives means that we will be open to feeling convictions about our behaviors.   

We’re a mere three weeks into the New Year and already I’m finding myself convicted by the Holy Spirit regarding my reading behavior and my goal to read through the Bible this year. 

It’s time for this bookworm to adjust my beliefs…I need to focus on my Bible goals. 

Are you open to those nudges from the Holy Spirit?  

~Emily

Tales from an Insomniac

It’s the middle of the night and every breathing creature is asleep in my house…except me.  I’m wide awake listening to the husband, son, and dog snore.  I drink some tea, read a chapter, count some sheep, take a warm shower, pop a melatonin, and continue to toss and turn.  A true insomnia moment.  

Rather than continue to fight sleep, I get up and start something productive. 

It’s the middle of the night and I’m doing dishes, laundry, or blog writing. On the nights I can’t sleep, I figure that I might as well cross items off my “to do list” rather than lay in bed getting mad I’m not sleeping. 

How often am I fighting God’s direction for my life, just like I tend to fight sleep?  

The truth is, that I likely fight Him more than I recognize. It’s so easy to question God…“Are you sure that’s what you need me to do?” or “What if I do xyz?” or “Why don’t we try blah-blah-blah?”  Always questioning and always fighting His direction.

What If I just got up and started being productive instead of lying there questioning and getting frustrated?!?!?!   

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) states that we should, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  

If in a scenario where I can’t sleep, I’m willing to do all types of different tips to get to sleep, why would I also do things to draw closer to God? 

Instead of questioning His guidance in making my path straight, I could confer with God in prayer, read the Bible, meditate, journal, or sing worship music.  Any of those tips would be more productive than my natural tendency to question God in frustration.  I could just get up and become more productive. 

Regardless of sleeplessness or challenging the Lord, I know the most effective methods of not getting angry in the situation.  Now I just have to utilize them.

Happy sleeping this week!

~Emily

New Year: New Goals

I can’t remember any time that I’ve created a New Year’s Resolution.  I’ve never seen value in financial or weight loss promises on January 1st…I know myself well enough that a resolution would not work well for me.  However, I’ve always set new goals for the beginning of each year.  When I was child, the goals were more simplistic, such as not being mean to my brother or being more helpful to my parents.  Those weren’t tangible or measurable goals, so it would have been nearly impossible to determine if they were attained.  As I got older, making the soccer team or getting particular grades became more measurable goals.

In adulthood, my goals have been fanciful.  For instance, one year I made it a goal to say “bless you” to anyone who I heard sneeze…even if they weren’t close enough to hear me.  Another year I had the goal to buy myself fresh flowers weekly, while years before that I went on a “no spending full price on clothes” for a full year.  There was even one year that I made the goal to travel to a new location every month (that was a tad easier because I was already stationed in Europe). 

The secret to effective goal setting is to make mini-goals, also known as objectives.  It gives you milestones to check and re-evaluate how close you are to attaining the goals you have set.  

Scripture is clear that goal-setting is not only desirable, but that God encourages us to practice growing through goal setting.  Proverbs 21:5 (ESV) states, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

Hence, a Biblical example of us needing to create plans to lead to better things.  It’s important to remember that we have to put in some hard work to attain these goals. God’s will allows us to attain or fail to attain goals, but nothing happens at all if we don’t strive towards the objective.  

It’s equally important to remember that our best planning is not a guarantee that we will achieve those goals.  In James 4:13-15, James reminds us that we do not know what tomorrow will bring and that we should continue to lean into the Lord’s will for our lives.  

We must set the goals.  We must work hard towards the goals.  We must recognize that God’s possible change of our plans are because His thoughts for our lives are so much bigger (and better) than our own…see Matthew 6:33-34.  

Ultimately, God’s purpose for each of us will prevail.  In Proverbs 19:21, we are reminded that “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord will stand.”  

So what the heck is the bottom line for our lives in 2022?  Set the goals, make them attainable and measurable, and then submit those goals to God for His blessing and intervention on the purpose He has for your life.  Be intentional, but also know you have to be flexible to the changes God has in store.

It’s a new year…time to set some new goals.  

~Emily

P.S. I have two goals for 2022: 

1. Read the entire Bible (I’m using a one-year reading plan that has me reading four chapters a day between the Old Testament and New Testament with a one day break each month).

2. Complete a 52-hike challenge throughout the year (the hikes can be back-to-back or once a week, at least two miles-but no upper limit to length, not on asphalt/gravel, can repeat trails, any friend/hiking partner/group can join me on any given trail, and the hikes can be anywhere in the world).