Category Archives: Love

Oh My Heart!

The month of February is a month that is spent celebrating love. There are images of hearts, cards with sweet sayings, roses, the colors pink & red, boxes of chocolates in heart shaped boxes, and I could go on and on. I love those things as any girl would, but for me it is, also, a month I reflect on Heart Disease and my Daddy.

Growing up my daddy always had a card and a box of chocolates in a heart shaped box for me and my sisters every Valentine’s Day. He would proudly give them to us every year in the morning before we left for school. I don’t remember ever not getting a heart shaped box of chocolate from him on this special day. I received one every year…….even well into adulthood.

You see Daddy, being born in 1926, grew up in the Depression in a single parent family. His father was killed in a farming accident when he was 8 years old leaving his mother with 4 children and one on the way. He was taught from a very young age how to love others by his own mother. She chose to keep the family together when others wanted to split them up. She taught him a love for family that to this day I try my best to to show mine.

Growing up during that time period was quite different than today. They didn’t have access to the information that we have today. They didn’t know about eating healthy or the dangers of smoking. During that time everyone ate lots of fried foods and smoking was looked at as cool or glamorous and was a part of normal every day life. My dad smoked his first cigarette at a very young age and it continued until just a few years before he died.

My dad passed away Easter Sunday in 2004. If he were alive today he’d be 92 years old. Because he smoked he had his first open heart surgery when I was in grade school. I still remember it to this day. Over the course of his life he had a second open heart surgery (this time a quadruple by-pass), a heart cath where they placed a stint in his artery, lung cancer (removed half of one lung), and then 3 years later he died of a second type of lung can. I still miss him very much and that is why this subject is so dear to my heart.

Based on a study by the American Heart Association, Cardiovascular disease accounts for about 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States. About 2300 Americans die each day from Cardiovascular disease, which is about 1 every 38 seconds. 92.1 million adults in America live with some form of cardiovascular disease. Leading the way is Coronary Heart Disease which accounts for about 44% of those attributed to Coronary Heart Disease.

The sad part about these statistics is that this is a preventable disease. Yes, some are more prone to it than others due to hereditary factors, but at the same time just by adjusting your life style you can help to prevent heart disease. The following are things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease.

First of all DO NOT SMOKE!!!!!! I truly believe had my daddy not smoked he’d still be here today at 92 years of age going strong. Smoking is one of the top 3 leading risk factors and contributes to more than 480,000 deaths in America each year…….41,000 of those due to second hand smoke.

The second risk factor is physical inactivity. We live in a world of sedentary individuals and my fear is the next generation will suffer even more due to the obsession with video games and activities which require not activity. Based on the research done by the American Heart Association in students grades 9-12 only 27% got the recommended amount of exercise being 60 minutes per day. Also, according to that study girls got less exercise than boys. So…….get up and EXERCISE!!!!! Be active and find something you enjoy doing.

Another risk factor is nutrtition. Being the mother of 4 active boys I understand this. It is so much easier to run through the drive-thru than take the time to pack a more nutritious lunch or dinner. Being on the go there are not a lot of healthy “take-out” options out there. The other problem is processed food. Yes, just like take-out, it is much easier but the affects on our heath far out-weigh the benefits. In moderation these things are not a bad option……..but as a replacement for whole foods……well lets just say there is no comparison. If you look at a label and can’t pronounce it……’s probably not good for you.

Other risk factors include obesity, high-cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you suffer from any of these things your risk for heart disease increases. If you have a family history you should be checked regularly for these things by your physician. Also, during a pregnancy, if you have had gestational diabetes you are at a higher risk for developing Type II Diabetes and should have your blood sugar levels check periodically…….even if you appear to be in good shape.

Taking care of ourselves by not smoking, eating right, exercising, and having regular check-ups can reduce the risk of heart disease tremendously. We owe it to the loves of our lives………our family. This Valentine’s Day one of the best gift you can give those you love is to take care of your heart and to be healthy for them for a long time to come. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and give those you love a HUGE hug.

(All statistics from “Heart disease and stroke statistics 2018 update: a report from the American Heart Association,” published online ahead of print January 31, 2018. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.000000000000058.)

New Year New You – Love Others and Speak Well of Them

My intentions for todays blog changed somewhat over the course of the last week. This past Sunday was my dad’s brother’s birthday (Uncle Lee) and my sister and I decided to go see him to wish him a Happy Birthday. After spending several hours talking to him and listening to stories about family, friends, and the town he grew up in that taught the kids (and I don’t mean the education they got in school… I recall, Uncle Lee called it “Common Sense” education) I knew I had to change direction just a little. He mentioned how the family was always happy, even during some of the most dark times you could imagine.

How is it that someone can say they were always happy during the darkest of times? To give background, my daddy’s family lived in a small, rural, Texas community. When my dad was 8 years old his father was injured in a farming accident and died several days later. He left a wife (pregnant with my Uncle Lee), my dad, two older sisters, and a younger brother, Jim (who later died in a car accident at 15 years old). My grandmother only had about a 7th grade education. How do you provide for a family like that during the depression? Well, she did. She and the community taught my dad and his brothers and sisters about love, compassion and hard work. They grew up with a strong sense of “All for one and one for all,” as my Uncle Lee put it. There was never a thought of self. It was all about each other and the people around them. It was a true love for family, friends, and even strangers. They never spoke ill of anyone and if I am truly honest I can look back at my time with my own dad and I can’t remember one time he had anything bad to say about anyone……..even when I knew it was someone who had done something to offend him.

Ephesians 4:29 talks about only speaking what builds people up. Proverbs 15:4 says, “the soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Boy does it ever! Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life and death and I believe we can see that in the world we live in today. Many of our problems today are a direct result of what we speak or what has been spoken to us. The Bible says in Matthew 12:34 “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I believe many of our hearts are pretty dark. From our own hearts is where the joy or hurt that lies within us comes from and what causes us to speak ill of ourselves and of others. This was the main reason I addressed loving yourself in last weeks blog.

As children we are typically happy and extremely loving. The world hasn’t quite gotten it’s grip on us yet. I believe that is why Jesus says in Matthew 18:3 unless we become like little children we will not enter His kingdom. But what happen? Where does the depression, the anger, self-loathing, putting others down, and all the negativity come from? I would bet if each one of us looked hard enough we could pin point the moment things began to change and I would bet it started with something someone said or did that impacted you negatively and made you question yourself. Before I go on can I just say that is the evil around us and you are a precious and wonderful gift from God with a divine purpose!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For me it was my 8th grade year. Prior to that, I was one of the happiest people on the earth. I had a strong Christian belief and I never questioned anyone’s motive. Towards the end of the year my school was having elections for Student Council President. I had been Vice President the year before and pretty much should have been a shoe-in for President. Evidently, my running had offended someone. Without going into detail I was literally boo’d when I came onto the stage to give my speech (in front of the whole student body) and when I left after I was done. Although I smiled the best I could and gave my speech proudly I was devastated on the inside. As I started paying more attention to things being said about me, many of which were not good, I started to believe them more and more. From there detrimental behavior followed and the vicious cycle began……I was not good enough……This thought process lead to talking bad about others to make myself feel better about me or participating in things I never thought I would. This, I believe, if where things like drug use, alcoholism, eating disorders and bullying begins. Just take a look at the increase in these things especially the suicide rates among young people. It is scarey to say the least.

How do we break the cycle? I’m glad you asked. I will start by saying its not easy and honestly I don’t have it completely figured out. The nasty beast raised its head in my life just this past weekend. Ugh! I hate it when that happens. The starting place is to begin with what I talked about in my last blog. I’m no psychologist and certainly not a professional counselor and if you are dealing with serious issues I recommend getting help from a professional. I am just a human being with my own experiences and I know what has helped me. The place I had to start was with myself. I had to quit believing the lies the evil one kept whispering in my ear. Once I felt better about myself, loving others became so much easier. Start making efforts towards others. Whether its family, friends, or strangers just lifting them up makes a world of difference. Smile all the time, even when you don’t feel it. Say hello to strangers. Don’t turn your eyes away. Engage in a positive way with people. Give sincere compliments. Take up for someone who is being unfairly treated. Don’t gossip. Find positive things to say about EVERYONE……….even those who you disagree with or who have hurt you. Most of all forgive!

My daddy passed away in 2004 at the age of 77. It wasn’t until after his funeral that I truly realized the man he was. This very humble hard working man had a packed church of people saying farewell. Some of them were students of his from his very first teaching job and others childhood friends. There were business associates and current friends. As I talked to more people that day and since then, the one thing they all have said is they never heard him say anything bad about anyone. Soon after my dad’s death my mother gave my two sisters and I a poem he use to carry in his wallet. I never even knew he carried this but I want to end by sharing it with you. This is what I want to strive for. This is what I want to be. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you as well.

I Know Something Good

Wouldn’t this old world be better
If folk we meet would say –
“I know something good about you!”
Then treat you the same way?

Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy,
If each handclasp fond and true;
Carried with it this assurance –
“I know something good about you!”

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If the good that’s in us all,
Were the only thing about us
That folk bothered to recall?

Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If we praised the good we see?
For there is lots of goodness
In the worst of you and me!

Wouldn’t it be nice to practice,
That fine way of thinking, too?
You know something good about me!
I know something good about you!

Author Unknown

New Year New You – LOVE YOU!!!!

As 2017 came to a close I realized I needed to do something different in 2018. I realized if we are ever going to meet the goals we set for ourselves we first have to change many of the ways we think. After experiencing some of the highest highs and lowest lows I noticed I had changed. I’d let the lows make me bitter and at times I experienced depression to the point of not even wanting to get out of bed. What happened to that always positive and upbeat person I’d always been? What happened was that I lost sight of Whose I was. I saw every fault of mine (and blew it up 100 times). I heard other’s criticisms of me and took them as truth not realizing that I was actually believing the enemies lies. It kept me from loving myself and loving other people. It kept me from realizing my God-given talents and my God-given purpose for being here. It kept me from reaching any goals I set for myself. I just merely seemed to exist.

The “Greatest Command” as given in the Bible is found in Matthew 22 verses 36-40. There Jesus said to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind……….And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” As I thought on that verse I realized I had no problem with the first part of that verse but it was the second part that I had failed at miserably. But why? Thinking back on my year I realized that I had trouble loving others and being my happy self because I had bought into the lies the enemy kept whispering to me. I’d hear, “Tracey your a horrible wife and even worse mother. You suck as a friend. Your selfish and self-centered. You’re fat. You’re getting old.” I could go on and on. For every good thing that seemed to happen there were ten bad (I’m exaggerating but that’s how I felt).

In the last quarter of the year I was drawn to studies and books on love. This was probably due to the fact I didn’t feel loved and was having a hard time loving others. I, also, saw a world that didn’t seem to have a whole lot of love either. As I studied and read, a central theme kept popping up. It was learning to love yourself. When I say that I don’t mean a self-centered love that says things like “I’m better than others”. I’m talking about a love for who God made me to be and my God-given talents and purpose. In Psalm 139:13-16 the psalmist talks about being fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Ephesians 2:10 says we are His workmanship created for good works. I could go on and on with scriptures telling me why I should love who God made me to be, yet I still believed the lies.

I have to be honest I am probably no expert in loving myself but I have learned a few things that have begun a renewed spirit in me. I still struggle almost daily but I am beginning to “like” me a little more each day and I believe the enemies lies less and less. I would first ask you to change your perspective on yourself. Take time for you, whatever that looks like. For me its time to study God’s Word and meditate on it, exercise, to eat right, to get the rest I need. Oh and don’t forget the occasional retail therapy and mani/pedi! (I do love shoes and clothes!) I find that if I spend time on me I’m better suited to spend better quality time with the people who are most important to me and to love others. I recently read the book “Speak Love” by Annie F. Downs ( and in that book she talks about speaking positive words to yourself. One thing that really resonated with me was would we dare say some of the things we say to ourselves to our best friends face? The answer for me was a resounding “NO”! I would never tell my best friend (or anyone for that matter) the things I say about myself. Things like “that jumpsuit make you look 5 feet wide” or “you suck at being a mother and any of your kids bad choices are all your fault” or one of my favorites to say to myself “you don’t have any real friends that really care about you” That last one is one of the biggest lies because I truly have a network of friends who would be there for me in a heart beat. STOP SAYING THOSE AWFUL THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF!!!!!!! I do have to recommend the above book to everyone. It is written with teenage girls in mind but I promise it will have a word for whoever reads it……even boys.

After changing the way you talk to yourself (instead of “I’ll never be anything special” say “I am made with a divine purpose”) start doing things that will boost your confidence in who you are. Find things your enjoy doing. Do something you’ve never done. One thing I started doing a couple of years ago with my boys was feeding the homeless. I don’t know that I would have ever done it if it weren’t for the fact we were in Young Men’s Service League and that was one of the service options. But, we did and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of both my boys and my life. Maybe you like to cook……then host a dinner party and share your gift. Take a meal to an unsuspecting friend. Other things could include exercise, taking a walk, painting, and so many other things. Get active and get involved and begin with things that you enjoy and that build your confidence.

Beginning the journey of loving ourselves puts us on the path to fulfilling the “Greatest Command” Loving God and loving others. I hope you will stay with me on this journey during the month of January. Next week’s theme transitions into loving others. What does that look like? Well, its different for all of us as we show and receive love in different ways. But, it all leads us to the same place…….a new you and a new me and above all hopefully if we all do just a little we will make a difference in a world that truly needs it.