Saying YES to God

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Today I am happy to have Traci Rhoades with me. Traci blogs at Traces of Faith, a play on her name a bit. But further, it is a blog to help others see God at work in our everyday lives. She uses it as an outreach to seekers, a wake-up call to sleepers and an encouraging resource to the faithful. Traci can also be found on Facebook and Twitter as @Tracesoffaith.

 

SAYING YES TO GOD- Traci Rhoades

I enjoy being used by God. Often times, I wonder if I don’t receive the bigger blessing being able to help an individual in need. The encouraging card you later find out arrived at just the right moment. The girls’ night out that became the highlight of her week for a friend. The meal you deliver to a grieving or hurting friend.

But the day I got a Facebook message from a friend asking for a favor, my first response was God most certainly had called on the wrong person this time.

A friend of mine asked me if I would go to a court date with her. I don’t know this girl very well but I always enjoy her company. I know much of her story from what she has shared in a group we both attend. Someone had hurt members of her family and his sentencing was to be handed down the following week. I knew of the pending court date and had been lifting her up in prayer. But sometimes God moves us past prayer into action. My friend planned to be there for the sentencing and, for various reasons, she had been unable to find anyone to go with her. For her, the thought of going alone seemed too much.

She asked me to go because she admired my faith. I appeared to be a strong Christian to her. And she knew the best way to get through a very hard day was to surround yourself with God’s faithful.

Well, that is true, of course. I was touched by her request and agreed to go. But the whole idea freaked me out. I had never stepped foot into a court of law. I didn’t know the person who would receive sentencing that day but what if he attempted to do something? I took a self defense class about eight years ago. Is it like CPR classes and, as they say, it just kicks in automatically when needed? Nevertheless, my answer to her, to God, was of course, yes.

But what had I gotten myself into?0001-67602396

We met the morning of the court date and as we got into my car, another friend of ours pulled up beside us. She had the morning free, knew of the court appearance and said the Lord had led her to join us just to pray in the courtroom. Isn’t God good?! He never leaves us alone.

Upon arriving at the courthouse, we met with my friend’s court-appointed defender. She told us what to expect and what would be expected from us. With every passing minute, I felt the pressure of the situation. I prayed God’s peace would fall over my friend. I had no advice but I could pray. And I did.

We walked into the courtroom and my friend said hello to an older gentleman right before we sat down. Turns out he was an elder from her church who came to show his support as well. As a sidenote, thank you deacons and elders, who do so many things privately that your congregation knows nothing about but God does!

After about a half hour the men receiving sentencing that day were ushered in, all four of them. One by one they appeared before the judge, with their lawyer beside them. Often, they didn’t speak at all. The judge and lawyer exchanged a few words and within minutes, a final ruling was issued.

We heard the sentencing against the man who had harmed my friend’s family and then exited the courtroom. After another short meeting with her defender, we left the building. And promptly went to a coffee shop. Dropping her off right away and entering into my real world immediately didn’t seem right at all.

Looking back, I am thankful God called on me to help a friend that day. I have no idea if I helped much, but I am most thankful she didn’t have to go through the court date alone. We never know what God will ask of us. This request sure took me out of my comfort zone.

But when God asks, I always want my answer to be YES!

There are people in your life too who are going through some terrible things. We live in a fallen world. Be sensitive to where God might put you to work. You might trace your path of faith into some pretty rocky situations. If that’s the case, pray and proceed with confidence. And never leave your friend to go through it all alone.

Grace at the movies

This weekend I kept hearing the word grace and reference to God’s grace towards us. Of course, this word means a lot to me, so when I hear it, my ears perk up. At our church we are doing a series on finding your way back to God, no matter what has happened in the past. At the movie theatre, War Room is an incredible film that gives a wonderful example of this.

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When you feel that there is a hole in your heart that you just can’t fill by doing what you’re doing, it’s time for a change. God gives us the opportunity to turn from our selfish ways and welcome him in our hearts. He will be ready for you. In the movie, the main characters, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan, are having trouble in their marriage. They live in a beautiful home and have an adorable little girl, but they are both unhappy. Elizabeth meets a new client, Clara, and with her help, realizes that she can’t change her husband without God’s help. She opens her Bible, prays for her husband and asks God for help.

“Why spend money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen and you will find life.” Isaiah 55:2-3 (NLT)

In War Room, Tony, the husband, is on a path for failure as he is lying and cheating his company and almost cheats on his wife. After losing his job, he realizes that he needs to change and turns to God. He realizes that with God you can start over and our sin, broken, and failures are wiped away. God will help you, but you must ask for help and let him have control of your life. As Tony does this, he and his wife are given the gift of God’s grace.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NLT)

I recommend this movie and think it is a great reminder of the gift that we have all been given.

“For every season there is a change”

This time of year brings many changes to our daily lives including the end of wearing sandals, cooler weather, homework, and fall sports. Most of the time we look forward to change, but sometimes it can be a scary thing to approach the unknown.
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As I look around me, I am suddenly faced with many changes in my life and those around me. My oldest son left for college in late August and our table of six is suddenly a table for five. We have said goodbye to friends and welcomed new neighbors on the street. New schools and new teachers have my sons nervous and excited at the same time. After eight years of teaching, I have started a new part-time job so that I can pursue my dream of writing a book. I find myself second guessing my decision and wondering if I’ve made the right choice. All of this is a bit unsettling, and I find comfort in some of the constant, unchanging, routines to keep me grounded.

We can find comfort in knowing that God’s love for us is a constant that will always be there for us, even when it seems that our world is spinning out of control with change. We see this in scripture:

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. We can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’ Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

With this knowledge we can rest assured that God will see us through the changes in our lives, whether they are big or small, hot or cold, fun or scary!

What new changes are making you feel a bit unsettled?

Hello Facebook friends!

Thank you for visiting my blog. I have been writing here for about a year now and feel that it is time to let everyone know what I’ve been up to.

So here we go…..I have been living most of my life with a secret that I haven’t shared with many of my friends until recently. Keeping this secret was not because of a lack of trust, but my need to face my past, my fears, and gain the strength to meet them head on. It was not until then that I could have the courage to share my very private past, and my journey to overcome the pain, so that people could know the real me. Most importantly, I am sharing my story to help others meet whatever challenges they are facing through the healing of God’s mercy and grace.

I am beginning to speak publicly about my journey to faith and forgiveness, and have written a book, which I hope to have published in early 2016.  As you read through my blogs, you will understand why this was so hard for me. I’d love to have you join me on this journey, which you can do by “following” this blog.

Thank you for your friendship and support, it means a lot to me!

Love,

Tracey

What motivates you?

Have you ever felt yourself doubting that you can make a difference? Have you allowed yourself to stay in your comfort zone instead of taking a chance? Do you feel called to do something but allow fear to get in the way?

Throughout my journey there were many times that I wanted to quit. As I was writing my book, I found it painful to re-visit the past every time I opened the document. I found my self doubting my capabilities and wondered if anyone would even care. The thing that kept me motivated was the thought that I might be able to help someone who was struggling like I had for so many years.

“When he, the SpIMG_1522irit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13

Last night I had the opportunity to share my story with a group of about 70 people and when the event ended several people came up to me to thank me. I received a lot of positive feedback, but the thing that brought me joy was a message from a woman who said that she was touched by my story. She wrote, “your testimony, lessons learned, and book need to be heard.”

I am feeling thankful for my obedience to God as He has led me on this new path and want to encourage others to trust and obey God. He will reveal himself to you and direct your steps; just trust Him!

The story behind my blog

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When I first started blogging, I chose the title “Grace” and Ephesians2v8 because I believe strongly that it was God’s grace that allowed me to survive a childhood of physical and emotional abuse from my parents. I pursued Him my entire life and once I understood what it meant to have faith, developed a relationship with Christ, and believed, He gave me the strength to forgive them. Not long after that, He gave me another gift; the power to share my story with others. I have written a book and hope to have it published by the end of this year.

This scripture means a lot to me and know that I can’t take credit for what I have accomplished. It is a gift from God!