Tag Archives: Life Lessons

A bird

I’d like to tell you a little life lesson I learned from a bird awhile back.

I was doing some yard work in late spring and I had my back to a tree. I was focused on what was in front of me and technically walking backward straight into the tree. If that makes any sense at all!

A bird flew over my head, a bit too close for my comfort. Before I knew it, that bird was going back and forth letting me know I needed to get out of that space.

There may have been a few screams 😉 OK, I screamed. I’ve been swooped at by many birds over the years and I’m not a fan. I quickly moved out of the way and got a better look at why the bird was warning me.

There it was- a baby bird hopping around on the ground, flapping it’s wings and getting a little momentum. I was smack dab in the middle of a flying lesson. Worse yet, I was seen as an object of danger.

I immediately had empathy for the bird. It was protecting its young while it was learning how to survive. The main focus of that parent bird was to do whatever it could to protect its little one in training. In that season, the bird was the protector while the baby was vulnerable.

That scene has stuck with me ever since.

I could so relate to that bird. It took me back to the years that my own kids were small. I wanted to protect them while they were learning. I wanted a safe space for them to master survival skills.

If only it was as easy as swooping down on dangers. I would have loved a roped off construction site, but that’s not how life works.

It took me far too long to realize that my role as a parent was only to guide and teach about all the dangers. I couldn’t fully protect anyone. I wanted to tuck them under my wing…but that’s something I don’t have.

I could never do enough, be enough, love enough, want enough to create the perfectly safe environment I longed for my kids to have. It’s just not humanly possible.

There is only one perfect Protector and Defender and eventually I learned to release them into his hands.  Psalm 91 is a comforting passage of scripture that talks about divine shelter. Verse 4 goes like this, “He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” 

As parents we teach, guide and release. Yes, there will be dangers. Dangers none of us can stop. That’s why teaching and guiding is important. Children don’t automatically know not to touch a pot handle on the stove. They don’t know not to go by a running tub or a bucket of water. They have no idea that climbing up or being on top of furniture is dangerous. They don’t know about electrical outlets, cars, parking lots, wells, strangers, poison, farm equipment, pools, chainsaws, safety around animals, hornet nests, cliff edges, the dangers of wandering away in a crowd, the dangers of electricity and water, ropes, necklaces, large food pieces, fireworks, internet dangers…I could go on and on. Do you see how much they don’t know? They just don’t know. They have to be taught. 

I’ve watched so many parents yell at their kids for doing something dangerous. All the while, smack dab in the center is an assumption that they would automatically know. Telling and teaching are two very different things. The day of release will happen and if there are gaps in the learning and guiding then it’ll be a very rough flight for them.

I know there is no way to escape all the dangers in life. You and I can’t make the world safe. There will always be accidents and individual choices that are out of our control. Teaching them Who their ultimate protector is will help them in so many ways.

That bird showed me there comes a time when we stand at a distance. First we’re pretty close and we’re right there as danger approaches. Then we move further and further away. Entrusting them to the One who has their days in His hands. 

Parenting transitions from being very actively nearby to praying from afar.

Please hear me…there is nothing easy about the release. Regret, heartache, shame, what if’s, could have’s, maybes, should be’s, why’s, not yet’s all show up at the door when each child steps out on their own. The welcome mat you have outside is not for any of that so refuse it. It can quickly become the unwelcomed guest that stays too long. Don’t open the door!

Trust that the gear you gave them is a good start. They need to gather the rest of their flight supplies themselves. They need to rely on their Savior more than they ever relied on you. 

I wish I could tell you letting go is surrounded with promises of safe. You know I can’t, because it’s not. I can’t even tell you how many times others have shared they’re afraid what’s happened to me will be a reality for them if they fully release their children. Oh friend, there’s no peace in that thinking.

We can’t forever frantically swoop over dangers that get too close to our kids. Knowing Who’s children they really are is important. We have them for a time. To teach, to guide and to fully surrender to the Lord. 

Life happens in seasons. If this is your season of release then open your heart and both hands and let go. The same One who will be with them is also with you. Trust Him, even with all the unknowns and unplanned. Trust.

Resting in the waiting,

Tracy

Every house

Each house we drive by has a story unfolding inside. The chapters belong to the faces of whoever lives inside those walls. None of us knows exactly what’s happening as we blindly drive by.

It’s the girl walking down the road in her pajamas with a bloodied face and beaten up spirit.

It’s the eyes you lock with that show more raw emotion than you ever thought possible.

It’s the teen trying so hard to hide what’s happening behind closed doors. The addiction that has them trapped, but they have no idea how to crawl out of the shackle of shame.

It’s the person who grabs one more carton of ice cream and chokes it down to ease the pain inside….or the one refusing to eat at all because it’s the only thing they can control.

It’s the little child who cringes at voices. The one who’s quiet in a crowd. Over looked. Full of fear. Learning to lie to survive and even worse….starting to believe the lies about themselves.

It’s the overwhelmed mom in the store screaming at her kids. Lashing out at the wrong people for hurt someone else caused.

It’s the man in the middle of the intersection who hops out of his car to start screaming at the person behind him. A once little boy turned into a bully full of rage.

It’s the family wondering where their next meal will come from or how they’ll pay the stack of bills on the counter.

It’s the one crying in the bathroom as they harm themselves. Or looking at another negative pregnancy test…or another positive one.

It’s the one who hides in the closest trying to find a safe place to be.

It’s the addict who looks at all their pill bottles, consumed with the thought of how they can get more. How many more surgeries can they safely have. How many more doctors can they see before someone starts to connect the dots.

It’s the picture perfect family with the terrible secret. They really don’t resemble a family at all. The silence is piercing. The emotional abuse is suffocating.

It’s the one all alone.

It’s the house full of joyful drinking. But the drinks are no longer an option. Lives are being controlling by them.

It’s the one who acts like they’re strong, but they know what others don’t. Words and actions don’t match.

It’s the freedom fighter who isn’t really free themselves.

It’s the one who can barely crawl out of bed some days. The pain is too much. Everyone else is to blame for how they got there. They are trapped in their own reality.

It’s the grieving soul. Struggling to make it through the next minute. Shattered. Lost. Broken.

It’s the one who never follows through. There’s been no growth in years. Just excuses. The mountain of lies took years to build.

It’s the overworked. Striving for some false type of success that is never achieved. Ten years go by. Then twenty. And five more. The work never stopped and now there’s no time left.

It’s the one wondering why no one sees what’s happening.

It’s the person burying all their hurt. They feel like they have to or it will swallow them when in fact it already has.

It’s the one who bought into the hustle mentality. Seeing each person as a potential prospect. Frantic from one month to the next trying to reach quotas and missing out on genuine relationships and the very people around them.

It’s the one left with only photos to look at.

It’s the person who can’t take one more empty apology…or never gets one at all.

It’s the person who is always the victim. Always suffering at the hands of others. Always giving themselves permission to stay right where they’re at.

It’s the one reading their diagnosis for the tenth time. Hoping somehow someway, if they stare at it long enough it’ll change.

It’s the parent who’s overtaken with grief. They haven’t seen their child in years and have to face that they may never again. Or… they stand beside a grave marked with the name they chose for their child. And it just doesn’t seem real.

It’s the one who knows scripture but won’t let it transform them.

It’s the person always taking care of everyone else as they continue to weaken from lack of self care.

It’s the one saying I’ll get to that tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes.

It’s the one full of fear and anxiety trying to make it through each day. Stuck in the cycle of trying the same thing over and over.

It’s one the who still hears the taunting voices of others twenty years later. The one who let their identity become what others falsely claimed.

It’s the one who never got to say goodbye.

It’s the one curled in a ball praying with all their might.

It’s the one who just can’t take anymore. The one who’s tried to save her family and lost herself in the process. The one seeking answers, any answers. Something to make all this stop.

It’s the one who’s always right. So right that they’ve pushed everyone away.

It’s the one who can’t out run, or exercise away the ache inside.

It’s the tear stained pillows.

It’s the hardened hearts.

It’s the spouse left with once was while they face what is.

It’s the abuse cycle being passed down from one generation to the next.

It’s the person sitting in the chair. Frozen. Wondering how this could have happened.

It’s the one trying to start over. Trying to put back the pieces of their life.

It’s the one experiencing horrific things that no person ever should.

It’s the one who’s lost all hope, and has no one who’ll listen.

It’s the person who was so hurt by their church that they now blame God.

Every house, every person has a story. Cars may sit outside. Toys may be in the yard. But inside things are happening that no one sees.

Thankfully there are many houses where things are ok inside. My fear is there are too many where things aren’t. How often do we miss what needs to be seen.

It’s easy to head to our next destination with schedules and activities on our minds. What if during all that busyness we paused and took time to pray for every house we drove past.

You never know how badly someone inside might need it!

And if you’re one of the unseen…I’m so sorry. Do you know how I could write these potential scenarios? Because I’ve lived at a few of these addresses. And the one thing I want you to hear is this- there really is a God who loves you and sees you. He is very near. Circumstances won’t always make sense, but He can be trusted. In my hardest moments is when I feel His deepest love.

If you need help please reach out. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

Wrapped in His grace,

Tracy

Healing hope

There are days I barely recognize my life. This wasn’t the picture I had in my mind all those years ago when my kids were small. Things were never perfect, but we had a rhythm that was at a minimum predictable. Until it wasn’t and the unraveling began.

There are times when no matter how hard you try to keep all the pieces together they just won’t fit. Some fall to the ground, some get lost and some fray along the edges.

I think as females we try to hold everything together, but our arms get so full we just can’t do it. We believe the lie that we’ve failed instead of understanding we are limited in our human capabilities.

I thought if I just tried harder or a different way that eventually things would get better. I could see my efforts coming up pretty empty, and I prayed for the Lord to fill in the gaps that were being left.

I’ve always struggled with “not good enough” thinking. I thought if I did enough then I could be enough. In being enough I would be accepted as enough. It’s a crazy circle of enough. One that never stops spinning. All of it was so far from the truth. More importantly, it couldn’t have been further from His Truth.

None of us can ever be good enough. That’s why we need Him. If my identity is in my roles or tasks, then it’s terribly misplaced. My identity has everything to do with Him and nothing to do with me. If I don’t live out my days from that true identity, I’ll always feel like I’m falling short.

You know….it’s funny, looking back I never really had a vision too far ahead in the future. I’ve been taking it day by day for years. Oh, trust me, I had ideals and dreams…but I kept those tucked away in a safe place.

Maybe you know that place. Where no one else can crush or sabotage your dream.

I kept them neatly arranged right next to the Lord. He knew every single one. What I didn’t do was pray about each of them. They were my thoughts and things I hoped for, but not things I sought His direction with.

When some of those things started falling apart, I realized just because He let me put them there didn’t mean He was holding them in his care. They weren’t part of His plan. They were part of mine.

In the blink of an eye the day by day has become years gone by. Back then days felt so long. Now years feel incredibly short.

I can’t make human sense out of a lot of what happens. This is what I do know…every generation makes choices that effect the next. Each person’s choices impacts others. And wounds will be present.

Sicknesses, tragedies, abandonment, death, accidents, addictions, abuse, losses, all the unplanned are rarely seen as a reality on the horizon. When they hit it causes a shattering.

As awful as those things are I can tell you it was in those places where I learned the most about changes I needed to make. Each and every one took away more of me so there could be more of Him. And it still is, because refining never ends.

Verses like 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Colossians 3:1-4 lead me back to the thoughts I need to have in my mind. Thoughts that bring life, not death.

None of us can force someone else to see, own and make needed changes. We can’t stop accidents or disease from happening. We can’t undo what someone else has done. We can’t be the glue that holds everything together….but there is One who can.

In the midst of all the hurt is healing hope. His wounds ushered in healing for all.

I may never see restoration in some areas, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There is nothing beyond His reach. Nothing and no one.

Some days I open my eyes and am exhausted before the day even starts. My mind races with “how long, Lord, how long.” I can’t tell you how many times my morning bible study and devotions hit right at the core of my weariness. He meets me right where I’m at.

Other days I’m able to start out with a heart of gratitude.

I wish I could tell you I anticipated each day and had eyes immediately ready to see all the blessings. Right now those days are on the rare side as I sit in the waiting. What I haven’t done is give up. I know with each new day comes a fresh filling of mercy that gifts me with His guidance and help for my thinking.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Jesus willingly endured the cross to make all things right. There was pain and heartache. And suffering. Because of what He did I’m able to get through pain and heartache. And suffering.

Psalm 121

If you are surrounded by circumstances that have you heavy laden please don’t give up. He is the God of all hope and he’s right by your side!

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (CSB)

I know it can feel hard to find hope when so much heaviness is surrounding you. My prayer for you is that you’ll find comfort in His word and in his presence.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a yoke in action but if both animals don’t move together it doesn’t work. They have to go in the same direction and speed. One can’t get in front of the other or there’s no momentum. It’s the same if one pulls, lags behind or turns their head. There must be a unison effort. A more experienced animal is paired with one that needs direction and guidance.

Guess who needs direction and guidance? Yep, I’m the girl with her hand raised! When I try to go ahead of Jesus, do things in my own effort or take off in a different way I lack His peace and rest.

Those verses are incredibly personal and specific. Jesus knows we will be heavy laden and weary and invites us to come. To come to Him. We don’t have to walk alone. The world is a hard place to be. We can yoke with Him and he will help us make it through.

I want to learn from Him in the waiting. I need to learn from Him. If you’re in the waiting there’s space for you right next to me. We can wait and learn together.

Because He lives you and I can make it through today and face tomorrow. Never forget that! All Because He lives!

Resting with Jesus,

Tracy

Willing to see

Many months have passed since I hit the publish button on here. I didn’t know then what I would be facing in a few short weeks. So many things have been flipped upside down.

Has time slipped through your fingers too? Has one month turned into six or even a year?

I think about writing all the time (aahh…here come the tears). I can barely strap myself in fast enough before the crash happens. Too much, too fast. Too much, too fast. I just hang on for dear life and wait until it’s safe enough to unlatch….but is it ever really.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading since December. Have you ever had books come across your path at just the right time? Books that speak to a season you’re walking through? Words that breathe life back into your weary soul. That’s where I’ve been. On a journey of words reaching areas that I thought no one else could relate to or understand.

Words that caught me off guard as they intersected with the dusty road I was on. Words from one hurt filled traveler to another. Words that pointed me back to the Source of all hope. Words written by others who saw me on the ground and reached out their hands to help me back up. Those words.

Tomorrow I’ll be fifty-two. I was chatting with the Lord last night about my writing. And the night before…and many more before that. He’s the most gentle Father I could ever imagine. He doesn’t shame me for not doing what I know I should do. He continues to lay on my heart the importance of why He wants me to do what He’s asked me to do…and lets me choose if I’ll obey.

I think much of my life has been happening in a state of overwhelmed. I try to hide it, but I know it’s there. He knows it’s there. It’s from that place of overwhelmed that I freeze. I just try to make it through each day. Then the next. And the next. Before I realize it, I’m hours away from turning another year older.

Lately, I’ve been imagining meeting the Lord. My fear is that in my state of frozen I’ll miss my purpose. I’ll look into those loving eyes of His and he’ll already recognize the sorrow he sees when he asks me, “Did you use the gifts and talents I gave you?” And I’ll barely be able to speak with tears streaming down my face….”no, my King”. There won’t be any excuses whispered from my mouth because no is all that matters. He’ll grab me and hug me fully, like I’ve always longed to be hugged.

You see, His love for me doesn’t change if I don’t use the talents he’s gifted me. What happens is I miss out on so much that He prepared me for…and prepared for me. I miss out, not Him. And I don’t want to miss out anymore.

So….here’s to walking away from what doesn’t serve me. Overwhelmed, fear, frozen, doubt, hurt, excuses, apathy, negativity, even sickness- you’re not welcome. You don’t get anymore of my years.

Apart from the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and His Word there is no hope! The trials and challenges that happen are potential hope stealers.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33 (CSB)

“You will seek me and find me me when you search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 (CSB)

I’m ready to see beautiful again. To abide in Him. To welcome each new day with anticipation and expectation. To set my table with His daily bread and Fruit of the Spirit.

Come on, sweet sister, there’s a chair for you too.

Earnestly seeking Him,

Tracy

Lean

Can I ask a question?

What do you lean into?

When the push comes that nearly knocks you off your feet. When the life you never expected looks back at you in the mirror. When the unimaginable becomes reality. When the day in and day out struggle is more than you can bear.

Where do you lean?

I find myself having to do a heart check every now again to sort through my own answer to that question.

Of course my quick answer is, “I lean into the Lord”, but do I really as much as I long to and know that I should?

IMG_5654

Life can be a series of trials with some regrouping time in between. Each hard season has the opportunity to refine me if I lean into the right things.

My flesh wants to lean into my opinion, my own understanding, my ideas, my plans, my pain. Sometimes it wants to lean into people and all of their opinions, ideas, plans, and pain.

If I’m honest, that fleshly response seems easier when in reality all I’m doing is taking the long way around to where the Lord is trying to lead me.

If I value anything more than the Lord then my leaning will be toward the wrong thing.

Who I am & Who’s I am needs to be rooted in the Savior…first & foremost…always & forever.

Where I need to lean brings life. I need to lean into God’s Word. I need to lean into His presence. I need to lean into worship. I need to lean into my identity as his chosen daughter.

Psalm 18:1-2 “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

2BC30C1C-25D5-4DFA-B26D-F36CA1757263

From that leaning place is where I’ll be steady enough to face what this world brings. There are moments when my leaning in can look more like a grasping on.

Do you believe that His hand is out to you? Do you trust that He will lift you out of the deep pit? I’m on the other side of this screen telling you- YES- He really truly does. I am living proof that it’s real. You just need to lean His way & lift up your hand.

Even when it seems no one else sees you or understands…He does.

These painful places can strengthen us if we let them. The enemy wants to destroy us. He wants us to lean into the wrong things.

Proverbs 3:5-8 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

Do you see what that says? Healing & refreshment!

Friend…this I do know- our God is mighty enough to have the entire world lean into Him. There’s room for you too! How about we both lean together?

Forever Holding onto Hebrews 10:23

Tracy

 

 

 

 

How long

There I was making dinner, listening to worship music and thinking. Before I knew it the question came rushing back again…

“How long, Lord?”

It’s a question I’ve been asking a lot lately.

I never imagined my life would look like this.

I wonder…have you been there too? It’s a difficult place to be, isn’t it?

Please hear me, I trust & love the Lord deeply. I know He sees what I can’t & can redeem anything. All according to His will and timing.

Knowing that doesn’t mean that I won’t feel pain & frustration. Actually, it’s in the knowing that I experience all the emotions.

When the wave of how longs come in I have to steady myself on the Rock.

How long

before relief

will he stay gone

until my family is restored

will the oppression last

until healing

do I stay silent

before this is over

hourglass image

Oh my friend, the list of how longs has so many possibilities, doesn’t it?

I want to share some hope with you that the Lord shared with me-

Psalm 27 

Psalm 33

Those Psalms are so rich with meaning. Each & every verse spoke to my heart only in the way that He can.

Both of those Psalms ended with an instruction to “wait for the Lord.” He is my blessed hope and I will wait.

In the waiting I need to stay close to Him. It’s the only way I’ll be able to take each next step.

I am gifted by a personal Savior who knows my heart better than I do. He hears the concerns in my thoughts.

And…He takes me right to His Word for answers.

Psalm image

Sometimes the answers don’t come in ways I expect. I want my situation to change and He knows the first change that needs to happen is in my heart.

The enemy wants all the “how longs” to leave me hopeless. My God of hope already has victory over each & every one!

He has walked me through some glorious seasons and some painful ones. There have been valleys, mountaintops and wildernesses. He’s been by my side the entire way. When I start to feel lonely & afraid it’s because I wandered away…He didn’t.

This is the song that was playing when my most recent how long showed up-

More Like Jesus

If more of You
Means less of me
Take everything
Yes, all of You
Is all I need
Take everything

You are my life and my treasure
The one that I can’t live without
Here at your feet my desires and dreams, I lay down
Here at your feet my desires and dreams, I lay down

With hands spread open in front of me I lay down my dreams & plans.

Dear Lord, in the waiting please fill me with more of You. I want You to be the treasure that I seek. Please forgive me. I trust You with whatever outcomes you decide. Please help me rest in Your strength. Use my life for your purposes. I am blessed to be Your agape loved chosen daughter. Please create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me. I am lost without your divine direction. In Jesus precious name I pray…Amen.

If you been asking ‘how long’ please don’t give up hope. God hears. God knows. God cares.

Saved by his grace,

Tracy

Scar searching

I never thought I’d be searching through my scars. I’ve always seen them as life battle wounds. I knew they told a story to me, but I didn’t realize they might be a place of hope for others.

My scars are sacred places where Jesus has walked.

The ‘searching through’ is because I don’t have a clear vision on the balance of how much to share. I don’t want a circumstance to speak louder than the way my Savior met me and helped me through.

The Lord has laid on my heart for a very long time that helping others gives purpose to the pain.

Each step He’s asked me to take in this area has been stretching & hard. It’s also been restoring. He never asks me to do things without Him or aside from his strength. That’s how I’ve been able to take the steps I’ve taken so far.

Share how your oils have helped you…share your testimony” – “I don’t think I can, Lord. It’s all too close to my heart.” – “Share, offer my hope and point them back to me.”

Write. Use the words & talent I’ve given you “- “I don’t think I can, Lord. It’s all too close to my heart.” – “Write, offer my hope & point them back to me.”

I’ve been doing both of those things for well over eight years now. I’ve stumbled, stopped, ran, and been more vulnerable than I ever thought possible. He has never left me.

He waits ever so patiently for me to learn from my mistakes. He shows me when I start to make it about me. He forgives me when I disobey. He leads me through the unknowns. He creates beauty from my messes. He shepherds me through it all.

He reveals more & more as each next step is shown…and the next…and the next.

Psalm 119:105 ” Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” (CSB)

sunlite path

I realize now that what I thought was a hefty beginning those years back was only a scratching of the surface. It was all preparation practice for what was coming.

Those scars that I have. He’s been the balm for them all these years. Now…now He’s asking me to show them a little bit more. He wants me to see their beauty.

“Redeem your pain by investing in others. Use your scars for My purposes.” – “Oh LordI don’t even know what that looks like. I believe I can do all things through You, but how do I do this? How?”

Every place I turn- bible reading, daily devotionals, prayer studies & books… it’s everywhere! I can’t escape what He’s asked me to do. The confirmations have been around every corner.

Now… I wait for the how.

I went for a walk today & was sharing my concerns with the Lord. Truth be told, I’m worried that I’ll botch everything up & not bring Him glory. Oh how gracious & merciful He is!

I’m currently reading Your Scars Are Beautiful to God by Sharon Jaynes. My goodness… the timing is no coincidence! The content in this book is kicking my tail.

As I look back I realize that for the past year or so the ground works been being laid. Out of every hard thing came another arrow that eventually led me to right here. Scar searching.

I’d like to share a few quotes from Sharon’s book with you-

“I see our scars as priceless treasures that our Master has entrusted to us. We can choose to invest those treasures in the lives of others or we can choose to hide them because of fear.”

“Satan wants to use our past to paralyze us. God wants to use our past to propel us. The choice is ours.”

“I have always heard people say, “Time heals all wounds.” But I disagree. Time does not heal. Only God can heal all wounds.”

I’m still making my way through the book and I have section after section underlined.

You guys, life can have some really hard seasons in it. I don’t know exactly what or how scar sharing looks like yet, but for now He has me scar searching. All in worship to Him.

sunset1

My bible has 2 Corinthians 4 broke up into three titled sections:  ‘The Heart of the Gospel’, ‘The Treasure of the Gospel’ & ‘The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel’. I believe gospel centered living has scars woven all through it.  The chapter is overflowing with hope.

“We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:10

The scars He has are from my desperate need for him. My scars are to draw me closer to Him. How can I not use them to glorify Him?

During my walk I was reminded again about time. The days I have remaining are surely less than what I’ve lived. I don’t want to waste them on myself. I want to use them for my God, my King…my Savior.

Do you have scars that could offer His hope to others? Maybe it’s time for some searching. I promise…He will lead the way. Don’t let the enemy paralyze you with fear. Those scars you have…they are victorious battle wounds Jesus redeemed. Worthy to be shouted about from the mountaintops…all in His name!

His daughter,

Tracy

Quitting isn’t an option

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to quit some really hard things that the Lord has had me walk through.

It’s not easy to admit, but quitting has always seemed “easier” to me. Which is a complete lie, because all that ends up happening is I detour myself the long way around. I end up facing the same thing. The circumstance may be different but the learning and refining process is the same one I tried avoiding.

He has sure been having me come face to face with quitting…and what’s at the heart of it.

It’s when things get hard & messy…and they will get hard & messy, that us humans tend to get a little misguided.

What happens when we pray about something, read scripture, seek His direction and are led a certain way? We get humbled & excited, right? We are ready to obey & go!

Then hard sets in, our efforts don’t seem to be producing much fruit & we’re running into one dead end after another.  We tell ourselves that this must not be God’s plan after all. Sadly, this is where many abandon ship & quit.

I don’t know about you…but, goodness have I ever.

Did He lead me there? YES. Did He lay that direction on my heart? YES…and then I let my feelings start to cloud my vision.

He wants me to fully depend on him, not myself. He wants me to persevere and endure. I need to commit to trusting Him in the unknowns.

Hebrews 12:1-3

I must…wait on Him, his timing & his way.

These refining moments weed out all my plans. If I’m honest, the hard times expose so much about me.

Instead of running from that, I need to own it.

waiting-and-watching-a-sunset

When things don’t go as “planned” how easily do we claim we must have misheard Him. God did-didn’t-did-didn’t.

He doesn’t change his mind like a light switch. That’s usually us.

So many times we miss the character refining & blessing because we quit.

We quit on Him.

We quit on ourself.

We quit on others.

I know I shifted from I to we & there’s a reason. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that struggles with quitting when things seem hopeless.

Quitting can’t & shouldn’t be my default. Especially when I don’t understand what’s going on, or what the Lord is doing. I don’t have to understand- I just have to follow hard after Him and let his strength be mine.

silhouette-young-woman-walking-alone-beach-sunset_53476-3151

“Oftentimes God allows our scenarios in life to get hopeless—He allows our efforts to become fruitless—He allows our knowledge and instincts to prove useless in order that we will see that it is He who works within, through and for us with His power.

He does this because He wants you, like Peter, to witness Him come through for you in your hopeless situation so that you will experience Him and trust Him in the way that He wants to be experienced by you.” – Tony Evans

He refines us because he loves us. Quitting isn’t an option.

I’d like to share Ephesians 3: 16-21 with you-

“I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (CSB)

My prayer is that you & I can really believe and rest in the truth of this scripture.

My friend, when things don’t go the way we think they should & struggles come let’s remember Who we serve, why we serve him & what our life is truly for.

There is purpose in the hard! Romans 5:3-5

Loved beyond measure,

Tracy

Oh those lies

This quarantine time is interesting.

Back the dumpster up to my door cuz, honestly, I’m ready to start pitching.

So many of these “things” around me seem useless. Empty.

There was one other time in my life that I had this same thought process. It was after losing my son.

When hard seasons like this hit, what has real value and what doesn’t stand miles apart from each other.

My life is cluttered & I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to be this way.

Take all these books for example. I love books. I read them & save the good ones just in case my kids might want them.

Do you see the fault in that? I’m making a decision for them that isn’t mine to make.

My life isn’t their life. My hobbies, dreams, talents, etc are passions that the Lord laid on my heart….not there’s.

I’m actually just leaving them a mess to clean up, and I don’t want to do that.

There are times I feel like I’m still in my thirties. Where has twenty years gone. (geez…when did thirty become young & how do I have a son getting ready to turn it)

How many of those years have I lived in the shadow of consequences. Ones by my own choices & ones because of others. I’d say each day has one or the other or even both, because someone, somewhere is always making a choice and choices have consequences.

woman sitting in sunset

Identity.

Just like I don’t get to choose my kids identity, no other human should have the power to determine mine.

And that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit reminded me of the other night.

It’s crazy how when I actually slow down, get isolated in my home, stop running around from one thing to the next that I can become undistracted enough to get fully quiet before the Lord.

This isn’t the first time that identity has been brought to my attention since I became a follower of Christ.

The very next morning, He led me to Mark 14 and there I was. Seeing myself in Peter.

bible image

When I fear man more than having a reverent fear of God I’ve forgotten my true identity. By doing that, I’m denying my Savior…the very one I belong to.

I let the voices of some speak louder than the voice of my God and that is wrong. I have to ask myself-  is this voice sharing opinions or pointing me to the word of God?

Fear of man has dictated my choices for way too long. My very own thoughts can be just as damaging.

“What will they think, will they understand, what will they say, what if they find out, will I let them down, I should do this so___ won’t happen, I need to___ to stop___ , I have to ___, what if ___, I can’t___by myself, how will I ___, what if they lie about me, I just need to try harder, stay quieter, be better”…and the list goes on.” -oh the lies quotes inside my head.

None of that is living in the freedom of Christ that Jesus died for. Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean I can live however I want. It means that I live my days out because of Him and for him.

Galatians 1:10

Proverbs 29:25

After some convicting time in the book of Mark, another cup of coffee & settling back in for more reading, Dr. Tony Evans handed me another round of solid truth-

Identity theft- when we worry too much about what other people think rather than what God thinks.

Worrying about other peoples acceptance of us is one of the greatest strongholds to over come.

People pleasing strongholds can lead to other strongholds.

It is possible to be more people-oriented than God-oriented.

Satan uses our legitimate need for acceptance in an illegitimate way that can result in us living under a false identity.

You will begin to overcome your stronghold of worrying when you decide what God says about you is most important.

The God, who does not change, loves you with an everlasting love.-Tony Evans quotes from Kingdom Life daily devotionals.

Do you see how opposite the lies I listen to and real truth are?

I know this! I’ve been reminded of it so many times! …and yet here I am again.

Face to face with repentance and crying out for Spirit led help. I can’t do it on my own. I never could. I can only move forward by cutting the chain of identity lies, daily proclaiming & living out who my identity is in.

My identity is not in this world, anything it has to offer, or the things inside my home.

My identity is a saved by grace daughter of the One true King. A redeemed child.

I’m fairly certain my false fear of man will rear its ugly head again. BUT- there is no stronghold stronger than the ultimate stronghold.

His word is my weapon against all the lies.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 

“But I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning. For you have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.
To you, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold—
my faithful God.” Psalm 59:16-17

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

sunrise picture

We have one life. We have our God given talents, purposes and callings. Are we using them & pursuing a deep relationship with Him or are we forgetting our identity? Is fear of man dictating too much of what we do? I know those are all questions I need to ask myself often.

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:5

I think it’s time to start sorting through all these things around me and recommit to what matters…AND toss ‘oh those lies’ in the dumpster too.

Gracefully broken,

Tracy

 

 

A Heart Check

Crisis has a way of revealing what we value.

What we treasure.

 

It shows what we hold tightly to & where our affections lie.

 

Each of us is devoted to something.

 

I have to ask myself…if “this” was taken away what would my hearts response be?

 

Possessions are things that don’t last. Some of them can bring comfort, ease and are even helpful…but they have no eternal value.

Are my things more valuable to me than my God?

 

It’s always in crisis, uncertainty & the uncomfortable that the Lord draws me closer.

 

He knows my flesh better than I do. He sees when something starts to rule my life.

There is only one King & one kingdom that I want to long for and love wholeheartedly.

 

I was not born for myself.

I was born to use my days to glorify the very one who died in my place.

 

My things…they didn’t die for me.

Actually…truth be told…they nearly strangle me.

 

This world is broken.

It can be hard to admit, but each of us adds to the broken.

I know I do.

 

Do we love how Jesus exampled to love?

What I see from scripture is a selfless servant type love. A sacrificial, complete love. A compassion for the humbly broken.

 

As each day passes, I know frustrations are rising. I’m right there too. These are difficult times.

Many will lose a lot.

What I try to focus on is remembering I have today. I’m thinking about people who can’t say goodbye to their dying loved one inside the hospital. I think about all the elderly who are in facilities confined to their rooms with no outside interactions…and some of them are dying alone too. I’m thinking about the burdened workers who are emotionally & physically exhausted. I’m thinking about the helpless who are trapped inside their unsafe homes. I’m thinking about the lost, the scared, the sick.

And I’m praying that somehow, someway they can hear about the hope in Jesus. Will someone tell them?!

 

The Lord gives us talents & gifts to use to point others to him. Are we?

Because at the end of the day…there was only today. How did we use it?

 

What this quarantine living has shown me is a whole new depth of selfishness. I have no words to describe it.

Hard times expose.

 

There are some who are rising up, seeing needs & compassionately doing all they can. They are measuring their words and actions carefully, and sincerely asking themselves will this help or harm.

Then there are others.

 

With this hardship comes the gift of time for many of us sheltered at home.

What are we doing with this gift?

 

There’s always good available in anything we walk through…if we would only look.

 

Could we ask ourselves….

-have I helped anyone today

-what changes do I need to make in myself 

-am I being productive & serving others

-am I pointing others to Jesus

or

-am I filling myself with whatever I want as I wait for this whole thing to be over

-are my actions pushing people away from even wanting to know more about Jesus

 

Every day we have a choice to make.

 

Extremes have an effect on us. This is definitely an extreme.

 

We should come out of this different people than when it started.

 

The question is-

will we be more self-focused or less?

 

The voice we hear the most is our very own.

Is it drowning out the Holy Spirit?

 

I’d like to challenge us all to stop looking at circumstances & look up. Ask Him what image we’re bearing right now with our thoughts & actions.

The heart of why we do something matters.

My prayer is that when this is over, we’ll look a lot more like Jesus & a lot less like the world.

Mark 10v45

Saved by His grace,

Tracy