Surrender

In the end, perhaps it’s simply about surrender.

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’” – ‬‬ Isaiah‬ ‭45:9‬ ‭NLT

“One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.” – Luke‬ ‭14:25-27‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew‬ ‭16:24-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hello, I’m Lazarus. Who are you?

So, I’ve been going through a tough season lately and allowed myself to slip into a severely depressed state. So, when I could finally get out of bed – I sought the mental, physical, and spiritual help I needed.

For the spiritual help, I sought wise counsel from my home church, Amazing Church, and was instructed to find the person in the Bible that best matched my current state. To be honest, some days it could be a different persons every minute. (If you’re not a middle-aged woman who is naturally quite emotional anyway and is now dealing with wacked-out hormones – you may not understand this).

Anyway, I was having trouble picking one. But today I figured it out. And it wasn’t a deep exegetical examination of Biblical text that brought my revelation.  I finally was able to say “That’s me right now!” when the song, Lazarus, by Trip Lee dropped into my workout mix this morning!


(Click here to listen to the whole song on YouTube).

Here are my favorite lyrics from the track:

He made the blind see and got the lame up

So it’s no surprise he can raise us
Wake them up now
Believers when your life is looking tough now
When you’re at your all time low
Don’t forget that power that he already showed

The Habit of Anticipating Goodness (or, The Gospel According to Gracie-Cat: Chapter One)


God speaks and gives lessons in lots of ways. Cats even.
And it’s a good thing that although He ultimately speaks through His written word, the Bible – He uses a variety of methods to get through to our sometimes stubborn hearts. 

You see, lately, even when I did read the Bible or hear teaching at church, it was filtered through a heart beginning to feel that God really didn’t give a dern about her. (And if you know me – that’s some strong language right there. My Momma taught me that even darn and dern are curse words not to be used by “proper” young ladies).
Anyway, all that to say – I’m recently coming out of a season where I had pretty much closed myself off from hearing God through what most would consider traditional methods (a.k.a. church and stuff). You see, I felt like those methods had failed me.  So even even though I sat in church and listened to all the right words – even parroted back those words out of my own mouth – it was all being filtered through a dark screen of  disappointment.

So my good, kind, and perfect Father (a.k.a. God) spoke to me through something right under my nose. Well, right under my feet actually (I trip over her in all of her large and glorious “fluffiness” sometimes) –  one of our cats, Grace, who we affectionately call, Gracie-cat. (We call her “Grace” because she needed a great deal of it when we first adopted her. We quickly learned why her first adoptive “cat parents” returned her to the rescue when she was just a year old. You see, some “think outside the box”. Gracie did a whole lot of stuff outside the box. I think her motto was “litter is for losers”. I mean, why limit your going to a litter box when there is this whole big house?!…… But that is another blog for another day!).

Anyway…. Gracie-cat and her “BFF”, Mr. Medly, love to sit in the sunbeam that shines through the door to our back porch in the morning.

But what caught my attention and helped communicate something God has been trying to get through to me lately is this/. Even on mornings when it is overcast or the cats’ humans forget to open the blinds, they still sit in the position for the light to hit them. So in their little feline way, they are demonstrating a pure and persistent faith.  Even when the light is not there , they sit there expectantly so as not to miss the healing warmth when it hits. 

May I learn to trust like that, faithfully positioning myself to receive God’s blessing and presence – even when I don’t feel the warmth of it yet.


“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the LORD.” – Psalm 27:13-14 (AMP – Amplified Translation)

Anticipating God’s best together,

Tracy

Care for Those Who Care for Your Soul

So October is Pastor Appreciation Month and it has me thinking about why pastors and others in roles of spiritual leader and mentor (from hospital chaplains, to counselors, to that friend who always seems to become the nurturer, prayer warrior, and “spiritual mom” to everyone in her life) might need some extra appreciation and encouragement.

Ok…. so next time you’re around that person, watch how others interact with them. Yes there may be a person or two who walks up to the pastor and genuinely asks “How are you?” (pausing for an answer even). But much of the time, pastors are being approached with needs. “Pastor, can you pray for me about this”…. “Pastor, I just lost my job”…. “Pastor, my Dad’s in the hospital”…. and so on and on and on….

And even if someone doesn’t approach giving a spoken request, those in pastoral roles are strong in the areas of empathy and insight and may sense heaviness and a burden to pray for someone who – to the rest of us – seems to be just passing by Pastor to say hello. And even at times a need hasn’t been mentioned – there is the knowing that there are some people who will not even approach a pastor or darken the doorway of a church unless they are facing a crisis. So pastors are learning of and responding to spoken and unspoken needs during a good percentage of their waking hours. It makes my soul tired just imagining the weight of that!

Some of you may be asking “Well, I thought that was their job! Why should they get extra appreciation?? The rest of us don’t?” …. Well, your vehicle’s job is to drive but it’s not going to do that so well without gas and maintenance, is it? And if your vehicle encounters unique circumstances – like a big tough Jeep encountering extra rugged terrain and a lot of mud – it may need some extra care specific to its task. Like a good realignment and de-mudding. So since pastors are not just giving of their physical time and labor but giving up their very soul and spirit to nurture yours – it’s safe to say they are more than worthy of some extra support and appreciation. Like my “one-day” monster off-roading Jeep will, pastors tackle muddier areas of life than the rest of us. And sometimes it takes a little extra time and attention from the the rest of us to “get the mud off”.

And although there are the obvious forms of appreciation like financial gifts and support and maybe an extra note or kind word during Pastor Appreciation Month – I challenge us to take it a step further. Not just during this designated months or days – but all year long – let’s make a point to remember that “Pastors are people, too” and take time out to send that unexpected note, text, or say “Hello, how are you?” and actually take the time to listen without always adding our own prayer request or personal need to the conversation.

Oh, and let’s all just show up to our church’s events that our pastors work so hard to prepare. (For some of us this means when it’s not Easter, Christmas, a wedding, or a funeral). Believe me, the encouragement and necessary life-strengthening that comes from you attending church goes both ways – to the pulpit and back!

“The elders who lead the church in a good way should receive double honor —in particular, those who do the work of counseling and teaching.” – ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ERV‬‬ (Easy-to-Read Version)

So, if you’re a pastor or spiritual leader, know that you are appreciated even when it’s not Pastor Appreciation Day (and sometimes feels like Pastor Depreciation Day) and those who have entrusted themselves to your spiritual care aren’t so great at showing it.

And if you’re blessed enough to have someone in your life who nurtured and leads you spiritually, don’t forget to care for the one who cares for your soul.

And if you don’t have someone like that in your life – be quick to ask your Good Father God to lead you to where you are to gather to worship. Because, I know I say this a lot – but only because it is so very true and has even been life-saving for me – Don’t do life alone ever!

Let’s continue to become who we already are…. together!


PS…. Of course I can’t end this post without a “shout out” of thanks and appreciation to the pastors and leaders who have poured so much into me. I love my home church, Amazing Church in McKinney, Texas!

Something about That NAME!

nAMES OF gOD

So much change in this world – that’s a fact. But the stronger fact is that the God who created this world is greater and stronger than ANY change. He is so great, in fact, that not just one Name can describe Him. There are so many Names of God in the Bible. And each Name is a reflection of a facet of Who He Is. And I’m thinkin’ that at least one of those Names meets you right at that point of your need right now. These wonderful Names are throughout the bible, but here’s a link to a great little resource. It’s a printable calendar with 30 Names of God so you can wrap yourself up in who God is by focusing on a different name of God each day.

30 names 30 daysAnd I’ve also put together a YouTube mix of some old and new favorite songs of mine that help me focus in on the Names of God. It’s hard to stay “down” while singing along with these. It helps the most shaken and lonely parts of your soul remember who HE is. And sometimes… that’s all we need to know.youtube playlist pic template 

The Expertise of the Maker


When my Jeep needs work, I prefer to take it to my “Jeep Guy” because he is not only a great mechanic, but an expert in Jeeps who was trained by the manufacturer.  It just makes more sense to take “Jeepers” to someone who, given the right parts, can build a Jeep from the ground up. (Yes, I  name my vehicles and sometimes have long conversations with them…. Don’t judge me).

It makes sense for us when something in our physical life needs repair or maintenance to take it to the manufacturer or someone trained by the manufacturer for that specific product. In fact, some manufacturers will not honor the warranty on their product if you do otherwise.  It simply makes sense that the designer of thing is best equipped to get that thing back into its optimal state.

So why do I – and perhaps you, too – often go to everyone but our Designer when something is “off” in our own bodies, spirits, or lives? A line in the Bible “jumped off the page” (or, rather the iPhone screen) for me this morning and got me thinking about all this. Because, really… “Shouldn’t people go to their God for help”?  HE designed us and know better than anyone how to heal, direct, sustain, and protect us. Yes, He may and does use many others, from friends to physicians, in our healing process. But we should go to the HIM first rather than the THEM! And just like my “Jeep Guy” might refer me out to a specialist for some types of work (like when I am able to have her transformed into a giant Jeep with big tires that can drive through 4 feet of mud without getting stuck), I will still go to him first for direction. 

So let’s operate in the same mindset with something a whole lot more valuable, timeless, and irreplaceable than a vehicle. Let’s go to our Maker first.  Because as Tasha Cobbs Leonard said in this incredible YouTube Clip of a worship service she led, “All the strength and the peace and the joy that you need is at the feet of Jesus.” 

“The people will say, ‘Go to the fortunetellers and wizards who mumble and chirp like birds. Ask them what to do.’ But I say, ‘Shouldn’t people go to their God for help? Why go to the dead to get help for the living?'” – Isaiah 8:19 ERV (Holy Bible: Easy-to-read Version)