Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Change-Up

Surprise, I’m changing things up! This time, I’m asking for a few helpful little hacks of the hour from you. It’s my birthday, so I hoped maybe you’d be willing to indulge me today. What do you say?

I’m particularly looking for input from parents, bakers, and world travelers. But I’d love to hear from any of you who have insight to share. I have full confidence in this Back Porch family. You all know a lot about a lot!

Do you have helpful hacks for any of these 3 topics?

1. Youth Ministry

Wednesday officially kicked off the new year of youth ministry at our church. My husband and I volunteered after God used the huge spider and the word search puzzle to help clue us in. As we pray about the opportunities we have in the lives of these precious young people, I feel Jesus nudging me to pose a question to you parents.

What kinds of things would you like another Christian adult to make themselves available to address with your kids?

What topics do you think they might want to discuss? Where do they need Godly encouragement? For which of your efforts in their lives would you appreciate backup?

When my kids were younger, there were truths they didn’t seem able to hear from their father or me. But when their youth leaders said essentially the same thing, it got through. I saw their relationships with Jesus flourish through those interactions and I pray to be useful in the same kind of way.

2. High Altitude Baking

I am desperately wanting baking hacks from those of you who live in high altitude. More specifically, I need recipes.

A cake topped with candles and flowers
Photo by Jenny Galloway on Unsplash
My recipes will not tolerate the change in altitude. I’ll have to buy a birthday cake this year!

I previously considered myself an adept baker, but my sea-level recipes refuse to cooperate with the change to 7000 feet. I’ve tried the modifications Google suggests with no success. If you have any tried and true recipes to share, I’d sure appreciate them!

I’d love to make fluffy cakes, soft breads, and thick cookies again. If you’re willing to help, post your favorite high altitude recipes in the comments, or use the “Contact” button at the top of the page to email me. My family and I would be ever so grateful!

3. Cork, Ireland and International Travel

Wow, it feels completely unbelievable to me that I get to ask about this one. I’m traveling to Ireland this Fall! I work with colleagues across North America and Western Europe, and our next team meeting will be in-person (for the first time in years!) at our facility in Cork.

My husband is able to join me, and we’ve extended our stay a few days beyond the business agenda. Has anyone ever been there? What do you suggest? Is there anything we simply must see? Any watch-out warnings?

I’ve never been to Europe. In fact, I’ve never wandered outside North America. I’d love any wisdom you have to share! What helpful international travel hacks do you know? I want to hear them all! I’m a complete novice.

A taxi on a wet road
Photo by Brian Lazo on
I’ve heard Uber and Lyft are not popular in Ireland, so we will mostly use taxi services.

Precious friends, I praise God for you! As I reflect on my birthday blessings, you immediately come to mind. Thank you!

I appreciate you for indulging my change-up and sharing your helpful little parenting, baking, and traveling hacks with me today. May God lavish the deep decadence of His everlasting love upon you!

Wondering why am I publishing helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.


30 replies on “Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Change-Up”

Happy Birthday! 🎉 for Youth Ministry: Be open honest and available, but also be the authority. Youth need direction and to be buffeted by learning right and wrong. They are learning to make faith a personal part of their life. As they try to figure that out, they need to understand that their faith is based in objective truth about a real and personal God, not what just feels good or what “works” for them.

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I few years into youth ministry (my younger days), I planned the fun times with the goal to have the kids experience in a physical way what I was trying to teach them spiritually. The Ultimate Scavenger hunt (throw impossibilities in there) lesson: Most people spend their whole life looking for happiness, fulfillment…long list.
Create a human maze. A hard one but not too long..use furniture, props, so on. sequester 3 people before hand. 1st person blindfolded must go through ith everyone shouting directions and mis-directions. don’t tell them where to start.
2nd person…same but have one person walking beside them telling them how to get through…they may not pick up on that. 3rd. all person tells them how to get through and describes what they must do. 1) life with lots of voices. 2) life, voices and God 3) setting aside alone time with God, getting to know his voice, listening to his word only….
ideas for you.

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Happy Birthday, sweet sister and friend!!! May God bless your celebration today!
I never baked in high altitude or been to Ireland (though have been to England, Poland and Russia on mission projects), but a woman I cleaned for went yearly and she always bragged on the coast and countryside as well as the castles and walking tours. They love stories so share and ask for them. That is all I know.
I grew up in youth ministry and have seen what worked with ny kids. Youth ministers and adults who mentor or take thrm to lunch or listens and knows how to discern what they say and share relevant truth, live truth, promote truth. Give incentives, outings, if Bible verses are memorized. Go to their sports games as you can, at least 1 or 2. Encourage and be faithful, a dependable example of how to life God’s way. Hope that is not too vague. Happy Birthday!!😃❤️

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No, this is all gold! I love the suggestion to be involved in the lives of the youth beyond the church walls. Sports games and such. Thank you! And asking the Irish people for stories is a wonderful tip! I appreciate all that you have given me here!! Thank you so much!


Oh my gosh, I am so excited that you’re going to IRELAND!

Ireland suggestions…near Cork and top of list- Emigration Museum in Cobh, Blarney Castle so you can kiss the Blarney Stone.

We traveled the whole country and loved every area. There is nothing that will disappoint. Wonderful country, wonderful people.

You can pull up along the ocean, park and walk the beach. No commercialism like “here’s our man-made parking lot that you need to pay $20 so you can see God’s ocean.” Just stark, free beauty. Ice cream stands sell the real thing, ice cream made with real cream.

A must is a GPS. Roads are tricky, driver on right side of car and country roads are charming but narrow.

I felt safe everywhere and Ireland has God’s blessings in abundance. ❤🥰❤

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Oh thank you for all of this experience and wisdom. Your reference to beaches and ice cream put a skip in my heart and a smile on my face. I’m so thankful for this amazing opportunity! I never would have dreamed God had it on he agenda.

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Oooh! Ireland! How cool that you’re going to one of the areas that my oldest went to with her youth orchestra just a few years ago. She had a marvelous time and you will too! If you’re brave enough to try kissing the blarney stone, make sure you are aware that you have to be held upside down to do it! Yeah. Not me! Child #1 took many beautiful photos of castles and countryside. I’m just a tad jealous, but good for you two! Happiest of birthdays, dear friend!

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Thank you! And I didn’t know you have to be held upside own to kiss the Blarney Stone!! Thank you for that piece of very valuable information! Hmm, haha! Your eldest got to go with her orchestra? How amazing!! What does she play?


Happy belated birthday Mamalava!! I haven’t traveled at all in the last 10 years but I used to travel to Europe quite often, and married a man from Germany ❤ Hacks I remember from traveling? Be mindful of your purse/passport at all times (or wear one of those ugly little fanny packs in front, lol). Pack as light as you possibly can because travel once inside of a country can be on trains or subways and you will have to hand carry everything you brought with you 😉 Plan for currency exchanges. Buy a handbook guide to where you are traveling. Leave LOTS of extra time just in case there are delays. Try not to be the “quintessential American” , which is (I’ve been told) loud mouthed, arrogant, and unaware of surroundings or other people 😂, and finally, see if you can get to know some local folks while you are there and love on them as only you can. Europeans are beautiful, all culturally diverse, and have such wonderful and rich history. I’m sure you will have a wonderful time!
I have a few other practical hacks for around the house, you might already be familiar with them. One is to use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (the white, sponge looking thing) on soap scum such as on shower glass. It just wipes it right off, really like magic! Another is they have these wonderful little pumas stones made just for the kitchen that you can use on ceramic stove tops and/or porcelain sinks that just work wonders without scratching the surface – but be careful not to use them on anything else because they WILL scratch 😜

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Thank you so much for these very helpful hacks! It seems you know well of what you speak! I just spent some birthday money I was given to buy an ugly fanny pack thing… better safe than sorry 🙂 I’ve always been more practical than fashionable. Your recommendation is confirmation that it was a wise purchase ;). And I think you have solved a dilemma I’ve been pondering about my shower. I will add Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser to my shopping list. Thanks again! All of these hacks are very valuable and I’m extremely grateful!

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First of all, Happy Birthday! – even though I’m a couple of days late. I hope it was a great weekend for you. You’ve asked some great questions! For youth: we really need to be open about sex and marriage. They are getting so much wrong, bad, and destructive input from the world. I love Dave and Ashley Willis (Marriage XO) – they are not afraid to talk about anything! High altitude: grew up in CA, lived 10 years in Reno, NV (high altitude), back to CA and now live in SWFL. No altitude! LOL I don’t have specific recipes, just that I learned how much the humidity affects baking – especially bread. It’s hard to get it to rise here. I like gooey cookies and brownies so more leavening for higher altitudes, less here. Travel: How fun!!! Never been there, but have been to Europe and Australia a few times. Chamomile is my best travel companion – I always took a few tea bags with me and ask for hot water – keeps me calmer and sometimes allows sleep. Drink lots of water!

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