Posted in Devotional Musings

The Sacred Space

Sacred Space

There is a sacred space that is created in a moment of time when a soul becomes fully aware of the depth of sacrifice Jesus made on Good Friday.

It’s the moment when the image of Jesus, who’s shoulders are bruised and splintered from dragging the rugged wooden cross to Golgotha, transitions from a fuzzy out of focus Sunday school story into a clear as day image where you can almost feel the heat, hear the sounds and smell the aroma of sweat, blood and people.

You see the outstretched arms of Christ as His body spasms from the pain while the blunt nails are pounded through His hands.  You see the crown of thorns digging into His scalp and can almost smell the sweat mixed with the blood as it drips down His face.

You hear the compassion in His voice as He speaks through His pain and asks God to

forgive them, for they know not what they are doing (Luke 23:34 NIV).

You ache as you hear the agonising despair when He, the one that is blameless and without sin, takes on the separation we deserve by bearing the weight of the sin of the world and cries out

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani! (which means “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Mark 15:34 NIV).

That one divinely appointed moment in time predestined for Jesus to become our final sacrifice so that we may have eternal life.

and then with a loud cry He breathed His last (Mark 15:37 NIV)

This is why good Friday and Easter Sunday is the holiest of times in the Christian calendar.  It encompasses the gut-wrenching devastation of an undeserved death with the absolute exhilaration of our saviour coming back to life fulfilling the promises foretold throughout the Bible and declaring to the world

I am for you (Ezekiel 36:9a NKJV).

The one moment evidenced in history which continues to be remembered from generation to generation all for one purpose.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:16-17 NIV).

This sacred space is why we can be secure in the knowledge that no matter what is happening in our world, even if it is filled with uncertainty and heartache, He has already made a way, this is only for a season and He has prepared a place for us with Him (see John 14:2-3).

So, for those of you who are yet to meet Jesus, I pray fervently that you do, He loves you desperately and yearns to have a relationship with you.

For my brothers and sisters in Christ, I join with you as we remember our Saviours sacrifice.

My heart is in awe of the depth of grace shown to us. While we were and are so undeserving, He still made a way when there seemed to be no way.

To God be all the glory.

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Posted in Devotional Musings

Life is a Rollercoaster

I love roller-coasters. I am not sure why I do because every time I ride one, my stomach churns out of nervousness as the carriages clickety clack to the peak of the hill where they  pause for a split second.  This pause enables a glance at the massive drop ahead before I plummet down the hill. And then, as the momentum builds the combination of screaming and laughing occurs partly out of exhilaration and partly out of terror. The most confusing thing is once it is all over, no matter how big the roller coaster, I always have the urge to do it all over again.

I was thinking about roller-coasters at 3am this morning as the second bout of chemo side effects hit. During this time It occurred to me that whatever journey we are on there are usually a roller-coaster ride of emotions involved. Moments of the “calm before the storm”.  Moments of being unsettled or fearful when our journey goes in a direction that wasn’t in our original plan.  Moments of pausing where we are at a standstill while we wait for news whether it be good or not so good. Then there are  moments where your stomach drops either from relief or from having to process through the mess.  And then the cycle repeats.

Whatever moment you are up to in your “roller-coaster” journey, the one thing that can keep you on the right track is to cling to the truths found in God’s Word. I have especially found this so important in my current season.

Over the last four months I have I have learnt to hold fast to one of my favourite Bible verses found in the book of Proverbs as it is a guide as to how we can get through each moment that comes across our path:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. Prov 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Trusting in God with all our heart means leaning on Gods understanding not ours, acknowledging that His ways are higher than ours and that He sees things ahead that we cannot.

We can try to psychoanalyse each step of the way in an attempt to guess what comes next, but I can tell you it is much better to lean on the fact that God has the bigger picture and knows what’s best for us.  By acknowledging His role in our life each step of the way, by clinging to the truths found in His Word no matter how we might be feeling, it helps us to move the focus from our “hard place” to look to God which enables a sense of peace that transcends all understanding and helps to remove fear.

You see, I could’ve been overwhelmed by fear when I knew there was a strong possibility I would not wake up from my massive surgery, but instead I clung to the fact the God was in control and had already gone ahead as it says in the book of Deutoronomy.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut 31:8 (NIV).

I could’ve been devastated that I was Stage 3C and be overwhelmed by the medical statistics but instead I thanked God that I wasn’t Stage 4 and praised Him by acknowledging that His truths trump any statistics remembering that my time is in his hands and He alone numbers our days as it says in the book of Psalms.

But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; (Psalm 31:14-15a NIV)

Whenever we have those crisis moments, we all have a choice to wallow or to trust and praise.  My friends I have done both many a time over the years and can tell you that the journey is much easier no matter how big our “giant” is when we surrender our giant to the One who sees all, knows all and can conquer all.  Once we surrender and acknowledge Him, He will make our paths straight He will guide us along the way by comforting us, providing for us, and at times healing us in this lifetime or when we reach our forever home.

To put it simply, as Lysa Terkeurst has often said, “God is good, and God is good at being God”.

Let’s cling to this truth

Dear Lord, as we negotiate the roller-coaster of emotions that come in the hard times of life may we hold fast to the truths of  Your Word every step of the way.  Help us to be so focused on you that we will be enveloped by your peace that transcends all understanding. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Posted in Devotional Musings

The Journey Begins

I can’t remember the last moment I had where I was able to sit outside purely to enjoy the outdoors.  Most of my days were usually filled with looking at my never-ending “to do lists” or binge-watching the latest TV series in between meetings and Church.

Every time I felt burnt out I would always make a vow to rest more, re-organise my schedule, eat healthier and exercise more. I made these promises to myself with determination and a steadfast resolve that this is what was required in order to achieve more calm in my chaos. Well, that was the plan, but all I ended up doing was to exchange one list for the next ensuring that my task filled life would continue.

Today is different.  Today I’m at day 4 after my first chemo treatment and my soul is yearning for more time resting in God.

So often we look for Bible verses to speak truth into our circumstances.  We are inspired when we go to Christian conferences arriving back home enthused to live a more fulfilled and intentional life.  We read every spiritual growth book which fits our “now” moment nodding our head at the sections we relate to and noting down all the other new revelations we stumble across. These are all good things, and things that will certainly help us to grow, but how often do we choose to just rest in Him?

Today I choose to sit, rest and listen for God’s voice.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

I’m outdoors in my backyard sitting comfortably in the shade looking out at the yard which has been mowed, trimmed, tidied and cleared thanks to a team of beautiful people from my Church.  If someone was to see me they would think nothing of it I’m sure.

But in the beauty of this single moment of time what they would be missing at first glance is that in my rest my senses are heightened.

I hear the rustle of the leaves as the wind blows through the trees. I see the blossoms fall to the ground like snow. I notice the sunshine disappear behind a cloud, just for a moment, and then delight in seeing it burst forth to dry my washing once again. I close my eyes and feel the wind.

I ponder what I see, feel and hear.  The miracle of the moment, the pause in time which will soon be in the past and I smile.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7a)

Why do I smile? Because, in this beautiful moment I have discovered a truth that was just waiting for me.  When we rest in God our spiritual senses will be heightened and He will meet us there. He will speak to us through His Word, we will have enough quiet to hear His voice and promptings.  He will rejuvenate and infuse our innermost being with peace in the midst of our messes and it will be well with our soul.

Dear Lord, so often we allow time to rush us by as we desperately check off our to do lists each day.  Please teach us how to stop and take the time to just rest in you.  Let us never forget how precious time with you is. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Posted in Devotional Musings

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball

When I started my blog a couple of years back I always envisioned that it would be to publish my thoughts on where I saw God day to day in every day life.  Every day life to me was, at the time what I would consider quite average and included:-

  • Single mum to a pretty amazing son.
  • Working full time.
  • Serving in a number of ministries at my church.
  • Running Bible studies in my home throughout the year.
  • The odd health issue but nothing too concerning.
  • The odd tough time with family law and financial issues.

One thing was for certain I was always in a rush.  At times it was hard to stop throughout my busy life to write my thoughts down to share with you, I have at least 10 partially written blog posts sitting there waiting to expand on but never seeming to have the moments of time to stop, process and complete them.

Little did I know that life would throw me a curve ball and my blog would grow from snippets of life lessons I have learned into a testimony of God’s faithfulness in a particularly tough time.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

I have been diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer.  When I was first diagnosed I couldn’t even say the word.  Part of me was in disbelief and with the initial appointments I would go with the tiny hope in the back of my mind that they would say “we were mistaken”.  We had been living the last year as a family throughout my father’s terminal diagnosis and it never occurred to me that I would have my own cancer journey.

I had always dreamed of being a writer, and now that I am unable to work for a season I certainly have a lot of opportunity to write.

I have had people ask me so many questions – some asking if I am concerned about  dying if the treatment doesn’t work, others asking what I need, and other beautiful people who don’t know what to say so they do all the know how which is to love and bless us in whatever way they can.

So this my friends is what my blog is going to begin to look like. I will write about my journey and let you know that from day one God has been ever-present and overwhelmingly carrying me in ways I never could have dreamed of. He has been so “in my face” that there has been no room for fear, only an overwhelming sense of being humbled that over all the years He has put things in play right for this moment.

What a comfort it is to have a God who already knows the outcome and already knows what we need before we even ask.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know there will be times of tears during the mess and vulnerability when I don’t know that I have the energy to take another step but if there is one thing I am sure of it is that I trust God in all things, the good and the bad, and I really desire for you to meet Jesus if you don’t have a relationship with Him already.

I pray that through my journey you will see God in the midst and that it will encourage you to push on in your journey.

Posted in Devotional Musings

Book Review: Between Heaven and the Real Word: My Story (Steven Curtis Chapman)

Book review between Heaven & the Real World pic

Each year I try to read at least one biography.  To be honest, I have to make myself.  When it comes to fiction I can power through a book quite quickly and love to get lost in the worlds that are created, it is my escape, but reading biographies or self-help books takes time because I need to absorb and process.

So, when deciding which biography that I was going to read it was natural for me to pick up “Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story” by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I knew his music so I already felt a connection.  Little did I know that I would be taken on a journey that would move me so deeply.  I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read this book.

I still remember the first time I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman.  I was given the album “For the Sake of the Call” by dear American friends who were in Australia working with the Navy as a thank you for babysitting their children. One listen and I was hooked, Steven has a wonderful way with words.  His songs took me on an adventure, spoke out the thoughts and feelings that I so often couldn’t put into words when I wanted to let God know how I felt about Him. The songs resonated with me. Being in Australia I didn’t have the opportunity to go to any of his concerts or hear the stories behind the songs so the songs spoke to me depending on where my journey was at with God.

After reading this book the songs I have listened to over the years have taken on a new depth, I have received a new understanding of the heart of the man behind the song.  What a privilege it is to see into the heart and home of the Chapman family through their triumphs and devastation, through beginnings and brokenness all with their hearts fixed towards their Heavenly Father, their one true love. Although the book is written with a gut-wrenching honesty and may at one point bring you to tears, the underlying heartbeat of this book is that God is faithful, He is the only one who can meet every need and when it feels like there is no strength to take the next step He is there carrying us.

My friends, if there is one biography that you choose to read this year, may it be this one.

Posted in Devotional Musings

When Questions are Necessary

Questioning pic

Have you ever participated in a Bible Study that impacts you in such a way that you are inspired to make changes immediately?

I certainly have and none more so than the study I have recently finished called “The Quest: An Excursion Toward Intimacy with God” written by Beth Moore.

What I loved about this study was that it challenged my consistency when it came to ensuring that I spent intentional time with God. Let’s be honest, I’m sure we would all like to be more intentional with our Bible reading and prayer life and there are a number of ways we can connect with God authentically if we make it a priority which is really hard to do when our schedules are so jam packed with every day life.

I started this study with no expectations.  Little did I know that it would begin my adventure of learning to ask questions with an expectant heart while being fully confident that God would answer each and every one. It took me through the questions that are in the Bible and the context that surrounds them and gave me a fresh picture of the relationship between God and man in their journey through life with Him.

It’s so easy to feel that reading the Bible and praying to God is a one-way communication.  We live by faith and most of us are not going around expecting to hear God in an audible way giving us answers. But one thing I know for sure is that our relationship with God is exactly that, a relationship, and in order to grow in a relationship questioning is part of the process.  If God didn’t want us to ask questions of Him then Jesus wouldn’t have instructed us to ask in Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV):-

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The important thing is that we ask Him the questions while acknowledging exactly who we are talking to.  Not questioning out of anger and accusation but questioning to gain understanding. Does this mean we cannot be emotional or angry about a situation when we cry out “Why me?”, of course not, just look at the book of Psalms or the book of Job, they are full of people trying to make sense of hard situations.  The important thing to remember when questioning is that God is God and we are not, and while we won’t always understand why we go through tough times, He is the one who knows the outcome and wants what is best for us. That’s were the faith and trust comes into it.

And while we may never see the answer to every question this side of eternity, how comforting it is to know that we will receive the answer either way.

Posted in Devotional Musings

Life is a Journey

Life is a Journey pic 2

Hi there,  For those of you who have been following me via Facebook or WordPress, thank you for your patience while I have taken a year long sabbatical.  For those of you who are joining me for the first time welcome!

To begin, I thought I would share with you what I have been doing over the last year.

I have spent time growing in my writing through various avenues one being COMPEL Training.  I have spent time growing in public speaking by being given opportunity to share from various platforms about my story and my love of God.  I have been living and travelling through the journey of life which has been full of ebbs and flows, beginnings and endings, hard times and times of celebration. And most importantly I have enjoyed spending time with my son who has almost finished school and is about to begin his own journey into adulthood.

I must admit I have been wondering whether I needed to re-launch this blog with a new name and a fresh website but after much prayer I realised that would not be authentic to who I am.  Why? because when all is said and done this is me.  Tracy Jean.  I live for the wisdom in every moment, for the lessons I learn, for the insight I gain, I look for God in every step I take and without fail see His faithfulness.

When all is said and done, that is what I am led to share with you on this blog and I am so pleased to have you with me on this journey.

So as we begin this new season in our journey together I pray that each and every one of you will begin, if you haven’t already, to see God in every moment with each step you take.

 

Posted in Devotional Musings

Finding Stillness in a World of Constant Movement

I sit on the front deck of my ‘getaway’ house staring out over the water of the Crookhaven River. The fronds of the palm trees that interrupt my view of the horizon sway and rustle within the breeze, the same breeze that cools the air which was scorching with heat the day before.  The only other noise I hear is the random squawking of Cockatoos, the waves sloshing at the shore, the buzz of a lone cicada and kookaburras chuckling in the distance.  The kookaburras make me smile. It’s hard to know what makes them laugh – most times I hear them as the day breaks or as the sun sets signalling the change from night-time to daytime, but sometimes there will be an unexpected cackle during the day as if they have seen something hilarious or are sharing a secret that brings them great joy.

I close my eyes and breathe deep, drinking in the noise of my surroundings – the sounds of creation that sing of the Creator and the stillness finds me.

The stillness every soul who lives in this world craves.  This world which seems constantly bent on filling every moment with something, almost seeming too scared to stop and be quiet.  I often look at the advertisements on TV, each product supposedly existing to make our lives easier so that we can achieve more, do more and be more.  And yet they fill our lives with constant movement and pressure to get everything done all at once which can be overwhelming and leave us with a sense of failure. Leaving us so disheartened that we collapse onto our favourite lounge chair in front of a random TV show and at that moment in time what “could be” turns into “time wasted”. So often I have found myself this way, watching a show that I am not interested in – recognising that I am too overwhelmed to complete whatever was on my never-ending task list and cranky at myself for not using that time to meet with the only one who could turn my moment of utter frustration and disappointment into stillness and peace.

What is your stillness?  What helps you to relax and rest to a point where you can just “be”? What brings you to a point where you sit in the presence of our Creator and just rest in Him?

If you find that sweet spot, that spot where you meet with God, to rest in His presence knowing with every fiber of your being that that He is with you and yearning to remain in that place every moment of every day – that is your stillness. The place where you can laugh, cry, journal what He stirs in your heart, converse, seek guidance – that is your stillness.  The stillness that can be found in a world full of constant movement and chaos, the stillness where we will hear His voice – not just in our quiet time but throughout our day.

Whatever that stillness may be I pray that you find it. Whether it be through writing, hiking to enjoy His creation or just sitting in His presence. However you connect with God our Creator, make sure to take time to be still throughout your day, you will be amazed at the peace it will bring, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in throughout the constant movement of life.

ENCOURAGEMENT TASK FOR THE WEEK:

I encourage you to begin to discover your “sweet spot” where you find your stillness with God.  If you already have a “sweet spot”, I encourage you to think about how often you meet Him there and ask yourself the following questions:-

  • Is my sweet spot the place where I yearn to stay? Or do I only seek that place when things are tough?
  • Are there things I can do during my time of resting in God that can help me grow or deepen my relationship with Him?

MORE VERSES TO EXPLORE:

Psalm 62:5-6; Ps 107:28-29; Luke 10:38-42 and Phillipians 4:7

                                                                                                                                                                                 

References:      http://www.lovethispic.com/image/35367; Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan

Posted in Devotional Musings

The Lord Who Provides

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus

Philipians 4:19 (NIV)

Have you ever taken time to learn about the names of God in the Old Testament? This is something I love to do.  Each name describes an aspect of God’s nature, character and how He cares for us. Over the years as my relationship has deepened with Him, I will naturally draw towards the aspect of God that fits each situation that I journey through.  The name I have called upon so often of late is Jehovah Jireh which means “the Lord who provides” and may I say, He has never failed to do just that.  This name is the one aspect of God that I see so clearly every day. Looking back there is not a day where He hasn’t provided what I needed for each season – even the times where it was almost impossible to see any good at all.

When I was younger I would get sick quite often and the doctors struggled to find out why. One of my doctors even likened me to a Ferrari.  He said, “when one thing in your system is “out” the rest goes out of wack”.  Before this year I had managed to have 8 years of excellent health (to my systems standard anyway).  2016 has been different.  In the last couple of months my entire family and I seemed to be in a relay team but instead of handing on a baton we would be passing along a virus.

I must admit the flu I had a month or so ago became quite serious and, just for a split second, I wondered if my body was reverting to what it used to be. At this point in time I had a two choices.  I could focus on the negative, or I could draw closer to God.  Because this strain of flu had me bedridden my instinct was to be moaning and groaning with a dash of panic  but instead I took a deep breath and said “OK God, let’s see what I can learn from this time of forced rest”.

You see, when we choose to turn towards God and say “what can I learn” rather than wallowing in the “why me?” moments, we change the posture of our heart from “woe is me” to “teach me” giving opportunity for growth in ways we would never have imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, finding the strength to do this in all circumstances can be difficult but it is amazing what you can learn when you do – especially whilst bedridden for a week in between the exhausted moments of sleeping as your body heals.

I learnt many things during this time but my favorite was this.  When I chose to accept my circumstance and instead work at quietening my spirit – even when it was difficult to focus – it allowed me to hear my internal voice speaking what my soul knew with conviction “God will provide”.

And God certainly did.  He had provided me with a roof over my head and a bed to rest in.  He made sure I was fed every day while I was too sick to cook courtesy of my beautiful Church family and He had given me a wonderful son who looked after me without being asked.  Through this beautiful moment of resting in His provision I was reminded that I am always looked after by a loving God who gives me strength when I can no longer stand.

So friend, if you are in a season of struggle, hardship or general frustration and can’t see the way ahead let me reassure you that God is there, He does provide and will restore you in ways you will not expect.  All you need to do is seek Him and wait – look for the God moments – from a random flower blooming when you needed a lift of spirit, to the friend dropping off a meal when you are too tired to cook.  There are so many moments of provision we miss because we aren’t looking.

QUESTION TO PONDER:

Where have you seen God’s provision this week? I encourage you to start a “God Moments” journal to note down in point form where you have seen God each day – especially in the tough times.

MORE VERSES TO EXPLORE:

Matthew 6:25-34; Ephesians 1:3.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

References:       http://www.lovethispic.com/image/59782

                              Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:                                               Zondervan

Posted in Uncategorized

When Words Are Not Enough

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”       1 John 3:18

 

I am not often at a loss for words, so when I stood next to my son to give a “short” speech before he cut his 16th birthday cake I was expecting the words to flow. I knew what I wanted to say, my carefully crafted speech had been mentally rehearsed over and over for a week and I was ready.  I walked up to the front of the room, calm and collected, my moment had come.  I just knew that all the beautiful words that I had written would be expressed as eloquently as I had imagined them.

What I soon found out was that I was not as prepared as I thought.  Yes, I had written and practiced, but I had not allowed for the fact that while delivering the speech I would be looking into the eyes of all  the people who had taken time out of their day to celebrate with us.  When I looked up and around the room what I wanted to say seemed no longer as important because no words could adequately describe what I was feeling.

In that brief moment when I began to speak, my words were “stuck in my throat”, and it felt as though time stood still because just for a moment, I saw love in action and it moved me.

I saw the faithfulness of God who proved yet again that He always goes before.  Each person was evidence of God’s slow-released timeline of divine intervention.  People connected to our family from before I was born up to this day. Family, generational family friends, school friends that have become family and more recent friends who are just as precious to us.

I could see the love of my son and the fulfillment of God’s promise in his life-   “Give and it will be given to you …..For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”(Luke 6:38). My son’s love had been poured out and today it had been returned and was overflowing.

I recognised the gathering as a ripple effect of who my son is as he naturally draws people near.  He has this amazing ability to show the unconditional love of Jesus even when the world would rather ignore and avoid.  He looks past any “quirks” that would make others uncomfortable, works hard to forgive quickly and works hard to rebuild relationships when conflict comes in a way that’s humbling to see.

I remembered the times that the beautiful people in front of us had surrounded, supported and carried us through the valleys as well as celebrated with us on the mountain tops. I felt the comfort of knowing that this would never change.

For one brief powerful moment I saw the intrinsic relationship of love in words, truth and action. I knew in that moment that the only action necessary to convey what I needed to express was for the tears to flow, my imperfect inadequate words to be spoken, for God to be given the glory and for our family and friends to “fill in the blanks”.

Reflect and Respond:

Is there a point in time when you were on the receiving end of love in action? If so, how has that one act made a difference in your life?  What things could you do to show love in action to the people around you?

More Verses to Explore:

Romans 5:8; John 13:34-35

                                                                                                                                                                   

References:       Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:                                               Zondervan                                                                                                                                                             Image: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/59436