Battling the Blues

If you are Rocking around the Christmas Tree and having a Holly Jolly Christmas then please….carry on…this post is not for you!

This one goes out to those who, when the holidays roll around, struggle with the blues.

Maybe the holidays bring back painful memories of an event that, by a cruel twist of fate, happened during “the most wonderful time of the year,” or maybe you just cycle in and out of funks and the added pressures and demands of the season trigger an episode that makes it difficult to fully enjoy the festivities.

I’ve been there and I’d like to walk alongside you.

comfort

I both love Christmas and the holiday season AND I struggle through Christmas and the holiday season. I battle seasonal depression and it always creeps in this time of the year. It rolls in just before Halloween and lingers throughout the end of the year. Some years are milder than others. Every year, I hope and pray that I will escape it but for the past 10 years the pattern has persisted.

In years gone by, I have worn myself out fighting it but now I’ve learned to live with it, never giving up hope that one year, it will disappear forever.

In the meantime I have a few coping mechanisms that help to keep the blues at bay and allow me to resist the gravitational pull that makes me want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Maybe they will help you too.

Be gentle with yourself.

Unfortunately, I can’t control when the dark clouds descend but I can control how I treat myself. I have stopped beating myself up for not being able to “snap out of it.” I allow myself to move a little slower if need be and cut back on activities that sap my precious and limited energy. I’ve learned to let those close to me know that I’m struggling when I need to. It makes it easier to not have to pretend. Pretending is exhausting.

Schedule something for yourself.

The season can easily get filled up with things you have to do; make sure you make time for some things that you love to do. This year I scheduled a “Tea with Santa” at one of my favorite places, with my sisters, nieces and granddaughter. Part of the experience is looking forward to it! Maybe it’s just a walk on the beach to watch the sunset but do something that brings you joy. *Moms – this is especially important for us since we are typically making sure that everyone else is taken care of!

Get outside of yourself.

This is a game changer. There are plenty of opportunities to give this time of year. In my struggles over the years I’ve learned the principle of healing through giving.

Isaiah 58:10-11 says:

…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

Earlier in the chapter it says that if we clothe the naked and don’t turn away from those who need us — THEN our healing will quickly appear. Nothing helps us rise above our own problems or issues like serving those less fortunate then ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be monetary. Give of your time by serving and I promise you, it will lift your spirits.

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Next Tuesday, I’ll be serving at Metropolitan Ministries in their Holiday Tent with a group of ladies from For the Girls International. (You can join us if you’d like – sign up ends today – click HERE and choose Dec 20th!) Let your passion lead you to someone in need. God set it up so that when we give, we also receive! I love that! Look for opportunities to serve.

One of my all time favorite verses is one my Dad wrote in my Bible when I was baptized at 14 years old. This is the message version of Matthew 5:16:

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.

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Even if you feel like your flame is merely a flicker, I assure you it can still brighten someone’s day and bring color to their world.

The other day I was feeling a little low, wandering through the mall by myself and I determined that I would try to be extra kind to the salespeople as the mall was packed with impatient shoppers some of whom were being less than kind! After waiting an inordinate amount of time to be served, the saleswoman greeted me apologetically and appeared to be resigned to receive backlash from me for the wait. I told her I was not in a rush and it was no problem. She thanked me profusely for my patience and began to share how angry people had been that day and how she had been mistreated. She went on to tell me that she had lost her husband, her mother and her sister all this past year and that she couldn’t understand why people had to be so rude when life was so short and unpredictable. She wondered aloud why people could not find it in their hearts to be kind. We had a nice little chat and I went on my way. My spirits were lifted just knowing that I had made a tiny difference in her day.

Allow your sensitivity to pick up on the sensitivity of others. There are a whole lot of people struggling this time of year. You are not alone. Depression can feel so isolating. So, I’ll say it again…you are not alone!

Lastly,

Remember The Reason for the Season

I know, I know, that’s a totally overused expression from the 80’s but focusing on the Christmas story helps keep things in perspective and makes all the hoopla fade into the background. For me, music helps me focus. Some of the beautiful Christmas Carols are life-giving if you listen closely.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Hold onto HOPE. Allow your soul to feel its worth. Weeping endures for the night but JOY comes in the morning. Your funk or blues or depression or whatever you want to call it, will eventually pass. I pray for those who struggle, so if that is you, know that you are being covered. Feel free to drop a comment with any additional tips or share your coping skills. I’d love to hear from you!

Wishing you JOY and PEACE,

Tracey xo

Changing Seasons

When I pulled my blog up to revive it and realized that I had not posted since last year, I was shocked! It is amazing how time flies. The lack of entries has not been for a lack of desire but for a lack of time.

It has been a busy year!

But today, I am sitting in the front room of our cottage in Maine, wrapped in a blanket because Fall has arrived here, staring at the lake and feeling inspired to write, as I so often do when I’m here. We come in September to close the cottage but I also come here to PAUSE. To catch my breath. We need that once in a while.

This year, For the Girls International has experienced tremendous growth, which has kept me extremely busy. We moved into our first ever “bricks and mortar” space – a very exciting development and a dream come true. Then, in essence, we started 2 new businesses (both social enterprises) at the same time as continuing to run the non-profit. Crazy? Maybe a little, but I have learned that you need to jump in the river while it’s flowing! << that’s a whole other blog for another day, right there!

First, we opened the FTGI Boutique. An adorable little shop, full of unique jewelry, t-shirts, gifts and clothing. It took time to build the space out and stock it with inventory to get ready for our grand opening in May. We brought in outside vendors who were willing to help support the mission and hired a few people to man the shop while it is open.

Second, we opened a FTGI Co-Working. This is housed in the same building as our office, in the back of the Boutique, and is a collaborative, creative shared work-space. We have several women who work independently but together there and it makes it a really fun place to be. Big ideas are dreamed up there, dreams are brought to life and we laugh a lot which is good for the soul! Between people popping into the shop, and the work going on in the back, there is rarely a dull moment.

One of the highlights of the year was a personal one. My husband and daughter and I had the opportunity to join a group of teachers traveling to China to help at a summer camp in the same province where my daughter was born. (in case you didn’t know we adopted her from China when she was just 7 months old) There is much to be said about the emotion of that trip for me. I am not sure I have even processed it all yet, but for now I will just say that it was a gift and a real “full circle” journey for us all. << that is probably more of a book than another blog!

Then, this past summer, we took the loooong (in the emotional sense) drive over to Palm Beach to drop our daughter off at her first year of college. Our last little bird to leave the nest.

Changing seasons.

That’s what I’m reminded of as I sit here and gaze out over the trees, whose leaves are just beginning to turn beautiful hues of oranges, yellows and reds – the telltale sign that autumn has begun.

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I remember just after my first son left for college, I was driving down the road and the song Landslide by Stevie Nicks came on the radio. The song asks the questions:

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

I wasn’t sure I could, as I drove, trying desperately to see the road because I was bawling my eyes out. Yes, there are people like me out there on the road – be aware!

But, I did sail (maybe more like trudged) through. I’ve now sent two more children off to college. The son I was grieving going off to college now lives near and has given me a beautiful daughter in law and granddaughter to adore.

Letting go is painful but it leads to new growth.

So, here we are, in the Fall of 2016, and I sit here thinking about what needs to go in order to make room for new growth in 2017. I challenge you to think about it too.

Don’t be afraid of the changing seasons. It’s part of the life cycle.

Drop me a comment and let me know what has been happening in your world this year.

It’s good to catch up! I’ve missed you!

Tracey xo

 

Today I Will Be Jolly

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’m going to try to keep it at around 500 but there is much to say about the picture below.IMG_5975.jpg

I snapped it yesterday intending to post something about getting ready for Christmas and to reference my old recipe book that is yellowing around the edges. However, when I looked at the picture after I took it, I realized just how much was represented in this one shot.

I didn’t mean to include all of the things they just happened to be in the same place – captured in the same photo.

Let me break it down.

A few weeks ago, my sister showed up at my door with the cute wooden sign that says TODAY I WILL BE JOLLY. She handed it to me and said with a smile, “Here you go…one day at a time.”

As many of you know, I battle on and off with depression and my sister knew that lately it had been “on.” The plaque was a perfect reminder of how important it is to make the decision to take each day as it comes and make the best of it.

The open recipe book on the counter was made for me by my mom and given to me for Christmas the year I was engaged to be married. She wanted to start me off with some family recipes and I’ve added to it over the years. I’ve always loved referring to it but it is bittersweet now to see her handwriting on the top left hand side knowing that she is no longer here. Bitter because she is no longer here, sweet because I have this treasure to remind me of her and her love.

The tea set above the book is a collection she also started for me when I was engaged. What I wouldn’t give to have a cup of Christmas tea with her! The beautiful thing about my Spode collection is that after my mother was no longer able to add to it, her sister (my aunt) took over the tradition and has given me a place setting every year. We always have a huge crowd on Christmas Day and now I have enough for everyone at the table and extras.

The recipe on the page has become a family tradition for us at Christmastime. It is the recipe of my husband’s German grandmother – a favorite of his from his childhood. She is no longer with us, but each year we enjoy her Sauerbraten and Semmelknödel and lovingly remember her.

And then…at the top right hand corner is a picture I keep on my windowsill of the first time I held my granddaughter, Ezra Darling. A perfect example of something (among many things) I have to be JOLLY about right here and now.

Tomorrow she will come to my house and we will bake together. She will wear one of my aprons and it will be like a gown on her little two year old frame. We will laugh and make a mess and I will do my very best to live in the moment because each one is precious.

I could have kept this to myself. In fact, a big part of me would rather not broadcast the fact that I’ve been struggling lately. But I know I am not alone. And chances are, if the title of this blog appealed to you enough for you to read it, you may be needing to make a conscious decision to be JOLLY lately too.

And that’s the point. That’s why I share. To let you know that you are not alone. To give you a gentle reminder as my sister did for me that we just need to take it one day at a time.

So, together, let’s decide that TODAY WE WILL BE JOLLY. And then tomorrow we can decide all over again if we need to.

Wishing you lots of jolly moments and all of the peace and joy this beautiful season represents.

Merry Christmas!

Tracey xo

Lead Me On

Two weeks ago we had our last Girls Night Out of the year for For the Girls International . Over 150 women gathered around the theme of being “anchored” in our faith. There was music and fun and our hearts were knitted together. I asked the speakers for the evening to recap their “talks” in a blog so that those who were present could revisit and those who missed could be blessed!! I loved these mental pictures that Cynda Harris brought to us that evening and she has recapped it for us here. I pray these words will speak to you right where you are and help you to press on, even when the waters are rough.

Lead Me On by Cynda Harris

Music always inspire me. Whether it’s in personal or group worship, in preparation for my day or any type of ministry.

When Tracey first spoke to me about sharing at the Fall GNO, the song “Steady Heart” had been my song of choice for the last few weeks personally and for the Life Class that I was leading at the time.

As I was fully involved in my day at home, I put my headsets in my ears and began to listen to the words…

“Oh, I can’t see what’s in front of me

still I will trust You. Still I will trust You.”

God immediately showed me a picture of a woman standing on the beach. As the song continued, it was almost as if I were watching her prepare herself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The waves and the sky didn’t look very welcoming and even though she couldn’t see on the other side, she knew it was the direction she was supposed to go.

Watching her, I found myself encouraging her to trust Him and to follow His voice regardless of what she saw ahead of her, how she got there or the questionable voices inside her head. It was her time to step into the unknown and say “lead me on.”

And, she did.

Immediately, I saw a second woman in the center of an ocean. It looked like she was alone in her boat being whipped by the wind and wild waves.

“Thought the sky is dark and the wind is wild

You’ll never leave me. You’ll never leave me”

In this picture, I saw a woman in the center of the boat. She, knowing at any moment that the winds could take her on a different path or course, was focused on the Creator of the wind and trusting that IN THIS STORM God was building faith, confidence and would be the One in control of her destination.

She had two options: Turn back or let go and say “lead me on.”

As soon as I saw her release, she began to recognize that He was closer than she ever knew Him to be and was in control of the winds and the waves. As I saw her take her focus off of her surroundings, I could see her recalling saying “yes” on her shoreline and saying more confidently and louder than ever before “Lead me on.”

“Steady heart that keeps on goingtumblr_mqs7mhCQDk1s9rnz8o1_1280

Steady love that keeps on hoping

Lead me on

Steady grace that keeps forgiving

Steady faith that keeps believing

Lead me on

The third woman I saw was arriving at the Other Side. She was standing in the boat preparing to disembark. Thoughts flooded her mind of questions and new adjustments. But rather than being consumed with any hesitations, she knew this was her Next. And, as she was about to step onto new land she knew God had equipped her for this new journey. Each experience had shown her Who her true Anchor was; He was faithful in the promise that the light would break. And, it did.

“And as the dawn breaks

and the cloud clear

in an open space

Together we will run”

Whether you are that girl on the shore staring in the face of the unknown, find yourself in the middle of an open ocean in the middle of a furious storm, or getting ready to step into your Next, God has a destination point with you in mind. Every ounce of your life Story ~ the beautiful and the ugly will be useful and is a part of the stepping stones that will build the place that you are to run freely as you were created, but to teach others to do the same.

Where are you at right now? At a new shoreline? In the middle of a storm? Approaching your new territory/season?

How can you become more aware of His presence?

Write the phrase “Lead me on” where you can see it daily and recognize how and where He will guide your steps.

Steady Heart – Written by Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook (Bethel Music)

Keep steady my steps according to Your promise (Psalm 119:133)

About the Author:

OurTeam-Cynda3Cynda has been in ministry for over 20 years and is a certified life coach. She is a co-founder of For the Girls International, Inc. and the founder of Grow Life, Inc. Cynda has recently come on board as FTGI’s Director of Life Coaching and offers a variety of coaching options including groups and individual coaching. Click here for more information.

Cynda and her husband, Dave, live in New Port Richey. They have been married for 31 years and have 4 wonderful children, a lovely daughter-in-law and a sweet baby grandson

Love holds no record of wrong!

Happy Monday friends!!

I hope you are encouraged by today’s video. Carrying wounds from our past around with us can slow us down. I want to see you free to MOVE forward and here’s a little encouragement for the journey!

Click below to hear this Monday’s encouragement.

Photo on 8-31-15 at 10.36 AM

When God is silent

There have been times in my life when I have been plowing ahead, charting new courses and feeling guided with every step by God as I’ve prayed for direction.

And, there have been times when I have believed with all my heart that I was being sent in a new direction, heard whispers of inspiration and promise and then suddenly without much warning…

Silence.

I remember clearly hearing in my spirit that we were to adopt a baby girl from China. I knew it as surely as if I had seen a line show up on a pregnancy test that I was expecting a baby. God had shown me signs and confirmed it over again and then without warning everything came to a screeching halt. We encountered roadblocks that stopped the progress of the adoption and I felt like God had gone silent for a little over a year.

During that time when it looked like the dream was lost, there were times I wished I had never heard the promise, so that I wouldn’t be so confused and frustrated at the lack of fulfillment.

Silence can be deafening.

I heard a sermon recently that inspired this post. The pastor spoke of the silent period in the Bible between the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, and the first of the New Testament, Matthew. I never knew this but there was a 400 year gap between those books. Whereas previously the Israelites had a succession of prophets speaking on behalf of God there suddenly came a large chunk of time when there was no prophet saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” It appeared that God had gone silent.

The pastor went on to describe in great detail all of the things that were happening in the world during that silent period: The rise and fall of empires, the political and religious changes and on and on. But what struck me most was when he talked about the infrastructure of roads that was created during that time and the wide adoption of the Greek language – preparation for the spreading of the gospel that was coming.

During the silence God was at work to ready the world for the birth of the Messiah and the spreading of His message of hope and redemption.

If God had answered my desperate cries during the year of silence during our adoption process I would not have my daughter because she had not even been born yet. Anyone who knows our family knows that she is and was always meant to be ours!! During the silence He was making roadways for the completion of our family.

If you are in that place today where you are not hearing anything, I get it! It can be so frustrating, but be encouraged today. God is making roadways that you cannot see to take you where He has called you to go!

My prayer for you is that you can rest in the promises and find peace in the sound of silence!

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