Do You Ever Wonder?

Time changes your thought processes, as I age, I often find myself asking, “I wonder why God trusts me enough to allow me to be used as a vessel for Him.” What I mean is, I no longer question God as to why he allows me to go through the things that I do, but as to what message He wants me share with other people along the way.  I am honored and humbled now by the ability to share my life experiences with others. I am always looking for the purpose or “lesson”behind the situation. No matter what the experience, whether good or bad, I learned a long time ago, there is no embarrassment, or shame if it is a less than desirable experience, but as a true opportunity to help others down the road that they will travel. God does not bring a person through something, for that person to keep it all to themselves. Compassion and empathy are truly God’s greatest gifts that we can receive. It is revealed to me daily, as I receive his infinite gift of Grace and Mercy. God tells us that if and when we ask for wisdom, He will give it to us.

James 1: 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

So when you feel like you are in a stagnant place, sit quietly and pray for wisdom, but also that your purpose is revealed so that you can turn your circumstances into a solution for someone else’s problem.

 

 

Compassion Can Change the World

jesus calling

I think we can all say that we have heard that ,”God works in mysterious ways” but have you ever seen it up close and personal?  When you do,  it not only changes your own life but the person in which you reached out too.  I love God! I love and have personally experienced some of which I write about in my own life. I think that I truly realized tonight, is that

“God will take ordinary people to change extraordinary circumstances.”

One thing I do know is once you recognize that you  are being used as a vessel for God’s work, it will change and impact lives like never before.

I wanted to share with you a story that has been going viral all over Social Media. Matt White was shopping in the evening time at Kroger’s when a young man by the name of Chauncy  Jones Black, a passionate, smart and articulate sixteen year old young man. What was so amazing about this young man is that he asked Matt for a pack of donuts, and in return he would carry out Matt’s groceries.I can honestly say that if that had happened to me, I would have been blown away! Let me explain, this young man was not asking for money, he did not have an ulterior motive, he was simply bartering for a pack of glazed donuts.Another amazing component to this story is that Chauncy selected a man to do this for him!  Wouldn’t he have had better luck asking a women with a couple of children running around, than a man in his thirty’s?  The article stated he road the bus all the way across town to the “nice neighborhood” grocery stores. I know he didnt want to come home still hungry! But ah….. God is working here!

But there is more, Chauncy not only got his packet of donuts, but Matt went right back in to the store and he and Chancy went shopping for a weeks worth of groceries!

I think that both Matt and Chauncy were obviously drawn together for a reason. One may never know what the purpose was for them coming together, or why either one of them were selected to participate in this life changing transformation. I can already see a life long relationship between them growing and deepening, but one thing for certain is that God was moving and they were in His presence!  As it became later in the evening, Chauncy had missed the bus, (God again) and Matt took him home and Chauncy introduced him to his mother. The story below will go on and on about how we as people can  learn to love, care and comfort others that fall into hard times. I can almost guarantee that is “pay it forward” will be used by  Chauncy when he becomes a successful business owner who also makes straight A’s in school.

The best part of the deal is Chauncy got his lawnmower!

“God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” As I share Matt and Chauncy’s story pray that their will be an opportunity for you to be used as God’s vessel to bless and change their life, because it most certainly will, as well as your own life!  To be honest, it is sometimes hard to tell listening to all the videos on this, who is more excited Chauncy or Matt? I will let you decide…. Enjoy!

Chauncy’s Chance

Chauncy’s GoFund Me account

 

 

 

Do We Really Understand the Depth of God’s Mercy?

I have heard the term “Thank God for God’s Grace and Mercy” my whole life but until you become consciously aware of the depth of what that means it doesn’t quite have the same impact. I think about God’s Grace and Mercy almost every day, in fact, it often carries me through my day. Every time we get into our vehicles to go about our day is usually my first thought. You know every day starts out normal for most people, it is often during that time that something changes the course of their entire life. You know what I mean especially if you have experienced tragedy, and oh, if you live long enough, you will experience it.! I remember one time vividly when my son was about seven or eight years old, darted out in front of a car and thank God, it stopped in time  and did not hit him. That child no matter how many times I told him, would not stop and look before he crossed the street! God’s Grace and Mercy!

I am doing an amazing Bible Study with my church Saddleback called the Miracle of Mercy. Wow, the depth of this study has made a tremendous impact on my own life, and I know thousands of others. Pastor Rick Warren wrote this study after he lost his beloved son Matthew. Pastor Rick was able to really dive into the study of God’s Mercy simply using his own grief with losing his child.  In week three which is where I am at right now, it talks about “Mercy helps the hurting.” I remember when Daniel passed away and I thought I would never be able to recover from the loss, I realize now God was standing there with a whole lot of His Grace and even more Mercy! It is amazing over the years the people who have helped me along my journey, and even the people that I was privileged to help.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT).

Do you know how many times I relived that one Scripture in my life? I am simply humbled by God’s Mercy.  I will leave you with this, remember how you felt when you thought you were going to die from grief? Think about the people who were placed in your life?

“Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor, ‘maybe some other time’ or ‘try me tomorrow’, when the moneys right there in  your pocket. ”  Proverbs 3:27-28

Will You Recognize His Voice?

Have you ever had a friend who only called you when they wanted something? It didn’t just happen to you once in a while, but several times. How did that make you feel? I am sure if you are like most of us, you got to the point that you did not want much to do with that person. It would be for me a combination of hurt, anger, confusion and maybe other feelings that you did not even realize you had, but not a good feeling!

Imagine how God must feel sometimes? Knowing that God loves us more than anything and even sent his own Son to die for our sins, I couldn’t even imagine. We do that too Him quite often! Our relationship with Him is often based on the circumstances in our own lives. God created us for relationship with Him!

We know that Jesus experienced every emotion that we have experienced!  Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked for His friends to be there for Him during a time that he needed friends the most, before He would go on the cross to die for our sins!  Its says in Matthew 26:36-42

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

In His most vulnerable time, his friends let Him down. Jesus was very honest in admitting His feelings about going to the cross, but still He was obedient to His Father and died for us. Imagine how hard that would be to do especially when your closest friends rejected you during your weakest moment? God knew what He was doing and sent His son to die, despite the ugliness of the people.

I know that there have been times when I was not a good friend. There were times when I let people down, and was very unloving. I still have occasions where I do that, for we are not perfect and sin daily!

The last person I want to hurt is Jesus! I know that even though I forget to talk to him on a regular basis, and ignore him when He wants to have relationship with me; He still loves me!

My question has always been, “If Jesus called me on the telephone today would I recognize His voice?” If a close friend calls me, I automatically know her voice right away almost before she even speaks.  Would you?

We know people close to us not only by their voice, but often recognize them from a distance by their walk, the way they stand, or the things they say. Would I recognize Jesus? That’s my question, and my quest. I want to know Jesus when He calls me, or even better when He comes to visit!

 

There is Still Beauty in this World Through Jesus

Tonight France suffered a terrible tragedy and as we pray for them and their families, we must remember that even through the cruelty and meanness in this world, that God is still in control, and will make something good come out of this awful tragedy. Watching the news and reading the paper is often depressing. Just like Jesus told us, man is of sin since the fall and that this world is evil, but the good news is that this is just a temporary home until we go home to meet Him.

We can still have joy in the middle of all this turmoil. Standing on the Word of God reveals over 7,000 promises of God. Although some have claimed that there are more or less Promises in the Bible; I believe that 7,000 promises is correct, for the number 7 represents completeness, and God finished every thing He starts.

How do you find joy in this world? The easiest way is to see the beauty in things that God created. Some of the things that I enjoy and is so calming are listening to the waves at the beach roll up on the shore. Watching the sunrise and set in the sky. I love when the moon is full, and radiates light over the sky. The moon is especially beautiful over the Ocean waters.

I love listening to a child laugh, or hearing the first cry of a newborn baby. I love watching children play, run, and laugh. I love watching my children take part in sporting events. I love reading a good book, and watching a sweet historical movie that is clean and has a positive message. I love holding hands and cuddling with my husband.

The last thing I love is that in all things, Jesus is in control, and no matter how bad it gets, there is always something that is revealed that is good, especially when it comes to helping resolve other people’s pain.

So the next time a trial comes, ask Jesus to reveal the lesson in all of it. Ask Him to be a vessel for Him, to radiate Jesus’ love and hold on to the conviction that what God says is true, “this too shall pass.”

Lesson’s Through Elijah

Knowing Him

Prayers of Elijah- 1 King 18:30-46

I Timothy 2:1-8, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 33:12,

Your word is settled in Heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations.

Psalm 119: 89-90

The one who called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldee’s promising to fully bless him if he would follow Him in a life of faith is the same person who today calls us out of the world and promises to bless us if we follow Him in a life of faith.

How well do you know God? Would you recognize His voice if he called you?

The one who heard Elijah’s prayer and send down the fire to consume the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel and then sent down the rain to end the three-year drought in Israel is the same person today who hears and answers prayers.

Some confess a faith in God but many live as practice at heists.

Elijah was used to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord. (18:37).

James reminds us that Elijah was a man of like passions with us, but what made Elijah effective in his day of spiritual and moral obedience was his prayer life.

Man of Prayer – Chapter 18:30-46

Elijah’s preparation for prayer in verse 30-35.

  1. Public prayer and results
  1. Fire from Heaven
  2. Heart turned to Lord
  3. Baal prophets removed ( v. 36-40).
  1. Private Prayer
  1. Rain from Heaven
  2. Special strength v. 41-46Elijah’s influence
  1. Felt in northern Kingdom but not the Southern Kingdom.
  2. Relation to us we all have our own areas of influence and places of impact.
  3. Varies in each one of us, but faith, faithfulness, integrity, and effectual pray can tremendously increase our capacity for influence, wherever it happens to be.
  4. Pattern for Prayer Life
  1. Effectively change your life? Increase the effectiveness of your prayer life and impact
  2. Promise in James 5, James who was the half-brother of Jesus was nicknamed camel knee’s, because of the calluses on his knees from long hours in prayer.
  3. The book of James covers prayers. It has 14 verses on prayer or Principles of prayer. (1:5-8, 3: 9-10, 4:2-3, and 5:13-18.We must remember that Elijah was merely a man used by God as a vessel to talk to His people. Elijah did not have any special powers, but in fact, was just like us, experienced both physical and emotional situations that without God made him weak and full of his own fears and doubts (1 Kings 19:1-4). During this time when he fled with fear at the threats of Jezebel, he ran to hide, exhausted, afraid and in need of God’s Word. God was there in full force, asking Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:9) and he gave Elijah exactly what he knew he needed, food, warmth, rest and encouragement.   God spoke to Elijah the way he speaks to us, in a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). I love what Joyce Meyers says about Elijah when referring to him, “Elijah needed to hear from God, and thankfully he had a reining ear toward God even though his circumstances had frightened him. “Elijah’s story helps us understand how to hear God when we need guidance and help. I love how such a big God can and do still speak to His children in a calming, soft, still voice that penetrates us deep in our spirit.I found these references in my notes from a few years ago, and do not know exactly where they came from as far as source. I wish that I did for I most certainly would refer to them, but the important thing is that I wanted to share with you all.

What Are You Doing With Your Story?

Sometimes when things get tough and we are challenged, it is good to remember that God  will use our pain to help another person. Whether that person is currently going through something similar to what we have experienced now, or unbeknownst to us, in the future, it is comforting to know that we will or have helped another person a long the way.

That is one of the reasons why I love God so much because I have seen it not only in my life, through numerous testimonies and conversations people have shared with me . God, does not waste one single tear or miss one unheard cry…. He uses it all, all of them, to help another hurting soul. There is no way that I would have survived the loss of my brother fourteen years ago without the stories and heart to heart conversations people shared with me, not from a textbook, or something they saw on television, but true everyday people who mysteriously crossed my path, that helped me along the way in my journey. I think life is a journey, a conscious, ever-changing process that is always changing, where time never stands still. Even though a person will meet thousands of people, have millions of interactions with others, it is all one systematic process that comes full circle.  I read somewhere, “we come into the world naked with our fists bawled up, and leave this world naked with our fists bawled up!

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn[b] among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. (Romans 8:28-30, NLT).

If you think about it, what would be the point of experiencing a trial in your life, if you thought there was no way out, nothing to believe in, and nobody to help? I know that there are some people who unfortunately believe that, I think as humans, we all can temporarily get caught up in that thinking, but it is nice to know there is a God. A real God that not to be clique,  will “make a way out of no way.” He really and truly does!

I can read research studies, and statistics about how people deal with life’s adversities, and that is good information to know, but I would rather have a friend put their hand on my shoulder and say, “Hey, I know, I have been there.” I do not believe there is any shame in sharing with others traumatic, tragic things that have happened to us in our lives. God warned us in His Word that trials would come to us.  What the real shame would be is when God brings you through something and you don’t share it with another person to help them along their way.

It is so amazing to know that we have a God that knows everything about us! From the number of hairs on our heads to our most inner being, he knows it all… I love Jeremiah 29:11-13,

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Whatever your story is, share it! My mother has a cousin named Karen Perry who lost her oldest son to a drug overdose. I am sure that some would have tried to cover up that their child got “caught up in life” and unfortunately lost his life at a very young age, but she didn’t. Karen took her pain to the world and to the schools, law enforcement agencies and now operates full-time NOPE Task Force, (Narcotic Overdose Prevention & Education) http://www.nopetaskforce.org.  NOPE is in the schools, law enforcement agencies, churches, community educating and preventing other parents from having to bury their children and other loved ones.

 

I ask myself daily, and I recommend you do the same, “What am I doing with my story?”

 

Blessings,

Traci

For more information on NOPE Task Force and drug education and prevention, please visit http://www.nopetaskforce.org

 

nope mission
nope mural

 

God Sized Dreams!!

091b2-communitygroups

It is amazing the thoughts that can come into your mind, and like a filing system your brain automatically scans it over, and either keeps the thought as realistic, or discards it away.  Keep in mind that this brain processing is based on what we as humans believe to be realistic based on our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It does not mean that it is accurate. Sometimes your thoughts are so big that it is impossible for your mind to grasp, those are what I call “God Size Dreams,” visions that are so big that they seem impossible to fulfill.

This is where faith comes into play. I know that my purpose is to be a vessel for God, obedient to his teaching, and his timing. It is a daily, step by step journey, but I can say that it gets more enjoyable day by day. The last few days it has been placed on my heart that the East Coast needs an extension of Saddleback Church, which is located in California. Rick Warren is a spirit filled, “purpose driven” dreamer with a heart and passion for God. When I think about the idea of helping to start a church out here, my thoughts automatically tell me that it is not possible! My mind and emotions tell me your too busy, too inexperienced, have no idea what you are doing to even think about starting such a project such as that. Well, my mind is thinking on the human term, no on the terms of God. If Rick had stayed a dreamer, he would not have been obedient to God, and the church that we now know as Saddleback would not be here today. It is crazy to think that he as a young pastor just decided one day to move his young family out to California to start-up this church.  It is even crazier for the mind to remember that Peter walked on water! Peter was actually doing what no other man could do,  but only when he had his eyes on Jesus was he able to do this. The minute he looked away, down into the water he went.

I felt the same way today, I talked to a friend at Saddleback of my ambition online, and right after I sent the message self doubt filled my soul, with what in the world are you thinking? This is crazy!!! Well, it probably is a bit out there on my normal scheme of thoughts, but I know that  through God anything is possible. Rick Warren said it best when he said, “Where God guides, He provides!” That is the absolute truth, I have seen it happen time after time!

Do you ever feel like when you are reading the stories in the Bible, that the people in the stories were not normal, every day people? I used to think that to do the will of God, you had to be pretty special! I never thought about the reformed drug addict, high school drop-out, every day average person to do such great and wonderful things for God! I have since learned that God will use anyone He see’s that is obedient, and willing to be a vessel for Him. He will give that person all the resources needed to do the job, and the wisdom and guidance to complete his mission.

I don’t know what the future holds, I do not even know if this vision will come to play. I do know that I am waiting, and willing to be used by God in any way that He see’s fit. Please pray for me for discernment and obedience to do God’s Will.

Beauty…

557264_439842572725114_799938997_n

It is such a humbling experience to sit and watch God’s majestic beauty in power
as the is ocean constantly in motion. It’s the little things that we often are too
busy to notice. Have you done everything you wanted to do today? I am learning
it’s not about things, or possessions that we should work for, it’s about people!

Loving people with such an innocence of a small child. No ulterior motives, no
needs to be met, just simply enjoying another person. We are all created for
interaction and relationships with other people. I have heard that we as humans
work our whole life for the gold mine at the end of the rainbow, but during that
time it is easy to become strained in the one’s you love. That is Satan’s tactic. He is slow, and patient to keep hammering and chiseling away at your heart and soul.

I often sit and think about who I was, and where I was before God saved me! Where would I be without His grace and mercy? Life is precious and fragile, I learned that when I lost my brother, Daniel.

I have learned the difference between happiness and Joy!  I do not want happiness as much as I desire Joy! When you have joy in your life, you are able to see and appreciate all the other beautiful gifts that God bestows on our lives like His Grace and Mercy.

I am so thankful for the Grace and Mercy that God has shown to me in my life, and in the lives of those I love.

You came to my rescue, I have grace that restores, grace that redeems, grace that releases me to worship you wholeheartedly. Miracles!

Joy is what I feel when I am talking with you God! After finding out what joy is in you Lord, I don’t
care if I ever experience another blessing, you are enough! You are my King!

Jesus, there is so much healing and peace in just saying your name! Thank you for you love, friendship, grace, and mercy!

Peace,
Traci

 

You Know That Feeling?

your life message

Remember when you were a kid and you were waiting for something exciting to happen? Whether it was a birthday, Christmas, package in the mail, anything and everything that was exciting and that you were waiting upon its arrival. You remember that feeling of excitement and anticipation of knowing something good was coming, and you watched your anticipation and excitement grow as the days went on. I know I remember that feeling! It was always so awesome, right up until just after you received whatever it was that you were waiting for! I don’t know about you, but for me, it was almost like a let down right after I received whatever it was that I was so impatiently waiting for. It was almost like okay now what, until the next happy moment came about.

What I am talking about is the things that make us happy, most often for the time being. It is a roller coaster ride of emotions and plateaus the build from moment to moment, event to event. Every once in a while, I would feel that same “rush” of euphoria, if you will, but not because of something that I was anticipating to happen or receive, but just simply what I would term as “Joy.”  Joy for me comes for no clear reason or object, but simply for the pleasure of just living, experiencing life and all that it entails. Embracing the opportunity to love one another, grow with each passing moments, and ultimately bringing  Glory to God.

Joy in this way of living life, loving, and bringing Glory to God  is my goal to attain daily. It is the little pleasure’s in life that I experience, and enjoy most now, especially the older I get. I don’t strive to be happy, because to be happy is to experience an emotion. Emotions are unreliable and often depend on your circumstances of what is going on around you. I do not want my “center” my “aura” , my “joy” to depend on any other person, situation, material possession, time or place. I want it to just exist because it merely exists, and flows as consistent as time does each day. I want it in my being, I want it to be a part of who I am as a person.

We all can have joy, it is all there for us to have equally. God wants what is good for us and He is ready to give us His precious gifts, but you will not know how to receive His gift, if you do not know Him personally.