Categories
Celebrations

How To Heal the World with a Few Forgotten Changes

Hi there! What country are you currently in? Would you say you live in a land that needs God’s intervention?

America, heading into her 246th birthday, needs Him like never before. She needs God to step in with forgiveness and miraculous healing! He will, if…

“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”

2 Chronicles 7:14, 15

God didn’t tell me just to hope and pray for America to change. He told me to humble myself, pray and seek His face, and turn from my sin. I don’t need to bring revival to the country, only to me. If each of God’s people would change only themselves, God would change the World.

Will I? Will you?

Categories
Collaborations

When God’s Message is Heard and Delivered, People Find Hope!

My friends, I’m so glad you’re here! I have an incredible guest post for you today! 3 years ago, a friend of mine, named Jordan Davis, wrote about an eye-opening experience he had. I just recently came across it. It resonated with me; moved, encouraged, and shook me in the best of ways.

I asked him if I could repost it here on the Back Porch, and he agreed. I cannot wait for you to read this powerful, awe-inspiring story! It didn’t have a title, so I did my best to give it one. After that, the words are his.


When God’s Message is Heard and Delivered, People Find Hope!

Okay; long post incoming, but I promise it’ll be worth it!

So, tonight on my way to Walmart, Jessica King called me. Mind you; I’m in Alaska, and she’s in Texas right now. Anyway, she called me to tell me that God placed it on her heart that there was going to be a homeless man at Walmart that needed someone to talk to.

She didn’t know if it was a vision for her, or one for me; but she wanted me to be aware. So, I continued my shopping as usual, just being more mindful of the people around me than I usually would be. I finish check out and walk outside.

I looked around and didn’t see anyone, but I did see a backpack just sitting by itself near the entrance. So, I just watched the backpack, and waited for its owner. It turns out, it belonged to a man and a really cute puppy.

At this point I was suspicious that this was who I was supposed to talk to, but I wasn’t totally sure. So, I kept staring at his cute pup lol. He got up and walked outside to where I was. I began asking him about his puppy, and he told me how the dog kept bumping into his heater.

At this point he revealed to me that he and the puppy were living in a tent with a small space heater inside it. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him, and he told me his heater was out of propane. He was so worried that he and the dog were going to have to sleep in the cold for the night. I told him I’d take care of it, and I went in and bought him a few things.

I just kept thinking about how ever Present our God is. I kept thinking about how this man felt totally alone and abandoned, and yet God was working on his behalf without him even knowing it.

I walked in the store and just started crying. Walking through the store, gathering things for this man God placed in my path, eyes full of tears, looking like an idiot lol. I just kept thinking about how ever Present our God is. I kept thinking about how this man felt totally alone and abandoned, and yet God was working on his behalf without him even knowing it.

So, I take him some food, and propane. I told him that someone called me before I had even gotten there and said that there was someone waiting for me. He started crying.

I asked him if he knew Jesus, and if I could pray for him. He told me I could, and so I did. He just kept squeezing my hand, crying, and thanking me. He began telling me how he felt that God had forgotten about him, he felt that he has been cast out and rejected by everyone. It broke my heart, but I’m so thankful that I was able to rebuke all of his thoughts of inadequacy.

Tonight, Dave (that’s his name) knows that he is still loved by God. That he isn’t looked over by everyone. He knows that his current situation is not a permanent one.

And guys let me tell you; Dave, for the first time in a long time, has hope. He feels loved. He feels connected.

Look at God, y’all. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for a God who loves and protects his children so fiercely, even the lost ones.

I’m at a loss for words. Typing this with tears streaming down my face, I want someone to be encouraged. I want you to know that God hears your cries, even the quietest ones. He knows the desires of your heart. He knows the storms you’re facing, and He will come through.

Even if you feel like you’re a billion miles away from Him tonight, he still wants you. You are still loved, so, so much. God is good, man. So incredibly good.

(Written by Jordan Davis on 3/10/2018)


Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 9

Oh, the freeway! How I love to hate it! I love the ease with which it allows travel between cities, but I hate the nervous knowledge of all that could go wrong at such high speeds.

The amazing news I’m really excited to share today started on the freeway.

We hauled our last pile to the dump and finished transporting our daughter’s belongings from her storage unit to her new apartment. Our van had made so many heavily loaded runs around town in the past few weeks, I’d lost count. It was a work horse for sure, and it was time to retire it.

We packed our airbed, duffel bags, and dog into our tiny little Prius. Our house was empty! We left a key in a lockbox for the housekeepers and drove away, my husband in the van and me following in the Prius. We went to meet a friend, who facilitated the donation of the van to a local church.

A few quick signatures and we were a one-vehicle family. I shifted into the Prius’ passenger seat so my husband could drive. A few minutes later, we had merged onto the freeway headed towards our kids and grandkids. It was time to say goodbye. I was lost in thought.

I don’t think the state of California realized there would be this many people here caught up in the freeway system.

Richard Grieco

Suddenly, the Prius dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree! The lights were intense and foreboding, silently hollering for attention. I fumbled with my phone as I googled what it could mean and what we should do. There were no easy answers, other than to get to a mechanic, and get there fast!

The warning lights on a Prius dashboard
The exclamation point in the triangle was uncannily boisterous and bright!

We immediately turned around and drove to our usual repair shop. Our guy was busy and wouldn’t be able to look at the car for several days. We couldn’t wait because we were headed out of state, for good, in less than 24 hours! We asked for a referral to another mechanic ours would trust. He suggested we go to the dealership.

To the dealership we went. Back on the freeway, the lights were still illuminated, and the car’s performance was declining. We were praying. I’d reached out to some other people who were praying too.

By the grace of God, we made it! We pulled up and the clerk met us at the car. He asked, “What time is your appointment?”

My husband explained that we didn’t have an appointment. We were moving out of town, but all these lights had come on. He gestured to the dashboard. The man glanced around with hesitation, during which time the words “Please Lord” catapulted from my heart to the Heavens.

Pug looking out the car window
Photo by Jordan N on Unsplash
Our broken little car contained everything the movers hadn’t taken.

The man said “Well, let’s get you checked in and see what we can do.” I breathed a “Thank You” to Jesus, as I took our pug and went to the grassy area in front of the building. My husband went inside to do the paperwork. It could be a few hours before we knew anything more.

It did not take long, however, for the mechanics to determine that all the hullabaloo had been over the water pump, which needed to be replaced. A short time (and a hefty price tag!) later, we were on our way again. The dashboard lights were at rest, and so were our nerves.

The amazing news I’m really excited to share is that God watches over us with incredible vigilance!

It may seem, at first, like this was a stroke of bad luck. The last thing we needed on our way out of town was car trouble, right? But if you have been reading this Amazing News series, you know that God has been incredibly intentional. This too, was a fantastic blessing.

What if the water pump had gone bad just 24 hours later? We would have been headed out of state. We could have been out of range for cell service. We would have been in unfamiliar territory, not knowing where to find a mechanic or dealership.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

2 Chronicles 16:9a

As it played out, not only did we have a replacement for the broken part of our car, but we also had peace of mind. The Toyota mechanics had run their diagnostics and confirmed that the water pump was the only problem. Honestly, we should have had the car looked over before our trip, but we were buried under all the other tasks for our move, and we didn’t think of it. God did! He was watching over us with incredible vigilance.

Additionally, when we did make it to say goodbye to our precious family, we had the fresh reassurance that God was intimately involved. We experienced His provision, getting us to, and through, the repairs. And that superseded any worry we might have felt. He was with us, caring for us, and holding our whole family in His all-capable hands.

Mechanic with a tool in the engine of a car
Photo by Brigitte Miller on Pexels.com
God knows and cares about what is happening, unseen, under the hoods of our lives.

What seems to be going wrong in your day? Are there warnings signs on the dashboard of your life that demand attention? The amazing news I am really excited to share is that God is watching over you with incredible vigilance. He knows when you need to pull off the freeway of frenzy and get the care you need. His timing may not seem convenient, but it is perfect!

Precious friend, do you need to get back to church? Do you need to repair a broken relationship, with God or someone else? Is it time you took a break or relinquished control?

Please tend to that toward which God is drawing your attention. Do it today. Act now. You’ll be glad you did. You are worth it!

Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 5

Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! With fierce appreciation in my watering eyes and quivering lips, barely able to speak, I press one hand to my heart and extend the other towards you. God is immeasurably gracious, and you – you guys are the BEST!

Thank you, my brothers and sisters, for flooding God’s throne room with petitions on my daughter’s behalf. You asked our Heavenly Father for a miracle, and He delivered! If you aren’t sure what this is about, catch up on the story here.

The amazing news I’m really excited to share is that my daughter got the apartment!

Today, we will be moving her into the same complex where we moved her sister a couple weeks ago. The girls can help each other, and my grandkids can play and grow together. And they’ll all be only a mile away from my youngest daughter and her husband.

Next week, when we leave for Arizona, we will have peace in our hearts. We will rest assured that everyone staying behind is settled with roofs over their heads. That has been my foremost request.

I can only attempt to describe how I feel… incredibly humbled, extremely relieved, and so overjoyed! I want to both bow my knees and jump for joy. What a strange and unusual dichotomy it is!

Answered prayer

Make no mistake, this was supernatural! My daughter has issues with her housing and income history which could have – should have – been hard to overcome, especially given the intense competition in the rental market. But God. He saw fit to intervene and answer specific prayer.

“‘Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17

I’m so grateful! Thank you, Jesus for the amazing news I get to share! And thank you, my friends, from the bottom of my bursting heart!

If ever I can return the favor, please don’t hesitate to ask. It would be my privilege to pray for you. Is there anything for which I can pray right now?

Categories
Emotions

The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 1

Guys, I have news! I have so much to tell you! The short of it is – I’m moving!

This has been a long, extremely stressful, and chaotic time coming, but it has also been miraculous and amazing. I’m really excited to share it all with you! It will take a few posts, so let’s get started on part 1. Let me take you back a few years for context.


Michael and I moved to California with our 5 children in 2013 “for a year or two”. God laughs at our plans, right? By early 2020, we felt like it was time to start praying seriously about where God wanted us next.

We had become pretty rooted in California. We lived in a large house, sharing rent with our now-adult kids, who had also become established here. It was overwhelming to think about all from which we needed to untangle ourselves.

We researched and prayed. One destination after another was added, and subsequently removed from our list. But Northern Arizona remained consistently intriguing. In fall of 2020, we took a road trip to the region and were immediately smitten. Our prayers started to change from “Where Lord?” to “When Lord?”.

Sunset over the eastern rim of the Grand Canyon.
Photo by Arthur Ogleznev on Pexels.com
Northern Arizona is beautiful!

In February of 2021, we called a family meeting. We gave the kids a year’s notice. We told them that in February 2022, dad and mom were moving out! A year is a long time, but it was the right thing to do. Without the portion of rent paid by our income, they would have to move out of the house too. We wanted them to have plenty of time to prepare.

I wish I could say that was the end of the story; God said it and we did it. Case closed. But sadly, I wavered.

Four of our five kids couldn’t move out of state with us, each for their own reasons. And they all had troubles. They needed me! (Or so I wanted to think.) Was I really going to move 12 hours away? I started to doubt whether God had really said… ugh – that sounds exactly like what Satan said to deceive Eve. But I fell for it and I questioned.

Orange wild flowers: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Orange wild flowers in Northern Arizona

We took another trip to Northern Arizona in summer of 2021 to revisit and pray. God was so good. He didn’t smack me upside the head, but He did reconfirm His intention. He was very clear, prompting 3 different friends, who knew very little about it, to contact us and tell us we were supposed to move there. (How intentional was that?)

Our kids looked for their own places to live. Our middle son relocated to Southern California. One daughter got married and moved with her husband before Christmas. Our youngest son decided to move to Arizona with us. But by February 1, 2022, two of our daughters (and their kids) still had no place to go.

I don’t know how it is where you live, but in California, rent is expensive – and prices are still rising week over week. In addition, you must prove you make 3 times the rent to be considered for application. That means you need an income of $6000 a month to rent a place for $2000, which is the average cost of a small 2-bedroom apartment.

I wavered again. My mama heart quivered. Would God want me to leave without knowing my kids and grandkids were settled and safe? I started planning for scenarios that would prolong our move date.

The cheerful Arizona flag flying under the US Stars and Stripes
Photo by Jeremy Alford on Unsplash
The Arizona flag

And God kept kindly, lovingly, gently prodding us to Arizona. We took a third road trip to the area, last month (February 2022). We put our boots (ok, they were sneakers) on Arizona soil and we prayed.

I confessed my wavering faith. God met me, again, ever so faithfully! I have a new Bible reading plan , and it just so happened that my studies while we were there included two distinct stories with messages that jumped off the pages and into my struggling heart.

  1. Laban and Jacob (Genesis 31). Jacob had married Laban’s daughters and they’d had many children. Family life was crowded, attitudes were changing, and relationships were strained. (I could relate!) The decision was made to part ways. It was the right thing to do and still it was messy. Everyone handled things the wrong way. And you know what? God blessed them all. (I’m not sure that could have been more poignant.)
  2. Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 45). Joseph had been separated from his family in traumatic fashion. There was no peace in it for anyone. And yet God made it clear that He allowed/planned it to set Joseph where he needed to be for the good of the whole family in later years. (I needed to remember that, in God’s hands, what seems unthinkable now could turn miraculous later for everyone I love.)

In addition to these personal messages from God, He impressed on us that He was waiting on our obedience. We needed to step out in faith and start the process of moving. Then He would step in to reassure us and work out the details.

We didn’t want to delay our compliance any longer. We spent the next 2 days looking at available housing. We submitted applications. We drove home with peace in our minds and expectation in our hearts. We’d done our part. The rest was up to God.

That was just 3 weeks ago! I cannot believe all that has happened in such a short time since! Let me just exclaim that I cannot get this verse out of my mind:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20, 21 (emphasis mine)

So, there is Part 1 of the amazing news I’m really excited to share. I cannot wait to tell you about all that God has done in the last 3 weeks! I will talk about it in my next few posts.

In drawing this one to a close, I want to ask you – is there anything God has been asking you to do? Maybe it seems crazy or hard or counterintuitive. Let me encourage you to do it! Don’t delay your obedience. Your step of faith might be the one thing God is waiting on before He rains His blessings on you and yours.

If you’ve been in a similar spot, please share! Let’s encourage each other toward faith, love, and obedience. Everything for His glory!

My friends, thank you so much for reading. Thank you for being you. I really appreciate you and I look forward to sharing this new chapter of life with you!

Categories
Recommendations Reflections

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Do you struggle to sleep at night? Maybe you have difficulty falling asleep or even full-blown insomnia. My issue is that I often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. There could be a million reasons why relaxing rest eludes us and an equal number of suggestions for resolution. Today, I want to share 5 habits I have been working to hone, which seem to be making a difference for me.

I am going to add the caveat right here that I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that when I accepted Him as my Savior, He gave me His Holy Spirit to dwell inside me. Read more on that here. I genuinely do not believe satisfying sleep is a reasonable expectation outside of the peace that comes from knowing God.

But even with the assurance that He has the chaos under control and cradles me in the palm of His hand, I sometimes find myself awake when I want to be asleep. As I’ve prayed for the wisdom to address it, I’ve adopted five habits which have been highly effective for me. I’m sharing them in hopes they might resonate with you as well.

5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep

Tune out

Life is hectic! My brain doesn’t have time to take a break. Or so it likes to think. (Pun intended.) After all, if I stopped controlling things, it would all come crashing down, right? Not even close to right! In fact, if I don’t stop trying to control things, and let my mind rest, I’m much more likely to make mistakes and missteps that will cause everything to come crashing down.

So, I need to tune out. Shut down. Let go. I do this nightly by watching a Hallmark movie or something equivalent. There is science to show that the brain slows significantly when we watch TV, and I am pretty sure a Hallmark movie requires the least mindfulness of anything out there. It is completely predictable with idyllic settings and… I’m getting sleepy just talking about it.

Some people tell me to pray before bed – to give it all to Jesus and walk away. I would never tell anyone not to pray. I know this is a tried-and-true method for many. It does not work for me because praying engages my mind and my emotions. I have to say my ‘bedtime prayers’ before I tune out. My goal is to not be thinking about anything important when my head hits the pillow.

Exercise

I toyed with the order in which I wanted to present these 5 habits to you. I obviously did not choose to put them in chronological order. But stay with me as I work a bit backwards here.

My biggest hurdle is getting my mind to rest. When I have tuned out and my head has hit the pillow, it needs to have a few things neatly wrapped and tucked away. One of those things is the knowledge that my body is tired.

I sit quite a bit at work and writing does not get me moving either. I need to be intentional about exercise. This is a habit I must commit to accomplish early in the day. I’ve mentioned that I’m a distance walker and that I’ve curiously started running again.

If I am physically tired, my mind will be at ease about my body’s cooperation to sleep. It is always worth it – not just for sleep but for overall health as well.

Food

This one has taken some experimentation. I have discovered that carbohydrates at night do not agree with me. They make me feel bloated and uncomfortable and are not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I have basically cut out all carbs, even healthy ones, after 4pm. I have also lightened up on my protein in the evening. Don’t worry – I eat plenty of both, earlier in the day.

Kale salad: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Kale salad, a frequent dinner menu item.

Dinner for me is comprised of mostly vegetables and healthy fats. I eat early so I can go to bed early because I get up early. Eating foods which agree with my digestive system, and timing it so those processes have time to work before I lay down, has been game-changing for me.

This may seem obvious, but I stopped consuming caffeine late in the day. I used to feel immune to the caffeine because I could drink a cup and still fall asleep. But I do think it hampered my ability to fall back to sleep if I awoke in the middle of the night. And any beverage consumed late increases the chances of needing to get up in the middle of the night. I’m better off without it.

Conscience

Ah this! When I have tuned out, worked out, and cut out, but still wake up at 2am unable to go back to sleep, it can be due to a guilty conscience. Sometimes it is legit and other times it is not. I have tried to just ignore it and go back to sleep but it doesn’t work. My only way around the obstacle of my conscience is to engage.

Fox with ears alert: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Petr Ganaj on Pexels.com
When God speaks, even in the middle of the night, I want to listen.

It seems counterintuitive to purposely start my mind thinking, but remember, the one most important ingredient for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. There is no peace in a guilty conscience. If the conviction I feel is legitimate, I need to confess it to God and repent. I need to receive His forgiveness and resolve to make it right with anyone to whom I may owe restitution. Then, my peace returns. When I feel that harmony with God, I can sleep again.

If the shame I feel is not legit, I need to preach truth to myself and let it go. A good dose of truth brings a rush of peace.

“Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.”

2 John 2:3

Pray

I know some of you are wondering why a Christian would leave prayer for the last bullet point. Is prayer a last resort for me? NOT AT ALL! I rely on constant communication with God to guide my steps and steer my decisions.

Prayer gets its own section because there are still times, when I’ve done everything I’ve learned to do for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep, but I still wake up.

Alarm clock: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sometimes I’m supposed to be awake at 2am.

In these instances, I know God has purposed that I should be awake to pray. I have a list of people who get prayed for every time I am awake in the middle of the night. Maybe one of them is in trouble and I have been awakened specifically because I will pray for them. Prayer releases the power of Heaven and if sacrificing a few minutes of sleep will send that assistance to a loved one who needs it, I’m in!

If I go through my usual list of people and I’m still awake, I start praying for anyone else whose name or face pops into my head. Eventually, I figure I’ve covered everyone for whom I was tasked to pray, because I fall back to sleep.

Even if I’m wrong – if nobody needed my prayers at 2am, my efforts have covered them with God’s presence and that can never be a bad thing. But I honestly believe it is a ministry. The Holy Spirit knows I am available and willing to serve in this capacity in the middle of the night.

Ironically, my habit of intentionally clearing my mind so I can fall asleep and stay asleep makes me a ripe prayer warrior to call upon in the wee hours. And there is a reward. The sleep that comes after being awoken for this purpose and fulfilling it, is the most satisfying of all sleeps!

Kitten asleep: 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Sleep induced by prayer for others is oh-so sweet!

Well, there they are. Those are the 5 habits to hone for relaxing rest and satisfying sleep. At least, they are the tricks that have been the most beneficial for me lately. There are others, and if you’d like me to post about them, let me know.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you have trouble sleeping? Is it a struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep or both? Have you found any helpful hints that you’d be willing to share? Do any of mine ring true for you?