Recipe Follower

I have this thing about following a recipe.  While I sometimes try to go off-the-cuff with food, I more than likely have a paper pulled out.  Not only do I follow the recipe, I will read and re-read the recipe multiple times to ensure I make it right.    

I do the same thing with directions.  I’ll see on GPS that it says turn right in two miles only to find myself rechecking it again a half-mile later, then a mile after that!  I’m always worried about missing something or skipping a step that will make my dish turn out awful or find myself two hours from planned destination.

Sometimes, I’m a mess!

As I was cooking dinner tonight, I thought about this desire to make sure I’m getting it right.  Do I have the same thought when it comes to following the commands of God?  Do I meditate and focus on what God says in the Bible to allow me to stay on the right path, or do I get tripped up because I “think I’ve got it” and ignore the instinct to verify what the Bible says?

I used to rely a lot on my memory of what I’d learned growing up in church.  However, as I got older and really start deep-diving into His Word, I recognized that things that I learned years ago had a child-like spin on them.  As I matured in Christ, I recognized that I had to look at context and application.  I needed to look at all of it and not just bits and pieces. 

“All have sinned” didn’t just mean lying to my parents.  It was also lust in my heart for looking at someone inappropriately.  Watching your speech didn’t just mean not saying shut-up or not being kind.  It was recognizing that everything that comes out of my mouth needs to be edifying to the Lord and foul language isn’t included in that edification.  Binding it to your hand and forehead, writing it on the doorpost….it isn’t just about knowing. It’s about purposeful knowledge and studying of what our Heavenly Father tells us because He KNOWS what’s best for us.

When we only look at pieces of scripture or the ‘highlights’ we miss out what the full journey can bring with Christ.  I encourage you, friends, lets stop looking at just the bits and pieces.  Let’s read verse, chapter, book, and Bible to make sure we’re following the beautiful path God has laid out for us.

~Erin

Fishing Obsessions

On our first date, my husband told me that he loves to fish.

That may go down as the biggest understatement that he (or anyone in the history of the world) has ever said.  

Eight years after that first date, I would argue he doesn’t just love fishing…he’s obsessed with it.

I’d also contend that he’s really, really, really smart about fishing. He knows all sorts of nuances about line strength, reading water, colors of lures, how to make replica eggs for bait, predicting fish behavior, and how to tie flies.  

He works for a fishing related company. He owns a fishing related business.  He owns multiple boats for different aspects of fishing…freshwater, saltwater, lake, river, pond, or brush pile building. There is a ginormous barn/shop on our property dedicated to the art of fishing.  Not a week goes by where there aren’t at least 3-4 nights that fishing consumes the dinner table chatter.  

He fishes morning, noon, or night (*Well, not technically noon…if you are the wife of a fisherman, you know high noon and mid-afternoon are not good times to go fishing).  He can fish with a fly rod…fish with bait…fish with lures..fish with custom rods…fish with a center pin reel…and the list goes on and on.   

I’ll go with him occasionally, but I’m more obsessed with reading, hiking, or hanging with friends. In the last few months, I’ve been trying to increase my memorization skills for Bible verses.  For most of my life I’ve struggled with memorization of anything, but especially scripture. I’m now employing some new techniques in memorization and attempting to master an entire chapter of Bible.

A few days ago, I read an article about the importance of scripture memorization. A notation at the middle of the article captured my attention. In my own words, it said something to the effect of we memorize or remember what we make most important to us.  If you can memorize lines from a movie, or sing along with your favorite song, then you don’t struggle with memorization.  You struggle with what is a priority for your memorization.  

Talk about getting my toes stepped on.  Ouch.  That’s me.  I can insert movie lines or the chorus of all kinds of songs into just about any conversation.  And yet, I’m telling myself that I’ve got this block about memorizing verses. 

That gut punch reminded me that I need to make Bible verse memorization a priority.  I need it to be the most (or at least one of the most) important things to me…so that I can be successful at placing those verses in my heart.  

I essentially want to take my husband’s approach to fishing and apply it to my own understanding of scripture. 

I want to be a subject matter expert.  I want to know it inside and out. I want to recall information instantaneously.  And I want to have confidence in my own abilities to appropriately handle the Gospel and scripture.  

I love that my husband has a fishing obsession.  I want to have a scripture obsession.

Come to the porch this week and let us know how you are making the scripture a priority in your life.

~Emily

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

Mindfulness Exercises

In the last two months, I’ve started incorporating mindfulness exercises into my daily life in an effort to battle anxiety and depression.  Mindfulness exercises are 3-5 blips where you deliberately concentrate on an activity through assessing your senses, emotions, or memories.

For instance, you could do a “mindful listening” exercise where you put on classical music and then concentrate on only listening for the violin.  One that I really liked was the “mindful eating” challenge, where you take your favorite flavored skittle and really concentrate on eating that one skittle for the 3-5 minutes.  For me, it was the purple skittle, which was a walk down memory lane of my childhood with grape Hubba-Bubba gum.

This last Saturday I tried the “mindful walking” exercise while hiking with the 3-month-old puppy.  The task during the walk is to concentrate on the aspects of the walk for 3-5 minutes.  The crunch of dried sticks and leaves under my hiking boots.  The shimmer of sunbeams coming through the trees.  The tug on my wrist from the puppy’s leash.  The rustle of leaves in the wind. The coolness of the creek as it splashes on my shins as I cross a stone bridge.  The smell of water-moss-mud on the creek beds. The tension in my quads from climbing inclines.

For the first time, I also incorporated scripture in the mindful walking because scripture actually tells us to be mindful and meditate on what God has provided for us (including the nature found during a hike).

It seemed appropriate to start with Psalm 145:5 (NET) which states “I will focus on your honor and majestic splendor, and your amazing deeds.” In the NKJV of the same verse, it states, “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”

Keeping in mind the scriptural guidance of focusing on the splendor of God and meditating on His wondrous works, brought a whole new level to the mindful walking exercise!

The tug of the puppy’s leash doesn’t just become a sensation of my arm, it becomes gratitude that God created this puppy and that the puppy is part of our family.  The rustling of the wind in the treetops doesn’t just become a wonderous noise in the background, it becomes a reminder of God’s faithfulness to give me shade from those treetops and a cool breeze on my sweaty brow.

I wasn’t just centering myself in an exercise to control my anxiety…I was actually acknowledging God’s abundant gifts that are literally all around us!  I was following the direction in Psalm 96:12 (NET) “Let the fields and everything in them celebrate.  Then let the trees of the forest shout with joy.”

A mindful exercise that is full of celebration and joy!  I hope this next week is mindful for you too!

~Emily

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The Wisteria Vine

One of the things that I love about our house is wisteria vines that line the barbed wire fence in the front yard.  It’s clear that the property was well-loved based on the dozens of bulbs and trees that were planted years ago. This wisteria plant is no different.  The roots are deep, the trunk is thick, and the vines have trellised for yards and yards.

While this wisteria vine is beautiful with its lush leaves and gorgeous purple flowers, there’s one small wisteria wisp that is even more precious to me.  It’s small. It’s tender leaves and vines are barely two feet tall.  To my knowledge, it’s never bloomed purple blossoms.

Why is this little wisp so perfect for me? It’s from Erin’s oldest daughter, McKenna’s Florida house.  This perfect little wisp was dug up by the roots, carefully wrapped in wet paper towels, and transported to Alabama in a bucket during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael’s wrath on McKenna and Indy’s house in the panhandle.

This perfect little vine that I’ve been carefully nurturing for a year and a half is standing tall this spring.  Yesterday, I had to provide ties to give it support on a decorative light pole.  As I worked to train this little vine, I was able to think about how these two examples of wisteria vines are so much like my knowledge of the Bible.

There are times that I’m strong in the knowledge of some verses or stories.  That knowledge has been nurtured for years and is like a thick wisteria trunk supporting vines running for yards and producing fruit.

There are other times that I’m small and tender in knowledge (if I’m honest, this is waaaaaaay more frequent than me being strong in knowledge).  That little vine represents new knowledge that is being tended to by a loving Father in the hopes that through the years it will grow stronger and stronger…. eventually producing flowers.

One day, my little “McKenna” wisteria vine will grow into a big flower producing machine.  Each year it will be a reminder of my extended family and how we support one another.  More than that, it will also remind me to stay focused on the continuous learning of God’s Word.  Each day I know I need to keep watering it, tending to it, strengthening it with support, and loving on it.  I can’t wait to see the McKenna flowers!

~Emily

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5 (NIV)

The Wisteria Vine

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

 

“I Know”

“Make sure you wash your hair in the shower.” ~Mom-Me

“I know.” ~My 8-year-old

“Today’s the day you need to turn in your globe project at school.” ~Mom-Me

“I know.” ~My 8-year-old.

If I said, “Neil Armstrong did Michael Jackson’s moon-walk while defending Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and discussing Thomas Edison’s impact on the death penalty in 2019, my son would say ‘I know.’”

It’s enough to drive a mother crazy!

How many of us ask God for guidance and then tell Him “I know”?  I’d venture to guess that most of us have told our Heavenly Father “I know” on several occasions. In fact, I’d argue there are two different types of “I know” that we tell God.

The first is similar to what our children say.  “I know” implies, I already have that information and you aren’t sharing anything new with me.  Often in human form, it is accompanied by an eye roll or heavy sigh.  An example of this is when God gives us a nudge, usually in regards to something we are doing that is displeasing to Him, and we reply with the “I know.”  For example, you are harboring unforgiveness towards someone for a perceived slight.  You feel convicted, as though you should reach out to that person.  You respond with the “I know, I know.  I should speak to this person and offer forgiveness. But….

This type of “I Know” does not always include action.  In fact, sometimes, this “I know” isn’t really acknowledging knowledge at all.  Rather, it’s a phrase to make the other person feel like you agree with them.  News flash: God knows you don’t really know…just like a mother knows that about her child.

The second “I know” comes with an exclamation point and often a bit of emphasis that indicates that we’ve just figured out the solution to a perplexing issue.  Essentially it’s the EUREKA of the “I know” world. An example of this is when we ask God’s guidance on a situation but then we implement our own solution with an “I know…I’ll do this or that.”

This type of “I Know!” often includes making a bigger mess.  We haven’t waited on God, but rather try to solve issues on our own. News flash: We tend to mess things up more with our tracts of solutions.

Whether we are answering “I know” to something He’s asked of us, or we say “I know!” like we’ve come up with our own answer to prayer requests, we are not honoring God or our parents with our know-it-all attitude.

A look at Scripture reveals that one of the best ways to determine if God is telling us to do something is to see if it is consistent with God’s teachings.  John 16:13 teaches, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” In other words, God’s Spirit will only guide you to do things that are consistent with what God has already taught as truth.

Another way to know when God is telling you to do something is through prayer.   James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” If we are uncertain, we are to pray and ask for wisdom from God.

Rather than thinking you know, seek the Lord through scripture or through prayer.  If God’s Word is consistent with where you are being led and your prayers appear to confirm that leading, then maybe God is revealing a course of action for you…one that you don’t know about.

~Emily

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