Archive | Faith RSS feed for this section

Story time.

11 Nov

On the flight home from Boston, I finished the book A Millions Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It was GREAT, I loved it. The book is simply a collection of stories in Donald’s life. He is a writer and realizes through the course of turning one of his books into a movie, that he had spent a big majority of his life writing stories – but not actually living them which made him incredibly sad and feel empty. So, he decides to get off the couch, turn the TV off, and start making his own stories – start experiencing life for himself. Stop taking the easy road and creating moments that matter. He ends up with some awesome, very inspirational stories to share. The book is eye-opening on many levels.

For me, it challenged me to really live in the moment. In one section of the book, he talks about how he and some friends were driving down a road as the sun was setting on some open fields. One of the girls said she loved running across fields like that when she was a child. He pulled the car over and they all got out and high-tailed it, running into the sunset. Such a beautiful picture of experiencing life and taking time to fully engage in the moments God gives us.

Yesterday, the girls and I had to drive out to the lake to take care of a few work-related things at Brown’s Landing. On the drive home, Kamryn rolled her window down a smidge on accident when her foot hit the button. I instantly rolled it up and turned on the child safety locks, without even thinking. I caught myself…this is an opportunity. I quickly pushed the safetly lock off, rolled down not only Kam’s window but all four windows in the car. It was then I noticed how beautiful the day was! The laughter that came from the backseat was like music to my ears. The girls loved how their hair flew crazily around them and they smiled and giggled the rest of the way home. We created a story. A small, short, but sweet little story and I loved it.

When I come to the end of life, I want my life to be overflowing with stories. As a child of God, I desire to have stories of how He worked in my life and used me in ways that only He could make possible. As a spouse, I want to have adventures to share about living life with my love. As a mom, I want to have “memory makers” galore with my children. The ups and downs of life can all be part of a story. Even the hard, sad, or difficult times can create a good story, if you let them. After all, God is the author. And He is perfect. You just have to submit and embrace each moment He gives you!

Advertisements

It’s not about how I feel.

21 Oct

Ever have one of those days where you just aren’t in the best of moods and you let the whole day slip away being cranky? Um, I have. Guilty as charged. Maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, your kids were extra whiney as you got them ready, your coffee got cold, your hair was frizzy, or whatever the case may be. I’ve been there many a day. Its hard to shake. Today was one of those days for me. I woke up and still felt tired. Life has been busy this week. I feel like I’ve only seen Ryan in passing and our calendar is filled to the brim. Something every single night and extremely busy days. So, I was just not really feeling up to…well, being happy today. So, I dropped the girls off at school and drove out to the lake, to check in on things at work. I’m driving along, content in my poutiness and I hear this song by Seven Places…

Um, hello? Wake up Traci!!! Stop having a pity party and get with the program. Duh. Its not about me. Why oh why do I continually have to remind myself of this? I thanked the Lord for this reminder and prayed for a better attitude the rest of the day. Got some work done and headed back to Tyler, threw on my running clothes and hit the trails for 5 miles before picking the girls back up. I needed the swift kick in the pants! Gosh, we humans can be so selfish at times. We are so blessed to have each and every day and to simply let it slip away because of silly things – what a waste! Each day is an opportunity, an adventure…God has something planned for today. Embrace it! After all, it’s not about how I feel – I exist for HIM.

Big changes taking place!

23 Sep

God is amazing. He has truly blown us away over the past few weeks, as we have seen pure evidence of His hand at work in our lives regarding a very specific situation. For those of you who haven’t heard this story, here you go…

About a month ago, I started praying for clarity regarding my job situation. (That is a long story in and of itself, I won’t bore you with details.) That very same week that we began to pray that God would reveal whether I should stay or go, He made it extremely clear to me that it was time to look for something else.

So, Ryan and I started talking about the possibilities of what’s next. We weren’t sure what was going to happen or how it was going to work – but we knew full well that God would provide. One of the options we discussed included me staying home with the girls and maybe working part-time or something. The more we discussed this particular option, the more excited we got! Addi starts school next year and the thought of spending more time with her, and with sweet Kam, before that happens thrilled my heart. They are at such a fun age! This is something we have always wanted, but its never worked out or been feasible. So, we started praying specifically for God to open just the right door in order to allow that to happen. He knows our financial needs and the debt we are working hard to payoff. We decided I would stay at my current job until that something else came along.

I started to keep my eyes open and talk to some people, trying to be proactive. Then one day last week, one of my favorite clients that I’ve been working with for over a year now, called up to the office to talk about a billboard design we were working on for him. He then proceeds to tell me all about this new marketing job he would like to hire for at his company. Someone who would do all marketing, public relations, event planning, etc. for him and mostly…(are you ready for this?)…WORK FROM HOME. What? Are you kidding me? He was telling me about it in case we knew of anyone interested, not knowing that I would be! So, I went straight home during lunch that day and emailed him expressing my interest. One thing led to another – I met with him and his wife to discuss and that next Monday, he called and offered me the job! I start October 5th as the Director of Marketing at Brown’s Landing and am super pumped. It’s more than I expected on so many levels. What a blessing, straight from the Lord.

Next step was finding a 2 day preschool to transfer the girls to. Um, can you say HUGE savings? Going from full-time daycare to a 2 day preschool makes a major, positive impact on the budget. Even though I’ll mostly be working from home, there will be a couple of days that I’ll need to be out and about, meetings, luncheons, etc – stuff that would be easier…well, kid-less. Plus, we want to keep them in a structured learning environment. Wouldn’t you know that one of our friends in our community group – his mom owns one of the best preschools in town! And sure enough, she had spots for BOTH girls. Ryan and I went and toured the place, got the paperwork, met the teachers, and enrolled them. Couldn’t have been any easier. Again, another blessing straight from the Lord.

We are very humbled and amazed at how God orchestrated all of this down to every single detail. We also appreciate the prayers that were lifted up on our behalf. He has once again, blown us away! He always provides and we are thankful. I don’t know why I ever doubt – EVERYTHING is in His hands.

And I am stoked to spend even more time with these two cuties!!!

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” — Matthew 6:26

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” — Ephesians 3:20

Fruity

23 Aug

Ryan has been working on painting the girls pictures for their room. I love them so much! A few weeks back, he added the fruits of the spirit – how neat is that? Here is a pic of what they are looking like thus far…I think he’s just about done.

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

Fruits of the Spirit. I’ve been pondering on these words the last few days. Do I exhibit gentleness when someone cuts me off in traffic? Do I really have self-control? Do I show love to those around me? Even to those that don’t show it in return? Am I patient when my kids are throwing fits at Target?

Wow, I so want & desire to be/have all of these things. But alone, I just can’t. I’m a human, what can I say? But thankfully, because of the SPIRIT that resides within me, I can be kind when I want to yell. I can have joy, when my heart is breaking. I can have peace in times of turmoil. God is awesome like that. The older I get the more I realize how much I truly need the Lord. Daily. In every single area of my life. And the more I press into and focus on Him, the more fruit I will bear. More of Him, less of me.

I am thankful for the fruits of the Spirit and I want to be more fruity!

The Uphill Battle

16 Aug

Yesterday, I went out for my long run for the week. I was actually really looking forward to this run. Sometimes you dread it, sometimes you are pumped up. This particular morning, I was pumped & ready to attack the 8 miles ahead of me. I woke up before my alarm clock (rare), threw on my running clothes, pulled my hair back, grabbed a bottle of water and headed out while my husband and kids were snuggly and sleeping away in bed. I walked up the road, stretched, took a sip of water, hit play on the ipod, start on my garmin and took off.

Nice and slow, I had determined I was going to enjoy this run. And I did. There are hardly any cars on the road at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. Very peaceful. I did pass an occasional person walking their dog or other runners here and there. Tyler really is a beautiful place. I love running here. There was a slight breeze and it really wasn’t unbearably hot yet. Great run.

It wasn’t hard until the very end – when I got to the big…no, make that the HUGE hill. We like to name hills on our running routes. Usually if someone we know lives near the hill, we dub it with that person’s name. In Quitman, there is Wilson Hill and Cates Mountain. Here in Tyler, we have Death Mountain- 1/4 mile uphill by a cemetery. Well, Death Mountain was in the last stretch of my 8 miler. And it inspired this blog post.

As I approached this hill (or what really feels like a mountain after 7 1/2 miles), I took a few deep breaths before I started uphill. I focused my eyes, leaned my body forward and went for it. I have found that if I keep looking up ahead, I see how far I still have to go uphill and it discourages me. However, if I focus on a just few feet ahead of me the whole time, before I know it, I’ve made it all the way. The hills tend to slow my pace down some, but that’s OK. After I get up to the top, I regulate my breathing again, take a drink and finish out the run strong…all the while thinking, I just killed that mountain! And I’m going to be stronger because of it.

Isn’t this how life is really? We have mountains to climb and they are absolutely tiring, and hard to get over. Life is hard. There are many ups and downs, no doubt.  The older I get, the more I realize this. But the good news for us is that God promises to never give us anything we can’t bear…and He gives us the strength to get uphill. We don’t have to go at it alone. If we stay focused on Him and not look at how far we have left to climb, we will be over the hill before we know it. He is using the mountains to mold us and grow us…making us better runners in this race of life.

I have experienced many hills in life. But the death of my Dad has been the hugest mountain by far for my family and I. One that we are still climbing and stumbling on. It’s hard, I’m not gonna lie. There are times we are out of breath, don’t know how to go on, and want to quit. But through prayers, encouragement, and love, we press on. And I know, because we press on and press into God, we will be stronger because of it.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

He’s part of that great cloud.

10 Aug

Several of my friends have told me recently that they think of my Dad often while they are out running & it encourages them and motivates them. I know that me, Ryan, my sister & brother don’t take one stride without thinking of him. Lauren, Jessica, Katie – Dad would tell you to run on and to keep on keepin’ on!

I continue to be so proud of him and the impact he has made & continues to make on the lives of people all over the place. As I was thinking about this tonight, this verse came to my mind…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1

How neat to think that my Dad – Kip Clark – is now part of that GREAT cloud of witnesses. Wow. He’s cheering us on as we run this race called life. I have to run with perseverance!  I miss him like crazy, but I know he’ll be waiting for me at the finish line with a huge smile on his face and the biggest high five ever.

Beautiful One, I Love You.

5 Jul

Last night, we were at some friends’ house for the 4th and this conversation came up…”What do you guys do as parents to introduce your kids to the gospel?” Great question! It really made me think – what do we do?

Ryan & I shared that we try to read stories out of their Children’s Bible at night before bed. We pray with them often and bring Jesus into our conversations whenever possible…especially in those very trying & patience-building teaching moments. Also, we sometimes listen to worship music in the car when we are out and about. Either that or Micky Mouse Clubhouse or Owl City – their other faves. Lately, the girls’ have loved listening to Beautiful One by Jeremy Camp and Glory to God Forever by Fee – both awesome songs. It fills my heart with joy to hear their sweet little voices singing…especially when its a song to the Lord. Even when they don’t get the words right and are off key – its beautiful.

After some conversation, we determined that really…the hugest and most impactful way you can introduce them to the gospel is with your own life. Its not all about what you tell your kids, its about what you ARE in front of them. Challenging for sure. Something I need to work on daily & remind myself often…and honestly fail at frequently. Teaching my kids to live a life of worship and devotion to their creator can be done most successfully when I live a life of worship and devotion to my creator.

God has entrusted me & Ryan with these two little cuties and we certainly want to do whatever we can as their parents to assist them along their spiritual journey. We can’t wait to see how God uses each of their lives in great ways!

Thankful Board

2 Jul

This morning, I went out for a run. With tear filled eyes and a heavy heart, I logged 6 miles in the rain. Physically, it was a great run. Emotionally, it was hard. A lot went through my mind this morning. Today marks one month since my Dad passed. Crazy that its been that long already when it still feels so very fresh to me. The past few weeks have been the hardest of my life and those in my family’s lives. But through this tragedy, I have also seen some very neat things taking place. Blessings.

My friend (and co-worker) Sarah had the idea to make the huge chalkboard wall in our office our “Thankful Board.” Every day we try to write five things we are thankful for on the board to keep our minds focused on positive things and give God glory that is due for everything He has blessed us with daily. From small things to big things. Its been helpful to see some rays of sunshine during a dark time. So as I ran this morning, I tried to focus on things that I have to be thankful for & here are five, out of probably twenty, that I came up with.

So pretend the following is on a chalkboard that has “Thankful Board” written in huge pink letters at the top…

1. The friends and family that have completely wrapped their arms around us and loved & prayed us through this painful time, provided food for us for weeks, have allowed us to cry on their shoulders, and sometimes just came and sat with us – your presence means the world. We are thankful for each of you & the sense of genuine community we have here.

2. The way my Dad’s life is motivating us to make the most of our own lives. Ryan posted an awesome blog about this very thing, you can read it here. Dad used to tell us to always leave a place better than the way you found it. That’s inspirational to me on so many levels! It is overwhelmingly obvious to us that Dad definitely left this world a better place than the way he found it. Now its our turn. I am thankful for my Dad’s LIFE.

3. My Mom, brothers and sister. We are in constant contact throughout each day – phone calls, texts, emails, dinners, etc. Its much needed and somehow produces strength. My grandmother, mostly known as Memaw, told me just the other day that there is strength in numbers & gosh, that is so very true!

4. Ryan, Addi & Kam. There are no words. I LOVE my family with all that I am.

5. The song “Blessed Be Your Name” & the memory that goes with it. For those of you that were with us on the Mexico Mission Trip when my Dad’s truck got stolen – you know the depth & meaning behind this. And now during this time…even though the road is marked with suffering & there is definitely so much pain in the offering, we still continue to say – blessed be your name.

One Right, One Left

20 Jun

Turkey Trot - November, 2009

Me with the two greatest men in my life. The one to the left – my husband, my best friend, my children’s daddy, my heart. The one to the right – my dad, my friend, my mentor, and now more than ever, my motivation.

This Father’s Day is hard, I’m not going to lie. It hurts. Our hearts are still and will continue to be broken about this huge and very sudden loss. In honor of my dad this morning, we went and did this. It was very special. Gosh, I love my siblings and my mom – their presence gives me strength. Something about each of them makes me feel closer to my dad even though he’s gone.

After this walk of remembrance of one great man, I went for a 5 mile run with the other great man. Ryan and I ran through the town that with every turn reminds me of my dad. While running, I thought a lot. A lot about my dad and a lot about Ryan. This song by Sanctus Real came on about mile 2, and I thought it was so very timely and fitting for the day…

Today, as we continue to mourn, we also celebrate the life that my dad lived. Even though it hurts to push forward, I am motivated to make the most of this one life I have. My dad’s legacy will definitely be remembered and the memories we have with him will be treasured.

Today, I will celebrate my husband – who is such an amazing daddy himself and I love more and more each day. Addi and Kamryn adore their daddy and they have every reason too. He pours himself into them each day. He strives hard to be the best he can be in his role as a father…as he does with any role he takes on in his life. He is a lot like my dad in this way.

I love my dad. I love my husband. Happy Father’s Day to the two greatest men in my life!

He’s got Poppy with Jesus in his hands.

15 Jun

Many of you have asked how Addi and Kam are doing through all of this. As you know, our kids LOVE Grandma & Poppy. We have been blessed to live near them the last few years and spend a lot of time with them on a regular basis…definitely a God thing.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to handle telling them or what exactly to do. Heck, I still don’t even know how I’m supposed to handle it myself. We figured Addi was old enough and smart enough to understand, so Ryan & I wanted to make sure we did the right thing and approached her tender heart carefully. So after seeking advice from my mother and my grandmother, we determined to tell the girls that Poppy is living with Jesus now and that he’s so happy and will always be in our hearts. We didn’t let them see him at the funeral home, because that would have been too confusing.

They both seemed pretty unaffected for several days. They both loved going to Grandma’s house every day and playing with their cousin Kendrick…pretty distracted during the days of the viewing, funeral, etc. Every now and then, they would ask, “Where’s Poppy?” or “Where’s Hoppy?” – depending on the which child was asking – and we would remind them that he’s with Jesus. They would accept that answer. Sometimes they would ask why we were crying and we would tell them that we’re sad about Poppy and Addi even said, “well I’m not going to cry about that!”

But a few nights ago, I think it finally hit Addi. We were putting her to bed like we normally do – sing a song, say a prayer, etc. She started crying…big tears and a sad sob. When Ryan asked her what was wrong she said, “I just love Poppy and don’t want him to live with Jesus…that makes me sad.” She continued to cry for about ten minutes – saying “Poppy…Poppy” and finally Ryan calmed her down to pray. I obviously had to leave the room because my crying would have only made it worse. She said she wanted to pray for Poppy. In her little three year old way, she mourned my Dad that night. She got it and was sad. The next day, without being prompted, she went and found her little pink scrapbook that had pics from when Poppy was building her crib…she carried it around all morning and told me it was her special book. So sweet.

Then, in the car the next day, the girls were singing the song, as they do often, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” They like to make up their own verses like “He’s got Addi and Kamryn in his hands” or “He’s got Mommy & Daddy in his hands”, etc. So they were singing along and Addi busted out with, “He’s got Poppy with Jesus in his hands.” Wow. How much truth is in that sweet innocent statement?

It struck me that – all of this IS in God’s hands. My heart is breaking wide open, but knowing that truth helps and gives hope. And seeing how even in Dad’s death, God is using him in mighty ways – I continue to be so very proud of him.

Addi and Kamryn will no doubt miss their Poppy/Hoppy. I certainly do…terribly. I am thankful they had the last two years to spend so much time with him and get to know him and love him. His face lit up when we pulled into their driveway, and he was always the first out the door to greet us. This new reality will be hard. Please pray for their precious hearts. I am thankful that they still have their Grandma Clark and Grandaddy & Grandma Dixon to love on them and make memories with them for hopefully many years to come.

I love you all and am truly thankful for our friends and family who have wrapped their arms around us and loved us through this time. Your prayers, calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages, flowers, food, and most of all – your presence, will never be forgotten and mean more than you’ll ever know. We genuinely thank you.