Tag Archives: Surrendered life

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
img_4188

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.

473CB0CB-9598-4F5B-B08E-87B5EE18DFE3

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

 

Derailed

I’m in my happy place- papers, real genuine lined paper….sprawled all over the place. Full of notes….real penned notes. Gloriousness!

I have a story to tell you about how a morning conversation, affirmations, trains, callings & a daughter who put a visual to an area of my life all collided at my kitchen table. Here we go….

I was derailed! Gods perfect plan & timing can never be altered by us. He knows exactly when we’re ready & when we’re not. I had lots of circumstances that played a part in my derailment, but He allowed it because He knew I needed it.

Have you ever been derailed?

It can happen to any of us when we start listening to the wrong voices, ourselves included. The Lord is the Divine Director. People shouldn’t tell people what they are called to, or gifted in. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit.

A saying that I like to tell my daughter is, “Remember Who’s you are.” Maybe I should have been telling myself the same thing. I firmly believe there are precious believers who share godly truths. Unfortunately, there’s also some who don’t speak helpful words.

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation. For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (NLT)

God gifts His children with abilities. As His church, we should be encouraging each other & be available for the Spirit to use us.  What if a piece of God’s discernment plan is to be used by Him to reveal someones calling. When we speak words like, “Why are you doing that, that makes no sense, it’s not my thing, I don’t get it, I’m not seeing it,” then we’ve risked stripping precious hope from someone.

It’s OK to not fully understand or relate with someone else’s gifting, but it’s not OK to tear them down. That’s not being the body. Sometimes, the less we say, the better. Encouragement should flow easier off our lips.

Ephesians 4 

Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (NLT) 

Too many are trying to….. take on the role of God the Father. They push God aside, barge through doors & offer their solutions as the right way…..take on the position of God the Holy Spirit. They push past the Spirit, inform others what their calling is, isn’t & what they should do with their life….take on the job of God the Son. They bypass Jesus, offer a life line and saving grace to clean up/fix the supposed mess they see in others. This whole thing causes major relationship damage & can derail people from their calling. We don’t have the power to decide what Kingdom work people are supposed to do with their life.

God has already done that.

Romans 12:6-8 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (NLT)

His call on our life is exactly that….His call.

For so long I thought I had one gift. One calling. I placed the other in a “helping hobby” category. I’ve tried so hard to keep them separate. Two trains roaring down the track of my life. Every time I withheld effort & time from one, the other would slow down as well. So I would flip them, thinking I had heard God wrong. Same result. Sometimes, I stopped pouring into both all together.

I would head down another track, usually out of guilt-ed obligation. Good serving opportunities, but not what I’m gifted in. They were distractions from what I was supposed to be doing. I thought it was a real track, when in fact, it was actually placed there by the enemy to pull me away from the ministry work that God equipped me for. The cross I thought I saw at the end was nothing more than a disguised vapor.

I’ve tried keeping these two callings apart for so long that my focus got cloudy. The Lord has used many things in the past month to clear up my vision. I don’t have the full picture because that’s not how God works. He shows a piece of the track at a time. What I now know is that the trains are actually connected. They are both headed to the cross!

The hand cart is ministry serving that the Lord has called me to for a season. A seasonal calling. It’s to help strengthen me. To teach me. To show me how to dig my roots deep into Him. It requires a lot of effort but it’s necessary. It goes in front & clears the path.

Obstacles on the road to the cross can be painful. They seem so big, nearly impossible to move. I’m telling ya….detours. I can’t move them. I have to go around, making sure to stay in the cross boundary lines, all the while experiencing some pretty hard things.

Detours aren’t easy but, we can’t become like Christ without them.

I’m excited to have a visual for my journey. What a gift Jaelynn has given me. I have no idea when these train cars will hitch together. I’m trusting that in His time, he’ll make it happen. For now, I can finally see that they are connected. I couldn’t see that before. No more wasting precious time thinking of one only as a hobby.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me Your truth, Your way. Thank you for lifting some of the fog & leading me forward!

You better believe I’ll be holding onto this sketch forever, especially when the enemy starts tossing lies at me.

16DAB171-8491-496A-82F9-7D280EBABC42

A calling is always used to bring glory to the Father. It’s never about us or to be used for selfish gain. That’s not a calling. We have talents & things we enjoy doing that can possibly be used in our calling but it’s not the same thing. The end goal of a calling is the cross.

A calling is where we use our God given gifts.

What is your calling? Are you headed to the cross? Maybe, like me, you have two things connected. What fills you with passion? What energizes you? What do you get re-fueled by even when you’re bone tired & have nothing left?

Don’t ever let anyone steal the joy & hope that God laid on your heart about this. His Word tells us that he gifted us all differently. Lets bring our gifts together & be the church!

Always in His Hope,

Tracy

The Ache of Loss

Losses are hard. There are so many layers to it. Death, in itself, has amounts unimaginable. Loss of their life & having them be part of ours. Physical losses of hearing their voice, seeing their face, touching their skin. Losses of dreams, of sharing everyday milestones together. Just plain loss.

A loss is an ache from what is missing. 

Losses can also happen from things other than death. Loss can be ushered in from another’s decisions. I guess instead of writing about where losses stem from that maybe I should just share the ache of loss. It is an ache, a deep hurt inside that others can rarely see.

I’m going to zoom in on mama’s & loss. I’ve had more conversations lately with moms who have suffered losses. You just have no idea how many there are. If you’ve lost a child to death or have one who walked away then this blog is for you. Please hear my heart…I’m so sorry you’re walking this road of ache. There’s a bond we have with our children from the moment they are formed inside of us & our love for them is endless. An abrupt severing of that bond is not easy to recover from.

Life has events that we can’t see coming or stop from happening. There are accidents, tragedies & hurtful choices. There’s no way to emotionally prepare for the death of a child. There’s no way to prepare for when one abandons you either.

I go to Psalm 34 a lot. God’s Word has a special way of easing my aches. Verse 18 brings me so much hope because I know that no matter how much sorrow I feel, the Lord is oh so near. People may leave but the Father never does. Not ever.

Psalm 34:18

Me & water are like two peas in a pod. I could stare at it for hours & listen to the sounds of the waves. For me, it’s a visual on the vastness of “stuff” when circumstances seem like un-climbable mountains . I calm when I see all that He created. He spoke the water into existence. He sees & knows everything that I don’t. He is bigger than my mind can grasp. I can’t bring any of my children back. He knows each situation & it’s all in His hands. Which is way better than any of it being in mine.

IMG_0237

What do I do with the ache of losses? I meet with my Savior. I pour my heart out to Him. Sometimes I just sit in His presence & cry. I pray & I trust & I pray & I trust some more. There’s no formula to follow. There’s no timeline to stick to. There’s ache. Pure, raw, heartbreaking ache. Goodness, He knows it’s there so I don’t have to put on any falsehoods. He knows when my chest feels like a bomb went off. He knows when I could drop to the ground & sob for hours so why would I pretend like it wasn’t there. He already knows.

Spending time in my bible is comforting for me. It’s where I collide with the Comforter. His Word is what never changes. There are so many things around me that change. I need His steadiness. His security. I need Him.

I say Psalm 19:14 at the start of each day. These losses can threaten to pull me away from God or draw me closer to Him. I try to lean in closer. My words, my actions, my thoughts all determine how I’ll walk through each new day. I can’t change situations or losses but I sure can try to live in a way that honors Him. I’ll never be perfect at it but my desire is there.

Psalm 19:14

IMG_0114

You know how I love the water? Well, I’m a huge fan of God’s handiwork in the sky too. I try to pause & look at each sunset & sunrise. I might not be able to see the Lord, yet, but I can enjoy His masterpieces in creation. He promises to uphold what is His. His strength is perfect strength.

I can’t be afraid of the what if’s. All I can do is embrace the right now’s. 

Isaiah 41:10

Oh dear friend, I know it hurts. We love our kids so much. Don’t give up on your prodigal. Stay on your knees for them. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop grieving the loss of your child, no matter how many years it’s been. There is no set time frame for grief. The ache of loss is real. Not many understand that, but I do. Some days have a stronger sense of hope than others. Hopelessness will try to shackle you in its chains. Run, limp if you have to, but stay close to the real hope of Christ.

Always His,

Tracy

A Girl & Her Words

I’m certainly not in the “girl” category anymore. My years have bumped me way past that title. My daughter let me know in the store last week what my new bracket is. The current t-shirt designs have many of the cartoons & images I grew up with. Jaelynn quickly pointed out it’s because they’re “vintage” & vintage is in right now. Have mercy! I’m vintage!

IMG_1153

Every season is full of learning. Life lessons never end. Let’s grab a cup of coffee or tea ( I drink both!) & chat for awhile about girls & their words.

The Lord has graciously given me words to write with. They float around in my head all the time. What doesn’t come easy for me is spoken words. I can get things down on paper so much easier.

Spoken words come with body language & tone. Ugh…two of my hardest hurdles. I’m working on it. The Holy Spirit is more than able to soften the edges on anyone, including me. First, it takes awareness & honesty. Then the desire for change, commitment to change & intentional effort to change. All this change needs to be rooted in God’s Word, prayer & meditation on His Truths. I can’t change me, but the Holy Spirit will always be transforming me & that gives me hope. The moment I think I’ve arrived or am all good is the same time that 100 red flags start flying.

The Lord has opened my eyes wide to what He doesn’t want me to be. My learning style absorbs things better with reading, writing & physically seeing something. I’ve seen a lot of different examples of “a girl & her words” lived out around me. Oh friends….words matter. Tone & body language matter.

It’s never OK to discount another’s feelings, offer unsolicited cutting “advice” disguised as compassion, make assumptions based out of your own thinking followed with fix it statements, mask bitterness with caring, frost all your sharp words with an attached disclaimer saying that’s who you are, or just plain show a lack of interest in really listening to someone. Saying hurtful words that you feel are right & offering a hug at the end isn’t empathy. Girls…our words will either bring life or death.

We all have different personalities. Each of us have different strengths & weaknesses. Those differences are meant to come together & make a beautiful puzzle.  Some of us will be around the edge, some in the middle, some way over to the right/bottom, etc. We’ll piece together strongly with those that fit into our unique shape. Others, we’re part of the same puzzle but placed in different areas & that’s OK. Encourage the pieces that God has placed you next to. No matter how hard you try to force pieces together that weren’t meant to fit, it’ll never work. A new puzzle box might be brought out soon & you could be connected to different pieces in that one. No matter which season or puzzle it is, the purpose is always Him.

friends on mountain

I have “walk worthy” written in my bible next to Ephesians 4:1-3. Ephesians 4 is packed with helpful truth.  None of us will ever find the right answers or direction in our own thinking. It always comes from a changing of the heart through God’s living Word.

For me, I know that I need & will always need Jesus….desperately….completely.

A girl and her words shouldn’t cause others to search for a back door escape. A girl & her words should be a welcoming mat to all who enter her presence. People shouldn’t walk away from time spent with us feeling discouraged. Let’s be hope bringers instead! We can start by asking ourselves a question before we speak… “Jesus, are these words helpful or harmful?”

Lord, thank you. Thank you for change. Thank you for not leaving me where I’m at. Help guide my thoughts & words to be in line with Yours. I pray for encourager’s to rise up & discourager’s to be softened. I pray that you plant a deep root of encouragement in me. It takes Your courage to seek continued transformation. Fear & pride keep chains around hearts. Please free these hearts, Lord. I pray that You soften my words, tones & body language. I know You’re always at work even when there’s silence. Your timing is always perfect & I trust You. I love Your perfect plan. Please send the Helper to show me how to be a girl with life giving words. I love You, Lord Jesus. Thank you for the cross & for choosing me. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, & renew a right spirit in me. In Jesus name….Amen.

In Him forever,

Tracy