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Beauty Before Me

Tune My Senses

It’s happening again.

I’m doing what I said I wasn’t going to do:

let life get way out of balance –

I mean – WAY out of balance.

I love what I do

I don’t consider it a job because I enjoy it so much,

but usually I let it consume me and my time –

especially at this time of year.

It’s something I’ve struggled with for what seems too long.

 I even started this year with a new resolve:

to balance family, home, work, church

but, sigh . . .

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About a month ago, a friend asked me if I had seen my hellebores blooming.

Oh my gosh, had I missed the first blossoms of spring?

As a self-proclaimed beauty-seeker, I was mad at myself.

How had my schedule become so full of to do’s that I had forgotten how to just be?

How had my focus become so narrow that I had forgotten to really see?

I ran out with camera in hand

hunting for beauty

and found it –

there on the hillside covered in lovely blossoms

dangling downward

Lenten roses

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Such a good reminder to live life slow

not as if life is an emergency;

to take the time to seek and see the beauty that’s right before me

and to thank God for each gift

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Time is one of those gifts

and though it seems there is never enough of it,

every morning I need a reminder

that God has given me enough time

it’s all how I use it,

not how it uses me.

So a new resolve stirs to slow and be in the moment,

to balance, but always seek Him first,

and to be tuned in to the grace-shower that follows.

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‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
    and you will harvest a crop of love.
Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,
    for now is the time to seek the Lord,
that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

– Hosea 10:12

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Blessings,

Tracy

Unwelcome Gifts

snow psalm

Another snowfall.

This one not welcome.

Pretty, but not wanted.

It’s March.

Yesterday the air was warm.

Spring will come early this year, and I am anxious for it.

Instead, this white falling from above.

I know there is a reason for it,

this delay of season’s change,

and I know Spring will come in God’s timing, not mine.

So I sigh, murmur thanks, and get out the shovel.

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There’s been a lot of unwanted snowfalls lately,

unwelcome gifts –

a dear friend loses her battle with cancer;

another struggles with depression – wandering in what seems like life’s desert -trying desperately to find direction;

another gives up everything he knows to figure out what went wrong though he followed God’s call.

 Snow may fall quiet but at times it’s a blizzard.

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We all have tasted disappointment,

 felt the sadness of heart break

when life doesn’t go the way we wish it would.

We look at what has been placed in our hand and say

‘What is this?’

Like the Israelites in the desert, we look at this manna –

white falling from above

and ask

‘What is this?’

“What is this that God wants me to walk through?

I don’t understand.

This is grace?

This is what God thinks is best for me?”

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And though we don’t understand,

He asks us to trust Him.

He asks us to gather up this manna every morning,

this big, heavy thing that doesn’t make sense,

and receive it as a gift –

as grace.

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 And instead of asking ‘why’,

He asks us to simply say

‘thank you’.

Wait, what?

Be thankful for this?

Be thankful that my friend is no longer here?

Be thankful that I’m stuck in a place where I don’t want to be?

Be thankful that life is not turning out how I thought it would?

Turn my pleas into praise?

*

It isn’t easy,

it’s a trust thing –

and we can trust our heavenly Father with everything.

He knows the manna-gift is not welcome –

He hears the heart’s cry,

But He knows what’s best for us and this manna is meant to nourish.

*

So hang in there, the snow won’t last forever –

it’s already beginning to melt.

There is hope.

There is comfort –

God is in control.

As you hold this manna in your hand,

He holds you in His.

*

– blessings,

Tracy

 

The Love Dare

 

I’m honored once again to have one of my devotions featured over at A Word For Women. I struggled with this one for days – so many possible angles and ways to write about God’s love. When it finally came, I couldn’t stop writing about the many ways  . . . praying this will touch your heart and move it closer to His.
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song of songs
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‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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It’s always made me a little uncomfortable
anytime our relationship with God is set in a romantic context.
Falling in love with God.
Just doesn’t seem right to look it like that.
Maybe it’s my German-Lutheran upbringing.
Yet as I study more about Him
delving deeper in the Word,
I see the Bible as one long love letter to me –
to each of us.
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How many times does He say “I love you”?
Over and over again, it’s written with every stroke of pen.
From the very beginning, when I turned my back on Him in the Garden of Eden
lied and hid from Him,
He still sought me,
and gave me a promise that would demonstrate the greatness of His love.
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Through the books of the Old Testament,
when the obstinate people of Israel constantly turned from Him
He said, “I have loved you.”
Isn’t that me?
Every thoughtless sin a slap in His face,
every time I insist on doing life my way,
His heart hurts,
yet still He says, “I love you.”
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How can I read Song of Songs and not see it?
The vastness and tenderness of a love so deep and personal.
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Woven through the life of Jesus
every act was done out of love,
every motive was love
even the cross . . .
the ultimate act of love
each step taken to Calvary
was taken with a heart full of love.
And even though I pounded nails in His hands
He. Still. Loves. Me.
*
How can I not fall in love with a God who loves me like that?
A God who relentlessly pursues me,
who holds my bare heart, sees me and knows me
yet loves me unconditionally –
no matter what I have done
or how many times I have done it
He forgives
And He. Still. Loves. Me.
*
He woos me with daily reminders of His love.
Each blessing a gift
for me to unwrap and see
that nothing, absolutely nothing
can separate me from His love.
*
Who can say that about any relationship?
No matter how many times your heart has been broken, hurt, or disappointed,
I challenge you to take this love dare:
Open yourself up and dare to be loved like this.
Trust your heart to the One who treasures you and will never hurt you.
Open your eyes to see the gifts He lavishes on you.
Open those love letters bound within Scripture,
it’s there that He’s waiting to say to you:
“How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.”
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Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; 
for love is as strong as death, 
   its jealousy unyielding as the grave. 
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
–  Song of Songs 8:6
blessings,
Tracy

Spa Day

Angel Spa

Doesn’t a day at the spa sound like just what we need right about now?

While winter’s cold winds blow at the windows,

ah, to be in a warm, relaxing environment

candles to calm the frazzled

oil to sooth away worries

fragrance to revive a worn-out body

enveloped in a fluffy white robe

pampered to the fullest –

wish i was there right now

a spa day sounds pretty appealing

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it struck me as I heard words from Isaiah on Sunday

that there is something similar that we can indulge in

without even leaving our homes –

a special gift of pampering and deep healing.

In beautiful poetic and prophetic words

Isaiah says in chapter 61:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.

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instead of ashes – a crown of beauty

instead of mourning – oil of joy

instead of despair – a garment of praise

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and if those aren’t gifts enough to make a grateful heart swell

and a tired soul sing hallelujah,

there’s more –

broken hearts are healed

and we are freed from the prisons within

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it’s Jesus that Isaiah speaks of –

could there be any doubt?

He pours His love on us like nothing else we will ever experience here.

He calms the frazzled

He soothes away worry

He gives hope and rest to the worn

He comforts the tear-stained soul.

That’s what He does for us right now

when we turn our hearts to Him,

let go of doubt and self-reliance,

and be held in the palm of his Hand.

Just imagine what’s waiting for us  –

it will be like an eternal spa day.

Isn’t that fun to think about?

*

blessings,

Tracy

A big thankyou to my lovely aunt, Kathleen Hendee, for the awesome photo!

I’m honored to have another one of my devotions featured this week over at A Word for Women. If you don’t already subscribe to their weekly email devotions, please consider it. 

Trust is the Bridge

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We cross bridges daily
without a second thought
boldly crossing
confident they will support our weight
But what about the bridges in our lives?
Are we confident that God will carry us across each one
that comes our way?
Do we trust him no matter the weight?
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When things get really hard
when fear grips
and worry takes hold
when it’s hard to see any light ahead
and the situation seems too big –
this is when it’s hard to trust
but this is when we need to trust
 *

read more here:  A Trust without Borders

blessings,

Tracy

Awakening

Arise Shine

i woke up this morning energized –

that doesn’t happen often in January.

not sure why today was different-

it’s winter’s coldest day so far

and though it’s still dark and easier to stay in bed,

 the sun will be up soon

and i’m anxious to capture some scarce rays of rising light

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for the first time i’ve really payed attention to

how the liturgical seasons partner with the seasons of the earth.

 advent comes when days are shortest, nights long

nature is dormant

and darkness pulls us inward.

we search the darkness within and

prepare ourselves for the coming of Light –

waiting with a knowing hope

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then much-anticipated Christmas comes

with it’s celebration of wonder

all still and quiet

amidst noise and clutter

we celebrate the coming of the heavenly Light

given when earth is darkest

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then as quickly as it comes, it’s gone

with the new year right on it’s heals –

holding open a door to all things new.

with renewed intentions, routine returns

and we slip into rituals of the day

of work and of school

of snow, cold, and shovels

and of slowly ebbing darkness

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this is when epiphany comes

a much needed enlightening

a reminder of when the promised Savior was revealed to

wise men who persisted to seek him.

those who followed the light of a star

found the true Light

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epiphany

 the call to rise and shine

to awaken and see God’s glory

seek his grace

it’s everywhere –

in daily rituals

in simple things

even in dark moments

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not only to wake up and see,

but to shine and reflect it with joy and gratitude

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‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.’

Isaiah 60:1

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time for some honest reflection:

am i awake to every moment filled with his grace?

am i reflecting his glory with an attitude of thankfulness?

how will i shine today?

how will you?

let’s respond to Isaiah’s exciting call to action together!

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blessings,

Tracy

Setting Intentions

IMG_3821

i still remember my grandmother asking me one New Year’s Eve

what my resolutions were for the new year.

i was in high school

and already then i had a list in my head of ways i wanted to improve

new things i wanted to try

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i still make a list every year

but no longer resolutions –

now i set intentions which seem less doomed to failure.

intentions i can easily begin again

when i get sidetracked or completely fall off the wagon

intentions are a more positive approach to making change

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here are some tips for setting intentions:

set aside some quiet time, with pen & paper, and a cup of coffee or tea

ask yourself these questions:

what do i want my life to be like this year?

how do i want my life to be different?

which areas of me do i want to improve?

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then consider this:

what are my gifts and talents that God has given specifically to me?

am i using them?

am i living out my calling?

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now list intentions for specific areas

here are some examples:

physical (how can i take better care of myself?)

emotional (do i need to work on my outlook or attitude? or how i react to challenges?)

spiritual (what can i do to improve my spiritual life?)

relationships (is there a relationship that needs extra time, attention, prayers)

creative (yes, we all are creative – that’s another blog post🙂  am i setting aside time for what gives me joy and a way to express myself?)

professional (how can i improve at work? am i happy doing what i do? if not, what can i do about it? do i need better balance between work and personal life?) 

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another helpful thing is to choose one word to focus on through the year.

some word ideas include . . .

shine, dwell, thrive, become

grow, be, give, content

choose joy, breathe, live boldly

be thankful, be brave, be still, be the good

simplify, embrace, conquer, cultivate

courage, savor, cherish, enjoy

need help choosing a word?

click here

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after working through these questions,

you will have the beginnings of a plan for change

but the best of plans can fail if done without God’s help.

‘Commit your actions to the Lordand your plans will succeed. – Proverbs 16:3

pray!

ask God to bless your word, your intentions, and the year ahead

as the psalmist says:

‘May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.’ –Psalm 20:4

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 here is a simple form to help set your intentions

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finally, make your word visible

keep it in front of you

wear it!

i’d love to help you live with your word and make a change

by customizing a cuff with your word on it.

i’ve been wearing my word the last four years

and believe me it helps me stay focused on my intentions

by wrapping it around my wrist every day.

if interested, you can learn more about it here.

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blessings on your new year!

Tracy

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