Thursday, April 10, 2014

the virtuous woman // introduction

{follow me on instagram here}

i've been working for weeks now on designing a proverbs 31 print.
my stubborn mind has it imagined a certain way and will. not. let. me. do a separate print for each until i've compiled ALL of the virtuous woman's qualities into just one print (though i do eventually want to make a memory verse/flash card sort of set with one design for each quality:)).

as a result of this stubborn mind wanting to put ALL of the qualities into ONE design, i've had to study, and study, and study, to make sure i'm getting all of the virtuous woman's qualities and to make sure i'm getting the right meaning of the words in each verse. because, to me, a lot of proverbs 31 is of course easily interpreted and applied, but what about the verses about how she weaves her own cloth and she goes far to get food for her family and she buys a field and plants a vineyard? i mean, not all of us are quite so multi-talented as she appears to be!

after doing some digging and comparing different versions and reading commentaries on this chapter, i'm so thankful for all of the new insights that God has been opening my eyes to, and so now i would like to share them with you! :)

sooo with that said, i've decided to start a series (hey, i need a little motivation to be more regular with my blogging anyway;)) on the virtuous woman, and i'd love for y'all to follow along and learn with me about the kind of woman that God delights in.

have a blessed day! <3

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

no good thing

"for the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."
psalm 84:11 kjv (empasis mine)

it sounds so simple, right? walk uprightly and you'll be blessed.
in fact, it goes farther than that - walk uprightly and you will have no. good. thing. withheld. from you.

so why do i always feel like there are so many "good things" withheld from me?
why can i think of so. many. "good things" right off the top of my head that i've been waiting for so. long. to have, yet that God is still withholding?

there was this sunday a couple of weeks ago when i was just having a really not good morning and everything in life was weighing me down and if i'm honest i'd say that i didn't even want to go to church because i didn't feel like worshiping but i made myself get over it and go to church anyway (i mean, really, i don't think dad would have gone for it if i'd just been like, "sorry, dad, i'm not coming because i hate everything in life right now," haha!).

i was doing okay until we sang a song that uses this verse (psalm 84:11) as the lyrics.
then i just wanted to run back to the bathroom, hide in a stall, and weep, because in that moment, i was overwhelmed with the realization that the "good thing" that i want more than anything else in life is still being withheld from me, and i crumbled inside.

it was too hard to be strong, to believe that truth - that "no good thing will He withhold" - because how can i believe that it's a better thing - the best thing - a GOOD thing - for my "good thing" to be withheld?
how can it be a good thing to not have a good thing? how can He promise to withhold no good thing when i've seen my good thing(s) withheld every day for years and how can i keep trusting that He keeps every promise when i can't see it?

but God kept hammering His truth into me through the entire service - the entire day, actually - so that i couldn't even concentrate on the sermon. all i could think was, "no good thing will he withhold. NO good thing. NO GOOD thing. NO GOOD THING," until i finally broke and started trusting.

trusting that my God is faithful (lamentations 3:21-23) and that He will supply all of my needs (philippians 4:19) and that He does care (1 peter 5:7), He does love (romans 5:8), and how deep that love that will not let me go (john 10:28-29), and am i not worth more than many sparrows (matthew 10:31)?

my. God. knows.

my God knows when i fall, He knows how i'm hurting, struggling.
and my God knows what He's doing.

if something is being withheld, it's because it's NOT a good thing for me right now (not to say that it will never be a good thing, but that, r.i.g.h.t. n.o.w. in my life, it is not) because God has something even better for me right now.
even when to me it seems like the best thing that could happen - it seems like a really "good thing!" - but God is holding is back, waiting for the right time, the perfect time, when it WILL be a good thing.
and then, it will even go beyond being a "good thing." it will become the best thing.
because God a.l.w.a.y.s. does the best thing.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

vacation 2013 // day 5

in the words of my friend, shiloh:


it has been entirely too long since i've made an appearance over here! i have missed it dearly.

someday i will have actually shared every day of our lengthy vacation last year (probably sometime like, when it's time to be sharing the next vacation....haaaa).
and i promise this day isn't nearly as long as the last one.

so here goes. ;)


this day started out with one of my favorite things - walking around a small town aimlessly, just having fun exploring little shops and pretty streets.

and happily, this city seems to be as obsessed with coca-cola as i am. :)

trying on hats, as is tradition. ;)

pretty pocket rocks:)

more hats.... and me trying to be all mysterious or something. hah.

yes, this is the same sign pictured above.... i couldn't decide which picture i liked better, sooo there you have it. :P

random unashamed selfies in the middle of the street.


oh yes. williams, arizona. that's the name of this pretty little town that i fell in love with. =)

yes, i bent down to the ground in the middle of the sidewalk to take this. don't judge.
or do. i don't really care. ;)

i kinda sorta matched this building (which was full of coca-cola stuff and my coca-cola loving heart was oh-so-happy).

and i promise i didn't wear my coke shirt on purpose. but it worked out perfectly. :D

sadly we had to leave the little coca-cola town at some point, because we had quite a ways to travel yet this day. but we had a few pretty stops on the way, like this one. :)

the plants are all so weird different in arizona. i like them.

this may or may not have been the wall of a very smelly bathroom.... :P

favorite desert-y flower. =)

posing inside some random indian ruins that i don't remember the name of but that were super cool.

these were cooler than most because there were two levels, with a ramp of sorts that wound around the edge of the second level (if that even makes sense..).

lizard! :)

and much bigger lizard! :-o

this little gray cloud made me happy.
it also made me think of winnie the pooh - "i'm just a little black raincloud, hovering over a honey tree...."


more random gray clouds. more heart happiness. :)

huge fluffy clouds and power lines. love. :)

and, yes, more pictures of the road, because we did quite a bit of driving this day, and there really is little else to do while riding in the back of a 15-passenger van when reading in the car makes me sick.

when we were getting close to our destination, there were literally cactuses (cacti..) e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.
it was awesome.

clouds <3 <3 <3 <3

happy valley road:)
i liked the name so much that i have pictures of three different signs directing to happy valley road, but decided to be nice (for once) and only give you one of them.

"yes, we clean under here too!"

why someone looked under the bed in our resort, i don't know. but they make these cute little cards just for people like us, apparently.

the cutest little salt and pepper shakers i've ever seen in my life.
being in their little holder reminds me of when they glue the salt and pepper shakers together on "fireproof." :)

we ended this very long day by joining in the resort activity of the night - watching "the lion king" out by/in the pool. :)


ah, this was fun! and i'm so glad to be back.
thanks for not giving up on me! ;)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

love must be sincere

"love must be sincere."
romans 12:9a niv

God doesn't want actors. He doesn't want us to pretend like we like someone, or to just be nice because we have to. He doesn't want us fake-loving people, thinking that because we're not acting unloving we're fulfilling His commandment to love. but if love is not in our hearts, we're not fulfilling any commandment at all.

in fact, we're doing just the opposite.
if we're only pretending to love, we're breaking His commandment.

God wants real people with hearts that will really love like He loves.
God wants sincerity.
God is love, and He commands us to live out His love, not by faking it, but by doing it, being it.
we are called not just to love our family, our friends, our neighbors,
we are called to love our enemies. those who ridicule us, put us down, walk all over us, reject us, hate us.
and we are called to love them with sincerity.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

life lately // aunt lottie

i've said from the beginning that this blog is in God's hands.
going three weeks without blogging was not in my plan - in fact, i had all sorts of ideas for posts stirring in my heart.
but it was in His plan.
and His plan is truly always best, isn't it?

some of you may have seen on instagram roughly four weeks ago that we found out that my great-aunt lottie (grampa's sister) had a large, fast-growing, cancerous tumor in her brain.

aunt lottie is one of those people who is everyone's favorite person. (like, seriously. she's amazing and i'm determined to be as cool as her when i'm old.)
she's always been close to my family - like a third grandma, rather than a great-aunt.

so this news hit us all pretty hard.

a few days later, she had brain surgery to remove the tumor, and the doctor (fabulous doctor, by the way!) was able to get most, if not all of it removed. but this particular type of cancer, while it is the most common, happens to also be one of the hardest to get rid of completely. it's known for coming back viciously.

"nothing touches it," the doctors say.
well. my God can touch it if He chooses to, is what i say to that.

anyway, on monday, february 3, which was three days - three days! this shows you how hard it is to get this woman down ;) - after her brain surgery, she was being released from the hospital, on the condition that she have 24/7 care for two weeks following. long story short, all of the family who was at the hospital were tossing around names of people who might be available to stay with aunt lottie, and none of them seemed to fit or seemed like they would work out (some people actually have jobs, you know. hah;)), when grampa said,

"what about traci?"

so he called and talked to mom, mom talked to me, i prayed for like a split second before God brought james 1:27 to my mind:

"pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,
to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction...."

{the word translated 'visit' in this verse means, among other things, "to look upon in order to help or benefit; to look after, have care for, provide for"}

and that was it. i knew i couldn't say no. not that i wanted to say no - i really wanted to be able to help aunt lottie! - but i was so nervous. i'd never cared for an elderly person before.
yeah, i babysit all the time, but caring for the elderly, while it is similar, is completely different in a lot of ways, and i had no experience with this whatsoever.
mom even asked me, "is this even something you feel comfortable doing?"
i don't remember what i said, but i remember thinking, "no, i don't feel comfortable doing this.. but God often asks us to do uncomfortable things...."

so i prayed, "Lord, help me," and i said yes.

an hour later, i'd packed everything i could cram into my backpack and book bag, and grampa was at the door, ready to bring me up to the hospital so we could bring aunt lottie home.

aunt lottie had quite the parade following her out of the hospital.
her nieces and nephews and son and daughter-in-law were all there, and her sweet special-needs granddaughter got to push her wheelchair all the way to the lobby, while i followed behind with a cart overflowing with flowers and balloons (and as the balloons insisted on swinging back into my face and i managed to get a stain on my new sweater from something coming off of one of the flowers, i couldn't help but think, "Lord, look at me! i'm a mess. are You sure i'm the right one to take care of aunt lottie..?"

but He is so faithful, and so good, and He truly supplies all our needs.
the first week i forgot my camera, so i am without pictures, but aunt lottie's son, brian, actually came in town from dallas that same night that we got her home from the hospital, and after a day or two, he was able to get into town and buy supplies to modify her bathroom. he put in handrails and a handicap shower head so she could go to the bathroom and shower without help, which was so nice, and she loved the bit of independence that provided her. (she's an incredibly independent woman, so all of this depending on people has been really hard for her, but she has done so so well with it!)

i had a wonderful time caring for aunt lottie and taking care of all of the laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning.
i even learned a couple of new recipes from aunt lottie - the old soul in me loves learning old family recipes and things from the older generation. :)

there were a few times when, before i had to do something, i would stop and roll up my sleeves while praying, "oh, Lord, help me," and then it wasn't even unpleasant while i was doing it, and i was just so sure He was smiling down on me and saying, "now, child, that wasn't so hard, was it? what in the world were you so worried about, anyway?"

really, the entire week was that way. He was just. so. faithful.

and aunt lottie was wonderful accepting everyone's help. a few times she admitted she didn't like having to have everyone waiting on her, and said she'd much rather be on the other end, being the one doing the serving instead of being served, which is just so aunt lottie.
she has been in such good spirits through a.l.l. of this, praising the Lord with every breath, and trusting Him completely to lead her through it.

while a couple of friends from her church came over to visit one evening, aunt lottie was telling them how God has just been so faithful and how she's really felt through this whole journey that every time it was time to take another step, God's footprint was already there waiting.

and she hasn't been scared through any of it.
she'd tell me over and over again how God has given her such a peace, and He has kept her completely free from fear because she knows she's in His hand. she knows He is in complete control.

so on friday, february 7, a friend from her church came to stay with aunt lottie for the weekend, so i could come home and rest and go to church. they had a great time together, and, though i love being at aunt lottie's, i was thankful for the break.

monday, february 10, grampa brought me back up to aunt lottie's (she lives a little over an hour away from us), and this time i remembered my camera, so the following pictures are from my second week spent with aunt lottie. :)

"great is Thy faithfulness" chalk art i drew on her chalkboard in her kitchen the previous week.

she told me later that during a certain procedure, she was starting to feel fearful, and she remembered seeing this on the chalkboard and so said over and over to herself, "great is Thy faithfulness! great is Thy faithfulness!"


after aunt lottie had gone to bed one night, i stayed up doing bible study on the living room floor, and i noticed her bible laying on the floor next to an end table. i picked it up just because i adore old books, especially old bibles, and i discovered these pages and pages and pages of her notes written over the years - sermon notes, study notes, anything that spoke to her heart. i was in tears as i read through them all. her heart for God inspires me so much.

the next morning i went out at sunrise and took a few pictures, and of course had to get one of her beautiful old farm house. i love it so much. <3

the little bit of sunrise that morning, like a promise from God that though things look dark and scary, there is hope because He is still in control and He knows what He's doing.

breakfast, coffee, and more study while she napped.

during another naptime, i believe (she took a lot of naps, haha:)) i walked around her yard and stopped to swing on this swing set in her front yard. uncle ray (her late husband) made it, and it's always been special to me, even though i barely knew him. <3

my beautiful view from the swing set:)

and my swinging shadow, because i love shadows. hehe:)

most of our evenings were spend cozied up in the living room, sipping a good chai latte and talking, or watching a movie, in between phone calls (because she has so. many. friends. who wanted to check in and see how she was doing, and she loved talking to each one!)

another after-she-went-to-bed study time.

"God is a.l.w.a.y.s. who and what i need."

this particular night, i was tired but i didn't feel like going to bed (dumb, i know, but it happens) so after doing my bible study homework, i curled up in her chair and read in her journal about when she was a little girl. so so precious. and hilarious. =) i love her.

one of my favorite things was seeing the sunrise shining in through the sheer curtains in her living room each morning. this is one of my very favorite pictures from my time at aunt lottie's.

and one of my favorite things, ever, is seeing sweet little birdy tracks in the snow. =)

i filled aunt lottie's bird feeders and then i scattered bird seed all over the driveway and had such fun watching all of the sweet birds, constantly being reminded of the old hymn,
"His eye is on the sparrow,
and i know He watches me."
and it's so so true. He has had His eye on aunt lottie and all of us through this whole journey.
He's so good.

her trees practically turned black from all of the black birds that came to visit once they discovered all of the bird seed everywhere:)

of course i couldn't resist one selfie with her beautiful old house as a backdrop;)

she has been a school bus driver for 40 years, always having her bus parked in her yard - the big yellow bus is how us kids always knew when we'd finally arrived at aunt lottie's. =)

a blue bandaid (because aunt lottie's awesome and keeps colored bandaids on hand, and because i'm a child and colored bandaids make me super happy) and more bible study homework.

and, taken shortly before i went home again on friday, february 14 - me and aunt lottie. doesn't she just look so great?! you'd never guess that she'd had brain surgery two weeks before.

she has now moved into an apartment at her son's house, and she started radiation and chemo yesterday - monday, february 24 - and so far is still feeling wonderful.

your continued prayers for her are very much felt and she is so thankful for every single one.

no matter what you may be going through, i pray you'll have the heart of aunt lottie - fully trusting His guidance and knowing that He is in complete control and has a great purpose for everything He allows in your life.