Posted in Beliefs

Beatitudes – Poor in Spirit

Humble

Matthew 5:3 ”Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”

Meaning:

We are to have humility in our lives. If you have humility, pride is taken away from you and you are sensitive to God’s ministry through you. What does God want you to do to help humankind?

Other references to being poor in spirit:

Isaiah 61:1

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

Because the Lord has anointed me

To proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

To proclaim freedom for the captives

And release darkness for the prisoners.”

The prisoners are those who do not know God and have not accepted him into their lives.

Luke 4: 16 -21

16”He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the places where it was written:

18’The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

Because he has anointed me

To proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

And recovery of sight to the blind, 

To set the oppressed free,

19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’

20Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’”

Luke 7:22

“So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’”

My Interpretation of this Beatitude:

The poor are those who do not know God and his love for us as humans. He loved us so much that he sent his only Son to not only take on the human body but he also died for our sins on the cross. We are to share the news of God with everyone. Note: Not everyone will accept the news but it’s up to us to continually share it. You never know when your words will help someone. Someone might be ready to take that leap of faith to learn to love and trust God. He could become the center of their lives. You might be the one to help lead them there. Remember he goes to find the 1 lost sheep. Are you going to be the one to lead that lost sheep back to his/ her/ their Shepherd?


I’ve included a song about the Lord looking for the lost sheep. HE has a Reckless Love for us. HE will find us.

I’ll continue with the rest of the Beatitudes.

May you be blessed,
Traci

Posted in Beliefs, faith

Getting more bang for your buck – Writing Scripture – Graphics (Part 3)

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Instead of just reading the Bible, I take an active route to understanding and learning God’s word.

Two ways I have done that are through live readings on Facebook and then dissecting what I have read to try to make sense of what I had just read and by writing scripture.

Today I’m just sharing some graphics summarizing my other 2 posts about this subject.

In action

May you be blessed,
Traci

Posted in Beliefs, faith

Getting more bang for your buck – Writing Scripture – After Writing and Reading (Part 2)

Introduction

Part 1

Instead of just reading the Bible, I take an active route to understanding and learning God’s word.

Two ways I have done that are through live readings on Facebook and then dissecting what I have read to try to make sense of what I had just read and by writing scripture. Today I’m going to discuss what I do after I write and read the scripture.

First

After reading the verse(s), I read either the chapter or several verses before and after to make sure I get the context of the verse. Sometimes we take the verse out of context when we only read that verse.

Second

Research is key. There are two websites I like to use to help me research a particular book of the Bible.

  1. Bible Hub
  2. Bible Project

Bible Hub is excellent for finding maps and other reference pieces.

I like the Bible Project because they have both downloadable posters about each of the books of the Bible and also videos about different topics.

Third

Once you have done your research, it’s time to “tear” apart the verse. Now I don’t actually mean you need to tear it apart. We are going to analyze it.

Box or underline unknown words, key phrases, or anything else that sticks out to you. Once you have boxed in the unknown words, define them. An excellent site is either the Merriam-Webster website or Bible Study Tools. If you want to go low tech, you can use a paperback dictionary. There is no wrong way to do this.

After defining the words, summarize or write down any connections you have made to the verse. Write down ways you can apply the lesson you learned while reading this particular Bible verse.

Again there is no wrong way to do this, these are your notes.

Fourth

Pray – God wants to hear from you. Thank him for the wisdom these words may have provided you.

In Conclusion

You can use the same verse repeatedly. Each time, you may get different insight depending on the circumstances of your life at that moment.

There is no wrong way to get into scripture. The only wrong was is not getting into it at all. You never know what knowledge you may pick up each time you read the Bible.

I’m going to leave you with the same thought as my previous post. If you don’t feel comfortable while being with God, then you are less likely to want to commune with God.

Get comfortable being with God. Get into his word and see the blessings from reading the Bible.

May you be blessed,
Traci

Posted in Beliefs, faith

Getting more bang for your buck – Writing Scripture – Setting up (Part 1)

Instead of just reading the Bible, I take an active route to understanding and learning God’s word.

Two ways I have done that are through live readings on Facebook and then dissecting what I have read to try to make sense of what I had just read and by writing scripture. Today I’m going to start to discuss how I write scripture.

First

How do I find the verses that I’m going to write? I have found Sweet Blessings. She provides a scripture writing plan each month based on a theme like contentment and forgiveness. She doesn’t label them by the date instead she labels them by Day 1, etc . . . so you can pick up whenever you want to pick up with the writing plan.

Another one is Symphony of Praise’s Inscribe the Word. She also provides monthly scripture writing plans based on a theme.

Go whichever one that makes you comfortable.

Second

Find a notebook and pens that you can use to keep track of the Bible verses you write. I love using Flair pens or the Sharpie fine pens because of color. I get my notebooks from WalMart. However, it’s up to you to decide what you are going to use. It needs to feel comfortable to you.

Third

Do you need a physical Bible to do this writing exercise? Honestly, no. You could certainly use Bible Hub or Bible Gateway instead of a physical Bible. I would highly suggest having a Bible and also using Bible Gateway, which by the way has an app that is wonderful. Why would I want both? There are many different translations to the Bible. You might find one that is comfortable to you but may want to read it in a different translation. The Bible Gateway allows you to do that.

Fourth

Translations – What do you mean there are different translations of the Bible? Yes, there are a whole bunch of different translations from the King James version to the New International Translation to the Message. Use the Bible Gateway to see which translation feels comfortable to you. Each one may have just a slight different way to say the same thing.

Fifth

Today’s final piece of advice is to find a sacred place for you to commune with God. You will be communing with God while you are writing the Scripture. HE wants you to be in his word. So make a place the you can read HIS word. Once again, you need a place you feel comfortable.

As you can see, the key word is comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable while being with God, then you are less likely to want to commune with God. By the way to commune means feel in close spiritual contact.

Next time, I’m going to discuss what I do AFTER I’ve written the scripture.

May you be blessed,
Traci

Posted in Beliefs, ramblings, Random, Randomness

I am Dayton Strong

The morning after Memorial Day, I’m outside chasing my dog at 4 o’clock in the morning. The sky is full of stars and the air is perfectly still. I breathed a sigh of relief because I made it through the holiday without any major incidents.

Then the news comes in that morning about George Floyd and his murder by the police officers. Protests begin to erupt throughout the United States and the world.

The year before, our communities of all races, nationalities, genders, and sexualities came together to lift each other up. Now a year later, the city that had celebrated unity now could have been torn apart.

         As I heard the news that weekend, I heard that one of my favorite historical buildings had been vandalized during the peaceful protest that ended with rioting.

         I cried out, “No, not the Victoria Theater”

         There had been another protest of sorts in my town the year prior. The KKK had been allowed to hold a gathering in the downtown area just down from that Victoria Theater. People came to protest them being allowed to hold an annual meeting in our town. Fortunately, nothing had been destroyed during that protest. The city had come together united.

         Two days later, our city was hit by a tragedy that could have broken us apart just like the KKK meeting.

         On the night of Memorial Day 2019, the dark sky full of stars was expansive. There was a stillness in the air which was sort of like a foreshadowing. I was outside with my oldest, Nick. We walked around the yard letting the soft freshly rained grass tickle our toes with our words floating in the air because he was trusting me with his teenage secrets.

         We were laughing because we in the middle of a tornado watch. In our part of Ohio, it was common for us not to take those tornado watches seriously.

         After some time outside, we went in to get ready for bed before our last days of school. Anticipation of summer lingered in our good nights.

         Even though I had gone to bed, the thought of the tornado watch hung over my head like a bee trying to find a flower to land on. I kept scrolling Facebook to see status updates from my local friends and meteorologists. Suddenly the words, “I think a tornado just went over my house. The are police surrounding it looking for damage,” jolted me out of bed. No longer tired, my adrenaline was heightened. I began to pray. Worry filled my thoughts.

         Then I saw the words “Tornado hit Trotwood!”

         I bolted out of bed like I was suddenly shocked by an electrical shock screaming, “The sh- – just got real.” Tears flowing down my face. Breathing was hard at that moment.

         As I gathered everyone for us to head to the bathroom, there was a sense of urgency in both my voice and actions. “NOW! Move it! Let’s GO!” could be heard throughout our tiny ranch house.

         My husband, Todd, refused to budge from the living room. His stubborn self was skeptical about there being an actual tornado even after me yelling about a tornado hitting Trotwood. He wanted to see it on the Weather Channel before he believed it. Finally, after getting confirmation, he reluctantly headed to the bathroom

         Our walk-in closet sized bathroom barely fit all four of us plus our almost 15-year-old dog. Will, my youngest, took one wall while holding the dog. Nick sat in the bathtub with his swim trunks on. Todd sat on the toilet. My back was to the bathroom door. There was no room for anyone to move around as we played the waiting game.

         We heard the wind beginning to pick up outside. It was a ghost howling in the darkness. After a few moments, the hail began to hit our house. The pinging of tennis balls being hit at a gym wall unsettled us. While the rest of the family relied on sound to know what was going on outside, I felt the force of the wind and the hail since I was against the bathroom door.

         As quickly as it had started, it soon was silent outside.

         In the silence, my phone began to beep. People were texting me letting me know they were either okay or were praying for me. We were not alone in that bathroom. God was with us.

         Minutes that felt like hours in that tiny bathroom. Every time we thought it would be safe, another ding would go off on all our phones. Tornado watch extended for another half hour. More waiting and worrying.

         Then we were given all clear. Our adrenaline was sky high at that point, but it was after midnight and we needed our sleep because we didn’t know what was waiting for us the next day.

         Sleep evaded me that night. I would cat nap for a little while and then would wake up remembering what had happened earlier that night. At 3 o’clock in the morning, I decided to take a walk around the yard.  There was a calm in the air. No indication of the damage Mother Nature had caused a few hours prior. As I breathed in the sweet summer air, a sense of peace filled my heart because I was alive and safe.

         Our communities came together during the days and weeks that followed the tornado. People from all over came to help remove all the debris and tree limbs, feed the volunteers and victims, and to provide food and clothing to those who lost a little or all. All races, nationalities, sexualities, and genders came together to help each other.

         Now 52 weeks later, our Memorial Day is marred by another tragedy. I’m left to wonder again is Dayton going to come together like we did the year prior or are we going to be fractured?       

         Then I remember that I’m Dayton Strong. In the last 52 weeks, we’ve had a KKK meeting, the 15 tornadoes ripping through our area, a mass shooting, Covid-19 and now the Black Lives Matter protests. We will come out of this stronger and a more united community. I am Dayton Strong. My city has taught me to be resilient.

Posted in Beliefs, ramblings

No More Silence

This is not a new feeling that I’m experiencing right now. Over the last few days, there has been unrest in the United States over the heinous injustice to George Floyd. Unfortunately it’s not an isolated incident. It’s an ongoing battle where the blacks rightly so feel injustice from whites.

As a white middle aged woman, I have had the privilege to grow up and adult without having people judge me and treat me as less of a person because of the color of my skin. It’s not to say my life has not been hard and I’ve had to struggle. The color of my skin was not the reason for my struggle.

I was a junior in high school when the LA Riots occurred. Far removed and actually quite sick with mono at the time they occurred, I didn’t realize the significance of the riots. Did I agree with people rioting and causing property damage? No, but people need to speak up and use their voices. I said use their voices not cause property damage. As my 16-year-old says, they are only hurting their area and it’s going to cause corporations to come in and take over.

I was born after the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s being a child of the 70s. I didn’t know the unrest of that time. I remember learning about the political changes of the 60s in a history class ironically named the 60s. People stood up and used their voices against the unjust treatment of black people.

Little did I know that less than 10 years after that class, I would be given the opportunity and privilege to teach in a school where I’m the minority. The majority of my students who I call my children are African Americans. I’m scared for them.

Twenty years into the game, I’m saddened by the continous treatment of the black population. People are scared for their lives just because of the color of their skin. Why? African Americans are human. They bleed just like everyone on this earth. They breathe just like everyone on this earth. They dream just like everyone on this earth.

Some of the best people I know are African American. They are beautiful, talented, Godly, and the most giving people I’ve ever met. My life has been blessed by having them in my life.

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that we need to love our neighbors as ourselves.

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Black lives matter. They shouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin. God does not discriminate. He made all of us out of his image. We are all precious in his sight.

We need to use our voices. We need to come together as an united front to combat the evil that is among us.

I won’t be at the protests, but I will use my voice to let people know that what we are doing is evil and will not accepted.

Traci

#blacklivesmatter

#loveyourneighbor

#prayforwisdomandguidance

Posted in Beliefs, dealing with grief

Purpose in Life

            Your palms are sweating. Your heart is beating out of your chest. Your stomach is doing flip flops.

            “Sit down,” demanded your professor.

            Your professor has asked you to come to his office to speak to you.

            So, you obediently sit down on a chair while your mind is racing. Because you don’t know what you did to cause this meeting.

            You had just finished your first classes to be a teacher and your first observation in a classroom. You’re confused about what you did while in the class with the first and second graders.

            “When you shared your past, the rest of the class didn’t know how to talk to you afterward,” uttered my professor.

            And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;” Psalm 9:10

            I put my trust in the class when I shared my past with them. Now they didn’t trust the fact that they could just speak to me as though I’m a regular person.

            So, what about my past did I share with my class? I told them one of the reasons I became a teacher was because I had had been physically abused by my father. None of my teachers was my hero, while the whole ordeal was going on in my life. Perhaps I was going to be a kid’s hero. I knew that I wasn’t going to save all the children.

            Even though at that moment, I felt as though God had forsaken me. I couldn’t be my authentic self.

            “For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:10.

            For the next 20 years, I was very selective about who I told the story of my past because I thought I was going to be judged. Through it all, God stayed by my side, preparing me for his plans for me. He did not forsake me.

            It was not until my mom died in early October that I felt like I could be my authentic self. I knew that it was time to tell my story. God began to let me know his plans for me. It is up for me to believe him.

            “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29: 11.

            Over the years, he has given me an inkling of what his plans are for me. He has whispered, “Write.”

            While I sleep, I dream of new towns with people I have never met.  When I wake up in the middle of the night and long car rides, I create blog posts in my mind never to recreate them when I’m awake. I invent stories about people I observe when I’m people watching while out and about.

            When I write, I often get caught up in the grammar and does it sound right which causes my writing to be stilted instead of being inspiring. (At least it does to me.) However, I need just to sit and write and later worry about revising and editing.

            “plans to prosper you and not harm you,” Jeremiah 29:11

            I’ve shared more of my writing in the last few months, along with the story of my life. Many people have been shocked when I tell them the truth since I’m becoming more authentic. They can’t really get to know me when I just say, “I’m okay.”

            It’s as though I’m being Instagram fake. My life may look as though it is “perfect” even though I’m walking through valleys right now. No one’s life is truly perfect. It’s messy, especially if you are truly living.

            Anywho which is one of my favorite words when I need to get back on track with my stories. Some of my stories have been shared with various people in my life. God has worked his magic by talking through those people. “Write. You need to write and share your stories.”

            “Your writing is going to help someone. Someone who you’ve never met and may never meet. It’s going to be your legacy. Listen to me,” God is saying through them.

            “Plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

            Even though I’m trying to follow what the Lord is telling me to do,  there is still some self-doubt because of what I was told 22 years ago. “People don’t know how to talk to you after learning about your tragic past.”

            If I could talk to that professor, I would reply, “You talk to me like a person.”

            Just because I have suffered through circumstances that would make a person cry, it’s only part of my story. It does not define me. However, it is what makes up part of my personality and character.

            What the professor didn’t know was that the abuse made me a stronger person. While in my 20’s, I had the drive to graduate from college. I was bound and determined to be the first member of my family to earn my bachelor’s degree. I was working full-time at McDonald’s so that I could afford to go to college. I didn’t let that part of my story become an excuse. Instead it gave me a reason to be successful.

            My father had just died that past November, so I felt as though that weight had been lifted off my shoulder. Right before he died, I wanted to travel to Pittsburgh for the first time so that I could tell him, “You no longer have power over me.”

            Then a few months later, I’m told, “You can’t talk about your past.”

            Do not let someone have that kind of power of you that you feel like you can’t share your authentic self.

            God was only preparing the way for me. He was building the foundation for his real purpose for my life. He already knew the plans for my life. It was not to be the season of my life for him to reveal his plan for my life. He was only laying down the foundation.

            To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Posted in Beliefs, dealing with grief

Kindness Matters

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

On the morning/early afternoon, I found my mom had died, I went on my weekly grocery shopping trip. I needed things to be “normal.”

As I checked out, I mentioned to the cashier that she wouldn’t see my mom anymore. Then I explained the circumstances. She recognized both of us.

Her name was Brittany. She told me that she wanted to give me a hug. So, we hugged in the middle of Aldi’s. An Aldi that was ruined by a tornado 4.5 months earlier and had been reopened for only 2 months.

I just cried on her shoulder for a minute or so. Kindness is a beautiful and beautiful phenomenon.

The last few times I’ve been back to Aldi, she has either been on a break or not working that day, so I haven’t been able to say thank you for her kindness.

Update November 25 – I went to Aldi’s to get a few items. Brittany was working yesterday. After paying for my food, I thanked her for her kindness. She gave me another hugged and told me that she was praying for me and will continue to pray for me. She even asked me how I was doing and she couldn’t imagine what I was going through.

Two days after Mom’s funeral, I went to church. Neither boy nor Hubby were with me, so I was alone. I was nervous as I walked into the church and sat in my usual seat in the back of the sanctuary.

The sermon that day was about the troubles we have in life. Those troubles can help others when they come to you with your problems. You will have empathy, which is so important.

Again, I went on a tangent. As I sat there, one of the people in the church came and sat by me. She rubbed my back as tears rolled down my face. Then she whispered I didn’t want you to sit here alone.

One of my coworkers made me cookies because she knew that I needed some extra love. They knew I needed kindness because everything was falling apart in my life. So sweet and it made me feel as though I mattered.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Posted in Beliefs

Isaiah 41: 11-14

A present that I got for myself was a new journaling Bible. God has been giving me strength during this difficult season of my life.

As I said, I went back to Sweet Blessings scripture writing plan at the beginning of this month. Oldest was going through his first break up so I needed to know how to give him encouragement.

After the death of my mom, I went on a hiatus of reading/ writing the scriptures. I’m now back.

My take away with this verse is that really you can’t please everyone. God will take care of those who oppose you. I’m not talking about physical harm but sometimes he’ll remove them from your life. You don’t know they conversations they are having about you so why should they be in your life. Don’t worry about them. Don’t allow them to take up residence in your brain.

I know as being flesh and bone humans we can’t always help letting people take up residence in our head. We need to pray to God with our worries. He’ll take them from you.

I’m dealing with that right now. I know of a few people who oppose me because of me trying to help them in a way they thought was threatening. It was more of me telling them I’ve been there. I know what it felt like being the one who was not favored. Please break that cycle. It’s not healthy. I was also trying to make sure one of their loved ones got some help because they were threatening self harm.

Even though I am left wondering why don’t they like me, I need to let it go. They don’t know me and my story. Only God and I know the story and my intentions.

To be honest, when I bear witness to this situation, people who do know me are so confused because I’m known for being kind and caring.

Until next time,

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Posted in dealing with grief

A Song that spoke to my soul

As I was driving to work on Thursday, I decided to put K-Love on the radio. They were talking all about the pledge drive which was annoying but I needed to listen to some feel good songs.

I understand that they need to raise money for the station. The annoying thing for me is that I just wanted to listen to music so that I could calm my soul before walking into work.

The one song they played was God Only Knows by For King and Country. Oh, my goodness that song spoke to my soul. It described how I was feeling right after Mom died.

I’ve included the two different versions of the song. I love both of the versions. Dolly Parton has such an angelic voice that she adds another dimension to the song.

Now, back to my story.

This is something that I actually have felt for a few years. That my story is not known by many people. They see one side of me and that side of me is only a small portion of my book of life. I get frustrated with the phrase White Privilege. I do understand that it does exist and I have benefited a little bit from it because people don’t judge me because I’m white. I’ll take that. However, I was not given anything because I’m white. Instead, I worked hard for it. No one knows except for me and God the story of my late teens/ early 20’s. However, that’s another story for another day.

Today, I’m speaking about the story of the relationship between my mom and myself. Our relationship was not one of me being able to confide in her. I often felt disappointment and sadness because she did not protect me from the people who hurt me physically and mentally. Or the times as an adult, I felt a sense of neglect when she was not there when I needed her most. It’s another story that only God and I know.

While the song played, tears just flowed down my face. Music therapy is so important to me. I believe in listening in music to calm my soul or to find something that I can relate to at that moment in my life. I found a song that described how I was feeling 2 weeks ago and for the days that followed.

When I got to work, I still felt teary eyed so 2 of my co-workers allowed me to cry on their shoulder.

God’s right there when I need him. He lets me know that I am special in his eyes. He lets me know that I am loved. And he let me know that he knows how I feel and it’s okay. It’s now time for me to tell my story so I can help other people who struggle with these same feelings.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci