Author Archives: My Hope

About My Hope

I am a firm believer & follower of Jesus Christ. I stand on the truths of scripture, as is, unchanged. I'm a wife & mom of 4 blessings. 3 on earth & 1 with Jesus. I've also received the gift of being a Grandma. My hope is in striving for obedience to the Word. Life on earth is full of storms & seasons. I may not have all the answers but I have hope!

Waves

Recently, I was looking at an old picture of my boys jumping in some waves. When I glance at that picture, I want to scoop up all my kids & run to the only safe place there is. Straight into the arms of Jesus. Proverbs 18:10

Lake Michigan provided the best salt free waves ever. It also produced a lot of angst in my mama heart from the shoreline. I knew the undertow was always a threat to their safety.

Those days seem so long ago. I stared at it for quite awhile remembering how much fun they had. Eventually, I couldn’t see past my tears. One simple picture is a reminder of so much loss.

The baby that was on the beach with me is getting ready to turn sixteen. Each of the boys reached adulthood. All of them experienced life waves that crashed over much harder than any lake ever could. The powerlessness I felt from the shore was nothing compared to how helpless I’ve been to spare my children from the dangers of the world.

It’s funny how as a parent, you think you can protect your kids. Reality is, we’re just as human as they are. I can provide, teach, try to prepare them, and set up safeguards. I can’t actually fully protect anyone. There’s only one Savior & he is the ultimate Protector.

As my faith continued to grow, I realized the best thing I could do for my kids was get on my knees. Two things should happen at the birth of a baby. Parents should be given knee pads for all the praying that’ll take place & little ones should receive a seat belt for the bumps ahead. 

One of the challenges of becoming a believer in my adult years was trying to guide my kids at the same time I was learning. The very ones He entrusted me with & placed in my care are the ones I failed the most. Waves have shown me who’s ways are truly trustworthy.

Pointing them in the right direction meant pointing them to Christ. My trust in Him far outweighs my certainty in anything else. I wish I could say that I did it perfectly, but I was no where near.

My kids had a broken mom…but they had a perfect Savior. I prayed He would fill in all my gaps while they were under my care. There’s only one left in the house now & I’m still broken. On earth, I’ll always be broken. But not Jesus. He is still perfect…forever perfect.

Jesus redeems everything. In His time & in His way. Broken people. Hurts. Losses. All of it. That…my friend…brings me hope.

lake michigan waves

The wave jumping days are memories now. Good ones. If I close my eyes, I can hear the sound of laughter & yells over the roar of the water. I’m grateful for that. When I open my eyes, I see the remains of the reality that was to come. All I can say is…”It is well with my soul.”

Life will always have hidden undertows- in & out of the water. Waves of many sizes will come our way. The Almighty is the only place to find shelter. Psalm 91:1-2  

Rocks & sand collide in the turmoil of waves, and create smooth objects. It’s an image of being refined. We can experience deep pain as each wave rolls over us. The end result is a transformation that has His fingerprints all over it. We’re being made new.

None of us can stop waves. What we can do is call out to Him, reach up & grab his mighty hand! He’s right there in the midst!

Praising Him,

Tracy

 

 

Forgiveness

Forgiveness.

It’s a word that comes with a variety of how to instructions, books, and detailed manuals.

It’s not simple to explain or easy to do.

What it is….is necessary.

I’ve read many books over the years on forgiveness & lots of step by step guides. Most of it has been helpful, even convicting at times. However, there’s one book that lays it all out. One that I return to time & time again…my Bible.

As a follower of Christ, forgiveness is at the core of my salvation. The Lord forgave all of my sins. Every last one. I didn’t do anything to deserve it & yet, here I stand…in His merciful forgiveness.

I know this truth & there are still times I find myself being half-hearted with it. Every second of every day I should be on my knees pouring out His praise. He didn’t gift me with partial forgiveness & I shouldn’t be giving Him pieces of devotion.

The enemy loves to whisper lies that I’m not really forgiven. Self condemnation rears it’s ugly head. It’s just not true. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the full penalty for my sin. I am His forgiven daughter.

Colossians 2:13-15     Titus 3:4-7     Romans 10:9-10

He provides the ultimate example of what forgiveness looks like. I never come anywhere near to doing it as quickly as God does. I’m not proud of that at all. I’m just being truthful with you. Sometimes it’s a process for me.

People will wound other people. I know I’ve hurt others & have needed to be forgiven. We all act & react out of a state of brokenness.

There are times when even the thought of being able to forgive someone seems impossible. The hurt is too deep. I can tell you from experience that it is possible. Not from anything we can do in our own strength.

Forgiveness can happen because we are the forgiven. 

Forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It’s forgiving, and we’re commanded to forgive…to bring Him glory.

Colossians 3:13     Matthew 6:14-15     Ephesians 4:29-32     Luke 6:37-38

forgive

Can I share with you for a minute? Not long ago, I faced a hard season. I knew I had to forgive someone very near & dear to me…but I couldn’t. I would sit outside staring at the horizon, crying out to the Lord. I could not find forgiveness for this person.

It was tearing me apart inside. Distancing me from true fellowship with the Holy Spirit. I was angry. Broken. Betrayed. Disillusioned. Hurting deeply. I had no idea where to start.

The unimaginable walked through my door & I wanted it to walk right back out.

Words & actions can’t be taken back. Sometimes…they destroy. That’s where I was. Sitting in the middle of destruction, begging Him to pull me out.

I kept seeking His help. Sobbing…sitting in silence…shattered. Days turned into months.

I would get glimpses of forgiveness & think I was getting closer, only to watch it slip  away…time & time again. The internal conflict was endless.

My daughter kept telling me to go away for a week & have some alone time. Precious time with my Savior always fills me back up with His direction & hope.

I never went. New piles were being added on top of the already existing mess. It was all too much for me. With each heaping load, less of me was left.

I was disappearing, but He was rising.

One thing He showed me when we lost Jake was that I couldn’t walk some roads…but He could. He carries the weak. He does it.

Here I was. Again. He was reminding me when I can’t…He can.

I remember the day. I was outside in my chair. Same spot, same crying, same hurt. I was pleading with the Lord to show me how to forgive.

Pray. Pray for them. 

I had been praying for change & praying about them…all the time. What I hadn’t done was pray for them.  Through sobs, I choked out new prayers. Not prayers about the hurt, or desired change & healing. I fumbled through imperfect prayers that were being lifted to a perfect Savior. He knew I was finally ready.

I had to forgive them as much as I’ve been forgiven. That’s a complete forgiveness. No holding back.

My heart had been hanging onto the hurt for a long time. I needed His heart. The heart where forgiveness resides. I knew I was in sin by not forgiving. Wading through pain is difficult & confusing. I struggled to find my way out, and He never left my side. That, my friends, is a loving God.

I can’t change people or heal wounds. Only Christ can. Surrendering what we have no control over is where healing begins.

Forgiving has no guaranteed relationship outcome.  There are too many variables. The person may not want reconciliation. Maybe they’re already gone. It could be someone you’ll never see again. The point of forgiveness isn’t about what surrounds the situation, because there is no eraser. It’s about our heart. When we won’t forgive, we aren’t free.

I’m still walking this path. I can’t promise that I won’t make mistakes. I have no idea what my responses will be. I do know that my desire is to please my Lord. I want to honor Him. All I can do is keep trying, keep filling myself with His Word, keep changing me, keep hoping, and never forget who the battle is with & Who it belongs to!

Sometimes, sadness does remain. We’re never quite the same after trials. Thankfully, He works out all things, in His way & in His timing. His light shines through every crack. Change is good…getting there is the hard part. It’s a continued breaking of our brokenness.

Do you have unforgiveness in your heart? The Lord sees it. There’s no hiding. Please…talk with Him about it. He really can help. I’m living proof.

Forgiven,

Tracy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken

I’m a broken person trying to share hope with other broken people.

Can I just pause there for a second or two. It’s a lot to take in.

The irony is so thick. I have no idea what I’m doing half the time. I know He’s called me to write, yet I still struggle to share my story. He continues to lead me to words. Words that I have no idea what to do with.

Hope, Tracy….share hope. Share your story. Share My hope.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (CSB)

Pointing to the God of hope is only possible because of Christ. He died a terrible death to free me from my sin. He gave everything. I never deserved His pardon…yet he freed me anyway. How could I not share His hope.

I understand that much of my life might not be relatable to many, but my Savior sure is. That’s who I want you to see whenever I share. Him. See Jesus.

Part of sharing hope is handing over all these broken pieces & letting Him use them to point others to the cross. There are times when I try to hold some back…glue them myself & watch as they fall to the floor.

Here are all my shattered pieces, Lord. Take them all.

I’m on day 3 of a 30 day emotion support challenge with some of my oily gals. Yes, I’m one of those essential oil users! After losing Jake, a friend shared some Young Living oils with me. My mind was able to quiet for the first time during deep grief. You better believe I noticed. I use them for pretty much everything now. It’s a way of life in our house.

It was hard coming up with a challenge chart for emotions. Not because I don’t see the value in supporting them. It’s more the feelings part. Emotions are tricky. They are indicators, but should never become dictators. (Thank you, Lysa Terkeurst)

Some of the difficulty is the degree & situation. People are struggling with everything from daily disappointments to life altering losses. The only common thread is we’re all broken in some way. Broken from birth & then filled with brokenness as a result of hardships.

There is no exact way to process hurts. No perfect formula to follow. No time table. Every single person & situation is unique. The only person who knows how another person feels is the Lord. Although, many try.

People are often quick to give advice. The best “advice” I received after losing Jacob, was from those who gave no advice. They provided for our immediate needs, were silently present & shared simple words of hope. That’s when I started to see how valuable sharing His hope is. I want to be a hope bringer.

It’s not helpful to the hurting to try & make sense of things or approach them from a broken human perspective. Which we all have. We don’t replace the Holy Spirit. We can’t take away pain for another or change anything. The best thing we can do is pray fervently for them.

Maybe you’re down & discouraged. Maybe you’re struggling with anger…or maybe you’re in deep sorrow right now. I’m not sure what you’re facing or how long you’ve been there. I do know the Healer is near. Seek Him. Run to Him. That’s where true hope lies. He is stronger than any feeling.

Feelings change…He doesn’t. Anytime we process situations through feelings instead of faith, it gets harder to pull out from being feeling controlled.

In our human brokenness, we either become feeling led or Spirit led. 

When it’s time, He does lift us up & out. His mercies are new each day. Pouring His Truth over our wounds is the best comfort this world has to offer. Our minds can get cloudy during tragedies. Others might have to do the pouring for us. Take heart, the Son can break through any cloud. Through the overflowing of His comfortwe will start pouring on our own again.

ray of light

I’m pretty sure we don’t even realize when healing starts. It’s rarely instantaneous. Slowly, we stop trying to hold onto everything around us and start holding Him tighter & tighter. The firmer we cling, the more He strengthens us.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Friend, I stand in His hope every day & there’s plenty of room for you too! As a matter of fact…you can stand right next to me.

In His endless love,

Tracy

If you’d like to know more about my essential oil lifestyle then please check out Roots of Healing.  I have a blog over there too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Hope

When I was younger, I had a different definition for hope. It was a desire, a wish.

True hope couldn’t be further from that. The longer I live, the more I learn about what hope is & what it isn’t.

Hope isn’t found in situations or desires. Real hope is found in the Savior.

My worldly understanding for hope was based on the dictionary, and occasionally I still use it that way depending on what I’m talking about.

When my identity was placed in Jesus, a new hope arose. The hope of the bible surfaced. This true hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised. The strength of this hope is rooted in faith & His faithfulness. From His hope flows joy & peace. Absolutely none of it has to do with circumstances.

The word ‘hope’ always seems to pop up. I’m currently finishing a 10 day challenge on hope. I need reminders of true hope & the freedom that’s found there. Day to day struggles try to crowd out His truths. The battle never ceases. It’s so important to keep pouring His Word over the lies.

True hope is a healing hope. 

Hope can’t be missing or well meaning words shared by another lack encouragement. Let me explain-

I’m a note taker (an actual pen & paper one 😉 ) and I often refer back to my notes. In the last four months, I’ve had a wide variety of voices speaking at me, to me & into me. The ones with messages that include His hope are life giving & transforming. I’m convicted to receive the truths shared & challenged to go study more. It’s an atmosphere for growth.

If true hope is missing…then not so much.

hope

People are hurting. You might even be hurting right now. We need His hope. We need to share this special hope with others.

He is the Healer of all things. He is the hope bringer. This type of hope is one that can’t be crushed by anything that happens. This hope is how we stand in ‘hopeless’ situations.

I pray you know this hope.

There is hope in…

  • His steadfastness- his ways never change & are always true
  • His protection & shelter
  • His sovereignty
  • His commands, guidance & truth
  • His Word
  • His goodness & promises
  • His saving love
  • Who He is- reflecting on His mercies each day & night
  • His good judgement & knowledge
  • His mercy & grace
  • HIM

Psalm 33:20-22             Titus 3:4-7             Psalm 62:5

Cling to His hope, dear friend…cling.

Resting in Him alone,

Tracy

 

 

 

I ate the bread- part 2

I shared with you in part 1 about retiring from my bread factory 😉 I’d like to add a layer of butter on this bread story!

My daughter brought up that little ones of today are competing with a screen for worth. Thankfully, her younger years were before the online world took over. She remembers face to face time with people & knows the value it held.

Today’s normal is a society of people with phones in their hand. Myself included.

Conversations aren’t had with the very ones in front of us. Life, real life, isn’t being lived. Precious time, that can’t be replaced, is spent on a screen.

The example has been set.

We drive with our eyes competing for screen time, we eat meals with a screen. We go to the movies with an extra screen on the side. Church. Birthday parties. Funerals. School. Jobs. No matter what we’re doing, our eyes & fingers are consumed with a device. We think we’re missing something if we don’t check our device every 20 minutes.

We are missing something. We’re missing living the life that’s all around us. We’re missing time treasures.

Excitement, drama, entertainment, or the next new thing waits to capture our attention. Addiction. Any addiction can be devoured online, including being addicted to the very device we’re using to feed what’s taken us over.

Sometimes, our vision gets cloudy. Our environment seems overwhelming. The click of a button welcomes momentary escape. Phone scrolling becomes a numbing agent. It’s an ‘out’. A temporary boost of anything other than our circumstances. Aimlessly searching & entering a unrealistic online world in an attempt to feel better, connect, or avoid.

No matter what the scenario..the bread of idleness is still being consumed.

There is a lot of good to be found online- connecting with family & friends who are far away, offering hope, raising money for worthy causes, seeing pictures, getting helpful information in seconds, pointing lives to the cross. It can be a huge blessing.

Unfortunately…with the good comes the not so good. Good intentions quickly turn into daily rants, comparison, hate, judgment, defensiveness, inappropriateness, idleness, selfishness, gossip, ingratitude, pride, debate circles, negativity, pot stirring, division, point proving & self centered sharing …all from the very ones that claim to be a follower of Christ.

Colossians 3:12-17

If it saddens my soul, I can’t even imagine how the God who created us feels. We keep eating bread & casually add in baskets of other sins as if they’re mere condiments.

Ephesians 4  shares some serious truths about being made new in Christ . I think we forget that to the world…we are His image bearers.

The hours we could be spending reading His word, praying, serving, worshiping, being purposeful, using talents, nourishing relationships, spending time with loved ones is being robbed.

Robbed by a thief called ‘self’.

If we logged how much screen time we spent each day, I’m pretty sure we’d be shocked. ‘Strongholds’ are called that for a reason. They can have a mighty strong hold.

The internet & phones aren’t evil in themselves. The enemy is & he’s found another tool to use to distract us from our true purpose. The God of heaven sent his very own Son to die for our sin so that we can be with Him for eternity. He willingly took the punishment we deserve.

Our lives are to bring Him glory. Him alone. He purchased our freedom. Chaining ourself to anything on this earth is not being free. Eating the bread of idleness isn’t where freedom is found either.

1 Peter 2:24

I don’t know what the answer is. Technology advancements are here to stay. Maybe, we just need to pause & pray. Ask the Lord if this is the best use of our next 30 minutes before we open our phone screen. Let’s trust that His ways are always better & follow as the Holy Spirit directs us through each hour.

Praying above all else, we choose to guard our hearts! Proverbs 4:23 

I’m washing the crumbs off my bread plate & butter from my knife. Fruit platter…here I come 😉

In His endless love,

Tracy

rose

 

I ate the bread- part 1

Confession time…I totally ate the bread. Every-last-crumb-of-it.

There I was, reading a book that’s taken me way too long to finish (that always seems to happen when I’m not in a place to fully learn yet). I came across a sentence that got my mind whirling. I got a little riled up and much too enthusiastically shared it with my husband when he came in the room. I kept pondering the information and then it hit me. This message was for me…

My ranting quickly turned to understanding & then remorse. The Lord has been showing me something for awhile & I’ve ‘mastered’ rationalizing my behavior, when in fact… it was mastering me. The Lord knew I was in chains & took a different tactic. I’m so grateful He doesn’t leave me to myself.

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27 (NIV)

Ach!

He had been trying to tell me about social media, my phone & chasing multiple rabbits. I would hear, make small attempts and get sucked right back in. It’s not that I wasn’t convicted, because I was. What I wasn’t willing to do was cut off the root and change. Which means I wasn’t listening, obeying or repenting.

Weekly devotions, bible verses, church sermons, teachings, people and books were all delivering the same message over & over & over again on the use of time, purpose, and glorying God with my days and choices.

When the Holy Spirit directed me to this book that I had been procrastinating about finishing, and I came to the verse on idleness…my eyes were finally opened to the depth of my sin. I was eating loaves & loaves of bread. At the very center of the platter sat my phone & social media.

When I switched to a smart phone, books stopped being read. Any extra time found me reaching for my phone. Eventually, I slowly pulled away from blogging. He kept pointing out what He created me for, and I kept handing out excuses. I can tell you this…I wasn’t created to sit idle scrolling through my phone. For me, social media & online living became my bread of idleness.

You see, even if our time on social media is for good things…it’s still time. Is it how He wants us to spend our time or is a limit needed? We can do good things too much if it starts consuming us. Helping others is a great opportunity & that was my initial purpose online. We can reach people across the world without hopping on a plane. It’s amazing! Just like everything else though, it requires balance.

Balance is a weak area for me. I’ve always struggled with it. I know this & yet still didn’t put safeguards in place.

There is never an end to social media roads. Videos, lives, stories, posts, podcasts. It’s like going to a squirrel circus.

I knew the Lord called me to share my story, blog & offer hope to others. When another round of waves hit our family, I sunk deep into social media. I pulled away from where He placed me & tried to keep afloat my way. What started as a temporary shift, turned into a major trail of idleness.

How can I watch over the affairs of my own household & those placed in my care (there’s no ignoring the first half of this verse) when I’m unplugged from them & plugged into my device?

My daughter saw it coming. She knows when I need time, alone time, with the Lord. She kept urging me to go refill my soul with Him. To get in the lifeboat & row to an island for healing. I didn’t go. Instead, I ate more bread.

I have some good news…

I’m officially on a bread diet! It takes gluten free to a whole new level 😉 I would appreciate your prayers as I maneuver through this new way of living. My online activity can’t be severed completely & the enemy knows my weaknesses…but-

I have the light of life in me! John 8:12  The latest & greatest technology advances will never be greater or mightier than He is. He IS the One who leads my life. I’m following Him!

Transformed by the One who saves,

Tracy

sliced bread and stainless steel knife on top of brown wooden chopping board

Authentic

Precious Savior, you are worthy of all. Here is my life…please help me every second of every day to glorify You. Lord Jesus, may authentic be at the core of Your church. Start with me, King Jesus…here-I-am. I am Yours. Forgive me for being so slow. May Your will be done. I pray for an authentic Spirit-led heart. You are worthy of all praise & honor…AMEN.

Far too often, I think many of us try to figure out who we are by using worldly standards instead of searching the scriptures to see who we’re called to be.

We scan over the character traits mentioned in God’s Word, as if they are optional accessories instead of commands.

We put all our effort & energy into everything of this world & offer Jesus scraps of time.

We say we love God but our devotion goes to the internet, a screen, fads, hobbies, jobs, TV & people.

We give each other unspoken permission to continue doing what we want. To keep focusing on what makes us happy & empowered. Words like repent, sanctification & wicked are tossed in a bowl labeled radical.

We attempt to soothe our sin by plucking scripture out of context. Being comfortable in church is more important than humbly seeking the Comforter.

We say we are believers yet our time, attitude & actions show exactly who we have belief in.

We dismiss unwholesome talk by spreading a layer of praise & worship over it.

We’re OK with spending more time with people who don’t sharpen us as a believer & excuse away their active sins VS being with those who offer discipleship & equipping godly fellowship.

We’re afraid of or misunderstand the words “fear God” & yet we show no fear for the wrath of God.

We make our own plans instead of getting our our knees & waiting for God to reveal his plan.

Forgive us, Lord.

I say we because, regrettably, I’ve done each one of these things at some point in my Christian walk. It grieves me to admit…even more than once. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

Thankfully, with God’s mercy & grace there’s hope for an internal change if our heart is humble. Changing comes with growing pains & I’ve had myself plenty. They are painful & hard, but oh so necessary. I know there’s more to come because I’m committed to continuing to change. Even if it’s by one painful tiny half step at a time.

Every change needed follows the realization of something that’s sinful inside, so repentance is the first step. There’s no side stepping it. No short cuts. It’s gotta happen.

I read a devotional & there was a sentence that really stuck out to me…

When we’re authentic to our faith and who we are, God’s presence joins in. Our words and actions reflect who He is, no matter the situation or who’s with us.- Suzie Eller

YES! That’s the goal! I want that!!!!

Authentic people are the best kind of people to be around. Words & actions are a reflection of who we really are on the inside, not who we pretend to be.

Many times, pain is at the root of no growth. Pain masks truth & we can get all cloudy in our thinking. We just want to be accepted, loved & allowed to do what makes us feel better. That all circles around feelings & as Lysa Terkeurst says, “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.”

Authenticity can usher in the healing balm of God’s word IF we get real & stop hiding.

Everything I listed at the beginning had me in chains. A chain of consequence links. Jesus can break any chain of bondage that we face. He really can. Rebellion is all about self. Submission is all about Him.

I don’t know if you’re ready for change.  I do know there’s no faking it. Pretending doesn’t work. I’d love for you to join me in striving to be authentic. I think this world could use some more authentic people, don’t you?

Hanging on HOPE,

Tracy

His Healing Power

Have you ever experienced moments of regret so deep that you felt like it could swallow you?

Oh dear friend, I have. I’m gonna be honest…it’s not a good place to be. 

Every day there’s a fountain of living water I can drink. It’s found in God’s Word. Prayer. Quiet time with Him. Laying my burdens down. In the rush of life,  I often find myself thirsty. I take in drops instead of His healing flow.

John 4:10-14       Psalm 63:1-8

When I “hurry”, I’m vulnerable to old habits. My thoughts & words shift back to the very sin nature that Jesus died for. The enormity of that hurts my heart. Not nearly as much as it must hurt His.

The old me is where regret seeds were first planted. I made bad choice after bad choice. Distorted thinking was the residual that surfaced after I got married & had kids. I thought I could protect my children from life. I convinced myself that with the “right tools” in place they would be spared from regrets & totally forgot they had their own human nature. That “need” to protect only created more mistakes which lead to more remorse.

The closest we can get to doing relationships anywhere near just right is by exampling what we believe instead of just saying it. That realization usually arrives too late & we’re left with thoughts of, “I wish I had/hadn’t….” There are tears of sadness….and rightly so. Mistakes hurt.

Psalm 73:26

Change can’t happen with yesterday’s but it can be part of today. 

Regrets are one of the first things to flood in & try to steal the truths I hold close. I have at least twelve U Haul trailers full. I unhitched & parked them a long time ago but every now & again I try to pull a wagon full behind me.

Have you ever had them creep in out of nowhere? That’s how the enemy works. He whispers lies to saved souls trying to draw us back into darkness. I don’t know about you, but if I’m tired out, weary or in a heavy season of sorrow, those regrets can pull me right down into a puddle of sobs.

When those lies start coming…turn away & lean toward the Truth. We have a victorious King who already won. That’s where real power is found. He can & will break every chain.

Josh Baldwin released a new song that points to this power. Here are a few of the lyrics–

Stand in Your Love by Josh Baldwin

When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow comes to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken, no, I won’t be shaken

Shame no longer has a place to hide
I am not a captive to the lies
I’m not afraid to leave my past behind
Oh, I won’t be shaken, no, I won’t be shaken!

There’s power that can break off every chain
There’s power that can empty out a grave
There’s resurrection power that can save
There’s power in Your name, power in Your name!

We all have hard stories to tell, don’t we? Life changing phone calls, core-shaking actions, images revealed, devastating decisions made by trusted loved ones, tragedies, abuse, addiction, mistakes, abandonment. There can be deep, deep sadness surrounding these things, but it’s not the end of the story.

Please hear me…the Lord can bring purpose out of pain. He really can. It takes time, but it’s more than possible. Handing the shattered pieces over to Jesus is where healing starts. The old is no longer our identity.

The power that can break any chain is the same power that fear flees from. His mighty power will hold us in His love. His perfect love. He offers it to us…the imperfect. The very same us that cost Him his life.

That fountain I mentioned? It’s always there. Let’s grab a cupful and thirst no more.

Forever in his mercy,
Tracy
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True Life

Do you know how a certain song can grab hold of you & hit those areas that no one else sees? That happens to me often with contemporary praise & worship music.

Living life, learning hard lessons, finding hope & creating lyrics for it. It’s like a Psalm turned into a modern song. Words that cause your heart to fill with His peace as you reach your arms to the heavens and worship the Father with deep awe and adoration. Reminders that our life belongs to Him, first & foremost.

Only Jesus by Casting Crowns is one of these songs for me.

I’ve heard many mixed messages about the meaning of life. Dreams are being chased while people are left behind. Trophies and medals that once held value now collect dust and are forgotten as time rushes forward. Moments are wasted on earthly things and relationships suffer. Wants are invested in only to find out they are temporary desires that quickly lose their importance. Bibles are left on the shelf, tables are rarely set for a meal, family members are apart more than they’re together. Days turn into months and then years. The latest trends in clothes, books, movies, music & technology pull people away from what really matters. It’s chaos.

People are still people, no matter what era you live in. What you value might change with the times but why you value things doesn’t. That comes from the heart. We have a world full of endless distractions. The reason we allow ourselves to be pulled in so many directions goes right back to the why. I think that’s something most of us would rather avoid thinking about. I know I would.

If you saw a movie reel of your life from childhood to today, what would you see? What have you committed yourself to?

For me, I know I’ve wasted a lot of time chasing falsehoods that the world offered. Time I won’t get back. A hard question I have to ask myself is— what does my life point to? If the Lord called me home today, would people remember me or would they remember that I loved Jesus? I pray it’s Jesus.

In Christ Alone,

Tracy

The Word of God is our sword–

Isaiah 26:3-4        Philippians 4:8       1 John 1:9       1 Corinthians 10:13

OK

“How are you?” – “I’m Ok” – “How are you doing?” – “I’m good”….and so it goes. The greeting so many of us use & hear.

I became a follower of Christ in my adult years & one thing that’s always present at every church we’ve attended is the ‘how are you’ small talk question. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. I lean toward the introvert personality type so it’s a helpful ice breaker for me to initiate conversation with.

I believe there are caring people genuinely asking & desiring to know how someone is. Sadly, it’s also turned into a passerby statement. I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed to really hear someone’s heart by participating in this dialogue circle. How many times have I robbed myself of wise council by not sharing how I really am?

Just because I walk into a church building doesn’t mean I’m OK. The church is not full of people who are OK. It’s quite the opposite. Maybe if we were vulnerable with the truth then more people would want to join us at church. I, for one, can testify that I don’t have it all together…not even close.

Even more so, I never had it together.

A church building is where believers gather but it’s not the church. The church is a body of believers from all over who realize they aren’t OK, have humbled themselves, repented & handed their lives over to Jesus Christ as Lord. I’m grateful the Father gifted me with being among this group.

I recently heard this song from We Are MessengersI’ve listened to it a few times now & looked at the lyrics. (Listened as in tested how loud the radio can go in my vehicle 😉 ) He may as well be describing me. Every ounce of so many things I’ve experienced in my life left me not OK. Each time. Each event. Before Jesus & after.

I realize these are two very different types of OK. There are days that I’m weary from circumstances & don’t feel OK. There’s also the me before Christ & I was not even close to being OK. I was as lost as lost could be. I had no idea what that even meant back then, I just knew something was missing. I was empty inside & trying to fill that emptiness with worldly things.

My life before Jesus was messy & hard. It was loaded with hurt & sin. After Jesus, it’s still messy & hard BUT in a different way. I’m not hopeless anymore. I know I’m being held by the One who took my sins & made me whole. He washed me clean & that’s huge for someone who always felt dirty from shame.

The chains of shame are hard to break free from. I could never have done it on my own. It was all Jesus. There are times when the enemy still tries to use my past in an attempt to pull me back into shame. Shame runs deep, but His grace runs much, much deeper.

Every Christmas I’m reminded of who I was & who I am now. I understand why there’s Christmas. Christ came for people who aren’t OK. He’s stronger than sin. He is CHRISTmas. 

It’s from not being OK that I can fully appreciate all that He’s saved me from.

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1 John & Romans 5 explain so much better why Jesus was born. God had a plan. He always has a plan. Christmas was & is a wide open window for us to see a piece of it.

Do you want to take a look inside that plan? Are you ready to entrust your life to Him? He welcomes the not OK’s. There’s no false promises of a perfect life without pain but there is a Savior who loves you so much that He came to earth to die in your place. His Christmas gift is all we ever need.

Saved by His sacrifice,

Tracy