Categories
Vacations

Jet Lag is a New and Surprisingly Brutal Thing

Hello, my gracious friends! You all are amazing. You know that, right? Just in case you need to be reminded today, hear me! You are a walking, talking (and writing) miracle and I am blessed by you.

Jet lag is a new thing for me, and it is surprisingly brutal. I sit here, wide awake at 0’dark thirty in the morning, feeling overwhelmed. I have so much I want to tell you, ask you, share with you… and for some reason I feel crunched for time.

I’m not sure if there is a real reason for that or if it is jet lag making mountains out of molehills. (Have you heard that expression? I’ve always liked it!)

Updates, Photos, and Life Events held momentarily captive by jet lag

I am grateful for your grace this fall. I know I owe you some updates. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers for me regarding the skin treatment I underwent last month and my trip to Ireland, from which I’ve just returned.

Autumn is amazing and it seems to have fallen upon my little mountain town while I was away. It shows me God’s wonder afresh, as the places I’ve previously lived did not showcase seasons the way I get to experience them now. Naturally, I have photos to share with you!

Looking forward, I spy a few major life events staring back at me. I want to tell you about them in hopes you’ll walk with me through them. Your insights, stories, and prayers are precious to me. These things make us more than fellow bloggers. They make us friends.

Is jet lag brutal for you?

I have some writing to do! And I promise to get to it… just as soon as my mind catches up with my body. I feel as though my mental faculties took a parachute mid-journey while my physical form stayed on the plane and arrived home. And I don’t even know where my sleep schedule derailed. Maybe it got stuck in the same overseas time zone as my luggage.

This was my first international trip. The jet lag is surprisingly more brutal than I expected. I want to hear your stories. Please commiserate with me!

How does jet lag feel for you? Or are you one of those people who can hop around the world and not feel it at all? Bonus points if you can identify the airport in the cover photo. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Categories
Reflections

Thank God He Doesn’t Give Us Everything We Ask For!

Last week, I read a headline about accepting life as it is, especially when it isn’t what you expected. Since then, I’ve found myself thinking back to many things I’ve wanted, and for which I fervently prayed, that never came to be. And my reaction has been “Thank God He doesn’t give us everything we ask for!”

Something I asked for…

I have a memory etched deeply into my mind. I was 11 or 12. I was on my roller skates in the street in front of my parent’s house. And I was in love. It was puppy love, but at the time, I didn’t know the difference.

There was a boy. He was new to my world, popular, and intriguing. I wanted to be his girl.

He was cute. He was my age, but he was already going places. I thought, if he would just choose me to go with him, I’d have it made.

Someone on skates and someone on a skateboard
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
Thank God He knows what’s best!

I desperately begged God to let me marry this boy. I was planning my future, right there on my roller skates. I had never prayed harder for anything!

Well, the years went by, and I did not marry that boy. I barely even had a whole conversation with him, and I eventually lost interest. I heard he married after high school graduation, had a couple of kids, and divorced.

God gave me something better…

In college, I met the love of my life! I’ve been married to my guy for over 30 years and I’m still madly in love! Thank God He said “No” my 12-year-old prayer!

There have been other instances where I thought I knew best and asked God to work things out my way. Most times, He has said “No”. In each instance, looking back, I’m so glad He did.

God doesn’t give us everything we ask for…

I was thinking these things and formulating this post, this morning, when my husband came to me with some difficult news. God had said “No” to a prayer we’d been praying. And it hit me like a sucker punch to the gut.

It was something I’d been convinced God was already doing. You could say I had “taken it to the bank”. But now it was final and the answer was “No”.

My husband and I were both deeply disappointed. We dealt with it in our different ways. We each go to Jesus, but my husband relaxes – lies down and closes his eyes. Me? I work my emotions out on the pavement.

My shoes bore the brunt as I cried out to God. There were words I needed to form so I could let them go. God was a patient listener while I ran and worked through the frustration I felt.

Do I really thank God?

As I started back toward my house, I could feel my peace returning. I’ve always been a silver lining person. When I hear bad news, I wrestle with it briefly and then lock onto the good, which God always reveals.

In this case, there were certainly positive angles to God’s decision. I began to thank Him for the provision in them. And then I realized how profound the timing was.

I was about to write a light-hearted “Thank God He doesn’t give us everything we ask for” post, and He had just made it real. He had put me through it and reminded me it isn’t easy in the moment. It can be painfully hard to be told “No”.

In everything give thanks…

Even in my disappointment, there was much to thank God for. Hadn’t He already prepared me for this “No” answer by reminding me of those past requests I’m so glad He denied? Hadn’t I just been ruminating on how He’d delivered even better things than I’d asked for every time?

He had also added depth to this post I was about to write. Maybe someone else is in the throes of disappointment and will be encouraged by this very real and timely example.

Roller skates on the grass.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
Thank God He doesn’t give us everything we ask for!

God says “No” when He has something better in store. I can’t wait to see what it is in this instance. I’m sure I’ll look back one day and see it clearly.

Bottom line, I believe God’s ways are higher than mine. And my emotions are real. Both can be true, but one has to win. I have decided that, in my life, God always wins. And you know what? I haven’t regretted it even once.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Leslie B. Tucker

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank God He doesn’t give us everything we ask for! Our desires would lead us into all kinds of trouble. Can you think of examples in your life where you’re eternally grateful for God’s “No” response to your prayer?

Categories
Reflections

Drill Down to The Depths with a Simple “Why?” Game!

Have you ever had a child repeatedly ask you “Why?”? I was walking with my granddaughter the other day and she was playing this game.

Me: “Look at that boat out on the lake. I think people are fishing off it.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “A lot of people like to fish. They find it relaxing.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “Probably for different reasons. I am usually relaxed when I’m by lakes and oceans too.”
Her: (Giggling) “Why?”
Me: (Now realizing this is a game) “Because the water is beautiful and the sound of it on the shore puts my heart at rest.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: “It’s a peaceful sound.”
Her: “Why?”
Me: (Cutting the game short, picking her up and tickling her) “Because I love you and Jesus loves you and that is all.”

The “Why?” game helps me drill down deep.

I had a week-long visit with my granddaughter. That “Why?” game happened daily. I noticed when we drilled down as far as we could go, God’s love was at the heart of everything.

The second to last answer was either “Because God said so.” or “Because God made it that way.” When “Why?” was asked to either of those statements, the final response was “Because He loves us so much!” That was the end because I couldn’t fathom why.

Playing this childhood game can be tiresome, but the concept is extremely valuable. I think the Holy Spirit has been playing it with me lately too. He’s helping me drill down to the depths of some important matters.

Depth of Focus

I have the tendency to plow through life content to see, hear, and think about the obvious. My focus is often on the surface stuff. And that is to my detriment.

For instance, I’ve been thinking and reading about anxiety. My last post was a result of learning that I treat anxiety as a problem to address, when in truth, it is a symptom of my problems. I can focus all I want on calming my anxious thoughts, but if I allow the circumstances which cause them to continue unresolved, I can’t ever expect to be free of anxiety.

Depth of Belief

The habit of drilling down to the depths of matters is crucial for deciding on my beliefs as well. Many ideas sound solid on the surface, but if I apply pressure, they give way. I must push until I find a foothold that stands.

The Holy Spirit showed this to me by bringing a past conversation to mind. I had posted on social media about my excitement to meet a baby who was due to be born any day. A young Christian had challenged my celebration because, in his words, this young mother was unwed, and her pregnancy was a sin. (He took a stand.)

He had his facts correct. This was an out-of-wedlock, teen pregnancy. It had come about through sin. But the pregnancy was not a sin. It was a consequence. (His platform did not hold.)

A warning sign posted on a wooden pole.
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com
Secure footing is important!

I explained this to the young man and assured him he could join me in celebration. Not only was the sinful relationship repented of, but the full-term pregnancy was also proof that this young mom had decided virtuously among her options. And new life is always a gift! (A sturdy foothold.)

I think we’d all do well to drill down to the core of what we believe and why. It is crucial with political choices, religious stances, and cultural issues. We may not like the conflict we create when we ask ourselves “Why?”, but until we unpack it, we won’t be able to reconcile it.

Depth of Thought

These things keep reverberating through my mind as I contemplate my internal dialogue. I need to pay attention to my thoughts. And as I drill down to the depths of them, I realize I’ve adopted some ideas without completely thinking them through.

When God looks at us, He sees all the way to the core of us. He pays attention to our thoughts, not just our words. He notices the intentions behind our actions. He knows we can act and speak rightly, but not be righteous inside.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7b

We will be accountable to Him for what exists in the depths of us. I think the Holy Spirit is helping me to go there. He is shining a light so I can explore what I find inside. He is asking me “Why?” and then asking it again as we’re drilling down.

Depth of Conversation

Playing the “Why?” game with my granddaughter showed me that my casual comments and observations were insufficient. They weren’t untrue, generally, but they were shallow and left a lot unsaid. Having to answer “why?” after every sentence made our conversation incrementally more meaningful.

I sure would love to be present enough in the depths of myself to speak from there at the onset of a conversation. Wouldn’t it be great if everything that came out of my mouth was only one step away from “because God made it that way” or “because God said so”, and the only other place to go was “because He loves us so much”?

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.

1 Peter 3:15

Dear Lord, I have a lot to sort through as your Holy Spirit helps me drill down to the depths of my words, thoughts and intentions. Thank you for the simple “Why?” game, which has highlighted my need to speak and act from a more meaningful place. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14
Categories
Emotions Reflections

Where Do You Turn To Feel Better When You’re Anxious?

Hi there!  How are you today?  Are you hanging in there?

In my last post, I mentioned feeling anxious about a medical procedure and it seemed to strike a chord.  Many of us have anxiety, related to all kinds of things, so let’s talk about it!  When you’re anxious, and want to feel better, where do you turn?

More about my recent experience: 

I’m at relative risk for skin cancer.  I’m blonde.  I’ve gotten too much sun on many occasions.  And there is history of skin cancer in my family.

I couldn’t get an appointment with dermatology when I lived in California.  But when I moved to Arizona, my new primary care doctor referred me right away.  And they suggested a blue light treatment for my face.

Blue Light Therapy

When the dermatologist explained the procedure, she said they’d apply a chemical cream all over my face, and only the pre-cancerous cells would absorb it.  For an hour, it would soak into worrisome patches, even those too small to be seen.  Then, they’d put me in front of a blue light for 16-17 minutes, which would activate the chemical, and treat all the pre-cancer spots at once.

She said I’d need to stay indoors for several days after the treatment and the date they suggested (this week) was relatively clear on my calendar.  I left there feeling grateful.  Finally, someone was going to take care of the spots I’d been concerned about!

They prescribed a medication to take, starting the day before my blue light treatment.  I think that’s where the trouble began.  One side effect I noticed was a racing heart.

Quest for Information

You know how you can get a whiff of a fragrance and you’re suddenly whisked back to a memory?  I think my heart palpitations worked the same way and recalled some past anxieties.  In response, I turned the wrong direction. 

I went to the internet.  I aimed to arm myself with information.  I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen to me in front of that blue light.

All I found was clinical information.  It said I might experience burning, itching, and stinging during and after the treatment.  It said my skin could swell, turn red, blister, and crack.  And usually when a medical professional says, “this might sting a bit”, you know what that really means!

So, I looked for more personal story.  I wanted to hear from someone who’d undergone this treatment.  There must be some accounts out there, but I didn’t find even one!

Feelings of Anxiety

With my heart already racing and my breathing shallow, I felt anxious.  I began to wonder if I’d be able to sit through the duration of time I was scheduled to be in the light. 

What if the burning was excruciating?  And what if I couldn’t work while my face festered all week?  (Thankfully I work from home, because at the very least, it promised to be ugly!)

My turning point:

And then I realized I’d gotten way off track.  Instead of turning to God, who knew exactly what lay ahead for me, I had taken my anxiety to the internet. 

In essence, I knelt at the altar of information instead of taking my worry to the cross.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my life of turning to information.  When I get anxious about unknowns, I study to understand them.  Armed with knowledge, I feel stronger.

If you could schedule 5 minutes with someone who knows everything, would you take it?  What would you ask?

I don’t remember where I heard it, or what the exact words were, but I remember someone asking if I would take advantage of an opportunity to sit for a few minutes with someone who had everything figured out.  Talk about valuable information!  I would absolutely take that opportunity and could immediately think of topics to fill hours of conversation. 

Of course, the point was that I have 24/7 access to God, who knows everything.  And yet, I often neglect my prayer time.  How foolish!

I hadn’t yet taken that lesson to heart.  My anxiety and subsequent turn to information had proven that to me.  So, I did an about face. 

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

I turned to God, to whom nothing was unknown.  He not only knew my anxious thoughts, and the offensive way I had taken, he knew what I would endure during my blue light treatment and after.  He was going to be there with me, in the dermatologist’s office and at home while I healed.

I prayed Psalm 139:23, 24, as I shared in my most recent post.  And peace came flooding in.  My heart was still racing from the medication, but my mind was able to rest as I trusted God to lead me to and through what I was facing.

I suspect I’m not the only one in the habit of turning to information to make me feel better.  When I exclaim about how foolish that is, I’m speaking to myself.  Maybe it hits home with you too.

Information can be valuable, sure.  But I don’t want to worship there.  Do you?  How much better to go directly to God, who created all things, understands all things, and from whom nothing is hidden!

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

What are you anxious about right now?  Do you believe God has the answers?  Have you placed your hope elsewhere?  Do you find confidence in information before you turn to God?  I think we can do both, but there is a correct order and I, for one, have been getting it backwards.  What about you?


Please join me next time to discuss the general topic of anxiety.  What is it?  How should we handle it?  I expect it will be a worthwhile conversation for us all!

Once I am on the other side of this whole blue light therapy experience, I will share about that too. Maybe it will help the next person who wants to hear from someone who went through it.

Categories
Emotions Reflections

Are You Holding Tightly to Things which Make You Anxious?

Hello Friends! How are you? I underwent a minor medical procedure today. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I had some anxiety about it. I plan to tell you about it in the coming days.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this verse, which was meaningful to me in the hours before my appointment. Psalm 139:23, 24 is applicable in many circumstances. I hope you find it relevant today.

A Bible verse on a picture of the sky.
God knows our hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him.

This verse is a treasure because it reassures us that God knows our hearts. He knows our thoughts. He knows the reasons for our anxiety. And He will lead us past them.

Are you anxious about something today? Are you holding tightly to control? I get it! That is our normal tendency.

I encourage you to do the opposite. Let go and let God, as the saying goes. Let Him have it all. Follow Him in a better way.

I was tempted to hold tightly to the thing which made me anxious today. I prayed this verse instead and God came through for me. He will do the same for you, my precious friend.

I had people praying for me today. I know it helped. If you need prayer, please reach out. I would love to support you in that way.

Categories
Collaborations Emotions

God of the Bathroom Floor

Hello, my precious Back Porch friends! I came across this powerful article by Esther, the Dolly Mama. I contacted her and she graciously granted me permission to share it with you. I hope it touches and encourages you the way it did me.


God of the bathroom floor

God isn’t just the God of

Steeples
Prayer meetings
Well-paying jobs
Mission trips
Intact families
Worship songs Sunday school

All those visible spaces.

The ones we show to the world.
The ones that look like we have our act together.
The ones where we will be praised.

He’s bigger than that. Much much bigger.

His heart is bigger.
His presence is bigger.
His well-worn, tenderness is bigger.

BECAUSE

He’s also and especially the God of

Oncology visits
Broken hearts
Empty checking accounts
Funeral parlors
Rehab rooms
Sleepless and fitful nights
Bathroom floors
Messy selves and messy lives

The places where it’s just us and Him.

The ones only He can really see.
Hear.
Understand.
Guide.
Comfort.
Heal.

The places of

Loss
Despair
Loneliness
Doubt
Fear

That are also the places of

Growth
Hope
Belonging
Grace
Peace

The places that nothing and no one else can touch.

Except for this big big, “very present help in time of trouble,” tender-hearted God.

Those are the most sacred places of all.

And some of the most beautiful.

Shared with permission from
Esther Joy Goetz, The Dolly Mama.
Find her on Facebook and Instagram @estherthedollymama,
or visit her website: estherjoygoetz.com