The Weeds

I have the most annoying vine looking weed that has thorns on it growing in one of the raised beds in my garden.  When I set it up two years ago, I fluffed the soil and added additional dirt, but I didn’t really pay attention to what was already around the area.  As a result, we’ve got this vine that chokes out whatever it is that’s planted along where it snakes around.  I went to grab it one day last year only to be stuck with one of the thorns.  Because I didn’t take it out by the root then or remove it properly from the garden, this year, it’s weaved its way around my flowers and nothing is really growing.  My flower garden is stagnant.

This is what happens when we allow sin to enter our lives.  When bitterness, resentment, and sin come into our lives, without taking the proper steps to ensure it doesn’t take root, it’s allowed to grow and fester.  It begins to take over our lives in ways we could never imagine.

God tells us that the fruit of the Spirit include joy, peace, patience, and self-control.  But when we aren’t properly weeding our faith garden, it affects those fruits.  The weed takes hold of the peace and leaves us with a feeling of jealousy that someone has something we aren’t able to have.  It stunts the patience we have learned to understand when the anger takes over at being passed over for a promotion we thought we deserved.  It strangles the self-control we have as we find ourselves trying to live in the world but not be of the world (Romans 12:2).  Those menacing vines steal the joy we have in the Lord when we don’t remove them…and remove them at the root.

Just as it is in gardening, we can pick the weed out.  We can pull at the vine to remove it to allow for more growth on the surface.  However, when we don’t remove the full root that it’s attached to, it’s allowed to continue growing and being a menace.

We can’t just ask for forgiveness of sins and “hope” it doesn’t come back.  We must repent—meaning to turn away—from what we have allowed to grow.  Then we must take the root out.  It may mean removing certain music from your life to prevent you from feeling a certain way.  It may mean reexamining your friendships.  It may mean recognizing that you need deeper study in the Word and less time on social media.  But when we take out the root, we remove the hinderance and can see the beauty in the growth of a full and complete garden.

This doesn’t mean that other choking vines or weeds won’t come, but when we take out the root of the issue, we can find our hope in the Lord that says we can be more vigilant about what may come next.  We can be prepared for what satan sends our way.  God can have the victory in our lives!

This week, I’m praying that God reveals what the weeds are in my garden so that I can take them by the root and remove them!  How about you?

~Erin

Patience of God

I had my grandsons this last week for five days.  I love them.  They are amazing!  Andros is 4 and Kalan is 2, and they are sincerely so smart and funny!  But they WORE. ME. OUT.  Especially Kalan!  I didn’t realize just how much they are always on the go until I watched Kalan run in circles around the island of our kitchen for almost 23 minutes.  And I’m not exaggerating; it was hysterical!  He would take a turn around, go past our dog, Ruger, say ‘Scuse me’ and keep going around and around.

I don’t know where he has the energy.  However, the one thing I noticed because he’s non-stop is that my patience would start to wear thin.  He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but when a child that’s so focused wasn’t paying attention to what I was saying, I would start to get irritated trying to rein him in.

Thank goodness for a God who is patient with us!  Over and over in the bible, it says that He is slow to anger, gracious, and loving.  And that’s even after we run around and do what we want to do without paying attention to His words and commands!

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;” –Exodus 34:6

“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindess and truth.” –Psalm 86:15

“’And rend your heart and not your garments.’”  Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindess and relenting of evil.” –Joel 2:13

“who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” –1 Peter 3:20

Even when the Lord was waiting for repentance from the people in the days of Noah, or when the Israelites were complaining in the wilderness, and when Jonah ran and hid (unsuccessfully), He had patience and gave time for them to repent and to turn back to Him!  He did not just immediately get mad and cut them off.  He gave us opportunity to walk our way back to Him and His ways.

I thank God for the patience that He has for us!  I’m thankful that He’s not like us where we can fall so quickly to irritation and getting upset.  I pray that this week we can see the patience of God in His love for us and model that towards those around us.

~Erin

Sweet Kalan who loves to run me ragged!

Waiting on the Huddle House

As a surprise reward for our son, my husband and I woke him up early on a Saturday morning to go to breakfast at his all-time favorite restaurant: Huddle House.

As we walked in, the cook told us that it might be a little while, as they were waiting on the arrival of a waitress.  We noticed that there were several tables with full coffee cups, but waiting to order.  We sat down, not knowing how long the wait would be, but our son was nearly giddy in anticipation of Oreo pancakes.

About 20 minutes later, we had ordered and fairly quickly were served our breakfast choices. Kambell said, “The wait made the pancakes taste even better.”

Isn’t that true of so many things in life?  

When we wait on God’s timing, wouldn’t so much of our lives be better?

For instance, instead of racing towards a new job, we wait on God’s timing on a promotion.  That tastes so much sweeter than being miserable in the job we thought we wanted.

Or what if we prayerfully considered God’s choice for our marriage partner.  Wouldn’t that be much more satisfactory than settling for a less than Godly marriage?

What if God’s timing on a major decision was markedly different from your own?  Would you appreciate that difference if you choose to wait on God’s timing?

In James 5:7-8 (NIV) scriptures says, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

These verses are reminders to the oppressed and persecuted disciples of Christ that the Lord will soon be coming back. At that time, He will relieve us of the pain and suffering we have endured.  At the same time, punishment will come for those who reject His Word.  

Patience is the key to waiting.  If we are faithful to the waiting in God’s timing, then we reap rewards that we were not expecting. 

Essentially the Oreo pancakes become that more delicious.

I’ll be praying for the Iron Porch readers to have patience in the waiting this week.

~Emily

Disney Lines

Do you know how long a Disney World line is?  That’s right—too long.  Do you know what the best part of any of the rides in Disney World is?  You’re right again—the air conditioning you get to when you get closer to the front of the line.  Followed by a second best part of the fans that blow on you while you’re having the start of heatstroke in a line in Florida in July.  (Seriously, I can’t understand why the most popular time to go there is in the summer when your face melts off, but whatever.)

During a recent last minute trip to the happiest place on earth, we weathered several days at the Parks in the blistering sun.  While the lines weren’t as long as some might expect, it feels like it goes on forever when it’s hot and humid.

In the morning it wasn’t such a big deal.  But by midday, I just wanted the line to go fast so that we could strategically stop at a fan or, even better, hit the purchased icy air blowing from a vent.  There’s nothing like losing patience and being annoyed at Disney!

How patient are we with the direction God takes us?  Do we find ourselves like I was in that line, wondering how I could speed it up, wanting to get to the prize of the ride at the end?  Maybe we don’t like to wait and think of ways to make it easier to get to the front.  Perhaps we’re frustrated that the people further up are already at the destination and we’re upset it isn’t us!

We forget sometimes that the WHOLE journey is part of the journey.  It’s part of building your faith in Jesus.  It’s learning to trust only Him for the next step.  It’s understanding that things shouldn’t be expected to happen in our time but rather God’s time.  I found a verse in the bible that reminded me of that today.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” –Psalm 27:14

We’re told to wait for Him.  In our waiting, stronger faith is created and the end result is far sweeter.  Because the end result, when letting Him lead, brings glory to our heavenly Father.

Do you have moments like me when you want to rush the race rather than run the race that’s set before us?  Share with us in the comments and know that you are not alone!

~Erin

Barn Raising; Not The Amish Way

A barn is being built on our property.  It’s a very large barn structure with electricity and a cement floor with super high rafters.  And it seems like it’s taking forever to complete.

The process has been tedious.  First trees stumps were removed.  Extra dirt was brought in and leveled.  Poles (or are they called studs?!??!) were cemented into place and structure began to take shape.  All this before the cement truck arrived to pour the flooring.  

We still need walls.  We still need a roof.  We still need two ginormous garage doors and a man door installed. We still need insulation and electricity.

If I’m honest, this barn raising process feels like it will never end!  There’s construction equipment and supplies all over my yard.  We play “shuffle” the vehicles every day to make room for whoever happens to be leaving for work first the next morning. If we were near the Amish, where my husband grew up in Pennsylvania, our barn would have likely been done in one weekend.

If this were a brick or stone building, we would have started with the cornerstone, which is the first laid stone and guides the construction of the rest of the building.  Most Christians have heard the metaphor of Jesus being the cornerstone of the church.  Jesus being the rock, in which we are each built upon.  He is he strength of the first laid stone; the guide for all the geometry that follows. 

For me, the barn raising journey isn’t a reminder of the cornerstone piece; rather it’s a constant reminder of my need to practice patience.  While I want the barn done and the yard cleaned up, I need to recognize that the process takes a little bit of time.  From a safely perspective, I don’t want this to be a rushed process. 

Patience is not natural to me.  For either the barn raising project or with the people in my life.  In my experience, the more I practice being patient, the more likely I am to actually naturally exercise patience.  When we are able to behave with kindness and patience, we are more often demonstrating Christ-like behavior towards others.  

As I struggle each day with the chaos in my yard during the barn raising, I am also reminded to be patience.   

~Emily

 “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love…” Ephesians 4:2 (NASB)

Waiting for Something: The Case for a Puppy

My 8-year-old recently asked, “Why don’t we have a dog yet?”

Our family has been talking about getting a puppy for a couple years, but we’ve always had parameters associated with it.

As soon as we buy a house, we’ll get a dog.

As soon as I retire from the military, we’ll get a dog.

As soon as this or that is done, we’ll get a dog.

My son has had enough of the waiting and now just flat out asks why we are still stalling.

I tried to think of a way to explain to an 8-year-old using a Bible story.  Sarah waiting on a baby, offering her maid to her husband? Nope, not a good 3rd grader type of story.  Lazarus raised from the dead? Pretty complicated for the 3rd grader. Woman healed with the blood issue? Not sure I know enough about it to explain it….

It’s so hard to be patient waiting for something we desire! Often it’s difficult to be patient with God too.  What does it mean to “wait on the Lord”?

There are a couple of key components to waiting on God. The first is a complete dependence on God and the second is a willingness to allow Him to dictate the timeline.  Both sound easy. Neither are.

I find myself praying, “Lord, give me patience…like, now.  Yep, now is when I need the patience.”

Practicing patience with God often involves waiting. When we wait on the Lord, we are developing strengthened character in our Christian walk.  That patience showcases our ability to trust the Lord. It strengthens our prayer life. In some instances, it may strengthen our desire to be into the Word more frequently.

The timing of the Lord is always perfect.  We just have to wait patiently.

The timing of the Shade puppy will also be perfect. My son just has to wait patiently.

~Emily

The case for a puppy

Love is…Bible Study Time

More often than not, I get stumped while reading the Bible.  I want to know all the details and frankly, the Bible doesn’t always give all the details.

The OCD in me wants to know who’s who and why of the Bible.  So, I spend time cross-referencing family lineage.

The historian in me wants to know what is happening on a timeline.  So, I spend time looking up historical references about what was happening during certain parts of the Bible.

The researcher in me wants to know why some versions use particular words, while others have selective different verbiage. So, I spend time cross-referencing different versions of the Bible.

The woman in me wants to know how it applies to me. Right Now.  In 2019.  So, I spend time in prayer and journaling in an attempt to fully understand a scripture.

A new technique that I’ve recently employed is putting myself into the scripture or the scenario.  This has afforded me an opportunity to hear God’s voice in a manner that I hadn’t previously tried.

For instance, imagine yourself as one of the disciples being asked to pray for Jesus the night before His death.  As you are sitting in the dark garden, would you have been faithful in praying?  Would you have fallen asleep? Would you have sat up chatting with the others in an effort to stay awake?

In that scenario, you can begin to picture what the disciples were feeling that night.  Perhaps you get a glimpse into how Jesus reacted that evening.  Whatever your reaction to this exercise, you begin to see the Bible through a new set of lenses.

Let me present you with a challenge to put yourself into a scripture.  I’m sure you are familiar with the scripture of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV), but for the purpose of this exercise, I’m asking you to break it into individual lines (you can do this in your journal or on a scrap piece of paper).

Love is patient,

love is kind,

it does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Now, the harder part of studying and applying this passage.  Replace the word “Love” and the word “it” with your own name.  Once you do that, prayerfully ask the Lord and yourself if the statement is still true.  Ask the Lord for help to strengthen you where there is weakness and continue to protect you where there is a strength.

In this challenge, “Love is patient” becomes “Emily is patient.”  “Love is kind” becomes “Emily is kind.” So on, and so on.

Guess what?  Love is patient all day, every day.  Emily, not so much.  I lose patience all the time.  And that is an area I need to take to the Lord in prayer.  What happens in this Bible study time, through putting myself into a scripture scenario, I identify an area that I need to prayerful consider in time with the Lord.

Take the challenge.  See what God speaks to your heart through a new lens.

~Emily

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.  It penetrates even to diving soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

love is