Constant Sorrows or Continual Feast?

imagesI could tell she was frantic as she came into the room scanning for a seat, but only one remained- right beside me and my baby. I smiled and invited her to join us, but immediately regretted it. She went into a barrage of questions and complaints... “The parking here is horrible! Why would they schedule middle school curriculum night for all three grades on the same night when there isn’t enough parking? I had to park down the road and walk up…. This school does a terrible job communicating with students’ parents- did you know about this meeting? And the traffic to get here was just ridiculous!’ After answering a few of her questions, she concluded with, “I hate it, hate it, hate it here!”

It was clear that nothing I could say would make a difference. It wouldn’t matter if I told her this is an amazing community to raise a family, or that the school system may be big and impersonal, but that my children have both had good experiences so far, or that she would eventually get her bearings and possibly grow to love this new area. She was so focused on her frustrations that everything was awful awful awful!

For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15 (NLT)

New Podcast: The Way to Wisdom Episode 6 – Wisdom in Friendships

Discover the Wisdom of Healthy Friendships

Welcome to “The Way To Wisdom Podcast” with Tracie Dawson. A podcast dedicated finding WISDOM in the Choices We Make and the Paths We Take!

Today’s Topic – Wisdom in Friendships
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2. RATE and REVIEW the Podcast to help us promote Crowning Wisdom.
3. Listen to Podcast on this page.
4. Download MP3 

“Building” Self Esteem

ConcentratingThomasWanna hear something crazy? When my son arrived home from school the other day he walked in the front door and without stopping or hardly completing his usual hello! and walked right out the back door. I waited a few minutes to see where he went or if he was returning but he didn’t. Confused, I got up to see where he went and I saw him on our back patio hammering away. Lost in his own world. Blissfully happy. No ipod. No xbox. No Netflix. Just a pile of small blocks my dad offered to us for kindling and my son’s hammer and nails from his tool kit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, that’s dangerous playing with a real hammer and nails….he could hurt himself. Yup. And he did.  He smashed his finger three or four times the first time he came upon these new blocks, but today he proudly reported that he only smashed his thumb twice!

Building and creating things is very important to my boy. He wants to build a robot out of his old bicycle parts. He longs to build a tree house in the gargantuan oak in our back yard. He puts this and that in his glass Erlenmeyer Flasks and prays something will explode. You can probably imagine why up to this point, I have felt the need to supervise his free time! Yet as I grow older and wiser, I doubt that is actually in his best interest.

You see, I am a newly grounded helicopter mom. I recently learned in a parenting seminar that helicopter parenting robs kids of developmental processes crucial to learning about the world and how they function within it. I also learned that by constantly enrolling our children in organized sports programs, instead of simply allowing them to play “pick up” games, tells them that we don’t believe they are capable of playing fair or even correctly as we have to monitor and supervise every aspect of their play.  And when we separate children during their arguments, we are saying they cannot come to their own peaceable solution. These approaches do not build confidence, responsibility, or self-esteem in our children, in fact they may destroy it.

How to Spot a Trustworthy Person

trust-fallOne of the most recognizable and often quoted Proverb is from 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV) It is obvious here that we are to trust Him exclusively with wisdom and direction for our lives.  But there are times when we have to trust people as well. Whether we are researching information, working with colleagues, hiring someone to care for our children, searching for a future spouse, or simply need a confidante, trust is a huge aspect in who rely upon.  Yet oftentimes, we do no know who to trust.

There are many markers of the trustworthy individual, but here, I want to focus on just five and their corresponding wisdom from the Proverbs.

A trustworthy person is RELIABLE. One who is reliable considers the needs of others and gets the job done whether is is convenient or not. They understand when others are counting on them and take joy in being a source of strength and support. As a result, a need is met, commitments are kept, and complications are avoided with reliable people.  Proverbs 25:19 describes the unreliable as, “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot, is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.” (NIV) When we depend on the wrong person(s) it usually results in great pain and consequence. But one who is reliable instills trust as they are there when you need them, bear up under the pressure of that need, and enjoy being a part of the solution.

NEW Podcast! The Way to Wisdom Episode 3 – ANGER

Wisdom in the Decisions we Make and the Paths we Take

Welcome to “The Way To Wisdom Podcast” with Tracie Dawson. A podcast dedicated finding WISDOM in the Choices We Make and the Paths We Take!

Today’s Topic – Anger

  1. Subscribe in iTunes (Search “The Way to Wisdom” or plug in this URL –
  2. RATE and REVIEW the Podcast to help us promote Crowning Wisdom.
  3. Listen to Podcast on this page.
  4. Download MP3 

How to Give Great Advice Every Time

Be a master advice-giver!

LucyWe are all asked for advice at one time or another in life.  Sometimes we know the request is coming and are prepared with a “good” answer, but more often than not, it comes when we least expect it and later we wonder, “did I say the ‘right’ thing?

As I study the wisdom of Scriptures, I have noticed themes that I believe are applicable to the giving of advice and opinions when someone asks for it. When I look at these, I am convinced that they will direct us to giving not just good advice, but GREAT advice. It’s also how I recognize great advice given to me by those who have taken the time to do it well.

Here are 5 Steps to help you give great advice every time!

He was JUST supposed to replace the ignition switch…

Few things get my blood boiling faster than automobile issues.  By issues, I mean when I take my 2003, crumb laden, juice stained, scraped and dented little people limo into the sparkly-shiny dealership for a manufacturer-recall repair.  Invariably, I get that much-dreaded call from the “specialist” in the surgical, I mean, service department.

I answer the phone to hear, “Is this Mrs. Dawson?” Yes.  My pulse quickens.

unhappy“Ma’am, I regret to inform you that, this morning as we worked on your vehicle, we discovered some seepage and leakage and…well, I am sorry, but your car nearly died on the table.  We are doing everything we can.”

What??  I brought it in for an ignition switch thing-a-majig?  Isn’t that near the steering wheel?  What were you even doing under the hood?

“Ma’am, we can fix this for you, for just under $1,000…and I must inform you that if you don’t get this fixed, your car may have irreversible heart damage, uh, engine damage.

My Quiz Bowl Fail

I remember like it was yesterday...

quizbowlI was stumped.  It seemed like every other question asked of our team, I had secretly known the answer to, but now that it was my turn, I went blank.  When my teammates missed their questions, I squirmed in my seat, rolled my eyes, even mouthed the correct answer with the judges, to indicate to the audience that at least I knew the correct answer.  (Have I mentioned that I am shamefully competitive and now you see, terribly prideful!)  Yet, the question came to me and I didn’t know the answer.

I remember like it was yesterday, but it was actually 1990.  The small auditorium was standing-room-only for the regional high school quiz bowl.  And this was no small thing for my team as we were a tiny Christian school competing against the local public school teams. We had prepared and planned to give a great show of our wealth of random trivial knowledge, which is what these IQ Bowl events ultimately amounted to. But so far, our show was lacking the luster we had expected.

I had only 5 seconds to answer. As the lights shined on me, I felt beads of sweat covering my forehead. I had to answer something…I came from a Christian school for crying out loud! If anyone would get this question right, it should be us, right??

I stalled.

“Would you please repeat the question?”

More sweat.

“Which brother of Jesus authored one of the books of the New Testament Bible?”

In my six years at Christian school, we hadn’t exactly done a family tree for Jesus Christ.  I searched frantically for some name, SOMEone who could have been Jesus’ actual brother.  I rifled through my memory bank of biblical names and recalled that oftentimes there were popular names used very often then as we do now– a sort of “Top Hebrew Names for 3 BC.”

For example, we know of at least 3 Marys and of many Judases (although after Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus, the name was practically cursed.)  There were many James, Johns, and other Jesuses. And from there, I derived my answer.

I wasn’t sure, but hopeful that somehow I had by some stroke of genius deduced the correct answer.

“Jesus?” I managed to whisper. (And YES, I gave the cheesy “Sunday School” answer– the fail safe, you-can-never-go-wrong-with-Jesus answer in a moment of desperation and I regretted it immediately.)

I sensed a gasp in the crowd.

EEENNNKKKK!  wrong answer.

“The correct answer is James.”

Oh. My. Stars.  (that’s christian school cursing)

My last post was about 4 benefits to training our child(ren) to know and study the Bible. Not one of those benefits was so that they can wipe the floor of their next quiz bowl or Odyssey of the Mind competition with their superior biblical knowledge, although it might come up every now and then in the most random places.  If you want to know the 4 primary benefits, please check out that blog HERE.

What this story brings to mind is the importance of Scripture memory.  Memorization is important so that we can recall information quickly and accurately in a time in which we need it. We probably wouldn’t put much confidence in a physician who had to consult his old textbooks to determine the difference between your veins and arteries. Some things we need to know. Even though we or our children may not understand the Scripture in its fullness yet. Like a plant seed, it may need to sit for a while in its soil before it germinates and begins to grow.

And it will! Three-quarters of the verses I have memorized personally, I learned as a child, before I understood words like “atonement, ransom, redeem, and sanctified” to name a few. Now that I am older, those words have meaning and the verses are available to me quicker than I can search them on a Bible app although I still refer to that quite often as well!

Here’s how you might start Collecting / Memorizing important verses and passages

For young kids- make the most of what teaching they receive from your church – if nothing else, make sure they are attempting to learn the verses presented on Sundays as it will reinforce what they have already studied.

Resources such as “101 Verses that Stick” from the makers of the NIV Adventure Bible created a simple pad of verses on a magnetized back that can go on your fridge or countless other places.  Sheets tear off easily to reveal the next memory verse beneath.

For teens and adults, I like buying spiral bound index cards- there are ways to also do this with technology, but I love the tangible feel of a growing booklet of verses I’ve found that encourage me and my friends especially.

Missing that Quizbowl question was an embarrassment and it STILL haunts me to this day! And I want better for my kids.  The goal is not to be a “know it all” or wipe the floor at the next quiz bowl or IQ Challenge event but that we desire that they can recall those verses in times of need and shouldn’t have to guess the answer!

In my next post, I will share some recommendations of Bibles for kids and adults to help get you started in your study!

3 Potential Consequences to Over”sharing”

Toilet DestroyedFerguson. Charleston. Gay Marriage. Immigration. Obamacare. Abortion. Common Core. Global Warming. Confederate Flags. Parental Discipline. Non-Traditional Churches. Rich Pastors. Vaccinations…

There’s no shortage of topics, which on any given day can clog up a newsfeed faster than an unsupervised boy can clog a toilet.  In fact, a lot of the opinions expressed in such common blogs, articles, and posts are much like that bathroom—messy, damaging, and subject to scrutiny.

My concern though, is that when we indiscriminately share opinions, we are doing greater harm than we might realize.  There are 3 potential consequences that you should consider before oversharing opinions, especially when no one has asked for it!

Consequence #1: people may brand you as a “know it all.”

Unsolicited opinions reek (you get it? it smells bad!) of being close-minded and unwilling, if not incapable, of engaging in meaningful discussion or debate. Typically, an opinion is rendered after various aspects have been thoughtfully considered.  When we frequently express our opinions, it is as if we broadcast to the world, “I have sufficient knowledge of this matter and have come to this conclusion.” Stating an opinion is an endpoint…not a starting point.

We can’t be expert on every subject.  We can’t know it all.

Consequence #2: people may reject your future advice, even if it is sound.

Many times, we can offer a great perspective on an issue and empowered by the Spirit can speak great truth and wisdom benefiting the listener.  But when we spew everything we think on every issue we think about, it’s like diarrhea of the mouth (I’m committed to this bathroom analogy)… once we start, we don’t actually know when or how to stop!  This is a huge barrier for anyone seeking a fresh, honest perspective.

Consequence #3: people will assume you are a simpleton.  Or worse.

Proverbs states “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.”  Being more interested in giving opinions as opposed to gaining knowledge are the earmarks of the fool.  This is damaging to your credibility and the impact you are hoping to make with your peers. Listen more. Talk less.

Consider the story of Job and his friends.
When his life had fallen apart, having lost his children, his wealth, his reputation, and his health, he sat mourning, filled with grief and anguish.  His friends visited to comfort him but eventually felt they had to say something…

One friend suggested that Job has done something wrong deserving such misfortune.  He quickly advised, “If it were I, I would appeal to God.  I would lay my cause before Him.” (Job 5:8) Not exactly terrible advice, but he sounds like a “know it all” as he promptly suggested a solution.

The next spoke up implying Job’s deceased children must have somehow sinned against God (Job 8:4). And a third friend presumed that Job must have even mocked God to deserve such an appalling fate.

They didn’t know the facts.  They didn’t know that these turn of events resulted from a conversation between God and Satan.  They didn’t know that God considered Job an exceptional man: “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8

Most people know that not only was Job’s reputation restored, so was his wealth, his family, and his health.

What most people do NOT know is what God had to say about his friends!  “‘I am angry with you and your two friends… My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.”  Job 42:7-8.

Catch that?  God called their actions folly… foolishness.

I am concerned and convinced that as a society and more importantly, as Christ followers, we have gotten carried away with opinion sharing. I am not suggesting that we do not stand up for truth or share the gospel with others. However, we often fail to see the line between truth and opinion and there are indeed consequences to over-sharing those unsolicited, uninformed, and unhelpful opinions.

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to [post] and remove all doubt of it” Maurice Switzer, (if he were alive today…)


Tell us what YOU think…Yes, I am now asking for your opinion! Do you think oversharing opinions has been damaging to yourself or to others? What can be done to avoid some of the consequences mentioned above?

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Being Chris Farley

chris_farleypic     I haven’t written a post in quite some time and there is a reason for that…I’m pregnant.  It’s not as if that alone precludes me from writing, but the effect it has had on my mind and my body has.  I have found myself thrust into a body I cannot control and a mind that doesn’t seem to want to function properly.  To put it short—being pregnant is like being Chris Farley.

Now, before you take offense, let me preface this by saying I LOVED Chris Farley and to this day laugh hysterically at his most memorable roles from the many SNL characters to Tommy Boy, Black Sheep, and countless other cameos and box office misses throughout his short career.  His physical comedy gave the world countless hours of laughter and joy.

So when I say that being pregnant is like being Chris Farley, it is not a slam on him, but rather an ironic transformation for someone composed and somewhat articulate pre-pregnancy to the absolutely spastic, accident prone, mind-numbing doofus I now have become.

Blood flow that once went to my brain now goes to my uterus.  When I used to have somewhat intelligent conversations about education, politics, religion, and world events, I am now reduced to the kind of awkward conversation like Chris Farley as the talk show host interviewing guest stars on SNL as I say, “Hey, remember the time [insert thoughtless social reference here]…that was awesome.”

The physical similarities are profound as well.  I find myself stumbling around, bouncing off the walls (literally) as I try to navigate corners in my home with my ever increasing size, but instead of weaving gracefully throughout the familiar corners and doorways, I find myself clipping the doorframe or miscalculating my proximity to a wall and bouncing from one side to another like a pin ball being knocked around by imaginary flippers.  I catch myself saying Chris Farley style, “that’s gonna leave a mark.”

Steps are a problem too.  I haven’t actually fallen…yet.  But I stumble quite often and can’t figure out if it’s that my shoes are too big, my feet are too heavy, or if the steps have been raised.  Of course, this kind of critical thinking wears me out as I am usually gasping for air for having climbed the stairs to begin with.  I just thank God I made it to the top safely and pray I don’t have to do it again for a while.

And I can no longer step OVER anything.  The small tubing connected to my husband’s Darth Vader-esque anti-snoring apparatus, my kids’ Lego creations, the little strips of wood that separate the flooring from one room to the next, all have fallen victim to my swollen feet being dragged over them.  This is not intentional.  I don’t mean to tromp around like a giant crushing everything in my path, but I have lost all ability to judge the minimal height of these obstacles, so they are consequently kicked into the next dimension or squashed into a million bits.

Getting up and down out of chairs, beds, and cars requires a new level of planning and exertion.  At only twenty-seven weeks I am already requesting a lift, a little push here, or an armhold there, and that’s just to turn over in bed.

Dressing myself requires even more preparation and strategy.  Insistent on still remaining somewhat stylish throughout this pregnancy, I purchased skinny maternity pants.  I can’t have my calves flapping freely in the wind as I waddle through Target scoping out the clearance racks in baby / infants section as I choke back panic at all the ridiculous stuff these little ones require.  NOOOO Way!  I’m going to do this in style.  I am going to dress myself sophisticately.  I will cram my swollen pre-socked feet in these tiny-legged jeans, stretching them up and over 34 inches of my freshly varicosed long legs, suck in this torpedo protruding from my midsection, and hoist the panel (probably a repurposed parachute) up and over this “bump” as we so lovingly refer to it… I keep singing in my head in the voice of Chris Farley, “Fat girl in skinny pants….” as I hold my breath and pray nothing rips.

And don’t get me started on putting on the stylish boots that accompany said skinny pants.  Suffice it to say, I no longer require aerobic exercise as this alone elevates my heart rate to the necessary cardiac range for a healthy woman my age.  I would put my head between my legs to counteract the dizziness all this cardiac activity creates, but I cannot bend but ever so slightly with my belly in the way, so that’s a no-go.  Just give me a little grace when I show up late to lunch, church, or that Parent Teacher Conference and understand that I have been nearly drenched in sweat just getting dressed today.

I know what you must be thinking….this post really has nothing to do with wisdom or Chris Farley for that matter.  It’s as if I’ve taken you out on for a sail on the lake only to find there is no wind or slightest breeze to move us through the water.

Yet here we are.  Awkwardly looking at one another in expectation of some profound conversation…a teachable moment I could share, a nugget of wisdom that might help you through your week, or maybe even an observation that might transform your perspective ever so slightly. But no. Not today.

I brought you out here and all I can think to say is “Hey, remem…remember that time when I could laugh without burping, farting, or peeing on myself…that was awesome.”