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.

12 Feb

(in)couraged to mend :: introduction

The women at (in)courage believe strongly in community and are constantly seeking out ways to connect women and bring us the community we desire.

That said, I’m thrilled to announce the second session of the (in)couragers community is starting today and I get to be a part of it again!

Last session I was blessed to be paired with Jacque as we walked through Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued. Jacque and I will be hosting a Bible study again, but this go round we’re excited to have Denise join us!

I met both Jacque and Denise at the SheSpeaks conference last July and love that the three of us are together as (in)couragers! As you get to know them over the next couple of months, I have no doubt you’ll love them as much as I do. Their words are beautiful and their hearts for God inspiring!

About Us

We are women who have seen and walked through broken places. And because of those valleys we’ve seen God’s redemptive power, love, mercy, and grace move through our lives. We’ve experienced healing, freedom, and forgiveness and want you to experience it too.

We’d love to have you join us in discovering the glory God intended for each and every one of us as we dive into the hope He has for us and into relationship with each other!

And to do just that, this session we’ve chosen to study Angie Smith’s, Mended – pieces of a life made whole. We have no doubt it’s going to (in)courage you!

Take a look for yourself:

{if you’re reading via email or RSS feed, please click here for video}

If you have pieces of your life you’d like to see made whole, we’d be honored to have you join us each week. And please know, we understand y’all are busy women. There’s no pressure here … you can participate at whatever level you have time for. We promise!

Denise, Jacque, and I will be taking turns each Thursday posting on our blogs with reflections based on the following reading schedule:

February 21 – Introduction :: Jacque
February 28 – Chapters 1-4 :: Denise
March 7 – Chapters 5-8 :: Tracie
March 14– Chapters 9-12 :: Denise
March 21 – Chapters 13-16 :: Jacque
March 28 – Chapters 17-19 :: Tracie
April 4 – Chapters 20-22 :: Jacque
April 11– Chapters 23-25 :: Denise
April 18 – Chapters 26-28 :: Tracie
April 25 – Chapters 29-31 :: Tracie, Denise, and Jacque

Connecting with the (in)couraged to Mend community is easy:

  • Read Mended along with us
  • Join us each week for our summary post {schedule above}
  • We’ll be hosting a link-up each Thursday. If you have a blog, we’d love to have you write a summary and link-up with us!
  • Join our Facebook community – (in)couraged to Mend
  • If you’re on Twitter or Instagram, use the hashtag #bemended
  • You can also follow us on Twitter or Instagram @tmstier, @jacque_watkins, and @denisejhughes

But wait!! That’s not all! We’re hosting a giveaway over at Jacque’s place!! Here’s a peek of what we’re giving away … but hop over there for all the details!

I’m looking forward to connecting with y’all and making some new friends in the process!

Are you in a season of brokenness?

If so,

How could you benefit from this study?

don’t want to miss anything?
sign up to get each post sent right to your inbox!

Posted in (in) courage, bible study, encouragement, giveaway, overcoming, resources

25 Jan

the one thing … part 4

I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7:19 {NLT}

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:14-25 {MSG, emphasis mine}

As I was driving the other day, I noticed cars swerving and moving out of the way of something. As I drove closer, I knew by the stench finding it’s way into my car, it was a dead skunk.

As I watched the cars in front of me do what they could to avoid the skunk, I couldn’t help but think of the irony.

We all know the stench a skunk leaves and we do whatever it takes to avoid being casualty of it’s permeating stink.

If we take that fact in relation to the “one thing” we’ve been talking about the last few days … why is it we don’t do whatever it takes to avoid the permeating stink our “one thing” leaves?

We know it’s bad for us. We know how we feel after we fall to the temptation, and yet we continue.

I wonder … outside of the obvious temptation of sin, if it’s because we haven’t fully surrendered our “one thing” to God? I wonder if we secretly don’t want to fully let go? And we think if we really surrender 110%, we may actually miss our “one thing?”

I’m a huge fan of Beth Moore’s daily devotional, Praying God’s Word Day by Day, and I glean many insights from it on a daily basis. I’d like to share a few things I’ve read from it recently:

“If our minds would absorb that we are accepted by God in Christ, our choices and behaviors would be profoundly affected.”

“By demanding that we seek His glory alone, God is calling us to overcome the natural temptation to seek our own.”

“God creates and activates a nagging dissatisfaction in us for an excellent reason — He wants us to come to repentance.”

“Our God of grace forgives the authentically repentant and ‘no, never’ counts their sins against them.”

“God cares more for our freedom than even we do. He initiated the saving relationship between His people and their liberator.”

This one thing we’ve been talking about? It’s our personal burden and bondage to the slavery of sin.

But the releasing of it and what comes with the releasing of it? Freedom. Chains that are lifted.

I’m going to close this series with one more passage from Praying God’s Word Day by Day:

O Lord, like David, help me rejoice in Your strength and say of You, “How great is my joy in the victories you give!” Father, please grant me the desire of my heart to be free from the strongholds in my life. Do not withhold the request of my lips {Psalm 21:1-2}.

For I know that my old self was crucified with You, so that this body of sin might be done away with, that I should no longer be a slave to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin {Romans 6:6-7}.

I acknowledge that it is for freedom that Christ has set me free. Your desire is for me to stand firm and not let myself be burdened again by the yoke of slavery {Galatians 5:1}.

Help me, Lord. Empower me!

Thank God, Jesus can make all the difference!

This is part four in a four part series:
Part one
Part two
Part three

want to stay connected?
sign up to get each post sent right to your inbox!

Posted in deep thoughts, encouragement, overcoming, series

24 Jan

the one thing … part 3

I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7:19 {NLT}

Don’t live under the control of your sinful nature.
If you do, you will think about what your sinful nature wants.
Live under the control of the Holy Spirit.
If you do, you will think about what the Spirit wants.

The way a sinful person thinks leads to death.
But the mind controlled by the Spirit brings life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6 {NIRV}

The last couple of days, we’ve been talking about the “one thing” we do that we don’t want to do. A sin we may be a slave to.

I’m curious … when you do that one thing, are you left feeling guilty? Full of condemning thoughts? If so, I want to reassure you those thoughts are not from God.

God did not come to condemn the world!

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1 {NLT}

If anyone hears my words and doesn’t follow them, I don’t condemn them.
I didn’t come to condemn the world but to save the world.
John 12:47 {GW}

Condemnation comes from satan and is meant to shame and humiliate us. Condemnation let’s us know we’ve failed, and tells us we’re failures.

Those are the lies satan wants us to believe.

Follow me for a minute:

  1. so there’s this one thing we don’t want to do, but we do it anyway …
  2. there’s a battle being fought in our hearts and minds over this one thing …
  3. good vs. evil …
  4. the Holy Spirit who God sent to guide us vs. an enemy who’s come to kill, steal, and destroy …
  5. in our human flesh, we fail and fall into the enemy’s trap …
  6. and then we subject ourselves to condemnation from the enemy whose trap we fell into …

And guess where that leaves us? Right where satan wants us. He set up the trap, made it look good, we fell, he humiliates us, and calls us a failure because of it.

The gravity of that cycle is powerful, isn’t it?

If you have fallen into the hopeless feeling that cycle can bring … I’m here to tell you, God is the God of all hope and nothing is hopeless with Him.

God still loves us. With an everlasting love. No matter what. He’s there with His arms wide open to take us in and love us. God doesn’t judge or condemn us, and He’ll never call us a failure. Jesus said, “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” {John 12:47}

Conviction is godly sorrow

Romans 2:4 tells us, godly sorrow leads to repentance.

Condemnation tells us we’ve failed. Conviction tells us we’re forgiven. <– click to tweet

Conviction is a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit. A God-sent Counselor {John 14:16,17,26}. God has given us our very own personal coach and guide in this life.

Conviction is a nudge guiding us to truth and forgiveness, not shame and humiliation.

Conviction leads us to the love of Christ.

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?
Does this mean nothing to you?
Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Romans 2:4 {NLT}

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow as I share some final thoughts on overcoming that “one thing.”

This is part three in a four part series:
Part one
Part two
Part four

want to stay connected?
sign up to get each post sent right to your inbox!

Posted in deep thoughts, encouragement, overcoming, series

23 Jan

the one thing … part 2

I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7:19 {NLT}

I believe each of us walks a different path to our own personal truths. And I believe the Holy Spirit–our Friend, Advocate, Encourager, Comforter, and Counselor–leads us into those truths differently.

Easier said … what’s right for one person, could be wrong for another.

Outside of God’s commandments, the gray area if you will, I believe our individual “wrongs” are uniquely different. God has created us as unique individuals and we each respond uniquely to situations we are in and live out.

Our individual convictions are different based on the way we’ve been created.

An easy example might be a family who feels convicted to homeschool their children. The Holy Spirit is leading that family into their own personal truth. God has the master plan for that family and knows what path they need to take to get there. And so the Spirit nudges until they listen.

A more difficult example, is that of an addict or alcoholic … their truth is to stay far away from what they’re a slave to. One person is able to have a glass {or two} of wine or beer and it’s no problem at all. While another struggles with demons inside knowing it’s nothing they should be indulging in. But not everyone has this battle. The Spirit nudges each of us differently based on the way we’ve been created.

What’s important in all of this is that we listen to the nudging or conviction of our Guide. We need to stay keenly aware of the still small Voice leading us into our personal truth. Remember, that Voice is a Friend, Advocate, Encourager, Comforter, and Counselor. Equally important to remember is the other voice competing for our choices is the voice of an enemy who’s come to kill, steal, and destroy.

I’ll share an example of something {among many} in my own life … I heard a message once that convicted me to my core. Out of that message, I made the decision not to allow witchcraft, black magic, or wizardry into our home {in the form of TV shows, movies, games, toys, etc.}. It was a conviction I had and shared with my girls. It was a personal conviction I needed to obey. As my children grow and are on their own, they may not share that conviction and may turn away from that teaching.

That’ll be their choice, with no judgment from me. What’s more important to me is that I’m teaching them to listen to the Holy Spirit and their personal convictions.

So when does sin enter in? When do we become a slave to sin and do that “one thing” we don’t want to do? I believe, for the most part, it’s when we’re not obeying the Spirit. The disobeying is what becomes the sin.

I think if we put our defensive hats and excuses aside, and get really real and brutally honest, we could each admit there’s that “one thing” we know–in our heart of hearts–we know we shouldn’t be doing … but we do it anyway.

Disobeying is what becomes the sin.

And when we don’t obey, the Lord can’t bless.

Friends, as I’m about to hit “publish” on this post, I’m praying for you. As unique individuals with all your complexities and convictions, I’m praying you’ll feel the Holy Spirit … your Friend, Advocate, Counselor, Encourager, and Comforter … come alongside of you and guide you into your own personal truth. And if you already know what that truth is, and you’re a slave to it–to that “one thing” you don’t want to do–I’m praying He gives you the strength and courage you need to close the door of your “one thing” forever.

If you’re ready to take that step, might I offer the following prayer for you?

You know my heart, You know I don’t want to do this one thing I’ve struggled with for so long. But Father, I can’t do it on my own. I don’t want to carry this anymore, but I’m not strong enough to give it up on my own. Lord, give me the strength and courage I desire to surrender it to You today. Lord, take this burden … take it from my life. Let me live fully in You and the blessings You have in store for me in this life. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the difference between conviction and condemnation, or guilt. Join me?

This is part two in a four part series:
Part one
Part three
Part four

want to stay connected?
sign up to get each post sent right to your inbox!

Posted in deep thoughts, encouragement, overcoming, series

22 Jan

the one thing …

I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
Romans 7:19 {NLT}

So you see how it is:
In my mind I really want to obey God’s law,
but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 7:25 {NLT}

You know that “one thing” you don’t want to do? But you do it anyway? You know it’s wrong–not because someone told you it’s wrong, not because God’s Word says it’s wrong, and not because the law says it’s wrong–but because your spirit tells you it’s wrong.

But when the Friend comes,
the Spirit of the Truth,
he will take you by the hand and
guide you into all the truth there is.
John 16:13 {MSG}

When Jesus left earth, God sent another Counselor–the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit. {John 14:16,17,26} The word Counselor, in some translations read as Advocate, Comforter, or Encourager. God has given us our very own personal coach and guide in this life.

Our only job is to listen to that still small Spirit living inside of us. You know that thing we call our conscious? Those voices that battle, “Do it!” “Don’t do it!” That’d be the Holy Spirit guiding us to Truth. And the opponent would be the enemy who wants to trip us up!

John 16:13, up there above says, a Friend–the Spirit of Truth–will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.

John 10:10 says, there’s an enemy who’s come to kill, steal, and destroy.

As your spirit battles that “one thing” you don’t want to do … who’s hand would you rather take? The one leading you into all truth? Or the one who’s come to kill, steal, and destroy?

This is part one in a four part series:
Part two
Part three
Part four

want to stay connected?
sign up to get each post sent right to your inbox!

Posted in deep thoughts, encouragement, overcoming, series