April 2014

A Repurposed Mother’s Day

I could hardly breathe walking into my first Mother’s Day worship service after my mom died. My heart was broken with the reality that I’d never see my beautiful momma’s angelic smile or hear her infectious laughter again. Her name was Joyce, meaning joy, and with her death, I had lost my joy and my purpose in life.

 

As I sat in my seat and looked up to hear the sermon, I was surprised to hear Dr. Jerry Haag, president of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, speaking instead of our pastor. As he spoke, I saw the faces of little ones in need and heard the stories of abused and neglected children finding hope and healing at the FBCH. Even in my grief, I could almost hear a still, small voice whisper to me, “Will you help children that don’t have a mom to care for them?” Reaching into my purse to financially support the offering going to Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, my first little wave of joy returned to my heart as I thought, “Yes, Lord, I will help!”

God has a special purpose for us, even in our deepest pain.
Has there been a time when you knew God was using a deep pain in your heart to prompt you to help others?

 

About three years after the loss of my mother, I received a phone call to be the speaker for a Mother’s Day event! Mother’s Day? You have got to be kidding me!

 

I think I spoke out loud to God in that moment and said, “You have got the wrong girl! I am the one who lost her mom, not the one who can encourage others on Mother’s Day!”I slumped down on my couch in the same spot I met with God each morning. This time, after three years of talking to God about my hurt, He spoke back. In my spirit, I heard, “I have repurposed you! I am not going to resurrect your mother, but I have repurposed your heart to help others. ”

 

As I thought of the meaning of a “repurposed heart,” my eyes fell on all the things I have repurposed in my home. Now, my broken, beaten up heart, was the very thing God was going to use for His glory. At that Mother’s Day event, a gift for $4,000 dollars was given to complete our Freeride 836 fundraising event to help Orphan’s Heart build an orphanage in Tanzania.

God is in the business of using our stories to inspire others to help children, too!
At our Women of Compassion “God Sized Dreams” event this year, I found out many women have been repurposed, too. Whether these women are volunteering at their local FBCH cottage, going on international mission trips, or assisting at their churches, their passion to serve comes from God changing their pain to purpose.

It is my deepest prayer that you will live “repurposed” this Mother’s Day as a reusable treasure for God’s glory!

 

For children,

 

Tracey Russell

Women of Compassion Council

 

Tracey Russell is an active member of the Women of Compassion Council.  She is an advocate for children and has a blogging ministry attraceylynnrussell.com.

Mother’s Day Offering
Mother’s Day is a joyful time to uplift and honor all that mothers do and celebrate the love of family.

Unfortunately, not all children experience the nurturing love and care they need. At Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, we are privileged to minister and care for hurting children who crave belonging, security, acceptance and love.

You can help us care for ONE MORE CHILD this year bygiving now to our annual Mother’s Day Offering!
For resources for your church and to change your own profile picture on Facebook in support of the Mother’s Day Offering, visit FBCHomes.org
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 
The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor 5:17 NIV)
Impact Lives in Guatemala This Summer
Make a big difference in the life of a hurting child this summer! Join other Women of Compassion members at the Malnutrition Center in Guatemala, Saturday, June 14 through Friday, June 20.

 

For more information on how you can sign up for this mission trip today, contact Kristen Hitchcock at 863.687.8811 or  Kristen.Hitchcock@FBCHomes.org.

 

Tracey Russell with her mom, Joyce 

along with friends who served on a mission trip together at the Malnutrition Center in Guatemala

Quick Links
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She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Proverbs 31:20
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God’s Not Dead

God's Not Dead

I left the movie theater with a few tears in my eyes  after watching God’s Not Dead. 

I highly recommend this movie. If you have been unable to go to a theater to see it, make an effort to take your family and support this message!

This movie is the story of the religious persecution of a young Christian college student and one teacher’s attempt to force him to write the words, God is Dead, on the first day of school.

The young male student refuses and is challenged by his teacher to prove that God is not dead.

I was really surprised by the great acting and filming of this movie, but on a personal note, my heart was breaking for the reverse truth of this story that I experienced in my life.

I think it was in college that my brother lost his faith. In my growing up years, my brother was what I considered a strong Christian. Even though he wasn’t perfect, and a big jerk at times like most siblings , I still knew that he had faith in God. I admired my brother and his strong sense of right and wrong. I  loved the way he cared about spiritual things and tried to defend his faith.

I watched as that same faith slipped out of his hands in college and then completed faded when he went into medical school. It didn’t change my love for my brother, but I wonder what it would have been like to share my faith with him? How would our  lives be different now? What would it be like to attend church together as adults?

No matter how much he denied his faith and refused to admit there is a God who created the universe, my mother help onto hope in her heart. She believed that her son would return and that God would bring him back.

When I was cleaning out her nightstand after she died, I found  a letter written by my brother from almost 20 years ago. This letter was the last time he professed his faith in Jesus Christ. She kept that letter as proof that God would ,indeed, return her son to the faith of his childhood in Jesus Christ. She believed the words of the bible that described God as a shepherd going after his lost sheep. She prayed that God would return her lamb to the sheep fold once again.

Mathew 18:12 1“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

12“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 

13“If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.…

For years, I have hidden my deepest fear that maybe my brother was out of God’s reach?

Tonight, I was revived with the truth…..God is NOT dead, even in the hearts of the most hardened atheist. God has the power to bring lost loved ones home.

What about you? Is there a person you would love to see returned home to their faith and trust in Jesus?

Today, I had to write this post to encourage you to remember that God is NOT dead, He is surely alive and at work in the lives of our loved ones. He is working and using every event in their lives to bring them to a

saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go and search for the one that is straying?

Yes, Lord………..You do !

New Writers : 101 How to begin writing your story for Christian Publication

I believe with all my heart that one of the main reasons I am beginning to write is to help other people share their story too!

Christian Publication can be an intimidating process but I have found that there are a few industry concepts that I keep hearing that may help you begin your journey.

1. Writers Write! Find any opportunity to write and get started!

A blog is a great way to start writing and developing your content and writing style. There are many ministries that are specifically dedicated to helping you learn how to blog like : Blogging you passion. com You can listen to podcasts and learn valuable information about how and what to blog.  There are even COURSES on how to get started blogging and the technical aspects of blogging for beginners. IF like me, you are intimidated about this process, start small! Simply use a free blog site, like wordpress and get started. Do not invest any money into this process until you are very comfortable with personal blogging and have confidence that you have found your specific niche that you want to write about. BYP-logo

2.) Content is King, Platform is queen.

Your content as a writer is the key to getting published. Exactly who is your audience and what do you want to say to them? Your content will be the information in each of your chapters that adds value to another person’s life. Content can come from sermons you have written, quotes from other authors, research you have conducted or stories of other people you have collected. Start building a content file on your computer with notes, blurbs, chapter ideas and even partially written text. Building your content will become the key to having enough words and ideas for a book .

Platform is simply the number of people who read your content or who listen to you speak-

Do you have a twitter following? What about a congregation of people? Do you teach at a college? Every platform has to start somewhere, so don’t be intimidated if you don’t have anyone reading your information. Amanda Luedeke is an author and literary agent that has an excellent book on developing your platform. <PastedGraphic-2.pdf>The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform is now available from AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

She gives excellent ideas for building an audience through social media and other avenues. If you haven’t already, start an Author Facebook page.( this needs to be separate form your personal page)  The author page should engage others and  let people know what you are doing and how they can be a part of the process.

3.) Attend a writers conference and learn from the experts!

Look for writing conferences in your area and attend them!

Last summer, I had the privilege of attending Carol Kent’s Speak Up Conference. At that conference I was able to meet with key players in the writing industry and begin networking . The professional industry experts were all present to give excellent, up to date advice and help both writers and speakers get started. Because Grand Rapids is the hub of Christian publishing, attendees have the opportunity to meet representatives from  Zondervan, Revell, Nav-Press and others.

Check out speakupconference.com The conference is a financial investment, but it is well worth the money in terms of your ability to network and learn.

 

These are my tips today and I will be writing more in the future-

I pray you will live repurposed !

Tracey


 

Three Things to Remember During Times of Change!

isaiah 43-19

 

There are a whole lot of “new things” going on around here!

My oldest son, Chase, is graduating from high school and heading off to college! We just received word that my little boy has been given a full academic scholarship to Florida Southern to study Biology! His Dad and I were jumping around like little  kids when we found out the news last week!

After months, really a year of waiting, my husband Mark  is being offered a new job of management. He is awaiting a contract in the mail for this new position in the sales industry-

( please God let that contract come soon!)

I just received OFFICIAL notice that I have been signed as an author with MacGregor Literary Agency! I am a little embarrased  to say I kissed the computer screen when I saw my name on their website!  A lifetime dream  is coming true as God opens this new door of opportunity.

“New things” come with challenges!

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Before all these wonderful new things,  challenges and added tensions mounted!  Huge waves of emotion accompany a senior year of high school, along with the stress of SAT scores, interviews and the college decision process- There is insecurity not knowing exactly what these changes will mean for our family-

Is my baby boy really leaving the nest for good?

Mark has been faced with really difficult work related situations. I have watched as his confidence and self-esteem were battered with criticism and discouragement. The process of looking for another job was a major test of our faith.

Does a new job really give us security in the future?

Last summer, I followed a God-sized calling to write a story about the Freeride 836 fundraiser we completed and the losses that our family suffered. This process felt like falling off a cliff as I was stepping out of my comfort zone. At my first writer’s conference, I skipped out on a session where others could read my manuscript because I was terrified! I spent countless hours alone, in my home, writing to a computer screen.

Secretly I questioned, do I have what it takes to be a writer at 45 years old?

What about you ?

Are you experiencing the waves of emotion before the “new things” about to happen in your life?

Could it be that some of the hard times you face right now are preparing your heart for a new blessing in your future?

Emotions run high and low in times of change, but I am discovering these are the signs that God is, indeed, doing something new! Change can usher in waves of uncertainty, but God has three wonderful words of security for us .

Remember to  :

1.) SEE CHRIST :

Unknown-1

( See, I am doing a new thing! )

God is omniscient, knowing all things well in advance. He can see our lives from beginning to the end.  For most of us, we see a “new thing” when the job contract is signed or the scholarship is in hand-  This verse is alluding to the coming of Christ. His work on the cross would set people free from the slavery of sin. It was the work of Christ that would change the state of our hearts to bring us into right relationship with God for all eternity.  The ” new things” always begin with the work of Christ to change our hearts. His work overcomes stress with the peace of knowing He is in control of the future. He overcomes worry and doubt with the promises of His protection regardless of our occupation. He, Jesus, has the power to open unexpected doors of opportunity for ministry regardless of our fear and insecurity.

a repurposed heart

God is well aware of the things he wants to bring into our lives and it is His work that will be accomplished in us.

Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.( NLT)

2.) PERCEIVE:   ( Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? )

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I have heard it said that perception is reality!

As believers, we must constantly perceive challenges and hard times as the the signs of a divine work in progress.

I was just talking to a friend of mine on the phone this am. She is a foster mother to a child she has been raising for almost two years. She has invested in countess hours of love, time, private schooling, and therapy for this little boy. This boy, however, is now entering the teen years(  adolescence and horrible-mones)  She faces so many new challenges with this emerging teen. She is determined to love him, but it aint easy!  We talk each morning about the battles they face and I hear the weary sound of her voice pouring her whole heart into this kid, only to get what seems like attitudes and kickback  at every turn. It’s easy to forget all the ways she has seen positive changes that have come as a result of her efforts. So, I love to remind her of the eternal gift she is investing into every hour of this boy’s life. Daily investments are not easy to see when they are not rewarded with smiles and thank yous! But in the big picture of life, I can’t help but see my precious friend raising a man who will one day called her “blessed” for all she has given him.

Especially in the struggles that produce change, I believe God is whispering to us each morning, “Do you not perceive that your struggles are part of my new thing I am doing? ”

Do you need to hear the loving reminders of your God today?

Do you desire to  hear his voice asking you to perceive blessings in the midst of the messy moments of life?

3.) RECEIVE:

( I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland)

The path we need to travel and the provisions for the journey all come from God. Just like the way God led his people through the wilderness, he will lead us through our changes and challenges. How do we receive His provisions?

Through prayer we can ask God to help us receive His provision.

Matthew 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.( NLT)

Through faith, believe that Christ alone can bring you refreshment to your spirit  –

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38

Through Surrender to the authority of Christ’s rule over our hearts

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.Colossians 3:15

Bible-Verses-About-Peace

I heard Beth Moore describe the authority of Christ’s peace in our lives like an attempt to stay under a protective umbrella. Whatever is not covered by the unbrella is getting messed up! Tonight, as I am going to bed, I am examining a few areas of my life that still need to be brought under the protection of Christ’s peace.

I am so grateful for the God that loves me enough to protect my heart with His peace during three new things!

Is there any other way you feel God has helped you navigate a “new thing ” in your life?

What is a major area that you would like to see changing in your future?

I would love to hear your heart or any comments you would like to add to this post-

Thank you so much for reading!:)