Moving forward

It’s been almost a year since we welcomed 2016. As I get older, time seems to be going by faster! I used to make a resolution every year on New Years Eve, but last year, instead of a resolution, I chose to focus on a word to give me a vision for change.

My word for 2016 was STRENGTH. I picked it after careful consideration for several reasons and found myself going back to it on many occasions. 2016 has had some challenges for me as I continue to take on the role of guardian for my aging (and ornery) mother. She had two major accidents this year that resulted in extended hospital and rehab stays. I found myself needing spiritual strength to get through the trials and continue to, as our relationship is complicated. I also prayed for strength this year as I shared my personal story in front of audiences of strangers, on radio and TV programs. During this past year, I also focused on my physical strength as I embraced several new fitness routines and saw the benefits on the inside and out! I have relied on my physical and mental strength to be the best mom possible for my four teenage sons. More recently, I have needed strength as I have returned to teaching and have a challennyeging group of students.
I’ve found that having a word to represent what I hope God will do for me has given me comfort and hope during difficult times.

I encourage you to try it and let me know what your word for 2017 will be!

 

Today and every day

This September I returned to teaching (because college and braces for four sons is expensive!) After eight years in high school, I decided to change things up and try out elementary school. Each day I spend time with 4th and 5th graders working on language arts, science, and math. Yesterday was an early release day, so as you might imagine, the kids were very excited. I did my best to make the day fun by doing some different types of activities.

In our language arts class, I asked my 5th graders to write a letter to one person who they were thankful for. Many chose their parents, a friend, or relative. I could tell that they were proud of their work and excited to give it to the recipient.  One student asked me who I would write my letter to and I smiled. Here is my Thanksgiving letter:

 

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Dear God,

Thank you for the many blessings that you have given me in my life. Thank you for having your hand on me when I was a young girl; scared, confused and unsure of my future. Thank you for putting people in my life to look to when my situation at home was so hard. I am thankful that you never gave up on me and pursued me until I finally realized that it was you that I was searching for. Thank you for blessing me with my husband and our four amazing sons. Finally, thank you for sacrificing your only son for our sins so that I (and many others) are reminded of what it means to be given grace. I can’t imagine my life without you, on Thanksgiving and every day.

Love,

Tracey

 

 

Red, White and Blue (A 4BOYMOM Adventure)

The 4th of July is one of our families favorite holidays. We have a tradition of buying fireworks from a local stand and setting them off in the yard at night. One year we were at my in-laws beach house on the Chesapeake Bay for the holiday weekend. The day was filled with fun events including a local parade, playing in the water, and a picnic on the beach.

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As it got dark that evening, my husband began to set up the pyrotechnic display in the yard. Our 2nd son was about 3 1/2 at the time and was scared of the loud sound and ran inside to watch from the glass door. We oohed and ahhhed as the colorful display began. A few minutes later my mother in law exclaimed, “Oh my gosh….no…” as she was looking towards the house. I glanced back to see my little blonde cherub standing with a small American flag in his hand watching from behind the glass. “What?” I asked. She couldn’t respond as she was gagging and retching. I looked back at my son again and couldn’t imagine what had happened. I stood up, walked to the door and asked my son what happened and he just waved his little flag at me and smiled. I looked at my mother in law again and she was wiping tears from her face and trying to form words between gags. Annoyed I begged, “What happened?” At this point the show was finished and my husband joined us on the deck . Between gags, my mother in law explained what she has seen. My son, my bubbly, adorable toddler, had pulled his pants down, put the flag stick in his bottom and then curiously had put it in his mouth!

Horrified, the only word I could form was, “Why?”

The following week the same son developed a sore throat and ear infection. As I often did, I had to take all my kids to the appointment. As the doctor looked in son #2’s ears and throat my cherub said, “I think I know why I’m sick.” Dread filled my body as I began to pray (beg) silently, “God, please, don’t let him say it.”

The doctor said, “Oh? Why?”

I begged to be swallowed by the Earth as I heard my son begin, “Well, on the 4th of July I had this flag…”

Once my son finished the story, I couldn’t bring myself to look up at the doctor and the room went silent. My oldest son sat with his mouth hanging open, stunned that his brother just admitted (to a doctor) what he had done. After what felt like an eternity of silence, the doctor proceeded to tell my son(s) why we need to keep our hands and other objects away from our bottoms and as he left the room I was sure that our file folder got a big red slash drawn on the font.

Many years have passed since that incident and that doctor has retired, but something tells me that he hasn’t forgotten that story!

To my husband on Mother’s Day

On this Mother’s Day I want to take a moment to reflect on the years that I have had with my incredible husband and father of our four sons.

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An oldie, but a goodie!

We started our journey together in 1989 as freshman on a large college campus. First we were just friends, but quickly our relationship blossomed and we became inseparable. He was encouraging, fun, and very loving. I had never experienced the type of friendship and bond that we developed and as our love for each other grew over the next five years, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. We were married in 1994 and began our journey as husband and wife together.

My life before meeting my husband was full of shame and guilt as I was raised in a home that was far from normal. My mother was an alcoholic and my father sexually abused me. My life at home led me to have low self esteem and I never told anyone what my life was really like. I was good at hiding my pain and no one ever knew, including my new husband. The night I finally told him the truth was the best and worst night of our young marriage. I feared that his anger towards my parents would suddenly disrupt all my attempts of denying and avoiding the truth. As we clung to each other he promised to protect me and love me as I deserved to be.

Fast forward to today…almost 23 years of marriage together. We have been together every step of the way as we have navigated through many wonderful days and some storms along our journey. Our faith has grown as our relationship has and I believe it has brought us closer together. My husband supported me as I chose to forgive my parents and was there for me when I had to bury my father. He understands my frustration and difficult relationship with my mother and is always ready to listen when I need to vent.

He gave me the biggest joy of our lives, our four sons. It w6830a16418f573f5e701e02c93527f45asn’t always easy, but now that they are older, I am so proud of the young men that they have become. I know their kind hearts, strong work ethic and success is in part because of the wonderful father that they have. The daddy who took them to get donuts on the weekends, cheered them on at every game and worked hard so that they could have everything that they need. My sons know that their pancake maker, grill master and workout buddy will be there for them no matter what. I love my husband for being that father and for blessing me with the title, “Mom”.

I hope that this will encourage all the hardworking dads out there. Remember that you do each day matters. It matters to your kids and to your wives. Take time to enjoy your family and be proud of the kids who you are making into wonderful people.

 

Would you like fries with that?

A new year, a clean slate. I love it! It’s like all the chips, candy and chocolate we ever ate is gone forever. Never counted. Well, not exactly…I must admit that I am one of those people who starts eating salads and fruit on January 1st. I start flossing, and promise to do sit-ups every day. I have the best of intentions, but it’s not easy. Are you like me?

Well, the good news is that God doesn’t care about any of that. All He wants is us…all of us. Our undivided attention. Once we surrender our life to Him, we are free! We get a clean slate, no matter what day it is. Our old life is gone and we are a child of God. That sounds much easier than swearing off an occasional cookie or fighting for a parking space at the gym in January, doesn’t it?

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He makes all things new!

It’s almost New Years Eve. I have always loved the thrill of the countdown to a new beginning. It was on this night, 22 years ago that my husband proposed to me at the strike of midnight and I remember the magical moment as if it was yesterday. We have had many happy New Years Eve celebrations together since and enjoy remembering the years that have past.

As I reflect on 2015, shake my head in disbelief. Last time this year I was in a job that left me feeling unfulfilled, unsure of the path that I felt that God was leading me to. I had been writing and blogging, but wasn’t sure that I had the courage or strength to really go forward with my story. This is when God made it clear to me. He put people in my path to help answer my questions, build my confidence, and showed me the way. I published a book about my journey to forgiveness and faith; something I never thought I’d do.

Isn’t it wonderful how He can do that? He can wipe away our insecurities and allow us to see that He is all we need. All we have to do is trust Him! We can make plans and resolutions, but He will guide us to our true purpose and knows what we really need.

So as 2016 quickly approaches, I think about how I can improve my health, my role as a mom and a wife, and make goals for my personal and spiritual life. But my biggest resolution is to thank God everyday for guiding me to His love and for giving me the strength to reach my goals.

Thank you for reading my little blog and encouraging me this year! I look forward to what He brings for us all in 2016!

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Knock knock….

Waiting is hard, but when what you’ve been waiting for happens, it is wonderful! This is Advent. We are waiting to celebrate the day of our Savior’s birth. The day that everything changed for us as man.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Along with this wonderful time of year comes a lot of business. We shop, we wrap, we party, we travel. We get busy! In this business it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. The innkeeper had no room for Jesus. Do you have room in your busy life to let Jesus in?

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I find it amazing that He came to this earth to be crucified so that you and I may one day live with Him in heaven.

Will you come to Jesus?

If not, why not?

Maybe today is the day that God is knocking on the door of your heart.

Do you have room for Jesus?

 

I think I’m being setup

Dear readers,

Two weeks ago I wrote about a promise to make this December a “stress-less” time. I promised that I wouldn’t over-do it and just relax and enjoy this magical time with my family.

Just three days later everything changed. My mom fell and broke her back on December 4 and was in the hospital for a week. She has been moved to a rehabilitation center and is receiving physical and occupational therapy and is very unhappy. This has caused a lot of stress for me and my family. If you’ve read my book (hint, hint) you know that my relationship with my mom is very complicated.

As I have been back and forth to visit my mom and talk with doctors and therapists, I desperately want to feel some Christmas joy!

So now I am trying to focus on what Christmas is really about. Jesus. His love and God’s grace have made me who I am today. For that I am thankful and know that He will see me through this difficult time. th

I know that I’m not the only one having a rough holiday season and wanted to share so that we can remember His love for us. Today I saw this:

“Difficulties are a setup for God to do something greater. Setbacks are a setup for God to move you toward your destiny.” Joel Osteen

So let’s embrace the fact that God is setting us up for something wonderful! Who’s with me?

Love,

Tracey

 

 

Why now God?

I am a busy mom with 4 sons, a dog, and a hard working husband. Christmas season means lots of fun and extra items on my to-do list. I embrace the annual Christmas card, host a cookie exchange for friends and neighbors, love to decorate and shop for meaningful gifts. It’s a busy time, but it’s fun!

I was right in the middle of all of this when I got a call last week that my mom was taken via ambulance to the hospital (see my previous post, “Please wait”) I have been to the hospital every day since. I spent 7 hours at the hospital yesterday and came home to hungry kids, laundry, and a hyper dog. Today is day 6 that she has been in the hospital and I am feeling very overwhelmed. Everything has stopped for me. I don’t know the next steps for my mom and desperately want to move forward. I feel helpless and nothing is in my control.

Often when we get in these situations, it’s easy to feel alone. I was reminded today to trust God and found Proverbs 3:5-6 very comforting.

“Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

God