Patience

April 24, 2018
Its amazing what you notice when you slow things down. In my previous life, before I fell ill, I ran on high speed all the time. I went from one thing to the next without stopping. If I wasn’t sleeping I was running and while I was running I was planning my next task. Whether I was taking my son to an after school program, packing lunches and planning meals. Or I was preparing affidavits in my head and planning for court dates along with dealing with the constant onslaught of emotional and verbal abuse coming from my ex. And lets not forget working full-time night shifts. I never stopped. I simply didn’t have time if everything was going to get done.
I am coming to understand that human beings aren’t meant to live this way. The human body is an amazing God-built machine, so complex in its ability to cope and manage under enormous amounts of pressure. My lifestyle’s fast pace created an illusion of control, that if I just could get things done to my satisfaction everything would be okay. I am beginning to grasp that my running only accomplished one thing…it made me good at running. It was nothing but a one-way ticket, at a fast pace, to nowhere. I believed that if I just did this or got that done then I would earn my rest. But if I did try to rest I was never comfortable, there was always something else to be done. Something else I felt too guilty about to let slide. I thought if I kept running I could stay ahead of my thoughts and feelings. The things I lacked and the overwhelming feelings were just one more thing on my list, the very bottom of my list. I would just deal with them later, when I was stronger. I would tell myself “I’ll take care of that when things calm down”. But there is never calm, even when standing still or “taking a break” when the true ciaos is your head.
For almost nine months now I have been experiencing chronic fatigue and constant pain. After two major things were taken care of, getting a restraining order and speaking to the police God knocked my pace down a few notches and set me at a crawl. It was his way of telling me that I needed real rest. I fought hard against it, looking for a diagnosis to explain it, a solution to fix it and any way possible to speed the healing process up. Looking for any way to get back to “my life” and quick!! I spent my time angry with God, feeling useless and helpless. Thinking if I could just walk or be alert long enough to drive my car I would be out of here so fast! I would run away again. I realize now that my biggest fear is stopping. If I stop then I have to feel. And I am more afraid of feeling my pain then I have ever been fearful of anything in my life. It seems to have no beginning and no end. Like a taught ball of rubber bands, there are layers of lies that have been stretched to fit over more lies. There are secret hiding places that I know nothing of, that I couldn’t begin to unlock even if I wanted to. When the ball of bands got too big for my brain to comprehend it flipped a switch and transferred the weighted ball to my body. Which is now processed as unrelenting physical pain and fatigue. My only problem now is that to stop the physical pain I must start to unravel that mountain-sized rubber band ball. God knew that if left to my own devices I would have continued to run, with this huge rubber band ball gaining momentum behind me. But running isn’t what God created me to do. I can’t be whole on the run. So hypothetically speaking God cut me off at the knees, not only because being on my knees before him is a healing posture, but so l learn to be patient and love the people who tell me to “walk it off”!
In fleeting moments of peace I could look at this season of my life as a vacation with God because it is the first real break I have ever had. The rest of the time however, I spent wiggling in my chair, restless to get up and go. Angry with the people in my life because they get to leave after a visit and go back to their lives. I know now that when I leave this season my life will be completely different in structure and perspective. The things I learn during this time can’t be unlearned. The value of time for example, even in the simple things like going for a walk. With my long legs I was used to walking at a fast clip and didn’t think twice about stepping over old ladies that hogged the sidewalk. Now I am winded and tire so easily that if I don’t pace myself I wouldn’t be able to go half a block without needed a ride home. So I have no choice but to pace myself and purposefully put one foot in front of the other. To take deep breaths and look around. I am starting to enjoy and appreciate things like to colour of the sky against the contrast of the mid-day moon, the sound of birds chirping and the smell of a rain storm coming. I am starting to see all the things I took for granted and the grandeur of God’s creations.
When it boils right down to it impatience is a lack of trust. I didn’t have patience before because I simply didn’t have time to! I didn’t have time to trust God or listen to the Holy spirit because I was trying to fix everything myself. But only half of those things are in my purview. I can’t fix my situation or heal my body without God’s help. I must want it, seek Him and be obedient but He does all the heavy lifting.
God loves me as I am, I don’t have to earn his love, it’s a gift. He loves me so much that he doesn’t want me to stay this way. Jesus meets me in my brokenness and walks with me into healing. Promising never to leave nor forsake me. His love says its okay to be broken. But it is also the path to healing. We are broken and have been from the start when Adam and Eve chose not to trust God’s instruction and ate the forbidden fruit. They stepped out of the security of the garden because they thought they knew better. God loves me enough to help me walk away from my brokenness, to go back to the whole person I was created to be. But I can’t do that if I am running. You can’t hear that small still voice unless you are still. “Be still and know…” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). Know that he is God (not me!), trust that his timing is perfect. There is a real peace in being okay where you are, and with who you are, its not until then you become the proud owner of everything that can’t be bought (Paraphrase Matthew 5:5 the MSG)
So I must trust that God has me hemmed in. He knows my needs, He knows the right people to meet them and He will bring them. He has the keys to unlock and unwind my rubber band ball of pain. Its hard not to fear but I need to remember that he will do it at a pace I can handle and be with me every step of the way. He will bring comfort and fill in my gaps of confusion. Above all I must be patient and trust the process of healing, trust God’s way is better than mine and allow myself to submit to it. Only then can I be at peace with the direction I am heading and know it is the one God has designed for me.

When God Speaks

I sat down to write out some of my negative observations about my current circumstances. What I thought was going to be just ugly words on a page turned into a poem. I wasn’t thinking in positive tones, nor did I expect that the holy spirit would intervene. For every impossible situation I encountered the Holy spirit infused it with hope. I pray that it comforts you, as it did for me, Tracy xo

When God Speaks

When your silence isn’t quiet
When you are sinking but can still breathe
When your world is reduced to the lies in your head

You still have all you will ever need in me.

When you feel the crushing sadness in your chest
When your cries fail to escape your throat
When the void is so deep all you know to do is
Breathe in, breathe out

You can turn to me, I saw this moment coming
I will carry you through.

When your spirit is reduced to ashes, trampled underfoot
When you cease to feel, choosing numbness instead
When you are desperate for relief but you can’t pin point what from

You are still within my sights
I still love you.

When your voice is meek and others misunderstand
When your body fails you and your needs aren’t met
When the end of your rope seems long gone

I am near, I will pick up your slack.
I will make up for what you lack.

When the pieces of your heart have scattered
When you are too heavy to go on and your will falters
When hope seems to be a distant dream

My peace will be your comfort.
My grace will find you…
For I am your God.

When the albatross is around your neck
And your shame is knee deep
When you have guilt you can’t explain
And webs of feelings to untangle
When the urge to turn and run is powerful
And you want to give in

I will be your guide.
My truth will be your life preserver.
I am strongest at your weakest.
I AM your God.
My sacrifice will always be enough to make you whole.

Believe…and get out of the way!

April 2, 2018

In a recent trip down to the deep ugly pit of depression, a place I have been several times before and always fear, I learned that I am trying to do work that isn’t mine. Under the weight of sadness the world seems to be sinking in around me. I feel I am grasping at any foothold, any straw I can get my hands on to keep myself up just to breathe. The enemy wants me to think that it will always be this way, that my submersion and suffocation is inevitable, so why should I bother to struggle against it? That I can never recover and will never be whole. These thoughts fester in my head, they over take the garden of peace Jesus planted in my heart, and seem to snuff out any remnants of truth that were previously planted. The devil comes into my garden and at first he seems harmless, one little stock of climbing mint. If I don’t rip him out by the roots instantly, rather just let him soak in a little of my sunshine his roots proliferate unseen. Before long new stocks of climbing mint are shooting up in my garden like the invasive species that it is. Everyone has weeds in their garden, when given room to grow they cheerfully dance around your garden, until the peace is covered and seemingly gone for good. Weeds go by many names: doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, pride and a sense of entitlement that manifests as anger. A wise woman of God has told me several times (more like brow beat me with) the truth that “What you feed GROWS!”. But this last time in the pit has shown me that I am not the gardener, my father in heaven has that title. Jesus makes it clear “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 prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2 NIV
Though my life seems to have fallen apart, everything I once took stock in is no longer there, my career, my health, my direction and goals, all of which ultimately leaves me questioning my identity. I seemingly have been stripped of what I knew to be for certain. What I now understand is that those things clearly don’t fit into the purpose God has for me and he is pruning them away. The whole person I am to become needs nothing outside of God’s love and grace. The things I clung to were of this world and I must learn to function as a child of god, because I am no longer of this world, but a daughter of the king. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19 NIV
Instead of mourning the loss of my old life and spending my time letting the weeds grow under my feet, I need to recognize the requirements in my job description and do two things. Number one is believe. Believe that what God has promised me is mine and thank him for it in anticipation everyday. Believe in my heart that his miracles are for me too!!! This is a big one for me, there is always that voice that says that its fine for someone else but it will never happen for me. This is a weed that I have given too much room to grow. I must believe that I am worthy to receive his gifts, and thank him in anticipation of their arrival. I need to believe that where I am is never too far. Even though I can not see my way out yet, my heart is humble and ready to repent God sees it and that is all he has ever asked of me. I must believe that I am loved and cared for even in my darkest moments when the pruning is painful he is there to comfort me if I seek him wholeheartedly. I must believe that with his provision I can recover, not in my strength but in his.
Job description number two seems just as agonizingly simple: Get out of God’s way! Letting the pruning happen isn’t easy. I fight and have fought hard to hold onto what I thought I was entitled to. By acting like an angry toddler throwing a tantrum!! No God I don’t wanna do that! Please don’t take my toys and little comforts away from me! That goes especially for feelings like anger that I feel I am entitled to. I must get out of his way by letting go so he can fight on my behalf. Inevitably as any good parent who knows what’s best and sees the bigger picture cares enough to do, I am pruned of what I thought I couldn’t live without. After I have finished kicking and screaming I take a breath and look around I see that I still have all I will ever need in him.
It is by God’s grace that damage control from overgrowth is not in my job description! He corrals the roots and the weeds die off when I trust him. Doubt creates growth of weeds, trust naturally kills them off with a lack of nourishment. Although I can’t see the new growth God has for my life, I must trust that the roots of his truth are still there under the surface. The more I trust the more nourishment I give to them. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 NIV. The best way to trust is to give everything over to him in prayer, just drop it at the foot of the cross. I can’t lay claim to my hurts, struggles and suffering. I must endure them, but they do not define me. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV. If I claim them as mine I give nourishment to the weeds and step outside my job description. I am grateful that as a human and disciple of Jesus he has graciously given me the title of “trainee” and forgives me when I overlook his great love and guidance. But instead gently reminds me “submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. The bigger picture is hard to focus on when stuck in the “pit” that is why Paul tells us plainly “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17‭-‬18 NIV. Praise God that his love and grace never change and never cease!

Fear is a lie

God comes to overwhelm the things that overwhelm me. He takes the very things meant to destroy me and writes his glory all over it in permanent marker. To deliver me from my fears. Yesterday I went to court and faced my abusive ex. Every fiber of in my body screams run, my heart pounds so loudly I strain to hear the judge speak. Sometimes to be still is the hardest thing. But those are God’s exact instructions “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
When my son’s newly appointed lawyer stood up to speak I recognized him immediately. Although I had seen a picture, I hadn’t previously placed how I knew him. Last September as part of the settlement process we stood before the DOJ, who is a lawyer that attempts to help parties mediate and settle their differences before presiding in front of a judge. At this meeting my ex very boldly and loudly told the DOJ and the rest of the court room that he would go to jail before paying anyone (including me) any money. That he doesn’t respect lawyers, judges or the legal system. The appointed DOJ that day is my son’s new lawyer. The “Office of the Children’s Lawyer” appointed him to Ethan, it was not a choice myself or my ex had any say in. This is just a small piece of the intricate tapestry that God is weaving to bring justice to this case. To show his glory. He is using a situation that was overwhelming, to overwhelm the big picture with his presence. God has his hand all over this situation and his every move confirms his love for me. Despite the unsettling and irrational circumstances that have taken place, he anchors me in the truth that He is in charge. I have prayed that this will come to an end, because I have been at my wits end so many times. For 8 years this has been dragging out like torture. But so much of it has changed me, refined me. The way a diamond must be cut just so, to shine its best. Corrie Ten Boom once said “I know the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” This gives me hope that he has a specific plan for me, he is systematically cutting off every branch that doesn’t bare fruit. So now my prayer has become “God teach me what I need to know, prune away what doesn’t work. So that I may share with the world your definition of justice and bring the glory to your name it deserves”. One by one, court date by court date I trust more and fear less.
I can’t choose how others treat me. Committed as some seem to sin against me. I still have the choice not to let their sin create sin within me. I can choose how I treat myself. To respect the temple of the holy spirit and the King that lives within me. If I am to be used by God and his love and true nature shown through me, I must be the best version of myself. To shine His light brilliantly. Even if that means I have to make adjustments to the boundaries I set and how I let others talk to me. A high school teacher of mine used to tell me “you teach others how to treat you”. In this case the best way for me to show my ex how I deserve to be treated is to truly not fear him. Jesus said “it is finished” with him I am a victor not a victim. I must choose to treat myself as the daughter my King died for. The only way I can be rid of my fear is to replace it. With trust. Trust in the God who repeatedly saves me. He saves me from falling into the trap that fear can win. That fear has power at all is a lie, believed by too many. A friend once told me that fear is an acronym -False, Evidence, Appearing, Real. One I refuse to believe any longer. If I take out fear then what leverage does the enemy have over me? He has no ammo. If I don’t believe his lies he has only blanks to shoot at me. Under the armor of God he merely becomes a noise-maker, someone who can inflict no damage.
As Paul pointed out in 2 Corinthians there is a difference between being persecuted and being forsaken. Hard pressed but not crushed, knocked down but not destroyed. Understanding these differences has been crucial in my faith walk. We all fight battles, some we win, some we loose. But when we set our eyes on God’s truth we remember that the war has already been won. As believers we have been bought and paid for, I have a room in God’s kingdom. It’s mine for eternity. Only God can decide when I get to see it. If I am meant to see Him tomorrow I will whether I’m ready or not. God is with me so what do I need to fear? Nothing. Perfect love casts out fear, and my Father in heaven loves me perfectly.

God’s Anthem

Feb. 28, 2018
Today was rough. Last night I had a few hours of good sleep, I woke up at 1am. After that I was unable to find peace. I went in and out of sleep, so restless, dreaming as usual that I was in trouble and couldn’t escape. The little sleep I used to live on before falling ill is the amount I worry about getting now. Hard to imagine that I could work a full night shift, cook for others, do yoga and help my son with his homework then tuck him in all on 5 hours of fit-full sleep. Now only 5 hours leaves me in bed in pain for most of the day. Today was one of those days, I had a sozo this morning to help me release some of my fears. It was an exhausting blur, that’s all I really remember of it. Except that we prayed I would hear from God and my ability to write freely would be restored and here I am. Too wound up to sleep, to tired to read. Something about being up when I should be sleeping helps me write.
So many things rolling around in my head, but my body feels the same as it has all day. Pain from head to toes. But today for the first time in a long time I had gaps in time that were peaceful. Moments I knew God was there with me. Many times we are so busy that those moments so easily pass us by unnoticed. I have felt so off kilter lately, unable to find my footing. I have a good sense when there are lies running loose in my head and can shut them down quite deliberately. But of late I have not been able to stop then even when I notice. As if they have a life of their own. Simple things, little things that easily fester forgetting to put something on the grocery list and calling myself stupid for it. Those things add up after a while, until I don’t need to forget something to call myself stupid. Fiction said in passing becomes fact if left alone to ruminate. Of course there are still the big things that take up valuable real estate in my head. Things I can do nothing about, that can only be released to God for resolution. Why does it take so much effort to give something up we never had control over in the first place? Control is an awful tease. Like a mirage in the desert when your thirsty. Its not really there, it never was. We chase it as if we could really catch it and eventually it chases us…into believing a lie.
But God still shows up in the middle of those lies. If my heart is open I can spot them like a teenager can find a fresh blemish on picture day. Out of character for me I asked for help, a tactic that I reserve for emergencies only, for fear of being hurt. And several people stepped up to show me love in their own way. My son was so sweetly holding my hand as we walked home from school, said “I will help you Mom, you just need rest. And I will get you some water and you will feel super better!”. My heart melted I had to stop on the sidewalk and thank Jesus for sending such a cute messenger for his love. Later a friend stopped by with some food she had made and some thoughtful treats. This sister in Christ and I hardly know each other, but her heart is so clearly seen, I feel like I have known her a life time. God truly knows the people we need when we need them, too often I am quick to be angry instead of trusting that God has a better plan. It wasn’t until she was on her way out the door I realized why God had sent her specifically. Just before she shut the door she said “did anyone tell you they love you today?” And without waiting for an answer she said “I love you”. I was so touched I don’t even think I said it back. The answer to her question was no. I doubled over in tears after she shut the door. When I could breathe I said aloud “thank you Jesus, I love you too”. Just when I thought that I wasn’t hearing from God, on what seemed to be a desperate roller coaster the truth of God’s love helps me find my footing. I start to remember that He never changes, and neither does the way He feels about me.
My son and I often have this cute argument who loves who more. But he always looses when I change my argument to “But I loved you first”. I think God used that same argument “You have loved me before the foundations of the cosmos were laid” (John 17:24b – the voice). If I let go of my fear (and ask for help), I can release my grip on the illusion of control and get out of God’s way. For some reason the big things are so much easier to relinquish, our inability to control them is obvious. I gave my control over to God about my on-going custody case and he has shown his face so plainly. Yet the little things aren’t so obvious, so I do my best to wrestle with what little control I think I have over them. In the moments today when I caught myself wrestling, as usual I was able to stop and pause. The few seconds of silence in between redirecting my focus the same song would be playing in the back of my mind. As if it had been playing all day long, only to be heard during peaceful moments, when I stopped thinking long enough to breathe. Just one line from the song “King of my heart” by bethel played on repeat “You are good, you’re good Ohhh”. The ups and downs I felt today were also an illusion. The steady rhythm of God’s goodness was like a loving ambiance, only noticeable when its sought after with purpose. I was always anchored by the truth in my heart. He is good, so good. An anthem I must choose to live by, if I am not to be swallowed up by anger when clutching my illusion of control. Just let God be God. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Eternal , “plans for peace not evil, to give you a hope and a future-never forget that. At that time you will call out for Me , and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. You will look for me intently, and you will find Me. “ (Jeremiah 29:11-13 The Voice) A much needed lesson for my third birthday as new creation in Christ. He is good. So good.

Suffering

Written Jan. 16, 2018

I have been walking around the last few days in a rage, barking at anyone who will listen. I tell myself I need to get my nose back into joint, but I feel I deserve to be angry! I have been handed the crappy end of the crap stick! Too ill to work and provide for my family or even pay for the treatments I need to get well. An illness triggered by chronic stress that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight; the illness or the stress. But I don’t deserve the life that being angry will bring me, nor do I deserve the inevitable bitter heart that will come with it. I prayed this morning “God help me break through this barrier! Make my suffering count, let me be a light for you”. I decided to start a new reading plan based on God’s love. The first reading was John 15. In verse 18 Jesus explains – if you find the world despises you, remember it despised me first. He then goes on to say that we are not products of this world but that he has taken us out of it. But it was verse 20 that caught in my throat Jesus said “If I was mistreated, you should expect nothing less”. If God himself was so terribly mistreated AND brutally killed, how can I expect to be treated any better when he lives in me?! I am not a product of this world and I praise God for it! Does that mean that I am called to suffer? Actually yes! Being a disciple of Jesus means following the narrow path. Jesus suffered so that we could be made whole, to show us God’s great love.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he wrote “We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.”(Romans 5:3). If there is no suffering why do we need hope? I didn’t give my heart to Jesus so I wouldn’t suffer, I did it because I needed His love. Christianity is not a pill or an oath that fixes everything. How can we glimpse the vastness of God’s love and redemption if we don’t experience the trials Jesus told us to expect when he took us from this world? If we don’t suffer then all the gifts the cross gave us are rendered useless. Jesus came to earth to give us hope through the cross, that we could be forgiven and saved. In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus states “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” The “light” is the hope of the gospel that draws people to the goodness of Christ. He then sent us out into the world to share that goodness with others. But if people can’t see the hope of God in us as something they want, then how do we answer their question “Why Jesus?”. I don’t understand why I am made to suffer so, nor do I enjoy it! But I must walk out my life in a way that shows He lives in me, who does it help if I hide it? “As for me, I will always have hope” (Psalm 71:14) because “greater is He who is in me.” (1 John 4:4).
I don’t understand how great God’s love is for me, but I accept it all the same. I have never seen God, but I believe. I don’t need to understand my belief to have faith in Him either. God doesn’t call us to understand! He calls us to seek Him, to humble ourselves into a place where we can admit “apart from Him I can do nothing” pride and things of this world can make that very difficult. That’s why God gave us the holy spirit and all its gifts. He knew we would need them, just as He knew we would suffer in his name. But its that very suffering that brings glory to Him. I can’t escape my suffering, nor should I. Most times I feel as though I am surrounded by walls of obstacles, completely trapped. But I can always look up! And up is the only way out because He is “the way, the truth and the life”. I know without God’s love, grace and hope in my life I would not be alive, emotionally, physically or spiritually. My pain should have killed me. I deserve to die for my sins and it was my sins that led to my pain. Not only did He forgive and save me, he gives me the strength to endure the pain my sins and the sins of others have caused in my life. But I am not of this world, nor is my life my own. I gave it away, in order that I may become a child of God. Peter wrote “You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. Suffering tests your faith which is more valuable than gold.” (1 Peter 1:7). A great pastor and mentor reminded me the other day that my suffering is mere moments in the scheme of eternity. Thanks to the grace of God I can count my scars and with each one give a shout of praise, that I may carry them in His name. He heals me from the inside out simply because I believe in Him. He went to the cross because he couldn’t imagine eternity without me. But he has called me to bring as many people as I can reach with me. Not in my own strength, but His. As my faith grows I am more and more thankful that nothing and no one can take it away from me! It is the sprouted grain, gluten-free bread that nourishes my soul! So “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) I say “Bring it on! Do your worst!” Try to take me down, call me names, take my income and worldly possessions! God alone is my sustenance. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23). Thank you Jesus!
References: NLT, NIV, THE VOICE, NKJV

Keep Knocking

Hello All, I was going to post this a while back but have been wasting my time pushing against a wall that I know I can’t move on my own.  The holy spirit had prompted me several times to post this but I have been more worried about the technical issues of the site that I have been distracted from its purpose.  When I went back and reread this piece it was as if I was seeing it for the first time and it was the push start I needed to get past this wall I am facing.  I pray it encourages you as it has done for me, to write it and to read it! God bless, Tracy.

P.s. Updates to the about me page coming soon:)

Keep Knocking
Jan. 1 2018
Yesterday I prayed for the power (as Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:18) to understand the vastness of God’s love for me because I know that, that kind of understanding would change the way I live my life and relate to world. And like the loving God he is my prayers were answered. Matthew 7:7 has been showing up every where lately, in the book store, in my colouring book and online. The words that stick with me are “Continue to knock and the door will be opened”. Continue, meaning don’t stop, don’t give up. God knows the end of our stories, he knows the call he has put on our lives. In other words he knows my potential. My creation was not an accident, I have a purpose, the purpose HE has given me. But if I stop “knocking” then how will I see what I could have accomplished with his help? If I change my answer to “No! God this is too much for me” then how will I ever reach the finish line and fulfill the purpose he has for me? Luke writes in Acts 20 “every where I go from now on, I will find imprisonment and persecution waiting for me. But that’s OK. That’s no tragedy for me because I don’t cling to my life for my own sake. The only value I place on my life is that I may finish my race, that I may fulfill the ministry that Jesus our King has given me”
Matthew 26:36-46 was today’s reading. In these verses the contrast within Jesus becomes evident. There is a tug of war going on inside him. He knows his purpose from the very beginning. He has been sent to suffer a brutally violent death on behalf of a bunch of undeserving sinners. He asks the disciples to keep watch so he can pray. So he can beg his father in heaven to relieve him of this burden. Jesus the human is afraid. Afraid to suffer. Afraid of the pain and humiliation. I know I would be, especially if I knew in detail the extent of the carnage I was to endure. He wants God to save him from what he knows is his destiny and purpose. He says “If there is any other way, please take this bitter cup from me.” Matthew 26:39 -the Voice. He has two forces at war within him, this is clear because he ends his prayer with “Not my will, but yours be done”. The God in Jesus knows the weight of what God wants and what his pain will accomplish. He is clearly tormented by these opposing feelings. Matthew states “He grew sorrowful and deeply distressed” this is what led Jesus to fall on his knees in prayer. Yet he has the wisdom of God, straight from the father. He knows that God’s will, “God’s way” will serve a greater purpose, one beyond his suffering. He can see the finish line, the eternal victory. Jesus also knows that God will be with him through it. He knows that he can’t honor God’s call on his life, his very purpose, if he doesn’t suffer.
After his time in prayer Jesus returns to find his disciples asleep at their watch post. Think about this for a second. The disciples know that Jesus is the son of God, they know him personally. They lived with him. Studied under him and probably listened to him snore at night. He has told them “I chose you”. The disciples know it is their duty to spread the good news to the world. An enormous task and God himself has chosen them to bear the weight of it…and they said yes. So I find it very interesting that when Jesus, their friend, who is in grave danger asks them to keep watch and they fail at the simple task of keeping their eyes open! I just can’t fathom it! How dare they!!! They let him down. When I fell ill I couldn’t have imagined that the people I was close to, people I trusted to have my back would find themselves with better things to do in my time of need. My flesh wants to lash out, to scream at them for their insensitive and hypocritical ways. But Jesus doesn’t do that he says “Maybe now you are learning: the spirit is willing but the body is weak” Matthew 26:41. As if to say don’t let the wants of your flesh win. I know that I must forgive those who have failed me when I needed them most, because I too have been forgiven by way of the cross.
In verse 42 Jesus takes his own advice. In Matthew 7:7 he tells us to “continue to knock”. Jesus goes back to his secluded spot to pray. Matthew records that he prays with the same sentiment and words and three times he returns to find that his “watchmen” are asleep. Yet instead of giving them the earful they deserve Jesus returns faithfully to prayer. He continues to knock and by wisdom asks that God’s will be done through him. Although his “soul is overwhelmed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:36) Jesus does not fight back when he is captured, he walks death row willingly because it is his purpose. He can see the victory, he knows the end of his story. Just as he knows the end of my story. God has given me a purpose, he doesn’t just believe that I can reach it, he knows I can. I can’t say without a doubt what my purpose is. But He can. He created me for it. Jesus didn’t want to suffer…and neither do I. But God sees my pain, He cries with me. So I must pray that His will be done in my life and fully trust in Him. Not because he believes I can make it a reality, but because He knows I can. Jesus saw the obstacles in front of him and prayed to be relieved of them. But as a loving God he took the punishment on my behalf. He knows I was worth dying for, that’s why he did it. So that I could be free to fulfill my purpose, and he could be with me while I endure the journey. I can’t see my future. But I can see God in the midst of my future. My suffering is a stepping stone, an obstacle obscuring my view of the victory. It is a sacrifice that must be made in order the chisel out the person I will need to be to fulfill the call that is on my life. Until my victory is in view I must keep my eye on God’s vison of my life…and keep knocking. Keep Knocking

Letter to me

I came across this letter I had written to myself in August of 2017, while I was searching for the piece I wrote New Years day about prayer. It wasn’t my original plan to post this now but I think you may find it an inspiring exercise. When I wrote this my son and I had finally been granted the restraining order we so desperately needed. The emotional abuse from his father had come to a boiling point and the restraining order provided much needed relief. I met with the police the day after I wrote this and the following day the physical symptoms of my stress started to manifest themselves. I completely forgot about it. I want to encourage you to write one of these to yourself. Write it from God’s perspective looking down on his child. I will post it exactly as I wrote it…

August 30, 2017
I have learned that I can’t wait for others to be my cheerleader that sometimes words of encouragement must come from me, but more importantly I must believe they are true. It’s hard to fathom that after a life time of hating myself that these words can come from me. But I need to speak truth. Even more so I need to hear it.
Dear Tracy,
This week has been hell on earth. I know you have felt sad, overwhelmed by the injustice of everything as you have every right to. But please don’t stay there, don’t let those feelings cover up all you have to be thankful for. God has blessed you in so many ways. He has shown himself to you through love and constant blessings. You are safe even if you don’t feel that way at times. God has protected you thus far you must trust he will continue. To have fear, shows a lack of trust.
Give up control. You never had it in the first place. God loves you so much, he carries you, let him. Continue to work on forgiveness, you deserve the peace the comes with it. You are worthy of more than you have been treated in the past. Don’t let others decide your worth, only God can do that. Believe that you can heal from this. Believe that there is someone out there who can treat you as you should be, someone who’s love will cover all the hurt with joy. Believe that Ethan will be given an earthly father that loves him almost as much as his heavenly Father. You need to know Tracy that what has happened to you is not your fault. No matter what the world does to you don’t change. You have beautiful soul and an unwavering faith. You are doing so well, keep going. You have given up all crutches, and have made it through the most difficult stressful time of your life with grace and integrity. You are a warrior, you are brave. You have been given so many gifts. You are an amazing mother. Your son is safe because of you. He has a fighting chance to thrive because of the stability you have provided. You have kept going when you wanted to quit. You surprise me everyday. Ask for what you need, your heavenly Father sees your tears and will provide. Love yourself.

Love, Me

Welcome

Hello and welcome to “The Olive Branch” my name is Tracy. I want to thank you for setting time aside in your busy day to read this, I consider it an honor. I have decided to take the plunge and write a public blog, the encouragement my brothers and sisters in Christ have blessed me with has helped me take this leap of faith. You know who you are, so thank you.
Writing for me has always been an outlet, these blogs started as my journal entries. When I gave my life to Jesus almost 3 years ago I began to journal my prayers. It brought me comfort to know that more than the paper heard my cries for help. I felt God had extended an olive branch to me, by seeking Him I would find the inner peace and hope I was looking for. To “extend a olive branch” in our culture means to offer a way to end the fighting, an attempt at peace. God knew I was wrestling within myself with things that were bigger than me. I needed Him. At the end of 2016 I started my “God is good” journal and began recording the events where God’s love and glory was manifesting in my life. That way I could go back to my own story in times of trouble to help me remember how faithful and gracious God has been in my life. It took me less than a year to fill that book cover to cover. When I switched over to typing my journals I was able share them with others. The holy spirit would name drop, and I started forwarding the messages. I have been in awe of the positive responses and truly touched by my small group of reader’s encouraging words.
Since this is my first official post I want to set the record straight before I go any further. What you read on this site has been given to me from the Holy spirit. When I sit down to write I don’t have any clue what will spill out. I come armed only with a word or phrase of inspiration that God has given me, either from his word or through an obedient servant. I write it down with the context of how it fits in MY life. Then I go back and reread what I have written and the holy spirit will prompt me and I am given what is to come next. Then I repeat the process, sometimes I will get another line or a word that will trigger in my memory a scripture that fits. Then I go back and reread it. I am merely a recording tool that said yes to God. The mechanics to His fuel. When I start I don’t know the title or sometimes even the general topic I will end up writing about. But I do know that God is working through me, to help me. I never sought out to be an inspiration to others, it just happened to be a happy bi-product! Eleanor Roosevelt once said “Happiness is not a goal; it is a bi-product of a life well lived”. I write to survive, being told I inspire is merely a bi-product of me just trying to make it through the hand I have been dealt. I prayed God would use my pain for good and make it count. And once more he has answered my prayers.
If you don’t know me or my story, keep reading and you will soon enough. My hope for this blog is that it will remove any misconception that God is anything but love. We all have our doubts about who He is, what we mean to him and how truly big He is. I know I do. This is a recording of my journey through those doubts. It is at the darkest times in our lives that we seek to find him and he draws us near. He is in the healing that hasn’t happened yet. I know He loves me as the whole person I will become through healing not as the broken product this world has made me into. His love is the reason I turned to him, as it is the only source of healing for a broken spirit. This blog is the raw truth of how beautiful that healing can be. I pray you are blessed by it.
Many blessings and much more love,
Tracy