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.

25 May

kisses from katie :: giveaway

What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen
from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college,
break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends {because they think she
has gone off the deep end}, and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move
to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?

A passion to follow Jesus.

It’s not often a book touches me so profoundly. But this one did. To my very core.

Kisses from Katie, written by Katie Davis, is a story of being the hands and feet of Jesus … no matter the cost. At nineteen, Katie finds herself the mommy to fourteen beautiful Ugandan children. Reading her story inspires me to be a better mommy, Christian, and all-around person.

I loved this story so much, that I’m reading it to my girls. After the first night of reading it to them … just the foreword mind you … Piper grabbed the book, poured over the photos and stuck it in her backpack to read at school.

When I realized what she’d done, I told her she’d be ahead of us and bored when we were reading it together. She assured me that wouldn’t happen and instead, she’d pick up on something she might’ve missed the first time reading it.

There’s no way one can read Katie’s story and not be touched. It’s one of those books I want to buy stacks of and give to everyone I know!

Well … I didn’t buy stacks, but I do happen to have a few that have found their way into our home. And so lucky readers … I’m having a giveaway just for you!!

Giveaway details:

Two winners will receive one copy of Kisses from Katie.

~ leave a comment {any ol’ comment}
~ tweet the giveaway {but come back & leave a comment}
~ facebook the giveaway {but come back & leave a comment}
~ blog the giveaway {but come back and leave a comment}

Now through Monday, May 28 – midnight {est}

Posted in charity, giveaway, missions, resources

10 May


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and
judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

I am convicted y’all! My heart strings have been pulled, leaving my heart wide open.

I’ve been following the stories of the Compassion International bloggers, and it’s kinda wrecked me up. They’re in Tanzania right now. Visiting, ministering, loving, and then sharing their stories with us.

Stories of how important it is for these children and their families to have sponsors. Stories of children waiting over a year for a sponsor. Stories of how much these children LOVE their sponsors. Stories of sponsors meeting their sponsored child.

Just 38.00 dollars a month. 38.00 can give hope, education, and a future to a child in need. But more importantly, sponsorship tells of Jesus’ love for them.

My heart is heavy for these beautiful, brown, and helpless children a world away from me. I’m doing what I can … spreading the word, urging you to sponsor a child, and urging you to spread the word. Won’t you?

Posted in charity, children, missions

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 …

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

February 26 – March 11 … two weeks.

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.

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.

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