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.

28 Nov

blank rack’ed download

I continue to be amazed at the way this project has spread across the globe!  I’m in awe to think of how many people {both the giver and the recipient} are going to be blessed this year!

Not sure why I didn’t think of it … but a brilliant reader suggested I have blank cards to write in your own RACK … so here goes!  There’s a girl version and a boy version!  :)

Click on each image to take you to the download.  Have fun!  Be blessed!

Original Advent posts:
random acts of christmas kindness :: advent 2010
random acts of christmas kindness :: summary
rack :: download edition

Posted in christmas, free download

22 Nov

the land between …

The holidays are going to be very … very different for us this year.  Nothing seems to make sense and it’s all very surreal.  Sometimes when you’re in the midst of a trial, you’re so busy putting one foot in front of the other, taking each day as it comes … not allowing yourself to look into the future … that when you finally look up, you’re surprised to see how far you’ve come, as well as how much time has passed.

With my last glance at the calendar, I can’t ignore the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!  Literally.

So what’s a mom to do?  Make the best of it of course!

The girls are blessed this year with a pretty hearty Christmas break, so I decided to completely change things up this year.  Christmas won’t be … can’t be … like our previous Christmases … so instead of feeling the pain of the difference, I’ve decided to make it fun.  We’ll be getting out of dodge going out of town mid-month to our heaven on earth and will enjoy the time hunting lizards and soaking up the sun.

We’re also celebrating early.  Like early.  Like I-already-have-presents-under-the-tree early.

{apparently I do let my children climb very high ladders}

{the teen was not inspired and facebook was calling}

{babygirl’s taken to putting on make-up with markers}

{our family sign works in all seasons}

{almost 80 degrees yesterday! light up the palm tree!}

This isn’t my normal MO … I’m all about taking one holiday as it comes, but given that we don’t really have a “normal” anymore … I’m currently tossing tradition to the wind and basically doing what I can to fill any holes the girls might feel in this land between we’re currently walking.

I’ve gotten a few emails and cards {thank you!!} with prayers and thoughts of the upcoming holidays … friends knowing we don’t have a normal this year.  Heck, with this land between … not knowing what next year holds … we can’t even start a new tradition.  And that’s okay … I know there’ll be a time for new traditions … there’s peace in that fact.

So right now my momma heart is focused on buffering anything the girls might be missing, be it physical or emotional.  And I’m thinking a change of scenery to their little lizard haven will be just what the doctor ordered!


As I think about the purpose of this post … other than explaining why my Christmas cards may or may not be in the mail next week … I’d like to encourage you, as parents …

If you find yourself in the land between {basically walking a path of uncertainty}, I encourage you to push through … hold your head high … let the joy of the Lord be your strength.  Definitely you want to do these things for yourself, but almost more importantly, I encourage you to do it for your children.

Parenting is sacrifice.  Sacrifice of our emotions.  Of our wants.  Our wishes.  Our desire to climb into bed and sleep for years.

I think it’s a true testament to living out the joy of the Lord, when I see my girls happy, laughing, living.  No one would know the pain that hides around the corner.  And sure … there are tears.  Plenty.

But I’m working my bootie off to build our foundation on solid Rock, so when the pain comes … we know Who to give it to.  We can give it … and leave it.

Let your past make you better, not bitter.  And all that.

I think about what I’m modeling for my girls.  I pray they look back someday and say, “you were going through all that?!”  We had no idea.

Does that make any sense, or am I just rambling now?  :)

I’m not saying to cover-up or gloss over your pain.  My girls know I hurt … I get plenty cranky, impatient and irritable.  And I try to always go back to let them know I’m sorry, or what I’m feeling and why.

You have sorrow.  You have pain.

You have to feel it.  But you don’t have to swim in it.

Or maybe … just maybe you do take a swim.  I guess what I’m encouraging you with is … you don’t have to drown in it.

Well.  There ya have it.  The post that went every-which-way!

Be blessed.  Be safe.  And have an incredible Thanksgiving holiday!

Posted in christmas, family photos, family thoughts

15 Nov

operation christmas child

I saw a tweet about {Samaritan’s Purse} Operation Christmas Child and was all over it.  Honestly, I’ve never heard of this project before … but better late then never, right?

Collections are being taken through the end of this week … sooo … I loaded up the girls this weekend and headed to Target!  The girls {and Piper’s friend} each picked a child {boy or girl, and age group} they wanted to bless and away we went.  And can I just say … Target’s $1.00 bins kinda rock my world!

This is a super easy way to bring joy into a child’s life this Christmas season.  In fact, I dare you to watch this video and not want to go out and pack a box.

As part of the instructions, we’re asked to pray over each box as it’s packed.  The girls were agreeable to let me record their prayers to share with you.  And um, yes … one of my girls does walk on the drama side of life!

OH! and one other cool thing … if you make a donation online to go with your box {they ask for $7.00 to help with shipping, etc. costs}, you get a label with a tracking number so you can follow where your box goes. What a perfect way for kids to see how their efforts and prayers are making an impact in the world.

Posted in charity, christmas, gift idea, holiday, movie

7 Nov

rack :: download edition

I’ve been amazed, humbled and excited to see this project burning up Pinterest!

I’ve had tons of emails asking for the download, so I thought I’d put together a recap post of our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness {RACK} activity from last year’s Advent season, as well as a couple of bonus downloads!

You can read the original post of our activity here, and a wrap-up of the activity here.

The girls and I loved every minute of this activity.  It definitely took some time and commitment to stick to it, but I’m so glad we did … we walked away so incredibly blessed … and I promise you will too!

So … you ready for the downloads?  Here’s the download for the “you’ve been RACK’ed” card.  And as a bonus, I put the individual RACK’s into one file, and you can download it here.

I’ve also noticed that this Advent activity has been circulating, so as a bonus, bonus … I’ve put together a pdf of the Bible verses we used.

OH! and I also found a site selling cute library Advent cards that you can write individual activities on … perfect for this Advent project!

Praying God’s blessings over each of you during this Advent season!



Posted in charity, christmas, creative, free download

31 Dec

random acts of christmas kindness :: summary

Well … December is over and with it, our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness or RACK.  This year the girls and I made the Christmas season about loving others and in the process, sharing God’s love for others, by performing one RACK each day of Advent.

Here’s an iPhone photo of our mission completed!

As with my handmade Christmas gifts … I didn’t want to make this RACK activity about “blogging” it … I wanted to be truly “present” with each activity and the girls, so instead of bringing my camera and worrying about blogging shots … I’d grab a random iPhone photo when I could.

Some of our activities included in the photos below:

  • Taping candy canes to ATM machines around town
  • Bringing the girls riding instructor {and barn manager} hot cocoa and a muffin early one morning
  • Taping quarters to vending and toy machines around town
  • Grocery shopping for the sole purpose of putting it in the “Food for Families” box in the entryway of the store
  • Plugging meters around town {and lots of fun explaining to the girls what “plugging” a meter meant!}
  • Donating 72 stockings with treats, candy and a craft for second graders at a school in need
  • Ringing Salvation Army bells
  • Handing out Starbucks gift cards {$5.00 value each}

Some of our activities without photos:

  • Paid past due library fees for 5 people
  • Donated a poinsettia to the girls school
  • Bought and donated toys for “Toys 4 Tots”
  • Brought the girls teachers their favorite Starbucks drinks
  • Brought treats to the employees of our local Post Office branch
  • Purged from the girls personal “library” and donated to a school library in need

Originally, our plan was to hand out flowers at the mall, but the day before this RACK was planned, CJ had his company program and shared with everyone how we were celebrating the Advent season … that they “were about to be RACK’ed” … and had the girls go through and hand out Starbucks cards to everyone.  We had a ton left over, so decided to hand them out at the mall instead of flowers.

I have to tell you … I experienced an incredible surge of emotion and thoughts as we were handing them out.  Either people were so shocked and happy, or people would ignore us, shaking their heads and walking by.  As people were ignoring us … or more significantly, the girls, I made a solemn vow to grab whatever anyone was trying to give me from now on!

The next day, I received this message …

Hi Tracie! Just wanted to share this with you..
Bennett and I were at the mall yesterday
and of course, I was kind-of rushing through
the holiday crowd to pick something up
(wanting to get in and out) and Bennett tugs o
my hand and said, “Mom, did you hear that?
Someone said they have free Starbucks cards.”
Not even turning around, I told him that it
was probably someone wanting you to buy
something, that nothing is ever for free.

Long story short, when I got home and read
your status, I explained to him that he was right
and it was the perfect opportunity to talk about
all the good that people have in them.
So I wanted to thank you for 1. Reminding me
that there is “good” out there, and
2. That I need to slow down and really listen!

I LOVED this note!!  It’s exactly what I experienced from the other side of giving out the cards.  And seriously, what another amazing lesson in how when you do something selflessly to bless others, you end up being blessed yourself!

The girls were watching TV recently and something came on explaining Advent … this particular activity was using candles to countdown Advent.  I took the opportunity to talk about all the different ways people celebrate, and I even reminded them of our activity last year.  When they asked what we’d do next year, I asked what they wanted to do.

Hands down and with excitement they quickly answered, “our kindness activity.”  Yep! just like I always say … it’s far better to give than to receive!

Praying a happy and blessed 2011 for you all!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATE {11.28.11}
I’ve created a blank RACK’ed activity card … the download can be found in this post.  At the end of the post, you’ll find another link to other downloads.

Thank you … SO much … for the response to this little activity we did last year!  I’m amazed and excited to think how many people will be blessed this year because of it!  If you have a moment, be sure to stop by and let me know how it went for you!  Have fun and be blessed!!

Posted in charity, christmas, family photos, girls