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

Thursday, November 24

Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving, so of course it’s the day to give thanks. A day to stop a moment and think of the many blessings in my life, to even stop wanting “more” and truly focus in on what I have, not what I don’t have and be genuinely grateful for it. That’s what today is all about. But I have recently come to have a whole new perspective of giving thanks.

One of the things I love about Scripture, is that no matter how many times you read a verse, or a passage, it can always still speak to you in a fresh new way. No matter where you are in your understanding of it, there are always new levels, new depths.

There are times in reading Scripture that I just don’t get it (honestly)! There are times I do get it and like, love or even dislike what I’m reading. There are times when I’m reading it, that I’ll think, “great story,” or “that’s such a good lesson.” And then there are times that while reading, studying or learning about a particular part of Scripture, when I am blown away (startled, stunned, in awe) by the revelation I get from it!

So it is with this passage: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thes. 5:16-18, NKJV) Honestly, for a long time I thought it was a nice Scripture passage, a good thought, something to work toward. Then came adversity, pain, sorrow and loss. Not just a little either, but wave, after wave, after wave of it.

Then this particular passage seemed to have a different message altogether. It became more of a “suck it up, deal with it and be thankful for it because this is what God has for you.” And I didn’t handle that message well. Why should I rejoice about this pain and loss I’m dealing with? Why pray, it doesn’t seem to help? Why the hell (sorry if I offend some with this, just keeping it real) should I be thankful about losing my precious babies to miscarriage, 4 times? This may be God’s will for me, but He can’t make me like it!

Pretty harsh, huh? I guess you could say I was a bit angry… The anger eventually faded and I wasn’t nearly as bitter, but I still didn’t get it. How could I be thankful about all these things (the miscarriages, husband losing job, financial devastation, loss of relationships, etc) and how could they be God’s will for me?

Then came the revelation. And oh, how freeing it was!

“Rejoice always” doesn’t mean to be happy about the bad things that happen in life, but rather to allow the joy of the Lord to rise up from within you, no matter what the situation or circumstance is. The joy isn’t from the experience, it’s from the Lord! It’s from knowing that no matter what, He loves you, He cares about what you’re going through and He will always be there for you, even in your pain . . . especially in your pain!

“Pray without ceasing” doesn’t mean to devote hour after hour, sitting all alone, asking the Lord, over, and over, and over again, to change your situation, focusing on your problem, but not on your God. Instead, it means to take a moment, here and there, randomly, throughout the day to talk to Him. As your God, as a Father, as a Friend. It means to talk to him about the needs you have, but also the needs that others have. It means to acknowledge His presence in your life. It means to be real with him and to allow Him to be real to you. To pray without ceasing is to have a conversation ~ not a monologue. Speaking with Him (not to Him) helps you to see more than just your problems, it allows you see your blessings too!

“In everything give thanks” doesn’t mean you have to thank Him for the storm, pain, loss, or problems in your life. It means that in both good times and bad, there are things to be thankful for. Things that may have nothing to do with your situation! It is possible to be thankful for friends, your health, your home, even clear skies or cool temperatures, and so much more, in the midst of a personal storm. There is always something to be thankful for. Being thankful for these things may not change your situation, but they’ll change you! When you have an attitude of thankfulness, you take our eyes off the misery or enormity of your situation. You then get the gift of sight ~ seeing that this life is not all about you, that this life is not all about this life. Thankfulness strengthens you and enables you keep going, to make it through to the other side.

“For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” doesn’t mean that it is God’s will for you suffer or go through the tragedies of life. It doesn’t mean that He is looking around for someone to torture with a terrible life situation and finds you, so there you have it. No! It means it is the will of God to have a thankful spirit, so you are open to Him, and He can work in you, even in the hardest of times. It is His will that you are able to take your eyes off yourself and see Him. It is His will that you are able to trust Him and see all He has done for you, your loved ones, and the whole world, even in the midst of your trials.

The pain and the suffering are real. The storms, tragedies and trials of this life, they are real. But so is my God. He is real. And if I remember who He is and if I am thankful for whom he is and for what he has done for me, He will hold me up, He will get me through, and He will teach me something in the process. If I don’t hinder his work in my life, by the hardness of my heart, which is accomplished through being ungrateful, then He will help me overcome. Then, through His grace and mercy, He will see to it, that the pain, the tears and the experience wasn’t wasted. But instead He will use it, not only for my gain, but also to help others to get through their pain, tears and experience as well. And for that, I am giving thanks!

Tuesday, November 8

She Writes . . . Finally

Hello blogging friends! I hope some of you are still around, because I'd love to reconnect!

She writes again ~ finally! It has been a long time, a very long time, since my last post. I have missed blogging. I have missed my blogging friends. But . . . I had no words. Oh sure, I could put a few thoughts together, but then everything went blank. In a sense it was writer’s block, but it wasn’t just writer’s block. More accurately it could probably be described as life block.

Have you ever experienced a life block? It could be known by other names ~ the desert, the wilderness, the valley, or . . . hell. The term doesn’t really matter, the point is, it’s a very lonely, dry, tumultuous place to be. This particular season of my life lasted seven years. And that, my friends, is a very long time. I do believe though, finally, that I am coming out of this desolate time. I do believe that things are starting to turn. I do believe that no matter how distant from me God seemed, the truth is He was right there beside me, holding me up, and sometimes even picking me up.

There is much I don’t understand. Things I don’t have satisfying answers to. But I do know this, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) The truth is we are all on a journey and that journey will be filled with good things and bad.

I have always considered myself a fairly strong, optimistic person. But when the bad outweigh the good, substantially, for an extended period of time, a person can get weary. And that’s how I was . . . weary, worn-down and barely holding on. Or maybe I wasn’t even holding on anymore, maybe Someone was holding on to me (which is probably more accurate).

Here is a glimpse of some of the “trials and sorrows” that were the substance of my life block:

~ Infertility along with four miscarriages

~ Significant financial loss due to an investment gone bad

~ My husband losing the job he held for sixteen years and unemployment for over a year

~ Selling our home to live off the equity

~ Watching the church we loved and poured everything into completely implode

~ Failed relationships with friends and church leaders

~ Betrayal by Christian friends and business associates

And here is the “I have overcome” that sustained me:

~ I have a beautiful, healthy, kind-hearted, sweet-spirited daughter who is a constant source of joy, love and laughter, that I love more than life itself.

~ Strong, powerful lesson learned about the role of finances in our lives.

~ My husband lost his job, but not his identity and freedom from the oppression that came with his job.

~ We were able to sell our home quickly in a down economy and had enough equity in our home to be able to live off of.

~ Finding an even better church that we love, one that is stable, strong, Christ-centered and God-seeking, that has shown us love and given us time to heal and refresh our weary souls.

~ New relationships with healthy people and mature church leaders.

~ Valuable lesson that the term “Christian” should in no way allow a free-pass, but rather to use time, prayer, observation and discernment as a way to consider the establishment of trust.

It’s true that I’ve had substantial trials and sorrows, but I have come to believe that it has not been in vain. I have learned and grown so much through this time. It has been firmly, deeply, rooted in me that God will never leave me nor forsake me ~ regardless of how I feel. Maybe someday I’ll have more answers, and then again, maybe not. Somehow it doesn’t seem as important now.

I’ll write more about it in the future I’m sure. And a lot of it probably won’t be pretty. But it will be real. Because that’s the only way I know how to be.

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