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.

 

 

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

 

Lesson’s Learned While Grieving

Grieving What I have learned Along the Way

  1. Initially everything is a “fog” because we are in disbelief or shock as to what just happened. It is my belief that this is God’s way of protecting us, because if we had to process all the information at one time, it would literally blow our minds.
  2. People move on in life around you, time doesn’t stand still even though you feel like it does for you. You may have emotions centered on other people you care about moving on with their lives, as well as people will expect you to “move on with your life” which can only be done when you are ready. Growth happens, you may not be aware of it initially, but you do process through grieving, and reminders are not necessary.
  3. In the beginning you will want to “save” everything, find a special place to put your loved one’s items, and do save them. You may not be ready to “deal” with them now, and that is okay, just set them aside so that they are there when you are ready.
  4. Initially, your focus is on the date of death, you will focus on the loss, what you were doing, what that person was doing; the “day and time” will be your central focus that is okay. Later on, you focus will shift from that day to days that you had celebrated together in the past, birthdays, Christmas, family traditions. When the time comes, the death date may not want to be your central focus, and that is okay, in fact, that is good, it represents growth.
  5. Remember your loved one’s “treasured items” may simply be that, something that brought them pleasure. You may find that it brings you pain, a sad reminder, and that it does not bring you joy in viewing. That is okay; simply understand to them it was treasured, and that you do not have the same feelings or recollection. Put the item aside in your “special box” and you can process it at a different time.
  6. Initially, your emotional pain is so raw, that it feels “to the bone”, and that you literally will die from a broken heart. You will always have a void, but time does change things, there will be a day when you can smile again. You just have to move through the process.
  7. Grieving is a process. It comes in stages that we all must go through. You may delay it, but you cannot avoid it, embracing the stages and move through them. You cannot go around grief; it will be waiting for you later if you do not process it.
  8. You may feel the need to re-create or re-construct you loved one’s final moments, especially if it is an accident. That is normal, and for some can give closure. It is completely up to the individual. (Medical records etc.)
  9. It is completely normal to “be mad at God” for what happened in fact, sometimes expected. It is okay, and it is a normal emotion. Talk it through and sort out your feelings.
  10. The best thing you can do is share you experience with others that understand exactly what you are experiencing. Find a support group, if you need to talk to someone professionally, which is a healthy step to take. Example, “Compassionate Friends” is a very good group for those who have lost children.
  11. It is completely NORMAL for you to want to talk about your loved one. Expect that after time, those around you will feel uncomfortable talking about it with you. They expect you to “move on, get over it”. The reason is THEY are uncomfortable talking about your loved one with you, because they cannot fix it for you. People who are grieving will always talk about their loved ones; it keeps them “alive” in our mind. People that have also experienced grieving will want to talk about them with you, and will want you to listen to them about their loved ones, that is why support groups are so important.
  12. Compassion is the greatest gift you can give someone, and is given to you through the experiences you go through in life.
  13. Early in your “journey” because that is what the process is, find a special place for your loved one’s pictures that brought you joy, display them, and put up special keepsakes with them. Remember there will be items; including photographs that will bring you pain (pictures of the casket, accident scene, etc). Sometimes it is best to put those things that are extremely painful, feel free to put those things away for a time being). You can always add and put away things as you feel necessary and ready.
  14. Know that God is Good. We may not understand why things happen the way that they do, but that He is always in control and has Mercy and Grace. One of the greatest things for me to realize was that my loved one was not in any pain, even though I would have thought he would have been, the human body has an amazing ability to protect you, with blocking pain.

Setting Smart Goals in the Daniel Plan

Taken from Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Journal.

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) Goals, similar to what we talked about in chapter 6 in The Daniel Plan on the Focus Essential. Goal setting is a spiritual discipline like prayer and spending time alone with God. In fact, goals can be an act of stewardship or worship where you say, “God, I want to make the most of what I’ve been given” or “God, I give you back the life you’ve given to me, and I want to go in your direction.”

Specific goals are clear and distinct. This is where you understand exactly what is expected and why it is important. A specific goal usually answers the Five “W” questions: What? Why? Who? Where? Which? (Identify the requirements and constraints in the areas of faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.)

To set specific goals, you need to know the difference between pressures and priorities, activity and achievement, and what’s urgent and what’s important. If you focus your energy on goals that aren’t God-directed, your energy won’t have much power. Paul modeled this in 1 Corinthians 9:26: “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” Energy that is focused has enormous power.

Measurable emphasizes the need for tangible benchmarks. If a goal is not measurable, how will you know whether you are making progress? Measuring your progress helps you stay on track and keeps you excited. A measurable goal answers questions such as “How much?” and “By when?”

Attainable means the goals need to be realistic, even though it’s okay to have big dreams. Extreme goals usually invite failure and frustration. When you identify the goals that are most important to you, you will figure out ways to make them happen.

At the same time, you also need to realize that attainable doesn’t mean only the goals you can accomplish in your own power. If you can do it in your own power, then you don’t really need any faith. Goals can stretch your faith and affirm your trust in God.

Relevant means goals that matter. A relevant goal answers “yes” to these questions: Is it worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does it match your other efforts and needs? This also means your goals are relevant to God and bring him glory. Any goal that brings you closer to God and makes you want to serve him and others is a goal that matters. The apostle Paul encouraged us to “make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Time-bound stresses the importance of attaining the goal within a certain time frame. When you use time-bound criteria, you will be able to measure your goals and focus your efforts on a specific deadline.

Here are examples of seven SMART Goals:

  1. Lose 30 pounds in six months. 2. Walk, as if I am late, four times a week for forty-five minutes with my walking partner. 3. Do a complete kitchen cleanse (that is, clean out the kitchen of all unhealthful food) once a week. 4. Spend one night a week with friends reading and discussing The Daniel Plan material. Call in between meetings for encouragement and accountability. 5. Spend five to ten minutes a day journaling my progress. 6. Spend ten or more minutes a day in prayer or reading my Bible. 7. Eat Daniel Plan – approved foods at least 90 percent of the time.

Working toward SMART Goals will give you the direction you need to focus on what’s really important. You will record these on pages 22 – 24 and revisit them every ten days.

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.

Living a Life of Joy!

I started my day with my normal thought patterns on my life, my loved ones, the way I view the world, it was the same “stinkin thinkin” that keeps me “in a box.” I thought about how the people around me are getting older, and how time is always moving, things that I simply cannot control, but always managed to make me sad. I thought about an author Kay Warren, and the book that she wrote a few years ago, “Choose Joy.” In this book, she emphasized that although we cannot control our surroundings and the things in it, we can control how much joy we have in our lives. I thought about that, choosing joy! It came to me, that my relationship with God, and actually putting my trust in Him, is the surest and quickest way to obtaining joy in my life. I can’t control circumstances, or people in my life. We all must make a conscious decision, and effort to maintain relationships, love, and live life.

We are all given a certain time frame to live on Earth, and that this world is truly temporary. We have a whole other life full of joy and love awaiting us on day, trying to hold on to something in this world, and the things in it, including people is crazy! We were never suppose to be permanent residents here, and truly, if you think about it, in a world this ugly, who would want to be? I can spend my time, trying to slow down the process of life, and the people in it, or embrace the time, days, and moments we are giving, and maximize the joy that it can bring. I choose life! I choose to love those around me, while they are around me, and to enjoy the adventures and opportunities that God gives me with each passing day!

I took a picture of myself this morning, to put a date and time stamp on the changes that will occur in my life. In the process of the journey of seeking a positive transformation of Joy and love, that comes from God, I plan to share my experiences with others! What do I truly expect to happen? First, I will seek God and His will for my life! The surest and most practical way to do that, will begin with His Word, His Promises, daily!!! I love that! I love that word Promise! I love the fact that God is there, and loves me unconditionally, no matter what! I love the fact that He says in His Word, that If I seek Him, I will find Him!

I love that He is there open arms, and that there is nothing that will ever change that! I love that He tells us in the Bible, If we desire knowledge, that all we have to do is ask for it! (James 1:5). The Bible is so full of answers, every question that you will ever have in life, is answered in that book! Reading James has helped me understand that true wisdom only comes from God. Wisdom is the “ability to see the world through the eyes of God.” I love this verse, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13). What does all this mean? It means that if I seek wisdom from God, He will give it to me. Having wisdom that comes from Him is pure, it brings peace, love, gentleness, and the ability to give to others. It means that the inner peace and love that I have inside will radiate out to others, sharing His love and gift of life with others.
What is the first step to this transformation? James tells me right there in the Bible, James 4:7-10, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash you hands you sinners, purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. (repent).Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.”   What does this passage mean?   Give your heart, life, and soul back to God. Truly repent, and ask for forgiveness in a way that is not fake, or shallow in thought. Give him your life, to live through him, for Him, and In Him!

What I love about God is this, I can give him all my “negative’s” and trade them in for His goodness! In Faith, and that is the key, Faith meaning, no matter what, trusting Him, knowing that He is in control, and will do in love for me, what He wills!

In retrospect, I choose Joy! I choose God’s love~ I will take every trial and trouble, and look for the good in it. I will use them as they come, as an opportunity to help others, to bring joy, and compassion and love to others!

Are you with me? Are you ready for this journey? I would love to hear from you, share your thoughts via the comment section, and or contact me!

Peace!

How Well Can You Explain Who God Is?

 

I received an email from my dad this morning and I was so taken by the post that he forwarded me, that I want to share with you all. Unfortunately, I do not know the source who published it, other than the name of the child who wrote it for his teacher, so author for this article is unknown. I never thought in a million years that I would become and love so passionately teaching Elementary School. Through the eyes and hearts of children, I have learned more about life and myself than any other time period. I wanted to share this email with you here.

It was written by an eight year old boy  named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula  Vista , CA . He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to “Explain God.”

 EXPLANATION OF GOD:

“One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the
ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things
on earth. He doesn’t make grownups, just babies. I think because they
are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn’t have to take up
his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave
that to mothers and fathers.’

‘God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot
of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at
times beside bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or
TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a
terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it
off.’

‘God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which
keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting his time by going
over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t
have.’

‘Atheists are people who don’t believe in God. I don’t think there are
any in Chula Vista … At least there aren’t any who come to our church.’
‘Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on
water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who
didn’t want to learn about God.. They finally got tired of him
preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind,
like his father, and he told his father that they didn’t know what
they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.’
‘His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his
hard work on earth so he told him he didn’t have to go out on the road
anymore.

He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by
listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to
take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having
to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.’
‘You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because
they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.’
‘You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy,
and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God!
Don’t skip church to do something you think will be more fun like
going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn’t come
out at the beach until noon anyway.’

‘If you don’t believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be
very lonely, because your parents can’t go everywhere with you, like
to camp, but God can. It is good to know He’s around you when you’re
scared, in the dark or when you can’t swim and you get thrown into
real deep water by big kids.’

‘But…..you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I
figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.
And…that’s why I believe in God.”

 

What Are You Doing with Your Life?

 

It is amazing to me that I have had to re-write this beginning sentence three times just to get this article going, something I do not usually have to do, must be important for me to get this message across. The deeper my walk with Christ reveals to me, the need for me to become more transparent and vulnerable for those around me. It can be uncomfortable to reveal all your thoughts, weaknesses, and anxieties to others, but I feel like this is something I need to do to be used by God. I always thought that the Mega Church Pastors had a special blessing over them for doing the work of God, but in my own smaller, simpler ministry I have learned the opposite, leaders have more warfare to deal with! I can only imagine what others go through when leading people to Christ, if I receive a lot of spiritual warfare right before leading a new study.

I was talking with a good friend this morning, and she send me a link to Beth Moore’s teaching on “God’s Purpose for You.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5AVmmH8v00 . It really touched my heart and I wanted to share with you.

The thought that God has an individualized plan for our lives is amazing, each life comes with his own personal blueprint or “business plan” of living. It is not a generalized plan that we all share with one another, but written just for our purpose.

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.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV).

Beth goes on to define the Greek word boule for Purpose, ” will, project, deliberation and reflection.” Our Purpose is God’s will that He intentionally, individually designed as a result of his intentions and reflection.”

I told you earlier I was speaking with my friend and she sent me this quote from Beth Moore’s “Believing God ” and she said this, “throttle blessing, abiding and bearing fruit are not.” I believe that we are given free will in our lives, what you do with it is up to you. I decided long ago after God had brought me out of my trials, that I would use each time of darkness to bring light to the world, and show that God will always get the glory, no matter what, even when it seems all hope is lost. My addiction, my grief over losing my brother, will not go in vain. I will share my heart, my experiences, my hope, my faith to anyone else that I can possibly help another person. Life is full of triumphs and trials, and you we are all given a set amount of time here on Earth, you can decide what you are going to do with that time.

In closing, I want to share this verse

Acts 13:36

36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. (NIV)

Take David’s name out of the Scripture above and put your name there, what does it say? What will you do?