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I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

23 Sep

a ten year old’s dream

My little children, let us not love in word
or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18

Can I ask you to take a moment of your time to vote for this little girl’s dream to come true?  Follow this link and click on the “thumbs-up-do-you-like-this-dream” button.  And if your spirit directs you to spread the word for more votes … please, please do!

“My 10 yr old daughter has felt a tug on her heart for some time to help care for the children orphaned by AIDS in Africa. I have been to S. Africa and Swaziland twice, and have stayed with an organization who shared their campus with the Africa School of Missions. My daughter’s dream is to be a missionary in Africa and dreams of going to college there so that she can do what she feels called to do by helping others in need. She has started making necklaces to save for a airplane ticket to Africa. My dream is for HER to see her dreams come true by reaching beyond her tiny world here and making a huge difference in the world around her.”

Can you imagine a world if we all had this passion burning inside of us?  And at such an early age!  I love it!!

 


Posted in africa, charity, friends


25 Feb

africa … not yet

Africa … apparently, it’s not God’s timing for me to go to Africa … yet.  I need to be home right now for my family and I’m okay with that.  My heart would’ve been here anyway.

And the whole situation is absolutely not for naught … I’ve met 2 amazing women that I can now call friends!  And look at the beautiful necklace they gave me!  And besides, I’ve already been on a journey … in my heart and in my obedience to Him.

If it’s in His will, I believe there will be future opportunities … bigger, better and more meaningful!

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Posted in africa


4 Feb

africa :: part three

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37

I’d like to ask for prayer for myself, Brenda and Heather as we make this trip to Africa.  But first, some details …

Who
A Friend in Need {AFIN} co-founders, Brenda Rebro and Heather Bliss … and me.

When
February 26 – March 11 … two weeks.

Where
Kapunga, Swaziland.  Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world.  The average life expectancy is just 32 years.  With a population of about one million, this New Jersey-sized country is home to over 63,000 orphans.  This means a generation of children has been left to care for themselves.

AFIN’s Story
AFIN is providing more than a one-time handout.  They will provide a multi-purpose building that will keep on giving.  The building will serve as a safe haven and gathering place for the orphans.  Sewing machines have been donated and will be used to sew and generate income to buy food for the orphans.

Here are some some images from a fundraiser I did with AFIN last summer.  We took contrasting images and put them together.  I know the underlying type is small, but I hope you’re able to read it … it really makes an impact.

How I Got Involved
I first wrote about AFIN here and here … and as I mentioned yesterday, I just feel God has laid missions … getting outside of my own little world … on my heart.

My Story
I received a year-end donation letter from AFIN and started to throw it in my recycling bin.  Oh yes I did!  Then God stopped me.  And I put it on my desk instead.  I left it there a couple of weeks, just letting God talk to me.

And He did.  “Empty your {tsj} photography bank account,” He told me.  And so I did.  And donated it to AFIN.  Around this time, CJ had asked me what I’d like for Christmas … I asked him to make a donation to AFIN in lieu of a gift to me.  And so he did.

Now this next confession may seem incredibly presumptuous … and I guess because, frankly … it is!

I just assumed that if I made the donations, I’d be going to Africa with them.  An important disclosure here … basically, other than meeting them for the fundraiser … I really don’t know them from Adam.  {yeah, not sure where that saying came from}.

But the thing is … I just felt I was being obedient to God, and therefore … He had a ticket for me.  You know?  I honestly didn’t think of it any other way.

Anyway.  Brenda sent a thank you email and told me when they’d be going … and honestly, if I recall right … it really wasn’t even an invitation for me to go.  Anyway, the dates didn’t work with my calendar.  Or the fact that I was pretty sure God was telling me {whatever trip I took}, we’d be going in the Fall.  So yeah.

There’s a celebration in South Africa the end of March and those were the dates they were going.  I’ll be on spring break with my girls at that time, so I won’t be going.

I felt disappointed.  Mostly in myself in that I wasn’t hearing God the right way.  Self-doubt and all that.  But I rallied, and figured “oh well … He must have something else in the works for me.”

And then …

Another email from Brenda.  She’d been praying on it {wait just a minute! have I mentioned what incredible Christian women and prayer warriors these two are?!  no?  well they are!} so … Brenda had been praying on it and felt God telling her it was much more important for me to come with them, than it was for them to go to the celebration.

Ohmyword!  Are you kidding me?  When are we going?  In less than two months.  Visualize Tracie spitting out her diet coke!  Um, God serious?  Cuz I thought we were going in the Fall.  :)

So okay … the rest is history and here I am writing these posts!

Great Works
Have you heard?  Or better yet, have you experienced?  God moves in incredible ways!  During all of the above, I’d been talking with a couple of friends to join a Good Morning Girls group … we’d be studying James.  Brenda and Heather also wanted to do a study leading up to the trip and guess what God put on Brenda’s heart?  James.

Apprehension
Yes!  I speak the truth … I’m somewhat apprehensive about the trip.  My health {I won’t go into details, but I’m just not at my finest}; my schedule {I won’t go into details, but this trip with my overbooked schedule, has me out-of-town until early April}; leaving my girls {I haven’t told them yet}; and just this desperate desire to be His hands and feet, while at the same time, making sure I’m listening and doing His will.

I believe I am.  With everything that’s happened and led to this point.  I believe He’s been in, and will continue to be … in control.

Prayer
This post is almost over, I promise!

Can I ask that you stand in prayer with us?  We’ve already experienced some spiritual warfare surrounding this journey.  Ultimately … this building that’ll be erected will end up being a place of worship for the people of Swaziland.  It’s just the way it works.  And the enemy would love nothing more than to put a stop to it.

Ha! unfortunately for him … he’s up against three very strong and determined women {not to mention all of the AFIN volunteers and supporters}, who serve an incredible God and who will continue on until we see God’s work {and will} done in Swaziland!

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Posted in africa, missions, prayers


3 Feb

africa :: part two

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37

God has been doing a number on me for sure!  Sometime since last summer.  I feel it all started when I picked up a copy of Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life to do with my home Bible study group.  Actually … I guess that’s not completely true … as I’m sitting here reflecting on it, God’s been working … stirring my heart with small whispers for a while now.

I love that God works in this way.  Even more, I love that I’ve grown in my relationship with Him so that I can hear {and recognize} those small whispers.

God’s been putting people, blog posts, Scripture, Sunday school classes, songs, thoughts, experiences, bible studies, organizations … all right in front of me.  But what hit me hardest was a vision … I’ve never had a vision from God before … but this was a clear-as-day {scary} vision.  Not scary, as in nightmare … just scary as in how-in-the-world-would-this-ever-happen vision.

But … in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman … God is God, and I am not.  He has the privilege of the end picture, I do not.

This vision is big.  Bigger than myself, but not bigger than God.  Do I share this vision with you?  I’m not certain.  Fear says no way!  Sharing the voice of God and accountability says, go for it!

Let’s just say that everything. everything. that has come into my path over the last ten{ish} months has led me to this point … this trip to Africa.  And this trip to Africa is another stepping stone to the vision God laid before me.

I think for now, I’ll leave it at that … but please come back to tomorrow as I share more details on my upcoming adventure.

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Posted in africa, missions


31 Jan

africa … because i refuse

In less than one month, I’ll be in South Africa amongst a generation of children who have lost their mothers and fathers to HIV/AIDS.  Why?  Because I don’t want to live like I don’t care.  I don’t want to say another empty prayer.  I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.  I could choose not to move, but I refuse.

{I’ll be sharing more details later this week …}

I Refuse
:: Josh Wilson ::

Sometimes I,
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone’s alright
When I know they’re not.
This world needs God
But it’s easier to stand and watch.
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing’s wrong.

But I refuse.

:: chorus ::
‘Cause I don’t want to live like I don’t care.
I don’t want to say another empty prayer.
Oh, I refuse to
Sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself.
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse.

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately,
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of you, oh God.
So, if you say move,
Then it’s time for me to follow through,
And do what I was made to do.
Show them who you are.

:: chorus ::

To stand and watch
The weary and lost
Cry out for help.
I refuse
To turn my back
And try and act like all is well.
I refuse
To stay unchanged,
To wait another day,
To die to myself.
I refuse
To make one more excuse.

:: chorus ::

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Posted in africa, missions, music