Beauty On The Back Porch: Answering the call to serve

Several weeks ago, the Nurture-Care team at my church put forth a program called Front Porch Visits. Anyone who was interested could sign up to deliver or receive a visit and a care package.

I've been self-quarantined since March, Zooming with friends and only venturing out to parking lots to pick up groceries or to the drive-through lane at my pharmacy. I thought it would be nice to have someone come to my porch to chat in person, so I filled out the online form and waited for a call.

I wanted to feel included and not forgotten.

As the designated weekend approached with no word from the church, I wondered if my request had gotten lost. 

Then an email from the pastor popped up on my phone.

I was delighted to see you had signed up to do a visit. I’d like to assign you Carol Smith. Her husband has severe Alzheimer's and she has been living alone since he moved into memory care. Even though he doesn’t know who she is, she has missed being able to visit him. How would you like to handle picking up the care package to take with you on the visit? I could bring one home and then run it out to your car!??!

My stomach sank in disappointment. 

This was not what I signed up for. But as I composed a draft to set the record straight, a voice in my head questioned my response.

Why can't you visit Carol? 

How is a visit on her front porch that different from yours? 

Don't you want to do something that would help her?

The only answer that felt good in my soul was to treat this mix up as an opportunity to serve. So I gathered my courage, set aside my anxiety about Covid, and replied to her email.

I actually signed up to *have* a front-porch visit, not *give* one... That said, it seems like this misunderstanding might be God calling, so I wonder if there's a way I can visit Carol. I would have to keep my distance and wear a mask... The problem is getting to her front door. In looking at Google StreetView, it looks like she has several, wide concrete steps to navigate. Maybe she could chat on the sidewalk... If I decide to do this, could I have a care package, too? I'm just thinking out loud... What are your thoughts?

I held my breath and hit send, hoping I was doing the right thing. Thirty minutes later, I received my pastor’s reply.

I love this response so much! Carol is really struggling right now and I think she would LOVE to visit wherever you’d be able to get. If you are up for it, maybe you could call her and the two of you could figure out a plan. Maybe she even be willing to meet you somewhere that is easier for you to access. As an aside, sort of, I’m also thinking that Carol is a really good candidate to be a care receiver. So if you go, I’d love for you to mention the idea to her. PS—I’d be delighted for you to have a care package!!!!!!

Her energetic and encouraging note was just what I needed to confirm my decision. And her request that I mention to Carol the offer of receiving help from Stephen Ministry, a weekly caregiving program which I've been involved with for the last six years, was further evidence that God was at work. 

I called Carol and made plans to visit. As I explained my needs for level ground and social distancing, she happily told me it wasn't a problem. Her back porch had no steps, and it was large enough to sit six feet apart.

When I went to my pastor's house to get the care packages, we visited for a while in her driveway, and I felt the love and support I had been looking for when I signed up for the experience. 

I was ready to pass on that gift.

My visit with Carol was perfect in every way. Though meeting for the first time, we chatted like old friends. It was clear that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I have faith in a God who calls me to serve others. But when I have read stories about people hearing God's voice, I’ve often found it difficult to believe. 

But this experience changed my perspective. I believe my internal voice was Divine guidance. 

This is why looking for Doorways is so important to me. I'm opening myself to holy messages of beauty and joy as well as opportunities to create justice and care for the broken ones. And if I listen closely, I may hear someone calling.

What is the Universe calling you to do?

How can you find beauty in answering the call?


Last month’s Doorways:

  • I’m transforming a guest room into a craft room, so I needed to get rid of the old bed I had set up. When I removed all the blankets and sheets, the bare mattress brought back memories of my childhood. My parents got the bed for me when I was thirteen after I had major back surgery to correct scoliosis. I was filled with joy at the love my mom and dad gave by buying this expensive bed to ensure my healing and comfort.

  • I felt beauty and peace when I was riding in the mountains over Labor Day. I wore a sundress for the ninety-degree heat and enjoyed the warm wind billowing beneath the fabric as we went down the trail.

  • On a day I wasn’t feeling as good, I was grateful for the beauty of a clear blue sky to help me mentally offset the physical discomfort I felt in my body.

  • I asked my husband to come into the bathroom to kill a spider, and he lightly teased me about it. We enjoyed a bit of humorous banter, and it reminded me of his unconditional love, which warmed my soul.


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