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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.

30 Jan

every little thing gonna be alright …

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
When you cross rivers, you will not drown.
When you walk through fire, you will not be burned,
nor will the flames hurt you.
Isaiah 43:2 NCV

We were on a flight recently and Taylor had her newest little bundle … well … bundled on her lap. Mocha was sleeping so peacefully through the whole flight – until the landing. To say the landing was a little bumpy would be an understatement.

We were all a little nervous, so it was no surprise when Mocha woke from her sleep, startled at the sudden bumps.

But what she did after she woke is what surprised me.

When the bumps came, she woke and looked up at Taylor with the sweetest, questioning eyes. When she saw Taylor, she quietly laid back down and fell back asleep.

It was as if, by looking at her master, she trusted Taylor and knew everything would be okay. And not only did she have the knowledge everything would be okay … she actually fell back into her peaceful, puppy sleep.

And it got me thinking about us. Us being our anxious, nervous, cynical, untrusting, wanting-to-do-it-our-way selves.

When things get bumpy and we’re startled from our peaceful slumber of a life. Do we faithfully look to our Master for reassurance that every little thing gonna be alright? And if we do … are we able to fall back into that peaceful slumber?

Or do we put our own twist on how every little thing’s gonna turn out?

“Okay, I trust you God … but … ”

“I know You said You’ve got this, but what if … ”

“I know You promise great plans for me, but maybe You could make it happen this way … ”

Have you read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? You can hop over to Daniel 3 to read more, but my favorite part is found in verses 16-18. Because they wouldn’t bow to him, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered to have the three young men thrown into a blazing fire.

They told the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” There was NO doubt in their minds that God had the power to save them.

My favorite part of the story? When they went on to say, “But even if he doesn’t … ”

They had faith to believe God could absolutely save them. But they had even that much more faith to trust in a plan that might cause them to actually go through the fire.

As Isaiah says {quoted at the top of this post}, “When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, nor will the flames hurt you.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did get thrown into the fire, but you know what? They came out of it not even smelling like smoke! AND … King Nebuchadnezzar himself, saw FOUR people in that fire. Only three were thrown in, but four were seen.

You see … God didn’t save them from going through the fire, instead He chose to sit in it with them.

Just like He promises you and me.

So friends, next time we have a bumpy landing, let’s make a choice to look up at our Master and know — without questioning and doubt — that every little thing gonna be alright.

You in?


Posted in encouragement, faith


2 Aug

a walk through the dark :: book review

Y’all may have read {or at least heard of!!} the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper? In it Don shares his miraculous journey to heaven, and his painful recovery back on earth. I loved it when I read it years ago and it made me yearn for the glory of heaven.

Well … I was recently honored to receive a request to preview and review the newly released, A Walk Through the Dark, by Eva Piper, Don’s wife.

Reading her account of their story is a true blessing. The title itself calls out to me … A Walk Through the Dark; how my husband’s 90 minutes in heaven deepened my faith for a lifetime.

Walking through the dark is something I believe we can all relate to in one way or another. And looking for a way to get through it is something most of us are desperately seeking solace and advice for. Throughout her book, Eva shares her deepest thoughts, struggles, and prayers in a way that’s sure encourage anyone reading that they too, can use their darkened paths to deepen their faith for a lifetime.

The bonus of this for me? Not only was I privileged to read an advanced copy of A Walk Through the Dark, I was also able to interview Eva. Her candid answers blessed and encouraged me and I’m certain they’ll do the same for you:

I’m curious, given Don has already told the story, what led you to write this book?

It took several years for me to come to the point of sharing my story. While Don always calls me the hero of the story I never felt heroic. In my opinion I did what needed to be done, with God by my side. But after years of hearing people ask me “How did you do it?” and “When are you going to write a book?” I decided it was a story people not only wanted but needed to hear. I often tell people “I don’t have all the answers but if what I learned can help someone I’m happy to share.” My prayer for A Walk Through the Dark has always been that God would use it to minister to those walking their own dark path. In addition I want people to realize they need to prepare for the unexpected. Those ideas are also a large part of A Walk Through the Dark.

I smiled when you mentioned a friend kept you supplied with Cheese Nips and OJ. I’ll never forget the day i was completely overwhelmed with life and my own struggles, and I was sitting in my garage crying. A dear friend of mine found me and brought me a huge tub of Cheese Nips! What advice would you give to those of us who have a hard time admitting, and therefore accepting help from friends?

I’ll tell you what a dear friend told me. “When you refuse to let others help you, you are robbing them of the blessing of ministry.” Her words made me realize I was keeping people from doing what they felt God was leading them to do. It’s not easy to ask for help. We want to appear strong and independent but by allowing others to help, even in small ways, everyone wins. We are all part of the body of Christ, when one part of the body is hurt the other parts take on extra pressure to allow the hurting part to heal. It may feel unnatural to ask for help and you may want to resist. I have one word of advice….don’t.

In the chapter, “He’s Given Up,” you share how Don said, “I don’t have it in me. I can’t make this. I’ve run out of gas.” Was there a time you felt the same way? If so, what was the one thing that gave you strength to continue on?

There were many times I questioned if I could go on but I also knew quitting was not an option. I had too many people counting on me…Don, our children, our parents, our friends. Each time I’d want to throw my hands up and walk out I’d picture their faces. That would give me the strength to keep going. I also had the benefit of watching my mother face difficult times and persevere to overcome them. There was never any doubt who she gave the credit to for her strength and I drew on that same power, God. I talked to Him constantly in an open and honest way. I didn’t hold anything back. If I was angry, I told Him. If I was frustrated, I told Him. There were no feelings or emotions I kept hidden. When I was totally honest with God I was given an inner strength to keep going.

Throughout this journey, what is the biggest way your faith has been challenged?

I think anyone going through a time of crisis and tragedy has their faith challenged. Our first thought is “Why would a loving God let this happen?” But for those of us who place their faith in Jesus Christ we accept the fact we live in a sinful world with troubles and trials. It’s how we respond to those dark times that strengthens and grows our faith. I never blamed God for causing the accident but I did question why He would let this happen to a man who was serving Him. I questioned why Don had to suffer in so much pain. I questioned why I had to be separated from my children. I questioned why Don wouldn’t talk to me. God never minded my questioning or the frustration I sometimes vented. He would rather be fussed at than ignored. My faith was challenged but never beaten.

What would you tell someone who has faith, believes in God’s plan, trusts His plan, prays and calls on Him … basically does everything “right,” but comes to a stagnant place of growth.

Years back a Christian group, FFH, performed a song called “Lord Move, or Move Me”. The lyrics of the song talk about how we feel when our relationship with God seems stale. I love music and am often touched by the words of various songs. These lyrics are a prayer. I think they are good examples of how one might pray when faced with the feeling God is distant. Here are a couple of lines I find very powerful. “Lord I know the only way is through this; Lord I know I need you to help me do this.” We can’t move out of a stale relationship on our own. We need to turn those stagnant feelings over to God and ask Him to show us the way out. “Out of this place of complacency, to a place of fellowship with Thee; ‘Cause I am weak, but Lord you are so strong, And I know it’s been way too long.” God always hears our prayers and He will answer. How long should you keep asking God to move you? Our pastor says PUSH>>>Pray Until Something Happens. It may be a day, a week, or longer. We were created for fellowship with God, He WANTS to be close to you. Trust in that promise.

You have three children who have walked this journey with you. What advice would you give to a parent who is struggling to keep her children in God’s light and out of the darkness?

Most importantly live a Christian life in front of your children. My mother always said, “Actions speak louder than words.” Your children watch everything you do and will want to imitate you. If they see you spending time in prayer, they will too. If they see you reading your Bible, it’s a book they’ll request. If they see you being faithful in your church attendance, they will understand the importance of commitment to God’s house. If they see you using your talents to glorify God, they will find ways to praise God. God’s word is very clear. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.

About Eva Piper:
Eva Piper is a speaker and author with a unique insight into the trials of heartache and the triumph of overcoming. The wife of best-selling author Don Piper, Eva was the glue that held her broken husband and her family together. Don’s story, recounted in the New York Times bestseller, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death, is Eva’s story too. A teacher of 34 years, she and Don now live in Pasadena, Texas. Visit http://evapiper.com/ to reserve your copy today!


Posted in faith, resources


16 May

dear weary mom

Dear Weary Mom,

I don’t remember exactly how it happened, all I remember is how quickly it happened. That, and the sheer panic, terror, and fear that followed.

SMASH!

I’d slammed on my gas pedal instead of the brake. Right into the back of my daughter’s car.

Shaking, I jumped out of my car and ran over to her. She was sobbing asking why I did it. On the verge of sobs myself, I yelled told her I didn’t do it on purpose!

We pulled over to look at the damage and get a grasp on what just happened. We held each other and cried. She asked why she just couldn’t get a break? I countered with, “Why can’t our family just get a break?” Life seems to be throwing us one train-wreck after another.

Soul-crushing wreck, after soul-crushing wreck.

Can anyone relate? Do any of you wonder when you’ll just catch a break?

I am plumb worn out. Physically. Emotionally. I feel like I’ve had all I can take, and I don’t want anymore.

I’m even walking the dangerous line of thinking, “I deserve to have a break!”

And then guilt sets in.

I should be praying more. I should be better at giving it to God — you know, “Let Go and Let God?”

I know what I should be doing. But it’s the doing that has me stuck.

I love God with all my heart and I know I wouldn’t be standing without Him as my guide and strength. I believe this with every fiber my being. I know God loves me. I know my friends and family love me. My faith is unshakeable. It truly is.

Yet, there are times lately I just can’t seem to get out from underneath the weary and hopeless state I find myself in.

If you’ve ever felt this kind of hopelessness, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m tired. I’m worn. My heart is heavy. From the work it takes to keep on breathing. My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world. I know I need to lift my eyes up.

But I’m too weak.

And life just won’t let up.”

I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen Tenth Avenue North following me around over the last few months! How then, I wonder, did they write a song just for me … and countless others who are struggling right now?

Friends, on this link, Mike shares some beautiful thoughts. If you have the time to watch, I’d really encourage you to do so.

I absolutely and completely agree with Mike, “it’s rarely the easy and comfortable times that God’s doing something good.

He changes us in the mess of life. “Our God is a God who brings beauty out of pain.”

{if you’re reading from an RSS feed, click here to view video}

Worn
:: Tenth Avenue North ::

I’m tired, I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

{chorus}
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

{chorus}

My prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn
Even before the day begins
I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So Heaven come and flood my eyes

{chorus}

Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though, I’m worn
I’m worn

And so.

Dear Weary Mom,

Won’t you join me in clinging to the God of all hope? The God who restores. The God who refreshes our weary souls and tired momma feet?

Oh how He loves us my weary friend! He hurts when we hurt. He prays for us:

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:32 {NIV}

He knows we’ll be sifted — He knows when we’re being sifted. And He’s praying for us. That our faith may not fail. That we don’t lose hope.

And catch this, the verse says WHEN you have turned back … It doesn’t say IF you turn back.

In all of our weariness, God has not left us. He’s right beside us, hurting with us. And loving us.

He knows there are times we’ll be weak. And He’s promised to be our strength in those weary times.

One thing I know for sure? God doesn’t break His promises.

So as I tuck my weary bones into bed tonight, I will thank Him once again for getting me through the day. Sometimes, that’s all I can muster, just get through the day. My hope? It lies in His promise that I will rise, I will conquer, and I will turn back to strengthen my weary mommy friends.

From one tired momma to another … but always with hope,

Tracie

#####

I mentioned yesterday, and I’ll mention again today — Hope for the Weary Mom has a new blog and lots of encouragement, hope, and love in store for you! You’re not alone weary mom. We’re all in this together! Click over and be filled!


Posted in faith, music, parenting, weary mom


3 Apr

“i prayed!”

You might remember the other day I mentioned Grace? Wynter’s potential new pony? And how we weren’t sure? And she was having a ride that afternoon which would give us a better indication if it was a good fit for her?

Well … it didn’t go well. At all.

Wynter seemed completely confused in her riding, which made Grace even more confused. And frankly, they looked like a hot mess of skills colliding in the arena.

I took lots of video, both of Wynter riding and of her trainer “training.”

I talked to Wynt on the ride home and gently suggested she should take time to study the video, listen to her trainer, and see what she could do differently the next day … her last ride with Grace — the decision making ride — is this the pony for her, or would we have to keep looking?

She seemed intent on what I was saying and determined to have a good ride the next day. Welllll … when we got home, she went to her room to change and seemed to come out as quickly as she went in. I asked if she studied the video and she told me, “not really.”

I was disappointed.

If this pony meant as much to her as she told me, why didn’t she care enough to put a little effort into having a better ride?

The next day, I picked her up from school and as we headed to her lesson, I gently prepared her for the fact that Grace may not be the pony for her and it may not work out. And if it didn’t, I fully trusted there was an even better pony out there for her.

She agreed.

I was so nervous as I watched her begin her lesson. Pretty much sitting on the edge of my seat.

And then.

Something happened.

She looked like a completely different rider from just the day before. I was shocked. Seriously shocked.

And then this …

Her first time jumping!! She’s been wanting to learn to jump so badly over the last month, but the time just hadn’t come yet. She still had things to learn to prepare for this next step.

I heard her trainer futzing with the standard cups {the things that hold the pole you jump over}, and I thought, “no … that can’t be for Wynt.”

Sure enough. She put the poles up and had Wynter pop over them. She even raised them once!

When her lesson was over, her horse put away, and we were walking to the car, I asked her what made such a huge difference in her riding from the day before?

She answered so matter-of-factually, “I prayed!”

She went on to explain, the day before when she went to her room to change {when *I* thought she should be studying her video}, she spent 20 minutes praying asking God to help her in her riding.

Sigh. It’s moments like these my children teach me a thing or two about faith.

Is there a time your child “out-faithed” you?


Posted in faith, parenting, prayers, riding, wynter


5 Mar

one door closes, another opens …

“Faith never knows where it is being led,
but it loves and knows the One Who is leading.”
~ Oswald Chambers

I know I shouldn’t be … but sometimes I can’t help but be in total awe of the way God works in my life!

There was something in our lives the girls and I were looking so forward to. I can’t share all the details at this point … but trust me when I say this “something” filled us with joy and filled a void we’d been feeling for while now.

We’d made some changes in our lives over the last few months relying on this “something” to come to fruition. Our whole everything was wrapped up and counting on it.

And then God decided to shut the door on our “something.”

We were devastated. Truly.

I heard God telling me He had something better in store for us, but in my despair and selfishness, I pushed His promises aside. In fact, I selfishly argued that we’d been through enough and deserved something positive to happen in our lives.

Arrogance much?

Fortunately, I’ve learned not to drag out my arguments with God and within a day had dried my tears, turned my heart around, and decided to trust Him. After all, trusting Him is a choice we’ve been given.

Faith is a choice.

I don’t always know what His plans are, but I can choose to always trust.

And wouldn’t you know? The very next day — the day after I stopped pouting and started trusting, just two days after our devastating news — God opened the door to a much better “something” for us. Something we’d never of seen or been aware of had He not closed that first door.

Once the girls and I were absolutely settled on knowing this second “door” was the best option for us …

Wouldn’t you know? That first door opened up again.

Even though that original door has opened to us, we know in our hearts the second option is better and what’s best for us. And we never would’ve seen it had God not redirected our paths.

Some may say it’s “coincidence.” And sure, it all could be, I’ll give you that. But I prefer to believe God is leading and directing my coincidences in this life.

Have you ever had a door shut only to realize God had something much better in store?


Posted in faith, life