The Perfect Last Word

How often have you been in a scenario where you thought of the perfect come-back or retort…after the conversation was done?

Last week I had an encounter with a guy who was hogging up a spot at a gas pump while eating a burger.  He had me blocked in and there were two other cars behind me waiting for their turn at the pump.  When I tapped my horn to get him to scoot out of the way, he shook his head at me…and then he flipped me off.

I was shocked. And in disbelief, I managed to get around him and leave the gas station.  

Over the next few hours, I revisited the interaction often.  I wish I had gotten out of my car to chat with the man. 

I know, I know.  That’s not necessarily safe in our society. But I do wish I had gotten more involved.  Why?  Because of some contextual clues.  He had out-of-State plates, a military haircut, and an Air Force sticker on his bumper.  As a retired military member, I wish I had engaged to let him know that his behavior was reflecting on the entire military service.  

I wanted to have the last word. 

In John 19:13, Christ said, “It is finished.”  

He had the last word.  

In this instance the Greek translation is that of an accounting term and means that it’s been paid in full.  


What is paid in full?  

Our debt due to our own sins, which trace all the way back to Adam and Eve’s original sins in the Garden of Eden is what was paid in full.  Jesus was saying that “it is finished” in regards to removing the consequences of our sin nature.  

Earlier in the book of John, we see Jesus praying to the Father prior to his arrest by the Romans.  In John 17:4 He prayed to ‘finish the work you have given me to do.”  

Not only did Jesus state “it is finished” in regards to covering our sins with his blood, but also that His work on Earth was finished.  While they seem to be the same implication, there is a slight difference in knowing that Jesus was the fulfillment of prophecy.  As part God and part man, He was able to fulfill that prophecy despite His own human experiences.  “It is finished” is the completion of the Old Testament prophecies.  

The will of God…The faithful service of Christ….The option for forgiveness of our sins…All of these are covered under the simple statement of “it is finished.”

Those famous last words of Christ, which are so much more profound than any last words we may have in an argument or altercation.  

In the next week, I pray your last words are ones of grace and love…and not just because you wanted to have the last word.

~Emily

Childhood Nostalgia

Recently, my Mom and I were reminiscing about the chaos and joy surrounding the arrival of the Sunday Paper in our living room when I was younger.  Everyone pulled their favorite section and as a family, we poured over the paper for a couple hours. Before he could read, I remember reading the comics to my brother and later we would fight over who got them first.

This small conversation with my Mom had me recalling other aspects of my childhood that I remember fondly.  For instance, if the summer temperature in Oregon went over 100, we had ice cream and fruit for dinner.  I remember walking to the comic book store with my Brother so he could spend his allowance…and on the way, there was one particular ‘barkless’ dog that we would play with through the fence.  I remember going crawdad hunting with chunks of hot dogs tied to a string.  I also remember my parents dancing in the kitchen.

These are each endearing memories of my childhood.  Each remind me of how family can be structured in moments of happiness.  

I recognize that not everyone had such pleasant childhood memories or parents who were so involved in the children’s lives.  I also recognize that I’m remembering great memories and often gloss over the not so amazing memories.  It was not all sunshine and butterflies for me.  And I know it wasn’t for others either.  

However, the not so nice memories are cloaked in the comfort of scripture.  

A scripture that I often lean on when thinking about family is from Ephesians 3:15 (NASB), which reads “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”

When reading this verse, it’s important to know that the word ‘family’ is closely transplanted in the original language as ‘father.’ In both the Old Testament tradition, as well as our current society, it’s easy to think this verse is referencing families taking the name of the Patriarch’s family.  This is still seen now, as brides take their husband’s last name.  

In reality, the verse is much deeper.  It refers to ‘every family,’ as in ‘all believers’ in Christ.  All of us…as one big family.  Furthermore, we all derive our names from that belonging to Jesus when we adopt the name ‘Christian,’ as derived from the name ‘Christ.’ 

This is a family of hope and love. Can you imagine how that family will interact?  How much greater Heaven will be than pursuing the comics out of the Sunday paper?!?!? There’s no need for nostalgia with a future like that!

No matter what our childhood’s looked like, our future is one of hope through Christ. 

~Emily

“Vacation” on the Appalachian Trail

Last week I spent six days hiking and living on the Appalachian Trail.  It’s been a lifelong dream to hike the entire 2,195 miles of the Appalachian Trail.  Instead of deciding to be gone from my regular life for 5-6 months, I thought I should start with a small chunk to see if I really wanted to do it. 

At times it was hard.  The hike was 38 miles of up and down steep rocky trails. But there were flat parts, water crossings, and cool breezes. 

At times it was smelly—my feet were worse than a teenage boy and don’t get me started on my arm pits.  It was truly dirty camping night after night without showers or toilets.  But there were glorious moments like the smell of the trail as the rain started or the first sniff of shampoo off the trail. 

At times it was scary.  We saw a bear, a rattle snake and a tiny little black snake.  There were encounters with 78,000 spiders. But there was safety in numbers at the campsites and sharing of food and stories late into the nights.  There was even one night when a senior hiker got up to check on all of us at 2am when a falling branch startled us all awake.  

One of the most rewarding parts of the adventure was the time spent with God.  Each day included a conversation with God.  Each sunrise, sunset, waterfall, and mountainside view got comments of gratitude to the Lord.  Every single hard step included a plea for help.  The long sleepless nights tossing and turning on a blow-up mat included prayers.

And I used the time to concentrate on one particular scripture.  I’d tried to memorize it prior to going and just didn’t have my heart in it.  So, I wrote it in my journal page and carried it with me the entire hike. I looked at it often and while hiking mediated on the words and the context of the scripture.

“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” ~Luke 6:12

He went off to the mountains to pray.  Jesus went to the mountain to pray.  And then He spent all night in prayer.  Have you ever wondered what Jesus was praying for that night?  We know snippets that indicate He was asking to not have to be tortured and have a horrific death.  We know He prayed that He would accept that death if it was God’s will.  But did that take all night?  

Have you ever prayed so earnestly for something that it was like you were conversing all the possibilities with God?  Hours went by and you were still content to continue talking to God.  No answers yet, but just talking to God.  

That’s how I imagine that night was for Jesus. Prayerful conversations with the Father, in which He continuously talked through how He was feeling, how He wished it would go, how He loved the Father, and how He would do His will.  

What a beautiful example of how we should pray.  In the midst of chaos and challenges we can turn to the Lord and find rest.  Constant prayer is like having a consistently open phone line directly to God.  If I’m honest, I rarely take advantage of that type of prayer. I get caught up in daily life and forget to chat with God for everything.  

Except this last week while I was in the woods. I was able to connect to God like I haven’t in quite a while.  In the midst of the beauty of nature and the difficulty of a physical challenge, I was able to focus on talking to God.  And it was a remarkable time.

I want to encourage each of you to take time this week to really focus on talking to God.  Find the hypothetical mountain where you can pray…and then do it without ceasing.

It’s your own personal “vacation on the Appalachian Trail.”

~Emily

Honey Extraction

In the spring, I got my first bee hives.  I’ve used the time learning about and caring for our bees over the last several months to pray for specific people and situations, as well as reviewing scripture. Because the extra time with God and the bees has been such a blessing to me personally, I made a vow to ‘gift’ the entire first batch of honey to family and friends…many of whom had been the focus of my prayers. 

I spun my first frames last week and harvested the first honey.  It was nerve-wracking.  It was exciting.  And it was time consuming.   

From the moment I opened the hives and started making decisions about which frames to harvest to the moment I tightened the last lid on a jar, I discovered that I had to dedicate a substantial amount of time for the entire process.  

The same deliberate dedication to time well spent also applies to the relationships in our lives.  Whether it’s repairing, maintaining, or cultivating relationships within our families, church or school it takes time and deliberate actions to make those relationships impactful.  

One of the most time-consuming relationships is the one where we are forging friendships or acquaintances with non-believers.  These types of interactions are important because we literally pouring into people who may make decisions to follow Jesus based on their experiences with us.  By no means am I saying that more time equals greater chances of them becoming a Christian.  Instead what I’m saying is that the more deliberate the time we invest, the greater the chances are of them seeing Christ’s love through us.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB) stated, “Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing.”

Deliberate investment of time…to encourage one another and build each other up.

Seems easy enough if we’re willing to make the time to do the investing.

The harvesting of honey seems easy enough too…if I’m willing to take the time to care for the bees and go through the process of extracting the honey.

In this case, I was also able to deliberately speak to all the honey recipients about how the first batch was all gifts. It offered a chance to tell people that the bees were a quiet time with God opportunity…and it’s lead to more than one conversation about how to accept Christ as their personal Savior.

I want to encourage you this week to find someone in your life that you want to make some deliberate time for…and then invest. 

~Emily

I Remember…

On 25 June 1996, I was an Airman First Class stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. I’d been in the Air Force for two years, but had not yet been tagged to go on a deployment.  I sat in the lounge at the hospital and watched news reports about a horrible terrorist incident in Saudi Arabia, where Airmen in a dorm area known as Khobar Towers had been directly targeted.  It wasn’t easy for my 20-year-old, fairly sheltered, self to reconcile that these were my brothers and sisters who had been killed or injured. 

We lost 19 Airmen that night; 17 were enlisted.  Hundreds, and I mean hundreds, were injured.  Over 500 purple hearts were awarded for that night alone. This event changed lives.  For forever. 

Fast forward 26 years to 2022. This last week, the museum where I work, was able to host over 200 guests who were members at the Khobar Towers, family members of those hurt and those killed, as well as currently serving members representing the KIA units.  It was the first time in Air Force history that we specifically honored those who had survived the events of that horrific night.  

The courage of the survivors is also covered with mourning.  Mourning of the loss of dreams, opportunities, and loved ones.  In Matthew 5:4, Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn.” It’s appropriate to call on this scripture when our hearts hurt from loss.  

It’s also appropriate for us to recognize that Jesus was talking about mourning over our sinful nature; not just loss.  In response to understanding our brokenness, we may be sad.  But it allows us to see our desperate need for God and that if our sin is not addressed, it keeps us from Him.  The separation from God, due to sin, is worthy of mourning.  

The true good news is that God has provided a way to maneuver through the mourning of sin towards Him.  It is belief that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that by accepting that free gift, we can have the offered grace and forgiveness of our sins. The way to happiness is often through sadness.  The road to rejoicing is often through mourning.  When you come to the cross, you full comprehend just how happiness and mourning can co-exist.  

Each year the anniversary of Khobar Towers is hard for hundreds of families, friends, and survivors.  As I keep in mind their hearts, I am grateful for Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:4.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

I remember them…and pray they have comfort.

~Emily

Mowing Time

Recently our family added one of those manual push mowers that are reminiscent of the 1950s.  My husband wanted it to mow the steep bank near the road. I wanted it to mow without an engine near the beehives.  While I calmly pushed the mower back and forth in straight lines by the hives, I watched the bees flitter to and fro. 

While doing a seemingly menial task, I had several moments to mentally review a scripture that my small group has been memorizing as a group this last month. 

Philippians 2:14-15 (NASB) “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generations, among who you appear as lights of the world.”

I recited it a couple times, but I kept getting distracted by the rolls of sweat that were coming off my face and straight into my eyes.  I blinked several times and then started reviewing the scripture again.  Only to have it happen several more times.  

Finally, I stopped mowing, took off the bee suit hat and face shield, removed my glasses and started wiping my face off.  Put my glasses back on and they instantly fogged up.  Put the bees hat/face shield back on.  Sweaty hair stuck to my forehead and glasses.  Take hood off, fix hair, glasses smudged…and then…sweat rolls into my eyes.  

Insert frustration, some real tears, and a few choice words.

And then a bubble of laughter came out of my mouth.  There I was half in a bee suit in 100-degree heat of Alabama, with a 1950s-ish mower, and sweat stinging my eyeballs, when the first part of my memory verse came to mind.  “Do all things without complaining or arguments…”  

While the verse is specifically addressing the previous admonitions that Paul had mentioned in the Philippians letter, it sure did feel like it applied directly to me in that moment.  All the murmurings…all the discontentment…all the complaining in that moment were not useful. They weren’t assisting me with completing the task, nor were they going to exemplify Christ in that moment.  

I’m so grateful for the corrections that God’s holy word provides us; the conviction from the Holy Spirit for us to change course.  

It got me to reassess my own attitude in the moment of “lawn mowing time” with some heat, humidity, sweat and tears all mixed together.  

For each of us, I pray this next week will be one without complaining or argument.

~Emily

A German Experience

I miss living in Germany.  I loved everything about it while I was there for two years…from the food to the people to the ease of travel to the crazy driving…even the obsession with Christmas markets and ornaments.  I loved it all.  

I didn’t recognize just how much I missed it until this last week, when we were on summer vacation in Helen, Georgia which is modeled after a little Bavarian town.  This town has it all…the cool temps, the lazy tubing river, the schnitzel, the German bakery…even the spaghetti ice cream.  

It’s interesting how you don’t know you miss something until there is a memory jogger.  If you think about it, I’m sure there’s a song or a scent that takes you to another place.  Perhaps the song takes you back to your first dance.  A smell has you reminiscing about Grandma’s kitchen.

It makes me wonder if these experiences happened to people in scripture.  Was there a moment after Jesus’ death, where Mary was preparing his favorite meal and it made her miss him more than normal?  Did Paul ever pass a well and think about his boyhood well in Tarsus?  If Peter passed a fishing net, did the smell take him back to his time as a fisherman?  

Did the disciples miss Jesus after His death?

In Luke 24:44 (NASB) scripture reads, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  

This offers an assurance that all prophesies about Jesus will be fulfilled.  And if that is true, then it is also true that God has provided us with a means to be continuously surrounded by aspects of the Trinity.  Jesus’ departure from the Earth enabled Jesus, as the Son of God, to no longer be subject to time, but rather embody the full power and authority of God in Heaven. 

As promised, Jesus is available to all of us for guidance, for prayerful conversation, for forgiveness, and for grace.  Most of all, He is available as the Savior to those who believe.  

Did the disciples miss Jesus after his ascension into heaven?  From a human perspective, I’m sure the answer is yes. Mostly because the face-to-face immediate responses were gone.  However, God’s fulfillment of the Holy Spirit allows for continued relationship.  Perhaps, the promise of God’s continued presence in a believer’s life mutes that emotion of missing the physical Jesus.  

Missing Jesus in our lives isn’t as simple as missing Grandma’s cooking or the experiences living in another country.  It can’t be replicated by something similar, like going to a small mountain town.  

In this instance, you need the real deal relationship with Jesus to fulfill the emotion of “missing.”

If you are missing Jesus in your life, please come to the porch and let us know…we’d love to tell you how to become a believer!

~Emily

Musings on Memorial Day

It seems that every year around this time, there are a number of posts explaining the differences between Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day.  I’ve posted something similar on my own social media platforms.  As a retired military member, it seems like a teachable moment that civilians would see the differences between the three military recognition days.  It seems to offend some people when others don’t know the differences.  

Memorial Day is one to remember those who have fallen.  When fellow citizens wish a “Happy Memorial Day,” it can get some upset.  There’s nothing happy about having lost our comrades in arms.  Nothing happy about remembering and reflecting on those who died as a result of their serve to our Nation.  

I heard a different perspective this last week.  One where the military member said, “Rather than be offended, I’d offer that we should appreciate the spirit in which they offer that.  It comes from a good place, with good intent, from people in our society who don’t understand us but are thankful for what we do.” 

This sentiment is so kind-hearted and simplistic.  Even now while writing about it, I feel chastised for previously thinking I needed to “educate” others on the differences of these dates. Perhaps I need to appreciate the spirit that they offer the comment in.

I’d like to carry that sentiment over to Christian beliefs.  While there are very important central beliefs to Christianity, such as Christ died for each of our sins and we individually have to claim that gift in order to spend eternity in heaven, not every single interaction with others has to be a teachable moment.  I need to repeat that for my own benefit.  Not every interaction has to be an overt teachable moment.  Sometimes the old adage of “actions speak louder than words” is true.  

Like with the non-military member wishing a Happy ‘whatever’ Day and being accepted where they are, the non-Christian’s interactions with Christians could be as simple as observing love and kindness in action.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  It doesn’t always be a Sunday School lesson or Gospel tract presentation.  The helping hand, the monetary donation, the passing smile…each of those things show others the love of Christ; even when we aren’t actively sharing the Gospel.  

As we reflect on this Memorial Day about the sacrifices of military members through the decades, I’m going to also reflect on how I can better serve our Lord by loving others through my own actions.  

~Emily

“All that you do must be done in love.” ~1 Corinthians 16:14 (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

Spiritual Attacks

If you are a believer, you won’t go long without encountering spiritual warfare.  The enemy would love nothing more than for us to forget that there is constantly a spiritual battle going on amongst us.  We may not always see it and we may tend to forget that it’s going on, but it continuously brings chaos, turmoil, discouragement, fear, stress, and even defeat. 

The Bible reminds us that we should stay aware of Satan’s schemes, while staying close to the Lord. We’ve been armed for battle through the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17), and also with the entire Word of God.  When we are able to pray God’s Words back to Him, we are utilizing a powerful weapon against Satan, as it’s the Truth being spoken out loud. 

Here are scriptures to read, pray, and memorize in regards to Spiritual Warfare:

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. ~Luke 10:19 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~John 10:10 

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.  ~1 Peter 5:8-9

Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  ~James 4:7

For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.  ~Psalm 18:39

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~2 Corinthians 10:3-5

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 54:17

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:11-17

Remember sweet readers, when we belong to Christ, Satan never has the final word over our lives. We are fully in God’s hands.  Our responsibility in spiritual warfare includes being ready to pray, meditate, and speak the Word of God.  This battle belongs to the Lord, and He has the final victory…so fear not.

~Emily