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Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

ginkgo quote 3.jpg‘Live in harmony with one another’

Words spoken every Sunday –

part of a blessing as we leave, but not always heard or taken to heart.

Today I hear those words loud and clear, as though spoken with a megaphone. These words meant to bless and encourage, this morning they convict.

The last 48-hours have been far from harmonious for me.

A trip to Chicago with my husband and youngest son brought out my Mrs. Hyde. Who is this crazy, uninvited woman in the car with us who lashes with the tongue, cuts with ugly words, who absorbs the stress of traffic, running late, and wrong turns, and spits out arrows of blame and accusations only to fuel an exchange of heated words and hurt feelings?

Far from my finest moment.

Far from a life of grace.

And that’s only one example that I’m brave enough to share with you.

Then these gentle words spoken directly to me as I sit in the pew, God speaking right in my ear, a holy arrow bypassing my conscience and going straight to my heart:

‘Live in harmony’.

What exactly does that mean – to live in harmony? Is it all of us standing in a circle, holding hands and singing “Kum-ba-Yah” or “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” with coke in hand? Of course not. Rather a harmonious life is one filled with peace instead of drama, patience instead of quick tempers, understanding instead of assumptions, and forgiveness instead of grudges.

We are all far from living a life like that.

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As I dwell on this more, I think about what harmony means in music – this combination of simultaneously sounded notes that produces a pleasing effect. Translation – living lives that support and compliment each other. When someone in my life has the melody – melancholy or joyful – I must willingly step back to be supporting harmony, and hopefully vice versa. Sometimes I need to put my own wants, needs, and opinions aside to make way for someone else’s.  And a lesson well-learned on the road to Chicago – sometimes the best harmony is the one unheard – when the tongue is kept silent so the ears can hear the melody of others. Saint Paul says:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Could humility be essential to living in harmony? Putting others first. Sacrificing self. Counting others more significant than self. Humility. Yes, I see it’s importance, but it’s not so easy for the ‘me first-ers’, ‘I know best-ers’, and ‘it’s not my fault-ers’. Somehow being humble has a negative connotation, but perhaps humility is misunderstood.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C.S Lewis

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Love is the other key ingredient. Letting love lead and fuel conversations, rather than anger and self-righteous thoughts. Remembering that I am loved by a God who is patient, understanding, and offers forgiveness and peace, should spur me on to show the same for those in my life.

Daily I fail like on that road trip. The tongue often speaks before the mind can tell it not to. Apologies and forgiveness are part of the music woven in a life, and the weekly encouragement to live harmoniously becomes a necessary reminder. There is blessing in humility, whether we have the melody or the harmony of a moment. In God’s eyes, being humble and letting love lead our actions and reactions, it’s all sweet melody.

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Blessings,

Tracy

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Advent Dec 13 Advent dec 14

this week’s focus is on one of my favorite things –

joy.

that attitude of thankfulness

and feeling of peace all wrapped up in three letters –

joy.

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repeated words from the old carol

‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ come to mind today –

‘O tidings of comfort and joy’

each verse sharing the Christmas story

of a baby sent from heaven to save,

of angels appearing,

and shepherds seeking, finding, and rejoicing!

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there are days during this season that we may wonder

what happened to that comfort and joy?

they have never left,

they may have become buried under the two joy stealers –

stress & worry.

we may have lost our focus

but the comfort and joy that God give us through his Son

is always there for us to rediscover

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this week, let’s set our eyes on that baby born to save

let’s seek him like the shepherds

and rejoice!

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blessings,

Tracy

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Heart’s Welcome

Advent dec 12

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this week i did one of my favorite Christmas things –

i decorated.

i love adding a touch a Christmas throughout the house

the living room gets the most attention

and the front porch

always making it different than last year

wanting my home to be a warm welcome to all who enter

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 as i was hanging the garland

i got to thinking . . .

as i decorate my home, preparing for Christmas

the heart needs decorating, too

nothing fancy

just sweeping out dark corners

opening the door

and welcoming Christ as he comes to dwell here

in this humble living room of the heart

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during this time of Advent

this time of coming

we look back to when he came as a babe

we look ahead to when he will come again

and we look right now, at this moment

when he comes to our hearts

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it’s truly amazing to know that when we say

‘come and make my heart your home’

he does –

praise the wonder of it!

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blessings,

Tracy

 

 

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Advent Dec 9

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‘Smiling’s my favorite’.

this line from the Christmas movie ‘Elf” –

is one of many that is woven into my family’s daily conversation

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as Christmas draws nearer

are you smiling?

we should be –

there’s a lot to smile about!

so much to be thankful for

besides, ‘it’s the hap-happiest season of all’

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smiling is an outward sign of happiness

we smile when we’re happy.

 smiles can also be a sign of peace

not only peace as the world knows it,

but a different kind of peace –

the peace we have with God

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‘Peace is the smile of God reflected in the soul of the believer.’ – William Hendricksen

the peace that’s found in the manger

and on the cross

now dwells in the soul,

and that IS something to smile about!

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blessings,

Tracy

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Advent Dec 7

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Advent Dec 8

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it’s easy to become distracted this time of year.

to help myself stay focused

with eyes on the manger,

I choose a Joy word

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what’s a Joy word?

it’s a word that describes the feeling you want to experience this Christmas season

words like joy, peace, cherish, family,

comfort, stillness, calm, celebration, dwell.

it’s a word that says ‘this is my priority, this is important to me’

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once you’ve chosen your joy word

write it out

place it where it will be a constant reminder

then stay focused on it now through the new year

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allow yourself to say ‘no’ to activities and demands

that conflict with your joy word

say ‘yes’ to those that will help

make your word become a reality.

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take some time today to envision the days that lie ahead

choose your word

ask the Lord to bless it and your Christmas season

He will for He is faithful

and wants nothing more than to be the focus of your heart.

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blessings,

Tracy

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Welcome December

Advent 1 no gnl

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welcome December

welcome anticipation

this month-long celebration

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there was a time when i found myself actually relieved when Christmas was over

too much stress crowded out any joy

finding the perfect gift

creating perfect memories for my kids

lists too long of to-do’s

 

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since that regretful Christmas,

i’ve commited myself to finding the joy

each Christmas season

to slow down

to be still

and focus on what’s most important

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i encourage you to find time every day

these next 24 days

to pause

reflect

to savor the joy of the greatest gift given to us . . .

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“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

Blessings, 

Tracy

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“keep calm and carry on”

something about this phrase has never set right with me

can’t put my finger on it

remaining calm is always  good when facing distressing situations

but it’s the self-reliance that fails

maybe that’s it

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new variations are popping up everywhere –

keep calm and . . .

 . . . go shopping

. . . eat chocolate

 . . . pretend everything’s ok

the world’s answer to handling stress

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but when your world turns upside down

and life gets really hard

none of these sayings offer comfort

none of them can calm you as the storm rages and surrounds

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only these words

that my sweet, wise mother shared with me recently –

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

keep calm

How do we keep calm?

He will quiet you with His love.

How do we carry on?

The Lord God is with you . . 

we never walk alone

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He calms

He saves

He delights

He loves

He forgives

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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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Autumn is bittersweet

the season favored by so many

for glorious colors, sounds of crunching leaves, musky fragrances,

and a turning toward home

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but flowers fade

and we know that winter lies at the doorstep –

it’s bittersweet

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Changes come in our lives just as the seasons do

the season of birth

the season of growth

of maturity

of a turning toward our eternal home

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seasons of mourning and of joy

seasons of gathering and of letting go

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change can be unsettling

what a comfort to know that God never changes

His Word endures

His love and promises are forever

so thankful that He is constant

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“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.” – Isaiah 40:8

 – blessings,

Tracy

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consider the lilies

lilies and summer go hand in hand

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they remind me of my grandmother who loved lilies

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they also remind me not to worry

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“Consider the lilies of the field . . . “

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“They do not labor or spin.”

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“Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor . . . “

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” . . . was dressed like one of these. “

– Matthew 6:28-29

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have a blessed day dressed in God’s grace

– Tracy

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