All posts in Faith

Find my phone, Yesterday Danny and I were flying home from New York and about half way through the flight I realized I had misplaced my phone.  I spent most of the flight being so frustrated with myself. I am constantly backtracking to find things I misplace.

Thanks to “Find My Phone,” an iPhone feature, I was able to see that it was still in N.Y. somewhere on 23rd Ave in Queens. It had to be at the car rental place. Uugh. I called and the girl at the desk searched and couldn’t find it.

That’s because she wasn’t meant to. Darius was.

Around 1pm I received a call to Danny’s phone from the Darius the manager of Budget.  The shuttle bus driver had turned my phone in to him. He had noticed the message on my home screen that said that the phone was lost and directed him to call Danny’s number.

I was thrilled and thanked him a thousand times. He told me to email my address to him and he would send it to me ~ no charge! Nice.

I emailed my address to him but Darius noticed something on my signature line caught his attention.

Here is our email exchange. Read from the bottom arrow up.

screenshot

That made my day! I love how God can take a really annoying personality flaw and use it for someone else’s good!

Have you got an out of the box story about how God has spoken to you or someone you know?  I’d love to hear it.  One of the chapters of the book I’m writing is God Can Talk. It is not always how you would imagine!

On a daily basis I post a picture or encouraging word on our Facebook page for For the Girls International. To let you in on a little secret…I usually post things that resonate with me personally.  That’s how it works.  I see something that hits a nerve for me and I figure someone else probably needs it too.

Occasionally I check to see how many people we are reaching with our Facebook posts and the data I saw yesterday was very telling.  In case you don’t know how it works, the more people that “like” or “share” a post the more people it reaches.

The last 7 posts (not including the announcement of my incredible granddaughter’s birth – which generated a lot of interest!) averaged a reach of 284 people.

Then a few nights ago I posted this (because I needed it):

Tough times, hardship, depression,

The reach for that post rose to over 2000 just for that one post! I don’t have time to figure out the math (that would seriously take me several hours) but that is a huge increase in reach.

So why was that post so popular?

3 reasons:

Because we all have our struggles.

Because we all need to know it’s ok not to be ok.

Because we all need to know that God loves us and is working through our struggle.

This is a tough time of year for me.  Thankfully it’s not as tough as it’s been in the past but the process of writing my book causes me to unearth some past hurts and pain that stirs up some emotions that I struggle with.

Reading that post helped me take a deep breath and know that God is allowing me to go a little deeper and peel another layer off to become more and more whole.  He loves me that much.

Sharing that post helped me realize that the more we are transparent about our struggles the more we help others to know that it is ok that they struggle too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ so please feel free to share.  It helps to know that we are all in this together :)

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I'm ok, you're ok, mental health, depression

And sometimes it’s ok not to be ok!

September 11th is a memorial day for our country. It is also a memorial day for me personally.

Last year on September 11th my mom passed from this life to heaven. My brother, sisters and I sang to her as she took her last breath.

This year on September 11th at 1:14 am I am writing this with my laptop propped up on a couch pillow and a precious new life in my arms ~ my brand new granddaughter. Just days ago she took her first breath.

IMG_1901

Gramma T and Ezra burning the midnight oil

After my mom’s accident, in one of my darkest moments, God gave me a promise. I found it in Psalms 27:13-14 after begging God to give me something to hold on to. He did.  The verse says that if I wait on Him, I WILL see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And I have. Many times over.

psalm27-13

Today, His promise is fulfilled once again. And I am reminded of the circle of life.

Instead of feeling the sting of death on this memorial day, I feel my mom’s presence as I embrace this new, beautiful season of life. A season she embraced when my son Shaun made her a grandmother for the first time. I feel her smiling face as I snuggle his daughter in my arms. I rest knowing that we are both enjoying the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, each on a different side of eternity.

I pray for all the people who suffered loss on this day that they too would experience God’s goodness in some small or big way as a reminder that his promises are true.

We will never forget September 11th collectively or individually.  We must also never forget His goodness even if we are not feeling it in a given moment. We must hold onto the promise that this life is temporary and that He came to redeem all that is broken.

blessed

His promises are true.  We need only to believe.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens

Yesterday I woke up feeling under the weather.  I was very tired even after a long night’s sleep. I still have a scratchy throat this morning and some aches and pains.  I must have a touch of a cold but the feeling was a chilling reminder.

It felt a lot like the way I feel when I am depressed.  Thankfully, I know that I am not but the physical symptoms were similar. 

The good thing was that it made me realize how GOOD I have been feeling for the past 8 months.  In that moment I was so grateful that I had come through that awful episode and it was behind me.  I’m grateful for what I learned through it.  I am grateful that what didn’t kill me really did make me stronger! 

I don’t have time to write much this morning but I wanted to encourage someone today.  Whatever it is you are going through – this too shall pass. And you will look back and see the value of the experience and be glad. I promise. But more importantly God promises.

Maybe you are in a good place today.  Take a moment and remember what God has done for you.  Now that I am feeling better, it is something I take for granted sometimes… so I need to make a point to remember to remember! 

depression, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, never forget

 

impossible journey

How do you make a dream come true?

One brave step at a time!

So far in 2013, over at For the Girls International, we have built all of our events around this idea that we were created to be STRONG, BEAUTIFUL and BRAVE and we have been cheering women on to take brave steps all year.  I have taken a few myself by talking about my struggle with depression…you can read a little bit about that here, here, and here.

And even though I feel like I’ve definitely taken a few brave steps this year there is one more I have decided to take.

For the longest time I’ve had a secret dream. Well, not completely a secret. Some of those very close to me have known of it. I’ve dreamed of writing a book. I love books!

I love stories and characters and plots and themes. I love how you can learn, even from recreational reading, about places and people and life. I love how words strung together in just the right way can transport you to another world. And I love how people sharing their life experience can reach out beyond the paper pages and touch you right where you live, giving you strength and helpful tools for your journey. And I’ve dreamed of inspiring others as I have been inspired by so many wonderful books.

But here’s the problem:

There are SO many books already! When I stand in Books A MILLION I hear this little voice tell me that the world doesn’t need another book, at least not from me. Who am I to think that the world needs to hear what I have to say?

I expressed this nagging thought to my business coach. (I hired him to keep me focused – something I highly recommend if you have a fly by the seat of your pants kind of personality like me)

And he said to me, “The truth is…you’re right. The world doesn’t need a book from you. The whole world doesn’t need to hear what you have to say. But someone does.”

And that is precisely why I am taking this journey. It’s a little scary to put yourself out there because in order to bring real hope there must be transparency which can leave one feeling a little…well, naked.

But this hope that I have and hold so dearly, I want to share.

So, yesterday I started my journey to write The Six Impossible Things I Believe Before Breakfast – (tag line still to be determined). With one brave step I started.  I had actually written a little bit already but yesterday I bought a white board and post it notes and now I’m telling YOU so that makes it official!!!

What brave step have you been putting off? Start your journey today and let’s do this thing together!

I’ll be sharing bits of the journey here so follow along and please feel free to leave comments.  I love to hear what you have to say! first step

As a follow up to yesterday’s blog I thought I share with you a little nugget I got from reading Esther’s story this past week. Esther is an incredible example of a woman who knew who she was and used every bit of it to fulfill God’s purpose in her life.

King Xerxes was looking for a new queen.  Esther was chosen along with many others to be pampered and beautified for a whole year and then presented to the king one by one for him to choose his new bride from the group of beautiful women.

So there is this group of women of which Esther was one, all vying for the same position of queen. And here’s how it went…

Thus prepared, each young woman went to the king, and she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the women’s quarters to the king’s palace.15 Now when the turn came for Esther to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. Esther 4:17 (edited)

I bolded and underlined the part that leapt off the page when I was reading this the other day. Esther knew something that each of us need to know. SHE WAS ENOUGH.

She didn’t need to load herself up with things to make her feel better about herself. She didn’t need to add to what she already had.  She operated from a quiet confidence that she was enough and as you will see in the next verse it won her favor and she was crowned queen.

Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen… Esther 4:17

The book of Esther is all about God’s providence although interestingly God’s name is not even mentioned in it.  However, it is clear that God called Esther to a position of power so that she could influence the king and save her people from genocide.

God positioned her to fulfill His purpose through her.

Here’s what I tend to do when God calls me to do something – see if you can relate.

First, I look at what I think it requires.  Then, I look at myself, my capabilities and I immediately conclude that I need to add something in order to fulfill the task….maybe I should go to school because I don’t have enough education. I think to myself…if only I had certain connections or more money I could get started.  If only I was more talented… and then I have to stop and realize what Esther realized.

If God has called me to a position then He knows that I am capable. All I need to bring is myself and He will equip me to fulfill His purpose for my life. What a relief! I can stop spinning myself in circles trying to measure up!

Of course we can always learn more and hone our skills and make new connections and find new ways of doing things but we must operate from the core knowledge that we alone are enough.

What have you been waiting to start because you thought you needed something more?  You already have what you need – YOU!

And you are enough! Walk boldly and confidently towards your destiny.

esther

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This is a little bit long but it is my 1st blog ever…telling the story of the beginning of FTGI written June 12, 2008 two days after we incorporated. It’s fun to look back and see where we have come from.

retrospect, looking back

To truly chronicle the beginnings of For the Girls International I would need to write a book but below you will find a synopsis of the events of my personal journey this year 2008.

When 2008 began I knew that this was the year. I just felt it in the core of my being. I didn’t know how or exactly when but I knew that I must start moving on this vision that has been in my heart for several years now. I made a commitment to myself and God that I would start moving forward even if it was the smallest of steps. That was January 1st 2008.

Fourteen days later at 2 o’clock in the morning I received a phone call that would change my life and the landscape of my extended family forever. My beautiful, adorable, bubbly, carefree and fearless cousin, Alex, died that night in a car accident. She was only eighteen. It is really impossible to describe how that news impacted me. It felt so final even though I knew that she was immediately with Jesus and that I would see her again. I felt so helpless. Shock and grief is so difficult to put into words. There is an overwhelming feeling of wanting to turn back the hands of time and do something to prevent it. How can you describe the emptiness and hopelessness you feel when you lose someone you love so dearly? There are no words.

In the months that have followed it has became evident to me that time is short. That NOW is when you have to step out and follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart. No one knows the day or the hour that God will call us to be with Him, and so we must live fully engaged in today, fulfilling our calling and purpose here on earth. I knew that I couldn’t wait much longer to begin this new journey called For the Girls International.

A month later, in February, while I was slowly emerging from the initial deep grief from Alex’s sudden death, I attended a conference for my husband’s business, Chick-fil-A. It’s a seminar for the Operators and their spouses to get refreshed and inspired for the coming year. It is always personally inspiring as well. Chick-fil-A is a company founded by committed Christians that live to inspire people on every level. As I sat through the sessions, I felt the fire of the vision of this ministry burning strong. On the second evening of the seminar I was having trouble sleeping. I felt compelled to write out my vision in the notebook given to us at the beginning of the week. At the top of the page I wrote… PERSONAL GOAL… and then wrote out, not very eloquently either, what was in my heart. I made it a goal to get started this year. I never intended for anyone to read it. It was for me and God – a little note to God.

The next day my husband and I went to the sessions and events, but that evening when we got back to our room I realized that at some point during the day I had lost my book. I was really bummed out and my husband didn’t understand why because he thought it was just full of notes I had taken, so I told him that I had written out my vision in it. Just as a side note… I am, and this can be confirmed by anyone who knows me well, on the spacey side of life. I lose my keys several times a week. I lock myself out of my car on a regular basis. I leave things everywhere (including my children). So this was not really out of the ordinary for me. My husband just rolled his eyes when I told him I couldn’t find my book.

The next morning as we rushed from breakfast to the general session, I checked with the lost and found desk that Chick-fil-A had set up and found several notebooks there (so I wasn’t the only airhead!) I flipped through them and found mine. I was so glad to have it back, but we were in a rush, so I just grabbed it and ran. When we settled into our seats I wanted to read my vision again so I flipped through to get to the page I had written it on. When I came to the page, I was completely taken back. There was someone else’s handwriting on the opposite page! Someone had written in my book!

Here’s what she wrote…
I found your book and was looking for a name when I saw this (arrow pointing to vision).
I’d love to help you with this.
Lysa TerKeurst and her cell phone #
Proverbs 31 Ministries proverbs31.org

I was completely freaked out! It was like God had written me a personal note to tell me that He loves me, He got my note, He knows the desires of my heart and that He was going to help make it happen. My heart was racing, my hands started to shake, and I couldn’t hear anything else that was going on in the room! I honestly just stared at it in disbelief for quite a while. What are the chances that out of 1500 women at that conference and hundreds of bathroom stalls that Lysa would follow me into the stall where I had left my book? Then, on top of that, what are the chances that she would open to the very page that I had written my vision on and read it?? Being the space cadet that I am, the chances of me losing something while I was at the conference were great, but all the rest of the “coincidences” completely defied all the odds.

I had heard of Proverbs 31 Ministries because they do radio spots on my local Christian radio station but I didn’t think in my wildest dreams that it was the same ministry that was on my radio. I was excited just at the idea that someone already involved in women’s ministry would be offering to help me. For me the big thing was the acknowledgment from God and the fact that I could also get help and direction was completely over the top. After the conference ended and I got home, I looked up Proverbs 31 and was completely blown away by the magnitude of the ministry. It is a wonderful organization and the President of the ministry wants to help me!!!! I got in touch with Lysa who was a great help and encouragement and she suggested that I attend the She Speaks conference in June. I figured that would be the start of things for FTGI but God had other plans. On the same day that Lysa found my book, my friend Cynda (co-founder of FTGI) was receiving confirmation of her own through a phone call and before we knew it, we were set up for our first ministry trip to NYC.

I love this quote from a former pastor friend of mine.

Oftentimes God takes a long time to move suddenly.

As long as this first post is (and I promise they won’t all be this long), this is only one of many, many ways that God has confirmed over and over that He wants to do something great in the lives of women in this day and age. I am thrilled and humbled at the thought of being a part of that and can’t wait for what lies ahead.

Lots of Love,

Tracey

Last week my niece won two tickets from a radio station to a private listening party with Amy Grant for her newly released cd How Mercy Looks From Here and she invited me to go with her!

It’s no secret that I am a huge Amy Grant fan. I love her music, I love her soothing voice but more than both of those God given talents, I love her spirit. She has a beautiful, very real faith that intersects with very human experiences and raw emotions but remains strong and full of grace.

Grace, something we all need so very much.

During the listening party she chose a few songs and told the stories behind them. I loved them all but one of them caused that huge lump in my throat that develops when I am trying to hold back tears.

It was called ~ Don’t Try So Hard.

It hit home for me because I had recently gone through a period of time where I was trying so hard that I had worn myself out completely. I am not even sure how it happened or when it began because it snuck up on me. Gradually over time somehow I had developed this imaginary standard that I needed to measure up to.

The standard was perfection and although no one else expected it of me ~ I did. As the words washed over me I felt a few hot tears escape from my eyes. Not tears of painful emotion but of relief that the striving is over. It’s over in a sense but it is a battle that we all face every day as new pressures to measure up or fit in present themselves.  It is one of the greatest weapons of the enemy of our soul. Comparison.

I am glad that I was able to recognize the harmful practice of comparing myself to some made up standards that I could never achieve and just breathe and relax instead of fighting.

Here are the words to the chorus…

Don’t try so hard
God gives you grace and you can’t earn it
Don’t think that you’re not worth it
Because you are
He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
He gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars
Don’t try so hard

My favorite line is…”You’re lovely even with your scars…”

Do you believe that today? You are lovely even with your scars…don’t try so hard!

Here…take some deep breaths as you listen.

One of the greatest games my mom ever taught me to play was the Glad Game.

She adopted it from a character from the 1913 book Pollyanna.  Pollyanna’s philosophy revolved around this “game” that she learned from her father.  The object of the game is to find something to be glad about in every situation.  It’s ironic really because in the book the Pollyanna’s Glad Game was put to the test when she was hit by a car and lost the use of her legs. I’m sure that my mother had know idea when she read it that she would suffer a similar fate.

When life throws challenging and difficult situations it can be very hard to keep “playing” but my mom was the Queen of the Glad Game.  She could find always find something to be glad about. We used to make fun of her for it but now I am so grateful because it has shaped how I respond to life.

As some of you reading this know, my mom was traumatically brain injured in a car accident in 1991. It left her almost completely immobile, unable to speak, eat on her own or do anything for herself.  She required 24 hour care and so she lived in a nursing home for almost 20 years before she died this past September.

Yet, when we would visit her we were always greeted with a big smile and she would type out happy encouraging little messages on a machine.  We could print out those messages and they have become treasures now that she is gone from us.

My mom played the Glad Game right up until the end of her life on earth.

Mother’s Day could potentially be a tough day for me but I chose to play the Glad Game in honor of my mom this year.  In the morning when I woke I realized that I am glad that her suffering is over.  I am glad that this Mother’s day instead of laying in a nursing home she is free and whole in heaven. That is something to be happy about.

I invited my sisters over with their families.  And I was so GLAD they could come. We had tea and I got to enjoy my brand new nephew and all of the family.  My step mom and mother-in-law were there and I am GLAD I have them in my life.

It is a temptation to dwell on the negative when your heart hurts but there is joy when we can choose to find something to be grateful for and glad about. That was part of the legacy my mom left me and I am so glad she did 😉

glad game,positive thinking, happy, glad, mother, sad.

Think about some things in your life that you can be glad about today.  Feel free to share them in the comments.  Sometimes it’s good to say it out loud.

I know it’s a day late…but love and blessings to all the moms. It is by far the hardest but most rewarding job there is!

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