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ginkgo quote 3.jpg‘Live in harmony with one another’

Words spoken every Sunday –

part of a blessing as we leave, but not always heard or taken to heart.

Today I hear those words loud and clear, as though spoken with a megaphone. These words meant to bless and encourage, this morning they convict.

The last 48-hours have been far from harmonious for me.

A trip to Chicago with my husband and youngest son brought out my Mrs. Hyde. Who is this crazy, uninvited woman in the car with us who lashes with the tongue, cuts with ugly words, who absorbs the stress of traffic, running late, and wrong turns, and spits out arrows of blame and accusations only to fuel an exchange of heated words and hurt feelings?

Far from my finest moment.

Far from a life of grace.

And that’s only one example that I’m brave enough to share with you.

Then these gentle words spoken directly to me as I sit in the pew, God speaking right in my ear, a holy arrow bypassing my conscience and going straight to my heart:

‘Live in harmony’.

What exactly does that mean – to live in harmony? Is it all of us standing in a circle, holding hands and singing “Kum-ba-Yah” or “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” with coke in hand? Of course not. Rather a harmonious life is one filled with peace instead of drama, patience instead of quick tempers, understanding instead of assumptions, and forgiveness instead of grudges.

We are all far from living a life like that.

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As I dwell on this more, I think about what harmony means in music – this combination of simultaneously sounded notes that produces a pleasing effect. Translation – living lives that support and compliment each other. When someone in my life has the melody – melancholy or joyful – I must willingly step back to be supporting harmony, and hopefully vice versa. Sometimes I need to put my own wants, needs, and opinions aside to make way for someone else’s.  And a lesson well-learned on the road to Chicago – sometimes the best harmony is the one unheard – when the tongue is kept silent so the ears can hear the melody of others. Saint Paul says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Could humility be essential to living in harmony? Putting others first. Sacrificing self. Counting others more significant than self. Humility. Yes, I see it’s importance, but it’s not so easy for the ‘me first-ers’, ‘I know best-ers’, and ‘it’s not my fault-ers’. Somehow being humble has a negative connotation, but perhaps humility is misunderstood.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S Lewis

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Love is the other key ingredient. Letting love lead and fuel conversations, rather than anger and self-righteous thoughts. Remembering that I am loved by a God who is patient, understanding, and offers forgiveness and peace, should spur me on to show the same for those in my life.

Daily I fail like on that road trip. The tongue often speaks before the mind can tell it not to. Apologies and forgiveness are part of the music woven in a life, and the weekly encouragement to live harmoniously becomes a necessary reminder. There is blessing in humility, whether we have the melody or the harmony of a moment. In God’s eyes, being humble and letting love lead our actions and reactions, it’s all sweet melody.

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Blessings,

Tracy

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stillness-lake-quote

‘Mama, I don’t feel good’.

I look at her pale face, thin body lying in bed. It had been four months of this unknown illness wreaking havoc and robbing her of youthful joy. Four months since she had been in school, missing friends and fun of seventh grade.

As her days filled with pain and loneliness, my days filled with frustration and helplessness of a mama who would do anything for her daughter, but powerlessly could do nothing. Endless doctor visits, each adding only more questions to this enigma. What else could I do to make her better?  Myself sick with worry and stress. Daily pleas turned into constant state of prayer: ‘Please, God, heal her.’ ‘Heavenly Father, please lead us to the answer’.

Nothing.

Only silence.

Or so it is seemed at the time.

Standing in the now, I see with faith-filled eyes that God was not silent during those anxious days eleven years ago.

But wrapped up, consumed in those moments when time stood still, it sure seemed like he was.

Silence can be deceptive.

Unanswered prayer baffles – does God really care? Day after day waiting for an answer – is God really listening? Does he hear? Why doesn’t he show some sign that he is there? Why doesn’t he make this better? Why is this happening? Why? Why? Always the why.

Silence can be deafening.

It deafens so all we hear are our own thoughts, drowning in doubt and confusion. It limits his greatness and goodness, and it masks what he’s really trying to tell us:

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

When God seems silent, he’s actually calling us into stillness.

But how to be still when the world spins upside down?

Where is stillness when the heart sobs in brokenness?

How to find stillness in the tumult of mind’s questioning?

Yet with those words, be still, he calls us into a quiet calm.

How did he come to Elijah on the mountain? Not in wind or quake or fire, but in a gentle whisper. And how can we hear the whisper if we are not still?

In the stillness he whispers:

I love you. I will never leave you.  Joshua 1:5

I have plans for you, so trust me. Jeremiah 29:11

I need you to wait, because the time isn’t right yet. I have something better in store. Psalm 37:7, 104:27, Eccl 3:11

In the stillness he calls us to wait and to wait patiently.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

So we wait.

In the waiting, he is at work. Earthly eyes cannot see or understand his mysterious ways. But with eyes of faith, we trust. His ‘no’s’ may be ‘not yets’. His ‘no’s’ may be a lesson in the now here, teaching us to rely only on him, to lean into him and his promises.

For his love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

So with whatever strength the soul can muster in the midst of the storm, be still and cling to him.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

blessings,

Tracy

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door quote

lately i’ve been praying for open doors

so many close to me really need one

an open door –

an answer to prayers

 a door out from the trappings of struggles & worries

a door opening to new possibilities

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whatever it is that moves you to seek an open door

 know that God works everything for our good

know that He has a plan that will be so much better than we can ever imagine

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

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so as we wait

we trust in one breath

yet in the next we wonder  –

If God would only . . .

Why doesn’t God . . .

How much longer, God .  . .

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we wrestle with impatience that wraps the heart

and understanding that seems out of grasp

as we stand at doors that refuse to open

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the heart yearns

and God knows;

the soul prays and pleads

and He hears;

we ask

and He answers,

He always answers

in His time

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as you wait for Him to work things out for you

He might be working things out in you

even in the waiting

you are where you are for a reason

ask for contentment in this moment

ask how He can use you right where you are

and when He opens a door –

be ready to take a big, brave step of faith and gratitude through it

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 blessings, 

Tracy

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there’s a quote by Helen Keller that says:

‘Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what the sunflowers do. ‘

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it’s true

no matter the time of day,

young sunflower blossoms and their leaves always face the direction of the sun

soaking in their energy source

to grow and flourish

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i bet you can see the lesson already –

when we keep our eyes on the Son,

troubles, pain, afflictions are eclipsed by the brilliance of His glory

and the shadows fall behind us

He is our energy source

He sustains

and gives the strength to walk to path that lies before us

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when life consumes and shadows overwhelm

turn to Him

keep your eyes on the Son

be awed by His almighty power

soak in the warm rays of His great love for you

and like the sunflower leaves,

open your hands to receive gifts of His grace

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‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’

– Romans 12:12

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rose farm

today i visited a rose farm

425 varieties tended with love in memory of someone dear

so beautiful

i saw bumblebees buzzing happily in centers of beauty

content in beds of nectar

like them, rose after rose,

i buried my nose into the middle of intoxicating fragrance

breathing deep

rose with bee

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i find it fascinating to see roses pass

from tight bud to full petals of silk too many to count

not as i will them to open

yet each unfolding in it’s own time

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another lesson from the One who tends the heart

another lesson in patience and trust

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when things don’t turn out the way i planned

hopes and dreams broken

and the taste of disappointment is strong

i wonder

did i try to force the blossom?

 striving for what my heart longed for

was it something i wanted so much, but didn’t ask Him if it’s what He wanted for me?

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 i want so desperately to see His plan

an unsure future – aren’t we all desperate to know and see?

or at least a little impatient?

perhaps He clouds the path ahead so we must trust Him completely

and slowly He reveals

petal by petal

His perfect plan for each of us

from bud

to full out gorgeous blossom

in His time

rose silk petals

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all He asks of us is to trust Him

and let His plan unfold

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and hot to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”                                                                                            – Jeremiah 29:11

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.                                                                               -Proverbs 3:5-6

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Thankful for . . .

#199. the intoxicating fragrance of His love

#200. an ocean of grace

#201. light for the path

#202. His perfect plan

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FullSizeRender cross 2

a couple months ago i tackled a hydrangea that desperately needed pruning

i made deep cuts

removing dead branches

reshaping spring growth

knowing mid-summer would bring a strong, healthy shrub

beautiful blossoms

FullSizeRender cross

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as i work to reclaim the overgrown mess in my yard

slowly, patiently attending each plant

addressing each weed

pruning as i go

 God reminds me that he is working in my heart

slowly, patiently attending each need

addressing each sin

pruning as he goes

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sometimes he prunes deeply

and it hurts

but he prunes with love

each cut for our own good

removing the dead and diseased

shaping us as he goes

reclaiming our hearts

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for he has a plan to make us strong

to bring us closer to him

bearing beautiful blossoms and fruit again

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 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

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#175 so thankful for such a loving Father

#176  thankful for pruning cuts

# 177 thankful for reclamation

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Apricot Blossoms

She stands there in the garden.

Four years young, a bit awkward and gangly.

Not sure why I planted blueberries as her companions. Not the place for an apricot tree. Intentions to dig her up are prolonged to the fall and each fall to the next spring.

So she stands.

Roots growing deeper, without flowers, without fruit.

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During wintry days I make plans for my garden. This year I’ll plant more flowers for cutting, heirloom tomatoes for summer meals, herbs for seasoning. All things in this garden must serve a purpose, beauty admired or taste savored.

The apricot tree must go.

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As I watch the colorful spring birds flit tree to tree, I see something I haven’t seen before.

Can it be?

I practically run outside. Must look closer.

I stop and hold my breath.

There she stands with naked limbs adorned with pale blush blossoms.

She flowers.

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 A little patience goes a long ways as the saying goes. I seem to be still in training. After a summer of drought and a record-chilling winter, the apricot tree finally blooms. And fruit is sure to follow.  Just when I had run out of patience with this little tree, she flowers.  I know God is teaching me something here.

“The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:10. 

 Am I not that tree? What I think are blossoms of good works and fruits of faith –  is that what He sees? Isn’t all my good just filth and dirt and empty branches in his eyes of perfection? Am I not doomed to the cutting blade of the ax?

Yes, but thankfully there is more.

There is Jesus.

“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ”  Phillipians 1:6.

God is patient with me only because of what Jesus has done for me.

 Through Him is forgiveness for the days of my impatience, ingratitude, and lack of fruits of faith.

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 Through Him is life eternal.

 He endured the bitterness of hell and the drought-filled divide from the love of His Father as he hung on that cross for me.

He lives and the joy of His resurrection lives in me. The Spirit is constant, working fruits of righteousness in my heart.

 every day

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And when He returns, I will stand before those eyes of perfection, and because of my Jesus, I will be covered with flowers.

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forever grateful

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