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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.

8 Nov

lessons from a bounce house

Wynter’s birthday was this past weekend and to help her get “jiggy wit it,” we brought in a 40 foot obstacle-course-bouncy-thingy. Needless to say, the party-goers had a blast!

Until the injuries started.

The girls weren’t following the natural flow of the obstacle course. They’d sit on top of the slide. They’d attempt to climb up the slide. And run through the course from finish to start … which is why you can’t see any of the 15 party-goers at the starting point … they’re all climbing through backwards.

When I realized what was happening, I stepped in and told them they needed to follow the course the way it’s intended or injuries would continue to occur. And sure enough, wouldn’t you know? As someone was coming down the slide, the final step of the course … another girl standing at the exit decided to jump in, got hurt, and came out a bundle of tears!

As the party ended and we were cleaning up, it struck me again and again that rules are set for our protection.

How many times do I try to bypass the “entrance” and take a short cut through the exit … only to end up disappointed, injured, and in a bundle of tears?

God’s given us a rule book and guide to follow. And He gave it to us for a reason. For our own good.

This is an extreme example, but think about it … if those ten commandments hadn’t come down, and we had no moral compass … would we know it isn’t okay to kill people? To steal? To have sexual relations with whomever we pleased? Can you imagine that world?

God tells me to never stop praying. He tells me to put no idol’s before Him {that would be anything that takes my time and attention away from Him}. He tells me to love my neighbor as I love myself. He tells me not to worry or be anxious. He tells me to trust Him with the plans He has for my life.

Yet how many times do I try to skip the course He’s laid out for me and go through life jumping head-first into the exit?

Not cool Tracie, not cool.

Sometimes it takes that knock on the head and puddle of tears for me to remember I need to follow the course the way He’s intended or injuries will continue to occur.


Posted in faith, inspiration


16 Aug

rules without relationship = rebellion {post 2}

When I first heard these four words:

rules without relationship = rebellion

I immediately related them to parenting. And then as the phrase simmered in my mind, I thought how it also relates to our relationship with God.

There’ve been many scholarly words and sermons preached on the differences between religion vs. relationship. Christianity vs. religion. Jews vs. Gentiles. Pharisees vs. Jesus. And on it goes …

Today, I’m just going to share my simple thoughts. I suppose though, they’re not just thoughts … they’re my experiences. It’s what I know to be true.

I’m about to make a bold statement here, but open your hearts and hear me out? I don’t believe we can call ourselves Christians and not have a relationship with Jesus. Christianity isn’t a religion. Sure it’s a piece of it. But it’s by no means the kit n’ kaboodle!

Christian – to be a Christ follower
Follow – go in the same direction as or parallel to
Christianity – Christian quality or character
Character – who you are when no one’s looking
Religion – a system of faith
Relationship – the way people are connected, or the state of being connected

Are we following Christ? Are we pursuing an intimate relationship with Him? A relationship so strong that we ooze His qualities and character?

If we try to live by all the rules laid out for us in religion, without knowing why or understanding the heart behind it … that’s where good ol’ fashion rebellion comes in.

rules without relationship = rebellion

I recently saw the Katy Perry movie with my girls. Did you know she was brought up in an evangelical Christian home? And even tried her hand in the Christian music industry. I can’t help but think she ended up feeling trapped by the rules of religion. It seems she never grasped an intimate relationship with Jesus for herself.

How might I think so? I’ve lived it. I know it. I grew up knowing all the rules of religion … but I missed the most important part … the relationship. Granted, I was a teenager and then a young adult. And let’s face it being a Christian can be hard when it seems like the “world” is having fun around you. In hindsight, I think it was hard because I didn’t understand what it meant to have a relationship with Christ. I didn’t know why I needed a relationship with Christ. Other than saving myself from the depths of hell.

“It is a joy to Jesus when a person takes time to walk more intimately with Him. The bearing of fruit is always shown in Scripture to be a visible result of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.” – Oswald Chambers

Friends, we’ve been created to have intimate relationship with Christ. He doesn’t want us to live only by rules. He wants to deposit into our “banks” on a regular basis, so when the course of life tips our balance sheet the other way … our banks will remain well above positive. So we’ll have no doubt of His great love for us.

There are numerous stories in the Bible of Jesus facing the Pharisees and going against the “rules.” Why? Because Jesus was acting out of love and relationship. Not rules or religion. One of my favorite stories is found in John 8:2-11 {hover over the link and the scripture will pop up}. Ahhh … what beautiful love!!

He came so that we might have life. Life more abundantly. Not rules. Not religion. Not rebellion.

Will you join me in claiming that today?

And please join me tomorrow over on the MODsquad blog where I’ll be sharing a great parenting resource and doing a lil’ thing called a … giveaway!

rules without relationship {post one}


Posted in faith, inspiration, jesus, quote, series


3 Aug

running the race … {post three}

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3 {MSG}

Today’s the last day in this series and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on crossing the Finish Line.

So. As I mentioned yesterday, after way too much internal dialogue and analysis, I was finally able to get myself into a comfortable running pace and stay there. With that conquered … next up? The finish line.

I’d finally made it past the halfway-turnaround point and could see the pier I needed to make it to in the distance … the finish line was just past that pier.

For me … my own personal glory would come as I RAN across that finish line. I mean, come on … I could already hear the choir of angels singing hallelujah in my mind! I’ll tell ya what though, as my legs became dead weight, my mouth parched, and the cramp in my side stronger, I really wanted to slow to a walk.

But I was determined. I knew my goal and wanted to accomplish it.

The translation at the top of this post says it like this, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.”

As I was running along, with that derned pier still too far in the distance, I noticed others around me slowing to a walk. It took everything inside me not to do the same.

Instead, I started thinking about my faith … and the finish line. And the Author and Finisher of my faith {Hebrews 12:2}.

And the eternal finish line I’ll cross one day.

I’m the first to admit, there have definitely been times my faith has slowed … sometimes even drastically. In fact, I just came out of one of those periods. I needed to go back to my very basic fundamental beliefs, and take some baby steps until I felt I could breathe again.

But the important thing is I didn’t give up. My eyes were … and are … focused on my eternal goal. I believe in His promises and I have hope.

Hope upon hope. Promise upon promise. Until I feel the lifting of my head.

The last part of the above verse, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

Friends, I did cross that finish line. And I was able to run across it. That was my goal and I didn’t give up. But even if I did need to slow to a walk … the important thing was forward movement. Step by step. It didn’t matter how fast I got there. The fact is, I got there.

Friends, it’s like that in our faith. We can’t look at someone’s “middle” and make that our expectation. We need to start right where we are. Building up our faith … foundation upon foundation … truth upon truth … hope upon hope … promise upon promise.

That’s where He’ll meet us. And when it happens? Adrenaline … straight into our souls!

running the race … {post one}
running the race … {post two}

Have you heard? I’m hosting a Facebook study group on my e-book 31 days of faith. Each day in August, I’ll walk through the book with you in a more in-depth sort of way. My hope is to breathe encouragement into your day, to help you see Jesus, and to show you joy in the middle of a trial.

If you’re on Instagram and would like to join in the study in a different way, the hashtag is #31faith. I can be found as tmstier.

Additional details found here. 31 days of faith buying options found here.


Posted in encouragement, faith, inspiration, series


2 Aug

running the race … {post two}

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3 {MSG}

So there I am. At the beach surrounded by a swarm of people ready to do this race thing. The announcers voice is lost in the sea of people and waves of the ocean. I’m anxious. Awkward. And getting antsy to get on with it. It’s almost race time and I’m ready to go.

Finally the horn sounds and we’re off!

My adrenaline is coursing big-time and I have the urge to take off fast and move through the crowd. Instead I force myself to slow a bit and find a comfortable pace. My only goal is to run the entire 5K and there’s no way that’ll happen if I wear myself out too soon trying to keep up with everyone else.

I was able to set in at a good pace, but when someone would pass me I’d find myself speeding up again … I think more out of natural instinct than anything else … maybe competitiveness? Did I think I’d miss something if I stayed behind? Did I think I needed to be where they are?

And then … when I’m not even to the half-way mark … the real runners start passing from the opposite direction, headed to the finish line and I find myself speeding up again!!

“… let us run with patience the race that is set before us …”
Hebrews 12:1 b {KJV}

So as I’m running, finding myself trying to keep up with others, I start thinking how we can sometimes get caught up in comparing our faith to others. “She’s much holier than me!” “She knows so much more about the Bible!” “She has an encouraging word, like straight out of the mouth of Jesus, every time I need it.” “I’ll never measure up to a faith like that.”

Anyone? I read something yesterday that included this quote from Jon Acuff, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Woah, right?!

How many times do I fall into that trap??

As I was running along that beach, getting caught up in trying to keep up … I was reminded to run my own race. And to run it with patience.

I’ve been made unique. With my own divine gifts and purposes. He has a plan laid out for me … it’s my plan. Not someone else’s. If I’m focused on someone else’s plan and where they’re at and what they’re doing, guess what? I’m missing out on all He has planned for me! My good will happen in His timing. My job is to set the pace, stay the course, and trust Him.

Lord, help me … please help me to keep my eyes focused on You and the plan You’ve intended for me. I believe Your promise Lord, that You have good plans for me and I thank you, so very very much for creating me unlike anyone else. For giving me plans no one else has. Thank you Lord for planning out every detail of my life. I give it to you Lord … I give you my life.

running the race … {post one}
running the race … {post three}

Have you heard? I’m hosting a Facebook study group on my e-book 31 days of faith. Each day in August, I’ll walk through the book with you in a more in-depth sort of way. My hope is to breathe encouragement into your day, to help you see Jesus, and to show you joy in the middle of a trial.

If you’re on Instagram and would like to join in the study in a different way, the hashtag is #31faith. I can be found as tmstier.

Additional details found here. 31 days of faith buying options found here.


Posted in encouragement, inspiration, series


1 Aug

running the race … {post one}

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3 {MSG}

That’s a long scripture … but oh how I encourage you to read it slowly and thoroughly!

We headed down to the beach last week for a little vacation and as we drove to dinner that first night, I noticed a sign that said “Beach Run.” Intrigued, I looked it up while we were at dinner. Sure enough, the very next morning there’d be a 5K right down the beach from us! I was pretty sure I’d be found running my little heart out on that beach the next day. Hence the photos above!

Before I entered, I was determined to run the whole 5K. Didn’t matter to me how slow I went {In fact, I may’ve been pacing with a 9yo and her grandpa … sad, but true story!}, I just wanted to run the whole thing.

Sweet friends … so many thoughts passed through my mind during those 37:19 minutes. Thoughts of endurance, faith, running someone else’s race and not staying focused on our own.

I’m going to share those thoughts over the next few days, but first I’d like to start with thoughts I had of preparation, research, and trust.

It struck me that someone had to have researched the tides and weather patterns in order to have a beach run on that particular day at that particular time.

There were over 200-ish people running and if the tide were high at the time of the run, it would’ve been a very wet situation! You see, as I sit right now typing this, we have some “weather” surrounding us, causing a high tide and not much beach to run on.

I certainly didn’t give any thought to what the tide would be. I trusted we’d have a big smooth beach to run on. In fact, all 200 of us showed up trusting there’d be plenty of beach to run on … and there was.

Thinking about the research that was most likely done, got me to thinking about the prophets and disciples who “researched” for us. They were there in the trenches … living it out every day. It’s all there recorded in God’s Word. Time and time again they encountered God’s faithfulness, His great love, His forgiveness, His grace, and His mercies.

Says so right there in the verse above, “… all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?”

So if we can read, meditate on, and believe in these beautiful truths lived out in God’s Word, I wonder what makes it so difficult for us to live it out in our here-and-now lives? Why don’t we just “show up” and believe it to be true? Why would we sometimes rather walk through a 40 year desert period {Numbers 14}, instead of accepting, trusting, and believing in the great power of God.

His promises are true. His promises are proven.

I invite you to join me tomorrow with more thoughts on this “running the race” thing.

running the race … {post two}
running the race … {post three}

Have you heard? Beginning today, I’m hosting a Facebook study group on my e-book 31 days of faith. Each day in August, I’ll walk through the book with you in a more in-depth sort of way. My hope is to breathe encouragement into your day, to help you see Jesus, and to show you joy in the middle of a trial.

If you’re on Instagram and would like to join in the study in a different way, the hashtag is #31faith. I can be found as tmstier.

Additional details found here. 31 days of faith buying options found here.


Posted in encouragement, inspiration, series