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Remember, I have moved my book reviews to their own blog. Tracy's Book Nook is now active.

Friday, June 18

For Everything There is a Season . . .

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. ~ Ecc. 3:1

I don’t think truer words were ever spoken. That’s what life is all about . . . seasons. There’s of course our calendar seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, which mark the passage of time and the natural order of nature. But beyond that there are seasons which mark life itself. There is childhood, youth, adulthood, middle-age, and oft-dreaded old-age (though I personally think each age and stage offers its own pros and cons and should be celebrated regardless).

While it’s true that the calendar seasons are measured equally in length, that cannot be said of the seasons of life. There are times when a season we are particularly enjoying would last longer, and there are times we are experiencing a season that unbearably painful that seems to never end. But eventually it does, because that’s the way seasons work.

It’s possible to be stuck in a season, but that’s only because while the season changed and moved on, the person didn’t. Have you ever seen or known a middle-aged prom queen, still trying to live in her former glory, wearing clothes that are not appropriate and engaging in behaviors that are definitely not appropriate (or a similar scenario)? Eeewwww… That’s a picture of an unhappy person! How could she possibly be happy living in the past, rather than embracing and functioning in the present (whatever that may look like) and hoping toward the future. It’s impossible to get in your car, and drive to a far away location by only looking in the rear-view mirror. The same can be said for life.

Some seasons we wish we didn’t have to go through. Seasons like that of a debilitating illness, death or divorce. Or perhaps the loss of a job, a home, or a treasured relationship. The betrayal of trust, innocence or childhood. None of these are seasons that any of us want to go through, but they happen regardless. We cannot choose our seasons; what they may be, when they may happen, or even how long they last, but we can choose how we handle them. It’s up to us whether we merely experience them or actually allow them to define us. It’s been said that we can be a victim or a victor, not both… I agree with that.

As unpleasant as they may be, it’s the tough seasons of life that strengthen us and enable us to grow and become more mature. Through the process we develop wisdom, which we can then use, and share, in future situations or experiences. Of course that’s up to us . . . some people never seem grow in wisdom, but then again, they’re often not teachable in other areas of life either! The thing we are able to take comfort in though, is if we belong to Jesus, we have a promise that none of our experiences will be wasted, rather, that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes (Rom. 8:28).

The really good news though, is life’s not all about the tough seasons! We experience seasons of happiness, new beginnings, light-heartedness and, blessedly, smooth sailing! There are seasons in our life when all is well, we are pleased with the way things are going and we are a source of encouragement for others. Sometimes we experience seasons when we’re amazed and grateful at how happy, lucky, blessed, fortunate, favored, fulfilled, prosperous, or successful we are. There are even times when we are so filled with joy and elation we could shout from the rafters, “The sky is blue and the birds are singing!” or even, “The hills are alive with the sounds of music!” (I don’t recommend it though!)

Yes, there is a time for everything, for every activity, under heaven. There is a time for the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the simple and the difficult, for strength and weakness, for prosperity and lack, for recreation and for work. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way. The Bible assures us that, While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Gen 8:22). As long as the earth remains there will be seasons, and they will change. A common and comforting mantra for many during the difficult seasons of life is this too shall pass. And it always does.

Tuesday, June 8

A Time For Everything

Seasons have been on my mind lately. Probably because I’ve recently walked through an especially trying, dry and difficult season, and I am now eagerly awaiting a new season, one that’s full of blessing and favor. I have every confidence that the Lord will use the last season, as painful as it was, to benefit me in the new season. He’s good that way.

It has been a long time since I’ve written any type of a devotional. And a much longer time since I’ve done a series! So I am now about to tackle both. Time after time, I find myself returning to the beautiful passage of Scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There really is a time for everything – whether we want it that way or not. Life happens. So does death. And everything in between.

I think most of us would prefer if only the good things happened, like life and love and laughter. But if that’s all we knew, I don’t think we’d grow very deep. It’s the pain, sorrow, and trials we walk through that strengthen us and build our character. If we never experienced sorrow, would laughter really matter? It certainly wouldn’t be special. Would beginning be as exciting if there was never any end? I don’t think that it would. I’ve heard it said that everyone wants the mountaintop experience, but not the valley. However, it is in the valley where fertile soil, growth, green, vibrancy and life are evident. The highest of mountaintops are often rocky and sparse . . . but it does offer a great view!

I’m looking forward to diving in to this new series, A Time For . . . I think it will be an interesting, challenging journey, and I’m certain that I will learn and grow from it. The time is right for this new series. We live in perilous and uncertain times, but we don’t have to fear them because God is in control. I hope you will join me on this journey – I think God has a lot to say about it.

A Time For Everything:

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. ~ Ecc. 3:1-8 (NLT)

Monday, June 7

Introducing . . . A Change . . .

The time has come to make a change! And though I don’t usually like it, sometimes, change is good! God has been once again giving me words to write, and I find myself returning to the reason that I began this blog. To write the words He gives. To offer readers an honest look at an imperfect life (mine), to speak truth, to be real and relevant, and to always honor Him. I love that I learn and grow with the words that I write, because they seriously do come from Him. In fact, sometimes it’s not till I re-read a post I’ve finished that I say to myself, wow where did that come from?

With that being said, the change that is being made is that Seed Thoughts will no longer host my book reviews. I’ll still be doing book reviews; however, I’ve added a new blog that will solely be for and about books! The reason for the separation is really quite simple. In the two years that I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve been blessed enough to receive many wonderful readers, and I’m thankful for them all. But not all of them have come for the same reason. Some of you wonderful readers are interested in my blog posts, thoughts, devotionals, character studies, etc. and some of you are really only interested in the book reviews. Either way is ok and I’m thrilled to have readers, no matter what the reason!

This new blog I’ve begun is called Tracy’s Book Nook. It will be home to all past and future book reviews. The actual blog address for the new blog is It is my hope that those readers who are interested in the reviews will be kind enough to begin following that blog as well. For a time, I will continue to announce any new reviews here on Seed Thoughts and direct or link to Tracy’s Book Nook.

I am honored and thrilled to even be addressing “my readers” because it continues to amaze and humble me that you’re even here. It is my sincere desire to speak of things that matter, share the words and insights of the Lord, invite you into my life and connect with you. I offer my deepest thanks for continuing to stick with me throughout this journey. I pray God will honor and bless your time, for choosing to spend it here at Seed Thoughts and now also at Tracy’s Book Nook.

The beautiful blog design for Tracy’s Book Nook (as well as Seed Thoughts) was created by the lovely Jill Samter. If you’re interested in a new blog design, or simply an element (like a header, signature, blog button, etc.) consider using Jill to create it for you. The cost is minimal and all proceeds to go charity. Click here to view some of her creations or to get more information.

Wednesday, June 2

The Miracle of Rising Up . . . Again

Sometimes, the miracle doesn't look like what we think it should. Sometimes we miss it completely because we're looking for something else. Sometimes we can only see it in hindsight. Sometimes the miracle is rising up each time we fall or we’re pushed down by the enemy. Thank you Lord, for your miracles, no matter what they look like!

These are the words that hit me the other day. Like a proverbial Mac truck! I have just gone through a time in my life that has been . . . well, difficult. In the last five years, we’ve experienced fertility issues, three miscarriages, a huge financial burden, betrayal, attacks on our character, the demise of a church we loved and poured everything into, the loss of relationships, the death of two beloved pets (just months apart), isolation, and the silence of God. Yep, it’s been a difficult time.

It would be easy to blame all of this on some great big sin in our lives, but it wasn’t there. Of course, we’re not sin free, but we weren’t in rebellion, or choosing a lifestyle of sin over a lifestyle of loving God and worship. It was “just” a time of warfare. For some reason, our enemy, the enemy, pursued us with a vengeance. We knew we were under attack, and we fought it the best we could. We kept going, we kept praying, we kept believing, we kept praising, we kept on keepin’ on, rising up each time we were taken down . . . for a time.

I have always believed that a person can endure or deal with most things if it’s only for a time. But when that time goes on and on, and the attacks are relentless, when the burden is unbearably heavy, and you have no reprieve, it’s easy to get weary. Deep down, doggone, wiped-out weary.

That’s where I was. My prayers, pleas, cries, and questions went unanswered. I believe in miracles. I’ve seen other people receive miracles. That last moment save, when all seemed lost, and the miracle happened to them. I rejoiced with them, while wondering, where was my miracle, my save? Especially regarding my miscarriages. I mean, I knew that God could intervene and save my babies, but He didn’t. I concluded that either God was not all-powerful, or He just didn’t care.

I wrestled with that. I wrestled with God. I poured out my anger, my pain, my questions, my blame, I just poured it all out. Time after time. And finally, after such a long time, things got better. The assaults haven’t stopped completely, but I’m feeling strengthened and victorious. I don’t have answers to the seemingly endless questions that have been plaguing me, but I have peace. I feel as if the large, dark and ominous cloud that has been hovering over me has been pushed away and has been replaced by glorious Light. God has shown me once again, that I am a victor, not a victim. That I am an overcomer, not merely a survivor.

And finally I know, finally I get it. I received my miracle. I received the miracle of being able to rise up each time I was taken down. Yes, the fight was long, drawn-out, unyielding and brutal. Yes, the enemy won some battles. Yes, we suffered major casualties, but . . . we survived, we got through and we rose up, again and again and again. We were bruised and bloodied, but we were not defeated. I am stronger for it, we are stronger for it. Through the midst of it all, our marriage did not suffer. And we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that what the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. ~ Romans 8:37

Wednesday, May 19

Confessions of a Desert Dweller

I am a desert rat. That is to say, I grew up in the Phoenix area and have spent most of my life here. In the dry, hot, dusty desert. Many people say they can't see beauty in the desert. Not me though. I think the desert can be quite beautiful. Beautiful, mysterious, treacherous and deadly. Very deadly.

Because I have spent most of my life in the area that is known as the Sonoran Desert, I have a fair amount of knowledge and respect for the desert. I know a bit about the types of critters that abound in the desert, the weather that is common to the desert, and basically, how to survive in the desert. There are three things crucial to survival in the desert – shelter, food, and most importantly, water. With the intensity of the heat, sun and dryness of the desert, all three are critical. A person will not last long without any of these truly life-saving items, but most especially water. There's no need to fear the desert if you know, have, and utilize, what is needed to survive.

While I've been talking about the physical desert, the same can be said of the spiritual desert. For some time now, I have been in the desert. I have been wandering lost and alone in a spiritual desert that has been dry, intense and void of life. It's been a long journey, and at times I wondered if I would make it. Or would I, like the Israelites before me, perish before I got to the Promised Land?

I'll admit it; there've been times in my Christian life that I've smugly wondered what was wrong with those people. After all, they were God's chosen people! He delivered them from captivity and led them in the way they should go, amid signs and wonders, toward the Promised Land. So, He hung out with just Moses for a bit on Mt. Sinai , that didn't mean He'd abandoned them. Why'd they have to make that stupid golden calf idol? What happened to their faith?

Boy, have those thoughts come back to bite me in the backside! No, I didn't make a golden calf to worship, but that doesn't mean that I didn't lose faith either, because I did. I came to believe I was all alone, that God had abandoned me and that I would die in the desert, having never made it to my Promised Land (if there actually was such a thing).

But you know what? I'm coming out of the desert. I am no longer desert dwelling. And I can see that God neither turned His back on me, nor abandoned me. And like the good Father He is, He lovingly showed me what I did wrong.

I know what is needed to survive in the physical desert (water, food, shelter) and I know that knowing about them isn't good enough, I have to use them. It's the same with the spiritual desert. I know that to survive in a spiritual desert, these things are of utmost importance . . . reading my Bible, prayer and worship. But knowing and doing are two very different things.

I didn't read my Bible. I stopped - completely. I had no interest in it. It wasn't exactly out of rebellion, but rather, when I tried to read my Bible, I felt as if all the promises, all the encouragement, all the love was for everyone else, not for me. Honest! I understand that I (we) have an enemy who is waiting desperately for an opportunity like that, to whisper in my ear, you are nothing, you are worthless, this Book is not for you. But understanding this with my head and feeling it with my heart are two very different things.

I didn't pray. Why would I? After all, I felt as if my prayers were unimportant, wrong and falling on deaf ears. It had been a few years since my prayers were answered the way I thought they should be – whether the prayers were for me, someone else, or a broader situation. I wondered how could I have such a track record of praying wrong? It got to the point that I wouldn't pray for someone because I didn't want to "cause" them to not get what they wanted. Of course, I knew that I didn't actually have that kind of power, but understanding with my head and feeling it with my heart are worlds apart.

I didn't worship. Well, that's not completely true. Like water in the physical is needed more than anything else, and even a small amount will carry you along, worship in the spiritual works the same way. I didn't choose to worship because I never felt like I had it in me to do so. But I did. Even though my flesh was weak and weary, my spirit responded to promptings of worship in church, on the radio and on my Ipod. And those moments, when my spirit responded in spite of me, I was sustained. It got me through. God is wonderful and amazing and He deserves my worship, no matter what I'm going through, but I sort of forgot that. How like Him though to prompt my spirit, with His Spirit, to do the one thing that will carry me through.

What my spirit knew was that in worship, it wasn't about me, but about Him. Worship is about who God is, and who He is doesn't change, no matter where we are or what we're going through. Circumstances can't stand in the presence of God, the Creator of the Universe. We worship God because He is worthy of our worship, but it's for us too. It strengthens us, builds our faith, lifts us up and encourages us. It helps us to go on. Just like we need water to survive in the physical, we need worship to survive in the spiritual. That's true whether we're in the desert, the valley, the Promised Land, on the mountaintop, or somewhere in between. Have you had your worship today?

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. ~ Psalm 100

Monday, May 17

To Begin Anew

It has been so long since I’ve actually written a blog post, I almost feel as though I should begin with by introducing myself. How about just an update? For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for only the last six to nine months, it may seem as though book reviews are all I do. That isn’t truly the case. For those of you who’ve missed my actual writing, I’m pretty sure it is back now.

First, I had decided to use a pen name for my writing and online presence, and had some really good reasons for doing so; it was interesting, fun and security-minded, which I thought was wise, in this open-information age we live in. The one reason I never acknowledged to myself, much less others, was that a pen name was different. It belonged to someone else. A writer. Someone with talent, confidence and purpose. Someone not me.

But alas, God spoke to me about that (as He will do when allowed), and quite directly told me that if my real name wasn’t good enough, no pen name in all the world would ever be good enough. Ouch. See, the name was not the problem, my perception of myself was (and is) the problem. So now, He and I are working on that. And I have returned to using my real name, because according to God, it (and I, by the way) is good enough.

Second, the reason I have written nothing except book reviews for the last half a year or longer, is because I haven’t had the words. Now, those of you who know me personally may laugh, because the idea of me not having words is actually pretty funny. But what I mean is this, when I write, my words are not my own. When I write, the words that are transferred from my mind, to my fingers, to the keyboard, then the screen, are really the words God gives me. In truth, they are His Words.

The reason I haven’t had words to be able to write is because I have been isolated. I have been distant from God, wandering around in the desert (which felt an awful lot like Hell), desperately putting one foot in front of the other to just keep going. In this awful place I experienced the weight of depression, oppression, and self-pity. I allowed anger and frustration to rule in my life. Sounds like a great place to be, right? I have not experienced darkness and heaviness like since before I became a Christian eleven years ago.

The good news is, I’m back! I have my energy, my zest, my enthusiasm, and most importantly, my faith back. The one blog post I’ve written so far in 2010 was called I Will Not Grow Weary. In it, I spoke a bit of what I’d been dealing with, and how I felt that my theme verse for this year (personally and on my blog) was from Galatians 6:9, And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. But I was weary, and I almost gave up…

But God! I love way that sounds! But God would not give up on me, and He wouldn’t let me give up on me, or Him, either. It didn’t matter what I was feeling, God came along, and He held me, and He lifted me up, He comforted me, and strengthened me, and He brought me through. Yes, I was battered and bruised, but I made it through. But God wasn’t finished… He’s showered me with love, put a song in my heart, filled me with hope and if that wasn’t enough, He’s given me words! Because once again, I’m aware that my words are not just for me, and He will accomplish His purposes with them.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:8-11

In closing, I excited to be able to begin anew. I have two new blog posts that are coming soon. In them, I will expand on what I’ve alluded to here. I will also continue doing book reviews, but will probably not do as many. All book reviews will state that in the title, whereas a normal blog post will merely have the title. There may be some aesthetic changes to Seed Thoughts, but for the most part it will remain the same. I’m so glad to be back and look forward to spending time here with you all again!

Sowing Seeds,


Friday, January 29

Farewell Kurt ~ Enjoy Your Retirement

In honor of Kurt Warner's retirement announcement today, I've decided to re-post this blog entry, that I first did one year ago, for Character Counts. Thanks Kurt, for being a rare class act in the professional sports world. You will be missed.


Once again, it was really easy to choose the person I wanted to spotlight and honor for Character Counts. And once again it is loosely associated with timing. I have lived in the Phoenix area for most of my life. In 1988, we got our first NFL football team – the Cardinals (formerly of St. Louis). It was rather exciting for us, but the Cards have just never really done much since they’ve been here. This year that changed, when they went to the Super Bowl as a Cinderella story, led by quarterback Kurt Warner. No, we didn’t win, but we certainly didn’t lose either.

I chose Kurt Warner, not because of the Super Bowl, or because he is a really good quarterback, but because he is a really good person and man of God. In order to maintain brevity, I’ll not focus on his professional history or accomplishments unless they pertain to a point I am making. Kurt doesn’t want professional achievements and statistics to be his legacy, but rather he wants to be known and remembered for serving and for using his privilege to help others. It was announced during the Super Bowl, that Kurt received a very special award – the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award (which is given by the NFL, honoring a player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field). As much as he wanted to win the Super Bowl, this means even more to him.

Kurt was born on June 22, 1971 and was raised in Iowa. His family was Catholic, but not devout. When he was six, his parents divorced. He grew up playing football for his high school and then played college ball for University of Northern Iowa. After college, his quest to be a professional football player was very rocky and filled with much adversity.

While in college, he met his future wife, Brenda, in a bar. Though they had a good time that night, when they were leaving, Brenda thanked him for the good time and said since she was a single mom of two children, one seriously disabled and the other a baby, and living in her parents basement, she understood if she didn’t hear from him again. He brought her roses the next day and asked to meet her children. (Brenda was a veteran of the U.S. Marines and was divorced. Her older child, a son named Zachary, was dropped by his father when he was four months old and became severely brain damaged, as well as paraplegic. Brenda became pregnant again when Zachary was two years old. When she was eight months pregnant, her husband left the family because he couldn’t handle it anymore.)

Kurt didn’t let these difficulties deter him from dating Brenda. The two dated for five years before they got married in 1997. Throughout this time, Kurt struggled to build his career and never gave up, despite the adversity he faced. When they married, Kurt adopted Zachary and Jesse, and today the family has expanded to a total of seven children. In 1996 Kurt became a Christian and became completely sold out for Christ. He now sees his role here is not to play football and win games, which is merely his job and platform. His role, purpose, is to win as many people as he can to Jesus.

Wherever Kurt and Brenda are living for his work, they are very involved in the community. He speaks regularly at churches, schools and other functions. They began their own charity, Kurt Warner’s First Things First, founded in 2001, to help those less fortunate in the community. Through the foundation, they’ve, given a house to a family who lost theirs in Katrina, provided a single father in need furniture for his home, taken (not just sent) needy families to Disneyland, and provided game tickets to disadvantaged and at-risk youth through faith-based social service agencies. Kurt has helped in community projects like building a school and filling stockings for 100 foster children at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, in Mesa, AZ. (There are many other ways they are involved, but I’ll leave it at this.)

Kurt is both respected and reviled for his faith and good works. Some people (other players, media and ordinary folk) mock or avoid him for his faith, but that doesn’t stop him. You may not hear him mention Jesus in every interview, but that’s not because he’s not saying it. A great frustration of his is how often his witness and testimony are edited out of anything he says. He even brings his Bible to every press conference he participates in. He is a Christian who believes completely that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Yes, he has his detractors. Still, a lot more people look up to him for his faith and good works, and also for his attitude, his integrity, his perseverance, his optimism, his experience, and his character. His very good character. Yes, I believe that Kurt Warner is a hero, but not because of his performance on the field. It is because of the life he lives, the way he leads and the example he sets. Kurt Warner is a man who knows that Character Counts!

If you are interested in finding out more about or contributing financially to Kurt's First Things First Foundation simply go to the website at

Monday, January 4

I Will Not Grow Weary

The holidays, and another year, are now behind us, and a new year has begun. For many people, 2009 was difficult, challenging, or just plain hard. I know it was for me. There was a storm in my life. Actually, a storm may not exactly cover it, because it was more like storm, after storm, after storm.

If you’ve read Seed Thoughts for long, you know we experienced our third miscarriage last spring. In some ways, that was the least of what we had to walk through. It was a battle and it thoroughly exhausted me, but it did not defeat me. However, in the last few months, I just felt weary. Flat out, wore out. But because God is good, and He is faithful, he brought the above scripture to mind over and over. And He sustained me.

I don’t know why we had to battle through such a long and overwhelming time, but battle it we did. And God never left us. When I could no longer raise myself up, He did. And I would tell Him, but God I’m weary… And once again He would give me the above scripture. So, I didn’t give up. I just kept on keepin’ on. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I kept praying and praising, and I kept serving and giving. And you know what? By the grace of God, I made it through.

God is good. He is faithful. And when the storms of life threaten to sweep us away, if we will cling to Him, our Rock and our Foundation, we may sway in the torrent, but we will not be overcome.

So now, with 2010 upon us, I have decided that the theme verse for Seed Thoughts and for me personally is this: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. ~ Gal. 6:9

I am ready for my harvest of blessing. In the Psalms we read: Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. ~ Psalm126:5 I have done plenty of sowing of tears, and now the harvest of joy is upon me. It has already begun. The most recent tears I’ve shed, have been tears of joy because God is good and He is faithful, and He has blessed me with His love, with His grace, with His mercy and with His favor.

Trials, tribulations and storms come. They affect us all. But we have a choice to hang on to our Rock, or to give up. It is a matter of choice. It is a matter of will. So I declare in this New Year, I will not grow weary and I will not give up. Rather, I will overcome, and I will thrive, and I will live in joy! Amen!