Monthly Archives: February 2012

When choosing a man I will teach my daughters to look for these things…

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Rules of a Gentleman

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Keep on Moving

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Moving forward Letters to Moms

Please go to the link to see the letters if you didn’t receive one from your daughter today.

Have a blessed day!!

“How to Study Your Bible for Kids”

http://www.christianbook.com/discover-yourself-childrens-bible-study-series/kay-arthur/9780736903622/pd/03623?item_code=WW&netp_id=207694&event=ESRCG&view=details

“The Body Book”

http://www.yourstoreonline.net/the_body_book/id1993278/product.html?scomp=bing

The boots

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The boots

This is a story I shared with Jen Hatmaker and wanted to share it with the whole world.  God is so good to me I could post a million praises, but this story is just really neat and God-like.

I have to tell you this story that has been such a “thing that God would do.” One week ago I was preparing for my first ever ladies retreat at Falls Creek.  The biggest thing on my mind was…”what am I going to wear?”  So I had a cute little summer dress and I thought, “Ya know those cowboy boots you have been wanting for 3 years (all of my hints to my husband obviously fell on deaf ears) would look mighty fine w/that dress.”  So I had just enough time to run to Sheplers (I had already located them and all) to buy them.  Now the reason I hadn’t purchased them earlier was b/c they cost almost $300!!  I am a shopper but I prefer my bargains in the $100 range.  So I decided that a women’s retreat (that is about Jesus) certainly warranted a nice pair of boots…a treat for my faithfulness!  ah hem So I’m driving and get about 30 minutes into the trip (I live almost an hour away from the store) and something turns me around.  I just couldn’t finish my bratty adventure. I go to the Ladies Retreat and am managing to have a good time (even w/o the boots). And then Jen Hatmaker spoke about a barefoot church… I was so moved and convicted I was bawling thru the last half of her teaching.  God has had me “in the fields eating grass with the beasts” for some time…preparing me.  Let me back up a minute.  Since I didn’t get the boots I had packed capris and flip flops…expecting warm weather.  So Saturday morning when I awoke to cold and wet I was a little upset.  I wore my flip flops and capris to breakfast, but got cold and wet!  So we went back to the cabin and I changed…I put on my pj pants (the only long pants i had) and the very nice distressed, beloved BCBG boots that I had worn to the retreat (the only closed toed shoes I had w/me).  I looked like a dork but I didn’t care, I was warm and dry. Ok back to Jen and the barefoot church…as i am sitting there convicted… crying…humbled …I hear God, “I want your boots.” Traci, “What?” God, “I want your boots.” Traci, “God what is Jen going to do w/one pair of boots?  And besides I will interrupt her.”  So I sit and as God does He brings me to a point of surrender.  So I say, “Ok as soon as I see a good time I will give my boots and anything else You want, but why?.” God, “I want your boots b/c I want your will.”
Then Jen started talking about a women’s shelter and anyone who feels led can come up and donate…so I get up and give my boots and my socks (socks were old and worn…they were for the barefoot emphasis).  Then I come back and give my bible…if anything could help someone, right?  Anyway I come home a changed person telling everyone I can tie down about what happened to me (my dad included).  And I tell them that not only had God picked me up and changed me but He was also merciful by stopping me from buying the boots that I wanted b/c if I would have, I’d have been wearing them Saturday and would no longer own them. About 3 weeks later, my dad, my faithful blessing of a dad, calls me and tells me that he had won a contest at work.  He is a salesmen and he sold the most of his stuff so he won and is getting a big bonus.  Then he tells me that he wants to buy me MY BOOTS!!!  Oh my I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I cried, I tried to tell him no.  But he said this isn’t me this is God giving you these boots and I want you to receive it like that.  WOW!!! Mentally i started thinking WWJD…I’ll take my dad’s money and give it away.  No that is not what he said…receive it as God’s gift.  Ok so I think, how awesome it will be that as I wear the boots, I have an incredible testimony every time someone says, “I like those boots.”  GOD IS GOOD! I had to share this.  I am not just praising Him b/c I got these awesome boots, but b/c He revealed a miracle to me and let me feel His awesome presence… and most importantly grew my faith and knowledge of His mighty love.
I love my boots!

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What are yours?

Mine-  “Together girl”

This at first doesn’t sound like a bad label, but let me assure you, it is!!  There are a couple of vices this label leads me into.

1.)  It traps me into this belief that I am capable and bc I am capable many people depend on me so I have to continue having it “together” so I don’t dissappoint them, let them down or change their opinion of me being “together.”  When someone is telling me how well I live my life or raise my girls, or hold to my faith…I feel like I have to maintain that (when I am not guarding myself in Christ’s truth).  Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t someone else’s fault, and these things are nice to hear from well meaning others.  It’s just that due to my background and my value system it speaks to my pride and makes it hard to have grace in my life and makes me feel bad for asking for help, it makes me hide my inadequacies, it steals my peace and joy, bc I’m trying to maintain something I can’t maintain.  I feel like I can’t fail or I will stain my pridef ul title.  This greatly tempts me to exhault myself above others…which leads to the second vice this label creates.

Score:  Satan: 1, Traci: 0

2.)  I start believing what people are saying and begin pridefully coveting my label.  I am rooted in performance merit, learned it as a child, and learned well, that I only had value if I was perfoming well.  So as the years went on I became a perfectionist…hopefully now a recovering perfectionist.  This label and it’s effects are multiplied when I over-achieve therefore feeding my pride.  I am a worker bee and I am good at it, but this takes a very distasteful swerve when I began lifting myself up in my work.  We are not saved by works, least any man should boast…but I keep trying to.  I know my salvation was none of me…but I many times slowly develop the idea that I am a better christian than others.  I hate it and when the Lord reveals it to me I am so hurt that I would think, act or speak so ugly and prideful.  This is a fight I have to guard against and try very faithfully to ask the Lord to handle so that I don’t run with it.  And He does and when He reveals my incapabilities and makes me realize that when I compare myself to true Perfection (Jesus) I am miserably imperfect.  I fall on my face in sorrow and repent and pray I won’t do it again.

Score:  Satan: 2, Traci: 0, God: easy win!

We are all raised into some kind of thought process about ourselves.  I am reading a book right now that says we catergorize ourselves and prioritze our life values in the ages of 6-11.  Wow!!  Think about your life during those years.  Think about your circumstances in those years, your influences…  In the ever-worsening fallen world we live in today Satan is reaking havoc on these poor kids bc he knows when they grow up with a warped sense of self and value they will be his puppets.

Let that sink in a minute.

Were you guarded and prayed over at that age?

Are you guarding and praying over your children faithfully and unceasingly now?

This is serious life long stuff, that we too many times let pass bc “their just kids.”  Take a moment to look back to see what your childhood has shaped in your life?

So how important do you think it is…was?

I am everyday plagued by a value system that was taught to me as a child.  I have to fight it and surrender it to Jesus…EVERYDAY!  And even sometimes when I’m surrendering it, Satan uses that to make me think I’ve done something (your so faithful to lean on Jesus…yes satan talks like that when he can twist it to become a vice).

What I want to convey is our value systems might be screwed up.  They might need some examination.  They might need some prayerful consideration and changing.  But we have to be open to let the Lord show us His value system.

We have to be willing to surrender the comfort of repeated thought patterns (that are like a disease that we’ve learned to live with, but that is killing us slowly), to allow God to change our thoughts to His thoughts.  This requires time in His word to know His thoughts.  To know your/my real value and then how to set up a system of daily dependence on Him to navigate our world and what is important.

There is hope, and lots of it, but it won’t come unless you are intentionally seeking it.  Check out this value system:

 

Matthew 5:

 

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Conclusion:  I am sooooo not the “together girl.”  But what I am is clay in the Masters hands that I pray He molds over and over until I rejoice at seeing His face.  God bless!!

The Armor of God story

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The Armor of God story

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  Ephesians 6:11

Austin and Gracie were two friends that lived in Wellston.  They had been friends for all of their lives.  Their families lived on the same block.   They went to the same school and knew many of the same people.   They played together and ate snacks in their backyard tree houses.

Austin was a 6 year old boy that loved playing outside.   He loved to pretend to be a knight!  He would use his mom’s broom as a stick horse.  He would put on a helmet and some armor and pretend to save Princess Gracie from the mean dragon.  They would play for hours.  Princess Gracie would kindly wait for Knight Austin to use his sword and shield to defeat the mean dragon so that she could run free.

One day Austin came to Gracie’s house to see if she wanted to play and she was crying.  He was very concerned about his friend and what was making her so upset.  So he asked if he could help her with what was troubling her.  She told him that her mother was very sick and she would have to stay in and help take care of her instead of playing with Austin so much.  This made Austin sad too.

So he returned home to play alone.  He got on his armor and rode his horse, but it just wasn’t the same without Gracie.  He decided to play something else and went to his room.

His mother saw that something was bothering him.  She went to his room and asked if he would like to talk about why he seemed sad.  He told her that Gracie couldn’t play with him anymore because her mother was very sick.  His mother said she could understand why he would be sad about this.  She asked Austin if he would like to pray for Gracie and her mother.  He said, “I guess so.”  So they prayed for Gracie’s mother to get well and for Gracie to be obedient and unselfish as she helped her mother.

Later that night when Austin’s Dad got home, Austin’s mom spoke with him about what was going on with Austin and Gracie.  Austin’s Dad seemed concerned and wanted to help.  So he got out Austin’s bible and asked if Austin would like to come and read with him.  Austin loved when his dad read the bible to him!!  So they sat in the big chair and read from the book of Ephesians.  They read about an armor that God told his people to wear!   Austin couldn’t believe it!  All this time he was being a knight with his armor and now he reads that God has an armor for us to wear?  Wow!  He wanted to know more about this armor.  His dad told him that he they could talk about it more tomorrow.

Austin waited all day the next day for his dad to come home and tell him more about this Armor of God!!  He imagined Jesus putting armor on him and fighting bad guys, slaying dragons and saving Princesses!!

When Austin’s dad got home, Austin ran straight to him and begged for them to finish their talk about the bible reading they did the night before.  His dad agreed to finish the talk, but he wanted to go outside to the tree house.  That was even better for Austin.

When they got inside the tree house Austin saw that his dad had made new armor for him.  A helmet, a breastplate, a belt, shoe covers, a shield and a sword!  Wowzers!!  Austin was so excited!

His dad began by telling him about each part of the armor,”The helmet is used to protect the head.”  Austin laughed when his dad added, “With no head you have no knight!”

His dad continued, “The breastplate is used to protect the heart…a corrupt heart will poison the knight.  The belt is used to secure the knight in his armor.  The shoe covers are used to protect his feet so that he can keep moving.  The SHIELD, oh how important that shield is!  It is used to stop the assault on the knight, to protect the knight from head to toe from incoming weapons.  The sword…this is the knight’s only offensive weapon and needs to be used with great integrity and strength.  The wearing of this armor is sure to keep the knight safe.”

Austin loved the armor his dad had made, but was curious about where he would find dragons and bad guys to slay.  And where are the princesses to save?  He asked his dad these things.  He also asked how this would help him with the sadness he felt about losing his playmate Gracie.    His dad first asked Austin to pray with him.  They bowed their heads and asked God to give them wisdom in using the armor God provides for his children.   Then his dad began telling him that Austin wasn’t to fight as in a physical war with his armor, and that really God’s armor is invisible to men.  But God’s armor is stronger than metal and able to protect much better.  The armor is used in a spiritual battle and protects the Christian from leaving the will of God.  It enables the Christian to stand and follow what God wants him or her to do.  And by doing that the Christian knight is exactly where they are supposed to be, and living a life that gives them joy and peace.  When a Christian knight is wearing all the armor of God, they can save princesses like Gracie in times like this.

“Let me show you what I mean,” said Austin’s dad.  He continued, “The helmet of salvation is the helmet Christ made when he shed His blood on the cross.  It is a hope that helps us fight by keeping our mind focused on the promise God gives us when we put on that helmet.  It protects our mind and head from losing what our purpose is.  The breastplate of righteousness is to protect our heart.  And keeping our heart protected is a big deal to God.  Because what is in our heart is what decides how we spend our time and what we think is important.  Next God gives us the belt of truth.  As I said before, the belt secures the other armor.  If we don’t know what is true and what is false we won’t know what to guard our head, heart or feet from.  The shoe covers are what God calls the shoes of the gospel of peace.  These protect our feet and keep us moving forward on God’s mission.  They also leave footprints behind.  When we are wearing them we leave the gospel everywhere we have stepped.  Now for the shield, Austin this is a very important part of your armor.  This shield is the shield of FAITH!  Our faith is what keeps our armor on!  Without our faith we wouldn’t bother putting on any of the armor.  We wouldn’t trust it!  Lastly, is the sword of the Spirit.  This is the Word of God.  He has given His power to His word.  So when we read the bible, we aren’t just reading any old book.  It is a book that has the power to cut Satan, but will also cut the bad stuff out of us.  It is a two-edged sword, which means it is sharp on both sides.   We must use it wisely as any weapon of power, but we MUST use it.”

Austin sat thinking for a bit.  Then he said, “Dad, how will this armor help Gracie?”

“I’m glad you asked,” his dad said.  “When we wear the Armor of God, we not only protect ourselves.  We show others how to live a life protected.  We can speak about our armor, we show our armor with our attitude, and we show our armor with the choices we make.  When others see us wearing our armor they will be interested in getting some of that armor themselves and you can show them how.  Gracie needs this armor, her mother needs this armor…really we all do.  Without it we will fail at anything we try to do.   So I was thinking, maybe we could go over and tell Gracie about your new armor.  Learning about God always gives people hope, joy and peace.  I think she could use some of those things, do you, Austin?”

“Yes Dad I think that is a great idea!”

That weekend Austin and his family had prepared a meal for Gracie’s family and called ahead to make sure they could deliver it and visit for a while.   Before leaving to go, Austin’s family joined hands and prayed that God’s Holy Spirit would be with them as they went to speak to Gracie’s family about the Armor of God.  They grabbed the meal and off they went.

Gracie was so very happy to see her friend when she answered the door.  “Come in, my mom and dad are in the living room. “

Austin’s family went into the living room and hugged Gracie’s mom and dad.  Gracie’s mom had been diagnosed with cancer and they knew it was a very hard time for them.  The grown-ups sat down and started to talk that boring grown-up talk.  Gracie quietly poked Austin and said, “Let’s go play!”  So they headed outside to Gracie’s backyard to play.

Gracie was so happy to be outside playing again.  She was very sad about her mom and wanted to help as much as she could, but it was nice to to forget about it for a little while and play.  Gracie asked Austin what he had been doing.  Austin told her he had tried to play like they used to, but playing knight just wasn’t the same without Princess Gracie.  He told Gracie that his dad told him about some different armor and together they were learning about it.  Austin asked Gracie if he could teach her about this new armor.   Gracie said sure.

Austin had brought his bible so he pulled it out.  He told her that he couldn’t read all the words but just looking at them helped him remember and gave him some special courage to tell her about them.  He said this is God’s Armor and it is much better and protects all of us when we wear it.  Gracie was confused.

Gracie’s family went to church sometimes but she didn’t really know very much about the bible or God.  At church she heard some stories that seemed unreal to her, but they were fun to listen to.  She really didn’t think it meant much once she left church.  She had asked her mom once why they went to church and her mom told her that it was just a good thing to do.  It was fun so Gracie thought, ‘ok,’ and left it at that.

Austin started telling Gracie that church means A LOT!  And if he didn’t go to church and learn about God he wouldn’t know how to live.  Gracie was confused again.

“How does church help you live?” she said.

Austin told her that God is who made the earth, the animals, the people and He is also the one that keeps them alive.  He said, “When you live like God wants you to, then you feel safe and mighty.  But when you don’t you feel sad and lost.”

Gracie said, “I understand sad and lost.  I feel very sad and lost about my mom.  I don’t know what to do to make it better and I hate feeling so little.”

Austin said, “That is exactly why I wanted to tell you about God’s armor!!!  When you wear it no matter what is happening around you, you know that God is going to take care of things.  It has already helped me not be so upset that we can’t play as much anymore.  See God loves us so much, even though we do bad things against Him.  And He wants us to follow His ways because then He can keep us safe and we won’t feel so little.  God has a very specific way that He wants us to be.  He wants us to learn about Him by knowing what the bible says, pray to Him, mind our manners, do what is good, and love others…but He wants us to do those things because we love Him more than anything else!  Here’s the tricky part…we can’t do any of those things until He lives in our hearts.   That is the first piece of armor…the helmet of salvation.  See Jesus was God’s Son and died on a cross to be punished for all of our sins, but in 3 days He came back to life.   And the bible tells us that when we believe that that is true, and realize we have done sins that Jesus paid for, we can ask Him to forgive us and help us put on the rest of the armor to live a life that is safe under Him.  And He will send the Holy Spirit to live in us and teach us about each piece of armor…you know like, how to wear it and what it is used for.  I wanted to come and tell you this because I really want you to have Jesus’ armor on while you help your mom.  I also want you to go to heaven.”

Gracie said, “Thank you Austin, but how does the armor help me go to heaven?”

Austin said, “When Jesus died on the cross and came back to life He made a way for us to go to heaven.  See God is perfect and even though He loves us sooooooo much, we couldn’t be around Him if we sinned because he is so perfect the sin and His goodness wouldn’t go together.  So Jesus agreed to pay for those sins on the cross so they can be taken away from us.   When He calls out to our hearts we can admit we need Him, believe and trust Him and pray that He would save us.  Then we can go to heaven with God one day.”

Gracie looked down and sat quietly for a few minutes.  When she looked up she had tears in her eyes.  “I want to go to heaven, and I want to have a teacher live inside of me to help me do what is good.  I want to wear this armor, Austin.”

Austin was so excited that Gracie listened to him.  He was even more excited that she wanted to know God.  “Let’s go in and tell our parents, Gracie!!”

Gracie said, “Wait!  I’m scared will you help me tell them?”

Austin said, “Of course!  I have my armor on and Jesus will guard me and give me mighty strength to help you tell them.  Now let’s go!”

They jumped down out of the tree house and ran inside.  They found Gracie’s mom and dad crying also!!  They wondered what had happened, but were so focused on what happened in the tree house they didn’t even ask what was going on.  Instead Austin blurted out, “Mom, Dad Gracie needs the armor!!  She wants the armor!!!  She wants to know Jesus!!”

Gracie’s parents scooped her up and hugged her and told her that this is good news!!  See Gracie’s parents had put on God’s armor once, but then one day they forgot to put it on.  They started out in their day and got busy and didn’t notice that before long it had been years since they wore their armor.  They still had their helmet of salvation on but the rest of their bodies were unprotected and Satan had filled them with fear and problems.  Satan gave them so many problems and distractions that they had not taught Gracie about the armor!!!  Austin’s parents had reminded them of the armor today.  And they asked God to forgive them and help them put the armor back on.  So while Austin and Gracie were out talking, their parents were inside praying!!!  And now Gracie was going to put on the Armor of God.

That’s how God works.  Always perfect, always loving, and always ready to forgive and help each and every one of us!  We can’t be true knights or princesses without the Armor of God…because we can’t be good without God.

That next week Austin and Gracie played in the tree house again, but this time they were both wearing Armor!!!