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A recent conversation…

25 Oct

Addi, “Mommy, I want Grandma to pick me up from school one day, so she can see my new school.”

Kamryn, “Yeah and I want Poppy to pick me up so he can see my new school too.”

Addi, “Poppy can’t pick you up because he’s going to be in heaven for 100 years. Right mom, 100 years?”

Me, “He’ll be in heaven forever baby, but one day we’ll see him again when we go there.”

Addi, “I don’t want to heaven, I want to stay with Daddy!”

Me, “Oh, heaven is awesome, there’s nothing to be scared of there. It’s perfect! And we can all be there together with Poppy.”

Kamryn, “Well, I do. I want to go there. Mommy, I can hold your hand and we can fly to the sky to Jesus.”

Addi, “Maybe Daddy, Mommy, Kamryn, and Addi can all get in our car and have wings on it and fly there together.”

I love that my girls still talk about Poppy and they miss him so. He was a big part of their little, innocent lives. Addi recently had a bag of jelly beans and picked out all the black ones for Poppy, like she used to. He was the only one that liked licorice. She gets very sad when she talks about him and even tears up sometimes. They obviously don’t understand the whole concept of heaven and death at this young age, but they have surprisingly understood more than what I thought they would. So sweet and tender-hearted. I love my precious babies!

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.

en-cour-age

19 Oct


I’m feeling good. Not too hot, gentle breeze, endorphins pumping…it’s race day. My iPod is filled with a wide array of awesome tunes courtesy of my husband working on the “ultimate running mix” for hours the night before. I had an awesome pasta dinner and a great night’s sleep. I was sporting my Garmin watch, my favorite shorts, my Saucony’s, and my Dad’s yellow “Livestrong” bracelet that he wore at races (see below). Things are looking good for these 13.1 miles I was about to log. I was ready.

As I made my way along the course of the Tyler Rose Half, I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Go Traci!” a few times and see some familiar faces along the side of the roads waving and cheering us on. At about mile 8, a point where my legs usually start feeling tired, there were two cute little girls standing outside of their house on the curb giving out high fives to those who ran by, so I gladly took them up on their offer. They looked to be about my girls’ age, and I needed that sweet encouragement at the time! It’s amazing how much of an impact the smiles and cheers from the spectators makes on runners. It’s most definitely appreciated! Then, as I turned the final corner downtown and headed towards the finish line, I see my cute husband standing there smiling at me. I love, love, love this part of the run. Knowing he’s there waiting for me always pushes me to finish strong! Of course, I ended the run with a huge high five to the sky – my Dad’s life will always be an encouragement to me.

Ever since this race, I’ve been pondering on the word, encouragement. It’s so simple really. Webster defines encourage as follows:

The spectators along the course were an encouragement to me that day. My race was definitely made better because of them! My family and friends are an encouragement to me every day. I feel truly blessed to have people in my life who spur me on. They inspire me with courage and for that, I am so grateful.

On the course of life, it’s made so much easier & definitely more motivating to continue on when you have people like that around you. People who will cheer you on when you are down. People who will attempt to persuade you to stay on course. People who will walk beside you to help give you hope. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. We should strive to encourage those around us daily, we are a team after all. And there are so many ways you can do this! I genuinely hope that you have people that surround you that provide this source of strength for you! Again, it’s so very simple – but so very important.

I’ve set a goal, starting this week, to do something intentional to encourage someone else at least once each day. Whether it be my husband, my children, a friend, or a stranger. Because you just never know who might be ready to give up, and just a simple smile and a wave might be just the encouragement they need to keep going. Will you join me in this?

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!

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.

Glory

16 May

Today, I was very touched at church. I sat up in the sound booth with Ryan, as I sometimes do. As the worship band started to play, I began to gaze around the room at all the people.  I love to watch people. How they interact, their expressions, etc. Maybe I’m a weirdo?

As we sang together, “glory to God, glory to God, glory to God forever”, I couldn’t help but tear up. Such a joy to join with your brothers & sisters in Christ to worship. From the guy on the front row with down syndrome and his hands lifted high to the middle-aged, bald woman battling with cancer on the back row wearing a bandana on her head and looking so beautiful & peaceful as she smiled & sang to the Lord. I thought to myself, if I were in their shoes, could I still sing with all that I am, “glory to God forever?” Touching.

It was inspiring for me to people-watch this morning.  To see all shapes and sizes, old & young, married couples & singles – all different kinds of people with different things going on their lives coming together to worship our great God. To lay our struggles at His feet and to fully focus on Him in that moment. Touching. Then Pastor Doug brought it about God’s glory out of the book of John and how our goal in life should be to bring Him glory, not ourselves – following the example of Jesus. Good day @ Grace Community today. Good day!

Thief in the night.

6 May

This morning, we walked outside only to find that our car had been rummaged through and our Garmin (GPS navigational system) had been stolen. The glove compartment was open and stuff was everywhere – they obviously were digging deep to see what all they could make off with. The good thing is that, the only thing of value in the car was the Garmin, which can easily be replaced thanks to eBay. This happened once before when we lived in Lubbock. While we were dating, Ryan had surprised me for my birthday by installing a CD player in my car. Not long after that, someone bashed out my window and took the CD player and all of my CD’s. I was so bummed!

It’s such a strange feeling to know that a thief has been on your property and taken something that belongs to you. It makes me feel very sad. Its like a slap in the face and a reminder of the evil that exists in the world. Its also a reminder of the desperation people feel to do things like this. I mean, if the person needed some sort of help, all they had to do was ask & we would have done what we could of to assist them. I’m praying for this person today.

As Christians, aren’t we thankful that material things are worthless in the big scheme of things anyways? All things here on earth are temporary…so really, what’s one little Garmin?!

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:18

Gratitude.

15 Apr

“Gratitude. More aware of what you have than what you don’t. Recognizing the treasure in the simple – a child’s hug, fertile soil, a golden sunset. Relishing in the comfort of the common – a warm bed, a hot meal, a clean shirt.” –Max Lucado

My coworker has a desk calendar with quotes like this printed on each day and she reads them to me almost every morning as we warm up & ease in to our day at the office, which I love. This one is the one from yesterday. Some days the quote will go in one ear and out the other…depending on how sleepy I still am, if I’ve had enough coffee, what’s bustling around the office, etc. But not this one. It touched me and has stuck with me since she read it. “More aware of what you have than what you don’t.” Wow. This is a challenge isn’t it? How often do we sit and think about everything that God has blessed us with as opposed to sit and thinking about everything we think we need, want, can’t change, or lack?

This thought, along with others revolved around servant-hood & helping those in need, is something Ryan & I have talked a lot about lately & are working on together. In fact, its been a recurring theme in our lives over the past several months. At church, at community group, in books we are reading, etc. Ryan even posted a string of posts on his blog about it too.

Being thankful & content in the simple. To be honest, this used to not be the case for us. When we were first married, all we wanted to do was to buy and own the latest & greatest, even though we didn’t have money for it. Keeping up with the Jones’, as they say. And because of that, we are STILL paying off credit cards from years back. And I’m certain paying ten times more for whatever it was we bought thanks to high card interest rates! Dave Ramsey would shudder at some of the stuff we charged.

But over the past few years (probably since we had our first child), God has been working on us – molding us in this area. Showing us that its not about what all you own in THIS life and its not about “living your best life now” in the world’s view. In fact – this life is not about ME at all! Its about God & the work he is doing through me. Its about loving Him & loving others. Putting others ahead of myself. Gosh, I still have a lot of work to do in this area – but I’m trying! And I’m thankful for a husband that is striving to do this as well. As Frances Chan so amazingly explains in the book Crazy Love- as Christians, our best life will come later. For that reason, we press toward the goal!

So I challenge you to “recognize the treasure in the simple” – bask in those moments & praise God for them. Each day is a gift and if we take time to count each blessing, we won’t have quite as much time to dwell in the negative. The next time your child hugs you – soak it up. When you kiss your spouse – relish it. When you lay down at night and cover up, snuggle in and say thank you. When you go out for your morning run, take in the fresh air and smile. And continuously seek out ways to help someone in need – believe me, you won’t have to look far.

Much love & gratitude for all my family & friends!

Traci

thumbs and foreheads.

31 Mar

Do you have things about your physical appearance that you are or have been self-conscience about? Maybe something small & silly – or something big that really bothers you? If we were all honest, I bet we all have at least one thing about ourselves that we wish deep down we could change. Us girls especially.

Well, in the spirit of being open & honest on this blog, I thought I’d share two of mine. These two things have bothered me since I was younger & in hindsight, they seem silly now…but they bothered me for a long time. Sincerely embarrassed me as a teenager. A lot of it stems from lame comments made during my childhood by random people. Who? I don’t even remember! Goes to show you how words can really penetrate at such a young age & affect a child for years to come.

Let me just lay these things out there for you…here goes (try not to laugh too hard)….

1. my short, stubby thumbs

2. my bigger than normal forehead

My thumbs look more like big toes than thumbs. Its true. I used to struggle with this. So much in fact, that I remember being a young girl & hiding my thumbs when I would sit next to people, so they wouldn’t see them. I would tuck my thumb into my fist. But as I have gotten older and matured, I’ve actually grown to love my little thumbs. They are unique & I generally kick butt at Thumb Wars. So there. My mom always told me they were just the way God made them – which always made me smile. I didn’t realize how right she was until I was older…at the time, I was just thumb shy & sad that they appeared different than everyone else’s.

Also, as a child, I always had bangs. It was the style in the 80’s – big & poofy, massively hairsprayed bangs. One time in the 90’s, when styles were changing, I decided to pull my hair back with a headband, and someone told me my forehead was big. Maybe they were joking? Maybe not. But regardless, from that moment on, I had a complex. I felt as though my forehead was the hugest thing ever & bangs were a necessity in order for me to be pretty. How sad! I remember being in a cheerleading competition where everyone pulled all of their hair back into a cute ponytail, but me. I couldn’t do it because of my forehead phobia. I look at it now, and while yes, it is in fact bigger than some people’s (don’t we all have different sizes of everything), I don’t feel like its as large as I had once perceived it to be. In fact, I actually grew my bangs out several years ago and expose my forehead to the world daily now!

So what’s the point of this post? Here’s the point. At nearly 30 years old (yes, I will be 30 this year – yikes), I could care less if my thumbs are big toes or my forehead is taller than Mt. Everest. Seriously. There are much bigger problems & concerns in the world. But back then, it was a big deal to me. When I think back to how obsessed I was growing up about these two things and throughout my high school years, it makes me so sad. How dare I question the work of God’s hand?

Kids are like sponges, ya know? They soak everything in. Thinking about this today & also listening to a friend of mine who has a daughter in the pre-teen stage & all that she goes through…made me think of my precious girls & everything they will go through over the next ten to twenty years in their lives. Gosh, I hope they have enough self-esteem to not let stupid comments affect them the way I did. And I pray that I can always remind them, like my mom did to me – God made YOU this way and beauty comes from the inside.

So if you struggle with issues like I did, small or big, or have children dealing with these kinds of things, remember this verse…

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14

Love to all of my beautiful friends out there! Hope you are having a great week.

Heavy heart.

18 Mar

Ryan is at the studio and the girls are tucked away in their beds. I am sitting on the couch under a blanket with my laptop listening to nothing but the sounds of the keys as I type. And a cricket outside the front window. Sometimes it is just good to sit still and absorb the silence – the peacefulness.

There is a lot on my mind right now and quite honestly, I feel sad. My heart is heavy. A lot of people in my life are going through some serious issues. From family members, to friends at church, to coworkers, to blog friends. There is just a lot of hurt and various problems going on with many that I love & care about. I am very much a “fixer”…and when I can’t fix something, it makes me sad & I don’t know what to do. But here is what I do know – when something or someone is broken…God can do mighty things. Sometimes, we have to be broken first in order to be used to our full potential in life. God is shaping all of us into what He wants us to be.

This morning as I walked the two blocks from the parking lot to my office, I thought of these 2 verses & tried to meditate on them all day…

“…do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” — James 1:2

I’ve heard it said before – you have to choose joy. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this one. But, on the other hand – how could I not be joyful when I think of Jesus, what He did for me, how he’s doing a great work within me, and the end reward of heaven?

“Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” — Colossians 3:2