Wisdom for the Week May 28, 2023

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Photo of lemons with Psalm 13:6 overlaid.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3

If you’re interested in reading an embarrassing story that taught me about the generosity of God, click here.

Blessings to you all, my dear Back Porch visitors. I appreciate each of you more than you will ever know. I pray you are well acquainted with the extravagant generosity of our Lord.


Wisdom for the Week – May 21, 2023

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Sunflowers and Psalm 65:9
Lord, you are marvelous in all your ways!

Sweet Inconveniences

Do you like jelly beans? I admit to eating a bag every spring. Not the fancy ones; I’m not against the spice flavors, Jelly Bellies, or Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, but I prefer the plain ones. My favorite are Brach’s Jelly Bird Eggs.

A bag of Brach's Jelly Bird Eggs
My favorite jelly beans.

Is anyone with me on this? Which is your favorite flavor? I enjoy them all, but one at a time. Otherwise, I risk suffering sweet inconveniences.

My Sweet Inconvenience

I like to put a handful of jelly beans in my pocket and pop them in my mouth throughout the day. The other weekend, I had such a pocket-full while I was out hiking. I was distracted and I made a critical mistake. I pulled two jelly beans from my pocket. I ate a black one and immediately after, put the yellow one in my mouth. That was a sweet inconvenience.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the strong licorice taste of the black jelly beans. But I don’t enjoy them mixed with other flavors. In fact, they downright ruin the fruity ones, in my opinion.

Major Inconveniences

A black jelly bean is a minor inconvenience. But major inconveniences hit us in the same way, don’t they? We’re smiling along, enjoying life, when something suddenly tastes off. It could be something like:

  • A power outage
  • Cancelled plans
  • A broken-down vehicle
  • Illness
  • Having to work late
  • Injury
  • A broken water heater
  • Unexpected expenses

I’ve encountered all of these recently. And you know what? They can sour a sweet mood as fast as black licorice can ruin a lemon jelly bean. Inconveniences bring our minds out of the clouds and snap us back to reality in a hurry.

Inconveniences are not fun. Even if we know Jesus, trust Him to walk through our trials with us, and believe He has a plan for everything, it can take a minute to settle our hearts around unexpected and unwelcome circumstances. They are not situations we would choose for ourselves.

But there is an aspect to my struggles that I’ve found myself contemplating quite a bit recently. It has to do with the grace of God. And it ponders sweet inconveniences.

Inconvenience “What Ifs”

I’ve been asking myself, “What if?”. What if my injury didn’t keep me home today? Might I have encountered something worse?

What if I hadn’t had to work late? How would I have spent that time instead? Was God protecting me from making a foolish choice with my free time?

What if the power hadn’t gone out? It could have surged and burnt out an appliance or my computer. Could it have started a fire?

Sweet Inconveniences as Blessings

I think the inconveniences, about which I like to complain, are often God’s sweet way of protecting me. Kind of like when I put a fence by the stairs when there are toddlers in the house. It gets in their way, but it protects them from a pain much worse than inconvenience.

What trials have you been complaining about recently? When you imagine your life without them, do you picture sunny days and roses? But what if that is not what would have been? What might your inconveniences be saving you from?

I can tell you this for sure. After a black licorice jelly bean, I need to clear my palate a bit. I must pause a while before I continue eating. They are sweet inconveniences, which keep the sugar rush to a trickle… and that’s a very good thing!

Have a sweet day, my friends, in spite of… or dare I say, in light of… your inconveniences. And if you have any jelly beans, enjoy one for me!


Guardian Angels and the Electric Company

Guardian angels are like the Electric Company. When they do their jobs well, we never know it.

Mama Lava

I was thinking this awhile back, as I heard about another fire which was traced to negligence on the part of the region’s electric company. My response was to criticize because there have been many costly and deadly disasters which seem to be related to shortcomings within this sector.

But God turned my perspective around. How many fires have not occurred? How often have blackouts been avoided? Well, I don’t know! And that is exactly the point.

You and I are not aware of what has NOT gone wrong.

That is true of the power grid and of our lives. How often have guardian angels taken blows meant for us while we went on our merry way, completely oblivious of the danger?

I had a record player when I was a kid. I owned, I think, three records, which I played all day on repeat. Somehow, I knew every word, but never grew tired of the music.

One of these albums was by Amy Grant. A song from it, called “Angels”, helped steer my grateful imagination. This portion of the lyrics was especially insightful to my young mind:

… God only knows the times
My life was threatened just today
A reckless car ran out of gas
Before it ran my way
Near misses all around me
Accidents unknown
Though I never see with human eyes
The hands that lead me home

… But I know they’re all around me
All day and through the night
When the enemy is closing in
I know sometimes they fight
To keep my feet from falling
I’ll never turn away
If you’re asking what’s protecting me
Then you’re gonna hear me say

… Got His Angels watching over me
Every move I make
Angels watching over me

Angels, Song by Amy Grant

I believe guardian angels are like the electric company. When they do their jobs well, we never know it. Of course, we still fall victim to things from time to time. Does that mean the angels have failed, as seems to be the case with the electric company?

“For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Psalm 91:11, 12

My thought is that guardian angels do not fail. They simply don’t take their orders from us. Sometimes God allows us to suffer for His glory and our good.

“Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.”

Psalm 103:20, 21

I wonder, do angels experience emotion? We know they rejoice when someone accepts Jesus’ gift of salvation.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10

If I were one, I might shed a tear at being asked not to step in to protect someone from something hard. Or I might be glad to pull back and watch someone suffer a bit. Clearly, I’m not an angel!

What are you thinking after reading my reflections? Have you given much thought to guardian angels, or to what types of catastrophes you have not endured because they have done their jobs well? What kinds of human jobs can you think of, besides the electric company, who likely deserve more praise for the unseen disasters they work to avoid?


Wisdom for the Week – May 14, 2023

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A bouquet with Isaiah 40:11 overlaid.
God has a special place in His heart for MOTHERS, and for everyone born of a MOTHER!
Celebrations Reflections

A Different Sort of Mother’s Day Post…

This is going to be a different sort of Mother’s Day post. I prayed for something else – something more encouraging and uplifting. But God kept steering me back to this. It must be important.

Everyday mother…

There have been times in my life as a mom where I have had to stand with my kids in their shame. Do you know what I mean? They did something wrong, it was publicly known, and they were enduring the consequences of their actions by way of side glances, sneers, whispers, and exclusion.

Theoretically, I could have let them endure that alone. But my mama heart wouldn’t have it. I stood by, literally, with my arm around their shoulder, hip to hip in support. It didn’t matter how guilty they were.

Was I embarrassed? Probably. Because I’d rather celebrate my children’s victories than take the heat of their shortcomings. I’d rather our family name stand for honor. I’d rather be thought of as a parent who navigated motherhood so expertly that my children heeded every lesson and never rebelled or failed in any way.

But that wouldn’t have been realistic, and honestly, any humiliation of my own didn’t matter in the moment. I just wanted to shoulder some of the discomfort. I hoped to lend my strength to the kids I loved.

Exemplary Mother…

I have never had a child face such serious consequences as being arrested or standing trial. But I know women who have. And those moms sat in the courtroom in support of their children, even when guilt was obvious, and the rest of the crowd was hostile. I think it is something in the heart of a mother.

Mary is a great example. She was at the foot of the cross. She was there for her Son until [what she thought was] the end. The Bible has a lot to say about the hatred of the crowd for Jesus that day. It doesn’t record too much about what they said to Mary, or how they looked at her, but the people probably treated her with disdain as well.

She was His mother. I’m sure they whispered about her insufficiencies as a parent which must have led to His personality and decisions, with which they took such issue. Maybe they even went way back in their memory and gossiped about how strange it was that she turned up pregnant before her marriage to Joseph. But we don’t see her ever abandoning her child.

Jesus’ example for Mothers…

Jesus is like that with us, isn’t He? We sin, we fail, we mess everything up. And yet, He stands with His children.

He is right there, walking with us through our consequences. He shoulders our burdens, even when we’ve brought them upon ourselves. He stands with us, though we bring dishonor to His name.

“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

What’s more, He ALREADY endured our shame! On the cross, He took it all. And yet, when we feel ashamed because we have failed Him for the umpteenth time, we can count on Him to bear with us again. What an example of love!

People standing close together
Me with my 5 kids and my nephew a few years ago…

As I’ve been pondering these thoughts, I’ve been challenged in my heart. Am I following Jesus’ example as a mom? Do I continue to stand with my [now] adult children when they need me most? I pray they can still be honest with me and feel my proverbial arm around their shoulders, even when we’re miles apart.

Intentional design of mothers…

As women, we’ve been endowed with tendencies toward different characteristics of Jesus than our male counterparts. We often see these play out in how we mother. But maternal instincts were not only created for biological offspring.

Who else needs my maternal heart? You know, one of my friends, who has had to stand by her child in court, is about to go through to go through it again. I’m convinced she shouldn’t sit there alone. I can mother her, in a sense, by sitting with her through that trial.

Who needs your support? Who is enduring shame, rightful or wrongful, that you could stand with in a very literal sense? Who needs you to model Jesus for them in this way today?

Men can nurture too…

This post has been about the feminine heart, but I don’t intend to let the guys off so easily. I challenge you men in this area too. Especially if you have a woman in your life who is standing by someone and lending them her strength. She needs yours.

A Mother’s Day challenge…

Women have been made in the likeness of God and we are called to exhibit some very special aspects of who He is. Whether we have children or not, our world is in dire need of our feminine and maternal strength! Will you pray for opportunities to lend it?

This has been a different sort of Mother’s Day post. As we extol the hearts of mothers, let’s challenge ourselves to live up to all we were created to be. It isn’t only about giving birth, as important as that is to the perpetuation of life. It is also about nurturing, supporting, and bearing with one another in love.

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:1b, 2

Happy Mother’s Day…

Happy Mother’s Day, my friends! Happy Mother’s Day to you, your mothers, your wives, your sisters. Happy Mother’s Day to anyone who models Jesus by lending their strength to support you when you need it most.

Happy Mother’s Day!