Friday, January 22, 2016

"Pruning"

I wrote this four years ago today. I just read it as though someone else wrote it. The reason for that is because someone else did write it. I'm not the same person I was four years ago. A lot of "life" has happened between now and then. This was one of those posts that the Holy Spirit helped me write. And I really needed to read it today. I read it as though he was the one giving the wisdom, because he was. When I write, it's just as much for me as it is for the people I'm writing for. You. I pray you are blessed and encouraged. Please click on the link below. ❤ #trustmuscles

It's Not Weird, It's Just God: "Pruning"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Re-Ignited and It Feels So Good

I was asked straight to my face this afternoon, "What is your dream? What is your purpose? What do you want to do with your life that you can't do right now? How do you see yourself? What do you see yourself doing with your life? Think big. I want you to think BIG. Imagine that there are no limits on your dream. So, what is your dream? Think about it and tell me when you come back to see me tomorrow."

Wow! I've sat in many church sermons about dreams. I've been to seminars and conferences where the speakers talked about dreams, achieving goals, etc. But, I've never had someone so passionately ask me straight to my face what my dream is, and what I feel my purpose in life is. When he was done asking me, I knew immediately what my dream is. Actually, what my dreamS are. It's not just one dream. It's three.

With everything that's happened in my life over the last oh, say, 21 years, I haven't thought much about my dreams. They kind of died the day I fractured my foot on Chuckanut Ridge in Bellingham, WA. (I know, funny name, beautiful place. But, brutal hike.) Actually, it was about a week later when I realized there really was a problem with my foot and I needed to get it checked out.
What should have been a quick 4-6 week recovery turned into a life-long, chronic disease that has robbed me of so much. However, had I not gone through all that I've gone through because of this disease, the dreams I have in my heart today wouldn't be there. Of that I am certain. I was selfish. I was heading down a road I shouldn't have been on. My dreams at the time of my injury were all about me, myself, and I. Yuck. Had I not fractured my foot, I know for a fact my life would not be what it is today. I actually shudder to think of where I could have ended up if I hadn't been protected by pain.

What? Did I really just say I was protected by pain? Yes! This past summer, I heard a preacher say the following statement, and it changed my life. Ready for it? Here it is... "What God doesn't protect you from, He'll preserve you in." God could have prevented me from fracturing my foot. He could have protected me from that tiny injury turning into a chronic disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. However, he has allowed me to experience serious pain and suffering, all the while preserving me in the process.

He has preserved me. He has helped me keep my heart soft when I could have very easily become a miserable and bitter person. He has allowed me to keep my joy, even when I thought I'd never feel joy again. He has allowed me to help other people with this disease, and with other chronic pain issues as well. He has taught me how to have deep compassion for people who are hurting. But, only because I know what deep hurt feels like.

So, in one afternoon, my dreams have been re-ignited. My focus is clear. My mission is before me and I am going to take it on head first. I'm getting my dreams back! I'm taking my identity back! As the amazing Bethel worship song says, "I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God..." So, here goes the jump. I'm on the edge and my parachute is ready. Watch out world, 'cuz I'm about to leap. Now, worship with me... ‪#‎trustmuscles‬

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What's Your "Address?"

My husband and I were in the kitchen making dinner last night. He was telling me about a scripture from his devotional book the day before and how he liked the way the author had described the verse and what it meant. I asked him if he could remember which scripture it was and he said, "No, I don't remember the address." I was washing a dish when he said that and a question popped into my head. Then it turned into an idea, and now it's the inspiration behind this blog post, "What's Your Address?"

I've heard many people, including myself, say they have a "life verse." A scripture that either God gave them specifically to memorize and carry in their hearts to encourage them, or one that really spoke to them in some way and they've claimed it as their personal life verse that's helped them through the various seasons in their lives. The question that popped into my head as I was washing dishes was, "What's my address?" What is the one verse that I go to continually that is specifically encouraging to me? It immediately came to memory. My address is Proverbs 3:25-26. "Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared."

God gave me that scripture when I was 9 years old. I had just lost my friend, who was also 9, to a brain tumor. Not only that, but another little girl in our church who was only 5 years old, if I remember correctly, had also lost her battle with brain cancer not far apart from my neighborhood friend. I remember the fear that crept into my life as I sat in the funeral of the 5 year old girl, staring at the tiny white coffin at the front of the church. The fear was multiplied when I watched my friend, Leslie, suffer in her final weeks; having lost all her long, gorgeous, chestnut brown hair, then going blind, then deaf, then into the arms of Jesus. It was a very traumatic time in my young life and I can remember the fear creeping into my heart more and more each day. If I had a headache, I thought I had a brain tumor. If I was really tired or didn't feel well, I thought surely I had an incurable disease of some kind. I worried about myself and everyone around me that I loved. I was afraid of everything. It affected my sleep, my schooling, my relationships with my family and friends. Really, every area of my life. And that fear kept growing into my adulthood. It wasn't until May of 2012 that I was finally and completely delivered from fear.

The ironic part, (but not really when you consider the power of fear and negative thinking to affect the body in a physical way,) is that I did end up with a terrible, incurable neurological disease that began when I was 18 years old, 21 years ago. Many of you know what it is, but for those who are new to my blog, it's called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD). You can read about it here. Then, in 2011, I was diagnosed with an incurable auto-immune disease called Celiac Disease. Most of you would be familiar with that one after all the "gluten free" media circus lately, but if you want to know the real details of this disease, you can read about it here. I assure you, it's not just a gluten free "fad diet" to those of us who suffer with this. But, that's not the point of this post, so I'll move on. :)

The other ironic part is that my wonderful and loving Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July of 2010. He fought an incredible fight of faith against brain cancer for 4 1/2 years and just passed away on April 1st of this year. In my previous post, I talked about how I've been handling the grief of losing my hero, my Daddy. I am happy to say, however, that I have greatly improved even since writing that post. I'm telling you, writing is healing. And the power of confession is even more healing.

In the Amplified Bible, my address reads, "Be not afraid of sudden terror and panic, nor of the stormy blast or the storm and ruin of the wicked when it comes [for you will be guiltless], For the Lord shall be your confidence, firm and strong, and shall keep your foot from being caught [in a trap or some hidden danger.]" I love that! I love it even more because this verse has brought me great assurance during all the trials I've faced, and still face today. Especially the part that says, "for you will be guiltless." I fought against guilt right along with fear for almost 20 years. I felt guilty for being afraid. I thought I was being punished by God every time my body was stricken with yet another physical issue. That couldn't have been further from truth. GOD IS OUR HEALER AND HE LOVES US!

As my husband and I kept chatting last night, I realized that in almost 15 years of marriage, I'd never asked him what his life verse is, his address. He told me it's Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." What an amazing scripture to have as your address!

So, what's your address? I would really like to know which scriptures in the inspired Word of God have become your life verse. And, if you feel comfortable, I'd love to know your story about why that verse is your "address." You can share in the comment section of this blog post, or in the comment section on Facebook, if that's the link that brought you here. Whatever means you'd like to use to tell me your address and your story behind it, I would LOVE to hear from you. I am greatly encouraged by other people's stories.

Some of you may be thinking, "Gosh, I don't know what my life verse is. I've never really had a scripture that I felt was specifically for me." That's OK! Can I encourage you to dig into God's Word and simply ask him if there's a verse he'd like to encourage you with? Maybe it's just for today! But friends, today is all we have anyway, right? So, please share your stories with me. If you have a specific prayer request, I'd love to receive those as well. You can fill out the contact form on the right side of this post and it will be sent to my confidential email address. I'd love to pray for you!

Be encouraged my friends. The Bible is the ultimate "Thomas Guide." It will lead you to the addresses (scriptures) that will change your life.

Love,

Tracie

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Name is Tracie, and...

It's been over five months since my last post. Hmm...sounds a bit like I'm in a confessional, or an AA meeting. Well, it may be fitting considering what I've been through in the last nine months. I have some confessions, and I have some moments of achievement. I have things I need to tell you about, because writing brings me peace, and I have some things to tell you about that I'm not proud of, but I believe they will encourage someone else who may be experiencing the same sorts of issues.

A lot of you know most of my story, but maybe not the most recent parts. For the sake of not making this the longest post I've ever written, I will write my entire story in another post or, perhaps, just keep adding to the book I'm finally writing. For those of you who have some time and would like to know more about me, you can click on the drop-down menu to the right of this post where it says "Blog Archive" and you can read bits of my story at a time, starting when I began to blog in 2009.

So...confession time. BUT, after every confession, I'm adding a positive confession from scripture that I'm speaking over my life in each of these areas.

~ I lost my Dad to brain cancer on April 1st of this year and I am still completely heartbroken. Most of the time, I walk around feeling like my world has been tipped upside-down and I'm just wandering. Wandering through memories, some appearing as if out of a dense fog and others as clear as if I was actually still living in that moment. My name is Tracie, and I feel broken and weak. (Isaiah 42:3)

~ There are a lot of days where I've hidden in my room while my lovely girls play and make their own meals, simply because I need to cry and pray, and I hate seeing the looks of worry on their faces. But also because I literally have no energy to make meals, deal with dishes, listen to whining, answer a million questions, etc., etc. "Are you OK, Mommy? Do you miss Papa?" they ask as they place their still-little hands in mine. No girls, I'm not OK. Yes, I miss Papa so much that I feel like my heart is actually breaking and the earth is going to swallow me up. That's the truth. But, what do we moms do instead? We tell our children something that will comfort them, and it's not always how we truly feel. "Yes, girls. I'm OK. I miss Papa very much, but he's in the best place he can be and everything is going to be fine." My name is Tracie, and sometimes I'm not honest with my children. (Isaiah 54:10)

~ I have eaten more ice cream in the last four months than I have in my entire life. True story. My name is Tracie, and I currently have an ice cream addiction. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

~ I. am. tired. I am exhausted in every possible sense; mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I had no idea what intense grief was going to feel like, and the toll it takes on your entire being. I have dreams about my Dad that are sometimes wonderful and sometimes scary. When I have a good one, I'm actually angry when I wake up and realize it was just a dream and my Dad is still gone. When I have a scary one (mostly re-living the weeks before he passed away,) I wake up and I'm relieved that my Dad is with Jesus. It's a constant yo-yo of emotions. Add the fact that one of my daughters has been waking me up almost every night for a few weeks now and you've got one momma that's seriously on the edge. My name is Tracie, and I'm weary. (Matthew 11:28)

~ This is my last confession, for now. I wear my game face a lot. Although, in the last few days, I've found it harder and harder to wear and I think it's melting off. Makeup is a most wonderful invention indeed. Eye shadow, eyeliner, and mascara in particular are very good at hiding puffy eyelids that are swollen from crying. Concealer, if you have a good one, really can hide the dark or puffy circles under your eyes from the above mentioned exhaustion. However, unless someone can invent an automatic smile-maker, or "twinkle drops" to put the spark of life back in my eyes, then I'm really not hiding anything anymore. I have gone to every church service, church meeting or commitment, kids' Dr. appointments, my Dr. appointments, grocery stores, etc. since my Dad died. Every one. I've worn my game face to all but the last two church services this past weekend and to my daughter's class yesterday. Know why? Because I finally felt the Holy Spirit wrap His arms around my heart and the tears just flowed and flowed, melting my game face away. My name is Tracie, and I can't hide anymore. (Psalm 139)

I don't know if you've ever lost someone you love. I don't know if you've ever walked through the valley of the shadow of death with someone, and then walked through the darkness of grief. What I know is that it's hard. It's worse than I ever imagined it would be. But what I know the truth to be is that God is still with me even in the darkest moments. Even when I can't hear him, he's there. Even when I can't feel him, he's there. Even when I feel lost, I'm found. Even when I feel like I can't take another step, he's there to pick me up and carry me. God is with me. He's been with me through every moment of my life, and will continue to be with me until the end of the age. (Isaiah 43:2)

In one of his sermons this past year, my pastor said, "Don't trade the truth of what you know for what you don't understand." That statement has carried me through the process of losing my Dad. I don't understand why he wasn't healed. I don't know if I ever will. But, God is sovereign. He has each of our days numbered in His Book of Life. Not one of us will leave this earth a second before or after what he has already ordained for us. That gives me great hope. I don't need to understand why my Dad died. I just need to know that God is still with me. He's still with my Mom. He's still with my entire family and all our friends who loved my dad dearly. And, someday, we will be OK. I will be OK. (Joshua 1:9)

Even with everything I confessed to you, I've still persevered through it. I'm being the best I can be with where I'm at. I'm showing up, even if it is with my game face on. I'm honoring my commitments. I'm taking care of the basics around the house. Somehow it doesn't look like a tornado blew through here. Somehow our bills are getting paid. Somehow my kids are showered and fed and still know they're loved when they lay their heads on their pillows at night. My husband is being amazing and picking up the slack. Believe me, there's been a lot of slack to pick up and I couldn't do life without him right now. The only reason I've been able to have achievements in the midst of the things I'm not proud of is because of Jesus! His grace, His mercy, and His compassion for me are carrying me. (Psalm 6:9) His joy, even though it doesn't feel like "happy" joy, is giving me continual strength. (Psalm 59:16) His love and acceptance of me assures me that what I am lacking in right now, he is making up for it. His love covers all.

Maybe your situation isn't grieving a loss. Maybe it's depression, an addiction, a betrayal, or a financial hardship. Whatever your situation, whatever shortcomings you may have right now, know this... GOD LOVES YOU! I'll leave you with a few more scriptures.

Romans 8:38-39 says, "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Be encouraged today. (Psalm 43:5) Love, Tracie

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Quit...Confessions of "Volcano Mommy"

Today, I said two words I never thought I'd hear myself actually say out loud...and I said them to two precious little girls who never should have heard them come out of my mouth. The words were, "I quit." I realized my mistake instantly as I watched their little faces become confused and completely panicked at the same time. "You quit? Do you mean, you quit being our mommy?!" Then the tears flowed as sobs took over my two precious girls; my seven-year-old melting into a puddle and my ten-year-old screaming and shouting.

How could I have let this happen? When did I become so consumed with stress, anxiety, fear, or whatever, that I lost control of my tongue? I know what the Word of God says about the power of the words I speak, and yet I completely lost control. There were no fruits of the Spirit in me at all at that moment. I felt so ashamed, and so lost, like I had just done something I'd never be able to undo. Well, that part is true. I can't un-say what I said. Ever. I can't erase the fear that those two words made my daughters feel in that moment. However, the intense pain I felt when I saw the looks on their faces assured me of one thing. I will NEVER lose control of my tongue like that again.

I have no excuse for the way I hurt my children with those two little words. Yes, I've been under a tremendous amount of stress over the past few months. Yes, my girls have been fighting constantly, both with each other and with me. I have been feeling like a volcano about to erupt for a few days now, which should have been a warning sign that I needed to pay serious attention to, but I didn't. Nothing excuses the fact that I lost it. I just plain lost it. I messed up, big time. I was "Volcano Mommy."

After many tears from the three of us, and my being completely honest with them about why I was so angry, I was able to explain to them that when I said, "I quit," I was not talking about quitting being their mommy. I was talking about my efforts to stop their constant bickering, fighting, yelling, name calling, etc., etc. I was talking about my consistent efforts to make them understand that I'm their Mother, and they are to honor me and respect me, even if they don't "feel" like it. I told them that I was tired of trying to teach them these things, when it seems to go in one ear and out the other. I told them I felt completely disrespected and that my feelings were very hurt. However, after all that needed to be said was said, I was able to reassure them that I had made a terrible mistake by allowing those words to come out of my mouth, and that I didn't mean them. I asked them to forgive me and they did, without reservation.

Children are amazing. My children amaze me. No matter how awful they've been acting towards me or each other, when something like this happens, they want things to be right again so quickly that it's almost like they forget the fact that they've just been hurt so they can make everything OK again. Their need to feel safe, loved, and protected overrules their need to hold an offense. Man, can we learn some serious lessons from our kids. I'm blown away at their ability to forgive me so quickly, especially when I've messed up this badly.

As much as I wish things would have gone differently, that I would have had a more calm approach to the conversation that still needed to happen, we each learned valuable lessons through this experience. My children were immediately remorseful, which is usually not the case. They lavished me with hugs and apologies. They asked me if they could please be excused to go and talk with each other and do some "research." I have no idea what they're talking about, but I can't wait to see what they've come up with.

I should never have allowed the volcano mommy inside me to erupt. But, maybe it was what needed to happen for the lights to really come on for my kids about how things need to change right now. I've basically been a single parent since November, and my hat goes off to every single parent out there who is trying their very best to not become volcano mommy or volcano daddy. What gives me the greatest hope is that even though I messed up as their mother, I can still run into the arms of my Heavenly Father and ask his forgiveness. The same comfort that my girls had from my reassuring hugs and kisses is the same comfort I feel from my Father in Heaven, who also forgives me the moment I ask him to.

1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I am so thankful that God is gracious and merciful to me. I need him so desperately right now, and I know he's with me. I pray that my children never see "Volcano Mommy" again. It was a good indicator to me that I've been trying to carry the load of my life on my own shoulders for a while now. Which is exactly why Peter tells us to cast all our cares on Jesus, for he cares about us. I needed the reminder to let go of all the things in my life that I can't control right now, so that I can remain in control of myself.

I debated whether or not I should share this post with you. Let's face it, it's not an easy thing to admit when you've messed up. But, if it encourages just one other parent that we can be forgiven by God when we've made a huge mistake with our kids, then it was worth it to put myself out there like this. I hope you're encouraged. We need each other. Raising kids is hard just by itself. Add to it any other life challenges and our job becomes almost impossible at times. At least it feels that way to me. It is, in fact, an impossible task if we're trying to do it in our own strength. We must give our cares over to the Lord so that we can do this most important job that we've been called to do...raise godly children. Hug another parent when you see them. Encourage them and tell them they're doing a great job.

Much love,

Tracie