Monthly Archives: August 2011

a phone call

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#2. so in my missing of friends i called one of my dearest yesterday. jeremy and i have seen each other at our worst through drug abuse death broken relationships and spitual destitution. in many ways hes my brother from another mother. i didnt call to commiserate i called to catch up but something happens when you share a life of suffering and can be honest about it. i wiped the tears away as we prayed for one another over the phone. i told him that my prayers have looked more like me scolding god these days in that i have recently more or less challenged god to come and save me. he reminded me of david and how many of the psalms were not happy or even reverent but that when david was in a pinch and didnt feel like he was getting anywhere that he started yelling and praying for serious curses on not only his enemies but their families livestock and really anyone in the general vicinity. i think sometimes we think that if we’re brutally honest with god hes going to turn a blind eye like a friend we’ve severely offended. he also reminded me of jacob wrestling the angel and walking away with a limp because of his own stubborness and i think sometimes that my limp is coming however i wont stop being honest with god as depressing as it is sometimes. to pray without ceasing means in the good times as well as the bad. jeremy said his biggest advice was to keep being honest in my prayer life and even though i know this to be true and that god knows anyway i so many times just get mad that he knows and seemingly is doing nothing in my eyes.

 

God, please help my unbelief. i am yours to do with what you will. please be with my brother and his family through these trials. You know our hearts are in deep longing to see you in every facet of our lives as shitty as things may be at the moment. we love you and may we sing of your rescue in the coming days. Amen

“and i thank christ jesus our lord who has enabled me because he counted me faithful putting me into ministry although i was formally a blasphemer a persecutor and an insolent man but i obtained mercy because i did it ignorantly in unbelief. and the grace of our lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in christ jesus. this is a faithful saying and worthy of all exceptance that christ jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom i am the chief. however for this reason i obtained mercy that in me first jesus christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe on him for eternal life. now to the king eternal immortal invisible to god who alone is wise be honor and glory forever and ever . amen  1 timothy 1:12-17

hope and encouragement be yours, zach

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Suffering Together

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Spiky Security Measures

It's raining, it's pouring grafitti

“So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”  1 Peter 1:6-7

i have been contemplating suffering a lot lately.  probably because i feel that i have been suffering.  i had been very depressed, and was ready to throw my hands in the air and yell “uncle”.  you win, Lord.  you’ve finally given me more than i can take.  the proverbial camel’s back is broken (though there were many straws).  and then i decided to take a bike ride alone.  just me, the singing oak at city park, my bible, a book about fear, and 1000 gifts.  i must have spent about 3 hours under that tree just trying to feel something.  anything other than fear and despair.  the more i read, the more i began to pray.  the more i prayed, the easier it was to breathe.  i thought “i can do this. i’m ready to try again”.  and then, i realized my bike had a flat.

i called zach to see if he could borrow our housemate’s car and come pick me and my broken bicycle up.  he called back and informed me the car battery was dead, and to keep my chevro-legs moving towards home.  halfway there, the before mentioned housemate arrived via bicycle with a intertube patch kit.  he took off the tire and patched it, reattached it and pumped that sucker full of air.  only for it to be pancake flat within seconds.  i could feel all of that togetherness i had finally found in the park beginning to crumble.  little by little i was slipping backwards all over again.  and yet, i continued to walk.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.  We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

the array of emotions i felt on that journey was immense.  i was angry, dejected, incensed that God knew i was incapable of handling any more terrible things.  one more thing to fix with money we didn’t have.  one more pain in the ass thing to work around.  we don’t have a vehicle, and now my transportation is gone.  i was upset, overwhelmed, inconsolable within myself.  i withdrew because i didn’t know how to let it out without falling apart.  and then suddenly, i reclaimed that feeling from the park.  i began to remember that God gives gifts.  i thanked him for my legs that were walking.  for ice cold water from the housemate. for the golden marlin i saw hanging in a side yard.  for birdsong.  that it wasn’t raining even though the clouds looked dark and full to bursting.  i arrived home without the chip on my shoulder.  without the anger in my heart.  and enjoyed the rest of my day.

since then, i have had several conversations with my husband about suffering.  why we suffer.  how we suffer.  why others suffer.  how does God know how much we can bear.  why don’t we seem to understand we are capable of enduring much more than we actually do?  why does our world crumble so often?  how our complaints pale in comparison to Christ’s suffering.  and most recently, why, as christians, do we try to ignore the suffering of others?  why can’t we all suffer together, in order to comfort one another?  what happened to rejoicing AND weeping together?  why is it so difficult to listen?  to empathize?  to comfort?  is it because it is God’s job?

i say no.  we are to find comfort in the Lord, and through his love comfort others.  i cannot understand why we all find this so difficult.  what is so hard about loving one another?  accepting one another?  respecting one another?  believe me, i am no saint.  but i find comfort in the trying.  the seeking to become more, better, enough.  to find the light that the Lord places within each of us so that we may become the city on the hill.  a beacon for others.  a sign that it’s warm in here, with good food, and dry clothes.  welcome.  we’ve been waiting for you, what took you so long?!

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. ” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (emphasis added)

Perfectly Purple Waterlily with Reflection

Lord, i pray that you remind me in times of trouble to seek you for comfort.  Help me to remember that through you, i may be a comfort to others. help me to comfort my husband and daughter during these days that are so difficult.  i need help remembering that this suffering is not for lack of love, but because you love so deeply.  help me to claim my inheritance by looking to you and trying to love like you.  fill my heart and soften my words.  help us to shine, if only so we may see you more clearly.  Amen.

Suffering, but Loved,

Tracey

The first shall be last

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so here it is the first blog i ever wrote. my wife the champion writter has spoken and it is somewhat embarassing to write next to someone who knows how but here goes… i too am struggling with a beast called unsettling and its getting the best of me. new orleans was supossed to be great not without struggle but great and now i find myself eeking out an existence doing dishes and making bbq sandwiches without a clue in the sense of direction. by the way i love pork but not exactly what i imagined. dont misunderstand theres nothing like walking to genes with my wife and daughter to get a daquiri with an extra shot a 190 to walk the quarter with half in the bag only to sober up by way of verti marts all that jazz po boy or to sit on the front porch to watch a small second line pass but i need more. selfish we are by nature but what if we want more of what god wants but arent sure how to get there. ive worked in missions ive been halfway round the world and theres very few places in the states i havent been that said i cant be accused of not living my life fully but whats it worth if you cant get back to what makes you happy. im pretty sure it was god all along and here i am wanting more but it seems like its worse not better like im more confused not less. im also incredibly judgemental of things and people around me but with what i feel are justifiable reasons so i cant help wondering if these feelings are actual checks in my spirit a good gut feeling or not at all from god or sin. the apostle paul was converted as most know on the road to damascus only to disappear for years. is that whats been happening. is god breaking me down before he lifts me up. all i know is im ready, ready for whatevers next. i want to be a part of something that matters a revolution of love that changes people and the world blah blah blah…more to come.

zach

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

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“You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.  This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful.  They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.”    1 Peter 3:4-5

 

Photos:

1. smoldering summer sunset from front porch

2. busy bee and flowers stretching towards the sun

3. zach’s crows feet

4. sailor lying on front porch

i have been thinking a lot about my insides lately.  not the intestines, liver, and spleen.  the heart, the head, the soul; those things have captured my attention. how to make my inside radiate outward from within.  how to show myself truly to myself, the world, and ultimately the Lord (although, He already sees me).  there is something rotten in the denmark of my soul.  i’m seeing green.  the jealous beast has awoken within me and i cannot see to silence him.

although, i am grasping gifts daily and thanking aloud, i cannot seem to shake this awful feeling.  is it selfishness?  righteous anger, or just plain anger?  is it some drive towards social justice, or am i just feeling sorry for myself?  you see, it’s been quite an internal struggle lately and i cannot seem to pull myself completely from the pit.

don’t misunderstand.  the days have been lovely.  almost every day this week, i have taken sailor to the park to run like a wild indian and play to her heart’s content.  in those moments, my heart is still and my eyes are open.  i feel like i can finally slow down long enough to breathe and whisper thanks.  and this morning, zach and sailor are out to lunch with some friends and the house is tiptoe quiet, and i am basking.  well, basking and writing.  but it is glorious and i relish it.

99. house that is tiptoe quiet

100. the smell of pipe tobacco on clean skin

and so, in this solitude that we are sharing, i have hit 100 things i am thankful for!  it is a milestone.  i almost can’t believe that i have made it 1/10 of the way through.  then again, self-discipline is not one of my sore spots these days (it’s been 8 months and still no hair cut).  it’s the jealousy.  the dark heart.  i cannot help but look around at what others have, and somewhere within me, ask why them?  why not me?  why not the guy with stolen bicycle and torn pants?  why not the prostitute on the corner?  why do we suffer, when others live with plenty?  and then my selfish heart turns slowly and my head catches up to remind me that i have indoor plumbing, and cool, clean bath water, and rice and beans to eat.  i am reminded that my daughter and husband are healthy.  that we have a roof over our heads.  and yet, this nagging feeling continues to creep into my heart and tarnish my soul.  i hate myself in these moments.  actually, it is closer to loathing.  i keep thinking that God is breaking my family down so that we may climb closer towards him.  descend to ascend.  descend to ascend.  this has become my mantra.  that in giving, and seeking to be the gift, instead of only counting gifts and blessing from God may in fact be the bandage to heal my soul.  the vine with which to climb out of this heart of darkness.

so as i am preparing to hop on my bicycle and meet a lady to share sno-balls with this afternoon, i hope to pedal my way to a cleaner heart.  a right spirit.  more hopefulness. to share.  to laugh.  seeking honesty along the way.  maybe get my hands dirty.  really, i just want some inner peace and direction….and not just to get me around the corner, but to guide my way towards becoming a light.

Lord, please help to cleanse my spirit of this darkness that seeps in at the edges without me even noticing.  I pray that you take this rotten core from within me and turn it to something golden, something that overextends itself until it spills out onto others. Help me to understand what your plan is and how i am to get there.  Help me to seek your guidance and comfort when i feel ugly and unclothed.  help me to reclaim the beauty of Ruth and Mary.  Create in me a drive to seek your will, quiet my spirit,  and follow where you lead.  Amen.

Striving towards beauty,

Tracey

Entering Into Eucharisteo

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Photos:

1. smell of smoldering sage

2. Sailor as wild lion lady with brown pie slice left eye

hello again everyone. it’s been a while.  things within me have been cloudy at best.  i’ve recently been reading a book call One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp-in fact i believe it has been my salvation.  the book invites the reader to enter into eucharisteo.  in other words, learning to be thankful.  i’m seeking grace, joy, thankfulness.  a life that is full.  a life that is alive. i want to live!

i’ve been feeling stuck since we arrived back in new orleans. i feel cut off.  removed….from myself.  my soul had become shriveled, dried up.  i was a husk of my former self.  hell, i’m pretty sure i had forgotten who i was and who i wanted to be.  in short, i had given up. and then i remembered this book that a friend let me borrow oh so long ago and my eyes began to open.  i could finally see!  i began making a list of 1000 gifts that i receive from God and that i am thankful for.  anything, everything.  i decided to open my eyes….all of them (eyes, ears, fingers, toes, mouth, and nose) in order to really receive all that the world is offering.  all that God offers freely every day.

the list began slowly, but gained momentum like a rollercoaster downhill in no time.  it has been 10 days, and i’ve almost reached one hundred things i’m thankful for.  i feel like i can finally breathe.  look around and instead of thinking of what i haven’t got, see what is available for free.  and man, is it beautiful!

also, i have convinced my husband to share this blog.  from this point forward it will begin to be brutally honest, and painful, and heavy.  and beautiful, and fun, and lively.  i hope to utilize this blog to open myself up to receive God’s grace and this blog will hopefully be my mirror, and recorder.  i need to find what it is that i am supposed to be doing with my life.  not what i want to do, or what i think i should do, but what God is trying to do, what He is doing. where this road will lead, and the trials and tribulations that occur in order for me to get there.  so far, it has been an uphill battle.  i have been depressed and exhausted and stressed and worried.  and now, i hope to begin to trust and believe and have faith and walk without obstructing myself.  i think i am leading myself in wrong directions.  i need to start listening.  trusting.  loving.  and remembering that God gives me a gift every day, upon waking.  and that is enough.  i’m just glad i am beginning to thank him out loud for the other things he gives freely…especially grace.

Lord, fill me up with your presence.  Split me open and empty me out so that I may be full to bursting, so I may spill out onto others.  Please help me to find joy in doing your work and in finding my place.  Help me to be silent, for my nerves to be still long enough to hear you and please motivate me to answer your call.  Amen.

Seeking grace,

Tracey