A new perspective

I will be starting a new full time job at the end of August, so I purposely ended my current job a few weeks early so that I could relax, get organized and have some fun. My last day was this past Thursday. On Sunday evening I was getting into my running clothes when I got a call from the assisted living facility where my mom lives. My mom had fallen and was being taken to the hospital via ambulance. I had a flashback to last December when she fell and broke her back. That resulted in a week at the hospital and three weeks at a rehabilitation center. As I put my regular clothes back on and headed to the hospital with my husband, I was anxious. We found my mom in the ER and learned that she had broken her hip and would require surgery. She was admitted to the hospital and the surgery was going to be the next day.  I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but as we headed home from the hospital after midnight, I was focused on myself.

There goes the rest of my summer. 

I returned the next day to see my mom in pre-op and pray that everything would be fine. After they took her into surgery I made my way to the waiting room. Adjacent to the waiting room was a kid’s play area, so I sat as far away as possible to avoid any noise. I wanted to be alone. A few hours later the surgeon came to me to tell me that everything went well and that she was in recovery and I would be able to see her soon. As he walked away my phone rang and it was my mother in law asking how everything was going. I gave her the report and she then told me that my father in law had fallen and hit his head and was on his way to the ER in an ambulance. My heart sank and my selfish thoughts returned.

There goes the rest of our summer.

After I visited with my mom and they took her to her room, I made my way to the ER to find my in-laws. As I walked through the surgical waiting area, something caught my eye. I saw that the area that was set up as a play area had become quite full and many adults were standing, hugging. I noticed that the sign on the wall said Pediatric Surgical Waiting Area. I stopped and stared at the people for a few minutes, trying to imagine their fear. It was like a slap in the face. My mom was going to be fine, but what about their child?

What about the rest of their summer?

I found my in-laws in the ER and my father in law had received many stitches and staples in his head. The CAT scan showed some bleeding and he was going to be admitted.  As I drove home from the hospital on that second day, I prayed out loud. I asked for forgiveness for being so selfish. I thanked God for keeping both our parents alive and asked for blessings for the parents in the pediatric surgical waiting room.

Today is the fourth day that I’m getting ready to return to the hospital. I will see my mom and father in law and remember to be thankful. This may not be the way that I thought the end of our summer would look like, but I remind myself that it could’ve been a lot worse.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What I Learned from Working at A Church

I took this past school year off from teaching to finish writing and publish my book. During 705121_300x300this time I was lucky enough to have worked part time at my church as the assistant to the pastor. Yesterday was my last day and as I packed up my desk, I found myself reflecting on the experience. We see a lot of bad publicity about churches in the news and I thought I’d share a few things that I observed while working in one.

While these may not be true for all churches, here are a few things I learned during the last eleven months at the church I call home:

  1. The people who work at a church do it because they truly want to. They don’t get paid a lot and work many, many hours. They are filled with a passion for making the church a welcoming place for others.
  2. A lot of thought and preparation goes into each weekend. Don’t think that it’s just another Sunday- each song has been chosen and rehearsed by many, the message is carefully crafted, the lighting and videos are planned far in advance. Coffee, tea, soda, pens- all the things we take for granted don’t just magically appear, they require manpower. Churches NEED volunteers to help in many different ways.
  3. It takes a lot of work to do the fun events! Breakfasts, dinners, retreats, youth events, coat and food drives all require labor. Do not take these events for granted; several staff members worked overtime to make the event memorable.
  4. Just like any workplace, there can be drama when working at a church. But I found that at a church it’s a little different. People talk about the problem, possibly cry, figure it out, and then come back together because they realize that it’s not just about them. They are there to do God’s work.
  5. Employees at a church volunteer at the church outside of their work hours. This shows the level of commitment and dedication for the work that they are called to do. I can’t think of many other organizations where this happens in America.
  6. Pastors wear many hats. They are counselor, boss, friend, business partner and biblical expert. From my short time as an assistant, I am amazed that he can juggle so many things at once (and am a little worried because they didn’t hire a replacement for me yet).
  7. Prayer works. As part of an organization and community, I was able to take part and witness many answered prayer requests.
  8. The church community really cares for others. Whether it’s a move, new baby, hardship or death in the family, they rally around each other to provide comfort and support.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of my church staff even if just for a short time. I encourage you to look around at all the things that make your church feel like home and thank those who make it happen!

“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those who hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)

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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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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A true gift

I’m reposting this now that it is the season of gift giving!

I was having a bad day, wrestling with a tough decision, and then you knocked on my door and were holding a gift. I love gifts! It is beautifully wrapped and layered with colorful tissue paper.

giftBut as I open your “gift” I see it is full of things I don’t want or need. I lift the first layer of tissue paper and find doubt. The next layer contains fear. As I continue to search for something I need or desperately hoped for, all I see is more of the same….my unworthiness, guilt, and selfish ways. I carefully place the items back in the box, smile, and say, “Thank you.” As you leave I feel terrible. I place the gift on the table and try to ignore it. All day my eyes and thoughts wander back to it. Unable to concentrate all day, I return to the gift. I open it again and hold all the items, one at a time. As I think carefully about each item, I feel a relief was over me and can’t help but smile as I place the items back in the box. What you don’t know is that I already have a wonderful gift; the gift of God’s love.

My mom taught me to always write a thank you note, so here it is:

Dear Satan,

Thank you for stopping by today with an unexpected gift. Unfortunately I must return it, as I will not be needing the items you so carefully wrapped. I have received a much nicer gift from God. He shows me love every day and warned me about you. So please don’t come by again anytime soon.

Sincerely,

God’s daughter

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phillipians 4:6-7 (NLT)

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

#Write31Challenge – Word of the Day

October 27 Word of the Day- Patience

This is a hard one for me. I’m the type of person who decides I want to do something and I want it NOW. If my husband and I talk about getting a new piece of furniture, I’m ready to head out the door to start shopping.

Our culture feeds into this need for instant gratification with promises to help us get rich overnight, lose 20 pounds in a month, become famous, etc.. So when our plans don’t work out, it’s easy for us to become frustrated.1234911_10152266350473902_1271463092_n

The same is true of our faith. We pray and ask God to help us and of course He hears us, but the answer may not come in the time or fashion that we are hoping for. God wants us to grow from this and to develop endurance. This can be very difficult when the prayers are for a cure, answers for a hurting loved one, or a medical miracle.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. …James 1:2-8

God has His plans and timing for us. We just need to be patient and faithful!

I’d love to hear about a time when you needed to remind yourself to be patient and rely on God’s timing.

# 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

 

#Write31 Challenge- Word of the Day

October 21 Word of the Day: Strength

When I was thinking about the word strength and what I would write today, I found myself thinking of

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in trouble.

I then thought of the song “Shoulders” by For King & Country. The lyrics describe the strength that God gives us beautifully:

My help comes from YouShoulderStandingSm
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

To listen to the song, click here: Shoulders

I find comfort in this, do you?