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
Reflections

Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think – Hear me Out!

Ok, kids, gather round! I know many of you are my age, but you’re never too old for some maternal love and I have some for you right now. Your value is unique and vibrant and higher than you think. Pull up a chair and hear me out!

I’ve seen and heard so many depressing and bleak things and I’m sure you have too. But your value is sky high! I’ve been thinking about you. I have a story for you – a loose retelling of a tale I heard many years ago. It applies to you right now. It goes like this…


There was a poor man in a humble village raising two daughters. They were coming of age and he knew suitors would soon come asking for their hands in marriage. As was the custom in those parts, he would be offered goats for their betrothal.

Man loading harvest onto a bike: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by EFDAL YILDIZ on Unsplash

A beautiful woman might exact three goats. This man considered his older daughter vibrant enough to merit two. His youngest, though, was homely and shy and he was realistic. He was hoping someone would offer one goat and marry her.

Just as the father expected, his first daughter caught the eye of a local man, who paid two goats and she was married. He waited to see if anyone would see value in his other girl. He waited, and he waited.

One day, a man from a neighboring village came to call. The father invited him to dinner and watched in awe as the visitor gazed admiringly at his remaining daughter. At the end of the meal, the guest put forth his offer. Would six goats be an acceptable exchange?

Goats on the hillside: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by Jaka Škrlep on Unsplash

The father put out his hand to shake on it before the man could correct his error. But there was no mistake. Six goats were given, and the daughter went to live with her groom in his village.

Sometime later, the father noticed a gathering in the square. He approached and caught sight of his son in law for the first time, since the wedding. But he did not see his daughter by his side. Instead, he saw a stately and beautiful woman, who carried herself with poise and grace.

He went to confront the man. How dare he marry and then cast his daughter aside when someone more beautiful came along? He was ready to take his girl back into his care, but he most certainly was not going to return the goats!

Couple with goats: Your Value is Unique and Vibrant and Higher than You Think - Hear me Out!
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

When he got close, he realized something amazing! That vibrant and unique woman was his daughter. The transformation which had taken place in her was nothing short of astounding. He couldn’t help but notice it out loud and ask her what had caused such a change.

Her reply was simple. “I’m a six-goat girl, Papa. What would you expect of a six-goat girl?”


Hear this, my precious friend, your worth is not what you think it is.

Your value is established by what someone is willing to pay for you.

Jesus gave everything! He paid it all. He laid down His position, His authority, His comfort, His relationships, His blood, His life, all of it. For you.

So raise your countenance, lift your gaze. Walk with assurance and grace. You are the bride of Christ. He paid the highest price, everything of value. He said then, and still says today, “You’re worth it!”

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38, 39

How does this affect the way you see yourself? Should you think about and carry yourself differently than you do? Do you believe that your value is unique and vibrant and higher than you thought? Thank you for hearing me out. You are loved.

Categories
Vacations

Are a Vacation’s Lows Determined by the Wonder of its Highlights?

Do you live in your dream location? Many people do. I used to live in Hawaii, which was amazing. While there, a neighbor shared a challenge with me, which had been presented to her. Whenever she had a complaint, she was to end it with “in Hawaii”. I tried to make a habit of it too. “I have a flat tire… in Hawaii.” It really did infuse gratitude where I might otherwise have been prone to grumble.

Flat tire in Hawaii: Aren't Vacation Lows Determined by the Wonder of its Highlights?
photo by Olga Subach on Unsplash

Thinking along these lines, I wonder, are a vacation’s lows determined by the wonder of its highlights? If I add “on vacation” to a low point, does it remove the sting a bit? I pondered that question as I thought over my recent trip.


If you follow this blog, you have read about the highlights my husband and I experienced in Phoenix East, Valley, and Northern Arizona. In a previous article about vacation decisions, I also promised to share our lowlights. There weren’t too many, in fact, I’d call them “lessons learned”, for the most part. But, in comparison to the heights of the highs, there were some lower points to mention.

1. We didn’t accurately plan our breaks.

We drove approximately 12 hours each way. But we did not plan our stops at the half-way point. We reserved hotel rooms 4 hours from our home. That meant our 12-hour drive was broken into 4 hours one day and 8 hours the other.

Next time we make this trip, we will stop in the middle and drive 6 hours each day. We are seriously considering a move to Arizona and our adult kids will be staying where we currently live, so we may be driving this route frequently in the future. We are thankful to have learned this lesson now.

2. I got sick.

Well, not sick exactly, but I was under-the-weather the first day we spent in Phoenix. I was lethargic and my brain was a sort of mush. Has that happened to you?

My friend, in whose home we were staying, suggested that maybe something inside of me was just waiting to get on vacation so I could shut down and relax. She encouraged me to nap and take it easy and I did. The next day, and every day thereafter, I was fine. I have determined not to wait as long before I take another vacation. I was at the end of every strand of my extremely frayed rope, so to speak.

Cat resting in fluffy bed: Aren't Vacation Lows Determined by the Wonder of its Highlights?
Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

3. We chose poor entertainment for the ride.

We tried! We planned ahead and purchased 2 audio books. We listened to one on the way to Arizona and the other on our way home. We chose non-fiction, thinking we’d learn while we drove. Well, one of them was odd and the other put us at odds.

Next time, I think would rather listen to an adventure story or podcasts we could easily change for variety. I think either would help pass the time better and feel more like vacation. Do you have any good suggestions?

4. This one still stings. I lost my pillow.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. I like to take my pillow when I travel because it comes in handy. It is great for napping in the car. It is nice when a hotel does not provide enough. My husband and I ‘prop’ and ‘support’ achy joints and use a lot of pillows. Tell me we’re not the only ones…?

But when I leave a hotel, and visually scan the room for anything left behind, my brain does not register a pillow on the bed as ‘out of place’ and I am prone to leave it. My pillow isn’t special enough to warrant a 4-hour drive back to the hotel for retrieval, but I do miss it. Maybe I need to buy highlighter yellow pillowcases for traveling, so I won’t accidentally leave my pillow behind again.

Open road: Aren't Vacation Lows Determined by the Wonder of its Highlights?
Open Road on Pixels

Let me say right here, that I’d endure every one these lowlights over again to repeat my vacation. The wonder of the highlights does determine the depths of the low points. The lows are raised significantly if I say, “We didn’t accurately plan our breaks… on vacation.”, or “I lost my pillow… on vacation.”

Stay with me here, because I want to take this a step further. If we are Christians, if we are “in Christ”, shouldn’t our lows be weighed in light of the wonder we are promised? Doesn’t it stand to reason that our trials can be endured more joyfully because of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us?

What ails you today? If you add the words “in Christ” after your problem, does its burden become lighter? For instance, mine is “I feel inadequate today… in Christ.” Hmm… suddenly my inadequacy is overwhelmed by He who is infinitely able! It is not just a vacation’s lows that are determined by the wonder of its highlights. This applies to all of life! Try it – what examples can you think of?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 5:23

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”

Romans 8:1

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

1 Corinthians 1:30

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us…”

2 Corinthians 1:21

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…”

Ephesians 1:13

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

1 Peter 5:10