Thursday, April 22, 2021

Reflection on my Baptism Anniversary of 20 years "It is for Freedom that Christ has Set Us Free"


I'm back on the blog after a five-year hiatus....for something amazing to reflect on.  This 20th Baptiversary, my anniversary of being baptized when I was 30yrs old.   

One of my college buddies recorded it and put it on DVD.  What a blessing to watch it last night as a family.  Some parts made me laugh, and some parts brought some tears.

Over the years there were many times I've felt the need to edit my story of coming to Christ, of stepping out to follow Jesus.  You see, my awakening was tied to something in our culture not many talk freely about.  We can talk about the death of a loved one, we can talk about divorce or other very personal things, but when was the last time you felt comfortable hearing someone talk about their abortion story? Yet I am one of the "1-in-4" women who did have an abortion.  There's no pretty way to dress that up.  Yet the beauty of it is how my story is now one of Redemption by the One who set me free.

Me with Book Manager Lori 

It was on a Sunday back in 1994 when I was selling books door-to-door in Massachusetts that I was invited to hear a theologian sharing the beauty and the agony of the cross.  On this day, I saw all my doubts about Jesus being "the Way" being shaken up, and then removed, as I saw the truth so clearly....but I was left with a huge roadblock.  My sin of abortion was right there before me, my guilt, my shame and feeling that the gates of Heaven were closed to me! I was in agony.  

That day, when my dear spiritual mother Lynette shared, I saw I was stuck in the "Old Covenant" of the Commandments --"Thou Shalt Not Kill" and she helped me to see clearly the New Covenant of Jesus, the Lamb of God, in shedding HIS blood, all would be forgiven if I reached out to Him which I did in a personal confession inviting Him in.  That day my faith went from one where I knew about and tried to follow a religion to one of relationship, of Lordship,  Jesus as the Center, where the old me was forever changed.

Then in 2000 I settled back in Madison and heard a Christian radio station sharing about the Whole Heart healing ministry for abortion.  There I met my dear friends Cassie and Mary who led the Forgiven and Set Free bible study.  I found this little excerpt from my Dec. 2000 journal today and it made me smile:

"I am learning the Bible so much Lord. I am doing studies w/Cassie that has me knowing where Samuel is (near Kings for example) and that Romans is before Corinthians and Galatians is after that.  That 1John is before Revelation. I am bringing HIS WORD into my life. Lord it is making me so strong in you!!" 

John 3:1-5 sums up this call to a new level of belief as Jesus talks to the Pharisee Nicodemus about being born again.

Feeling the tremendous weight of my "roadblock" being removed by the cleansing of His forgiveness and later finding a small church on State Street in Madison that became my "Sunrise Family" where I began to grow and love God's word is where the call came to my heart to be baptized -- to solidify this "New Tracey" and be freed up to shine my light, His light, so that I could free up others to find Him and do the same. Some day it'll be great to share the Next Chapter, with some postpartum breakdowns that signaled the need for revisiting my abortion wound, and to again find great healing and restoration in the process.

It  is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

♥♥Bless your heart for reading my story, and may it encourage and move you in your own journey of faith, for God is so good!!♥♥

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lessons From Our Heavenly Father ... "Stay", a Review

I have been participating in the Tyndale Blog Network and received this book in exchange for an honest review.

I got to read this wonderful book called, Stay: Lessons My Dog Taught Me About Life, Loss and Grace. This was a heartwarming story that was so much more than a story of a man and his dog. From chapter to chapter, Dave Burchett weaves a story of our loving heavenly Father and the lessons the Lord showed him through the experiences with his loving and loyal dog.

In this book, Dave gives an intimate look at the hardships of his own life and the way the Lord uses this sweet dog Hannah to minister to them. An amazing relationship unfolded between his wife, their dog Hannah, and himself as his wife went through and overcame her cancer.

It takes a somber turn when they learn of Hannah's own cancer diagnosis and seeing her resilience and joy just in being with her master, Dave, even as she became sicker and weaker. Her energy and contentment in the small things, even while she was sick, touched her owner's heart and in his journaling he realized how God was using Hannah to teach him about life.

The story continues to unfold as another dog, a successor to Hannah, comes into their life and the lessons keep coming. I enjoyed how the author begins each chapter with a journal entry and continues each chapter sharing biblical lessons and observations that warm and instruct the heart.

Thank you, Tyndale, for the enjoyment of reading such a wonderful and tender book.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sharing My Heart, on Being Born Again (Part 2)

Picture Credit:  Pinterest
My post on Facebook yesterday may have been quite out of the blue, yet my "near-death scare" experience truly opened not just my eyes, but my mouth in a whole new way. What I posted yesterday I'm calling a sort of  "Facebook Manifesto" as I posted it there first and want to share it on my blog as well.

Now, for the final part of the Manifesto I would like to share.

Picture Credit:

In the mornings lately, I've been taking these lovely walks near the quarry behind my house. In my pretty urban area, it's a wonderful respite filled with butterflies, River Birch growing wild, and all kinds of prairie flowers and grasses and foot prints of the critters who freely run back and forth in this wild area. As I walked there today, I was struck when I turned on my AM radio to a podcast just starting titled "Do I Really Need to Be Born Again".

Picture Credit:  Epignosis Ministries

I think that word has been hijacked by society to mean something it was never meant to. In fact, the "author" of that phrase was Jesus himself (see John Chapter 3) when He was talking to Nicodemus (one of the Pharisees) and since many Pharisees opposed Jesus, Nicodemus had to come to him in the cover of night. As I read this, I see it was Nicodemus' statement "We all know that God sent you to teach us (etc.) ...." that led to Jesus to say "unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God." (from NIV)
I like how someone put it "Your Choice is Your Eternity"
For those that would like to listen, here's a link to the message:…/do-i-really-need-to-be-born-again…
Just wanted to share a part 2 of yesterday's post that helps explain what I mean when I referred to being born again. In 2000, when I was baptized as an adult, that for me was my outward expression of the inward change that was happening in me as I was being born again.
I know this message in the link is a bit long, so I love this paraphrase about being born again from the Telling the Truth podcast post:
" actual fact, the emphasis is not on what you do, the emphasis is on what the Father does. He begets you! To be born again, then, is primarily an action of someone outside yourself, and it is someone who is above. You are begotten from above. So the idea of being born again is basically this: There needs to be an action from God above reaching down into my life that will dramatically change me inside."
That really explains what I feel happened in my heart way back then, and what I continue to walk out today through "fear and trembling" since NONE of us are perfected on this side of Eternity.
May the Lord bless whomever is led to read this :)

Thank you for visiting!

💜 💜 Tracey 💜 💜

Saturday, September 5, 2015

When Your Life Changes in An Instant (Part 1)

Picture Credit from Amazon

Grab your coffee or tea, it's time I'd like to share something with ya'll.
I know I haven't written on this blog in a while, but there have been some things stirring in my heart that I really wanted to share. I hope you are blessed, encouraged, and impacted through what I post.

Wow, this video! Powerful, powerful, powerful .... In my heart I thought I would trade his words "When I Became A Man" with "When I Became Born Again" .... When I Became A Man (Or as I dub it "When We Become Born Again"

Even as a woman this video resonates so much with my heart; that he (Clayton Jennings) shares this call for us to walk away from the old way of living; to walk away from how "most of the world" lives, and make a decision to Live All Out for Christ. That decision could be the first time we are really stepping out, or if we're already following, that could be a call to dive deeper into relationship with the One who loves us with an everlasting love, the only One who can truly shape us into who He has designed and created us to be. The One who sent his only son to die on a cross, so that, as we receive him as Lord and shed our past, we let him knit us together in the forgiveness of our sins, and we can truly walk out the plan He has for us as a New Creation, one day, one step, one breath at a time.

In the past few weeks something happened while I was away from home, on vacation, that turned my world upside down; a near-drowning-panic experience, and although my sister and brother-in-law "rescued" me, and got me quickly to the sandbar and away from the riptide currents, my life was changed in that instant. I'm standing firmly now in WHOSE I am. I had been baptized as an adult in the year 2000 after I had begun reading my Bible book by book for the first time and was seeing a heart change I never felt before. 

Photo Credit From

I love the acronym BIBLE "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth", and from 1995 to now, I've been in my own way walking out the journey of faith. Yet after that day in the water when I saw in an instant my life could slip so quickly from me, things have not been the same. I took all my gadgets and technology; my facebook - my laptop- my kindle - my nook, ALL OF IT I've surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. Funny language to use maybe, but instead of using Facebook and technology as a form of "a public diary" as I had been, I am going to use this technology the way the Lord leads me. I don't quite know what that will look like, some might still stay the same like posting some family pictures, but I am taking baby steps as I figure that part out.

LIFE IS SO SHORT. We only go around once. I want my life to be USED UP in Christ, for His plans, for His purposes, like my life verse/wedding theme from Jeremiah 29 (11-14a) 11 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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

To those following me here and on My Facebook Page (click HERE)  ... Feel free to stay with me ... feel free to unfriend/unfollow me .... yet I'll be taking the next several months for a season of personal reflection, journaling, deep soul searching, time in fellowship and the Word, time in worship and praise, and out of that will be periodically using technology in chronicling this walk, this part of the journey My Lord is leading me on. I know for sure one thing won't change; I'm still Tracey. I'll still fall, I'll still screw up, I'll still have times I lose my temper, yet I'll no longer be satisfied just staying there and saying "that's okay". Because I want to be changed from the INSIDE OUT. I'm so thankful He calls me His Beloved. That I'm a Daughter of the King. And I'm so thankful that I have the courage today to share this here in my little corner of the Facebook/ social media world.
Love, hugs, and much blessings go out to each one who reads this, as we each walk out our own journey in this world, and may we find The Peace that passes All Understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Him.

Thank you for visiting!!

💜 💜 Tracey 💜 💜

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Audience of One

Picture Credit:

I can't remember exactly the first chain letter I received, but I do remember that I diligently made my multiple copies of it and sent it out to the required number of people. It had some rather harsh wording in it to warn you what would happen if you broke the chain. Does anyone else remember those old chain letters? The ones that promised for writing them out you would receive some sort of blessing or good luck or some other hokey thing? This was in the age well before computers and email, in the 70's and 80's, but now chain letters have morphed to emails that we should forward and also various Facebook posts where you'll be tagged and asked to continue . I've been pretty good about avoiding most of them, but then one came around about Thankfulness. I was tagged by someone today and there was something about this one that I didn't let it pass by. I think the Lord wanted to do something in my heart, for it ended up being quite a blessing to write it.  

Here is what I shared on Facebook:
Thank you Patty March for inviting me to share what I'm thankful for. Since I'm not much for chain letters and such, I'm changing it around to just posting one Thankful post and sharing what comes to my mind. Anyone who wishes to share something they are thankful for is welcome to comment below!
**I am so thankful for finding Jesus. After stumbling around in the darkness for years especially after my mom died, He reached out and never let go even through the darkness of an 18-month severe postpartum depression. This song speaks it so well for me.  This Journey is My Own (Sara Groves)

**Thankful for the blessing of family. For my mother, and what comes to mind is how she taught me to live with an open heart and willingness to love; my father, who taught me how to work with passion, discipline, and with the determination to never give up; for my sisters who taught me what it was to share life together, to laugh and cry together, to forgive and care for one another.

**And finally, so thankful for my two-becoming-one marriage which has been the best challenge the Lord has presented me yet; learning how to put to death the "kingdom of self" and live for the kingdom of God through a loving, for-giving, and grace-filled relationship with Christ at the center, and which also brought forth the greatest blessing of lives, our sweet son Julian. And it is his little sweet soul which is teaching me the joy of being a mother; the day-by-day moments of ordinary-ness turned extraordinary in seeing life through his eyes, and cultivating the soil of his heart that he blossom into the young man God has created him to be.

I hope you have been blessed in reading this, and although you certainly don't have to worry about leaving a comment, you might just find yourself blessed if you do ;)

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Speaking From the Heart ... Suicide is the S Word

I am sure a lot will be said in the public realm about the passing of Robin Williams.  Some will be compassionate, and some not. I speak as one who knows that dark hour, who has personally walked thorugh that "dark night of the soul" and yet somehow for me the "glass did break" and I was restored and returned and am here today to speak out.

It was after the death of my mother who succumbed to breast cancer that I went on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, and the Lord found me and captured my heart. I truly do not know if I would still be here had I not found Jesus. I know that having faith is no assurance you will make it through the depths of despair. Yet I will never forget the night that I was so despondent that my husband had to hide all the pills and knives in our home. I crawled out of bed that night and crept downstairs. I opened the phone book and found the Suicide Prevention hotline (LINK HERE) As I was talking to the agent, there was an odd click and I thought I was disconnected. Instead, I found myself talking to the head nurse at Meriter Hospital Psych Ward, the ward I had just been discharged from several weeks prior. She was confused and asked who I was and why I was calling. I explained I had been calling Suicide Prevention but was somehow disconnected and patched through to them. She actually remembered me which as you read below may not be surprising. I was the "psychotic depressed postpartum woman" who ended up in her Psych Ward for two inpatient stays over a period of three weeks just after my son was born. She said to me "TRACEY, YOU DO NOT WANT TO COME BACK HERE! You will be OK. You will make it through it. Just go back to sleep and get some rest, you are going to get better."  It was true, I did NOT want to go back there. Being hospitalized in the psych ward was a scary thing in a scary place. It was not comforting to be there. So I hung up the phone, woke up my husband, and you know what he did? He opened his Bible and all I remember from my haze of non-sleep that night is that he read, and read, and read those words over me nonstop for hours until the morning and the painful desire to END IT ALL finally left.  That was truly my darkest night.  I still had over 9 months to go before the depression fully lifted. But I was shaken to the core by how God's hand reached out through that darkness (and literally through the phone lines), how not only was He holding me moment by moment through it--even when it didn't feel like He was there--but He lifted me out of it by His grace.

For those who have not personally endured mental illness, I am so thankful. So thankful that you have not had to endure the personal and crippling pain, and the pain of the stigma that you carry for the inward challenges that are upon you and at times consume your life. Yet for any who wonder how someone could ever think of doing something "so selfish", I want to share a video, a video that is painful to watch, as you hear the parents of a soldier sharing his final note. In sharing this video, I hope we are shaken to the core to reach out to those around us in our own corner of the world, to speak Hope, Love, and Truth to these people walking through their darkest nights; this man's story is tragic and so hard to bear. Yet in watching it, we are honoring his life, honoring his pain, and allowing the Lord to open our eyes to the numbing pain so many people in this world are walking through. Like the verse from 1Corinthians 2:11a "For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? ....  Here is the video:

In my life, I now see that Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and it is only when we cling to Him, truly cling to Him with all we've got, that we can ever hope to find the true peace that passes all understanding (Phillipians 4:7)

Below I will share what I posted on Facebook, in the hopes that by not being silent, others can come to know the Lord's healing, that the way we approach mental illness will be transformed, and those suffering will be restored to a sense of purpose and hope.
From my Facebook status: In light of the tragic news we heard today of Robin Williams' passing, I wrote a comment on my sister's Facebook post that gave me courage to speak out and share some of my own story.
There was an incredible article recently in USA today that powerfully delves into this epidemic (link below). Having been there myself, this resonates in a way I can't easily put into words. The figure I'm reading is that 1 in 4 adults are currently struggling with mental illness and 1 in 5 children. That is staggering. Having been a patient more than once in "the system" myself, I can attest to how broken it is -- one example was the Director of Inpatient Psychiatry somehow thought it would make me feel better during my postpartum hospitalization to know "they were poring over all the latest medical articles and research" so they could best treat me as they had little experience dealing with postpartum psychosis. Really???? What a wake up call. This was in 2008.
As my illness dragged on for 18 months and I fell into utter despair, I truly began to feel that my husband, my family would be better off without me. It was not until I felt this complete and utter despair that I could truly understand how it felt to want to end your life. And now I will never forget it.
In one part of the article linked below they quote Rick Warren, the well known author/pastor who lost his son to his depression. They said "Warren compares the stigma of mental illness to that of AIDS and HIV. In both cases, people are blamed for bringing suffering upon themselves."
What is on my heart more than anything else, is that we need a system that brings hope, dignity, and restoration to those who are suffering. It is my prayer that this tragedy would resonate in every community and household that what "we" are doing as a society to bring restoration and hope for those affected, is in dire need of overhaul.

Thank you so much for reading! This is a subject that is dear to my heart. I have such a clear memory of the many things I endured as I walked through the depression, and now have a true understanding of my husband who has lived with cyclical depression all of his adult life. Somehow I think in all this there is a book in me, and I hope to write it. Maybe this will be the first chapter. But my heart is so thankful for the love and support of those who ministered to us through our journey. I have a new understanding of the true power of prayer. We will never know on this side of heaven how the Lord hears and answers prayers, but me being here today is truly an answer to prayer. May the Lord Bless all who see this page. Amen.

I want to leave you with a song that has blessed my heart. A song of hope that has for me a feel of an anthem. May you be blessed. Oceans by Hillsong United

Sunday, May 11, 2014

When Your Heart Aches for Your Mom on Mother's Day

I am feeling the ache of the loss of my mom acutely this year. In part because yesterday was the day we planned to go visit her grave, and my husband's mom's grave, which is a tradition we honor every year at this time, but after spending yesterday morning at urgent care, my "mother's day" present was Strep Throat. I feel awful physically, but also ache in a deep place inside my heart. It's been nearly 23 years since my beautiful mother, Mary Ellen, passed out of my life. But her warmth and the intensity of her love will never leave me, and she is still holding me tight.

The paragraph above and below were written on my Facebook page. I was overwhelmed with the blessing I received in return for sharing my heart about something difficult. It was truly balm for my soul.

Here are some of the sweet sentiments:

(From my sister:) The hole in our hearts is always there, you just cant replicate the love from your mom...especially ours! It never gets easier. I just have to tell you, btw, I am so impressed by what an incredible mother you are! Mom is beaming w/pride!

How great your joy at your reunion in the Kingdom of Heaven...

Dear dear Tracey...i met you so long go on this life's journey and remember so well your pain....I am thankful I could be there for you that summer in Springfield, MA of are who you are because of your precious mother...she lives on in your heart and your children..

May Mary Ellen rest in the peace of Christ, dear sister.

My heart goes out today especially to those who find this day heartwrenching too, for whatever the reason. This article from Lisa-Jo Baker "Mother's Day for the Motherless Mother"  was a little gift of blessing for me last evening. I just sat and let the tears and longing flow, for all the milestones missed, and bittersweet memories, and the Lord met me there.

Finally, something fun to share. I have a self-portrait I made while I was the parent-helper at my son's homeschool co-op last month. All the kids were using mirrors to draw themselves and I got to join in. The picture does make me laugh a little, to see how it turned out, but it also is the face of me as a mother. I really like it because I drew it with just the pure bliss of wanting to create it, as so many times I get nervous what others think of my art. We hung this up in our entry way, and in many ways it reminds me of my mom too.

♥♥♥ I Love You Mom! ♥♥♥
Happy Mother's Day

As always, 
Thank you for Visiting!