He makes all things new (part 2)

It’s been 28 days since we welcomed the new year. Many of us made a resolution, pledge, promise, goal, (whatever you want to call it) to be better, or make a change. According to ABC News, the top resolution for 2016 was enjoy life to the fullest. Isn’t that awesome? This was followed by quit smoking, lose weight and make more money. I like to exercise regularly and laugh to myself as I notice the number of cars in the gym parking lot start to dwindle around January 15th each year. I wonder what happened to the others who were so determined on January 2? Are you one of them? Think about these questions for a minute:

Did you start off strong and found that it was too hard and gave up?

Were your expectations realistic?

Did your goals become inconvenient for your lifestyle?

Let’s face it, we like to be comfortable. Sore muscles and eating salad everyday can be uncomfortable for many. But instead of focusing on the short term, focus on what the end will look like. Why did you make the goal in the first place?

As you assess and possibly modify your resolutions, consider doing a faith check up as well. Just like a personal trainer, God doesn’t want us to be comfortable. He wants us to trust Him completely. He wants us to use what we have been given. He doesn’t care how much money we make or how many deadlifts we can do compared to the other person. What matters to Him is that we do our very best and rely on Him when we feel weak.

“And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.” 1 John 2:28 (The Message)

What can you do if you’ve fallen away from the goals you made? Consider making them more realistic by breaking your goal into smaller chunks of time. For example, if you want to read the Bible this year, set your goal into weekly or monthly mini-goals. Make it manageable by setting a time of the day that you will read your Bible. The more specific you make your goal, the better…..I will read my Bible for 10 minutes each morning before work (M-F).

Goal setting is good for us; we just have to know how to do it in a realistic way. Do you need to re-set your goals? February 1st is right around the corner and a great opportunity to start again….don’t give up!

l-295501

The calm AFTER the storm

The last few days in Northern Virginia we were blanketed by a blizzard named Jonas. Schools were cancelled, roads became impassable and time seemed to stop as we waited for it to end. The wind created snowdrifts and everyone held their breath for fear of losing power. And then it stopped. Today the snow is piled up and the sun is shining. Stores are still closed and no one is driving.

We are forced to slow down, and after the shoveling, we were able to relax and enjoy this sunny winter day. On a normal weekend I would be running errands, going to the grocery store, and preparing for another busy week. Today I get to relax and enjoy a new sense of calm as I reflect on the beauty around me.

20160124_090033

Isn’t that what God wants us to do? Slow down and focus on Him even during the storms in our life? Will you try this with me?

Thank you God for protecting us during this storm and for giving me the opportunity to reflect on your love and realize how blessed I am.

Amen.

 

Swirling in the wind

I’m hunkered down for #blizzard2016, thankful that I live in a house with 4 sons and a husband who don’t mind the shoveling. As I look outside at the snow on the ground, my eyes go upward towards the sky. The wind is strong and some of the snowflakes are being blown sideways, but every once in a while the wind slows down as if to take a breath before the next big exhale. The snowflakes seem to float and swirl, not sure which way to go. My mind wanders and I start thinking……I’ve been like these snowflakes.snowflakes

Have you ever felt so lost that you are floating around with no direction?

Maybe it’s a job that you go to every day and feel like you’re not growing or being used to your best ability. Perhaps it’s a relationship that seems to be going no where.

Have you been pushed in a direction that you’re not sure you want to go?

You feel called to do something that is a risk. Maybe you’re scared of losing control or giving up what you are used to. What will people think?

It’s during times like these that we must lean on God and not on our own understanding, because unlike a snowflake, we have a source to turn to for direction. That source is our God. All we have to do is ask Him for help.

When we feel lost we must PRAY and LISTEN for the answer.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)

 

If I told you my story…..

I recently heard this song and it spoke volumes to me. If you’re interested in hearing my story, please visit my website.

I thought I’d share the lyrics and this beautiful song. Enjoy!

“If I Told you my Story” by Big Daddy Weave (click to hear the song)

If I told you my story

You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go

If I told you my story

You would hear love that never gave up

If I told you my story

You would hear life but it wasn’t mine

 

If I should speak then let it be

 

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin

Of when justice was served and where mercy wins

Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in

To tell you my story is to tell of Him

 

If I told you my story

You would hear victory over the enemy

If told you my story

You would hear freedom that was won for me

If I told you my story

You would hear life overcome the grave

 

If I should speak then let it be

 

This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long!

 

Waging warfare with prayer

One of the things that I love most about blogging is the connections that I have made and continue to make. I believe that we should all use whatever gift we have received to help others as faithful stewards of God’s grace. So today, I am excited to announce that my blogging friend, Anita Estes is releasing a book today! Take a look at what Anita has to say about this new and exciting book:

As a young girl I always loved reading because it took me to a different place and time. Of course, I fell in love with the Nancy Drew series which developed into a penchant for mysteries. When I began to write The Dividing Stone, it started out as a mystery, but then I felt the Lord got a hold of my pen and led it another direction. It became my quest to understand the forces behind the breakup of a vital church.

51wEKHUKK8L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The more I wrote, the more He revealed the Satanic forces at work to divide Christian marriages and churches. Years before, as a young Christian living in Vermont in an isolated area, God began to reveal to me about the spirit world and in particular principalities that ruled over regions. When I moved back to New York there were ministries that were being shown the same thing. As my circle of friends began to grow, I met more people that lent credence to what God was showing me. Then my historical research led to me uncovering the presence of “secret societies” in the formation of our nation and a rift in our community.

I wove everything into a complex tale of mystery and intrigue, but had difficulty finishing it. For years, I struggled with getting the book polished and ready for publication, until God lit a fire under me and a publisher was interested. I believe the timing is perfect with the increasing persecution of Christians around the world and the rising dark forces in America.

I was very excited when “War Room” came out because it dealt with a similar theme: attacking the root reason for many of our relational problems that cause division in the church and marriages, while waging warfare not with guns but in prayer. Though The Dividing Stone is a fictionalized account it unmasks these root causes and what we can do to overcome them!

It follows the tale of a young artist, Margo Pierson, a young artist with a penchant for truth, sets off to find the identity of a missing ancestor. Unknown to her, she ends up discovering something far more significant—a key stone to a dark secret. Though she doesn’t realize the importance of the hidden message inscribed on it, the heavenly forces do. Stirred by her finding, a host of angelic beings resume an age-old struggle to reveal the truth about the town of New Coven, formerly New Covenant. Margo too is determined to uncover the facts surrounding her secreted relative. However, she never thought it would lead her down such an unexpected path. As mysterious events unfold and visions mark her dreams, Margo and her husband Chris are thrust into a battle to expose a secret society’s plans. With God’s help, they are led every step of the way.

Anita EstesCome join Margo and her companions for the roller coaster ride of your life!
You can purchase Anita’s book on Amazon by clicking here: http://amzn.to/1ll0Jdv

For anyone purchasing a copy of The Dividing Stone between January 19th to the 24th, your name will be entered in a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate and a signed FREE copy of The Dividing Stone.

Stop by her blog for details @ http://anitathoughtsonchristianity.blogspot.com/

 

What’s LUCK got to do with it?

My friend was on her way to buy a Powerball ticket yesterday and saw a man curled up on a bench in a small park. It was a cold day and obvious that he wasn’t there by choice. She pulled over and approached him and began talking to him. She learned that he slept there, ate when he got food, and yes, he was cold. She gave him the $6.00 that she was going to spend on her lottery ticket and a Starbucks card that she had received as a gift.

This selfless act got me thinking…I wonder how many people were really hoping that they might win the $1.5 billion. I read online that one man purchased $100,000 worth of tickets. I wonder what he was planning to do with the money if he had won it?

What if we stopped wishing and hoping for luck to change our lives?

What if we leaned on God to help us with change that we want?

What if we focused on being thankful for what we have?

l-280155

 

Your destination is straight ahead

Do you remember life before GPS? Ok, there was MapQuest (is that still a thing?) but I mean before that? Remember using a map?!

I am directionally challenged. Seriously. I rely on my GPS to get me everywhere. The worst is when it doesn’t give you enough time before you need to turn and then you hear the obnoxious….RECALCULATING. My husband often teases me about it. He says, “what if your GPS didn’t work?” I laugh and shrug. Being a woman, I would ask for directions!

It got me thinking….what if we are truly lost and have no idea where to go?  I’ve been in this situation before, not just on the road, but in life. I’ve needed direction and been scared that I would make the wrong decision. Have you? Who do you turn to when you need direction?

What if we trusted Jesus as much as we trust our GPS?

l-276178

To do today: Thank God

Hi friends,

If you follow this blog, you know that December started off rocky for me. I am an only child with an aging mother and on December 3, she fell and broke her back. It sent the start of my holiday season into a tailspin and I was a wreck. I found myself trying to juggle hospital visits, calls to doctors, work, and feeding my mom’s cat, all while taking care of my family and trying to prepare for Christmas. It was tough!

l-274439My mom has been in a back brace and in a rehab center for a month. She is not happy, wants to go back to her cat, and hates having to do physical therapy. I have worried, cried, and prayed.

Fast forward to today…..I held my breath as she got an x-ray and we waited to meet the orthopedic surgeon. I finally exhaled as he gave us a good report. She will return to her cat next week!

This experience got me thinking about my faith. God has never let me down, yet when things get tough I don’t always turn to him.

Why do we do this? Is it because we want to believe that we can do everything on our own? Isn’t it nice to know that we don’t have to?

Have a great day!

Tracey

follow me on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/TMCasciano

 

 

 

 

 

A Lesson in Grace

Yesterday morning it was 17 degrees outside. I do NOT like to be cold! However, I have a dog and he doesn’t mind it. And if he doesn’t get his daily walks he will do everything in his power to make me feel guilty. I mean, just look at that face!20160103_132634

So I reluctantly put on my down jacket, hat, and gloves. As we headed out across the street I realized that the sun felt nice and raised my face towards it. We walked to the end of the street, he did his “business,” and as we turned to head home I was thinking about the hot cup of coffee that I would enjoy when we got back home.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted as 2 dogs came running across the street towards us and I heard their owner yelling, “oh no, I’m sorry!” My dog likes to meet other dogs and wasn’t phased as the sniffing began until one of the dogs started attacking him. In a flash I heard growling, saw teeth, and started yelling, “stop it” to the dog. The other dog had my dog’s ear in his mouth, paws around his neck and I was terrified. A person driving by pulled over to help and the owner of the dogs was able to get her dog away from mine. I quickly walked away thinking very negative thoughts about the dog and the owner. After we got home and I assessed my dog and realized that he was fine, I was able to calm down a little bit. I went to work, but still had a bitter taste in mouth.

Later in the afternoon I was doing an errand and my son called me when he got home from school. I told him what had happened and he was immediately angry. I reminded him that it wasn’t the woman’s fault and that we should be thankful that our dog wasn’t hurt. A few minutes later he called me back and said that the woman had come over looking for me and wanted to make sure our dog was ok! As I drove home I saw the woman and pulled over to talk to her. She apologized and asked if my dog was ok. It turns out that she is the daughter in law of a neighbor and staying with them for a while. She was very kind and said, “That was not the way I wanted to meet you. I’ve heard you speak at church.” I was taken aback and felt guilty for my earlier negative thoughts.

I returned home and told my son about our exchange. As I pointed out that I could’ve been nasty and unkind to her, which would’ve been a bad reflection of Jesus (who I try hard to be a positive reflection of). As I reflected on the whole ordeal, I realized that it was a perfect lesson of grace!

We find this written out in Luke 6:31-37 (NLT)

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.

Who doesn’t love a free gift?!

Cherished-Magazine-January-2016-A-Magazine-for-Christian-Women

I’m excited to share that the nice people over at Cherished Magazine just told me that my article, A Journey to Faith and Forgiveness is in the January edition AND they’ve created a coupon for my friends to get a month for free!

I hope you’ll take advantage of this great offer and enjoy this encouraging magazine.

order link: Free month of Cherished Magazine

use coupon code “TRACEYGIFT”