Dear Ones: Today, I have the honor of introducing you to one of my dearest friends, Tracy Kratzer Rhoades. Tracy and I have been friends for thirty years. Not only did we attend the same school but we also went to the same church and youth group. Like me, Tracy has endured her share of medical issues throughout her lifetime. I have asked her to share her story with you today in the hopes that it will inspire you and encourage you. Through it all, Tracy continues to trust in God and give Him praise.
I stood in my living room desperately trying to comprehend how this could be happening. My world is crumbling. I am getting divorced, again. I am going to be a single mother, again. My body is exhausted from stress and the effects of epilepsy. My mind is reeling trying to grasp any bit of understanding. Am I this unworthy of love? Am I this lacking in worth? As I play back my life’s memories I search for any type of answer. A memory flashes through my mind, wait, what was that? How is that even relevant? Then I focus in, recalling the family down the street who took me to youth group as a teenager. What was that I learned about God and His son, Jesus? That they loved me? Oh, what was that verse, the one where He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us? I fall to my knees, wanting nothing more than to be loved and feel worthy of love. I cry out to God, “I’ve tried my way and it’s just not working! I’m ready to try your way! Please take my life and lead me!”
This is not where my story ends, it is only the beginning. This is the very day I died and came to life all in the same moment. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22
I would love to tell you life has been perfect since this day. That is not what God has promised. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John16:33"
God has poured out his blessings abundantly in my life over the past 15 years. Those very same years have also been scarred with trials and tribulations. I have been blessed with four children and three additional children of my heart. I have said good-bye to loved ones at the beginning and end of their life’s journey. Relationships have crumbled, and new ones created. I have been diagnosed with multiple diseases and disorders, requiring 25 medical procedures and continuous treatment. I have stood in awe of medical miracles showing God’s power and grace. My sight has been restored in spite of an atrophied optic nerve and my brain has very few side effects following a ruptured aneurysm and repair. I rejoice in each and every day, praising God for his unconditional love and grace. He carries me spiritually through every blessing and trial of this life. I praise him for the amazing husband HE chose to give me who rejoices in each blessing with me and physically carries me through each trial of this life.
There is a clear contrast to the two lives I have lived within my forty years on this earth. I celebrate the new creation I am in Christ. The Bible clearly informs us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”2 Corinthians 5:17
It is only by God’s grace and love that I have weathered the storms of life. The Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul has the perfect perspective. “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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