Author Archives: Tracy Emmons

About Tracy Emmons

A mother of 2 boys, aged 4 & 7, Tracy lives in Tulsa and is married to her very own prince charming, Matt. A Financial Advisor by day, Tracy works with clients to establish and reach their financial goals. She is active with several non-profits and her church. Additionally, she enjoys spending time outside with her family at the lake, hiking, or playing golf. She’s blessed beyond measure!

Where is my answer?

So many times we pray, every day and each night
For the things we want most, we pray with all our might.
We pray for strength and healing, we pray for things to go right
We pray for patience or gifts, we pray others may see the light.

We selfishly ask for grace, or blessings, or peace
We sometimes ask for things that are just out of reach.
At times we ask for forgiveness, or maybe we say thanks
But do we stop to acknowledge when things have gone our way?

Songs have been written about unanswered prayers
At times we think we’re alone, no one is there
To listen to our pleas, or to show how they care
We begin to focus on our selves, and the strength we can bear.

Or the strength we cannot bear, at times we stand alone
We can’t imagine how anyone else could have known
The troubles that we face, or problems we have,
Or worse yet, how far we think we have grown.

The truth is we haven’t grown, or maybe not enough
By the simple virtue, we haven’t learned to trust
That all our prayers (or hopes, you may say)
Will ultimately be answered, some way, some day.

But the piece most of us miss, the trickiest part,
The answers are always there, right from the start.
The time hasn’t come for the answers to be revealed
As hard as it is, we must wait for a solution to be real.

And what happens when it comes, the thing for which you prayed?
Are you thankful? Are you grateful? Or are you somewhat dismayed?
Is it that for which you asked? Or is it something slightly different?
How do we recognize it if it isn’t quite how we meant it?

Does it matter if it’s perfect or, better yet, slightly imperfect?
What’s important is what you do with it, how you use it.
Then, take one step farther, can you look back and see
What you have now is what you wanted, if it’s meant to be.

The trouble is life turns and twists, each desire becomes a next
then suddenly the thing we wanted most, turns into regret.
Regret not due to being ungrateful, but more so because
Our needs, wants, and wishes are full of many flaws.

We’re selfish in our choices, we’re blinded by our needs.
We dream big, we achieve it, then something else takes seed
Once it is answered, the most recent prayer is forgotten
And before we know it, our faith and hope goes rotten.

Please try to remember, my dear friends,
what was once will always be,
Faith and hope and trust and love,
Always begins with thee.

Colossians 4:2

 

Multi-Tasking, Be Gone!

You may have noticed I’ve taken a few days off from my brand new project.  I strung together almost a week of posts then took almost as long off.  Really shows a lot of dedication, huh?  Most of the homework I’ve done on blogging indicates that daily or almost daily content is important to building a brand.  With that knowledge, it may seem even more lame that I took a break off so early in my writing.  Afterall, how do I expect to gain any ground on building my readership if I don’t post?  And for the last few days I’ve carried this guilt and embarrassment.

Then I realized, I have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilt.  The purpose of this journey isn’t to gain readers or build a brand.  Although those items would be an incredible blessing, the reason I added this project to my already overloaded schedule was to help me focus on my writing hobby, my personal growth, and my desire to slow down.  Slowing down takes several forms and is, by far, the most challenging of my goals.  Of course, I didn’t get to this break-neck speed overnight so, likewise, it’s unrealistic to expect the slow-down to happen in any noticeable increments.  What is realistic is to accept what I can do, when I can do it.  And if what I can do is taking a few days off a brand new adventure to focus on family events, that’s perfectly and wonderfully acceptable.  There is no guilt in accomplishing only one goal at a time. When did a single focus become not enough?  When did multi-tasking become the standard?

I look to my children often as a blueprint for how I should be.  If you’re a parent, you know that we often learn more than we teach.  My kids are much more engaging than the average adult I know and will talk with a non-stop stream of verbal deluge until you feel like your ears have fallen off.  Most of the tsunami of ideas that flow freely from their mouth is interesting, articulate, and enjoyable binding you to their every word.  Basically, my boys talk A LOT.  I don’t mind that they talk non-stop, really I don’t.  Unfortunately, my children can do nothing else while they spin their yarns.  NOTHING else.  I’ve grown weary while trying to patiently listen to their diatribe after stepping out of the bath but before getting on pj’s.  I’ve aged days while waiting for the resolution to their lengthy and drawn-out scenarios of what-ifs while in reality I just want them to put on their shoes.  I’ve watched them crawl into their car booster seats, shut their door, walked to the other side of the car, and opened the driver door only to confirm that their monologue took no pause with an absent audience and their belts are still unbuckled.  In each of these instances, nothing else was accomplished.  Nothing was multi-tasked to completion.  No two birds with one stone.  Their only focus was telling their story and, sadly, that focus was met with a mother that encouraged doing something else while speaking – in essence, asking a 4-year-old to multi-task.

His response when asked why he hadn’t buckled his seatbelt, or put on his shoes, or dressed into his pj’s is humbling, “Because I was telling you something important!”

In other words, at 4 years old, he’s too young to understand why we need to work so hard to accomplish so much while being fulfilled so little.  He’s too young to understand why he should speak while tasking.  For him, the joy is not in the destination but in the journey.  There’s time for shoe tying after the story is told.  Pj’s can wait until after his mom hears his hypothesis.  His seatbelt can be clicked after he points out the bird singing.  If you’re 4, or 7, there is no need to rush to accomplish. There is nothing more important than right now.  There simply is no such thing as multi-tasking.

So if you’ve missed me for the last week, I’m so sorry.  I’ve been busy taking things one at a time.  I sincerely hope, though, you haven’t missed me; I hope you haven’t missed me because you’ve been unplugged & unrushed, spending days with those that matter, listening to each story, song, hypothesis, joke, testimony, or need.  Days are short and unfortunately, this too shall pass.

1 Thessalonians 4:11

Have you bought your ticket yet?

Today I spent some time at my children’s school volunteering for an unusual postion.  You see, Friday our school hosts its annual raffle fundraiser.  We sell 300 tickets for $100 each.  There are 17 prizes ranging from $500 up to $10,000.  It’s a well-known event within our school community and part of a larger Visiting Day celebration.  The raffle is Friday and as of this morning we still needed to sell 125 tickets.  So a few volunteers and I basically worked the door asking each family that came in to drop their loves off or came to pick their loves up one simple questions, “Have you bought your raffle ticket?”  No matter the response, we were cheerful and provided no pressure for purchase.  We only wanted to remind them in an upbeat way of the need to buy tickets soon – did I mention we were wearing sandwich boards?

The responses, which boiled down into 3 categories, both amazed and intrigued me:

  • Yes, we bought some
  • No thanks/ Not yet/ Polite no, etc.
  • Flat out ignoring me.  No eye contact,. No smile. No nothing.  As if we were invisible.

I think the responses are indicative of basic human nature but it got me to thinking, is this how our basic human nature responds to all opportunities?  How many have I missed by saying no thanks or, worse, not even realizing there was an opportunity? Is my fear of interaction with the opportunity keeping me from achieving more?

My dad tells a joke about a man who prays regularly to win the lottery.  This man prays day and night, his knees bloody from kneeling, yet he never wins.  The man then begs for mercy and answers as to why he hasn’t won yet hears nothing.  He doubles his efforts to pray, forsaking all other activities.

Finally, after years of relentless praying, he hears God’s voice whisper in his ear, “Frank, buy a ticket!”

See, Frank missed the biggest piece of his desire.  He missed step one, therefore, no other action he took could possibly impact his goal.  No matter how hard Frank prayed, without buying a ticket there was simply and factually no way he could win the lottery.   By missing step one, he made all his other efforts sadly pointless.  How many times have I bloodied my knees praying (or hoping, depending on your perspective) for something that will never happen because I missed step one?  How many times did I fail to buy the ticket?  How many times have I been “busy” without being effective?  Frank was certainly busy praying but was he effective?  Obviously not.  How do we discern busy from busy bodies?

We are all busy.  Don’t tell me you’re busy because I am busy too.  We all have 24 hours.  It’s not how much time you have, it’s what you do with the time you’re given.

Have you bought your ticket yet?

Ephesians 5:15-16

A Cup of Love

Break out the bubbly ~ It’s time for celebration! I did it!  I entered my very first writing contest.  Although, it’ll be several weeks before I know if I officially won anything (stay tuned – announcements posted here first!), I know it’s already a success – but not for the reasons you might guess I’m going to share.

I could easily make a post that the reason this entry was a success was because I found a piece of courage I didn’t know I possessed, or maybe because I overcame a fear, or perhaps because I went out on a limb, or some other super-cheesy, somewhat lame reason.  While all of those reasons are true, that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about finding truth, and therefore help, in unexpected places – in the face of perfect strangers.  Strangers that have zero benefit in helping me.  Strangers that only help because they’ve been there before and received help from somewhere equally surprising as I did tonight.

I guess this is similar to the Pay-It-Forward phenomena we see this time of year in the form of paying for the Starbucks order behind you.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have your order paid for by another and then to turn around and pay for the order behind you.  That’s lovely.  But ultimately, who does that benefit?  It could be argued that one person benefited, the final person in the 3 hour record-setting pay-for-the-order-behind-me trend.  We won’t go into the potential selfish-ness of the final person that didn’t pay for the next order – I could actually make an argument towards honesty for that last person not to be swept into a charitable deed just because.  But is that enough?  Is that enough for all the effort, time, and money spent in creating, perpetuating, publicizing, reading, sharing, etc that story – that it benefited ONE PERSON?  ONE. PERSON.  One.

I’m off track, let’s get back to me (yes, that’s selfish but this is my blog).  So tonight I attended my second meeting of a local writing group.  This writing group is made up of all kinds of writers – some published, some published very successfully, some still hoping to get published, and many – like me – just exploring the group.  This group is an eclectic group in age, experience, background, genre, etc.  All the things that make us different.  This group hosts an annual writing contest, called a Flash Fiction. There are minimum standards for each entry, the most interesting standard is that each entry MUST start with the same 5 words – She clung to the edge.  

When I came home from my first meeting a month ago, I started forming the ideas of how I would finish those words.  Finally I put pen to paper and created a little, newborn baby.  This baby, like all newborns, I coddled and groomed and protected, knowing a day would soon come that I would expose my newborn to the world.  Finally, this afternoon I felt prepared to submit my newborn baby to the judgement of the contest organizers.  I printed my submission, being careful to follow all guidelines.  I attached my entry fee check and paperclipped everything together with the same care a mother bathes her newborn.

Then the meeting started.  There was a panel that, amongst other things, spoke to the difference in a good submission and a “needs work” submission.  As the tips were spoken, I couldn’t help but view my newborn through the lens of these experts.  With each tip they gave, I judged my newborn, I judged myself, I judged my excitement, and I judged my gift.  Then the presentation was over and, despite my fierce judgement, I was called to submit my newborn – the very one I cruelly judged just minutes before.  With severe trepidation, I submitted my creation then IMMEDIATELY put a disclaimer on it This is the first piece I’ve ever written.

Why? Why wasn’t I proud? Just last week I exposed my most vulnerable side for, literally, the entire world to see.  But now I was recanting this exact vulnerability.  Why?  What was different?  I’ll tell you what was different, faces were different.

From my living room, in my comfy clothes, I can type anything and feel safe.  But when I’m standing face to face with others, literally handing my creation to them, it feels very unsafe.  More unsafe than I could have ever imagined.  But guess what?  All those around me embraced me with support, honesty, and love as soon as I spoke the disclaimer. Their words formed a bubble around my self-judgement, insulating me and my newborn baby.  With kindness, they shared their own stories about their first submission, their reservations then, their anxieties now.  They were, in essence, what I needed them to be and the exact time I needed them to be it.  And they gained nothing from it.

Yes, you could argue they gained a good feeling or it still only benefited one person.  The key here is they were under no obligation to say anything perfect.  To tie this back to the Starbucks example, the first person in the 3 hour record was selfless, the last person was selfish but all those between really meant very little other than to draw out time between the beginning and the end.  So my question becomes, how am I unconditionally giving back?  How am I benefiting a stranger? How can I show gratitude in an impactful way?

I don’t have those answers, but tonight I was reminded of what incredible good, truly impactful good, can come from selflessly giving to a stranger.  I’m so thankful to be on this journey, and I’m so thankful you have read to the end!  Thank you for joining me on this celebratory post.  Check back soon (like next month!) for my contest results!

Philippians 2:4

My Grandma's rings - a reminder of my past, a creation of my future.

My Grandma’s Rings

Every day I wear 3 rings that are beautifully stunning but are not mine.  I mean, they belong to me but they are not mine.  They are my grandma’s.  Unfortunately, my grandmas passed away a decade ago or more.  So as family heirlooms go, these rings now reside in my jewelry box.  I have lots of beautiful rings that could grace my fingers but these are especially gorgeous and here’s why:

  • The rings are from 3 different grandmas – 3 separate and distinct bloodlines that blended together to mold me.  At a glance, these rings worn together immediately remind me from where I came.  A quick view reminds me of loved ones and empowers me.  Although in real life they didn’t get along always (mostly they did but definitely not always), on my finger these rings combine to form a synergy they never know as individuals.  When I look at them or touch them, I feel their power is with me and their protection follows me.
  • Two of the rings are traditionally gorgeous, full of perfect diamonds that catch each ray of light and amplifies it’s brilliance, almost blinding the observer.  The grandmas these diamond beauties represent are my maternal and paternal grandmas.  They were both born in the 20’s, were children of the depression, married men that fought the Nazi’s, were forever changed by their husband’s experience, then birthed children into the first year of the baby boom.  Like the diamonds in their rings, these ladies amplified the brilliance of all those around her, almost blinding the observer.
  • The 3rd ring, is the ring of my maternal great grandma, my mom’s grandma. This one is not filled with diamonds, it is a well-worn thin golden band.  It sits comfortably between to 2 diamond rims, separating them so they each may shine on their own.  Likewise, my great grandma took great pride in letting others shine while she quietly supported their brilliance.  Her family fled Czechoslovakia in the early 1900’s and after a perilous ocean journey finally landed in south Texas where they basically walked to southwestern Oklahoma, settled in, and learned to speak their new home’s language.  There’s a lot more to that story but here’s what I take from it:  SHE WAS TOUGH.  Like herself, her simple ring is the most powerful and has endured the most.  This endurance has added to the ring’s beauty and if you look closely at the ring, you can see the beauty of its youth still held deeply within the edges while the side  that faces the world reflects the weathering that comes with the hard times.  Her face was the same way – the surface weathered with years of anxiety, happiness, labor, and faith but if you looked closely you saw enough youthful beauty to understand what she was before life aged her.

These rings echo my past, ground my present, and shape my future.  These women worked hard, loved harder, and always smiled through any setback. They came from generations that knew an entirely different kind of hard than we do.  They were pioneers.  They overcame odds that I don’t want to imagine.  And they did it with optimism and hope. They did it for me – for a better future.  I honor them daily by remembering their sacrifice and their joy.  If it wasn’t for knowing their stories, I wouldn’t have the same perspective on life.  It’s an honor to wear these rings and be reminded of their grace and their faith.  Family is everything.  I’m thankful for mine.  I wear these rings daily and believe these ladies are with me, watching me, and smiling with pride.  I’m blessed to be their future.

Deuteronomy 4:20

Exit the SuperMom Highway

Exit Now

Yesterday I was visiting with my sister over the phone.  For those of you that don’t know, she lives about 1500 miles away, has 2 small children, is a Thirty-One Consultant and a very active military wife.  Needless to say, she’s as busy (or busier) than I am.  We were discussing goals and she floated past me a fairly lofty goal.  I was so proud of myself that I immediately responded, “No thanks, I’m currently in a phase of lowering the bar on my own expectations!”  She countered with a laugh, “yeah, right! Me too!”

But seriously, I’ve spent a lot of time lately focusing where I say “yes”.  I once heard If you can’t say no, your yes has no power.  Stop and think about that.  Your yes has no power. Your YES has no POWER.  If something has no power, how can it be important?  If it’s not important, why would anyone (or you) care about it?  So, in essence, my inability to say no was robbing myself of one of the most powerful gifts I have! What?

Here’s a confession:  I LOVE Pinterest.  Love. It. But honestly, I see it as a downfall to an already overly self-pressured generation of women.   I’m not speaking with a feminist voice and I definitely feel men (as a collective gender) have traveled light-years in terms of involved parenting and spousal equality.  In fact, most men I know – including my own Prince Charming- often are just as active in soccer Saturday and school functions as us moms.  But I don’t see them accepting self-induced pressure to make sure the birthday party is perfect or the teacher gifts look like something Martha Stewart created or the kids look like they stepped out of a Gap Kids store. So why do the ladies feel the need to be “perfect”? Why aren’t we content with how we are made? I’m not saying we should selfishly roll-over and give only 50% or not strive for excellence.  I think we could be much kinder to ourselves, though, on our own expectations – simply lowering the bar.  Afterall, I don’t think I could be talked out of my homemade birthday cakes and homemade Halloween costumes!  I’ll admit I get a little shot of gratification each time a friend lovingly shakes her head and says, “I don’t know how you do it all”.  But if it’s all at the cost of losing my Power to say YES, I think it’s time to exit the SuperMom highway. I’m now keeping track of the number of “no”s and my “yes”s still far outweigh my “no”s, but I’m trying.  And like everything chronicled here, one step forward is the best I can do today.  And that’s wonderfully, perfectly okay!

Proverbs 18:21

Why?

My favorite question: WHY?  Although often misunderstood, why simply and perfectly asks for an explanation.  No judgement.  No argument. No complexity.  No emotions. Just a quest for more information.  Unfortunately, and as with most things, over the generations this quest has morphed at times into all the things it isn’t.  As a mother of 2 young boys, I’ll admit at times the endlessly asked “why?” starts to turn my patience into anger.  I’ve learned when I’m at the end of my ability to explain, I simply ask back to the boys “why do you think?”.  Their responses intrigue me each time.

You may be asking yourself this quesiton right now as you read this post.  Why?  Why is she writing this? Why did she make this blog? Why am I taking my own precious minutes to read it?  WHY?  Each time I’ve shared this new writing adventure with friends and family, I’ve been asked WHY? (usually with a confused yet supportive look on the askers face!) So here’s the answer:

Why not? 

We always hear sentiments like you’ll never know until you try, or you’ll always regret it if you don’t, or fear is temporary but regret is forever, but how often do we actually embody those sentiments?  How often do we just think happiness or accomplishment is reserved for someone else?  Someone who?  Someone better than you? Maybe someone smarter than you? Not this time, sister.  It’s taken me a long journey to come to this conclusion but here I am and here I’m going to stay.  God has gifted me with this idea, this dream to write.  Maybe it never becomes anything.  Maybe it lives in the infinite data within the elusive (and terribly confusing) cloud.  Maybe I get laughed at behind my back.  Maybe I get laughed at to my face.  But no matter, I know I listened to my inner voice and I tried.  I believe the inner voice is God.  You may not believe that and that’s okay.  But this is MY blog and I believe it so I write it!

There is no end-game for me yet.  This whole experiment may have the purpose of perfecting a craft or maybe its a waste of time.  But it’s mine and I tried it.  And I’m glad you’ve read to the end!  Thank you for journeying this with me!  Now what are you going to try?

Philippians 3:14

The Places I’ve Been

So I’ve been writing privately for a few years now, toying with the idea of sharing with the public my most vulnerable side.  Until recently, I’ve chosen to stay private.  But as is often the case, the more I kept my vulnerability to myself, the louder the internal voices became urging me to share it with the world (or at least my corner of the world).  Finally, I received a friendly push from a relative stranger to just go for it – to put myself out there no matter what the risks.  She encouraged me to truly embrace this gift and see where it takes me.  Her arguments were compelling and my resistance was futile.  So here I am… writing for you to judge or embrace my contributions.

So what made this relative stranger deliver this friendly push?  An assignment.  I was given the inspirational Dr. Suess book Oh the Places You’ll Go and was asked to read it and create something related to the book and where I was in my internal journey to excellence.  I’m about to share it with you.  But before I do, my reflex is to put a lot of caveats on the work – a littany of reasons why this work isn’t great.  I want to lay out all the reasons you should hate this maiden voyage into the literary world.  I want to give you the criticism in advance so you know that I KNOW there is work to be done.  Trust me, I know there is a lot of work to be done.  But in my efforts to grow, I’m not going to do any of that.  I’m only going to ask you to remember the assignment: To create something related to the book and where I am.

The Places I’ve Been

It started long ago, over 20 years to the day
When I graduated from high school and started on my way.
I went to college as most graduates do
I picked a school but had absolutely no clue
What I wanted to do; what I wanted to be
But a course for learning – college was for me

As graduation drew near a declaration of major was made
With no plan and no ideas, With my parents I stayed
I landed a job in an industry that worked well
I climbed the ladder and my resume swelled

I filled my days, my years, and my dreams
By taking each step in the right direction it seemed
A husband, 2 kids, a house and a dog I collected on the way
Too many blessings to count, too many roots to stray
From the path I was on, the path with no destination

Or is that true?  Do you know?
How can you tell?  Should you stay?  Should you go?
What path should I leave? What path should I take?
Or is there a path I should simply and purposely remake?

So many ways I could turn – left or right?
Do I have the strength, do I have the might?
The paths are parallel.  They also intersect.
At times they overlap, at times they dissect.

Are these the dark days? Is this the dark before the light?
So many questions but no answers in sight
I have my faith, I have my family
Am I running away? Or am I finding a place to stay?

Seek and you shall find – but how many questions do I ask
Can someone please tell me – what is my task?
Do I pick one thing to try and give it my all
Or do I try to launch them all?  What if I fall?

How many times can you fall? Does it matter?
What’s important is how you get up; after all there is no ladder
There are no easy answers.  There is no map
We each must decide when to embrace, when to retract

The qualities and gifts that makes us, well, us
Are the ones that we trip on and stumble and bust
All our thoughts and our dreams
Even our grandest of schemes

But maybe…..

The places I’ve been are the places I’ll go
And the places I’ll go are the places I’ve been
For each time around, you see different faces
You see in yourself a variety of places

Each place and each face has a special distinction
And without cycling around you can’t get the education
That you need to survive all the places you’ve been
Since the best part, is that there’s never an end

To this wonderful world, the things that we see
The things I can be – it’s all up to me
I must quiet the noises
Listen for the right voices

There’s no hurry to decide
To choose left or right
I have the strength, I have the might
I just have to close my eyes and take one step

Or maybe two steps, or maybe three
Or maybe it’s four that leads me to me
But no matter if it’s around the corner or maybe a mile
I know it when I see it, I just have to smile.

The places I’ll go are the places I’ve been
The places I’ve been are the places I’ll go!

1 Peter 4:10

Welcome to my new little experiment!

First, thank you for taking this first step with me!  It’s likely that if you are reading this post, it’s because you are a close friend or family member that I have directed to view my little experiment.  I’m not sure where this adventure will take me – it’s a complete leap of faith- but I’m glad you’re here to see my first post!

Second, please check back often!  This is all new to me so I’m learning as I go!  If you have any comments, suggestions, or words of encouragement, please be liberal in your feedback (ideas can be shared on the post or you can contact me privately!)

Thanks again!  I look forward to our travels!

Tracy

1 Peter 3:15