Some Friday Fun

I have been wanting to post these pictures since mid-December, but just didn't get to it... This fort has withstood rain, freezing cold, more snow dumped from the sky! We thought we would lose it when it rained because it began melting..... But, it's still out front with flags still intact! Of course, Andrew has had to do some "repair work" from time to time.... But, it still stands true, offering protection from wind and others' SNOWBALLS (and nerf bullets!).
But, this FORT will not always be standing....the days will become warmer.....this fort WILL melt away.
That's why we must make God our fortress! He will never melt, crumble, or fade away! He is our strong tower.....
"I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." Psalm 18:1

Happy Birthday to me!

I'm 42 today!!!!!
I thought I would post some pictures so you can get to know me a bit more....
This is the REAL me....mouth WIDE OPEN! This is my "smile"!

My first pair of flannel em for Christmas this year. Love em. Got em on now!

One of my favorite places in the world...Chicago.....with my very favorite people in the world!

My sweet mom and my darling Aly at a baby shower.
And, the "art" that adorns our walls at home....
pictures from Chuck E. Cheese.

That's me during every video we watch! I usually fall asleep about half way through. So sad that my kids can outlast me every time!

I hope you got to know me a little more today! I'll be hanging out at "A Woman Inspired"....enjoying the teaching and the company of lots of fantastic, creative, efficient, and inspiring women! Blessings!

Win a trip.....or a Rosetta Stone product!

Isn't this COOL???

Andrew is trying to learn Spanish this year. Ugh!

I remember dropping out of Spanish after 2 weeks when I was in high school.


Going to Spain- now that is a much better way to learn it!!!

Check it out:

Surround your family with language. By taking them there!

Travel to Paris, Madrid and Barcelona with Homeschoolers from all over the United States. Join Rosetta Stone Homeschool, Heart of the Matter and Fusefly on the inaugural Homeschool Language Learning and Networking Trip August 2-11, 2010. Become immersed in new lands, explore history, culture, art and community. And truly speak to the world.

For more details visit
Hurry, registration for the trip ends February 15, 2010.

For your chance to win a Rosetta Stone language product, please visit
Heart of the Matter.

Entries are being accepted until February 1st.

Is this "my" season?

I love this picture! We had amazing days last week with beautiful winter scenes. Believe it or not, this is NOT snow on the trees, but frost. We had warm weather and extreme fog, which made for frozen fog in the mornings and an incredible frost. The sky almost had a blue tint and outside reminded me of Narnia!
It was such a VISUAL reminder of how CREATIVE God is!
Which reminds me of the Nurturing Creativity conference...
On Monday, I spoke about too much ACTIVITY in our lives and being too BUSY. I shared that we need to let go of GOOD things at times because it is not the right SEASON of doing it.
God places these incredible desires and dreams in our hearts, but sometimes we "jump out ahead" of Him....not waiting on His timing. We have to remember that there are SEASONS of our lives.
As a gardener, I am aware that I never REAP in the same season that I sow. When I plant the seed, I have to nourish it......and wait patiently before it produces fruit.
And, living in the Midwest, it is so fun to watch the crops grow. Farmers plant in the spring, wait all summer and harvest in the fall. They NEVER harvest the same season they plant!
Sometimes God needs several seasons of our lives to nourish and grow the dream. He wants us to stay faithful to it....believing in Him and that all things are possible....but waiting ON HIM AND HIS TIMING!

Lord, thank You that You have good plans for me. Thank You that Your timing is perfect. Lord, help me to be patient waiting for Your best timing. I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Please go HERE to link to more WFW!

"I'm too BUSY!"

Were you "Inspired" yesterday? I was SO BLESSED by this conference yesterday, both in speaking and also listening to other fantastic teachers (and especially the BEST teacher- the Holy Spirit!). This conference is so FULL of His Spirit! If you are not attending, please consider getting the MP3 downloads and listening. Yesterday was AMAZING... and we still have the rest of the week to go!

I will be attending today.....

Well, as always with speaking, I have SO MUCH TO SAY :) and not always enough time to say it! So, I thought I would post this week additional thoughts and devotions on this topic of "Don't Waste Your Life!" Today I wanted to share a story about BUSYNESS....and HOW we cut some things from our full calendars.....

From "Don't Waste Your Life":

Once, I was telling a friend about this message. I’ll never forget what she said, “Are you going to tell me HOW to not be so busy, or just that I shouldn’t be? Because I already know that!”

I can relate to her frustration. Sometimes we get caught up in the "busyness trap," and we don't see a way out! We know we are not feeling at peace, but don't know how to slow down. Sometimes we are looking for a "magic formula" or some "secret."

Ladies, I wish I had a "secret" to tell you. There is no "magic formula." We all know in our hearts what we need to do, but we struggle with doing it!

Today, we try to do it all and have it all and we keep adding more and more to our busy lives. We don’t want to tell anyone NO and feel guilty when we do. And, sometimes, we don’t want to let go of activities because those things are tied to our identity. We find approval and self-worth by doing all of these things and doing them WELL. How many times when you ask someone, “How are you”? They answer with “I’m so busy.”

Often we can’t let go of commitments and activities because they all are GOOD
things. Sometimes, though, we must let go of GOOD things because they are not God’s best for us, or because it is not the right season of doing it. God may have placed a desire in our hearts to do something, but we may be jumping ahead of His timing.

I heard some sound advice from Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) once- anytime you add a new activity to your life, you need to take something away. I know, I know, it sounds too simple. He says, “If you are serious about fulfilling your purpose in life, you have to make space for God in your life. If you’re going to make space for God, you’re going to have to cut some stuff out- some good stuff.”

Then, your next question is HOW?! How do I remove "stuff?"The first thing we need to begin doing is PRAYING about what God's will is for our lives. Now, we are really good at doing this when some big catastrophe comes up, or we have to make a huge decision, but we forget about the "little" things. Maybe we just don't want to "bother" God with the "trivial" stuff.

Or, maybe we really don't want God's input into our activities because deep down we know He will tell us to let go of some things. Or….Maybe we have just never thought about before!

How many times do I pray about my activities AND my kids' activities? Now, I am pretty good about praying for God's will in my own activities (learned that the hard way but, with my kids, I sometimes just barrel ahead, signing them up for a bunch of things.....

because, my goodness, if the girls don't dance, they will be deprived, or if Andrew doesn't play football, well, ALL boys play football. And, if you don't play soccer, you can't live in America!

God has really been dealing with me in this area over the last few years and it has been so LIBERATING! (Both for me and for the kids!)

It started one spring when both girls were in dance and Andrew was busy with scouts and basketball. The girls were also playing soccer.

A typical Saturday was two soccer games and a basketball game before noon. Well, the girls were supposed to get dance recital pictures taken, (different times) and Andrew had to do an activity for scouting. I was freaking out, wondering how I was going to pull all of this off, because they were at different times.

The Holy Spirit spoke directly in my heart, "Tracy, you don't HAVE to get the dance picture! You'll take plenty of your own pictures. They just had soccer pictures done and Spring school pictures. Just because it is written on someone's calendar, it doesn't mean you HAVE TO DO IT!"


I never realized until that moment that I didn't have to do these things!

I don't have to go to that meeting, just because they are having it? I don't have to sign the kids up for this, even though "everybody" else is?!

How liberating that was for me!

Jesus promises that His burden is light.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If we are not experiencing peace, then something is wrong. Isaiah says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” If God has truly called you to everything you are doing, then He will equip you to handle it all!

Philippians says, I can do all things through God who strengthens me!” But, we sometimes abuse this verse and keep adding more and more while quoting it!

Seek God and ask Him what you should be doing with your time.

Lord, help me to seek You in area of my life. If my life is out of balance, show me where to cut things. Father, make my priorities YOUR priorities. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

See you at "A Woman Inspired"!

Nurturing Creativity and Efficient Living....

I'm here today!

I am speaking at 10:00 AM CST.

Hope you can join me!

Just 3 more days....

I am spending today preparing to speak at next week's AWI conference, "Nurturing Creativity and Efficient Living." Please pray for me, the leaders who are preparing, the other speakers, and all of the women who will be attending!

And, I would love to see you there.....

Do you hate line jumpers???

Doesn't it drive you CRAZY when someone BUTTS in front of you in line????

Please visit me over at Laced With Grace today where I will be sharing what God showed me about line jumping! Just click here.

Are you "conformed"?

"Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will." Romans 12:2


Well, how do we live these verses out? What do they look like in our lives?

When I read these verses, I get so excited! They hold such promises- I want to be transformed- that’s thrilling! And, I want to know what God’s will is for my life!

Let’s read the verses backwards.

How can you test and approve God’s will?

By having a renewed mind.

How can I have a renewed mind?

By being transformed!

And, how am I transformed?

By NOT conforming to the patterns of the world.

Wow! But, what are the patterns of the world? What does that mean?

I love the Amplified Bible. It says, “Do not be conformed to this world (age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you.]"

Do you need a new attitude???

When I study and ponder these verses, I begin to see there is a connection between the WAY I think, my mindsets, and my transformation.

And, when I look at this, I cannot be CONFORMED and TRANSFORMED at the same time!

I cannot be both- but one or other.

When I think of conformed, I think of fitting into a little box. When I think of “conform”- I think of Spandex! When I think of “transformed” I think of a butterfly being transformed from a lowly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, flying free in the sky.

Paul understood that NOT CONFORMING would be difficult at times and take on purpose kind of living.


Don’t make your values and beliefs fit into what the world says is good.

Romans 12:1 in the NLT says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

God doesn’t want us to THINK the way the world does. Have you ever copied the customs and behaviors of this world when you knew in your heart, in your spirit, that they were in direct violation to what God was telling you?


Lord, I don't want to conform to the world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Renew my mind, Lord! Help me to see things the way You do! Give me such a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know You better! I love You, Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Go here to link to more awesome Word-Filled Wednesday!

He's I listening?

Kathryn at Expectant Hearts is hosting In Other Words today and has chosen an amazing quote:

“Every happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” -Malcolm Muggeridge
WOW! Love this quote.... I believe it with every fiber of my being! The "trick" of life (for me, anyway!) is training myself to listen..

Sometimes I can get so busy in life that I just blow right through, forgetting that God is trying to teach me something in every happening. Sometimes I forget to slow down and ASK Him what He is speaking to me. I continually pray for a SENSITIVITY to the Holy Spirit every day. I want to hear what God is teaching!

Sometimes we think it is just in the BIG things of life that God is teaching us lessons. But, really, He is there through out the smallest details, always calling to us. Again, as Malcolm says, "the art of life is to get the message." Continually, God is speaking love to me....through small victories (like biting my tongue) or a close parking space at Target on a rainy day. He is constantly teaching me life lessons through my family and friends. And, He is giving me eyes to see "my neighbor" the way He sees him. I need to quiet my heart, my mind, and my life, and SEEK HIM. I need to ASK Him, "God, what is it that You are teaching me in this?"

He will teach us life lessons when someone cuts in front of us in line (come back tomorrow for a lesson God taught me through that!!!). He will prompt us to call a friend in need, to smile to grocery clerk, to extend grace to a family member.... But, I must be quiet enough to hear His promptings. I must continually walk with Him, seeking Him, asking Him, listening for and to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was (is) a master storyteller. He used wheat and farmers and widows and sheep and people to tell parables. He used the everyday things of life to teach people spiritual truths. He used common things in their lives to explain eternal principles. He does the same thing today!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding; in ALL your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps (make your path straight)." Prov. 3:5-6

Father God, thank You that You are aware of every moment of my life. Thank You, Holy Spirit, that You are leading me and guiding me. Give me ears to hear You and eyes to see You. Lord, make me sensitive to Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You love me so much that You do change me and teach me and mold me. Thank You that You promise "Your sheep hear Your voice." And, Lord, thank You for Your Word that tells us, "You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD....All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God (psalm 139)..." I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

For some examples of what God taught ME through everyday life, you might like to read THIS or THIS. And, come back tomorrow to read what God taught me through LINE JUMPERS!

Please go HERE to link up and find more "In Other Words"!

Follow ME!

I am reading a wonderful new devotional called, "Jesus Calling~ Enjoying Peace in His Presence." It is written as if Jesus were talking to you. Each day "Jesus" beckons to me to rest in Him, trust Him, walk with Him....
Listen to today's devotion:
"I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents and ascents....Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path. Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me. Learn to trust Me when things go "wrong." Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me. Trusting acceptance of trials brings blessings that far outweigh them all. Walk hand in hand with Me through this day. I have lovingly planned every inch of the way. Trust does not falter when the path becomes rocky and steep. Breathe deep draughts of My Presence, and hold tightly to My hand. Together we can make it!" Day 18
I was pondering "hold tightly to My hand." I thought about all of the times when my children take MY hand and PULL ME..... Instead of FOLLOWING me and going where I am going (or staying), they sometimes take my hand and try to PULL ME whereTHEYwant to go.
Maybe it is because they want to go faster than me....
Maybe it is because they don't know the way and trying to go a different direction...
Maybe something has caught their eye and they want to explore....
As I thought about all of this, I realize that I, too, try to pull my Heavenly Father along at times. I don't want to wait for Him.... I want to explore MY own direction, my own way.... Something catches my eye....
But, part of trusting is knowing that God is the LEADER and I am the FOLLOWER. Jesus said, "Follow ME."
Lord, may I always remember that YOU are the Leader and I the follower. I thank You for Your patience when I run out ahead of You. I thank You that You draw me back, pull me close and lead me in the right direction agian. May I always hold tightly to YOUR hand! I love You, Lord! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

Countdown to 24....only 2 days!

I LOVE the show, 24.

Jack Bauer is my HERO!!!

Superman wears Jack Bauer underwear!!!!!

Only 2 days until the new season of 24 kicks off.

Will Kim give her dad the treatment to save his life? Will it kill her? Who will Jack save today???

If you have never seen the show, each week is one hour of Jack's life. There are 24 weeks of the show to complete a 24 hour day. In that day, Jack fights terrorists, saves damsels in distress, risks his own life, and SAVES THE WORLD!

Each episode is filled with ACTION and DRAMA.

Do you ever feel like you are on an episode of 24????

So much to do with so little time?????

Does it seem like the day FLIES by filled with with so much activity that like Jack, you don't even have time to eat (or sleep)???

Rest in Him.

Yield to Him.

Rely on Him.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you were are weary and burden laden and I will give you rest. ( I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.) Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For my yoke is easy (comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. " Matthew 11:28-30 Ampl.

If you are struggling with busy-ness or would like some inspiration on this topic, I will be speaking about it the "Nurturing Creativity and Efficient Living" conference with A Woman Inspired. I would love to share what God has shown me with you there! See here for all of the details!

Lord, I need You!

Lord, I woke up this morning with a "heavy heart".....not sure why. Maybe because everything going on in the country and world.....maybe because I didn't get everything ACCOMPLISHED that was on my "to do" list yesterday.....

don't know WHY.....

I DO know that I need to renew my mind today......

I know the best way is to immerse myself in Your beautiful Truth..

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2Corin. 3:17
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2Corin. 4:16
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2Peter 1:3
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Ephesians 6:10
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Come near to God and He WILL come near to you. James 4:8

Lord, I thank You for this day! I thank You for Who You Are.....You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are glorious. You are majestic. You are so AWESOME. Let me see You all day today. Remind me with gentle whispers that You love me. Focus my eyes on You and You alone today. Lord, I give myself to You anew today. Lord, thank You for this day. Show me how to live it moment by moment. What do YOU have for me today, Lord? I love You, Lord! I love You, Father! I love You, Jesus! And, I love You, Holy Spirit! Thank You for being my guide. In the precious Name of Christ I pray. It is by His blood and His authority that I come boldly to this Throne, expecting miracles, in sure confidence that You hear me, Lord, and that You are "working all things together for good" for me today. I love You. Word-Filled-Wednesday

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mt. Zion. For there the LORD bestows His blessing, even life forevermore." -Psalm 133

I found this psalm last week while reading. It struck a chord immediately! Did you notice the exclamation point???? David was really making the point! And, how this psalm resonates with me as a mother.

How GOOD and PLEASANT our home is when brothers (and sisters) are living in unity. UNPLEASANT our home is when there is strife.

David was no stranger to family strife. His sons fought with each other, killed one another, and tried to kill him! So...I can feel his passion when speaking about peace. I haven't studied the history of the psalm (although it is included in the "songs of ascents"), but I wonder if David wrote this when it was a peaceful, unified time within his family...

He compares family unity with the anointing of oil. I wonder if he was remembering that precious, special time when Samuel anointed HIS head with oil? The feelings of surprise of being chosen.... The incredible honor of God choosing him to be king of all Israel....
David compares the pouring out of God's blessing and anointing to brothers living together in unity. He says it is THERE, in the place of unity, where God can pour out His blessing.
And, how beautiful it is for us, as children of God, to live in unity, in the absence of strife, in the place of blessing with our brothers and sisters IN CHRIST.
Thank You, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. It is Life. It is Truth. It is Wisdom. Fill us with all spiritual wisdom and knowledge in You, Lord.
And, check out more Word-Filled-Wednesday here at my dear friend, Lori's place!

Happy Birthday, Honey!

This is the day the Lord has made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!!!!Psalm 118:24

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Today is the LOVE of my life's birthday (do I dare share how old?Ha!)

Brian, each year, I fall in love with you more and more. You are such a blessing to me. You are my "better half", constantly encouraging me...helping me....CHALLENGING me to be my best. I love how you are always matter what the SILLY thing I do (like forgetting to turn the furnace back on in below zero weather!!). You are so loving, kind, and gracious.

You are a FANTASTIC cook.....

Teaching Andrew how to be a man..

The ultimate GAME PLAYER...

You even wait in line for hours because it was the "ONLY thing" Andrew wanted to do in Chicago (ha), even though waiting in line is excruciating for you!

Teaching the kids how to fish...

Always the builder....even skeletons!

Such a good Daddy...

Showing them they ARE Princesses...
We love you, Honey!
Happy Birthday!

Conference Winners!


I am so excited to announce the conference winners for A Woman Inspired conference! And, thanks so much for everyone who posted, commented on who you would like to be in 2010. I am praying for all of us as we continue to seek Him in this New Year!

And taa daa.....

Trudy from Journey to becoming

Elizabeth from Our Blessed Family

Jenn (Jenn, please shoot me an email so that I can give you the info. Thanks!)

Carrie Cooper

I know God will be doing amazing things in us and through us this year!


Do you ever growl?

I've recently noticed my 2 year GROWLING. You know, a low, "uhhhh" under her breath. When something isn't going her way- she can't get her boots on, can't get a puzzle piece to fit, can't get a dress on a doll, Buddy (our huge dog) eats her PB&J- she makes this growling noise.

I thought it is was quite "cute" and very comical UNTIL....I realized she picked it up from ME!

I caught myself making that same under-the-breath-like-no-one-can-hear-but-secretly-hope-someone-does-annoyed-low-growling NOISE! Growled when someone didn't pick up their dirty socks and put them in the laundry. Growled when someone didn't put the toilet paper on the roll. Growled when things "weren't going MY way."


It's amazing how much light a two year old can shine on MY own behavior. She is with me all day, everyday, and picks up my habits- both good and bad. And, she is one of the best ways I can HONESTLY see how I am behaving. If you would have asked me if I growl, I would have chuckled and said, "Of course not!"

Pondering this, I reminded myself of those stubborn, stiff-necked Israelites who took 40 years to make a 10 day trip through the desert into the Promised Land. One of the reasons it took so long is that they had a BAD attitude. They constantly complained, grumbled, and murmured....against the food, against their leader, Moses, and against their circumstances.


I do NOT want to be like them! I am sure they "growled"!

Instead, I want to "do everything without arguing or that I can shine like a star in the universe..." (Philiappians 2:14-16)

Father God, I confess that I tend to have a complaining spirit. I might not always verbalize complaints (although I do that as well!), but even things like sighing, growling, and rolling my eyes show a heart that is complaining. I am sorry! It is disrespectful to You and all the generous blessings You have poured out on me. It is selfish and self-focused. I don't want to be self-seeking! I want to have a heart of gratitude.... an "attitude of gratitude"!!! Thank You for Your forgiveness and thank You for showing me this in myself through Abigail. I ask You, Holy Spirit to continue to shine Your Light on me and the ways You want to change me. I know that without You, I am a selfish, self-centered person. You are the good that lives in me! Grow in me joy and gratitude and thankfulness. Help me to get my eyes off of ME and on YOU! I love You, Lord. You are amazing, awesome, loving, wonderful! Thank You that You are changing me and growing me into the woman You created me to be. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.