Not just a "beauty pageant"!

National American we come!

Ashley and Aly were both selected to be finalists in our Iowa state National American Miss Pageant- in the Pre-Teen division. They are really excited! It is not an ordinary "beauty pageant." NAM focuses on "poise, self-confidence, and valuable communication skills." They also emphasize community service. Their mission is "dedicated to celebrating America’s greatness and encouraging its future leaders." Also, in their age division, make-up is not allowed. And, the only swimsuit needed will be the one to swim in the hotel pool!

Go here to learn more about this awesome program.

Both girls see this as an opportunity to share their faith and be "lights" shining for God. Ashley is planning to sing "In Christ Alone."

As part of the program, Ashely and Aly need to find donors to raise the individual sponsor fee. No donation is too small or too large! :) If you would like to help them, you may make a donation conveniently online- it only takes a minute! They have page here with more information.

The state finals are July 23 and 24 in Waterloo, IA. If you are free we'd love to see you!

We really appreciate your support. Prayer support is very much appreciated! Thanks so much!

Again, visit NAM for more details.

The Good Ole' Days......

"I want to go back to the good ole' days, God!"

Back to slavery.

Back to hardship.

Back to death.

Can you believe the Israelites would even consider this????!!!!

These are accounts of the Israelites in the wilderness from Numbers 16. It is fascinating....and boy, can I see MYSELF in these accounts!

Even though God delivered them with signs and miracles from BONDAGE and cruel slavery, every time they would come up against hardship in the desert (or "wilderness"), they would grumble and complain to Moses. They would ask Moses, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt? We should go back to Egypt!" This was the one that REALLY got me, "Isn't is enough that you have brought us up OUT OF A LAND FLOWING WITH MILK HONEY (EGYPT), to kill us in the desert? Morever, you haven't brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards."

Can you believe that?! Yes, Egypt was a land flowing with "milk and honey", but not for them! They were slaves! They did not even get to experience the bounty and prosperity!

Isn't that just like us, at times? When times get hard, as God is leading me through my own personal wilderness, I cry out for the way things WERE. I would rather grumble and complain about the "good ole' days", even when they weren't in truth so good, instead of digging my heals in, taking God's hand and walking with Him in the desert. I willingly trade freedom for bondage.

What REALLY blew me away, though, is that a group of priests get really mad and rebel against Moses and Aaron (Moses' brother and "top" priest). A priest named Korah (remember this name!) got his family and 250 other leaders to rise up against Moses. He wants some of Moses' power. He says, "The whole community is holy (yea, right!), and the LORD is with all of them. Why do you put yourselves above them?"

You see, in Korah's eyes, "holy" meant following all of the laws and rituals. But, God looks beyond following the law....He looks at the heart. Yes, they were following and obeying God's directions, but with what kind of attitude? And, didn't God Himself place Moses in charge? Wasn't it Moses who led them out of Egypt? And, this is most important, who talked to God? Who continually was in the presence of God? It was Moses.

Moses had a HEART for God, a relationship with Him, a hunger for His presence.

So, the next day they go to appear before God, to let Him judge between them. God tells Moses and Aaron to seperate themselves from these men (Korah, his family, and 250 leaders) so that He can "put an end to them at once." Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, "O God, God of the spirits of mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?" Moses does what He has continually done through grumbling and complaining of the Israelites- He falls face down and cries out for God's mercy. When you read the story, the people grumble and blame Moses. It strikes me that Moses is forgiving and merciful even when He is the brunt of all their bad behavior. Anyway, God has everyone move away from Korah, Datham, and Abiram (family). He warned the assembly, "Move away from their tents or you will be swept away because of their sins."

God opened the earth and swallowed up the families of these men (women and children, too), then a" fire came out of the LORD and consumed the 250 men who followed Korah."

God was MAD! He was angry at their rebellion, their lack of reverence, complaining, and pride. Now you would think that would have been the end of it, wouldn't you? I mean, if it would have been me, if I saw the earth open up and swallow people and then a fire consume 250 more, I would have been doing some big time repenting! For us, it obvious that they had sinned and offended the LORD greatly. But, can you believe this, the next morning, " the WHOLE (YES, WHOLE!) community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 'You have killed the LORD'S people' they say."

What rebellion! And, blaming! WHO killed the community???? MOSES????? We never want to take responsiblity of our own actions when it much easier to blame someone else! Notice, again, that it is against Moses that grumble and blame. Even though they saw with their own eyes the earth open up and fire come from the LORD.

Well, you can guess that the LORD was ANGRY! He was going to "put an end to them at once." Again, Moses and Aaron fall facedown on behalf of the people. Moses tells Aaron to put incence in his censer to make atonement for the people. "The wrath came out of the LORD and the plague had started." But, Aaron runs over to the people with his censer and made atonement for the people." The plague had already started, so Aaron was a dividing line between the living and the dead. The plague stopped where he stood. 14,700 people died from the plague.

OK, this so amazed me. I wondered how could the people have been so obstinate, rebellious, stubborn? How could they have witnessed with their own eyes God's anger the day before as He dealt with the rebellious Korah and his followers, and still not be humble and repentant? Instead, they go and do the same thing? Didn't they see how angry God was? I began asking God how could this be? How can people see with their own eyes the will of God, and still rebel against Him? Wouldn't what they witnessed the day before nipped any grumbling in the bud? Stopped it cold? Obviously not. But, how, why?

And, God showed me that these people, although they follwed Him, did not have a "relationship" with the Living God. They foll0wed His commands and rules, but didn't know His heart. They didn't seek after the presence of God ("you go, Moses, and talk to God for us"). They didn't spend time with Him, getting to know HIM. They wanted His blessings and the promised land, but they didn't want to get to know Him.

And, how many of us are like that today? We want all the benefits of God, His blessings, answered prayer, our "promised land", but are not willing to get to know HIM, to spend time with Him, to get to know His heart. Do we hunger after His presence? Do we seek HIM above all else? Not just praying because we need something, but praying and reading His Word because we want Him more and more. We long for Him because life without His presence is NOTHING!

Nothing compares to the joy and the passion we fill when we are walking with Him.

Moses was amazing. Do you know that when God got fed up with the Israelites at one point, He told Moses, "OK, go into the promised land. I will send an angel to go in before you to clear the way. BUT, I am not going in with you. You will not have my presence." But, Moses refuses! He knows that life in the desert WITH God is better than any promised land full of blessing and prosperity WITHOUT God.

Oh, God, may that always be MY prayer, the cry of MY heart! May I say I don't want the thing (no matter how wonderful) if You are not going to be with me! I don't want the job promotion if I won't have Your presence with us. I don't want any speaking opportunity if Your Spirit is not there! I don't want ____ without YOUR presence!

Oh, God, may we hunger and thirst for Your presence above all! May we continue to seek You with all of heart, our soul, our mind, our strength. May Your love be better than life!

"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."

Rejoicing in His amazing love!

One thing at Laced with Grace

Oh, I hope you can join me today at Laced with Grace! I will be chatting about ONE THING!

Come on over! Click here.

Come sit awhile....

I was going through some old blog posts and "found" this. I say found, like it was an accident, but it wasn't.....God knew I needed to be encouraged by this post again and led me to it. My prayer is that it encourages you as well:

I was reading an old journal this morning during my very SHORT prayer time (got up late!) and Lord, as I read it, my heart cried out for You! Where is this girl who poured out her heart to You, who dove into the Word, hungry for more and more and more? Reading my commentary of several Old Testament passages, I was a little surprised by my wisdom and understanding of the scriptures which ONLY comes from the Holy Spirit. None of me- all of You, Lord. I do not want this to sound prideful at all because it is not TRACY, but You, God!

You had given me such depth of knowledge of what I was studying that it surprised me this morning. But, hasn't that been my prayer from the start? That You Lord would "give me a spirit of wisdom and understanding so that I may know You better?" And, when "you draw near to God, He will draw near to you." And, "Seek the Lord with all your heart and He will be found by you." Those have always been my prayers.....what I have been crying out for from the beginning. You answer prayer! I had forgotten the things I had written. That makes me sad.

I want to continue to grow in You, Lord. I want to continue to go deeper. I want to experience You more and more. I want Your Word to continue to open up to me and "blow me away."

Last week I was listening to Revelation (Audio Bible) and again, Revelation 2:2-5 hit me.

"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance....Yet
I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the
height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at

Oh, Lord, I repent! I do not want to forsake You! I want to draw nearer to You, not become distant! O, Lord, forgive me!

What is going on?

One thing that comes to mind is busyness. Oh, how the enemy loves to use this against me! And, it is not a new trick, but one that is "tried and true" that he brings back again and again to trip me.

Lord, I know I need to come and rest in come and sit with You awhile. I love You so much, Lord. I want to grow in my relationship with You! I don't want to backslide! I don't want to forget my first love! I love You so much, Jesus!

Thank You for reminding me about these journals. Thank You for reminding me that "You pour out Your wisdom GENEROUSLY to anyone who asks." Thank You for slowing me down to rest in You. I know You are the most important thing in life. I know You are my first love. I rededicate myself to You. I ask You, Lord, to fill my cup to overflowing again. My heart and flesh cry out, for You the living God. You are life. You are life. I love You.