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

Help my unbelief!

Kilimanjaro

This morning I am practicing to help lead worship at a conference tonight. I’m excited because I don’t get to sing much lately (except in the car or the shower!) and it’s therapeutic for me!!

I was going over this song this morning and the words – “Let faith arise, in spite of what I see. Lord I believe….but help my unbelief, I choose to trust you…” hit me right in the gut.

I don’t even have time for a real blog post so excuse spelling errors or grammatical mistakes but I really thought someone else may need to be encouraged today by these two things….so real quickly…

  1. It’s ok to ask for help when you are drowning in doubt

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief comes straight from scripture (mark 9:24 -read the whole story here) Jesus told the father of a boy that he could heal his son if he only believed and the man said in faith – Lord I believe but then in a moment of full disclosure added…help my unbelief! Sounds like me pretty much all the time. Jesus didn’t punish him for his unbelief – he bolstered his faith by performing a miracle right before his eyes!! Which leads me to the 2nd thing…

2.  You have to choose to trust. 

As the boy’s father demonstrated, all we need to do is want to believe and make a decision to believe and trust God that He is who He says He is. It doesn’t come naturally – maybe it does a little more for some than others but there are many people pretending to be full of faith because that’s what they think they have to do when all they really have to do is choose to trust and ask for help to believe. I have gotten caught up in expending a lot of energy to muster up faith to believe when all I needed to do was ask for help!!

What mountain is standing in front of you today?

He can move it.

Ask him to help your unbelief! Make today 8.07.2015 the day you draw the line in the sand between belief and unbelief and step over it with His help. He is reaching out His hand to you.

Happy Friday!!!

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The sting of NO!

Sometimes you have to endure a lot of NOs before you get a YES. I know this.

  • JK Rowling was told, “Don’t quit your day job.” and Harry Potter was rejected 12 times.
  • The Twiight series was rejected 14 times.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul– 140 rejections.
  •  Agatha Christie was rejected for 5 years before finding a publisher.
  • Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was told to “stick to teaching.”
  • Dr.Seuss was told his books were just “too different.”
  • The Wizard of Oz was called “too radical.”
  • Beatrix Potter’s Tale of Peter Rabbit was rejected so many times (in the hundreds) that she eventually had to self-publish it. 

I know this and yet when I walked into my first publisher appointment (after having scraped up every ounce of courage I had) to pitch the idea of my book, I still had high hopes.

When the acquisitions editor led with, “My concern is…” those hopes began to tank fast. Her first concern was followed by another concern and the answer was NO.

It has been a long time since I have put myself in that sort of position. I am certain it is the first time I have ever put something that had so much of my heart attached to it before a stranger face to face, to be judged.

As the appointment wrapped up I could feel the embarrassment manifesting itself in my physical body. I felt the blood slowly but powerfully rushing to my face and I started feeling really warm and a little dizzy. So crazy! It’s so crazy that the opinion of another human being could have that effect on me!

Thankfully, it didn’t last long. I didn’t want it to show but I couldn’t get out of the meeting room fast enough. Once I had some space to be alone with my thoughts, I regrouped and reminded myself of all of the bullet points above. I also had to remind myself that I don’t live for the approval or affirmation of people.

I’m sure he was not the first to say this but I love this quote by Lacrae:

If you live by people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.

What matters is that I follow the calling to share my message of hope, which I will continue to do regardless of the medium by which it is conveyed. I will aspire do as Paul urged us to do in Ephesians…

…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received

There is One who calls us, affirms us, approves us and if our confidence is rooted where it belongs we can press on regardless of how many NOs we get.

The good news was that my two other appointments went well enough that they were interested in seeing more, so I will keep knocking on doors.

There may be someone reading this, who has holy confidence in their calling but the world is trying to shake it out of you – I urge you to stand firm! Listen to the upward call. Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. Keep knocking. Let’s do it together.

I recorded a little video on Monday with some encouragement for those diligently working on something that has yet to be stamped with APPROVAL.

Take a listen and take heart! Your work will be rewarded.

Click to listen!
Click to listen!

Have a great weekend!!