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Conversations

Three Birthday Cakes, a Turkey, and a Veil

Does that sound like the beginning of a bad joke? Three birthday cakes, a turkey and a veil walk into a bar. Or stand at the pearly gates. Nope, it isn’t bad, and it isn’t even a joke. Although, I must admit that seeing humor in it helps diffuse the stress!

Three birthday cakes, a turkey, and a veil is the description of my upcoming week. My husband’s birthday is on Thanksgiving, my daughter’s is a few days after, followed by my son’s girlfriend’s birthday the next day. And then, two days later, the big event takes place – my daughter is getting married!

Oh, I just caught my breath saying all of that! These five celebrations happen within the span of one week. It is going to be crazy! And so fun!

The title for this post probably could have been “Three cakes, Sushi, and a Veil” because sushi is my husband’s favorite, and he gets to choose on his birthday. I love that his special day falls on Thanksgiving from time to time, because honestly, aside from Jesus, my hubby is my biggest blessing. He just camps out, right there, at the tippety-top of my thankful list!

Sushi: three birthday cakes, a turkey and a veil
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com
Birthday sushi for Thanksgiving? Sure! Why not?

This post is a bit unusual. I have a slightly ulterior motive beyond the peek into my charming chaos. Friends, can I ask your help with two things?

  1. Please pray for me – I don’t want to get so caught up in the craziness of ALL that is happening that I don’t see EACH thing for the blessing it is and the celebration it deserves. I want to cherish each person and the gift they are from God; and there will be so many people. For an introvert like me, it is overwhelming to think about.
  2. Pen a few words to my daughter – I would be so honored if you would take a minute to write encouragement, inspiration, or practical advice from God’s Word. Just a sentence or two, for my daughter and her husband-to-be to read. If you are willing, type it in the comments section below, ‘to Kevin and Mikayla’. I would like to copy and paste your sentiments into a hand-made card or booklet to add to their wedding gifts. I think it would be such a blessing for them!

I know I have access to an incredible wealth of experience, knowledge, and Godly wisdom on this platform. You who visit the Back Porch are top notch! Thank you for coming alongside my family and me in these ways. I am sincerely, from the depths of my heart, awestruck and grateful for each of you.

I have pre-scheduled some posts about different things, so there shouldn’t be too much interruption to the blog in the coming weeks. I look forward to getting back to a regular routine on the flipside of three birthday cakes, a turkey (sushi?) and a veil. God bless you all!

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Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Part 3

Happy Friday! I’m thrilled that you are here! Have you read parts 1 and 2 in this series about everyday facades? We defined the term, talked about what those false fronts might look like and considered some reasons why we use them. Feel free to click below if you need a refresher.

Today is the glorious and victorious conclusion of this series. Part 3 is about the Wonder of everyday facades. This is where we find freedom for ourselves and others.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 3 – The Wonder

Everyday facades are not material. When I use this term, I am not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are.

Façade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

The Wonder of everyday facades

This Wonder, with a capital W, is God, Himself. He reaches right through our facades to connect with us. Have you experienced that? If not, let your guard down and be real with Him. He can handle it. He sees you and knows you and you can’t fool Him, no matter how cleverly you try.

“I am looking for the one I can’t fool.”

― Kamand Kojouri

Four wonderful examples in the Bible where God saw through the everyday facades of people

Jonah

God told His prophet, Jonah, to go to Nineveh and give the people of that city a message. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he got on board a ship heading in the opposite direction. He put on a plain façade and tried to blend in. God knew exactly where he was and brought him to repentance, obedience, and restoration. If you’d like to read the story, you can find it here.

Hagar

Hagar was a mom who was treated poorly by her boss and fired. You can read all the sordid details here. Her reality was cringeworthy and she was trying to run away from it. God saw through her façade and met her right where she was.

“She (Hagar) gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

Genesis 16:13 (parenthesis mine)

The Samaritan Woman

Jesus struck up a conversation with the Samaritan woman. He asked her to go get her husband. She casually said she didn’t have one. She hid behind a façade of half-truth. Jesus saw straight through it and told her what He knew to be true about her – past, present and future. The story can be found here.

The Disciples

The disciples had seen Jesus crucified. They’d experienced His empty grave and His resurrected form. They’d been given the Holy Spirit and they’d witnessed many other miracles. But they went fishing, which was how they’d spent their time before they met Jesus. They went back to the comfortable façade of their old habits. Jesus knew where they were and He met them there. You can read about it here.


Mask unworn: The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades...
Photo by Ibolya Toldi
When we encounter the Wonder of who God is, we can leave our facades behind.

God loves us too much to leave us hiding behind our everyday facades. We might fool each other, but God sees us. He meets us where we are just like He did in the four examples above.

Each of those people were changed by the wonder of their encounters with God. He saw their need, removed their reason for hiding, and gave them purpose. They emerged from behind their facades to see and be seen.

Precious friend, God sees you behind whatever façade you raise. He wants to draw you out, restore and renew you. He will change you from hider to seeker, so you can help others too. God is the Wonder of our everyday facades.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
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Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Part 2

Hey there! Happy Wednesday! I’m so happy you’re here! Did you read Monday’s post about everyday facades? We talked about what some of those look like and how we might see through them. Feel free to click below if you need a refresher.

Thank you so much for coming back for Part 2. Today, I hope you’ll converse with me about why we use everyday facades. I think this is a critical part of understanding ourselves and others.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 2 – The Why

Everyday facades are not material. When I use this term, I am not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are.

Facade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

Why do we put up facades?

We all need companionship, connection, and love. We were made by our loving Creator by plan and with purpose. So why do we jeopardize it all with our facades? I can think of four quick reasons.

Fear of rejection

Fear of rejection is the reason for most of the facades we use. We are afraid that if others saw the real us, they’d be disinterested. We use facades to either attract their interest or provide a faux persona for them to reject. If they reject someone who is not the real us, it is easier to deflect the pain. But if we attract them to an alter ego, we live with the fear that eventually they will figure us out. Rejection seems inevitable.

“Having grown up so familiar with creating a pleasing facade, I now end up compelled to reveal things inside and say, ‘Okay, now you really see me. Do you still love me?’”

― Kathryn Harrison

Desire to be sensitive

This is a tricky one. Sometimes celebrating our blessings seems to be insensitive to others who have not received the same things. Pregnancy, promotions, happy marriages, etc. These things can cause us to put up a muted façade so as not to appear too celebratory in front of those who would like to have what we have. When we are not careful, we can come off as ungrateful or flippant, and that works against our desire to be sensitive.

Protection of privacy

To protect our privacy, or that of someone else, we resort to everyday facades. We use them to deflect attention and steer people away from the information we wish to hide. This goal can be a worthy one, but we need to proceed with caution. It is easy to cross a boundary into dishonesty.

Hesitancy to accept reality

Oh friend, sometimes our reality is just not what we wish it to be. When we are hesitant to accept the truth, our tendency might be to live as if things were different. There is a saying that advises to “fake it until you make it” but this is a dangerous way to live. If we are honest about what is, we are more likely to find a real path to improvement.

“I feel confidence in myself, but at the same time there’s these cracks in the façade and those little things underneath that are unstable.”

― Pete Wentz
Family wearing paper bag masks: the what, why and Wonder of everyday facades- part 2
Photo by Daisy Anderson

Can you think of more reasons why we might use facades instead of presenting our true selves? Do you think facades are effective around you? Do you tend to respond to people according to how they present themselves? Sometimes I think I do.

Even when I clearly see the façade, I might treat an acquaintance in accordance with it. I assume that I’m being respectful of their wishes. If they went to all the trouble to put up their façade, I don’t feel the need to call them out.

But as I get to know someone better, I don’t want to let them hide. I want to show them that I see them, and I appreciate them. I want them to feel confident that they are valuable just the way they are. I hope I am looking deeper than what they are presenting on the surface.

This is critical relationship stuff with which I’m wrestling in my own life. Is it relevant to you? Have you noticed facades in your circle of acquaintances and friends? If so, why do you think that is?


I sure hope you’ll return to the Back Porch on Friday to discuss one more facet of our everyday facades? What do you suppose could be the wonder revealed by them? Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss the conversation. You are precious to me, dear friend.

Categories
Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Everyday Facades: Part 1

Hello everybody! It’s November 1, and this is one of my favorite days of the year. Today, in the USA, we turn our hearts toward gratitude. And, as if we need a place to begin, candy is 50-75% off in most stores. (Hey, if you like peppermint and happen to see bite-sized York Patties on sale, grab a bag in preparation for an upcoming story and recipe post!)

In yesterday’s How to Have a Healthy Hope and a Happy Heart article, I said Halloween costumes remind me that what we see is not always what we get when it comes to the people around us. It is easy to look through an obvious disguise and realize the person inside is vastly different from who or what they are pretending to be. But the facades we hide behind every day are more complicated.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 1 – The What

Facade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

Everyday facades are not material. I’m not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are. Here are some examples.

Masquerade masks: The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Post 1
Photo by hitesh choudhary

What are some everyday facades?

Fancy facade

Do you know someone who goes to incredible lengths to present perfection? Sometimes (of course, not always!) someone who is obsessed with fancy clothes, or degrees, or some other impressive thing, can be hiding feelings of inadequacy. These people get abundantly noticed for their efforts, which often drives their resolve to continue.

“It’s easy to get by on a facade of fancy style, but sooner or later, people are going to see through it. I’m trying to be as honest as possible.”

Jim Carroll

Happy façade

I present this façade every day. I am in the habit of answering the simple question, “How are you?” with the deceptive answer “Great! How are you?” And I usually get “Good, thanks!” in return. None of it is completely genuine. But it is easier to paste on a giant happy smile and quip cheerfully than to answer with thoughtful truth. Feigning happiness does not bring joy. In fact, it often does the exact opposite because we fail to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Grotesque façade

This one is near to my heart. There are precious people in my life who rely on grotesque façades to hide deep, painful wounds. They use shock and repulsion to keep our eyes diverted so we don’t see their actual pain. They expect we would cringe in disgust at their real plight, so they create a different reason for us to turn away. And when we do, they stay alone in their misery.

Plain façade

A plain façade is effective for anonymity. If someone can blend in, they can hide in plain sight. When they are disregarded, they stay away from scrutiny, and nobody sees what they perceive to be their gaping flaws. They often wish someone would care enough to notice them, but they simply are not willing or able to put themselves out there in a way which makes it easy for people to pay attention.


Friends, so often you and I hide our real selves. Do any of the everyday facades above hit close to home? What others can you think of?

I know for certain that the God who made us does not make mistakes. When we hide ourselves and try to put a different face forward, aren’t we cheating the world out of the contribution God intended us to make? If we spend our efforts maintaining our everyday facades, aren’t we robbing ourselves? The greatest joy comes from fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.

Will you join me on Wednesday and Friday this week to discuss this topic further? Let’s consider why we hide behind everyday facades. And what do you suppose could be the wonder revealed by them? Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss the conversation. See you then – have a great week!

Categories
Reflections

On Color Discrimination and the Best Thai Curry

Do you like curry? I am such a fan! I like Thai curry, Indian curry, Hawaiian curry, and whatever category fits the casserole recipe I shared in this post a couple of weeks ago. I like red, yellow and green curry. I like it with chicken, beef, pork or any combination of veggies. I just like it!

But, if you had asked me, before today, which curry color was my favorite, I wouldn’t have had an answer. I’ve never eaten them side by side to really taste the difference. So, to celebrate a raise my husband recently earned at work, he took me on an epic lunch date. We ordered all 3 colors of curry from a local Thai restaurant so we could share and compare. Which do you think we enjoyed the most?

I got a chance to discriminate on my epic lunch date of share and compare: Which color is the best Thai curry? Food for thought…

Green, yellow and red curry: On Color Discrimination and the Best Thai Curry
Green, Yellow or Red Curry? Which is Best?

Before I go any further, I want to put forth something that is really on my heart and related to this topic enough that I can’t seem to keep writing without acknowledging it. In the same way that I appreciate all types of curry and have never put them side by side to compare, I appreciate all colors, sizes and shapes of people. I am fortunate to have friends and family of all kinds and I believe we’re created and loved by God equally. Our ability to see everyone that way is our victory as a society.

Color discrimination is ok for curry, but not for people!

Never in my lifetime, until just recently, have I been asked to notice differences and treat people according to them. These days, we’re encouraged to put people back in categories. In America, I’m being asked to favor businesses owned by some and not others. Merit is diminishing as the defining criteria for school acceptance or employment. And we’re pressured to shame people again. It’s backwards. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all people against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Diverse friends: On Color Discrimination and the Best Thai Curry
Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

Robert Fulghum wrote a book called All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I’m not sure about that, but I am pretty sure most of what harms us to know, we’ve learned after kindergarten. There is a children’s song which says:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black & white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world
Three girls: My Epic Lunch Date of Share and Compare: Which Color is the Best Thai Curry?Three women: My Epic Lunch Date of Share and Compare: Which Color is the Best Thai Curry?
Use slider to view photos.
Focus on color is ok with curry, but not with people!

God made all colors of people He and loves us all the same.

It is child-like simple. God made us all. Every single one of us. He loves each of us, no matter our physical or mental capabilities or characteristics. He wants a relationship with us all, no matter which way we lean politically, or sexually. He died to save us, regardless of how we identify or how we struggle. The only thing that can keep us from His love is our choice to reject 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
Dirty pig: On Color Discrimination and the Best Thai Curry
Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

God wants to help us live, without discrimination, in true unity with Him and other people

We must come to Him just as we are- sinful, prideful, shaggy, stinky, imperfect. If we wait until we are more presentable, we’ll never get there. He’ll wrap His arms of acceptance around us, no matter what, and then, by His grace, mercy and love, start to clean us up. He will create a new heart within us. He will help us see like He sees, want what He wants, and love like He loves… without prejudice, bitterness, or discrimination.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Ezekiel 36:25-26

Alight – thank you for allowing me to share what was weighing on my heart as I was talking about comparing the colors and flavors of curry and discriminately choosing my favorite. I think God was impressing this lesson upon me as I enjoyed the epic lunch date with my husband. I mean, even the Thai chicken salad was a conglomeration of different kinds of things – fresh, fried, colorful, sweet, tangy… all served together and appreciated in harmony.

Thai salad: On Color Discrimination and the Best Thai Curry
Salad of fruit and veggies, fresh and fried, sweet and savory – all complimenting and enhancing each other!

My lunch date was definitely “food for thought” but we did choose a favorite color of curry!

I think the truth, which was reinforced during our epic lunch date of share and compare, was more important than our discovery of which was our favorite color of curry. But we did make a decision. And, surprisingly, we agreed. Even our kids, who enjoyed our left-overs, numbered their preferences the same way we did.

Yellow is our favorite, with its deep, dark, earthy sweetness. Red closely follows yellow, with its lighter and brighter flavor. Green curry is delicious, and none of us would turn it down if it were offered on its own. But given the choice to discriminate between the three, we concluded that yellow is the best Thai curry for us.

Do you like curry? Do you have thoughts about discrimination of foods or people that you’d like to share? Is Jesus ministering to your heart and mind on the matter?

You are precious. You are loved.

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.