Are you on fire?

"...I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God."
When I read this verse, how my heart screams..Yes! I want to be "on fire" for the Lord! Passionate! Burning....
Paul is writing to Timothy. These are some of Paul's last words written shortly before he dies. The note in my bible tells what is going on at the time.
"Times are difficult, both morally and spiritually, and Paul wants to encourage Timothy to persevere in his Christian faith and life. As you read this book, be sure to find your daily strength in Jesus Christ and in God's inspired Word."
 
And, then, to encourage Timothy even more, Paul tells him some of my favorite words in Scripture:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fawning fear), but
a spirit of POWER, of love and of self-discipline (and sound mind). AMP
Paul continues,
"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord..but join me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of His purpose and grace."
How I want to encourage you, as well!
Fan into flame this gift of grace God has given you. Seek Him passionately. Don't worry about the world you see around you. Yes, it is getting "worse"- morally and spiritually.
God will give you strength.
God will empower you.
God will pour out His wisdom, discernment, comfort, and peace upon you.
Stay in the faith.
Stay strong (in Him!).
Seek Him.
Fan into flame the Holy Spirit...the GIFT of God!.




Have you seen the homeless?

Have you seen the homeless?

No, I mean SEEN them?

Have you looked into their eyes?

Smiled?

Said "hello"?

Or....

do you look the other way?

Pretend not to see them?

Busy yourself in a conversation?

My husband and I just returned from a trip to San Diego. We had a wonderful time, just the two of us. I had been looking forward to spending some time alone while he attended work meetings. So…..on the first morning of our trip, I went out for a run and to explore the downtown a bit. What I saw surprised and appalled me.
People waking up and beginning their day…..
from a park bench…..
from a makeshift cardboard “tent”….
Now, I am not a stranger to homeless people. We frequently visit Chicago and are familiar with “street people.” But, somehow, seeing them during this trip affected me like never before. Maybe it was the sheer quantity I saw. There were both men and women. I saw every race- white, black, and Asian among the hurting. I saw both young and old. The image of a tall, beautiful woman looking at her reflection in a glass building as she cleaned her face with her hands and saliva will be etched in my mind forever. What struck me, and broke my heart was that all of the people carried something. Some, like the man above, carried grocery bags full of their belongings. Others had black garbage bags stuffed with their life’s possessions. And, some pushed around carts or luggage full of their “stuff.”


I couldn’t even fathom being able to fit all of my belongings- my life- into a cart that I pushed around all day. What unnerved me was witnessing people, human beings rummage through garbage cans looking for food…..
My heart broke for the people I saw that morning. But, the tipping point came when I stopped at Starbuck’s for a tea before heading back to the hotel. As I waited in line, holding back tears and silently praying, a very thin man, about my age, ran in the store, pulled out a discarded half eaten muffin out of the garbage, ran out of the store and ate it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The first thing I did was buy the man a breakfast sandwich and gave it to him.
When I got back to my room, I wept and prayed. I knew I had to do more than just buy someone a sandwich.
I have been reading a life-changing book, Not a Fan. It is about being a FOLLOWER of Jesus, not just a “FAN”- living out a life of faith instead of just talking about it. The book challenges us, as Believers to die to self and live for Christ, following Him wherever He would take us. As I cried out to God that morning, I told Him I wanted to LIVE what I was reading- I wanted it to make a difference in my life! I couldn’t go have a manicure or lie by the pool- I had to live out my faith and DO SOMETHING!
As I prayed in the shower, a thought came to me to spend my day with the homeless.
So, I went to Subway and bought a small stack of gift cards. After praying about what to write in each one, I filled them with messages of hope and love, telling the person reading how much God loves them and how precious they are. On some, I felt led to tell them that God knows their name.
I went back to Starbuck’s, found a table outside and prayed that God would bring people to me and that He would give me strength to do this thing that was REALLY out of my comfort zone. Fear gripped me. What if someone would get violent or yell at me? What if someone started calling me a hypocrite or self-righteous or something? What if I was embarrassed? I couldn’t believe my fears! Here were people rooting through garbage and I WAS WORRIED ABOUT BEING EMBARRASSED????????
I was surprised at how nervous I was. My heart raced. My hands were shaking. I knew I needed to just DO IT. So, when a man approached a garbage can to go through it, I approached him and gave him the card, telling him what it was. He looked shocked, but took it. The next man who approached the garbage had a different reaction, though. He refused to take it. His sad eyes broke my heart as he said, “I can’t go in to Subway like this. Look at me.” And he walked away.
Many discouraging thoughts ran through my mind and most encouraged me to quit.
“What are you doing?”
“You are insulting them.”
“You can’t make a difference.”
But, I continued and my stack got smaller. I finished with the last group of four people all sitting against a building together. When I gave them the last of my cards, they were joyful and kept saying “God bless you.” Here is one of the men.

I am ashamed to say I have forgotten this man’s name. I asked him his name and it was like I gave him a million dollars just asking that. He got tears in his eyes when he told me it.
I may have forgotten, but God knows his name.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows…” James 1:27
“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the cords of unjustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6-7
Lord, may I die daily to myself and follow You wherever You would lead. May I see people the way You see people. Break my heart with what breaks Your heart. Give me strength and courage to do the things that are uncomfortable. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
“Fasting” with you,
Tracy


Urgency


I wrote this in 2008 and am astounded how it still rings true:
 
I have had such a sense of urgency.....a feeling of heaviness on my heart. I have been seeing things with eternal eyes, heart breaking, fearful of time slipping away......

I was speaking to the manager of a Christian radio station and she was painting the picture of the average listener....28 years old, married with one child, goes to church once or twice a month out of a sense of obligation, doesn't have a relationship with Jesus....She shared with me the need to reach this woman, bringing the love and hope of Christ. I have been thinking about her, this listener, so much lately.....

At church this morning, we had an awesome sermon on missions given by Mark Wolter, a missionary to Japan. But, as he finished with a prayer and the verses that the harvest is great, but the workers are few, I again felt such a heaviness

Do we care that there is an aching world out there in need of Jesus? Do we pursue this mission...to share Christ? Do we reach our hands out to heal, to feed, to care?

At the pool today, I looked around.....neighbors and friends. Where are they spiritually? Are they saved? Are they like the radio listener who flips between Christian radio and the pop station, not really "buying into" this God thing? Not sure what they believe, simply going to church out of duty and obligation.

Perfect bodies, expensive cars, kids begging for parents to come swim while they are sipping beers, chatting, flirting, gossipping, comparing their latest acquisitions.....time slipping away.

Lord, am I doing all I can for You? Lord, am I obeying Your calling? Lord, my heart breaks for those who are missing You, refusing You, denying You...

I love blogging. I love that God is able to work in me and through me to encourage others. I am so thankful that I am able to encourage other Christian women in their faith.

But, last week, I was feeling like I need to doing more to reach out to the lost....not just encouraging those in the faith (but, like I said, I want to continue to do that! I need encouragement and am thankful for it through blogging), but also reaching out to someone who is not strong in her faith. So, as I surfed around, I visited some new blogs.  I also checked out a blog of a witch. (Yes, your read that correctly) This, too, broke my heart. She wants to help make pagan blogs more popular. She talked about spells. But, she was also a mom with mom struggles

It is so sad to see the confusion that is out in the world. There may not be lots of witches in our neighborhoods, but there is a world out there turning to other things~ 

appearance, work and careers, materialism (the latest SUV, flat screen TV, handbag....), an affair, TV......

Lord, I pray for this fallen world. I pray for the lost. I pray for the confused. I pray for the reluctant. I pray for the indifferent. I pray for the hopeless.

I pray for the Church. Give us a heart, a desire to spread Your love, Your Truth, Your hope to this world. Lord give us, give ME a boldness to share Christ with this world. Lord, I want to be a worker in Your harvest. Like Isaiah said, "send me!" Lord, I want You to work through me and in me.

Too busy to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus?

My friend Gina wrote:

"It’s is easy to get caught up in our lives and schedules and think we are too busy to open our lives and homes to others. It’s easy to be committed to our own agenda, even our own families, and never open the door of our homes and lives to others. We can get so caught up in our duties–cleaning our house, making perfect meals, having everything in order…following our own schedules…and never allow people to really know us and what God is doing in our lives."

Boy, is she "right on target" here! So often, Satan loves to distract us with so many details that life whirls by and we MISS OUT on so many blessings of just BEING HERE.

Playing board games with the kids.

Smiling at the Target check out girl. In fact, actually LISTENING to her as she talks about her life...... How many times do we take the time to just LISTEN to the people God crosses our paths with?

Calling Mom.

I am such a firm believer in taking time to quietly LISTEN to God in this area. I believe the Holy Spirit is CONSTANTLY laying names of people in our lives on our hearts and minds......people who need to be encouraged in the faith. We never know what a difference one small phone call, email, or visit will make in someone else's life.

Sometimes we get so worried that reaching out will take too much of our precious time.....sometimes we are so saturated with activity that we don't even realize God is calling us to reach out to someone.


Thank You, Jesus for Your Body! May I be a HEALTHY, strong, vibrant, loving part of it! May I be "the hands and feet" of Jesus to all those around me!



REMEMBER?



Have you ever taken the time to ponder all that God has done in your life? Have you thought about how God has been there all along, watching over you, weaving the threads of your life circumstances into a beautiful tapestry? Have you thought about years worth of answered prayer?

The people He has placed in your life to help you....guide you....REFINE you?

Memories from childhood.

From turbulent teenage years.

College.

First job.

Kind words spoken to you that encouraged you.

Pain that He used as sandpaper to refine and polish you.

When we take the time to really SEE how God has been there in our lives....

taking time to REMEMBER Him,

we begin to see His Sovereignty.....

His grace....

His goodness.....

His PATIENCE.

Verse 12 goes on to say, "I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds."

I am adopted and understand the miracle of my mother choosing life in me-centered 60's AND placing me in the family where I am.

Wow....what a MIGHTY DEED!

I remember my first boss as a high school senior. I'll never forget the words he spoke to me on yet another day I was taking advantage of my employer, coming in late and not ready for work.

"Tracy, you will not always be able to get away with things just by flashing your pretty smile."

Those words carry so much weight as I understand life and responsibility better today.

God literally SAVING me as I felt the Holy Spirit warning me to flee different situations in college.... One that stands out in my memory is a frat party where I found myself with just one other girl, dressed and dancing provocatively inside a circle of about 20 drunk frat boys. I know God warned me to flee and I did!

A rainbow that was a sign to Brian and I when we were praying about a job change and move.

Yes, Lord, I will take time to remember Your deeds....Your miracles.....Your works in MY life.



What have you been EATING?

There is such POWER in our tongue.....in our words.

Power to encourage....

to love....

to exercise FAITH....

to bless....

to bring LIFE to all those who hear.

BUT also power to...

discourage....

beat down.....

hate.....

doubt....

curse.....

bring DEATH.....

to ourselves and all those who hear our words.

Proverbs tells us that we EAT the fruit of our words.

What have you been eating lately?

Lord, sanctify my mouth! I want my words to bring LIFE to all those who hear them. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.


Beautiful


















"The King is enthralled by your beauty." Psalm 45:11


In a world that is constantly trying to tell us that we don't "measure up"...

......in lots of ways....

I'm not "good" enough....
I'm not pretty enough...
I'm not skinny enough....
I'm not smart enough....
I'm not a good enough mother...
daughter....
friend....
I'm not good enough because I don't have a husband.
I'm not good enough because I don't have a career.
I'm not good enough...
I'm not enough!

....God tells us something entirely different.

-->
Before the creation of the world, I chose you! (Eph. 1:4)
I knew you before I formed you in the womb. (Jer. 1:5)
I created you with such care and wonder. (Psalm 139:14)
I know you completely, inside and out, like no other. (Psalm 139:1-3)
You are the apple of My eye. (Psalm 17:8)
You are beautiful to Me. (Psalm 45:11)
You are radiant and your face is never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:3)
You are a display of My splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)
I have counted every hair on your head. (Luke 12:7)
I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I surround you with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7)
I hem you in before and behind. (Psalm 139:5)
I watch over your coming and going both now and forever. (Psalm 121)
I redeem your life from the pit. (Psalm 40)
Your name is written on the palms of My hands. (Is. 49:16)
You are a new creation. (2Corinthians 5:17)
I have clothed you in robes of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10)
You are clothed with strength and dignity. (Proverbs 31:25)
You wear a crown of beauty instead of ashes. (Isaiah 61: 3)
I crown you with love and compassion. (Psalm103:4).
And there is no where you could ever go to escape My love for you. (Psalm 139:7)

We have got to get a hold of WHO we are as His Beloved....His precious daughters....and rest in the security of being HIS.

As I was researching facts on beauty and advertising for my talk, I came across this Youtube video. It is HEART WRENCHING and I wept after I watched it. Please know it is graphic, but it is NOTHING you would not see in a Victoria's Secret commercial on TV. I think sometimes we can so insulate ourselves in the Christian community that we aren't always aware of what is going on in the "world." Many women and young girls are watching secular TV and see these commercials daily. Many watch the reality shows that some of these images came from. God has placed such a burden on my heart for our generation and the next generation of young women.....this is what they face daily. The video is called "Onslaught" and it is very appropriately named.


Lord, may I see myself- the way YOU see me...beautiful in Your eyes.  Quiet the whispers (and shouts) of the world that tell me I must be something else to "be enough."  You love me RIGHT WHERE I AM, no matter what I look like.  In fact, YOU are "enthralled"- spellbound, captivated, "filled with wonder and delight" by ME.  You have called me by name and I am YOURS.  I love You, Jesus.

Freedom!

On July 4th, Independence Day in the United States of America, we do more as Americans than just eat hot dogs and watch fireworks. We celebrate our independence!

Lots of people think July 4th commemorates our victory in the Revolutionary War. But, we are actually celebrating the date that our founders signed the Declaration of Independence.

But, what is the "Declaration" all about?

I'm sure if you conducted a "man on the street" interview asking random people about the Declaration, they would know that it was stolen in the movie, "National Treasure," but not much else.

Why is our INDEPENDENCE so important?

And, do we as Americans take it for granted?

I love the verse from Galatians 5:1 that says,

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."


Christ died to set us free from bondage to sin and death.

Deep down in the recesses of our spirits, we have a deep longing to be free.

"For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Independence Day, take a moment, won't you, and ponder some of this wonderful document. Remember always, that we live in the most amazing country in the world. And, because of Divine Providence, we are blessed with incredible liberties, freedoms, and privileges that the rest of the world only dreams about.

Part of the Declaration of Independence:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

I pray YOU will have a wonderful July 4th.....and as you enjoy your hot dog and watch beautiful fireworks light up the sky, let us join together thanking our amazing Lord for the blessing of the United States of America, but most of all, for the beautiful gift of Jesus, who indeed gives us true freedom.

Father, thank You so much for the gift of Jesus, and that through His sacrifice, I, indeed have true freedom from sin and death. Thank You, Lord, that because of Jesus, I am no longer a slave to sin, or have to be in bondage to anything. Thank You, Lord, for the sacrifice of our founding fathers. Thank You for Your gift of the United States of America. Thank You that I am blessed to live here. Thank You, Lord, for the sacrifice of all the brave service men and women who continually fight to keep us free. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.


Have you ever seen an “everyday miracle?”
I believe we will find “everyday miracles” around us if we just open our eyes to see them. God is so amazing and when I slow down long enough to notice, I find little surprises all around me!  For example, a miracle sprouting up in my driveway.

Can you believe this beautiful petunia?  Yes, it is growing in the middle of the asphalt!  Never planted…never watered or cared for…but still growing and blooming and vibrant!  This flower that grew in my driveway looked better than some of my potted ones planted in fertilized, beautiful, nutrient rich soil!

This petunia teaches me a lesson in perseverance.  

When I first saw it, I immediately thought about Romans 5:4 :
“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.” NIV
…and James 1:4 :
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

This little seed, wherever it had come from, had persevered through the rock, the lack of rain, and even the lack of nurturing.

Even through trials, hope perseveres!


Persevering with you,
Tracy

Weeping....


".....weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5
I love this verse. It is such a reminder that sorrow doesn't last forever....there will be JOY again. The night may be dark. It may seem long. It may bring pain....trembling....foreboding....
but, in the morning, there will be joy.
There will be peace.
There will be comfort.
There will be rest (no matter how un-restful the night had been.)
There will be celebrating.....
REJOICING.
I absolutely love this weeping willow tree. It stands so regally near my home. I took this picture when I was running one morning. The sun was rising beautifully behind the tree. As I thought of the sad tree, the weeping willow, the sun was a reminder that in the morning there will be
JOY.

Blessings!

Freedom!

Oh, Lord, You have freed me from my chains!
Hallelujah!
Thank You, Jesus that You came, not only to forgive me for my sins, but that You also came to free me, heal me, and restore my joy!
When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed His intentions by quoting Isaiah 61:1-3

"The Spirit of the Sovereign
Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed
me
to preach good news to the
poor.
He has sent me to bind up
the
brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom
for
the
captives
and release from darkness
for
the
prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the
Lord's favor
and the day of vengeance of
our God,
to comfort all who
mourn,
and provide for those who
grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of
beauty
instead of
ashes,
the oil of
gladness
instead of
mourning,
and a garment of
praise
instead of a spirit of
despair.

Are you experiencing any chains in your life? Anything that is holding you down, keeping you imprisoned?
A sin that you cannot break free from?
Doubt?
Fear?
Unbelief?
Jesus came to set the captives free- to break any chains that bind us.
Jesus came so that, in a relationship with Him, we find freedom. We experience joy. He wants to heal us, restore us.





Breathe on Me, O Breath of God

Looking over some of my older posts, I found this one and decided to republish it. It is still the CRY of my heart!
Oh, Lord, how I need You. How I want to be purified in You, by You. Lord, I want to pour out all of me and be filled with You. Lord, create in me a new heart. I have a vision of who You created me to be, who I want to be....... How I want more of You. How I want to be more like You, Christ Jesus. Change me, mold me, transform me. Draw me to You, Lord.

Words from "Father, Blessed Father" by the Newsboys

"Will You take what we have
A sacrifice unto You
Then create clean hearts
And, Lord, make our spirits new"
Oh, Lord, take my heart and make my heart and spirit new. There are so many things I want to change. I know You have created me to rise above these things. I am an eagle flying above.....
Take what I have as a sacrifice, I make myself a living sacrifice..... I fall so short, I need You.

"Father, blessed Father,
Lead and guide us for Your name's sake
And keep us in the shelter of Your presence
'Till we see Your face"

Lord, yes! Lead me and guide me. When I am foolishly going my own way, stop me and guide me in the right direction. I want to hide in the shelter of Your wings- in Your presence. Oh, how I long for Your presence..... How I want to see Your face........ I need You, God!

"Let us hear what You say
Let us know Your voice and all Your ways
Take our hands, lead us home
To the refuge that we find in You alone"

Father, I long for Your voice, leading me and guiding me. I know it is in You and You ALONE where I find refuge. Let all the other voices around me become so dim so that I can only hear You.... How I love You, Father!

"All adoration
To our Lord Redeemer
To our Shepherd
Who carries us forevermore
"

All adoration to You, my God! I adore You! You alone are worthy of my praise! I am speechless, I can't find the word that would be worthy, adequate to describe my love, gratitude, amazement that You are my Savior. You save me over and over......... Will I ever stop needing to be rescued? Thank You that You are the Shepherd that carries me forever..... I thank You that I am not walking alone, but being carried by You, my precious Lord.

"Breathe on me
Breathe, oh, Breath of God
Breathe, oh Breath of Life
Breathe on me
Till my heart is new
Oh Lord, oh Lord
Till my heart is new"

Until my heart is new............


Father, thank You. Thank You for loving me, someone so unworthy. You make me new. You wash me clean. I am righteous. I am holy. Not because of me or anything I could ever do... Only because of Your love. Your love, it amazes me. No matter how many times I mess up, stumble and fall, You are there, picking me up, brushing me off, making me clean. How can You love me so? Oh, Lord, I am nothing without You. Thank You. Thank You.

Father, change my heart. Purify me. Take away every impatient attitude. Every selfish motive and desire. Take away my critical spirit. Take away my love of SELF. Take every jealous thought, every ungrateful attitude.

Make my heart like You- generous, gentle, kind, long-suffering and patient. I long to be gentle and humble and compassionate. Help me to react to people the way You would. Help me to be slow to speak, slow to get angry, and quick to listen. Help me Lord, to radiate You, Your love, Your gentleness, kindness, goodness........ I want Your rivers of life to overflow from me unto everyone I touch, everyone I meet. Breathe on me, O Breath of God. Breath on me until my heart is new. Breathe on me.....Breathe on me.........Breath of Life, until my heart is new. Breath on me……breathe on me……….breathe on me………….

Thank you, Jesus!

Spiritual Mothers.....


Let's ponder together these questions:


How can we mentor in ways that are pleasing to God?

How can we be sure the word of God is not maligned in the way we mentor and learn?


One of the most important aspects of mentoring is the motive behind what we are say. Are we mentoring in love, building strong, healthy relationships and sharing authentically, or do we tend to be a self-righteous, bossy "know-it-all" because the attitude of our heart is not right? Do we live what we say? Are we encouraging? Are we trying to point out others' flaws (like Joyce Meyer will put it- are we trying to be "Holy Ghost Jr."?) just for the sake of "being right"?

The most important way to mentor in a way pleasing to God is to LISTEN to God! We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, following His lead. There will be times when He calls us to open our mouths to encourage, but also to rebuke, challenge, train, and correct by His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). But, there will also be times when the Holy Spirit calls us to SHUT UP and just live out our example, loving and serving those we mentor. They will SEE with our deeds. They will learn by our love.

One of the ways to make sure the Word of God is not maligned in the way we mentor is to LIVE what we say. As Titus says, "Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good."

God gave me quite an example over the weekend. My girls and I had a "Girls' Night" because all the boys in our home had weekend retreats. So, my 10 yr. old invited 2 friends and my 8 year old invited a friend and we went off to the Hannah Montana movie. Well, I had purchased the tickets in advance and there was a miscommunication. I thought I bought 5 kids' tickets and 1 adult. The lady behind me and I laughed at how "brave" I was. When we arrived, we running a little late and needed to buy the popcorn and get in quickly before the previews began. The girls were excited and when I handed the tickets to the usher, we were laughing and we didn't notice that I was one short.

But, I noticed in the movie theater. The movie was starting, so I decided to think about it afterwards. At first I kind of brushed it off, thinking that I probably had enough tickets. But, during the movie, I kept thinking it. At one point, I told myself, "Tracy, would you risk losing your anointing, your blessing, your close walk with God for a $6 movie ticket????"

So, as soon as that show was over, we made our way to the manager's desk to pay for the ticket! I told the girls what I had did. What I was showing them was to be honest, even if you "get away" with something. Even if no one else notices, God knows and it is important to do what is right. Living out honesty made much a greater impact than any lecture on honesty ever would. Not to mention, the young girl at the desk who I explained the situation to was "blown away" that a person would actually come up and try to pay for a movie once it was over!

We can't just "talk the talk" but we MUST "walk the walk". And, when we make mistakes (notice I said WHEN not if!), we need to be real and share those as well. Authentic relationships share the struggles and challenges.

One more thought about mentors. Lisa Bevere says she prefers the term "spiritual mothers" instead of spiritual mentors. A mentor wants the person she is helping to do well, but not "too well." A mentor doesn't always want the person to do better than her. Thinking about it in the business world- a mentor wouldn't want the person he is mentoring to do BETTER than him because that person may take his job!

BUT....a MAMA always wants her CHILDREN to do even more than she even did! A MAMA wants her children to have more, do more, be more than she could ever imagine.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
I have written about spiritual mothers here and here also. I hope you have a few minutes to read these as well! Please stop by the well to gain insight and wisdom from many other "Spiritual Mamas". We can learn much from one another!

Be the LIGHT!




“Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world;they don’t make a difference by being the same.”from Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian
I LOVE this quote!

Jesus told us that we are “the light of the world.” He said, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

When we were out in the desert in Arizona, we were staying at a remote resort outside of Phoenix. At night we could go out on the balcony and look out into the darkness. It is so DARK in the desert. But, when we turned towards Phoenix, the city was a shining light in the darkness. It was BRIGHT and could be seen for miles and miles and miles. Jesus says WE are to be that light…..

The world is HUNGRY for something different. The world is lost and hungry and suffering and debilitated and ailing……it is darkness. Flip channels to any variety of reality shows and watch for a few minutes and you will see people who are empty…searching…needing…

The world looks to the Church to be DIFFERENT. Yes, the world is quick to condemn us as Christians. But, usually it is because we are hypocritical…saying one thing and doing another…. If they were honest, they would tell us that they WANT us to be DIFFERENT.

When you are in the dark, what is it that you stumble around for? What is it that you are searching for? What is it that you desire more than anything else?

LIGHT

Are we shining? Are we shining the Light of Christ?

Or…are focused on BEING LIKE THE WORLD? Are we allowing the world to seep in…little by little…so that the lines are blurred and we can’t be distinguished from the world?

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor….In your anger do not sin. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, vulgar talk or coarse joking, which are of out of place, but rather thanksgiving…..
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 4 and 5)

Lord, may I be a Light shining for You. When the world looks at me, may they see something different…holy, set apart, separate. Lord, be big in me. Lord, I choose to put ON YOU. I love You, Lord.

Good Friday.....













Thank you Jesus.......


May I never forget how much my salvation cost.
In the words of a song, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross."
Thank you, Jesus......

When "they" say SHUT UP, I will shout louder...

Have you ever read about my friend "BART" in Mark 10?  How I want to be like blind "Bart"!  Here is his story:

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I love that he SHOUTED. He is not afraid to cry out to Jesus. Listen to what happens next...

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
 
Isn't that always the way? Someone is always there to tell us to be quiet....don't bother Jesus....He is too busy.....He isn't concerned with our "little problems."

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
Jesus STOPPED.....stopped what He was doing....stopped where He was going.
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
Don't you love that? Jesus asks each of us, "What do you want Me to do for YOU?"
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 

That is the cry of my heart- Jesus, I want to SEE. Give me eyes to see You. Give me spiritual eyes. Like the words to "Amazing Grace," I was blind, but now I see." Look what happens next.

52 “Go,” said Jesus, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. 

Notice that the man's FAITH healed him. Lord, may I have faith like that! And, what does he do next?

He FOLLOWS Jesus.

May I always follow You, Jesus. May I always follow You.

Father, thank You that You are ever ready to heal me....all I have to do is ask. May I always seek hard after you, no matter who or how many are telling me to "shut up." May I be like the man and SHOUT LOUDER! Lord, may I have that kind of faith! Lord, thank You for Your compassion. Thank You that You open wide my eyes to see You. Thank You that, although I was blind, now I see. Thank You, Jesus. Praise You.


Don’t Waste Your Life


2012 seemed to pass by so quickly and another new year is just beginning. I have found, if I am not careful, I can allow time to slip by too quickly, and when I look back, I am disappointed, feeling like I have wasted this precious time!

Have you made New Year’s Resolutions yet?

Sometimes I make Resolutions with the best intentions, but all too quickly they are forgotten.

Resolutions seem to be important to all of us. As I have talked to women, a common desire has resonated- to find out and fulfill her "purpose". Nobody wants her life to be a waste! Most people want to leave a fingerprint on the world, to make a difference, to have an impact on others’ lives. We want to our lives to be special.

Have you ever wondered what God wants to do with YOUR life? What His purpose is for your life?

Does He have a plan?


Yes, God does have a plan for our lives!
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.
“Plans for hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”
So, how do I live out these plans, WITHOUT wasting precious time?
Paul writes in Ephesians, “Be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

PAUL IS TALKING ABOUT BEING DELIBERATE AT LIVING OUR LIVES- PAYING ATTENTION, ON PURPOSE KIND OF LIVING.

Be careful how you live. Here, the Greek literally means, “don’t stumble through life.” Do you ever find yourself “stumbling through life?” Does life ever seem to fly by so quickly that you find yourself saying, like me, “Where did 2012 go?!”

I saw a billboard once that said, Time flies, but you are the pilot.” I loved that. That is what Paul is saying here. You are the pilot, and fly carefully! “Be careful how you live … and try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

Do you know what the Lord wants you to do?

Have you ever thought about it? Maybe you’re thinking, “I didn’t know the Lord wanted me to do anything!”

What is the first thing God wants us to do? He wants us to hunger for Him! More than service or obedience, or anything, God wants us to seek after Him in an intimate, real, living, breathing relationship with Him. Jesus said the greatest commandment was "to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, and all of your strength. Then, love your neighbor as yourself.”

You see, sometimes we get confused and we have a religion, but we don’t have a relationship with the One who so desires us.

“What else does God want from MY life?”

Jesus wants a relationship with Him, AND He wants us to make HIM our FIRST passion. God wants our wholehearted devotion, and He wants our whole life. Our whole life, not just part of it, not jut on Sunday mornings, ALL of it!

Romans 6:13 says, “Give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your WHOLE BODY as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God.”
Give ourselves completely, completely to God- every part of our lives in total surrender to Him.


So often, we only allow God into the “spiritual” part of our lives. We go to church on Sundays. We have our “quiet times.” We even are reading through the Bible. But, God wants so much more than that- He wants it all- my whole life. Not just the areas that I think are “OK” to give to Him, the “churchy things, GOING TO CHURCH, GOING TO LADIES BIBLE STUDY, RETREATS, SERVING IN THE CHURCH, NOT JUST THOSE THINGS, but every area, my marriage, my relationship with my kids, my home, my friends, my work, my free time. He wants every thought, every decision, every choice to be surrendered to Him, totally making Him Lord of my life!


So, for me, this year, 2013, I purpose to NOT waste my life! I intend to slow down and make God my first priority. I want to get lost in my relationship with Him. I want to spend time at His feet, filling up on Him. I want to give Him everything....

New Year’s Resolutions

As I was reading my past resolutions, I decided to reprint them from 2011. These are STILL the cry of my heart. I was encouraged by them and hope that you, too, will be.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for Christ Jesus took hold of me…But, one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…” –Philippians 3:12-14


Father God, pour out Your Wisdom on me, Lord, as I come to You at the beginning of this New Year. Give me a Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that I know may know You better. Lord, I want my resolutions to line up with Your Will and Your perfect plan for my life. I know I can make all of the plans I want, but they will only succeed if they are yours. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but t is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.So, I am purposing to “trust in the LORD with all of my heart, NOT leaning upon my own understanding, but acknowledging You, God, in every area of my life, every “resolution” I have, then You will direct my steps, You will make my paths straight." I know You have “plans for me. Plans to prosper me and not harm me. Plans for good and not evil.” I thank You, Lord that You have a purpose for me and that You already have a calling in store for me. For I am “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for me to do! So, Lord, with Your help, let me dedicate this year, 2013, to You. Let me purpose in my heart and mind, and with my actions glorify Your Name with my life. I want to choose to be “a living sacrifice,” giving You all that I am, and everything I have. I can only do it by the power of the Holy Spirit! I can only do through You! Thank God, I can only do all things THROUGH Christ, who strengthens me! Thank You, God that I don’t have to do it on my own! Praise You, Father! Praise You, Jesus! And thank You, Holy Spirit!
Well, thankfully, each year offers an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to Christ. Thank God that He offers “do overs”, and even though 2012 was an awesome year (although challenging), I have the gift of a new beginning. I tend to look at all of the things I WANTED to do in 2012, but didn’t. I tend to “beat myself up” about not accomplishing all that was on my heart. But, Lord, You are merciful, full of grace, and very patient- even when I am impatient. Thank You that this is chance to renew my mind in Your TRUTH!

I am going to thank You that I am a new creation! The old has gone and the new has come! I put off my old self, right now, right here where I am. I am putting off the old self- the old mistakes, the old failures. I am made new in the attitude of my mind and am putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. I am getting rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. I am kind and compassionate to others, forgiving just as in Christ God forgave me. I am an imitator of God, as a dearly loved child and living a life of love. Like Christ, I am giving myself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 4-5)

In 2013 I am purposing to be a better helpmate to Brian. Lord, after You, let me make Brian my first priority, even when I don’t feel like it. I am purposing in my heart, “to be submissive to Brian so that, even if he doesn’t believe the Word, he may be won over( to living for You) without words but by my behavior. I want Brian to see the purity and reverence of my life, and God, I want You to be pleased with my gentle and quiet spirit. I know a “wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears hers down with her own hands.” Help me to be a wise wife in all matters, looking to You for guidance and sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I long to be that Proverbs 31 woman honoring God by honoring Brian. In 2013, Brian will “have full confidence in me and he will arise and call me blessed and he will praise me.” (v. 11, 28)

Lord, I pray that I would also be a wise mother. May “I speak with wisdom. May faithful instruction be on my tongue.” May I be a constant encourager to my children, their biggest cheerleader, coach, and mentor. Again, “May no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, only words that are useful in building others up.” Help me to shine Your Light to my children, Lord. Help me, by being a compassionate, gentle, joyful, loving, peaceful, patient, good, and self-controlled mother, draw them closer to You. May they see in my relationship with You, Jesus, something they want! May they be encouraged to seek after You with all of their hearts because Mama loves the Lord! Lord, I pray for each of them- Andrew, Ashley, Aly, Aaron, and Abigail. May each of my children be IN LOVE with You.

I pray over my ministry. Lord, again, I know You have plans for me. Guide me and lead me. I pray You will bring opportunities to speak Your Word, encouraging women and leading them to the only source of LIFE, Jesus Christ. Lord, I pray this would be a HUGE year where many unbelievers trust in the Name Jesus Christ. I thank You, Father that You have called me to be a speaker. Help me to organize my ministry and help me in the area of time management. Lead me and direct me, gracious Father. “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of Your hands.” Thank You Lord, that “the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love…" Thank You, Lord, that “when we take great delight in You, You will give us the desires of our hearts.”

And, because this is a new year of homeschooling, I pray over this as well. I purpose to give You my plans. Lord, lead us and guide us. Fill me with Your peace and patience. Help me to teach my children what is truly important. Give me the wisdom and knowledge to teach and lead them.

I love You, Lord! I love You, Lord!

Praying for a Blessed 2013 for you.....

Greetings to all of you! I wanted to wish you a Blessed New Year!

Yes, I pray it will be "happy", but even more so, I pray that the JOY of the Lord will be yours. I pray that you experience His Peace and His Presence, even if you are experiencing the most challenging of trials. May the "JOY of the LORD be your strength." I pray that your joy "will know no bounds." I pray that even though you may grow tired, your strength will be renewed, and that "you will soar on wings like eagles." I pray this will be a year filled with His abundance, His grace, for "His grace is sufficient for ALL your needs," and His blessing. May you know Him in a deeper way. May you experience all that He is.

May the "Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine down upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace."

...from Ephesians 3
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever, AMEN!

May YOUR 2013 be more than YOU can ask or even imagine, filled with His love, His power, His Presence......

Be blessed.