The Car Saga Contiues

We’re into week 2 of my car saga, and I’m not sure I see an end in sight.  While it took a bit for the adjuster to go and see the vehicle, once there, a vast difference appeared between the two companies in the ideas of how to repair my sweet car along with the cost of said repairs.  Alas, still no car.

I was starting to feel a little frustrated.  While having a car is assuredly a first world problem, I’ve been irritated about being at home without a vehicle in the event I wanted something…like an ice cold fountain Coke (that I don’t really need).   This has felt slightly overwhelming at my lack of control or answers to the problem.

This entire process has flown right in the face of what I’m studying.  We’re clearly told in the bible to trust God for everything.  Why is it so hard to let go of that control and hear what He’s saying?  Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.

That verse doesn’t say He’ll give me a quick answer.  It doesn’t even say He’ll give the answer I want.  What it does tell me that no matter how out of control I feel and no matter how long this process will take, He won’t forsake me.  Forsake means to abandon, and that’s one thing God never does.  He doesn’t just leave me to handle it on my own.  When I seek Him and when I trust, He is right there with me walking with me every step of the way.

I have no idea when I’ll get my car back.  But no matter the length of time or how frustrating the outcome, I can be assured that my situation and I are not forsaken.  He is right there holding my hand as we navigate this water together.

Iron Porch, have any of you been in a situation where you had to remind yourself that God was standing with you and walking beside you during a tough spot?  Let us know in the comments below.

~Erin

Suicidal Dream

Recently, my 9-year-old son came to my bedside in the middle of the night asking to lay down with me.  He said he’d had a bad dream and wanted to snuggle. I asked him about the dream and he shared that it included a pretty explicit description of me committing suicide in front of him.

Through the years, I’ve comforted him several times after a bad dream, but nothing had prepared me for him dreaming that I’d shot myself in front of him.  I held him tight and prayed with him to have a calm spirit so that he could fall back to sleep.  He recalled a scripture from Deuteronomy 31:6, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord, your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

I felt his heart rate slow down and his breathing level out as he fell asleep.

I, however, was wide awake and troubled by his dream.  Why on earth would his little mind have created a scenario where I would abandon him in such a manner? Are these residual ideas from his birth mom and the adoption process?  For that matter, how did he even know something so horrific could happen to a mom or a child?

I untangled myself from the blankets and the kiddo so I could get on my knees and place this burden at the feet of our Lord.  While I don’t understand the dream or why my child had it, I do know that I felt relief in sharing my concerns with God.

In the days after that situation, other verses of comfort came to both me and my son.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” ~Psalm 34:4

For the Lord says…do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine. ~Isaiah 43:1

Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.” ~Isaiah 35:4

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ~2 Timothy 1:7

The Iron Porch is a place to be transparent about real-life events.  With that in mind, I’ve got to admit my son’s dream has shaken me up for a few days.  The one thing that has kept me calm is scripture and prayer.  The constant provision of God’s word has encouraged me and reminded us that he does not want us to fear anything.

~Emily

Deuteronomy

 

One Bathroom

A house with only one bathroom is a recipe for disaster.  And I still have one teenager left living at home.  It’s practically unbearable!  It’s a juggling act, sometimes, to figure out who can get in for their shower and who gets to brush their teeth or wash their face first.  This week, was no exception.  Chris, Peyton’s dad, needed to go to work and I hadn’t thought to let Peyton know.  (I mean, he’s had the same Tuesday schedule for three years, so it didn’t even cross my mind.)

The idea that Peyton had to shorten her shower and get out was not a pleasant solution in her 15-year-old mind.  When she emerged she looked at me and said, “Why can’t he get up earlier to get ready?!”  To which I reminded her that he’s had the same schedule for years.  She retorted, “I’m irritated with you too, mom!  You should’ve told me he was going to work!”

Do we have that reaction when it comes to knowing what the bible says?  Someone else will give me the answer!  I expect that when I go to church my pastor as the leader should be telling me what the bible says.  When I attend a bible study the writer gives me direction in my homework.  When I’m speaking to my accountability partner or mentor I think they’ll give me the answers.

But as Christ-followers, we shouldn’t be waiting for the advice alone of our mentors and leaders.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the scripture is God-breathed.  The answers that we need are in the book that we should be studying!   We should be researching, reading, and seeking the answers for ourselves in the Bible.  We have a responsibility to do the work, as well.

I know I can be guilty of this.  Just like Peyton with the idea of ‘someone will let me know,’ I can very easily wait for a Sunday service, hoping the pastor will eventually touch on a topic that’s been on my mind.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You,” –Psalm 119:11

This verse reminds me that I should be in the Word, studying and growing in my walk.  I don’t need to wait for someone else to give me the answer.  God gave it to me in the form of a bible, and I’m going to make sure moving forward that I’m using it to mature my faith in Jesus.

~Erin

Find the Time

As a full time professional in the billing department of a hospital, I need to know what I’m talking about.  The majority of us know that medical insurance can be so frustrating and hard to understand.  My job requires me to have extensive knowledge of insurance billing for physicians, and on occasion I have to spend time explaining to patients what the charges/payments mean so that they can understand it in laymen’s terms.  It’s important for me to be doing continuous education on the insurance companies.

Do we treat our study of the bible the same way?

God wrote the most beautiful book for us.  It’s a history lesson of this earth prior to Jesus walking the streets of Jerusalem.  It’s the true story of the greatest sacrifice for love, and it’s the written promise of what’s to come.   God’s love letter is available to all of us to learn from, to grow from, to mature ourselves in our faith.  And yet I let days go between opening it to really read what God has written to me.

The psalmist wrote, “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.  I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” –Psalm 119:15-16.  My prayer is that I take those words to heart.

I want to develop a strong understanding of who God is and what He’s done and one of the best ways I can do that is to spend time each day meditating on His written word.  I want my study to be meaningful and give me true opportunity to dig in.  My bible can’t remain closed until I “find the time.”  Believe me, I’ve been there, and it happens to me even now.  I let things, people, phone calls, or TV take precedence over a chance to allow a scripture meaning to be revealed to me.

The challenge to myself, and one that I’m extending to you, is to set aside at least 15 minutes each morning when you first wake up.  Ask God to reveal Himself to you in the passage or verse you’ve chosen to read, read it aloud, and then use the rest of the time to find out “What does this mean to me?”  Allow yourself time to meditate on His ways.  You won’t regret it.

Is there a verse or passage that you’ve read that might encourage someone to start this challenge?  Come to the porch and share in the comments below.

~Erin

I will meditate (used)

Shadows & The Light

With my heart pounding out of my chest, I jumped backward, fists up, and screamed bloody murder…something incoherent with a few swear words.

Can you picture my kung-fu fighting stance? What would cause such a commotion in my life?

As I was closing the bedroom door, a shadow passed along the hallway, which scared me into the defensive position.  The shadow?  My husband coming down the hall with a fresh cup of coffee for me. A sweet gesture that was met with much aggression, simply because I got frightened.

Shadows seem scary and often they indicate a scenario where we should be on defense.

Shadow in the woods = lions and tigers and bears.

Shadow behind my car = zombie about to get me.

Shadow over my head = bird about to poop on me.

Shadow in the hallway = bad guy in the house.

The shadow mentioned in Psalm 23:4, the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” has always frightened me.  Mostly because it sounds so ominous.  The passage that seems to be most popular for funerals makes me conjure up a picture in my mind that is scary.

But more often than not, the shadow isn’t what is truly scary. Most of the time, it’s my imagination that makes the shadow scarier than it deserves to be. Shadows appear frightening, but they can’t hurt us.

Consider this:  the presence of a shadow is also an indicator of light.  When we are frightened by an object casting a shadow, we should look for the light behind the shadow.

Take the same scary scenarios above…

Shadow in the woods = sunset behind a redwood tree.

Shadow behind my car = puppy running to greet me.

Shadow over my head = cloud providing shade relief from an Alabama blazing hot sun.

Shadow in the hallway = husband bringing wife hot coffee.

There is one more super amazing light behind darkness.  Jesus.

Jesus is that light (John 8:12).  He can provide the glimmer of reassurance when we have a momentary fright.  When the shadows are imaginary, He is the light. When the shadows are overwhelming, He is light.  He the shadows indicate true danger, He is the light.

Always.  Jesus is our light in the midst of the shadows.

With that in mind, Psalm 23:4 becomes a whole lot more comforting than the imaginary picture I have previously had in my mind.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

I’m praying that each of you have a week where the shadows are a reminder that there is always light present.

~Emily

The Walmart Meltdown

I don’t often break down.  I definitely don’t break down in front of people.  I’m the kind of woman that needs to feel like she’s got her emotions in check.  I encourage women to let go and be ok with not having it all together.  But me….I don’t always take my advice.

Let’s take the Walmart incident Emily wrote about two weeks ago.  When she wrote that I had a meltdown, she wasn’t exaggerating!  I took a left at the end of McKenna’s road to head to Walmart and somewhere in that 4 minute drive, as she encouraged me to tell her what was going on in my head, I start blubbering and crying.  And she was there to help me get myself back together.  Here’s what she didn’t tell you because she felt it was my story to write.

I was afraid of judgment.  Here we were, visiting my beautiful oldest daughter and her husband, Indy, along with my sweet little grandbaby, Andros, and I was worried that I would be judged on how well McKenna was doing!  By my best friend!  How silly does that sound!?

But it wasn’t silly to me in that moment.  Would Emily see something that would reflect poor parenting?  Were McKenna and Indy thriving?  Was Andros doing well? Did McKenna love her job?  Was the house clean enough?  Were they eating healthy?
These are all things moms worry about for their grown children, but somehow in that moment, Satan had woven anxiety around me to make me feel as if I needed to question my worthiness as a parent, as a grandparent, and as a friend.

It was overwhelming to say the least.  In that 4 minute drive, I was afraid to tell Emily that I was terrified of being judged by her.  Yet, when I shared my heart, she lovingly told me that there was NOTHING that would ever make her feel as if I wasn’t a good parent, a good person, a good friend.  She reminded me that I was overwhelmed with everything going on with the trip, and that there were great things in store from God.  And that I needed to stop freaking out!

And just like that, it was over.  It was as if God had placed this blanket of protection over me through my best friend’s kind yet realistic words.  Satan’s rhetoric was banished from that car, and grace filled the air.

How many times do we do that to ourselves, ladies?  We question our value and our worth through someone else’s eyes.  We want to feel accepted and worthy of a friendship or a job.  We long to feel good enough to teach a class or learn a new skill. Yet, we forget that God sees us as worthy already.  We are good enough.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV) says, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

He knew who we were before we were born, and He created us in His image.  We. Are. Worthy.  Because we are His.

~Erin

Gossip or Guidance?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

When I was a young Airman, I had a supervisor tell me that I was the type of person who thrived on chaos and created drama.  That statement hurt me to my core and allowed me to have some self-reflection time about the type of woman I wanted to be known as.  And guess what? I decided I didn’t want to be known as someone who was involved with chaos, drama, turmoil…and gossip.

Gossip is such an uncomfortable topic.  It’s uncomfortable because so many of us fall into the gossip trap at some point in our lives.  There are varying levels of gossip…the seemingly innocent gossip…the outrageous made-up gossip…and even the justifiable gossip cloaked in truth. There are different players in the game of gossip.  There is the initiator, the contributor, the facilitator, and even the victim.  I know that I have been involved in each of the roles and if I’m honest, in each of the levels of gossip too.

Erin and I were recently talking about the fabric of our friendship and how we’ve never had a fight.  We’ve never gossiped about each other.  We hold each other accountable.  We disagree with one another. Heck we have even disliked decisions that the other made, but we have never fought. Why? I believe there are several reasons.  Our friendship is built on trust. It’s built on respect. It’s built on love. And it’s a friendship that is built on Christ.

What would happen to us, as Christian women, if all our relationships were built on trust, respect, love and Christ?  What if we treated all of our relationships as ones without chaos, without drama, without gossip?

Would we be happier people? Would we accomplish more? Would we reflect Christ’s love for all of His people?

Obviously, you can’t know if all your relationships are built on mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, or mutual relationship with God.  But you can know if you will exhibit these traits.

Let’s go back to gossip.  Women typically love to talk. And we love to talk about each other.  We are a catty group of humans.  It does not matter what label you put on yourself, women are at fault for talking about each other.  Christian women too.  Ours however, may be more dangerous gossip than that of the non-believer.  Why?  Well, we mask our gossip as “venting” or worse as “seeking council” from other Christian women.

Please know this, I believe we need to seek wise council.  Occasionally, we need to vent.  If we keep our thoughts, dreams, and prayers to ourselves then we are unable to be held accountable by other Christians.  The distinction between wise council seeking and gossip is when you make the decision about whether or not the conversation will make its way back to the subject.

Let’s imagine you take a topic to someone you trust and respect…simply to vent or to get guidance.

If you talk about someone and never intend to bring it to him or her, then it could be gossip.

If you talk about someone and intend to bring it to him or her after seeking council, then it may not be gossip…it may truly be seeking guidance.

“Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.” – Psalm 101:5

Let’s flip the script now.  Let’s imagine that someone is coming to you for a venting session or because they are seeking your guidance.

If you aren’t sending them to speak with the individual to resolve the situation, then your guidance is not holy…it is likely part of the gossip.

If you join in the venting session because you’ve been hurt by the individual, then you are contributing to the gossip.

If you ask them what their role is in the scenario, or if you ask them what they intend to say to the individual, or if you encourage them to speak to the person…then you are stopping the gossip. You are providing guidance.

“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.” – Proverbs 11:13

There’s a fine line between gossip and guidance.  It’s a hard line to see, but it’s an easy one to cross.  Our flesh wants the confirmation that we have been wronged. We crave the vindication that we are right and that we are justified in the gossiping.  As humans, we desire someone else to come beside us and share our outrage at injustices…perceived or real.

But what would happen if we stopped the gossip?

What would happen if we started building our relationships on trust, respect, love and Christ?

If we stopped gossiping and replaced that with truth talk directly to the people involved, wouldn’t we start building trust, respect, love…and show how Christ would have functioned?

There are relationships that are toxic. Ones that eventually need to be severed. But for the average relationship, trust and respect are started with honesty.  Honesty can be sometimes harsh or sometimes softer, but should never be expressed in a deliberately hurtful manner.  Honest talk builds healthy relationships.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.” – Proverbs 20:19

 Let’s band together as Christian women to refine one another. Together we can start to stop the gossip within our homes, our churches, and our workplaces. Let’s identify the flaws and press into the Lord with our desire to do better.

~Emily

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”               – Psalm 141:3