Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Peorian on Czech Superstar!

We just had to share with you the incredible talent we were made aware of today that's representing central Illinois halfway around the world! Nancy Klopfenstein of Peoria talked with us on the phone this afternoon about her grandson, Noah Ellenwood. Noah lives in Eastern Europe with his parents, Mel and Amy (Nancy's daughter) who are missionaries with an organization called Josiah Venture. And, Noah is also in the top 16 in Czechoslovakia's version of American Idol, called Czech Superstar. "Check" out his awesome talent:

It's easy to see why Nancy is so proud of her 15 year old grandson! She's also super proud of her daughter and son-in-law who are among 200 missionaries working in 11 countries to share the love of Jesus in an area where 1/2 of 1% of the population are Christians!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A great quote for a Friday

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 1:17-20

My wish for you is that God's power will be what gives you strength as we enter the weekend. Whether your challenge is weight loss, family conflict, or a health issue, that power can get you through, my friend. I'm seeing this in my weight loss journey (join me for more on this at and Jeremy's seeing it as he travels through the reality of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. So, we're confident that His power will give you strength in whatever you're facing today. I'm not saying it will remove the struggle. Oh, how I wish that would happen. But, as we endure the pain and the heartache, His power helps us to NOT surrender to the grief, the hardship, or the just plain yuckiness! Thank you, Jesus!

I really hope these words from the Bible bring you some peace and brightness especially if you're having a dreary day, regardless of the ever changing weather!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Let your voice be heard!

Well, I'm experiencing something lately I usually never have issues with. Since Friday night I've been practically speechless! Not because I can't think of anything to say, but because of a sinus infection. I've lost my voice! And, wow, you never realize how much you rely on something until it's gone, huh?

I'm a talker. It's my vocation and my style. I could talk all day and all night and still have more to say. Now, I realize I waste a lot of words. I say a lot of stuff that's not worth saying and to which probably nobody really listens. But, I really depend on my voice. REALLY! How frustrating to try to ask my daughter what she wants for breakfast when she can't understand what I'm squeaking about. I even tried drawing a waffle and a fried egg so she could choose between the two and, let's just say she thought I was giving her a choice between a waffle and a cowboy hat. Ha! (This would certainly be easier if she could read!) But, the real challenge comes when you have to venture out into the world without the ability to make yourself heard. I have a deeper appreciation for those who, for whatever reason, know this struggle as a way of life, permanently.

This world is wired for sound and if you can't make one, you're at a serious disadvantage. I'm sure with the invention of the internet, blogging, and social networks like Facebook things have become a little better. But, going to the post office and trying to tell the attendant that you'd like to purchase the mailer, mail your package, and buy two books of forever stamps...not having a voice presents a problem. And, the funny thing is the quieter you speak the louder the other person tends to shout back at you. At one point the attendant even showed her frustration by saying, "YOU'RE SO SOFT SPOKEN!" I know she didn't mean it to come across the way it did but she seemed to be saying, "Your lack of volume is an inconvenience for me!" I pointed to my throat and squeaked out that I had lost my voice and her attitude changed completely but I was left wondering what it would be like to face this kind of attitude on a daily basis. It must get really old walking up to cash registers or bank teller counters or just about anywhere that requires you to speak and have to point or write a note to communicate. Hopefully most people understand and are able to show compassion and patience. But, I'm sure there are always THE ONES who make things awkward. The ones who seem to be just a little put out at having to take a little extra time to understand and help. You'd probably have to learn who understands you best everywhere you go. Maybe you get used to it, but there would always be that extra step, especially when you go somewhere new.

I tell ya, I'm convicted and challenged to help make folks with any medical disability feel completely at home when I meet them or find myself dealing with them in any way. If losing my voice can make me feel like an outsider, I can't imagine dealing with what some folks deal with day in and day out. I guess I should thank God for giving me this experience so I can have more empathy and, hopefully, His eyes and ears for things like this in the future! And, I know I am going to DEFINITELY thank God for the return of my speaking voice. Which, hopefully, will be by 1pm today when I'm slated to be on-air with Jeremy for 91.5 WCIC's Spring Fund Raiser, Sharathon. (Please Pray!!)

At any rate, I'm so glad Jeremy and I have worked over the past 5 years on different ways of communicating "I LOVE YOU" to our sweet daughter. She knows the sign for it and we love to point to our eyes for "I", our hearts for "LOVE", and point to the other person for "YOU!" Her Great Grandfather Tracey did that during his final days on this earth when he was hospital-bed-bound. No matter what pain he was suffering and how hard it was for him to speak, he would always smile with his eyes and do his own version of sign language to let us know that he loved us so much. Now, there's letting your voice be heard! I hope I will always shout LOVE out to the people around me, whether they can "hear" me or not!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A chance to sing!

OK, so, the weirdest but coolest thing happened to me yesterday and it all started in a bathroom stall at Panera, West Lake in Peoria. Yes, a bathroom stall. I was sitting down and, well, you know...and the lady in the stall next to me starts singing! It was pretty singing and it was even a song about Jesus, but I was a little put off at first. I remember thinking, "Kind of a strange place to burst into a praise song, but hey, I guess I'll just enjoy it." Then, a woman standing at the sink joined in with the first woman and started singing harmony. At that point I'm thinking, "OK, I'll just finish up and get out so they can continue their little worship session uninterrupted." But then the really strange thing happened. I felt a strong urging in my brain and a tugging in my heart. It wasn't an audible voice, but it was clear. It said, "Start singing with them!" I almost laughed out loud. What?! Hello, I'm sitting on a toilet! And, besides I don't know that they even want to make their duet into a trio! But then it came again. Very clearly. "Start singing with them!" I was about to ignore the "voice" when another thought took hold of me. How often do I get a chance to just start singing with total strangers who also apparently are in love with an incredible Savior? If you're going to have something in common with someone you don't even know, that's a great thing to have in common, right? Why not sing praises to Jesus with these women with the beautiful voices? So, I stepped out of the stall and toward the sink where they had gathered and were still singing. One of them apparently worked at Panera and was putting on an apron and seemed to be preparing for her work shift. They stopped singing briefly when they saw me coming and made room at the sink so I could wash my hands. I almost backed down at that point thinking, "Well, they've stopped, oh well!" But, instead I heard myself say out loud, "I LOVE your singing. You have really got me going for my morning!" That was all the encouragement they needed and they started singing again. And, yes, I joined in. Yes, I did! There we were, three believers joined for 30 seconds to a minute in that intimate bond of worship. As I sang with them their smiles grew to unbelievable sizes and their singing grew louder and more beautiful. It was as if they were saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! Let's keep going!" Finally I asked them, "Did you make up this song?" They said no; it was a song they sing in their praise band at church. Of course that prompted my next question, "Where do you go to church?" They beamed and said, "Gospel Experience!" Now, that sounds like a fantastic place, doesn't it? As I wished them a wonderful day and walked back to my table, I felt as if I were floating. My day was truly lifted by that impromptu praise session with these women whose names I don't even know. And, as I sat down to dive into my Bible Study (my reason for being at Panera yesterday morning), I continued to fly high as what I read on the pages in front of me totally related to what had just happened. My friends and I are going through a devotional on John, the disciple who was basically Jesus' BFF during his time on earth as a human. But, today, the focus was on Peter and his reaction to seeing Jesus when he appeared to them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after He had risen from the dead. After the whole ordeal of them going fishing, not catching anything, then this stranger showing up and telling them to fish on the other side of the boat and they had so many fish they could barely haul it in, John realizes and tells his friends, "That's Jesus!" Well, that's all Peter needed to hear. He jumps into the sea and swims, walks, and runs as fast as He can to get to His Lord! Beth Moore comments in the devotional that this is the reaction she always wants to have to Jesus. She doesn't care if she looks like a fool, she always wants to run to Him! Isn't that perfect? At first I thought singing in the ladies' room at Panera was a little foolish, but I believe God's spirit in me recognized Jesus in that place and wanted me to dive in and do whatever it took to be with Him. Do I always follow these nudges in moments like these? Sadly, no. But, I'm so glad I did yesterday and I hope I will in the future, no matter where I am!

Monday, March 7, 2011

And the winners are...

Congratulations to Abbie Johnson, Chris, and Ken for winning a copy of Living with Less so your Family has More from Jill and Mark Savage! Thanks so much to everyone for posting such thoughtful comments on the things you ARE giving up, HAVE given up, or NEED TO give up in order to give your family more time, attention, fun, and peace. We can all use that, right?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Living with less really can mean MORE for your family!

Another fantastic in-studio visit with the awesome Jill Savage of Hearts at Home. This past Wednesday Jill stopped by to talk about how giving up things, activities, and even money can mean MORE for your family. More time, more family togetherness, and more PEACE in your home. I especially appreciated what Jill said when Jeremy asked her how you can know that you really are too busy. Without missing a beat, Jill answered right away, "When the things that are important to you aren't happening. Like family meals...". Talk about hitting home!! The Traceys are definitely seeing the benefit of giving up activities, eating out, and buying stuff in order to actually have MORE for our little family! What have you given up so that your family can have MORE? Or, what do you need to give up ASAP? Let us know in a comment on this blog post and you could win a copy of the book, "Living with Less so your Family can have More" by Jill and her husband, Mark Savage. (Make sure to add an email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win!) Hurry! The winners will be posted tomorrow (Monday, March 7) at 5pm. Oh, and check out info on Jill Savage and the Hearts at Home National Conference for Moms at