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Someday is Not a Day of the Week!

Dream at restDo you have dreams? Are there things you have been wanting to do, or things you know without doubt you are called to do, but you haven’t gotten around to them yet? Dreams and desires without action are just wishes, hopes, and fantasies. Without action now, your dreams will still be sitting on the shelf unfulfilled when you leave this earth. Do you desire a different legacy than a shelf full of unfulfilled dreams?

What are you waiting for?

“One of our greatest illusions is that someday we will have more time [or energy, or support, or courage] to take action on our dreams and aspirations. But one thing leads to another, and someday never comes. While we are busy postponing things, life speeds by.” *

Stepping out of the rut of inaction, or even the rut of busyness, is challenging. Getting focused and taking meaningful, intentional action steps toward our dreams can be a daunting feat. Remember Newton’s law of physics?

“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

A dream at rest stays at rest. If your dream is stagnant – it has no life and no movement – it requires some serious force to get moving. It is necessary to take action steps, even little tiny ones, consistently and persistently, to get the dream unstuck. Coaches are great for this process because it takes help, encouragement, and accountability to change an ingrained habit. I’m not strong enough to accomplish my dreams on my own and neither are you. We weren’t created to do life alone!

Busyness in the direction opposite of our dreams must be acted upon by another force. Overcommitment to things that will not move us closer to our dreams is another reason time flies by and our dreams remain stuck. We must learn how to say “no.” Have you ever said “yes” to something that you knew you really didn’t have time for, it wasn’t even close to your gift set, or took valuable time away from what you knew you were supposed to be doing? I have improved in this area greatly, but at times I still find myself saying “yes” with my lips while my heart is crying “NO!”

If overcommitting or busyness is getting in the way of your dreams, it may be a good time to nail down why you want your dreams. Discover the prices you are paying for not accomplishing your dreams. When the dream (or calling) is clear, we will know with more certainty when we ought to say “yes” and when we ought to say “no.”

Your dreams are worth pursuing and they are part of living out your extraordinary story.

Be Extraordinary!

*From the book 7: how many days of the week can be extraordinary

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Something Greater at Work

I have a number of friends going through extremely difficult circumstances right now. All of the circumstances are different – some involve kids, marriage, jobs, loneliness, family heartache, health issues, injustice, etc. We live in a heart-breaking world and we only have to listen for a few minutes to realize that there are people in pain all around us.

Friends, I am truly sorry for your pain. My heart breaks and I often cry out to God on your behalf, but today I am thankful for all of it. I know that sounds terrible. In fact, I’m trying to find a better way to write it, but hear me out.

God is working2My ache for your pain would not be as real, honest, and deep as it is without the pain I have endured the past few years. I have not endured your same pain or your same circumstance, but the pain (my pain) that I have experienced has built within me compassion for those who are hurting in all areas. My eyes see your pain differently. My heart feels your pain more realistically.

My prayers to God on your behalf would be weaker and fewer, and the results I pray for would be different if I had not spent months weeping before God for myself and my family. I am experiencing and understanding God like never before. I love God like never before. I trust God like never before.

In the song, 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) it says,

“Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I worship Your holy name.”

I “sing like never before” because of all God has brought me through. Because of the pain, the joy, and everything in between that God has allowed on my path, I can sing and connect to God “like never before.”

So, my friends in difficult circumstances, hold on tight to Jesus. Lean into God. Know, love, and experience God fully. If knowing God better is the only reason for your pain – He’s worth it! Please know this . . . although you may not be able to see it now, God is working things in you and through you that are absolutely extraordinary. And He always completes His good work. I pray that you will see some of that completion when you are on the other side of your trial and using your experience of God to encourage and bless others.

Enduring the pain and choosing the high road of love, endurance, and forgiveness is not always easy, but it is always worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

A Little Look at Grace

night and dayI am doing a read-through-the-Bible program with my church – actually, I’m listening. It’s a great way to use my car time and is also helpful since I’m not a very fast reader. When I read through the Bible it amazes me how new phrases, stories, and people are brought to my attention each time. One story that challenged me so far is that of Sarai and Hagar.

Hagar is Sarai’s maid-servant. Sarai became frustrated and impatient when she did not get pregnant as God had promised. It was taking far too long according to Sarai’s plans and so she gave Hagar to her husband and Hagar became pregnant. This started an intense, emotional, angry cat-fight between the women. They despised each other. Abram saw what was happening and told Sarai, “‘Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.’ Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.” (Genesis 16:6)

The Lord reached down and showed amazing kindness and grace to Hagar. It is a beautiful story, especially if you are in a lonely place. You can read the entire story in Genesis 16.

There is a piece of this story that caught my attention like never before. In Genesis 17 God says to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

Sarah was blessed. Sarah was a leader alongside her husband. I imagine that Sarah was known by many, impacted many, loved many, and many loved her. I think of her like Princess Diana – helping and caring for the people her husband led. She was blessed by God Himself!

Now imagine how Hagar felt when she heard Sarah’s name spoken. What emotions would come up as she heard of the blessings bestowed upon Sarah, Abraham, and their community? God’s favor and Sarah’s usefulness were not limited by Hagar’s experience with Sarai.

There is some tough application here . . . speaking from my own experience.

Have you ever been hurt or treated unjustly by someone who loves Jesus? Have you (who love Jesus) ever been the bearer of hurt or treated someone else unjustly?

Have mean, unkind, downright wrong, or evil words or actions been done to you by someone who seems to be favored by God? Have you (who have received blessing from God) ever spoken or done mean, wrong, or evil things to someone else?

It’s happened – I’m 100% sure because we are human and we are not perfect.

I struggle with the fact that people who hurt me so badly could also be the agents of great blessing to others. My experience feels like the only possible truth. I admittedly don’t feel like giving much or any grace. After all, they ought to be held accountable for their actions. But . . . when I’m on the end of personally “messing up” I desire, expect, and sometimes demand all the grace in the world. That mess-up shouldn’t define me. After all, look at all the ways God has blessed me and all the people I, in turn, bless. I deserve grace!

See any application yet?

I encourage you to ponder these thoughts, as I continue to ponder them as well. God is teaching me much about grace and I will be writing more about it in the weeks and months to come. The extraordinary life challenges our thinking, our behavior, and requires new grace-filled thoughts and actions.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Little Orange Leaf

It is a new season . . . fall. I love fall and the changes it brings. . .

Fall colors are amazing. I love the oranges, reds, browns, and splashes of yellow. I decorate my home with these warm, beautiful colors.

The weather is changing. Today, where I live, the temperature is 13 degrees lower than yesterday. The mornings are crisper and the afternoons often warm up dramatically from the sun, only to cool down again in the evenings.

The kids are in school and new routines are established. It takes a few days, but a new rhythm is found, the house gets cleaned (maybe next week), and new work schedules are set.

little orange leafWe are not yet fully in fall. Most of the leaves are still green. The ground hasn’t been frosty in the morning. But, it’s coming. I can see one little orange leaf amongst the green ones and know that fall is on the way.

I saw a little orange leaf in my life recently – a sign that change is happening. Change has happened.

Since January (9 months) I cry easily. This was not my norm prior to January, but the hurt, pain, and sadness I felt were so raw and fresh that I knew holding back my abundance of tears would probably make me physically sick. I decided to let the tears come – to let them flow during church, at the sound of worship music, and in conversation with friends and strangers.

After several months I began to think it was ridiculous. The tears would not stop. I made a deliberate choice to let myself grieve and hurt in my own way and for my own length of time. I was in the Traci process. There was no formula that my heart and emotions were following. I was in my own grieving process, one like no one else’s and I didn’t need to excuse it or be embarrassed by it. I needed to work through it.

Honestly, I thought it would never end. And then last week, 9 months later, I saw my little orange leaf. I had a conversation – real, honest – and there were teary eyes at one point, but I didn’t bawl my eyes out. Progress! Not just progress like “you’re getting so much better at not crying!” BUT, there was healing! I could feel it in my soul and the thought of it actually brings me to tears! 🙂

This journey of life is crazy. It’s amazing and it’s super hard. Whatever season you are in, don’t fight it. Be there. Be there fully. And know that another season is around the corner. Maybe today you will see a little orange leaf letting you know that change is on the way.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Knocked Down 7 Times, Get Up 8!

I have been contemplating, praying, and journaling quite a bit these past few months, and even more since the ladies retreat I attended in April. I continue to work through the forgiveness process. (Read more about that here.) Life is definitely a journey of constant awareness and growth. We never “arrive” while on this earth, but rather work, learn, and grow.

knocked down sevenI have an area in my life that often nags me for change and freedom. I even wrote about this area in a blog last year. I make commitments. I make changes. I make progress. Then I find myself back in the same struggle. I’ve called it a “thorn in the flesh.” I’ve thrown up the white flag in defeat time and time again. I’ve “beaten myself up” over and over. I have begged God for a different struggle.

I speak of progress, not perfection. I know in my head that perfection is unattainable, yet I demand perfection from myself in this area. I am unfair and unkind to myself because of my inability to achieve and maintain perfection. In an honest journal time recently I realized that the struggle is 20+ years old and taking steps to try and “fix” this began at least twelve years ago.

And yet, here I sit. . . once again choosing to pick myself up and make another step of progress.


“Knocked down seven times, get up eight.”


Today is about persistence and never giving up. It’s about hope because there is always hope. It’s about possibility, because there is always possibility if I am willing to pick myself up and go after it again.

Is there an area of your life where you feel like you will never experience victory and freedom? Do you still (deep down inside) have a desire to find victory? Are you willing to take action?

If yes, consider the cost. I am not talking about the cost of achieving freedom, but the price you are paying by not achieving freedom in this area. For me the costs are deep and wide – there are many to consider.

I want to live an extraordinary life. This kind of life is not about the things I do, but rather about walking in obedience to God through every thing He lays or allows in my path. The sacrifice is difficult and often painful, but it is worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

First Day . . . Again!

First Day of School 2015

First Day of School 2015

It is the first day of school in our new little town. I just returned from dropping the kids off at their new schools, with new teachers, and soon-to-be new friends. Leaving the car one by one were three kids with three very different perspectives on the day. One absolutely loves school and is a total optimist when it comes to school and learning. She set out full of massive amounts of nervous, excited energy. I have no doubt that she has already made a friend and told her teacher everything about the latest book she is reading.

The other two have different battles to face. One in middle school, one in high school, and both full of hormones and unpredictable emotions. They have real concerns about how they look, who they’ll eat lunch with, and if they’ll remember where their classes are.

One of my kiddos has been plagued with anxiety ever since we moved to Michigan two and a half years ago. You would never know it if you encountered him in a variety of contexts. You would see confidence, humor, and even a little arrogance, but the first day of school brings out a beast like none other. Anxiety is a terrible thing and I watch it take every piece of confidence out of this amazing kid. It breaks my heart. He cries. (He’s even thrown up more than once.) Then I trust the people at the new school once again to take care of my kid as I drive away . . . in tears. I keep my phone on me, hoping and praying that I don’t receive a call from the school.

As much as I communicate with the school and trust the office, teachers, and counselors to take care of my child and do what’s best for him, there is a bigger trust for me. I am choosing to entrust my kiddo, his growth, and his future to Almighty God.

He sees. He knows. He cares.

Just as the difficulties in my life are working, pruning, and developing character in me, God is growing, strengthening, developing, and creating an extraordinary story in their lives. As much as it hurts and breaks my heart, I don’t want to take this away from my kids. I remember when this anxiety first reared its ugly head in a major way.

It was the first day of school after moving to Michigan. It was April, the day everyone went back to school after spring break, and it was our kids’ first day in the new school. It did not go so well. As I talked on the phone with the counselor or sat in the drop-off line praying him out the door and into the school, I just wanted to quit. I wanted to pull him out of school, home-school him, and protect him from the loads of pain he was feeling. Then he survived, learned, grew, and was strengthened in his character. I could see it!

Then that fall when school began it happened again. And the next fall it happened again. And now, here we are at a new school . . . again.

Through my tears, as I write these words, I still believe it is worth it . . . for me and for my precious kiddo. I refuse to rob them of the lessons God wants to teach them. I refuse to control the situation in hopes of avoiding hurt because I will not withhold from this kid all that God has for them. It is through our greatest pains and sorrows where we learn to truly depend on and trust God. I want to learn those lessons for myself and I want my kids to learn those lessons too – even while they’re young, especially while they’re young.

Parents, do you need to allow your kids to experience the natural pains of life? I’m not talking about throwing them out to a pack of wolves or not standing by their side in full love and support. I am talking about how often we over-protect our kids from hurt or potential hurt because we think that is helping them. Do you need to help them by letting them strengthen their own spiritual muscles?

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Growing through Grief

I am so thankful for this post by my friend, Bev. As I walk through my own grief and sadness this summer, Bev reminds me that grief does not need to control my life. I will experience it fully, but it won’t rule over me.

Please take to heart the wise words of a woman who knows grief and lives with perspective.

What I have learned about grief.

Be Extraordinary!

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Needs, Wants, and So Much More!

I am so thankful that all of my needs, and the needs of my family, are met. We have food on the table, gas in the tank, and a very nice roof over our heads. The kids are in school and Joe and I have work, yet during this season of transition I am not taking any of these met needs for granted. We are still in the midst of job/life/financial transition and it truly is God (through some of you!) supplying each of our needs.


“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His
riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19


What baffles me the most during this season is the way God is providing for our wants. These wants are extras. Some of them are important to our emotional health, the health of our marriage, and the health of our family. Others are 100% extra! I know in my head that God cares about every part of our lives, but I am seriously blown away by how He is showing these extra doses of care to us.

Here are a few recent examples:

Mission to Thailand. I said, “yes” to the Thailand mission trip before life flipped upside down. When our job and financial situation changed I had no idea how I would pay the $3,000 for the trip. (The extra money from my job is needed for daily expenses more than ever before.) God used His people to supply this need, including a $1500 anonymous donation through my church which was God’s “audible” voice saying, “YES, I WANT YOU TO GO!”

Kidney Walk. This is an important event for our family. (Read more of the story here.) The walk is a total extra and it is also a way to remember our story and sacrifice as a family as well as honoring Rhonda, the kidney recipient whom we dearly love. We are excited to enjoy a family weekend away and also celebrate Mother’s Day. (We know it’s a week late!) We can pay a certain amount per person for the event or raise funds to meet the minimum fee. Our team goal was $200, of which $160 was remaining. With five days to go until the walk, an anonymous donor gave the full $160!

Marriage Builder. In our couples retreats and classes we talk about the importance of weekly date nights and, if you are up for the challenge, getting away for a full week each year. Yes, this is complicated with kids, but it is worth it for our marriage. I don’t know what the plans are because Joe is keeping the details top secret, but we are going away for five days. I know we are not couch surfing so I am sure it costs some cash. Joe was praying about this (along with the kidney weekend in Detroit) and that day we were given an envelope. Inside that envelope was enough cash to cover the get-aways!

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn, Oregon

Let me be clear about one thing: I am not bragging on the cash. I AM bragging on my God, His omniscient knowledge of my situation and what my heart needs, and His abundant resources. God is not lacking. God does not work in the confines of minimum wage or salary caps. God owns it all. God is constantly working behind the scenes, moving in the hearts of His people, and setting everything up to supply the needs and wants that you may not even be aware of yet. He is that good!

Are you asking God to meet your needs? Are you trusting Him to meet them?
Are you asking God to meet ALL of the desires of your heart? Are you trusting Him to do that?

These are not “name it claim it” prayers, but prayers of total faith, believing that God has your best interest in mind and is fully capable of giving you every single thing you need.

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

5 Statements that Changed my Life

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada
Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

I recently attended a ladies retreat. This was not your typical “church-y” ladies retreat. There were some of the normal things found at a religious ladies retreat – chocolate, coffee, bunk beds, chocolate, laughter, and chocolate. Although I enjoyed some peanut m-n-m’s, laughter, and a movie one night, I needed something way deeper and I’m thankful to say that’s exactly what I got!

The first night of the four-day retreat I wrote a prayer request and put it in the special prayer box. My prayer was this: that I would experience forgiveness in such a way that joy and life would be evident on my face with no effort of my own. This seemed a tall task. I have been saying the words “I forgive,” but struggling greatly to experience that forgiveness to my core. 48 hours later I wrote down five statements that radically changed my perspective and brought complete freedom inside . . . and out!

I choose to forgive _____.

Forgiveness is a choice. I don’t always feel like forgiving, just like I don’t always feel like loving my kids, but I choose to because it’s right and I want the results of forgiving and loving others.

I choose to no longer hold _____’s offenses against them.

Were there offenses? Yes! Were those offenses against me? Yes! I must also let go of some that were not against me personally. Again, this comes down to a choice. The offenses occurred, but it is totally up to me how long I hold on to those offenses. By holding offenses against someone else I am actually keeping myself in bondage, not them. Essentially I lose if I keep holding the offenses against the offender.

I release _____ of the debt owed me (and my family).

There is a debt to be paid in a forgiveness situation. If I want the offender to pay that debt, I may be waiting around for a very long time. Sometimes the offender does not even acknowledge their wrong-doing in the matter, so seeking their payment would be like beating my head against a wall. Who’s the one losing sleep at night over the issue? Me or them? Most likely I do and that will continue until I choose to forgive.

_____ is not my enemy. Satan is the enemy and what he intended for evil, God will use for our (all of our, including _____) good and ultimately for God’s glory.

This statement is key. Sometimes the person is, or seems to be, acting like the enemy (or at least using the enemy’s play book) which makes it difficult to see the bigger picture. There is a spiritual battle going on and there is an enemy working against us. Is there anything Satan would like more than to get Christians fighting with each other, hating each other, and putting their efforts against one another? I don’t think so. It is an easy win for our real enemy when we don’t forgive.

The other part of this statement is that God will use if for our good, even for the good of our human “enemy”. Because of this reality I can pray the final statement.

I pray for _____. May God bless them, meet their every need, strengthen their marriage, draw them to Himself, and show them favor.

When I was asked to pray blessing over the people that have caused deep pain to me and my family my first response was, “no way!” But after walking through and speaking out loud the first four statements I am able to see those who have wronged me as real people. These are people that God loves and God cares about. People that God wants to do things in and through. When I see them with God’s eyes rather than the eyes of my hurt, I am able to pray good things – even favor and blessing – over their lives.

forgive2

Photo Cred: Anissa Quesada Location: Abiqua Falls, Oregon

After several months of rehashing a hurtful situation and watching myself head down a path of bitterness, I am on a new path. I am experiencing freedom. A huge burden was lifted when I wrote these five statements, but that was not the end of the journey. I am reading these statements daily, building my forgiveness muscles, and experiencing a joy I have not had in a number of weeks.

The extraordinary life is not always easy, but there is always opportunity to make the right choice – the choice that leads to freedom.

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

Let Me Control Your Mind

“The mind is the most restless, unruly part of mankind. Long after you have learned the discipline of holding your tongue, your thoughts defy your will and set themselves up against Me [God].”  Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net Image by Idea go

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
Image by Idea go

Sarah goes on to say that “your mind is the last bastion of rebellion.” I don’t like these words, nor do I like the thought that some part of me is so out of control, but it is true! My mind runs, and when it runs, my thoughts are not always good, profitable, or forward-moving. In fact, lately my mind tends to fall on one specific, negative thing. This particular thinking impacts my mood, my energy, my future thoughts, and my ability to “move on.”

Do you have anything like that in your life? A thought about an event, person, or thing that comes into your mind and takes over in a negative way? Admittedly, sometimes I like dwelling on this negativity, but I don’t like the feelings produced by this thinking. For a moment – in a sick sort of way – I find a bit of satisfaction or pleasure in this negative thinking cycle (probably because I get to choose a fairytale outcome). For those of us who have a relationship with God, I think Satan rejoices every time we find ourselves in this place.

Satan wants us stuck, distracted, and out-of-sorts. He wants us to live wounded, broken, and bitter. All of these are possible, and likely, when we allow Satan a playing field in our minds. Each time we give in to rehashing a painful event or rethinking an encounter with an unsafe person, we open our minds to negativity that leads to long-lasting bitterness and ultimately takes us further and further from our God-designed lives. We can not live extraordinary lives if we continue to think in this way.

How does an extraordinary person think?

Romans 8:5-6 states: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

And how do we behave when controlled by the sinful nature? According to Colossians 3, we are full of anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies to name a few.

BUT the mind controlled by the Spirit is full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness.

I want to live out the latter list with my husband, kids, friends, acquaintances, and even my enemies. And if I want to live and think this way, I must train my mind. Right now I have an opportunity to train my mind, and let God control my mind, every day in one specific line of thinking. However, if I let this “sinful nature” thinking continue  anger, rage, malice, etc. will creep out of my polluted mind.

The polluted mind does not produce an extraordinary life.

Is there a specific line of thinking (or time of thinking) that is running out of control?
What are you doing to set your mind in the proper place?

Be Extraordinary!

 

(I’m Traci, the “Be Extraordinary!” blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)

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