Ch-ch-changing.....At the Well

Today at the Well we are talking about ch-ch-change. Yes, I am one who DREADS change. Like my comfortable spot. Definitely NOT one who is "exhilarated" by change.... Nope.

Did you ever see the movie "Babe" (yes, the talking pig)? There were little mice who would narrate commentary on the bottom of the screen throughout the movie. One of the things they say, and if I'm honest, would have to say describes ME, is "THE WAY THINGS ARE." You see, the farm animals were perfectly content to keep things UNCHANGED, which unfortunately for Babe, meant he was to be Christmas dinner. And, too often I am content to settle with THE WAY THINGS ARE because it is "safe" or comfortable, or because the thought of changing seems a bit too scary....or too much hard work.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Aren't these promises wonderful? God has a perfect plan for us. He is the master designer. His plans are GOOD plans.

But sometimes we forget to read Jeremiah 10: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise and bring you back to this place."

God was SENDING THEM INTO 70 YEARS OF EXILE INTO A STRANGE, NEW PLACE- BABYLON! You see, God has a plan for us and it often involves CHANGE!

God knows that CHANGE often draws us BACK to Him....crying out to Him.....searching for Him. CHANGE stretches us and often matures our faith.

We CAN NOT GROW if we don't change. Think about all the changes that take place in a baby's first year of life. Without those changes, the baby can't grow.

I think for me, I dread change because my first reaction is that CHANGE will be "bad." But, often, I find that what my spirit "fights" God most about is often the "thing" that brings the most blessing.

For example, 11 years ago, I was so upset about the CHANGE to move here to Iowa from Illinois. I did not want to move away from ALL family and friends. I fought God on it! I dreaded it. And, the first few months were lonely. But, it was a time where I FOUND Jesus Christ! My relationship with Christ bloomed and grew and EXPLODED in that time. Now, Cedar Rapids is our HOME and I love it and am so THANKFUL God brought us here. God knew that this change would be the best for ME and for our family.


I have found that through CHANGE, I must TRUST His His His goodness.

Lord, may I always look to You during times of change. May I always trust in Your wisdom, in Your counsel, in Your plan and purpose. Lord, help me to surrender my life to You, in all areas, so that I may grow and mature in times of change. In Jesus' Name I pray. AMEN!

Please link up to the Well here where you will find many others gathered...chatting about CHANGE.

To Raise Them Up...At the Well

I'm At the Well today! Please stop over to read a devotion about teaching our children as we "walk along the path!"

Yes, I have been avoiding you!

It's been two weeks since I have blogged. And, honestly, yes, I have been avoiding you.

Have you ever been "in a funk"?

A time when you pushed God away and just "succumbed" to life? To the busy-ness?

A time when you just "didn't feel" like reading the Word. Or blogging. And, I wish I could say that I was at least journaling the old-fashioned way with my spiral and pen, but alas....I didn't feel like doing that either!

Thankfully, God doesn't LEAVE us! He doesn't say "He doesn't feel like" dealing with us! He was right there all along, beckoning to me.....whispering to my heart....wooing me.

So, last Monday, at my Bible Study (I'm the leader!) I knew I needed to "fess up." I poured out how I had been feeling the last few weeks and how I had been NOT spending time with God. They also shared a common "funk" in their lives as well! (Is it summer? Back to school? The times we are living in?) Well, we prayed together and shared our common desire to "get back on track!" We all knew that we didn't like not spending time with God!

So, I am GRATEFUL to say, I am back in the Word....back seeking time in His presence.....back blogging!

I do have a very important prayer request as well.

Please pray for my dear sister in Christ, T. Her 14 year old son died suddenly in an accident. Please lift up this family in your prayers as they grieve the loss of their son and brother. S. was(is) an amazing kid who loved the Lord! We have confidence in knowing he is with Jesus!

Thanks everyone. And, thank you as you have patiently waited for me to "return"! :)

And, if you are experiencing, "a funk," please continue to diligently PRESS IN! Continue to seek God with all that you have! Fall down on your knees and cry out to Him! He will answer!

"....pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, ENDURANCE, and
gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the
eternal life to which you were called...." 1Timothy 6:11-12

Word-filled Wednesday

I have recently written two posts about God filling our THIRST and our HUNGER.... So, I thought I would repost this Word-Filled Wednesday in honor of God satisfying our souls....
Please visit me at Laced with Grace today to read a devotion about moldy bread!


I love anything with chocolate or whipped cream...

My soul is always yearning for something to satisfy it also.

What I have learned is that when I try to fill the longings of my soul with FOOD or shopping
or praise of man
or material possessions
or activities...

I remain hungry.


Because only God can truly satisfy the cravings of our heart.
Listen to the cry of the psalmist:
"O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your
glory. 3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth
will praise you

Only God can satisfy us. Only His love will fill the empty places of our souls.
Fill up on Him!

Please visit AmyDeanne for more Word-y Encouragement! It will be yummy, but NO calories!

Would YOU eat moldy bread????

Would you eat moldy bread? Please visit me at Laced with Grace this devotion!

Quiet Time...At the Well

Amy from Raising Arrows asks us to ponder "Quiet Time" this morning.....

This is such an area that can "trip" us up as Christian women! We focus on the "doing" so much! I can have the mindset of "Martha" instead of "Mary". And, I can allow guilt and condemnation enter into my thinking.....

"I'm not having my "quiet time". Bad girl.

Or.....we can slip into legalism and the DOING. Had my devotions. Good girl.

But, what is so important is the RELATIONSHIP with the Lord!





I talk to God all day long. His presence is always here. He never leaves us. I need God more than just an hour in the morning. I need Him all day, every day, all through the day.

What I have found, though, is that I do need Him first thing in the morning.

If I don't focus my thinking on Him, my mind can go to all sorts of places that I don't want it to! I can easily slip into negative thinking.

So....while I am still in bed, before everyone else is up, I start talking to God.

Nothing fancy. Just start talking to Him.....

I love to walk in the morning. (And recently have begun to RUN. You can read about those lessons here!). I cherish this early morning time because as a mom of 5 little ones, it IS the only ALONE time I have each day. So, I make this my "quiet time." When I walk, I bring my "prayer journal" that has random scripture verses. I worship, ponder a few verses, pray verses, "put on my armor," pray for my family....spend time with God.

I also have prayer card that I use when I brush my teeth. It has a daily verse from Colossians that I pray while I brush.

I have a few flip-books with Bible verses and devotions around the house.

I have scripture posted around the house.

And- now don't be "grossed out"- but I take my bible in the bathroom with me!

I share all of this with you NOT so that you can copy it, but so that you begin to "look outside the box." Look at YOUR daily life.....find ways YOU can incorporate God into your daily life.

Now, please realize that although "quiet time" LOOKS different in different lives and that we can't be a "Pharisee" and impose OUR ways onto others or be legalistic about loving God, we DO need to spend time with Him. We must find ways in our lives to wash ourselves in the Word. Amy talks about reading the Word (in Children's Bibles) with her little children. We will all go through different seasons of life. Some seasons we will be able to sit for hours in front of the Word in study. Others seasons we will find "bites" of time with God whenever we can. It may look different from "conventional" quiet time. But, the most important thing is to FIND THAT TIME!

I recently struggled with this "quiet time" issue because I had not been spending enough time with God in ALONE time and I had become THIRSTY! Please read this post, "Lord I need You DAILY!"

Please visit the Well and read how others are spending their quiet time pursuing God!

Father God, I love You! My soul longs for You when I spend too much time away from You. Life is empty and my soul is THIRSTY! I can find myself in a pit.....So, Lord, I know that my spirit is made to be filled by You. I know I must make time in my life to be alone with You. I see Jesus getting alone with You early in the morning. I know prayer is so important. I know that You give us grace in seasons of our lives where time is scarce. Lord, I pray that You place in me a deeper desire to seek You. Lord, I pray that I would fall in love with You more and more and more.... Help me to find time in my day to be refreshed by You. Make that desire to sit at Your feet like Mary greater than any desire. I love You, Lord! In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

Rockin' the the Internet Cafe

Did you go to Vacation Bible School as a kid? Do you ever join the fun now, as an adult?

There is just something AMAZING that happens at VBS.

This year there were snakes, flies, frogs, boils, and even a big CROC!

Please visit me at the Cafe today to read the lessons God spoke to me this summer at Crocodile Dock!

What is Heaven like?

I attend a Lutheran church. If you aren't familiar with Lutherans, they can be a bit serious. (Don't worry.....we tease ourselves often about this!) Our church offers 3 types of services- Traditional, Celebration, and Impact. Code words: hymns with an organ, contemporary music with a BAND, and those youngsters with a ROCK BAND! Our family worships at the Celebration. We can't get too "wild"- you know....a little hand clapping during songs and hand raising only waist high! My husband often elbows me when I exceed the limit- clapping before the singers begin clapping or hands raised a little too high....

Now, I have had the opportunity to visit many churches where dancing in the isle is common, singing and praying in tongues is done during the service, and hands raised above the head is the "norm," so I know many of you reading this may be surprised when I share this story with you. I just wanted to paint a picture of "normal" worship at our church. I am so thankful there are many choices and opportunities for Christians to worship God in ways they feel comfortable- from "traditional" to speaking in tongues, and everything "in between." I can't wait to worship God in Heaven when all inhibitions will be stripped away and all will praise Him totally, completely, without distraction! Which brings me to the question...

What WILL Heaven be like?

Our church just finished a sermon series on The Shack, a great (fictional) book about developing a real relationship with God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because the main character in the story has lost a young daughter, the book also delves into the topic of "heaven" and what we can experience there. So....last Sunday, the sermon focused on what we can expect in Heaven.

The message was good and included all of the "right" scripture verses. We listened as the Apostle John shared his vision of heaven from the book of Revelation. Our pastor also read beautiful illustrations from the book, "The Shack." But, what God showed me during that service is that Heaven is so much MORE....and if we could ever grasp it, we would do a WHOLE lot more REJOICING!

During the music, a young boy in the front row danced jubilantly, clapping his hands and singing. He was ENJOYING his worship! He turned circles. He jumped up. He clapped his hands. He got closer and closer to the singers! Just when his mom pulled him back to "his spot", his younger brother began dancing as well. She was doing her best to keep both boys corralled, but they were having a BLAST!

As I pondered all of this later, I realized that THIS is what Heaven will be like! I know the sweet mom was probably felt embarrassed and may have worried what others were thinking. But, I know my heart burst at the beautiful sight of these little guys totally UNAWARE of anyone else around them- simply worshipping God.

And I thought, this the is perfect illustration of Heaven!
Not caring about "appearances". Just glorifying and magnifying the One who is truly worthy of all worship and praise. Dancing and singing and turning circles to the One we LOVE!

If we could ever get a handle of our glorious inheritance in Heaven, then we, too would be DANCING in the aisles! We would be clapping our hands! We would be turning circles and singing at the top of our lungs.

These two little guys, not even realizing it, just answered the pastor's question..."What is Heaven like?"

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade- kept in heaven for this you greatly rejoice. 1Peter 1:3-6

Father God, may I never take for granted the incredible, glorious inheritance You have in store for me. May the prayer of my heart always be "Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand days elsewhere." Give me eternal eyes. I love You, Lord. Forgive me for the times I have not worshipped You the way You deserve because I was distracted, embarrassed, or selfish. Help me to give You all that I am. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Running at Word-Filled Wednesday

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;

I'm not a runner by nature. Nope.

As a kid, I was overweight, so I felt self-conscience when I ran. I remember when I was really young my friend told me, "My mom says you look like a sack of potatoes when you run." Didn't run much after that.

Didn't run track.

Didn't run in college.

But, I have always LONGED to run. As an adult I would always use the excuse that it hurt my knees. I would TRY to run, but would only get about a half a block before I quit.

Now, walking...... I am an avid walker and love to walk MILES. I walk hills. I walk fast. I swing my arms. I "prayer walk", bringing my journal. I LOVE walking. Walking is easy.

But, last April I began to seriously run. I asked a friend to help "train" me.

Running is hard.

I love it.

I hate it.

With running I have to FOCUS. I have to "be in it." I have to push myself.

Or, I easily revert back to a walk. My body WANTS to go back into a walking stride.

Walking is easy.

Running is hard. After the first mile (but I HAVE to push myself even in that first mile!) my chest starts to explode. My leg muscles begin to ache. It's uncomfortable. I don't WANT to go on... I want to WALK.

Walking is what I know. It is what my muscles know. I have been walking for years.

So, when I am running, if I am not AWARE, not keeping focus, my body naturally wants to STOP the run and go back to a walk.

And so it is spiritually....

Pressing on.....pressing IN can be hard.

It is easy to fall back into our comfortable habits, comfortable mindsets. Our spiritual bodies want to STOP the "run" and go back to what is easy. But, to get better, to get "fit", we must stretch ourselves spiritually. We must PRESS IN and PRESS ON. When our minds revert back to those old mindsets and habits, we must continue to PUSH.

Maybe God has called you to PUSH yourself, stretch yourself. Maybe He has called you to fast, but you have not been willing. Maybe God has called you into an area of give up a secret sin or to forgive someone who has hurt you. Maybe God has called you into an area of ministry, but you are afraid. Maybe you have lived in an area of deception and God is calling you to walk in Truth, to be honest with yourself, honest with Him. Maybe you have never read the Word before. Yes, you have a bookcase of "religious books", but have not gone deeper. Maybe it feels uncomfortable.

Whatever the way God is stretching you, PRESS IN!

When my run is over, I feel GREAT! I am covered with sweat. My body feels good.

....let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us RUN WITH PERSEVERANCE the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith.....Hebrews 12:1-2

Lord, help me to "run" spiritually. Give me ears to hear You when You call me to something deeper. Give me strength! I love You, Lord!

Please click HERE for more WFW!


My friend Loni from Writing Canvas has asked us to post encouragement today for a Blog Hop. The first thing that came to my mind is one of my favorite verses from Zephaniah.

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I have found so much encouragement in this verse! Maybe that is why the song "Mighty to Save" by Laura Story (or Hillsong!) is so precious to me. My God SAVES me! He loves me so much!!! He delights in me!

When my oldest was younger, he would suffer from coughing bouts in the middle of the night, losing lots of sleep. I prayed this verse over him constantly, "the Lord will QUIET you with His love." When my own heart was upset, restless, anxious, I would pray the same...."He will quiet me with His love."

I am so encouraged by this part of the verse. God, like a mother who sings over her newborn baby sings over ME (and you!). He REJOICES in who we are (not what we've done).....but just who we ARE!

I wrote this about Abigail when she was first born:

As I snuggle Abby, only a few weeks old, inhaling her sweet baby smell, rubbing my cheek against her soft skin, my heart fills with inexpressible JOY! I look down into her eyes and my heart feels like it is going to burst because I am filled with so much love for her.

Could it be possible to love a person so much? To be filled with such delight just LOOKING at someone?

Abby hasn’t DONE anything. She hasn’t pleased me because of her deeds or actions. I am delighted in her because she IS. She just lays there and IS. She does not need to perform in any way to please me. She doesn’t have to be “good.” I just love her- I can’t even explain it or put it into words. I love her with a love that can not be measured because she is mine.

God has shown me again how He feels for me by showing me how I feel for my children. “He takes great delight in me (and you!) and rejoices over me (and you!) with singing”- not because I have DONE anything, but simply because I exist and I am His. And, just as I look down at Abby, my heart bursting with love and joy, our Heavenly Father looks down at us, His heart bursting with love and joy. He breathes us in, rubs our cheeks, and is delighted in us.

Oh, let that sink in! How our Father loves us!

Please visit Loni for more encouragement!

For a deeper study of Zephaniah click here. And for more "washing" in His love, check out Cherished or He loves me! Yea! Yea! Yea!

Lord, I need You DAILY....

I was out running the other morning. It was quiet and I was thrilled being alone with God. I love to run on country roads where I can sing to the ipod at the top of my lungs. I can pray out loud in the Spirit. And, as I was running I began pondering my summer and the time I have (and haven't) spent with God.

There were weeks where I didn't crack open my Bible. Many mornings I skipped "quiet time" to begin the business of a summer day. Yes, I pray everyday all through the day. And, yes, most mornings I begin with a walk or run to talk to God. But, I haven't been continually soaking in the Word and spending quality TIME alone and quiet before Him, allowing Him to "work" on my heart.

I wasn't "filling up" on Him daily. I was often depending on Sunday morning church or the Monday evening Bible study I lead to "get filled." God again reminded me of how important it is to have DAILY intimate time with Him.

As I pondered all of this, God asked me, "Tracy, would you drink a long glass of water on Sunday (or Monday) and then not drink anything again until the next week- the next Sunday or Monday?"

Think about that. Ponder it. Imagine how THIRSTY you would be....

Imagine in your mind a full glass of water freshly filled on Sunday morning. Leave it out on the kitchen counter. What would happen? The water slowly evaporates out. Now imagine you need to also use that cup of water to fill other cups. Your husband's cup. Your children's. Your aging parents' cup. There is a cup marked "career or job." There is another marked "home". You slowly pour from YOUR cup into the others. Very soon YOUR cup would be empty.

Think of this spiritually. When you "fill up" spiritually....going to God....allowing Him to "get your heart right" renew your fill you to the measure of all the fullness of, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and focus on the eternal.....our cups are being poured out. Our kids need us. A friend is going through a severe trial. We need to take aging parents to a doctor's appointment. The laundry never ends.

God again reminded me that DAILY COMMUNION with Him is vital for me to live a victorious, joy-filled, abundant life.

"Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle (ever feel restless?). They were hungry and THIRSTY, and their lives ebbed away (does your life ever feel like it is "ebbing away"? Sunday turns into Wednesday turns into Friday turns into Sunday again? Where did the summer go?) THEN they cried out to the LORD in their trouble and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way (see Proverbs 3:5-6) to a city where they could settle. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, FOR HE SATISFIES THE THIRSTY AND FILLS THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS." Psalm 107:4-9

Lord, thank You that You continue to remind me of how important daily time with You is. Thank You for Your patience, especially when I get "off track." Lord, I am sorry I forget at times and allow the busy-ness of life to invade. Sometimes, God, it is even the good things that interrupt that BEST- spending time with You. Thank You, Lord, that You put in my heart such a desire to be with You. I pray for all Believers, and especially for anyone reading this, that does not yet have that desire to "fill up" on You. Put that desire in all of our hearts, Lord. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

For a deeper study, read John 4:1-42. Jesus encounters a thirsty woman at the well. You may also enjoy reading Are You Thirsty? and Fill me up, but not with empty cups! and Thirsty for His Presence.

At Home....At the Well

As we gather at the well today, Michelle from She Looketh Well has challenged us to look deep our our motives. She openly and honestly shared how God revealed to her heart how she was following selfish motives (noble and "good") instead of her true biblical purpose. She was active in ministry and church, but her heart was not complete until she fulfilled her true purpose- being a wife and mother. Please take a few minutes to read her story At the Well.

Michelle's story resonated with me as well. As a women's speaker and writer (and even blogger), I have wrestled with my heart and my motives. Since 2004, I have had to continually turn over my motives and desires to God. At times, ministry and mothering have been at odds. God has continued to remind me that my FIRST and FOREMOST ministry, my priority, is my family- my husband and children.

It struck me one time in full force when I was speaking at an engagement. I had just finished speaking and I was alone in my room, praying and praising God for what He had done in the women's hearts. Several women, in tears, had "breakthroughs." Some had been released from bondage. Others, for the first time had realized how much God loved them. I was rejoicing that these precious women, many for the first time, realized the difference between "religion" and a "relationship" with God. Some had come to Christ for the first time. And then God spoke to my heart, opening my eyes.

I thought (and prayed), "God, what difference does it make in my life if this whole room of women love You and have a relationship with You, but my children do not?" I realized then that I needed to be just as concerned with my children's relationship with God as I was with women I have come to know in ministry. I couldn't just take for granted that my kids "got it." Of course I prayed with my kids and for my kids and we had many biblical object lessons. I taught them bible stories and they are familiar with God's people of the Bible. But.....

Did I tell my girls, like I tell the women at retreats, how much "God is enthralled with their beauty?" That they "are precious and honored in their sight"? Do I continually teach them (as I do in conferences) to "not conform to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of their minds?" Do I tell them over and over (as I do in retreats) that "the Lord their God is with them. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight in them. He will quiet them with His love. And He rejoices over them with singing"? That weekend, I realized that everything that just comes naturally to me at a women's conference, I needed to do those things at home with my OWN children!

My wonderful friend and spiritual mother, Donna would continually remind me as well that my FIRST ministry is my family. Click here for more on spiritual mothers.

Yes, the "world" has a lot to do with our restless feelings of wanting "more" than "just" mothering. We look at "glamorous" women who seem so "together" and sometimes feel inadequate. And, let's face it, laundry isn't all that exciting. It can be really fun preparing for a women's conference- spending time writing, praying....putting together cute outfits.....

I continually went to the Word to renew my thinking.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him. Colossians 3:17

I needed to look at housework differently...(and I still work on this!). I needed to be thankful for a beautiful home to keep for my family, to be thankful for the clothes we have as I launder them....And, as I take care of these things, going about my chores, doing it for GOD.

And, then, finally, for me, I had to realize that there ARE different seasons of life. I KNOW that God has placed this desire in my heart to encourage women through ministry. I know that God has placed this love of writing within me. He has anointed me in a speaking ministry. I know those are His callings upon my heart. But, in this season of my life, my children and husband take much of my time. I know it will not always be so..... I want to enjoy this season....being HERE for my family. That means I may not be able to blog as often as I like. It means I have lots of ideas and "topics" that I continue to "store up" in my heart (and in tons of spiral notebooks!) I continue to remind myself to be patient and wait on the Lord. I know His timing is perfect. So, even though I may not be speaking as often as I would like, I am resting in Him, knowing that His plan is perfect. It means that I must also continue to examine my motives. Am I doing something out of obedience to God, or am doing it for praise of man?

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3

I continually pray this! Lord, reveal my motives! I don't want to do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit!!!!

Michelle asks us to ponder a few questions:
Has your heart found its way home?
Do you find complete fulfillment in your biblical purpose?

Please join us at the well today! You may find yourself a bit challenged as you wander "back home"!

Please click here for more encouragement on this same topic.