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
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


Categories
Reflections

Hurry Happens in the Heart when Humor Hits Hard

My husband sent the following meme to our kids and me in our family group text. I agreed wholeheartedly and laughed too hard. I felt understood.

When the humor hits hard…

Humor is funnier when it has an element of truth in it. I know this hit hard with some of our kids, because it’s something we’ve been talking about for years! Little did I know God was about to do something with it in my heart.

An diagram of different ways to install a toilet paper roll.
My sentiments exactly!

I have some monsters in my family. I should be thankful if the roll is on the holder, no matter how it hangs. But I’m not. I stand staunchly, loud and proud, on team ‘flap over’. If it’s done wrong, I need to fix it in a hurry.

In our group text, one of my daughters teased that she often changes the rolls from No! to Yes! at her sister’s houses. I gave that a big thumb’s up!

And then one of the sisters chimed in. She said she gets confused because she has to install the rolls in the No! position at work.

That got me thinking.

Oh my goodness, she’s right!

As my mind raced, my heart hurried. I have seen toilet paper dispensers in public restrooms which require rolls installed the wrong (in my not-so-humble opinion) way.

You know the ones? They have flat edges, which hang on the stall wall, and covers that bubble outward. When the roll is inside, the flap of the roll must hang down the back to dispense.

Hurry happened in my heart.

Hurry / noun: disorganized activity, a state of eagerness or haste

merriam-webster.com

I was immediately humbled. Mentally, I walked for a moment in my daughter’s shoes. My heart hurried toward her point of view. I felt compassion that wasn’t there before.

My way is still my favorite way, but it isn’t necessarily “right”. I guess that is what happens in the heart when humor hits hard. It’s hilarious until you understand where someone else is coming from.

I appreciated my daughter for kindly stating her rationale. It let me think, empathize, and learn. And, as God does, He prompted hurry and taught me a lesson.

What about you?

Hurry has happened in my heart on this subject, but I will always hang toilet paper “flap over” in my home. I have been softened by compassion. And I still enjoy the humor in the meme above.

I’m dying to hear your opinion. Are you in agreement, or does this humor hit hard? How do you prefer the toilet paper in your house? Does your family follow your lead?

“The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.”

Proverbs 18:17
Categories
Celebrations Collaborations

Love from My Daughter’s Heart – A Rich Gift to Me and You

Deep inhale. Sniff. I’m pulling myself together. Seriously, I am!

I have the sweetest thing to share with you today! My oldest daughter, Meagan, wrote a guest post for my birthday. And this is the day I get to publish it. I’m so excited! It hits me right in the feels and I’m so thankful. What a blessing!

Mother and daughter in a heart-shaped photo
Meagan and Me

5 Things About Me that are My Mother’s Fault

a Guest Post

What goes around comes around, Mom.

My name is Meagan. I am Mama Lava’s eldest child. In honor of her birthday, I am writing a guest post to show my love.

A while ago, my mom posted 5 things that she blamed her mother for. Here’s the link to that post. Today, I’d like to return the favor.

Mom, you should know it’s all your fault that I am so…

Kind

I asked my siblings what I am most, and they said “kind”. Surely it was all the lessons about being a peacemaker and helping others that made me this way. Undoubtedly the way you treated others modeled kindness in a way that it stuck with me.

Nurturing

Watching you be a mother to five children and teaching me to help them has surely impacted the way I treat others. The way I speak to little ones and build them up and encourage them was certainly learned. Now I’m a mother and a teacher- that’s certainly your fault.

Baking Obsessed

You were a whiz with the kitchen aid, always cooking and baking for us and neighbors and friends. My love of baking definitely stemmed from the days in your kitchen- eating all the cookie dough pieces that fell onto the counter.

Deferent

You got this from your mama, and I got this from you both. You prefer to defer and so do I. Please everyone, don’t ask Nana, my mom, or I what we want for lunch. We want whatever you want. We are happy when you are.

Artistic

Like you Mom, I love arts and crafts. Nothing simultaneously calms us down and stresses us out like a new project. Whether its interior design, macramé, or some other medium… We love to create. I remember your treasure chest full of crafts and projects for us to do together with fondness.

A lighthouse, with ships in the background
“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.”
– Dwight L. Moody

In her original blog post, linked above, my mom quoted Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” We were just talking about this verse on the phone the other day.

I like to joke that the word “way” is a broad term. Perhaps the “way” is north, and my siblings and I are all headed there but we are taking different routes. Some of us are on windier paths, some of us are finding short cuts, some of us have had tumultuous journeys. We aren’t headed the wrong way- per se- just taking different paths than may have been envisioned for us.

I’m sure every parent can relate to feeling stress over a child making different choices- but different doesn’t always mean wrong. Luckily, I have good foundations- thanks in large part to my mother- to help me along the way.

Happy Birthday Mama Lava- Sending hugs and love to you today!

Categories
Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Chili and Cornbread

Can you believe it is already the last day of August? Where has the time gone? We’ve arrived at the final (for now) helpful little hack of the hour! Let me tell you why I chose chili and cornbread.

This recipe is Simple with a capital S! This is not gourmet chili. But it is hearty, inexpensive, and anyone can make it.

Seriously – even if you’re not a cook, you can do this!

A teal recipe card
I miss recipe cards. Receiving a recipe over text, blog, or email is nice, but it does not preserve the handwriting of the originator.

If you know a student headed to college, send this recipe along. I taught it to my kids when they were in middle school. I made sure they knew where the few ingredients were kept in the fridge and pantry. That way, if ever they needed to (hey, moms get sick too!), they could prepare themselves a comforting meal.

I think I make a pretty good “from scratch” chili. But that doesn’t stop my kids from requesting this variation sometimes. And when they do, I simply agree and let them make it for me! Win/win!

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Galatians 5:13

This is a helpful little hack of the hour for everyone to have on hand. I posted this chili and cornbread recipe to encourage the young adults in my life, and I pray it blesses you too. It is The Recipe in Your Back Pocket. (Click to read.)

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.