Tuesday, 8 August 2017

What you See is not always what Is!

10 years ago today, our little family was devastated by the beginning of an emotional tsunami!  Our greater family was split, our lives were smashed from all we accepted as the norm.  What we thought we had, we thought we lost!  It was crushing.  It was the beginning of 6 years of hell on earth for us, we thought!  Followed by 4 years of trying to pick up the pieces and begin healing....

But, what we thought of as devastation, was actually a rescue boat!  It was a way God used to separate us from a greater threat.  It was something so awful that nothing could prevent this family split!  But, praise the Lord, God used it to make sure we separated from that which was threatening to completely destroy my children!

Now, 10 years later, I thank the Lord for all that hurt and all that pain.  I thank the Lord for those who created this devastation in our lives.  Because God used them to keep a greater enemy away.  God used them to expose the true viper in the nest.  They were just tools He used to protect us.


We used to think that perhaps this all happened for their salvation.  The salvation of those who caused this destruction.  As it turns out, one of them did turn to the Lord.  But the day I learnt about the true enemy and what had been happening right under our noses, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  God used them to save us, not to harm us!

My point is that sometimes situations look like something that they are not and that the only way through is to implicitly trust God and know that He has the bigger picture that we do not.  I also believe that in time He reveals the bigger picture to you when you are where He wants you to be.

I think of Job!  Man, he must have been so confused.  So hurt!  So frustrated!  He was certainly not reaping something he sowed.  Yet his suffering had a purpose!  Centuries later his story helps people, heals people, guides people.  Our suffering this thing had a purpose!  We just could not see it.  We railed against it, but also chose to trust God along the way.  I cried buckets of tears.  I raged at the Lord.  I lost my sense of humour.  I lost my sense of value.  But we limped on!  Now, on the other side of it, God revealed the "why"!  And now I rejoice in all that we went through because of what He ultimately protected my family from.

Going through hell?  God has got this!  Trust Him.  He will show you when you can see!

Jeremiah 29 v 11:  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 38 v 18:  For I will declare my iniquity;  I will be in anguish over my sin.

Psalm 91 v 2:  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;  My God, in Him I will trust.”

God bless
Tracy

Friday, 4 August 2017

A Blogger Recognition Award!

Wow!  I am blown away by the goodness of the Lord.  I have not blogged nearly as much as I did when I first set out.  There was always so much to say, so much encouragement to offer, so much encouragement received.  I could not help but spend loads of time in this bloggy community of like-minded women.

Blogging has helped me focus on what is important.  Writing about what encouraged me in a situation often times encouraged me more than my intent, which was to encourage others.  To blog consistently about the Lord, His word, His hand in our lives, has helped my sanity as a Christian woman in the "big bad world" we live in.  

At the moment, I don't blog much, and not because I have nothing to say.  Its more that I don't know how to put in words what is going on in my heart and mind.  So, for me, maybe that is a sign that the timing is not right, and that maybe my goal to encourage and uplift, and focus people on the Lord may not come through.  


So, thank you Debra, from My Weakness His Strength for this awesome nomination.  It is a timeous reminder for me that the Lord wants me here.  It is a huge encouragement for me that although there are periods of quiet where words don't flow, He is in that too!

So, to the rules of the Nomination!  Here they are: 
  • Thank the blogger that nominated you and provide a link to their blog 
  • Write a post to accept your award
  • Give a brief summary of how your blog began
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  • Select 15 of your own nominees for the award
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them then provide a link to the post you have created

Hmmm, a brief summary on how my blog began.... Well, I had been curious about a blog I saw my niece had and started looking into how she had done that.  I needed an outlet for the "emotional soup" inside 😆.  Then I googled "Christian Women Bloggers"  Wow!  What a community!  There are hordes of us out there!  Then slowly but surely I created my own blog.  My first "post" was in March 2011.  I chose a name, figured out by MUCH trial and error how to decorate it!  There were some doozie moments of weirdness from some of my errors lol!  My intention at first was to have a space to write what was in my heart through my quiet time, but the Christian women blogging community is so encouraging and so inclusive that I began to realize that part of who I am, who God created me to be, is an encourager, and what an amazing space to do that in.  


Two pieces of advice for new bloggers
  1. Ask questions... Don't be shy!  Ask away!  Its how I learnt and I, in turn, have been asked lots of questions.  I must have rattled lots of cages trying to figure out how to connect something to my blog, how to add a button, how to CREATE a button, how to get a certain background, how to connect to a bloghop, etc!  I found that every single blogger I communicated with, helped me.  And its a great way to connect with like-minded people. 
  2. Remember that it is YOUR blog, YOUR voice!  Say what you feel the Lord wants you to say, but always run what you say through the filter of the Word.  And read over your stuff!  I am sure I have blushed many times rereading an already posted blog post and seeing HUGE glaring spelling mistakes 👀😋.

Now, to nominate 15 bloggers:
  1. Maryleigh, from Blue Cotton Memory writes beautiful words of upliftment and encouragement.  Her posts, her pictures, are always a blessing to me.
  2. Stacy, from She Stands ALWAYS seems to be emotionally and spiritually connecting with me through her words.  She blesses me BIG!
  3. Chelle, from Until we see Jesus...Face to Face always digs deeper into the word and encourages with the grace and mercy she finds in Jesus
  4. Joan, from The Beauty in His Grip always encouraging with her words
  5. Dawn, from Enthusiastically, Dawn ALWAYS has a smile on her face.  She is enthusiastic!  And that is a great encouragement!
  6. Laura, from Journey in Faith another great encourager who is an overcomer.
  7. Eileen, from The Scenic Route is a wordsworth whose words bring a smile, a laugh and much encouragement.
  8. Lisa, from Lisa Buffaloe was one of the first bloggers to ever communicate with me.  What an inspiration she is. Great blog and a true overcomer in Christ.  
  9. Barbie, from Embracing Every Day, great lifestyle blog that encourages and uplifts
  10. Marja, from Fresh Insights On Ancient Truths, she is a very level-headed practical God-fearing, writing blogger who always encourages and points to the truth
  11. Jerri, from Undaunted is a no nonsense overcomer in Christ who inspires and encourages with her words.  
  12. Cheryl, from Homespun Devotions, Cheryl, without fail, has an encouraging word, and the Love of Jesus just shines through.
  13. Lori, from Hungry for God always has a practical slant in her words as to how we are to thrive as children of God.
  14. Deby, from Gods4ever also inspires and encourages with her practical down to earth posts.
  15. Anita, from A day in the life of- encourages us blogging about her walk with the Lord in her day to day life

I must say that I found this exercise very difficult but also very inspiring.  I have not spent much time reading the blog posts of others of late so I really had to go search some of my favourites out.  However, doing so reminded me of what a blessing it is to read all their posts and be encouraged and blessed by them.  I hope you are encouraged by them too.

1 Thes 5 v 11:  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

God bless
Tracy





Friday, 30 June 2017

Lord.... A Little guidance please!

When we don't know what to do, we call out to the Lord and demand that He ask Him to guide us!  We, personally, are in a catch 22 situation.  Kind of between a rock and a hard place and we really really want to do what the Lord would have us do.... And WE JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS!

So we waver and debate back and forth and question and wonder and and and...

Truly, we just get more frustrated.

On a spiritual level, after reading the Word, one has a sense of what God might expect of you, and so you choose to do that.  For us it was, "Stand firm"!  "Don't make 'a plan'!"

And then your thoughts start to wonder.  And then you hear bad news all around you.  The economy is collapsing, politicians are doing it all for themselves, and not the people!  You begin to fear, and in that fear you begin to doubt, "did you hear right?  Should I stand firm?  Should I do nothing?  Should I not maybe be doing this or that?  Did I hear from God or was it my own imagination?  Oh what a vicious circle.  Round and round it goes...

My hubby phoned me while on the road and said we need to make a plan, we need to maybe do this other thing.  So I got frustrated and instead of having a quiet time and seeking the Lord's word, I just started scrolling through facebook as one does... But God right?!  He knows facebook better than anyone.  He can use anything to get your attention...

Let me just show you what the Lord showed me whilst scrolling....

First, a profound and direct scripture on a facebook friend's wall...


This is so spot on for we in the Western Cape are experiencing terrible drought and our business has been severely affected by it... I feel the Lord not only wants us to trust Him in this time, but to remain fruitful too...

Then another encouragement...


and another....


and another...


and these words....

When all hope seems lost, will you still hope? When you can't see a way out, will you remain unwavering in your faith? When nothing makes sense, will you keep on believing that He who promised is faithful?

Lord, a little guidance please!  Um yes, indeed!  Plenty guidance!  Plenty to hold on to!  To be excited about.  

And then to end off with, part of my quiet time of this morning....


Confess God's word with your mouth, so that it becomes what you believe, what you speak and what you do...

God often guides without actually giving directions.  We want directions!  We want life GPS!  But that is not how God works because He wants our faith to grow, and His power to be shown in our experiences and in the testimonies we can bring!  I can truly say, God has given MORE than a little guidance here for us!  Trust Him to do the same for you!

I hope this has encouraged you!

God bless
Tracy

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Follow YOUR path... Not someone else's!

There is so much "help" and "advice" out there which is just plain confusing most of the time.  When you have a decision to make in your life and you start researching what to do, you end up finding a lot of stuff that just makes things worse.

WORLDLY ADVICE
As a Christian the worldly advice is easy to avoid.  Well, sort of anyway.  It may take a while but when you take the time, and make the effort, to measure the world's advice against scripture... well it does not take long to figure out that it is usually anti what the Lord would encourage you to do or which path to take.

FRIEND'S ADVICE
This is a tough one.  Firstly, your friends speak from a variety of experiences that colour their opinions and advice.  They may have gone through what you currently are going through and their choices were good ones, for them, or maybe not such good choices, but the results are not yet there for all to see, if ever.  They may encourage you one way or another based on their hurt, which is not objective.  They may even use scripture to back their choices and decisions up, but even that can be subjective because if you try hard enough, you can get a scripture to fit your desire.  And even more confusing, their advice based on their choices may have been perfect for them, but their circumstances, however similar, are not your circumstances, nor necessarily where God is leading you.

WOMEN IN MINISTRY'S ADVICE
This for me is becoming a bit of a "thing".  Not because I believe that they are not giving good solid biblically based encouragement and advice... Its more to do with what are they doing in their lives. I'm finding it difficult to define my issues with certain ministries right now so I won't get into it here.   Mostly it boils down to what they say in their ministries is not necessarily matching up to their lives.  Their personal lives are not my concern but what worries me is that these women are in a position to speak into the lives of us regular women and are examples that we look up to and respect... and then... their lives are just as chaotic as ours and no different!  They seem to not have the victory they preach we can have!  The scripture they expound, they do not practice... or push through...

Urgh, I know I am confusing matters here.  Lets just say, be careful to measure what ANYONE in a ministry position says, against God's word.  If it measures up, good!  If not, thats not advice you want to follow.

GOD'S ADVICE, His WORD!
And finally, the ultimate authority, God's word.  Now, usually I go to the word last!  Horrifying I know.  I tend to exhaust all other avenues first and then think, well, what does the word say? Nope!  The word is where I should start at and then evaluate any other advice alongside what I think scripture might be telling me.


I was tussling with something!  And I looked to see what the world was saying and doing!  Hmmm, that one was easy to eliminate.  Definitely NOT Godly or even moral advice!  Then I looked closer to home.  What were my friends saying and doing?  Confusion reigned supreme as they were resolving similar issues differently!  This just confirmed for me that everyone's ideas, circumstances, and choices are not the same, nor will ever be a "one size fits all" scenario!  So I travelled in my quest to hear what my favourite women in ministry were saying.  Well, truth be told, some say one thing, but their lives say another, or because of their choices and circumstances, the word they preach is marinaded in their experiences which I suppose is completely human, but is it necessarily what God's word is saying....???

Isaiah 30 v 1-2:  Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin. Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice."

Rom 12 v 2:  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

So, eventually one comes to the final authority on all things.  God's word is so clear on certain issues and this really helps to put what one is struggling with in perspective.  It may not resolve your issue, but it will certainly resolve whose solutions and advice you should definitely NOT listen to.  Also, the point which I felt the Lord made clear to me in all this chaotic thinking is this, what might be His answer for you, is not necessarily His answer for me!  I have to lean into Him, so He guides me onward on my path.  To try step out onto your path can lead to hurt, misunderstandings, misguided steps and confusion.

I read a statement yesterday that helped me in all this, "Stop trying to figure it all out, Trust God".  Now, that is simplifying everything truly, but sometimes we do complicate matters if we open too many "windows" at one time in our hearts and minds!  The world, your friends, and all other sources of advice can become very noisy.... Shut them all out and press into God's word!  It IS the only path you want to follow...

God bless
Tracy

Monday, 29 May 2017

Simplify - Sweetie Pie!

I think it would be an interesting exercise to stop one day, have a cuppa, and consider all the many different facets that make up who you are!  God has made each person to be an interesting mosaic of functions and giftings and quirks.


I have found that I have been trying to separate all those different facets of my life into neat little compartments.  For example, I LOVE photography.  That does not mean I am professional or good at it!  I consider myself a happy snapper 😊.  So I have an instagram account for that.  Then, this past year, I have been crocheting up a storm and loving it.  So, as not to bombard my "friends" on facebook and instagram, I started a different instagram account.

Now, I am a pretty private person.  So, although I want to incorporate instagram into my blog, I want my blog to be solely about, well, what my blog is about, and not my dog, my day, what I'm crocheting today, etc, so.... you guessed it, I had (briefly) an instagram account for my blog.  (and I still manage an instagram account for hubby's business).

Twitter, I had one for the blog, where I linked up with like-minded bloggers and a personal one, where I connected mainly with close friends and family.  Facebook, yes I have my own page, also one for my blog... but I found I stopped putting too much Christian stuff on facebook, none on instagram... I wasn't being true to all that I am in Christ but splitting up the different sides of me.

I started finding it all so annoying, posting this particular thing here, that particular thing there.  Avoiding putting this here or that there.  I was starting to compromise!  Not on the content of my various social media outlets, but in what I was NOT putting there.  I was starting to try please man.

Gal 1 v 10(a):  Am I now trying to win the favor and approval of men, or of God? Or am I seeking to please someone? ....

I was beginning to be fearful of offending someone who does not believe!!!! Really!!! I felt awful.  I would rather seek God's approval over man's any day but I had been losing the plot.  So, the thought came to mind.... Simplify!  Be you!  Be the you I created you to be!  In one space, as a complete facet!

So, I decided to simplify.  I deleted all instagrams but my personal one.  Moved the business one to hubby 😋.  Twitter I let go of end of last year so project simplify had started already 😊.  And I have decided to post all the Christian stuff I love and share it like I did before, along with my photos and crochet, and any other facet of me that comes to the fore lol!  Of course, being that I am private, one facet you will never see anywhere on social media is my dirty laundry 😜.  I feel so much better about being the "me" God created me to be.

Ladies, does this resonate with you?  If not, that is cool!  I personally think it is the world's way to have us so busy doing stuff and over-complicating our lives without even realizing it, that simplification seems foreign.  But, oh the relief to just be me!


I know that I have over-simplified things.  We are far more than what we can do, we are mothers, wives, Christians, leaders, doers, helpers, servers, etc.  But I think the point I am trying to make is keep it simple and real, and grow that really well, for the glory of the Lord.

God bless
Tracy


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