Encouragement for dads on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there! Know that what you’re doing everyday makes a difference. Your children look to you for wisdom, guidance and love. Show them everyday what it looks like to work hard while finding balance. I hope that you can enjoy this day with your family!

I am honored to be able to share my article on this amazing site that provides encouragement for dads!

http://www.encouragingdads.com/2016/05/what-makes-a-good-dad/

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What really matters?

I’ve had the opportunity to go to Guatemala on a mission trip as a chaperone for my church’s youth group two different times and both trips impacted me in different ways. The first trip we spent our time in Guatemala City, where there is a clear division between the “haves and have nots.” As we drove from the airport to where we were staying, we passed McDonald’s, Starbucks and a shopping mall. But as we continued driving, I was shocked to see the condition of how some people lived.

552On the side of a mountain there were corregated metal lean-tos and tents. No plumbing, no electricity. It was on this side of the mountain where we learned that people cooked over open fires and breathed in the dangerous fumes. Our group had raised money for months prior to pay for and build stoves for these people during our trip.

We spent a lot of our time at a church in a poor part of town where gangs are prevalent. At this church we hosted a Vacation Bible School for families to bring their children to. The children ranged in age from toddlers to teens and we were treated like royalty. We played games, ate a hot meal together and prayed with the families. It was at this church where many of the families saw a free doctor and received clothing and supplies.

O427n the days we built the stoves, we loaded our truck with the supplies and headed to the side of the mountain that I had seen on our drive from the airport. My heart sunk as I recognized some of the kids from the church and realized that this was where they lived. Each time we built a stove, we asked if we could pray with the family and asked God to bless them. We prayed for the kids and hoped that they would be able to avoid getting involved in the gang life. That first trip was a very humbling experience and as I returned home I had a big culture shock as I stood in my own closet and wept.

 

Why do I have so much and they have so little?

Slowly the shock wore off and I returned to my normal life. I tried to remind myself of what I had experienced and how I had felt, but it wasn’t until we went for our second trip that I really remembered.

608The second time we went to an rural area outside of the city at the base of a volcano called Pacaya. Our bunkhouse was separated from the locals by a chain link fence. As we emerged each morning, the children were waiting for us on the other side of the fence. They welcomed us with hugs and a game of soccer. As we got acclimated, it was apparent that the people who lived here were a lot worse off than those in the city.  Each morning we made trips to see locals and deliver food baskets. The locals made money by going to town and selling eggs, coffee beans, or doing manual labor. No one had a car, so each morning a bus came and the men piled on and were gone for the day. Each afternoon we hosted a program for the children. We helped build a cinderblock building that is now used as a school and painted a building that is now a medical building. As we visited with the locals, we saw that many were cooking over open flames. We made note of the situations that were the worst and returned to build a stove.419

One day as we were delivering food baskets, I took in the despair in front of us. A women with three young kids in a one room “house” made of corrugated metal siding and a tarp for the roof. As the translator explained that we were there to give her food and some dry goods, she began to weep. The translator explained that the gift was not from us, but from God. The kids came forward and started digging into see what we had brought and my heart broke. The translator asked if we could pray with her and the woman agreed. We asked if there was anything specific that we could pray for. I was prepared for her to ask that we pray that she and her family would be able to leave and find a better life, but what she said took me aback.

In sob-filled Spanish, she asked the translator to thank us. She said that she knew we were angels from God because just that morning she had run out of food and didn’t know how she was going to feed her family. She had prayed and then we came. She was crying tears of joy!

I will never forget those trips and the lasting impact the children and families had on me. The size of your house, the amount of things we have, none of them matter.

What really matters is our faith.

Tissue Damage (another 4BOYMOM adventure)

This memory started out as a very scary incident. It began as a wonderful summer day at my in-laws cottage overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Our day had been full of splashing in the small waves, digging in the sand and looking for sharks teeth. My husband and I were on the beach talking with the neighbors and our sons were playing happily while his parents were up at the house. Son #3 (4 years old) wanted to get a raft and asked if he could go up to the house to get it from the shed.

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We agreed and continued playing and chatting. A few minutes later my father in law (who had been in the house) was waving frantically at the top of the stairs that led from the beach up to the house. I made eye contact with him and it quickly became apparent that he needed one of us to come up to the house. My husband went up the tall flight of stairs taking two at a time. My heart raced as I imagined that my mother in law had fallen and was hurt. Then I remembered that our son was up there and started to panic. I quickly asked the neighbors if they could keep an eye on our other 2 sons and ran as fast as I could up to the house. I quickly scanned the yard and shed and didn’t see anyone but did see the raft laying in the grass. I ran into the house and heard sobbing and a low grunting sound coming from the bathroom. As I entered the small bathroom, my nose was immediately filled with the smell of gasoline and I saw my 4 year old son standing in the shower dry heaving. I let out a cry and wailed, “What happened?!” He had knocked the gas can off the shelf and it has spilled on him, getting in his nose and mouth. I completely lost control and started shaking and screaming. I had no idea what to do and my husband directed me to call poison control. I went to the kitchen phone and couldn’t remember the number so I dialed 911. As I pushed the three numbers on the phone, everything was suddenly in slow motion. Fortunately, the dispatcher reassured me that we could flush out my son’s mouth and nose with water and that there should not be any tissue damage. She suggested that I follow up with my pediatrician. Once we all calmed down and my son stopped heaving, we were able to return to a fun day.

A few days later that same son developed a cold and sore throat. I wondered out loud if somehow it was connected to the gasoline incident. A few minutes later he came to me in tears, holding out a used tissue. I asked him what was wrong and he held the tissue out to me and said, “Look, it ripped.” When I didn’t respond immediately he wailed, “They said there wouldn’t be any tissue damage!”

Out of the mouths of babes…..

Oh Charlie!

Today I’m going to stray a bit and talk about motherhood. I became a mother almost 19 years ago to our first son. It was magical, scary and exhausting! Surprisingly, he survived our first time parent fears and freak outs and grew into a happy, healthy toddler. At the age of 21 months, our first born became a big brother.

Our second son is the star of the show today. His name is Charlie and I have his permission to share about him. He was the only one of our four sons to be born without induction and I swear he came out smiling. He was a cuddly, easy going baby and adored by his older brother. As Charlie became mobile, he didn’t walk, he RAN. (I’m not kidding). 17 months after he was born we introduced our third son into the world.

To say that I was overwhelmed is an understatement! I had three kids in diapers and Charlie refused to stay in one place for more than a minute. I remember leaving our oldest (age 3 1/2) with the baby so that I could run to chase Charlie. At the time, the movie “The Incredibles” had been released and we called Charlie “Dash” after the character who could run super fast. Charlie was happy, always smiling, and ready to offer a hug at all times. As he entered preschool I began to worry. Everyone said, “Oh, he’s just all boy.” We were restricted to playgrounds and friends houses with fences for fear of him running off. We had several near death experiences as he jumped in the end of the deep end of the pool, disappeared at the beach, and ran off in a busy parking lot. He got expelled from preschool for “using scissors inappropriately” and didn’t seem to fear anything. I would stay up at night worrying about the future of my adorable Charlie.  Every year on his birthday I thanked God for keeping him safe.

So imagine my pride as I write this today, just hours after his drivers license ceremony. My eyes filled with tears as I looked at him, listening to the judge talk about safety. He has grown into a wonderful young man who loves Jesus, works hard, and has a charismatic personality. Just last week we traveled together to tour colleges and he is looking forward to pursuing a future in graphic design. I am confident that he will do great things and am so happy that God chose me to be his mom!

“Love is patient, love is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV).

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You are good enough!

I have a friend who is a wonderfully talented singer. She leads worship at our church and every time she opens her mouth, it is amazing. I often find myself wishing that I could sing as well as she can. I have another friend who has a high powered job and is very successful in the business world and travels a lot. I think about how great it would be to have a job like her.

Isn’t that typical? We compare ourselves to others wishing that we had their job, voice, hair, skin, or talents. Our culture encourages us to do this and it leads to us feeling inadequate. We are left wanting more….COMPARISON-590x295

Who you are and what you do already pleases God!

He has given each of us a unique gift and wants us to use these gifts to show our love for Him. How can we do this?

“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly” Romans 12:7-9.

The best way that we can show our love to God is to use the special gifts that He has given us. Remember that we are all designed to have different talents and that is what makes us unique. So the next time you find yourself feeling less than adequate, remind yourself that we each have our own special gifts. Not sure what yours is? Ask a friend!

Do what you do best and do it without comparison, for it brings Him much joy!

God will wait for us… #outofthedarkroom

Do you feel like you need more? Have you tried everything and can’t find happiness? Are you unsure of your purpose?

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When you search for God and tell him everything that is on your heart, He will fill you with peace. Isn’t that refreshing? So stop worrying about how long it’s been since you went to church or prayed. Just go to Him. I think you’ll be amazed by what He can do for you!

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

# Write 31 Challenge- Word of the Day

October 22 Word of the day- Kindness

Kindness can mean so much to someone. An unexpected gift, a cup of coffee, or a hug on a bad day. God encourages us to be kind to one another. When our heart is full of God’s love and we are kind to others, we are reflecting His love!

That best portion of a man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.

William Wordsworth

So today31 day word challenge I present a challenge. Do one (unexpected) kind thing for someone and share it in the comments section.
Have a great day!

Tracey

 

Write 31 Challenge: Word of the Day

31 day word challenge

October 2- Word of the Day : LOVE

Love is a warm cup of tea on a winter day.
Love is a hug from an old friend.
Love is sharing a blanket.
Love is a smile that was captured when no one was looking.
Love is family doing something together.
Love is necessary.
Love is always there with Jesus.

What do you think of when you hear “LOVE”??

Butterflies

butterfly_on_flower-1920x1200In my upcoming book, I compare my journey of faith to that of the life cycle of a butterfly. When I was young, I had no knowledge of the Bible and the idea of God was just that. I looked forward to sleepovers at a friend’s house that led to a trip to church. As I went off to college, I was a hungry caterpillar, searching for knowledge to feed my curiosity. I began investigating churches and learning about the Bible. At the age of 22 I entered my chrysalis stage as I was baptized and received Communion for the first time. I stayed wrapped up tight in the dark for many years yearning for a personal relationship with Jesus. Unlike a butterfly, that completes the transformation in about 4 weeks, it wasn’t until I was 38 years old that I found what I had been yearning for when my family began attending a new church and it was life changing for us all. For the first time in my life, I felt that I had a true connection and relationship with Jesus Christ. I realized that in all my previous searching, I had really only scratched the surface. I formed a group of friends at church who were excited to bring me alongside and help me mature spiritually. My new butterfly wings were still wet and creased at first, but as my family and I started reading the Bible together, we fully accepted and understood what it meant to believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior. Our lives are now full of worship music, small groups, mission trips, and a love for the Lord that we’d never known before. I have finally completed my metamorphosis and begun to fly!

Definitely worth the wait!