Categories
Reflections

What Breakthrough Does Your Mind Miss When You’re Too Busy?

Have you ever been too busy to notice what was happening around you? Can you recall a time when you were so deep in thought you completely overlooked details that were right there? I sure have! And it makes me wonder.

What Breakthrough Does Your Mind Miss When You’re Too Busy?

Blinded by busyness, Example 1

I have an example from recent experience. My apologies if this is TMI (too much information), but I was seated on the porcelain throne next to the bathtub. The shower curtain was closed and hung mere centimeters from my right shoulder.

I lingered there, physically. But my thoughts were elsewhere, occupied with mental lists, strategies and plans. When my business was done, I leaned over to flush. Because of the tight space, my face practically brushed the shower curtain.

My mind suddenly dropped all other thoughts and joined me in the moment. Something was not right! You know that feeling? My scream was choked into silence by my heart as it jumped into my throat to hide from the hockey puck-sized black spider just chillin’ on that white curtain.

Black spider on a white surface
Photo by Paul Knut on Pexels.com
Not the actual spider. I didn’t have enough wits about me to think of taking a photo.

Had it wanted to, it could have reached with one of its long legs and touched me as I sat, I’m sure. My eyes frozen wide, I stared at it. How had I not known it was there?

There was certainly no missing it now!

I had been too busy ‘in my mind’s eye’ to see it, but now that I had, I couldn’t take my gaze off it. I am not a fan of spiders, especially big ones! I gathered my wits, a wad of toilet paper, and all those legs. A second flush and my heartrate returned to normal.

Blinded by busyness, Example 2

Maybe you can relate to another, less creepy, example. Have you ever had trouble with a word search puzzle? With so many letters creating busyness on the paper, sometimes a word can seem impossibly hidden. Then, once someone points it out, it almost appears to jump off the page.

Word search with one word found and highlighted.
As if this puzzle understood it was an object lesson, I had to ask my son to show me where “Memorable Impression” was. I couldn’t see it until he showed me. Now it is obvious!

The breakthrough my mind missed when I was too busy

I missed a breakthrough last week. Well almost. The two examples above helped me understand how it happened.

I cannot write all that was going on in my heart and mind – the busyness on my life’s page, if you will – so I am leaving that to your experienced imagination. I am just going to point out the pertinent, connecting letters. Let me know when you see the spider. (Can I merge my two examples that way?)

  • My husband and I have been talking and praying about a way to serve at our new church. We’ve been hesitant to dive into anything because our fall season is full of uncontrollable unknowns (medical procedures, travel, etc.).
  • The Youth Pastor asked my husband and I to take part in a Vision meeting for upcoming year.
  • Cindy Dawson printed the following quote in her realchristianwomen.blog.

“If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.”

D. L. Moody
  • We attended the Vision meeting. We saw a need we could fill. We were assured our help would be welcome, even with the uncertainty of our schedule.
  • We left the meeting, still praying for God’s direction. (I’m sure you see the spider. We didn’t yet. We were preoccupied.)
  • Meanwhile, I walked the trails. God showed me his amazing wildflowers and I wrote the “Something to See” mini-series.
  • I had hurriedly written the rough draft of post #4 just before attending the Youth Group meeting. I wasn’t sure it made sense. I almost erased it, but I didn’t have time.
  • The next morning, I opened the blog to “fix” what I had written. When I read what was there, I broke down and cried. One paragraph stood out especially.

And, just like a summer blossom, my time to display His wonder will fade away. It is imperative that I invest in others, especially those younger than me, while I may. I need to sow seeds of my own.

Mama Lava, Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #4

Suddenly, the dots connected, the letters fit in order, and I saw the spider in front of me. We were supposed to get involved in youth ministry.

God had practically paved the way in neon. Looking back, I could see the signs. But until then, each was isolated. My busyness obscured the connection.

Now, it seems so obvious!

God was answering my questions and I didn’t get it because I couldn’t focus. My mind missed the breakthrough because I’d been too busy.

Instead of scolding me, my Heavenly Father directed my attention to His beautiful flowers. He showed me the seeds in various stages of their lifecycle. He stirred me to write what He ministered to my heart. And then He used those words to inform me as He unveiled the breakthrough.

I published that post, exactly as I had written it. Turns out, it resonated with some of you too. How great is our God!?

What about you?

Are you busy? I am not only referring to the errands, commitments, and chores of life. It could be anything which drowns out the voice of God.

Music, screens, and people provide constant distraction. Worries, daydreams, and replays of conversations fill our heads. We can barely finish our own sentences, let alone listen while God completes His.

Are you too busy? What breakthrough might your mind be missing?

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Conversations

Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #4

Thank you so much for joining me today for the last post in the “Something to See” mini-series. Education by conversation and collaboration is the most enjoyable way to learn. Thank you for the interesting discussion!

I’ve been posting a handful of photos each day for a few days. In case you’re new to the series, you can catch up on the other articles here: Spaces Surging with Stunning Splendor are Something to See #1, #2, and #3.

I’m hoping you might be able to give me some insight about the stunning summer flowers I’ve encountered while hiking around my new hometown. I’d love for you to comment the number and name of any blossoms which you can help me to identify. (Click the pic, if you like, for larger view and scrolling capability.)

Consider for a moment what it takes for a flower to bloom.

  • First a seed must fall from its parent plant to a place where it can be nourished.
  • It has to grow many times it’s size, sending roots down, stems up, and leaves out.
  • Then it must develop buds.
  • Finally, with light, water, and God’s miraculous touch, the buds explode into stunning splendor.

The size, shape, color, and fragrance of each blossom was coded into the tiny seed from the beginning. But it could not fulfill its purpose if it stayed in seed form. It had to die to what it was, undergo amazing growth and transformation, and bloom. Next, it will wilt, drop seeds of its own, and start the process again.

These flowers are not only stunning in their surge of summer shimmer, but they are also superior object lessons. I want to be radiant and fragrant, showcasing the splendor of my Creator. But it isn’t as easy as just saying so.

  • I have to start small, die to myself, and submit to God.
  • I must embrace the process of learning, stretching, and growing.
  • As I am nourished by Him, I begin to develop opportunities to showcase the person He intended me to be.
  • In His perfect time, His beauty and fragrance surges through me in a burst of His stunning splendor for all to see.

Related Post: Angry and Convinced Someone Should Die? Make It Quick!

And, just like a summer blossom, my time to display His wonder will fade away. It is imperative that I invest in others, especially those younger than me, while I may. I need to sow seeds of my own.

Then those seeds, when planted, will follow the same lifecycle and the Savior will be showcased again and again, spreading joy and faith exponentially. That, my friend, is how you and I can leave legacies of eternal importance.

Let’s be perennial flowers, if you will, surging with stunning splendor in our respective spaces. May the seeds of our faith and obedience bloom through the generations and be something to see many years from now.

Categories
Devotions Emotions

Angry and Convinced Someone Should Die? Make It Quick!

When my blood starts to boil, and I feel myself getting really angry…

(I know you’ve been there too!)

It’s like fire raging from deep within, bursting out of control…

Aaarrrrrrgggg!

(Know the feeling?)

Someone needs to die!

(Yes, definitely!)

And that someone is me.

(Wait, what?)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

1 Peter 2:23, 24

To be clear, I am not advocating for suicide. This is not about physical death. But there are many natural instincts, with which I was born, that need to die. My need to be right, my desire for revenge, and the longing to have things “my way” are just a few.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. When I gave my life to Jesus, He gave me a Helper. The Holy Spirit convicts me of what needs to die in me and provides strength and motivation to put it down.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:24-26

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:13

Someone once pointed out to me that a dead (wo)man has no preferences. (S)he may have wanted certain things while (s)he was alive; enough to stand, strive and fight for them, even. But not anymore. Once (s)he dies, (s)he no longer has rights or desires, and therefore can not be imposed upon or offended.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:2, 3

If I have truly died to myself, and Jesus is living in me, there should be no struggle for control. I shouldn’t be consumed with pursuits of things I used to want. I am no longer relevant. My life is His.

A tiny plant in a handful of soil
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com
Just as a seed will die to live as something much greater, so must I.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Colossians 3:5-10

I committed my life to Christ many years ago. The Holy Spirit has been hard at work. But friends, I’m not there yet. My sinful flesh does not quiet quickly.

In the words of Paul, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12) And it sure is on my mind! By God’s grace, I hope to resemble Him more, and me less, every day.

When I feel provoked, angry, and convinced someone should die, I need to make it quick. I’m the one who needs to die. My sin, my fleshly desires, my arrogance, my rights – I need to lay them all down for the joy of the Lord.

“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 

Romans 6:2a, 6-8, 11, 13, 14
Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 7a

This day both took forever to arrive and got here in the blink of an eye. Do you know what I mean? Have you felt that before?

The amazing news I’m really excited to share is that today is moving day!

For my things, at least. The movers will be here at sunrise. They will load the furniture and the boxes over which I’ve toiled for the past month. My husband and I, however, will stay and ‘camp’ in our empty house until the carpets are cleaned, the nail holes are patched, and our keys are turned in.

I will miss my bed, espresso machine, and Alexa. But it will be an adventure, and it will be short lived. I don’t have to miss my family just yet. They no longer live in this house, but they are still nearby. If you missed out on their amazing provision stories, read them here and here.

I have asked the Lord to give me some verses, on which to meditate as time presses me toward the day we will drive away from our parents, kids, and grandkids. As always, He has been faithful. He wants to help us savor His word. He gave me this for today:

Deuteronomy 5:29
Lord, keep me inclined to revere You!

Yes, it is moving day. And another piece of amazing news I’m really excited to share is that God keeps His promises. I am dwelling on this one today. If my heart is inclined to fear (reverence, regard with awe) my God, He will see that it goes well with me and my children forever.

I must keep my heart aligned and inclined to God’s commands. The best thing I can do for my children is to love and obey their Heavenly Father. He will take care of them.

How are things with you today? If you were to camp in your home without your household goods, what would you miss most? Are you holding to any specific promises today? Feel free to borrow mine if you need one. Do you have any exciting news to share?

Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 4

Guys, this one is BIG! Like, I sat stunned and unable to move as the reality of it set in, big! And if you read about the stress I expressed in Part 3, and have joined me in prayer about it, I feel I owe you something lighter and happier. So here it is! Ah – I’m so excited!

Part 4 of the amazing news I’m really excited to share involves finances!

My family had talked about moving for over a year. We’d been budgeting with moving in mind. Let me provide some context.

Employment

My husband does IT work. He has worked remotely, from home for almost 20 years. Thankfully, he can live anywhere and stay employed.

My job is different. I do hands-on work in a lab. The company I work for has other sectors which offer remote opportunities, but when I looked, I quickly realized I wasn’t qualified for any of them. I understood I would have to quit my job when we moved.

Budgeting tool and computer
Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com
We thought we were adequately prepared.

We made a budget to live within my husband’s paycheck until I found employment in our new town. If we were careful, we expected to be able to live on his income, for a while.

Moving expenses

Last fall (2021), we priced things out to be sure we were saving enough for moving expenses. The demand, from so many people leaving California, had driven costs up, so we were thankful we’d estimated high. We felt comfortable with the way we had budgeted.

But oh, my goodness! As you know, prices have drastically risen in the past 4 months. When we went to schedule the services for which we’d budgeted, we were shocked! Here is an idea of what we found:

  • Rent: the average rent in our new town, for the small homes we were looking at, is now $500 per month more than it was last fall.
  • Cleaning: move-out house and carpet cleaning prices are 40% above what we were expecting.
  • Gas: gasoline is up $1-$2 per gallon. Higher gas prices mean the cost of driving ourselves to our new home will be significantly more.
  • Movers: the prices charged by movers are astronomical – due, at least in part, to the ginormous gas guzzle of their trucks. Most moving company estimates we received were more than double what we were quoted last fall.
  • Groceries and goods: the movers will not take pantry items. And we have decided to allow the kids to ‘pillage’ for what they need amongst our goods. The truth is, we can afford to replace small appliances and such more easily than they can. But if you’ve been to the store lately, you know that the prices for all of these things have risen, and are rising, significantly!
  • Utilities: we are all dealing with rising energy prices, but in California, it is unreal. The price of natural gas in our region has increased 90%! Settling our winter utility bills will hurt more than expected and we will likely find increased energy costs in our new place of residence too.

Accepting new realities

All of this affects my kids as well. It is hard on anyone living on a tight or fixed income. Suddenly, asking my son, who lives in Southern California, to come home and help us move, is way beyond the scope of his monthly gasoline budget. And higher rent has been a definite factor for my girls struggling to find affordable apartments.

We wished we were in a place to help our children more. But we didn’t even know if our funds would be sufficient for our own costs, when all was said and done.

I’d been hoping our savings would exceed our estimates. I wanted money leftover for visiting the kids and helping them come visit us. Not only were our funds depleting quickly, but planes, trains, and automobiles, were going to be affected by high gas prices. It was hard to imagine moving and not having the means to see our family.

An unexpected miracle

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from my boss’ boss’ boss. He (somewhat casually) asked if I would consider continuing my employment from Arizona! I still feel my eyes widen in amazement when I type that! I asked a few clarifying questions and learned that he was forming a new team and was extending an invitation for me to join it. In this role, all my work could be done remotely.

He asked if I would consider continuing my employment from Arizona!

A woman staring at her computer in amazement
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
Why does amazing news makes our eyes and mouth open so wide?

I received permission to think about it for a few days, over which time my husband and I prayed. We compiled a list of questions, mostly regarding scope and logistics. The answers to those questions were even better than the best-case scenarios we’d considered.

The amazing news I’m really excited to share is that I am staying employed!

I had a phone call with upper management and accepted the position. By the time I hung up, I was just incredulous. I sat stunned and unable to move as the reality of it set in.

God had been working behind the scenes, unbeknownst to me, for months! All the time the prices were climbing, He was preparing my continued paycheck. He was creating a brand new role for me.

The grateful lump in my throat was so big, I could barely talk to my husband. He choked up too. We hadn’t realized the pressure we were feeling, until it was suddenly lifted.

God had been waiting for us to step out in obedient faith so He could step in and bless our family. We couldn’t have imagined what He had in store. If we had, we never would have waivered or delayed.

Don’t we know this about God? I mean, hasn’t He rewarded obedience in amazing ways down through the ages? Looking back now, I feel so foolish for giving in to the doubts and hesitations of my own heart.

This story is ongoing, so I hope you’ll stick around and continue reading. There is more amazing news I’m really excited to share, and even I don’t know what it is yet!

It means so much to me to have the opportunity to share life with you. Thank you so much for being here!


My friend, what are you relying on God to provide right now? Have you done your part? Have you stepped out (in obedience and faith) so He can step in (with assurance and provisions)? He is always working. Be encouraged and realize that God is moving, even now, on your behalf.

Even when I don’t see it, You’re workin’
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re workin’
You never stop, You never stop workin’
You never stop,
Jesus You are

Way maker, miracle worker
Promise keeper, light in the darkness
My God, that is who You are

excerpted from “Way Maker”, song by Leeland

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 4:19, 20
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!