Once was Lost, But Now Am Found
May 2022 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Photography by Cassidy Dunn Photography
Tracy Ray is a fighter. As much as she is a strong, passionate woman who is a never-say-never type of gal, Tracy once experienced complete brokenness and wasn’t sure she would survive.
In 2011, everything in Tracy’s world turned upside down in the worst way. A tidal wave of fear, anxiety, grief and a thousand more emotions crashed over her when her 5-year-old son was abducted. “The feeling I had… no parent should ever have to experience the way I felt,” she said filled with emotion.
Wyatt, Tracy’s fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, sweet little boy was her heart and soul. Being her only child, their bond was inseparable. However, for a little over three months of 2011, this bond was ripped apart when Wyatt disappeared. Come to find out, he was stolen by someone Tracy knew.
Tracy’s first coping mechanism was to drown out the horror with alcohol. She felt helpless, she lost hope, she doubted her faith and frantically worried if she would ever see her son again.
After three days of too much wine, Tracy’s mama bear instincts kicked in, and she began her desperate and determined journey to find Wyatt. “I looked at myself and said, ‘Tracy, what are you doing? You are a daughter of the King. He has a plan, and it’s to get Wyatt back.’ And from that moment on, I found hope again,” Tracy said.
Tracy’s fight went beyond boots-on-the-ground. It was also a financial nightmare for this single mom. But a mama bear does what she has to do to protect her young, and Tracy didn’t hesitate to go to extreme measures for this extreme situation. Hiring two attorneys and a private investigator, Tracy sold everything she owned to fight the fight to find Wyatt. She went this route, because as the case unfolded it revealed that a dirty cop was helping to abet Wyatt's abductor from the inside, threatening Tracy.
Though homeless and staying in an extra bedroom or on a couch with the help of a few friends and the church, Tracy had a daily mantra: “Wyatt is coming home today!” She said this fervently and repeatedly every single day. People told her she had to stop driving herself mad. They told her there was a chance Wyatt would never come home, but she wouldn’t hear it.
“The only thing I could do is pray and keep telling myself ‘Wyatt’s coming home today. If people couldn’t say ‘Wyatt’s coming home today’ with me, then I didn’t want them in my life.”
Tracy didn’t have a huge support group behind her through it all. With negative thinkers—“Wyatt may not come home today or ever”—, ex-husband (Wyatt’s father) not in the picture and friends dwindling, she basically fought her battle alone with the hired team.
After 96 days of saying those four simple words over and over, Wyatt was found in a bedroom closet, pasty, skinny and afraid. With the longest hug and lots of tears, Wyatt was finally returned to his mother.
Today, Wyatt is 16 years old, safe, healthy, happy and has a restored bond with his mom that is unmatched. After some years of therapy for the both of them, Tracy finally has come to terms with the situation and no longer lives in fear. “What doesn’t break you makes you stronger rings true. Prayer is the only thing that got me through, and it made my faith stronger than ever,” Tracy said.
Though still careful with how the two of them move through life, Tracy and Wyatt have overcome the trauma and are determined to live each day without fear. Now, with two successful retail businesses, an amazing husband of eight years, four “bonus” sons and a close relationship with God, Tracy is at peace.
She pays her respects to this horrific ordeal she and her son went through because she would never be where she is today without it. She would never have started her businesses, never found new love, never had the big, loving five-boy family and would have never known she had the strength to take on the world—and win.
Girl Boss: Tracy owns Largesse Boutique in Rincon, GA and L+B Boutique in Bluffton, two beautiful boutiques! The one in Rincon is in an old church and has an amazing God-wink story to go with it. Both stores specialize in women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, home decor and gifts.
Livin’ Largesse! Largesse means “living generously” and “generous giver.” Tracy embodies this word and goes through life making sure she lives by it.
Best Gift Ever: Tracy was told in her 20s that she would not be able to have children. Wyatt was her surprise gift at age 40.
Go Pray: Both of Tracy’s stores feature a prayer wall, where shoppers can take a moment to write down their special prayers and place them on the wall to be prayed for by all.