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Archive for the ‘encouragement’ Category

blessed

one of my favorite analogies is the one of trees

i’m not sure when my love for trees began

i’m not a hardcore tree hugger

although i have actually wrapped my arms around more than one

couldn’t help it

maybe its the way leaves change colors with seasons

or bark that can be so beautiful

perhaps its the way some bear fruit that persists well into winter

or that feeling of shelter as i stand under it’s canopy

even when bare, their silhouettes are graceful and strong

already analogies are numerous

but it’s the unseen that really draws me in

it’s the roots

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taking in

roots must take in water and nutrients to sustain what is above

like these hidden vessels, quietly absorbing

we gather soul-food when we spend quiet time with God

taking in His words of reassuring love and grace

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storing up

roots act as reservoirs to endure drought and extreme heat

life can bring tough circumstances

but the more we are in the Word,

storing it up like a reservoir of life-giving water,

the stronger our faith that can endure fiery trials

not only endure, but face them with no fear

and bear fruit as Jeremiah says in chapter 17

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supporting all

without a strong root system, trees can topple in any wind storm

but with a faith firmly and deeply rooted

we can stand tall amidst life’s pressures

God gives us the strength and support

to not only survive the storm, but to thrive and flourish

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“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lordwhose confidence is in Him.
    
They will be like a tree planted by the water

    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

– Jeremiah 17:7-8

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blessings,

Tracy

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john 10 10

Are you living fully?

the question looms large on the billboard as i sit in traffic

hmmmmm . . .

am i living fully?

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at times life can seem pretty full

but it begs the question-

what am i filling my life with?

rushing from here to the next thing

 going through the motions of the day’s demands

without fully being in the moment

actually leaves me feeling pretty empty

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perhaps living fully is this –

emptying out the rushings and the have to’s

being still

in the moment

living in the right now

seeing God’s presence here

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instead of waiting for tomorrow’s better day

living fully is embracing life today –

even sorrows and shadows

can be keepers of gifts hidden

 living fully is savoring small moments that come and blink away

it’s seeing blessings too abundant to count

it’s being a blessing

and pouring love on friends and family

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 I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  

– John 10:10

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so i ask you

are you living fully?

and what are you filling your life with?

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 Blessings,

Tracy

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door quote

lately i’ve been praying for open doors

so many close to me really need one

an open door –

an answer to prayers

 a door out from the trappings of struggles & worries

a door opening to new possibilities

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whatever it is that moves you to seek an open door

 know that God works everything for our good

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

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

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

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so as we wait

we trust in one breath

yet in the next we wonder  –

If God would only . . .

Why doesn’t God . . .

How much longer, God .  . .

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we wrestle with impatience that wraps the heart

and understanding that seems out of grasp

as we stand at doors that refuse to open

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the heart yearns

and God knows;

the soul prays and pleads

and He hears;

we ask

and He answers,

He always answers

in His time

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as you wait for Him to work things out for you

He might be working things out in you

even in the waiting

you are where you are for a reason

ask for contentment in this moment

ask how He can use you right where you are

and when He opens a door –

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

*

 blessings, 

Tracy

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FullSizeRender (32)

there’s a quote by Helen Keller that says:

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

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it’s true

no matter the time of day,

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

soaking in their energy source

to grow and flourish

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i bet you can see the lesson already –

when we keep our eyes on the Son,

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

and the shadows fall behind us

He is our energy source

He sustains

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

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when life consumes and shadows overwhelm

turn to Him

keep your eyes on the Son

be awed by His almighty power

soak in the warm rays of His great love for you

and like the sunflower leaves,

open your hands to receive gifts of His grace

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

– Romans 12:12

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FullSizeRender cross 2

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

i made deep cuts

removing dead branches

reshaping spring growth

knowing mid-summer would bring a strong, healthy shrub

beautiful blossoms

FullSizeRender cross

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as i work to reclaim the overgrown mess in my yard

slowly, patiently attending each plant

addressing each weed

pruning as i go

 God reminds me that he is working in my heart

slowly, patiently attending each need

addressing each sin

pruning as he goes

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sometimes he prunes deeply

and it hurts

but he prunes with love

each cut for our own good

removing the dead and diseased

shaping us as he goes

reclaiming our hearts

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for he has a plan to make us strong

to bring us closer to him

bearing beautiful blossoms and fruit again

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

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#175 so thankful for such a loving Father

#176  thankful for pruning cuts

# 177 thankful for reclamation

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bluebells

on spring days like today, i like to walk through my gardens

in search of new life

discover new blossoms

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it’s been about a week since last i’ve ambled

 what i saw was not what i was expecting

weeds

everywhere

overwhelming weeds

what a mess

when did this happen?

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as i walked on

overcome with the work that lay ahead

discouragement was replaced with delight

bluebells i had forgotten

random tulips planted by squirrels

even dutchman’s breeches a bird left behind

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i couldn’t help but think about life

we can make such a mess of it

mistakes, lies, broken promises

selfishness,

ingratitude

like weeds sin invades

wounds the heart

and chokes the spirit

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but amidst the sea of pain

grace blossoms

God is there

showering blessings

small joys spring up

hidden among the weeds

we just need to seek them

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Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

I Chronicles 16:11

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

Romans 12:12

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Come to me 2

decisions

they are not always easy to make

have you ever felt like you were standing at a crossroads

a big decision weighs heavy on the mind

and keeps sleep at bay

one that will affect your future

and determine which path you will take

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God says in Jeremiah 6:16

‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ 

what wonderful counsel this is!

‘ask for ancient paths’

turn to Him like our ancestors did

like Moses and Abraham did

as i thumb through the pages of Jeremiah and the old testament,

i’m struck by how long ago those words were written

yet how viable God’s promises still are today

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so turn to our faithful God

ask Him which path to take, then walk in it

and the blessing?

you will find rest

not just a good night’s sleep

but a deep-peace-within-the-soul kind of rest

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it reminds me of this invitation that Jesus gives us

‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’ Matthew 11:28

‘come’

stop trying to do it alone

give Him the weight of that decision

turn to him for counsel

then trust that he will show you the way

rest in him

find peace there

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Blog work

 among my favorite things i love about gardening are the tools – especially the old, weathered, well-seasoned ones

i use them to work the earth in the spring, to dig weeds in the summer, and to rake in the fall

the humble hoe, spade, or rake. . . they are all symbols of work

because gardening is work

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i’ve been thinking about the changes i want to make this year

 they all take work!

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eating healthy means my will power is working overtime

getting fit is work – that’s why it’s called a workout!

trying to keep life balanced takes daily effort

more God and less me is a constant struggle

where’s the easy button?

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i find the following passage in Ephesians a source of comfort and encouragement:

‘Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think’ -Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

his mighty power

infinitely more

wow!

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don’t try to make changes in your life on your own

God is the easy button!

it still is work, but God is at work within us

that’s powerful

that’s grace

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so let’s do this!

make some changes in your life

let’s start right now

with God all things are possible

– Tracy

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