Categories
Reflections

10 Little Updates and Latest Looming Praise Reports

Good morning and Happy May! I wanted to come to you today with 10 little updates and latest looming praise reports. I know many of you have been praying for us as we’ve settled in a new situation, in a new house, in a new state. There have been glorious answers to your prayers regarding our move to Arizona and it is my privilege to share what God has done!

  1. We LOVE it here! We aren’t as content as we will be when we finally reach our eternal home, but while we’re on earth, Northern Arizona is awesome! We are so grateful for the kick in the pants God gave us. My faithful readers know that I waivered a bit, but God was clear with His direction and I am fully awed by His gracious faithfulness. (*See photos below.)
  2. We found a great church! That might not seem like a big deal to some, but it was priority for us. We did a lot of on-line research, and we only had to visit two. The first one was nice, but we quickly discovered some theological differences and decided not to return. The second one checked all the boxes and then some! We’ve been attending ever since. Praise the Lord!
  3. We have been unaffected by the fires. You might be aware of a couple of major wildfires burning in Northern Arizona. A few of you have even reached out to check on me. Wow – thank you! We have not been “in the line of fire” but have been daily reminded to pray for those who are. It seems the hard work of many firefighters is paying off and the danger is subsiding. There has been no loss of life reported, but several homes have been lost and I’m sure those affected would be blessed by your prayers.
  4. I have a “prayer chair”. I’ve always wanted one. Several years ago, I read a challenge by Anne Graham Lotz to create a dedicated space for devotional time with the Lord. Since then, I’ve had my “typical spots” but, because I lived with so many people, my spots had to serve several purposes. That was ok. But now, I have my own prayer chair in the corner, overlooking the pine and oak trees. (**See photos below.)
  5. God has been so faithful! I found a prayer list I’d written last fall in regard to, what was then, our upcoming move. It had 4 specific requests. All of them were answered above and beyond what I could have imagined. The most touching part is that this list had gotten misplaced shortly after I’d penned it. I hadn’t prayed over it daily, as I’d planned. But you know what? Our God is not dependent on us to be organized. He answered every item on that list, buried as it as, and I was blessed and blown away when the piece of paper resurfaced today.
  6. My son got a job! 4 of my kids stayed in California for the time being. My youngest, Marcus, is 18. He left a job he enjoyed to move to Arizona with us. We expected he would continue working for the same company here. They don’t do transfers, so he had to quit and reapply, but he had great experience and glowing recommendations from the managers in CA. They had open positions in AZ. He applied. He went in person to introduce himself and drop off his resume. Nothing. He called. He went in person again. It was shocking to us when he couldn’t even get an interview. After a month, we had to assume God just didn’t want him to work there anymore. So, he applied somewhere else. He got called in for an interview the next day and was hired on the spot! Well, to God be the glory! He made His will abundantly clear!
  7. I’m enjoying quality time with my youngest child. By the time Marcus was born, we had a loud and busy family. It is true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and he is the quietest of my bunch. I’ve told him over the years that his time would come. Eventually, he’d be the only one left in the house and he’d probably get more attention than he wanted. Well, that time is now, and we’ve found something fun to do together. He has a YouTube channel and we’re making a series of reaction videos. I’ve not seen any of the Marvel movies, so Marcus and I are watching them together, one by one, and he is recording my reactions. Who knew people would take an interest or would consider my newbie questions and expressions as entertainment, but apparently that’s a thing. I’m just enjoying the time with my son.
  8. My girls are doing well. One of my biggest concerns, which I wrote about before I moved, was the wellbeing of my daughters and grandkids. They needed to find affordable places to live. I put it out there, you prayed, God miraculously delivered. They are teaming up, taking care of each other, and this mama’s heart is at peace. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, prayer warriors!
  9. I’m settling into my new job with my old company. I had expected to quit before I moved but, at the last minute, was offered the opportunity to stay in a new role, working remotely from Arizona. The logistical transition has turned out to be more complex than any of us realized. I’m happy to report that I’m at least 75% settled in – maybe more, depending on the outcome of an open ticket with IT. God is faithful!
  10. I’m getting to explore the Arizona Trail! I am concluding my list of 10 little updates and latest looming praise reports with this detail because it was like a housewarming gift from God. We had no idea, when we applied to rent this home, that it was right across from the Arizona Trail. This relatively new trail runs the entire length of the state. North, it goes up to Utah. South, I can take it all the way to Mexico. I’m not likely to hike for days on end, but it is a wonderful escape which intersects countless other trails and offers hours of interesting exercise and conversation with Jesus. (***See photos below.)

I feel certain this update and praise report post would have been different if it weren’t for you all. You have prayed for me, encouraged me, and been an amazing support system. Today I find myself steadied, strengthened, and settled. Glory to God and gratitude to you! God bless you, my precious friends! Please enjoy some photos below.



Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 5

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! With fierce appreciation in my watering eyes and quivering lips, barely able to speak, I press one hand to my heart and extend the other towards you. God is immeasurably gracious, and you – you guys are the BEST!

Thank you, my brothers and sisters, for flooding God’s throne room with petitions on my daughter’s behalf. You asked our Heavenly Father for a miracle, and He delivered! If you aren’t sure what this is about, catch up on the story here.

The amazing news I’m really excited to share is that my daughter got the apartment!

Today, we will be moving her into the same complex where we moved her sister a couple weeks ago. The girls can help each other, and my grandkids can play and grow together. And they’ll all be only a mile away from my youngest daughter and her husband.

Next week, when we leave for Arizona, we will have peace in our hearts. We will rest assured that everyone staying behind is settled with roofs over their heads. That has been my foremost request.

I can only attempt to describe how I feel… incredibly humbled, extremely relieved, and so overjoyed! I want to both bow my knees and jump for joy. What a strange and unusual dichotomy it is!

Answered prayer

Make no mistake, this was supernatural! My daughter has issues with her housing and income history which could have – should have – been hard to overcome, especially given the intense competition in the rental market. But God. He saw fit to intervene and answer specific prayer.

“‘Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17

I’m so grateful! Thank you, Jesus for the amazing news I get to share! And thank you, my friends, from the bottom of my bursting heart!

If ever I can return the favor, please don’t hesitate to ask. It would be my privilege to pray for you. Is there anything for which I can pray right now?

Categories
Reflections

3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Hello to you who make the Back Porch a place I love to be! If you read Three Birthday Cakes, a Turkey, and a Veil, you know my week has been jam packed! It culminated with my daughter’s wedding. Boy was that an event! I felt like I should update you and thank you for the role you all played.

Me hugging my daughter: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The hug after “Her mother and I do”

I know God put it on my heart beforehand to ask you to pray, because He knew what was coming and how much my family would need your petition before the throne room of grace. My week was full of miracles, but, related to my daughter’s wedding, there were 3 specific moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life.

Whether or not you enjoy Hallmark-style movies (I do, read 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep) you probably know that there is always a crisis just before the last commercial. And then something miraculous (albeit predictable) happens and everything wrong is put to right.

If those are the makings of a good love story, well, my daughter is in the sweet spot. Her wedding story can be made into a movie someday. It had the required elements – last minute disaster, conundrum, and miracle. It started 24 hours before her walk down the aisle.

Last Minute Disaster

The day before the wedding, she woke up with a voice that sounded like an engine trying to rev after sitting idle for much too long. She also had a headache and piercing ear pain. All of that would have been enough, but there was something else. She clearly had pink eye.

It wasn’t just that her eye was pink and goopy and crusty and swollen and looked anything but bridal. It was that she was contagious. We knew because this condition, which thankfully is not Covid, has been making its way through our ranks. She hurried off to the ER to see if there was anything that could be done. She got medications to help with the appearance of sickness, but they could not take it away and she would remain contagious.

She got on the phone and started calling everyone who was expected at the wedding. She told them of her illness and expressed her understanding if they did not want to come. When her voice gave out completely, her fiancé took over the calls. Most people responded somewhere between “I don’t care, I’m still going to dance with you at your wedding” and “I will keep some distance, but I will definitely be there”.

Conundrum

Some people, understandably, decided not to come. One of those was the Maid of Honor. The girls had all planned to get ready at her house. This presented a series of problems to solve, and the time was less than 24 hours from “I do”.

My oldest daughter has been with the bride (my youngest daughter) every step of the way, so, it was not difficult to choose the replacement Maid of Honor. But moving her into that position left an empty bridesmaid spot. My son’s girlfriend, who was to arrive just hours before the wedding, agreed to stand in.

1 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

The original maid of honor offered her dress and – this is amazing – it fit the new bridesmaid like it had been created for her. It was such a relief because we had no time or talent for alterations. We all shed tears of joy and I thanked God for the prayer warriors who were hard at work! It was one of those real God moments when we realized that this was His plan all along.

The Bridal party posing with the backdrops: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The Bridal Party posing in front of the huge backdrops made by my hubby and the guys.

While the girls were hurriedly recalculating wardrobe details and a place for the bride to prepare with her maids, my husband and the boys were putting the finishing touches on huge, curtained backdrops they had built to help beautify the outdoor space where the ceremony was to be held. It was a side yard of the venue, surrounded by fences in need of repair. Covering them was possible, but tricky.

Conundrum

The support posts required were long and heavy. Nobody was sure exactly how to transport them over the 20 (or so) miles between our garage and the wedding spot. My husband rented a pickup truck, hoping to make it work.

2 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

It did work! The beams slid in perfectly. The tailgate just closed. It was evident that God knew the exact size of the truck bed my husband would rent and put that measurement into his head when he cut the wood. Some would call that a coincidence; I call it a God moment! He heard your prayers and showed us that He was in the details. We recognized His fingerprints.

Because the wedding was held at a busy venue, we were only able to reserve it a few hours before the wedding. We had many hands helping us transform it into the wonderland my daughter envisioned.

While all of this was in motion, I ran home to pick up the food. Some of it was catered, but the rest was in crockpots and refrigerators at my house. There were canned mandarin oranges for topping the salad, and I thought about opening them at home. But in a rush, I put the cans and the can opener into the box I was carrying and returned to the venue. (I know that seems like random information – but stick with me here.)

Conundrum

Anyone who knows my daughter and her new husband knows they love Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. It was an especially personal touch to have several bottles on each table for toasting the bride and groom. As we put them out in preparation, I realized we had not brought a bottle opener. I dreaded going from guest to guest, asking if anyone had one on their keychain.

3 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

I searched the venue’s kitchen, hoping to find a bottle opener which we could use. I stopped mid step, remembering that my can opener is a multi-functional tool. I pulled it from the box, and sure-enough, the top is a bottle opener! I thanked God for His foresight as He directed me to place that can opener into the box just a few hours earlier. I had not even thought about a bottle opener, but you all were praying. God thought of it and made sure I had what was needed.

Bride and groom kissing behind bottles of Martinelli's cider: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
A Martinelli’s Toast Moment

The ceremony was delightful. It was performed by the bride and groom’s former youth pastor who had helped them navigate the beginning of their relationship. Yes, they’ve been together since high school! He added just the right amount of humor, personal touches, and Biblical truth. The winter sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the blue sky complimented the dusty blue hues of the chosen wedding color.

Indoors, the Hawaiian food buffet smelled delicious, but I didn’t eat any. In lieu of a cake, my daughter and her groom opted for a donut wall and cake pops. If you read my introduction post, Donuts for Dinner and 5 More Helpful Little Confessions about my Life, it will not surprise you at all that I skipped the buffet line and happily waited for dessert!

Donuts hanging on pegs: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The Donut Wall

Someone said that nobody can quite get a crowd up and dancing like my daughter and her husband and I saw that firsthand. Siblings, cousins, extended family, toddlers, and friends, all celebrating together and having a great time – it was definitely a blessing for this mama!

There were so many willing and serving hands that we finished both set up and clean up with time to spare. Many hands really do make light work! I finished the evening exhausted, so thankful, and in awe.

Thanks to you all for praying. Thank you to everyone who sent a thought, verse, or sentiment to my daughter and her new husband. I printed them in a card, and they were perfect.

This post has highlighted 3 moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life, but honestly, there were many more. It was a day full of miraculous touches and divine interventions. The best part is that, when it was all said and done, it was evident that it went off just as God had planned it. I could feel Him wink as I looked back in humble admiration.

And you were a part of it- my Back Porch support team. I appreciate you all so much! And please, if you need prayer covering, let me know. Not only do I owe you, but it would be my absolute pleasure to serve you in this way.

You all are simply the best!

Categories
Devotions

Specific prayer

When something interesting happens, I take notice. When it happens again, I pay serious attention. But if it happens three times, I ask God what He wants me to learn. Little did I know that, as I applied my mascara one morning last week, God was about to get my attention. He had something awesome to show me, in triplicate, about specific prayer!

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

1 John 5:13-15
Step one came by way of a story shared on Thursday.

I was getting ready for work and listening to a recorded Bible Study. The teacher recounted a time when her friend called with an urgent prayer request. She fell immediately to her knees to pray and found herself petitioning God in specific prayer for a highly detailed and improbable solution, which surprised her, even as she prayed it. But then she explained how her friend called back several minutes later with an update and the craziest story, which she thought would never be believed. But as she listened, this teacher realized that God had answered with the exact, apparently-not-so-improbable, resolution she had asked for!

Step two came by way of a personal experience on Sunday.

I had a burden to share a particular Biblical truth with someone who has a short attention span for serious matters. I prayed for God to:
1) provide a quiet time without distractions,
2) give her the ability to concentrate,
3) cause me to recognize and seize the moment, and
4) clear her mind to receive and understand what He wanted her to hear. On Sunday morning, God answered my specific prayer, exactly as I had asked, in sequence.

Step three came by way of a praise report from my son on Tuesday.

I received a call from my son, filling me in on what God has been doing in his life while he has been away visiting friends. One story caught my attention because it was about a specific prayer that he had prayed; one that he thought to be incredibly far-fetched. But God came into his situation and walked him through it exactly as he had requested.

Man kneeling by his bed and praying
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

We don’t tell God what to do. I don’t think for a second that God heard any of our suggestions and decided to carry out our will. No, I believe He put His plans on our hearts and made them tremendously unique, so that when He did exactly as He intended, our faith was strengthened. We came out of it knowing that we heard God’s voice. We spoke it back to Him in specific prayer and got confirmation as He carried it out. We simply couldn’t conclude that it was coincidence when each instance was so completely distinct and wildly precise.

Are you intrigued too? I believe God has been displaying the value of specific prayer and encouraging me to be more faithful and courageous in the way I pray. He has reminded me that prayer is more than just an upload from my heart to His. It is also a download, and God actively pursues connection with me, and with you. Are we ready? What an amazing thing that God, with everything in hand, would take the time to impress upon us what He is about to do, just so that we can be involved and encouraged by His answers to our specific prayer!