I have complained more than I should have. I have fussed about situations and people way more than I should have. I failed to the see the humanity on the other end of the email. Somedays, I get lost in a state of stress, exhaustion and being overwhelmed. This last month has tested my faith and my heart. During the month of June, I experienced more stress than joy, more frustration than excitement. End of fiscal year is crazy, but this was stressful.
Tonight, needed to be different. Tonight was about surrender. I needed to take some time about being intentional about being in the presence of Jesus and let me tell you what, the Holy Spirit met me right in the middle of my stressed out self. I grabbed a sleeping bag, some candles, throw pillows and my phone. I started my night watching the sunset listening to some classic music and then I enjoyed worshipping with the stars in the sky and the fireflies dancing around me. It was absolutely perfect, and my heart needed a night like tonight to end this month with a heart focused on the Jesus. Tonight, was so perfect that I did not want to leave my little simple sanctuary. Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE Summer nights with sunsets, fireflies and starry nights. The simple act of praise brought my soul such an amazing sense of peace. This is something that I need to do more than once a month because it has such an impact on my heart. The Holy Spirit calmed my overly stressed and anxious heart and I left my night of worship with a peaceful and joyful heart. An act of surrender changed my heart condition stressed to blessed. A word to all my stubborn gals pals, don’t take an entire month to get your act together. Surrender to Him and know that His ways are always good and right.
I love this song by Anne Wilson. This song should be every Jesus lovin’ gals theme song. The lyrics should flow from our lips.
Thank you, Jesus for the gift of freedom to worship and a moment to pause and be in your presence.
As I type this blog post, the tears are pouring out. I could not stop them if I tried. Man, these days are tough. I am not sure how we got here so very quickly. It truly seems like just yesterday, we brought home this beautiful like girl decked out in pink from head to toe, head bands and all. I knew this little girl had captured my heart before I even held her in my arms. Seventeen years later, our family is preparing to have the “best Summer ever” before our girl goes to college in the Fall of 2023.
I remember choosing “Butterfly Kisses” to walk down the aisle to when I got married. I chose this song to honor my parents and grandparents for all their love, support and memories during my childhood. I can still remember rubbing noses in butterfly kisses when I was a little girl. My sister was a bridesmaid and walked down the aisle when he talks about the young girl being sixteen- absolutely perfect timing. I can remember my dad getting choked up before we headed down the aisle when they talk about losing his little girl. I feel that now more than ever before.
Letting go is hard. Allowing our children whom we have nurtured from the moment two pink lines appeared is excruciating and exciting all at the time. Since Kinsley has completed her Junior year and will be a Senior next year, I have been through all the emotions. There is no manual for this. I mean I have had seventeen years to be preparing for this next step in life but man, it is tough. It is hard on our hearts. We want to be excited for our children while it feels like our hearts are breaking at the same time.
As parents, Keith and I have spent a large part of our life working to build a strong foundation for our kids. We have to make a diligent effort to press into Jesus to guide our parenting. It is a time to not lean on my own understanding but to fully allow Jesus to captain this adventure. Without faith, I am not sure how I would survive the teen years.
Both Keith and I are seeking Jesus and His sweet grace as we enter the journey of watching our daughter spread her wings. There is a sense of a heaviness in letting our kids fly but there is also this sweet glimpse of grace and freedom. As a mom, I feel caught in the middle between holding on for dear life, learning to let go and relishing this next adventure into adulthood. It is bittersweet. It is exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time. I have been a little naïve and somehow thought I could keep her forever, but God has something pretty amazing in store for our kids. They will go do great things and as parents, we get a front row seat.
My family is a part of an amazing church family. Without a doubt my children will be grateful for a House of God that helped mold them into a young woman and two young men who are chasing Jesus. The simple act of genuine love and doing life together has created a unique and inviting culture that has helped train up our youth. There is something incredibly special going on in our church on a dead-end road. It all starts with living and doing life as a village of believers. Doing life together means you are there for the good and the bad. The community that makes up the church has been integral to the upbringing of not only my kids but the youth in our small community.
“Start up a child off in the way they should go, and even when they are older, they will not leave it.” Proverbs 22:6 NIV.
When people tell you that time is a thief, that is high on the scale of understated truths. Time will creep up on you. One minute she is in all pink and piggy tails and the next she does not like pink and is wearing actual make up not anything that has the latest Disney movie characters on it. Brace yourself. Soak up all the moments. Yes, all the moments, good, bad and ugly all alike. One day they will all be a memory.
Here some advice from one mama in the trenches. Run to Jesus. If you need to increase your quiet time with Jesus- figure that out early, like before you have yourself a little tantrum and decide you are “done with the Holidays because Satan is stealing your time.” True story, sad, but true. Soak up every moment. Grab a notebook and send your kid a note- daily, weekly, whatever works. This allows you both to share your heart and allows an opening for discussion. Do not question everything you have done as a parent. We have all fallen short. Dust yourself of and keep moving forward. Take the trips, make the memories. Continue to teach them to stay focused on Jesus. Teach them to always serve others. Learn from failure. Know that people will fail you. They are not Jesus. Jesus will never fail you.
To my dear sweet Kinsley, May you always dream big. May you always grow in your relationship with Jesus. May you know that it took a village to get you where you are today and one day you will find your own village but remember where your roots have been planted. No matter what life throws your way, I pray that you keep your focus on Jesus. You have been a joy from day one. You stole my whole heart the moment I saw two pink lines. You caused me to cry like a baby the first time I heard your sweet little heart beat. I love how God knew how desperately my family needed you when my grandma JoAnn passed away. You would have stolen her heart and your Grandpa Bill’s as well. You are funny. You are the absolute best and worst of your dad and I. Your brothers think you are pretty dope until you are meh. You have a heart of gold and a zest for life. Some people think you may be too much. I thank Jesus he created you just the way you are too much and all. In fact, I kind of miss your Helga impersonations. I know that you are going to make an impact on this world. You, sweet little you, led me to Jesus. From a a young age, you had a heart for God. I cannot even begin to thank you! I can remember standing at your doorway and listening to your sweet little voice being lifted up to the Lord in prayer. Gosh, what did we do to deserve you? Your dad and I are grateful for our front row seat in your next chapter, just be easy on us as you go write it.
Today is a bittersweet day. Kinsley is finishing up her Junior year of high school. Brody and Brogan are wrapping up their seventh-grade year. These days are just flying by. It seems like just yesterday, Keith and I were chasing the three under three and now we experiencing the Summer before the last year of high school and the last year of middle school. These children have been an absolute blessing to love on and parent.
We are excited to enjoy our time together this Summer. We plan to make the most of the time we have together. We are a family that loves to travel so we are up for suggestion on some must see places. We are also looking for some great locations for senior pictures so shoot me some suggestions of some great locales. This girl loves the beach so we are planning a trip to the beach to get some good beachy pics.
Mamas who have already surpassed the Senior year and sending their kiddos off to college, any advice, wisdom, thoughts, etc. are all certainly appreciated.
The kids will have plenty of chores for the Summer. They will have the ability to “earn” electronics rather than to just have free access. I plan to keep their minds fresh and moving by including a homeschool routine as they have been deeply impacted by the setbacks presented by covid.
We will be spending lots of time at various ballparks and working on our garden.
Kinsley and I will spend our free time this Summer working on our book. I am so excited about this opportunity to work together. We will also include time to prepare for college.
Feel free to share all your travel ideas, senior pic locations and fun Summer to do’s with teens.
Some days, I feel like a down-right crappy mom. Some days, I wonder how we survived the day. Some days, I just need to sit in the swamp of life and let the presence of Jesus take the day over. Most days, my humanness tries to take control over a situation. But then, my Jesus says, ok girl time to get up and remember that you are the daughter of the one true King. Yep, nothing like a little slap in the face to get me out my funk.
I think we can all relate to feeling like we are inadequate from time to time. I love Jesus with my whole heart you guys, but there are times when I feel less than qualified to be His daughter, let alone trying to raise the next generation of disciples when I screamed at those sweet darlings to take their clothes to their room for the tenth time.
Let me tell you what.. it is time we shut off the lies that swim around in our heads. We are called and equipped by Jesus. Whether we are raising young disciples, folding laundry or leading worship- we are called by Jesus to be exactly where we are at. I am guilty of letting those lies sneak in and control how I respond. We need to start stepping out and proclaiming Jesus over our daily lives. We need to silence the lies. The lies can be of the enemy, but they can also be made up within our own minds. When we silence the lies, we are leaning to lean not on our own understanding, but we are learning to seek Jesus in every aspect of our lives. I am growing daily in my relationship with Jesus. The definition of spiritual growth is constantly seeking more of Him and less of self. Sweet friends, I am far from perfect. Far. From. Perfect. I fail each and every day, but I am constantly seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus. I find myself getting caught up in the ways of the world rather than turning to God. I am trying to use my mind, words and actions to glorify God. When my thoughts, actions and words do not glorify God, I apologize and seek forgiveness. I apologize to my kids for losing my temper.
One thing I would love to see more of is a community of believers supporting and walk alongside others to encourage and build the Kingdom. I am guilty of worrying about my own walk and not necessarily coming to the aid of others when I should. This is an area that I need to do better. I certainly want others to grown in their relationship with Jesus.
Surrender. This is a tough one for me. I am head strong and like things my way. It has been a huge personal challenge for me to accept that His ways are always good, mine not so much. I have struggled with having a sense of independence and at the same time being dependent on Jesus. I am working to retrain my brain to seek His ways before my own. I have to say Jesus your way not mine over and over, multiple times a day.
Here’s some truth. Some days are just crappy, and it is ok to have a crappy day. Jesus is good all time, even in those crappy moments and crappy days, He is still good. Jesus is always present. His ways are good and will always be good and He will meet you right where you are. Sitting in the presence of Jesus is the best way to turn a crappy day
Matthew 16:24 ESV, Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Take some time and reflect on this verse in the next week. This is the ultimate verse on what surrendering to Jesus looks like.
My daughter had a softball tournament this past weekend. I spent a majority of my Mother’s Day cheering on my favorite number 33. I have always been a really competitive mama. Softball and basketball are sports that I love, sometimes, ok, quite often, I have been a little “spirited” when watching my kids participate in this sports. I have been really trying to press in to Jesus when it comes to watching my kids play sports and work on my spiritedness (is that even a word- it is now). I was at lessons with my daughter and it hit me that my days of cheering her on in sports is coming to a close sooner rather than later. In that moment, I felt Jesus say something along the lines of, girl- get it together. Be present, not critical. Take a different approach of less competitiveness and more support and encouragement. Uh, Jesus- you talking to me? I am not sure how to not be competitive and spirited. In true Tara fashion, I attempted to push back and then decided that never ends well. What happened? Speaking life into my kids has happened. I am witnessing her confidence increasing. I am witnessing her sharing her thoughts after games and practices. I am listening and she is speaking. Our relationship is growing. I am just enjoying soaking up my time with her before we enter the next phase of life. God is setting some amazing groundwork for our relationship to continue to flourish. Thank you Jesus for knocking some sense into this stubborn mama. My heart is beyond words grateful!
We got home and enjoyed a lovely dinner of hamburgers, grilled fish and garlic grilled shrimp and all the fixins. I am thankful for my people. I cannot imagine my life without these kids and my husband and our little petting zoo of chaos. This is certainly my kind of wonderful right here.
I’m a little late out of the gate with this one but I felt that God put a special message on my heart to go deeper during Holy Week. So, here goes. I hope you all are ready to dive deep this week, bear with me as I am certainly not a Biblical scholar.
It was put on my heart to share a word or phrase each day this week with you all. Well, let’s get going, we are already behind.
Sunday was all about Jesus entering Jerusalem. It was all about him showing up. That got me to thinking, what is the first step in growing our faith? It’s all about showing up. Let’s have a chat about what showing up means concerning our faith walks. In a very literal sense, it means being present, but I would also add it means being engaged and receptive to the message being shared. You have to allow yourself to be fully present to encounter the presence of Jesus. You must fully surrender yourself to God’s will. Well, buckle up darlings, because it’s simply not about you. It’s all about Him. You simply need to show up and allow God to occupy the driver’s seat. Show up and do not miss an opportunity to bless someone or experience a blessing yourself. Showing up does not mean, marking a box off your checklist to attend church. If you are not engaging, then you are missing an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus. We all know Jesus ain’t got no time for a lukewarm follower, so step on up! You have to learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable. God has created you and equipped you to be a light in the darkness. How do you be a light in the darkness? Friends, you show up. Great things happen when some of the most ordinary folks simply show up. A great example of this is the woman at the well. She was a simple, Samaritan woman who experienced a moment in the presence of Jesus. She went back to the Village to share of the coming of the Messiah. That single moment had such a profound impact on her. Want to know how you can experience God’s presence in your life? Turn with me to Psalm 27:4 (NLT) which says, “The thing I ask of the Lord- the thing I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” It’s all about pressing in. Showing up and pressing in. More of Jesus, less of self. Showing up means practicing daily obedience, praise, worship and simply seeking God throughout the day. Friends, read your Bible. Know His Word. Psalm 16:11 (NLT), “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence.”
Be on guard. The enemy will be coming for you. It is not an “if,” it is “when.” The enemy will try to distract you when it comes to showing up. The enemy will steal your time. Something came up and you are too tired to read your Bible. So, here’s a little tough love, pop those headphones on and go into your room shut the door and listen to God’s word be read to you. Quit making excuses. The enemy will try to distract you from showing up to let your light shine through the darkness. Your showing up is a testament to other believers as well. We are walking our faith journeys together each and every day. Our stories are still in the process of being written, our job is to show up and be present.
I never thought in a million years that I would be writing about my love of Jesus and be a part of an amazing ministry that gathers women together in fellowship. Remember gals, there was a time where I wanted nothing to do with God. I was broken and incredibly sad, but then Jesus. Ah yes, my favorite part of my testimony, but then Jesus. Let me tell you friends, when it comes to the “but then Jesus…” well…that is simply when things get good. Jesus took my broken heart, and He is using me and my spiritual giftings to reach other women for His glory and His kingdom. What a blessing and an honor! And seriously, I am overjoyed that my testimony is being used to allow other women to meet Jesus for the first time. For another woman to grow in a personal relationship with Jesus. And share with another woman the love that comes from having a relationship with Jesus. A ministry that I very much ran from and blatantly told God this is not something I can do. I kept pushing back and Jesus pursued with more vigor. Let me tell you something, He did not stop there. He invited other women to stand beside me in this new adventure. Women I love dearly and who have become some of my dearest friends. He has not only inspired a ministry but an amazing sisterhood of Jesus loving, coffee drinking, praise report shoutin’, hands raised worshippers on this side of Mississipp.
And time for a little truth, we all know that I was not “feeling this.” And here’s why, I will just lay them right out in the open. In all honesty, other women can be catty and full of drama. Woman can bring out the best in other women and they can bring out the worst. Yuck and no thanks. You cannot make everyone happy. And lastly, I do not feel I am equipped. Well…this is another one of those sweet, but Jesus moments. He stepped in and kept pushing for Chosen Women’s Ministry to move forward. He equipped us as he saw fit. We have put Him first in all this ministry has to offer. We just want the ability to have women- both young and old- love on each other, serve each other and simply do life together. We were thinking of a almost Godmotherly concept. Where older and younger alike can pour into each other. Please note, I did not say fairly godmother. I mean that might be nice. Poof…and my house is cleaned with no effort from me…does sound appealing, but I digress, again.
Basic concept is for women to come together and join in fellowship. We want to serve each other. Here is where the Godmother concept comes in to play and almost like a reverse Godmother concept too. Women from high school age and beyond to come together and just be in His presence. Here is a little premise as to how we got here. I was the oldest child, I always wanted an older sister. Someone to pour into me. I did not really have that growing up. I certainly did not have a woman who poured into me as a Christian woman that was not related to me. Grandma Rose and Aunt Glenda prayed A LOT behind the scenes. Well now, as a mother of a Junior in high school, I am seeing so much from other women pouring into my daughter and guiding her in her faith, like a Godmother if you will. I do not really think I realized the impact that we as women have on other women in our Faith walk before listening to Lisa Bevere discussing Godmothers. I cannot love this concept enough! It is so empowering to speak life into another woman regardless of where she is currently walking.
I have realized that God has used the combination of my love of Jesus and gifting in writing to reach women. I am blown away and humbled by the outpour of love and support that I continue to receive from family, friends and the sisterhood of believers. I love to use my real life to illustrate God does not call perfect Christians, but he equips us to world changers for His glory. My goal in my writing is to have women see Jesus through me, a woman who is far from perfect but runs to Jesus at every chance she gets.
You guys! I am so stinking excited for April 10th! That day marks 90 days since my book launched. It may not be a big deal to many but to me it means the world. It means that I let go of fear and yes to stepping out in faith and sharing my heart and love for Jesus in written form for the whole world to read, should the whole world want to! I am still in such awe that God allowed all of this awesomeness to come together! He is so so good! It took me longer than it should to start using my spiritual gifts. I love sharing my heart for Jesus with other women. I am thankful beyond words that Jesus allows me the opportunity.
Please feel free to share this book with any women who would be blessed by this book.
I just wanted to shout a huge thank you to the following online venues who have listed my book for sale on their sites. THANK YOU! You have made this simple, Jesus Loving, mid-western gal’s dream come true! I am thankful that Jesus put this on my heart to share . I continue to pray that this book leads someone to Christ and gives someone hope in the midst of everyday chaos. God is good all the time and all the time, God is good!
The book is also for sale by various venues in Australia, Canada, Germany and a couple other countries! Friends, God is so so good! I am blown away by how he has blessed this book and how many people have already been reached! Join me in prayer that this book allows at least one woman to come to know Jesus, one woman to grow in her relationship with Jesus and one woman to step out in faith and share her heart with others in the name of Jesus.
Above all, thank you Jesus for pushing me to share a glimpse of my testimony . I fought you on this pretty hard but you knew the right course. Thank you for guiding me in the writing of this book. Thank you for helping me to find healing in the writing of this book. The glory is entirely Yours.
Last week, we had an amazing getaway with friends to Galveston, Texas. It was ah-mazing! We stopped at the Oklahoma City Bombing Museum and Memorial. If you have not been to this, go! This was such a wonderful tribute to those who lost their lives and those affected by the senseless tragedy.
On to Galveston. My heart needed this vacation more than I can put into words. We went with three other families and had an absolutely wonderful time. We had so many wonderful discussions, played canasta, the kids did some snipe hunting on the beach, checked out all that downtown Galveston had to offer and let me tell you we ate the best food. Oh the food was so good!
I loved sitting on the deck drinking coffee and reading my Bible and devotionals. I also enjoyed sitting on the beach reading, while kids giggled and waves crashed in the background.
Let’s talk about those kids. After over two years of stagnation, stress and insanity, those kids got to be carefree and enjoy the beauty that God put in front of them. They got to frolic in the Gulf and chase each other on the beach and their giggles were infectious. They got to ride a ferry to another part of the island and explore old Fort Travis. They got to experience the amazing food. They were making memories and escaping the hectic every day life.
As adults, we too were able to escape the hectic every day pressures and were able to relax and enjoy a wonderful getaway from the everyday. We had great discussions about the Bible and life. We are blessed beyond words with friends that have become family. I just cannot thank God enough for how he has blessed us with friends who push us in our faith walk.
It is so good for the soul to get away and refresh and a walk on the beach and the sound of waves crashing is a good place to be.
The boys are close to wrapping up their seventh grade basketball season. They are excited to keep working with Joel to gain more knowledge and improve their skill sets. Did I mention these boys are twins? Hard to tell, huh?
Our Junior in high school is LOVING her first season cheering for basketball rather than playing basketball. She is one of the most joyful cheerleaders!
Keith and I are trying to find balance to be everywhere at once- as parents, we all know this too well.
I am working on Keith to get a she shed. This would be a great place to work on writing, to pray and to just have some space that is my own. I am thinking farmhouse chic.
Other than that, no real updates. Travel softball is gearing up. Boys are debating how they are going to spend their Summer. More to come!
I am working on a new project that I am beyond words excited about! I cannot wait to share more info in the near future.
Keith and I are doing a Bible Study through our church on Revelations. OH. MY. GOODNESS. We have been researching and learning so much! A book in the Bible that used to cause me so much grief is quickly turning in to one of my favorites.
My friend and I started a Women’s Ministry called Chosen Women’s Ministry of KS. We are so excited for what God has in store for the women and high school girls in our community. Here is a link to the Facebook page if you are interested in checking it out.
This girl is my whole heart. She is literally sunshine. She is one of the most joyful people that I have ever been around. This girl is full of life. She does not fit in with the status quo. She was never made to fit in. Jesus has plans for this girl. I get the honor of being her mama!
She’s got a heart of gold. She loves without ceasing. She makes my heart full and happy.
She is growing into a beautiful young woman- both inside and out. She has some amazing roots and we are now headed into the unchartered waters of allowing her to spread her wings. As a self-professed helicopter mom, I am struggling!
I mean, I basically realized at the beginning of December that we have basically one more and then she is off to college and off to experience life. Brace yourself mamas your heart is about to fall into shambles. I pretty much shut down. Not my best moment. Nothing prepares us for this new stage of life that we are about to embark on.
I am learning how to navigate this new chapter. It is not easy but our relationship is constantly changing and growing into something amazing. I would certainly not turn down any helpful tricks on this issue.
I am praising God for the opportunity to love this girl while she is on loan to me.
Stay tuned on a pretty exciting project we are working on together. Until then, Kinsley- you are my saving grace!
Never in a million years did I ever think I would be a Christian author or blogging away about my crazy, messy and beautiful life chasing Jesus. Nope. I probably would have told you that you have got the wrong person. BUT THEN GOD. God wrecked my plans. He used my story for His glory and I could not be more grateful! The count down to releasing my first book (on my nephew, Brad Barrett’s birthday) is just days away! God has placed so many wonderful people in my path. As we wrap up 2021, I am searching for my scripture for 2022 and my word to focus on. I am pressing in this year. I am going deeper. I am going to the encourager. I am going to take the time to see the every day miracles that I have failed to stop and truly see in 2021. My 2022 will be centered and focused around and on My Jesus.
This blog has been very hard for me to write. So here goes… you get me. Completely and utterly unscripted.
I have been in a place of despair, just like you. I know what broken looks like. I know what brokenness feels like. Take a look at the world around us. Brokenness in every direction. Whether we are mourning the loss of loved one taken too soon, the loneliness of lack of communication with others or the sheer volume of a broken world with anger and hostility running amuck. Our hearts are hurting.
Damaged goods. There was once a time that I thought I was so damaged that I was beyond repair. I did not understand how God could possibly love me. I could not even wrap my head around what that kind of love really meant. I would love to be able to tell you that this was addressed in my youth but that is not my story. Like you, my heart has ached. There was a time that my heart was aching to be a mom. After several losses, I wondered if motherhood would happen for me. I would wonder down the baby aisles at Target and Wal Mart. I would always find myself at some point in tears. I am sure anyone who saw me was thinking what is wrong with her. And then I saw her. She was doing the same thing I was doing. Our eyes met and we knew without speaking a word we were facing the same fight. You see, after an early pregnancy loss such as an ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage there is no burial. There is no real goodbye. I guess this was my way to cope and say goodbye and to mourn our babies and maybe even find hope. During this time, I knew who God was. However, I wanted nothing but distance between me and God. I was angry. I felt like a failure. But mostly, I was hurting. I needed God but instead of turning to him, I blamed him for the reason my heart was in shambles. The enemy found a way to entrap me and I allowed it when I turned away from God.
You see, the enemy attempts to frustrate and alienate believers from God. The enemy tries to create a wedge that cannot be overcome. We see that Job stood firm in his authentic love of God and passed the tests of faith orchestrated by the enemy. Satan’s attempting to defraud believers at every available opportunity. If you have not read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis, I highly encourage you to do so. This book provides so much insight as to the method and manipulation utilized by the enemy.
I read two amazing books by Angie Smith that began the healing process for me. “I Will Carry You The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy” and “Audrey Bunny.” And I began writing my own book. I talk in more detail about my journey and it was been so good for me. Writing has always been my outlet. And last but, certainly not least, I made amends with God. I laid years of anger, resentment and hurt at his feet. And with that my heart softened and the healing truly began for me because I know that those babies are resting in the arms of our Heavenly Father.
You see, we all have a back story that is the prelude to our individual testimonies. I know there is another woman who is going through or has gone through a similar situation as me. I want to support her through her brokenness and be an encourager. I do not recommend the route that I took. I needed God and I think I even knew that I needed him yet I refused to let him in. Yet, he continued to pursue me. He did not stop. I pushed and pushed and he never gave up on me. That my friends, is what God’s unfailing love looks like. It is just that simple. The love of God is unlike any other kind of love you ever experience. As humans, we will fail our loved ones, not necessarily on purpose but we are humans and that makes us fallible. You guys, He approached the woman at the well. The woman with multiple husbands and who was outcasted by her village. He did not care whether or not she “looked or acted” like the atypical Christian. He could care less about appearances. He is all about seeking that personal relationship with YOU. A moment in the presence of Jesus and that woman high tailed into the village to share her story of her encounter with the Messiah.
Thomas struggled with doubt, yet Jesus considered him a close relationship. Jesus left the ninety to find that one lost sheep. The one with a back story who is going through something and needs a moment in the presence of Jesus. Maybe that sheep is you. Maybe you have been running and you are tired. I get it. Heck, I was you. It took me awhile being hard-headed and all to realize that Jesus wanted me just the way I am in that moment…a mess. He was not waiting for me to get it all together and certainly is not waiting for you to get it all together either. He wants to take our brokenness and begin mending us. This is just one of the amazing parts of our testimony, aka the backstory.
From my experience, suffering introduces humility. As humans, we are not profoundly fond of humility. Humility can make us appear vulnerable. I am not one of love the state of vulnerability. Humility tends to showcase our imperfections. However, humility opens the door and allows God’s grace to break down walls. 1 Peter 5:5-6, states, “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Suffering is deeply personal. This is where we need to personally lean on Jesus. Psalm 34:18-19, tells us “the Lord is close to brokenhearted and serves those crushed in spirit. The righteous may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” In Psalm 147:3, “He heals then broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” You guys all we have to do is humble ourselves before the Lord and allow his sweet grace to break down the walls. You can never be so broken that God does not want a relationship with you.
It took me a long time to wrap my head around the fact that you do not have to “look” a certain way to be a Christian or have #Christian‘cred, if you will. There is no “Christian look” per se. In fact, a Christian comes in all walks of life. Being a follower of Christ simply means that you have the heart of a servant and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and invest in nurturing that relationship.
By now, you all know that I like to review scripture for my blog but I also try to find a song that drives the message home. The song “Truth Be Told” by Matthew West has been the song that I have listened to and reflected on while writing this blog. It is ok to be broken and it is ok to not be ok. However, it is not ok to live there. This my friends is where the amazing grace of Jesus comes in. He wants our brokenness. He wants us to lay our burdens at feet. And my friends, it is a given fact that we will have burdens and suffering. The Bible tells us in John 16:33, “You will have suffering.” But in this pain and suffering, there is so much potential for growth and sweet, sweet grace. God’s grace for his people is one of the most amazing gifts he reveals to us. We lean on Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of people who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I look at it like this, you have a choice to make: (1) you can continue to run from God and try to handle life and adversity on your own or (2) you can run to God in the midst of your storm and allow God to take the wheel. I would encourage you to choose the second option. I tried the first option for far too long and it never worked out for me in the long run.
On Monday evening before Thanksgiving our family watched God’s Not Dead 2 and there was a phrase in the movie that shook me to my core…Walter Wesley said: “Honey, you of all people should realize when you’re going through something really hard, the teacher is always quiet during the test.” Umm… ya, that phrase was an “aha moment” for me. I was close picking myself up off the floor. The quote is so simply but this is THE ANSWER I have been seeking for months. I have been working on this blog for a while now. And there it is just as plain as day…the teacher is always quiet during the test. We must trust his timing during the storm.The test or the storm is the time to really press in and seek God. Read scripture, praise the Lord, worship all while giving Thanks to the creator of Heaven and Earth for he is good especially in the storm.
Jesus, I just want to thank you for all you do and continue to do. Lord, I am praying for those who do not have a personal relationship with you. Jesus, I pray that humility creates a pathway for walls to come tumbling down and God’s grace to enter hearts and lives begin to change as others accept you into their hearts. I pray that folks find hope through Jesus. I pray that through the acceptance of Jesus that hearts can be mended and hope is restored. Thank you for being a good, good Father.
I know that Thanksgiving looks a little different for all of us this year. The year of 2020 has been one for the books for sure, BUT God has been so, so good and faithful. Yes, we are watching our world in turmoil around us but with a God perspective that view is a little different. Let’s go deeper on this subject.
This year has thrown a great deal of adversity and chaos our way, including the diagnosis of new health issues, online education of our kids, working from home exclusively, stores running out of Clorox wipes and no one will be able to forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. Living life during a pandemic has been something. But let’s get down to the amazing things that we can take away from 2020. My family went on a much needed pause in the Spring time. We were able to sit down to dinner and simply talk. No one had to dart out the door to practice. The sad but true fact was that we maybe had dinner together once or twice a week prior to the pandemic. I am beyond grateful for the pause that allowed my family to be a family unit together. Some of our best discussions as a family happen around the dinner table. It was the most amazing opportunity to just be in the moment together. I am grateful that I will take a stand I will value the family unit as a whole. We will not go back to what dinner looked like pre-2020. We have a new standard.
I cannot believe I am saying this, if you worked in the IT department at my work you would certainly agree.. but I am thankful for modern technology. I am so grateful for the ability to zoom, facetime and video chat. I find myself struggling with the need for human interaction. That is saying a lot because I can sometimes need time to decompress. I believe there is something to be said when something you normally take for granted is taken away. Modern technology has allowed our family to visit with family and friends. I have so enjoyed our Facetimes with my grandparents and parents. Of course, I would prefer to HUG them in a big way. If anyone finds a deal of hazmat suit, I am in the market.
I am also thankful to be able to explore adventures in cooking together as a family. The kids and I took advantage of Hello Fresh meals and were able to make gourmet meals together. This opportunity allowed Brogan to find a love for cooking that I dare to say, he probably would not have otherwise found. We also purchased a pellet smoker that has completely wrecked our dining world. Um, all I can say is get yourself one and your stomach will certainly thank you for it. I am grateful for the ability to see personalities show through when we cooked together. Kinsley naturally as a the first born, led. Brody liked the technical aspects of cooking but not necessarily the cooking itself. Our resident other 40 year old, Brody, who lives in a world that is very black (he does not understand his twin Brogan who is 100% living in the gray) made us follow the directions line by line on the recipe cards. The conversation was nothing short of priceless.
Another big one for me is simply TIME, no not the magazine. For example, my commute in the office was approximately an hour plus depending on traffic one way. Now days, I roll out of bed read my devotional and Bible and find one of the greats to tune in to. You know, like Louie Giglio, Jack Hibbs and some guy named Bo Gerken. I have found myself turning to the Word, worship music and speakers of the Word more and more. I have found myself reading my Bible and researching online classes to grow my knowledge base. This is a good problem to have. I am without a doubt grateful for the TIME to be able to focus and dig deeper. I have been able to focus on writing for my blog and book. There is so much peace that comes from expelling my thoughts into written word. Peace and contentment are attributes that I have been able to find a lot easier these days. I am finding who I am through my relationship with Jesus. There is so much FREEDOM to be had with growing your relationship with Christ.
I turned the big 4-0 this November. I was seriously struggling with this number. I also randomly struggled with 26- not entirely sure why. I am a bit quirky I guess. I am about twenty days into 40 and I am learning that I am proud of who I am. I cannot really say that about my 20’s or 30’s. I was constantly searching. I was searching so desperately for a relationship with the King of Kings. I did not know this then of course. I like who I am. I like who I have become. I am a perfectly imperfect mix of somewhere between an ample splash of hot mess meets a Jesus lovin’ Proverbs 31 gal, who fervently loves her family and friends and tells every dog in her path that she loves them- type of gal- otherwise known as quirky or even perhaps different. I am ok with that. I have no desire to be normal. I have reached a point in my life where I am living for Jesus not the world. I am flawed and I fail but I am not quitting, I AM PRESSING IN DEEPER. Join me!
I am grateful for church services and the ability to worship freely. At the end of the day, we all know how the story ends. I will be transparent in the fact that there have been times where I have struggled with hopeless and anxiety. For me, that is a trigger to dig deep. Some nights, I fall asleep while praying. Some nights, it is freezing cold or pouring down rain and I will stand outside and worship. I have to go outside because I was not blessed with a singing voice that sounds like angels-I might need to send apology cards to my neighbors. I am far from it. I also enjoy the alone time, just me, God, the stillness of living out in the country and with hands lifted I worship. You guys, I just know that I need God more than ever before. I need Him to be with me all day, every day.
I am thankful to belong to a family of believers who are focused on the hope that comes with having a personal relationship with Jesus. I am thankful for HIS grace and the Freedom that we can experience as a result of grace. I am thankful to be a part of something that words will never adequately describe. I am blown away by how believers come together in the face of a pandemic and pray collaboratively for a loved one. Words cannot begin to explain the gravity of what it feels like when Jesus enters the scene. Lives are being changed. God is not finished. He is moving and working behind the scenes. There is hope. I mean God knows you. He knows what you are going through. He knows your hurts. Press in. Be different.
Jesus, I come to you today with a grateful heart. I pray for our world. I pray for our country. I lift up those suffering. I am praying for healing. I am praying for believers to go viral with their faith. I am praying hearts, minds and relationships. Jesus, I am thankful for your unforgiving love and mercy. I will continue to lift you higher and bless your name during the storm and the times of prosperity. I pray that we enter the holiday season with grateful hearts and contentment and peace. Lord, we lay our burdens at your feet. In your loving name me pray. Amen.
Since I was a child, my parents would always say not to engage others in politics. Well, sorry mom and dad, I did not heed that advice. As far as politics go, I have always been outspoken with regards to the candidates and the issues. Then 2020 hit and let’s be honest, people have lost their minds for sake of their political stance, myself included. I have been thinking about this election like many of you for a very long time. Some folks get excited about Halloween, not me! I get stoked about Election Day! I went to bed early last night to prep for a late night tonight and have my snacks and Black Rifle coffee ready for the late night ahead. Election Day is my jam!
This year has been nothing short of outrageous. This year has presented so much division in this country over all things related to politics- i.e. wearing a mask, not wearing a mask and Trump versus Biden. People have been unfriended on social media platforms for voicing their opinions. Let me go ahead and emphasize the last word again…OPINIONS. You guys, everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions on issues. We should not condone a person for an opinion that differs from ours. Just keep on scrolling or walk away.
I will share that I vote based upon my Christian beliefs. I am unapologetically Christian and that is reflected in my voting history. When the voting is done and the decisions are rendered, I will continue to put my trust and my faith in Jesus not the human(s) elected to office. I am not putting Biden or Trump in the driver’s seat, it will continue to be Jesus who is in charge of the wheel.
I have been leaning on 1 John 2:6, “The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.” That is a big, bold statement, but man it’s good, so good. It has changed my stance on how I will handle myself during this election. I am choosing to Speak Life. Our family, friends and the communities are hurting. So instead of arguing over who should be President, let’s walk how Jesus walked. Let’s do for others. Let’s speak life over others. Let’s be a part of the solution, not the problem.
I would encourage you all to be an informed voter. Research, research, research. Before I put my support behind something, I do my research. If that candidate or organization does not align with my Christian belief system then I simply do not back that candidate or organization. I cannot emphasize enough, do your research. I have a spreadsheet that I fill out regarding the candidates from President to local offices. Please see above regarding the nerd comment. I told you I geek out.
For the first time today, I am praying for all candidates and elected officials. So, let’s get real and biblical here; Trump and Biden were created by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. God created both these candidates. I know what you are thinking, has this girl ever picked up a Bible, of course God created both candidates. I was researching this election for my spreadsheet and I had an “ah ha” moment that shook me to my core. You guys, I realized that I had been reducing the other candidate to a point where they seem so vile that they were less than human. Gosh, that was a hard statement to swallow. Unfortunately, I do not think I am the only person to fall down this path of destruction. This revelation has truly changed the way I speak about the candidates and reaffirms that I am pressing into my faith not the outcome of who wins the election. Afterall, I do not remember Jesus saying to only pray for the candidates you support. You guys, our country needs healing. We need to see a movement of Christians hitting their knees and praying like never before. So, I invite you to join me in prayer for all the candidates today. Yes, all the candidates, not just yours. Then tomorrow let’s band together as a group of believers and pray for those who have been elected into office. Let’s stop the division in this country and come together as a community who prays together.
1 Timothy 2:1 ESV, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanskgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” Press into this verse today, sweet friends. I know there is uncertainty around us but through Jesus our hearts find sweet, sweet FREEDOM.
Lord, I pray for this election cycle. I am lifting and surrounding each and every candidate and their families in prayer, Lord I cannot imagine the stress and turmoil that an election can cause to a family but I know you can provide much needed peace and comfort in these times. I pray for peace no matter the outcome of this election. I pray for healing. I pray for division to end and unity to spark across this country. I pray for healing of hearts. I pray that as a community we come together in your name and get in the habit of building each other up. I pray that kindness replace hate. I pray that in all things, you get the glory you so deserve. It is in your mighty name I pray, Amen.
Until next time, keep pressing in and encouraging others.
My kids have been back to school for over a week now. They are happy to be back at school. They are not fond of wearing masks pretty much all day but they are adjusting. They are grateful to see their friends and to simply be kids. I am grateful as well. We are creatures of habit and it is nice to have a set schedule rather than the living in limbo like we have all been doing since March. I have noticed my heart was heavy in the last couple of months. I slipped into a deep hole. I let the craziness of 2020 get the best of me. I lost who I was and what I stand for. The truth of the situation is…I saw myself headed down this path. I allowed outwardly circumstances to control me- including my thoughts. I quit working on my book that I was so excited about. My husband and kids did not get the best side of me. I was more than overwhelmed with a situation that I could not control. I have said it once, I will say it again…I just want to see and hug my loved ones.
You guys, COVID sucks, like in the most basic non-political stance ever…it has created mass chaos in it’s wake. I have grandparents, parents, siblings and nieces and nephews that I just want to see and hug! I want to celebrate my daughter’s fifteenth birthday that was in APRIL! I want to walk in a building without a mask. I want to see a person smiling as they walk by not lose their mind because a breach in a six foot space has been infiltrated. I want people to simply show common decency towards others. I prefer to not see folks lose their minds over hoarding thirteen packages of toliet paper. I would prefer to see Americans supporting Americans regardless of political view or socio-economic status. For Pete’s sake, something has to give. This should not be first time news, BUT… YOU can disagree with another’s opinion without blaring profanities and falling short of waging civil war against the other person. It is ok to have a differing opinion. It is healthy to have different opinions.
I am the proud aunt of a police officer and you better believe that this amazing young man is prayed for on the daily in this house. My nephew is serving others day in and out. He works hard in good times and in bad to ensure the safety of those who has taken an oath to serve and protect. For those who do not believe in backing the blue, when trouble comes calling and it quite possibly will at some point and time, who will be on the receiving in of your first call? Truly serving others is certainly something that we as humans need to get in the business of doing. And let me me go ahead and clear up any misinformation, are there bad cops? Yep, but there are also bad doctors, teachers, truck drivers- you can seriously fill in the blank with any profession you can think of.
Let’s get more in the business of supporting and loving on each other rather than putting others down. I can be as guilty as the next person with the comparison shame game. It is something that I need to work on. I, personally need to press in to loving on others more.
Did you see my note above about a book? I am so stinking excited about this amazing opportunity. Writing has always been my greatest outlet. This book is my heart from cover to cover. I have been drafting and editting over the last couple of months. I am closing in on my deadline to get something to my publisher. If you could see the pages they would show my tears, my smile, my heart. Stay tuned for upcoming information!
Updates: Brody got baptized (see pic below)! We have 5 baby kittens. They are pretty stinking cute and I am NOT a cat person at all. Twins are in middle school. Brogan is enjoying running cross country. We are excited to attend his first meet this Thursday. Kinsley is planning on trying out for the school play that is a movie now thanks to COVID. We are about to get started on home repairs thanks to some substantial storm damage from the Summer. I will post pics of our progress. That’s it for now. Stay safe, be humble and exhibit kindness to others.
As I am writing this, I am on a journey to put God first and others second and myself last.
The greatest season is right around the corner. I love Fall. I love pumpkin spice, boots, falling leaves and cool mornings with a cup of coffee.
I snapped this picture the other night. I thought the sky and sunset was breathtaking. The picture is a good iPhone quality pic but in real life, wow! I get caught up in being a taxi, a chef, and a maid that sometimes I forget to stop and reflect on the pure beauty of God’s amazing handiwork. I love a good Kansas sunset. This picture has reminded me to slow down and enjoy God’s blessings in my life. Like any other mama I have a to do list that is continually growing. I am ensuring that I make relaxation and reflection a priority so I can give others the very best version of me I have to offer. You guys God is so Good! My family is exploding! My heart is full. My sweet, simple life is bringing such joy!
Hey sweet friends! I just wanted to provide a little update to keep in touch with family and friends while we are still under stay at home orders. I am still trying to balance work, household duties and helping the kiddos with their schoolwork. Some days are quite great. Some days I retreat to my closet and eat an entire batch of homemade lemon cookies and I do not even feel guilty! No shame here. I own that, those cookies were the bomb. I think one of our less than finer moments was when I was on a negotiation call for work with outside counsel and my darling twins decided it was a good time to play their trumpet and trombone in the very next room. Let me tell you they got their physical activity in after that. I guess it was a good thing it was not a video chat. That brings me to video chats. Some days, I have to position that camera down or just not have it on at all. I am sure we have all saw the meme with Scarlet O’Hara circling around Facebook that says, “Controlling my tongue is no problem. It is my face that needs deliverance.” This is what I really need to work on.
I just enjoyed an amazing spa experience which now consists of a Vitamin C Epsom salt bath that is uninterrupted and followed by me plucking “glittery looking” hair from atop my head while donning a charcoal face mask. Self care, am I right? Speaking of self-care I have enjoyed drinking coffee with coconut creamer while reading my Bible. I am loving our Real Women of LP Bible Studies in the mornings. I love these women. It is a wonderful way to connect and stay plugged in with the LP gal pals. What else, what else.. I have watched The Office like a million times. I love that show and can seriously watch it over and over. We have had several karaoke and dance parties. We started a daily routine with the kids to learn something new from a youtube video. I have learned about Iroquois Indians, volcanoes, cenote’s in Mexico, hours of #replays of Auburn Softball games, who is the best draft pick from the Chiefs, the Trail of Tears, and how my kids are desperately ready for another beach vacation. We have instilled morning Bible Study together and how it is important to also have time alone with God. We made homemade dog treats- that all our pups LOVED! We also celebrated Kinsley turning 15! We are excited to celebrate once it is safe.
And…now what you all have been waiting for… Tara’s Bacon Chicken Pesto Cavatappi
I grilled a couple chicken tenderloins. Once the chicken was close to being done I added a couple slices of applewood bacon (allergic to hickory). In a separate pan, while the chicken and bacon were cooking, I added a jar of Barilla pesto and a small container of heavy whipping cream to a sauce pan with bit of garlic. I LOVE garlic. I have the squeeze garlic and just used a small amount. I sliced the chicken and the bacon and added the chicken and bacon to the pesto and whipping cream mixture. I cooked the cavatappi noodles. I added a small amount of sliced cherry tomatoes to the sauce. I also added mushrooms. I continually stirred the sauce as it thickened. Drained the cavatappi pasta and mixed the pasta in with the sauce. Ready to serve. So yummy! Enjoy!
I have been praying for time to slow down. I have been complaining about how crazy our lives are. Interesting fact, guess who sets said crazy schedules? Ya, uh huh that would be the one complaining. I know that my heart needed more time at home with my family. I needed time together versus a quick hello in passing. I needed a break from Keith and the boys running one direction and Kinsley and I another. I felt I was fighting for time with my OWN family. I WAS fighting for my family. I honestly did not want to contend with sports anymore. AND WE ALL KNOW I LOVE SPORTS, sometimes a little too loudly. But here’s a simple and very true fact, I love my family more and we are living on borrowed time together. I did not really know how completely out of sync we had drifted until we were under stay at home orders. My daughter is missing her first year of high school softball. She has looked forward to this day for many years. We discussed her disappointment, but we also spoke of the Senior that does not get another opportunity to play sports in high school. We talked about it being ok to be disappointed but not ok to live in that disappointment. Same with my twins who are 5th grade. They looked forward to having their farewell to elementary school. We will celebrate once the storm is over.
We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 epidemic is real and it is challenging our way of life. Actually, in our home, quite honestly, a way of life that I hope I never get back to. This pandemic has altered the way I look at life. Do not get me wrong, I know this is a serious issue that we are faced with. I am relishing in the fact that my kids are getting a Christian focused education because we are creating an environment that begins with Faith and then school and work. In a world that is surrounded by chaos and negativity, I have hope. I have been leaning on Romans 5, especially verses 1-5. “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Honestly, I cannot imagine not having hope, especially given the current climate that is thrown at us on a daily basis. I would love a newscast that was not surrounded by negativity. I check the weather on my phone and that is where I get the local weather scoop. It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity. It was Zig Ziglar who said, “I read the paper every day and the Bible every day; that way I know what both sides are up to.”
The enemy has a way of attacking us where we are most vulnerable. Relationships, family, finances, and self-worth are just a few examples. Personally, I have been struggling with self-worth and the feeling that I am not enough. I am not enough as a wife, mother, employee and now distance education specialist (aka home ipad education patrol) and friend. I have had legitimate fears that I will fail my children, my husband, my employer, my friends and myself. The fear of not being enough has really come to life in these last few weeks. In the last couple of weeks, I have called out to God more times that I can count. I have prayed to the point of falling asleep, also more times than I can count. Sisters, we are all in this together. We need to press into God through these challenges and lean on his Word. We need to take things one day at a time and allow for a whole heaping of grace. At our house, when I am struggling, I start talking to God out loud. I want my kids to know that this is how I handle my struggles. I take them to the one who can handle them much better than I can. Each morning after spending time in scripture, worshipping and praying I am better equipped to handle my days. Somedays I put on my headphones and crank up some worship music to power through the day. Seriously, I needed to adjust my unrealistic expectations of what our days would look like. Day 1 was full of tears, jeers and fears! The struggle was real. The students were dancing awfully close to be expelled and the self-appointed Assistant to the Assistant Principal was about to get a boom box and blare some jams to commiserate the resigning of her self-appointed new job after 23 minutes on the job! After googling if boarding schools are still open, we decided we need to amend our schedules and expectations. Sometimes you just need to crank up the volume and DaNcE it out. One of our family’s favorites is Grace Got You by MercyMe. Try to listen to that song and not move. IMPOSSIBLE! We usually follow it up with some NKOTB (for those of you who do not know New Kids on the Block.)
Reach out to your squad. You know, the gals that we can cry to and with after an exhausting day of picking up Goldfish, re-washing clothes and trying to keep everyone on task with schoolwork. These sweet sisters know the value of an encouraging call or text, dropping by a latte or your favorite sweet treat. Pray with them and certainly pray for them. I would encourage you to #SpeakLife with and into the members of your #squad. Just make sure ya’ gals are practicing social distancing. Also lean into praying Psalm 91 over your family and friends.
I can tell you the most amazing thing happens when you praise God during your storms. Losing my grandpa Keith was one of the most difficult times for me. It is hard to lose someone who is so larger than life. This man meant so much to so many. He had a such a heart for helping others and loved attending Mass at St. Therese. I always loved how he would get dressed up for church and he was the SMARTEST Trivia Pursuit player- I am sure he sent several letters to their headquarters to inform them their answers were wrong. I fondly remember him singing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY! I am pretty sure he and I were both skipped when musical talents were handed down. When he passed, my heart broke. I had put this man on a pedestal. His love and approval meant so much. My heart needed peace. I dove into my Bible and I remember praying 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion and all God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” God’s amazing grace was everywhere. After my grandpa passed away, my mom and sister attended church with my family. I remember hearing Kristian sing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY! You guys! My heart! I remember looking at my mom, sister and Keith and just smiling with tears of joy. We all knew the significance of this song and it is what our little hearts needed at that moment. So press in girls! Press in when times are good and you are dancing a top that mountain and press in when you are in eye of the storm. God’s got this. He will not forsake you and I hear he is a proponent of carrying the one! See what I did there?! You know, I could not help myself. Girls give yourselves an abundance of grace. Below are two verses that have been on my heart lately. Hang in there and keep hope alive!
Isaiah 26:20 “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourselves a little while until the wrath has passed.”
Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
Lots of love, virtual hugs and prayers headed your way!
I had an elaborate Christmas planned. I would WRAP the kids gifts in the most adorable Buffalo Plaid Christmas paper. Everything would follow this elaborate Buffalo plaid meets Farmhouse Christmas and it would be GLORIOUS! In my head it was nothing short of AMAZING! In reality, I bagged more gifts than I wrapped, I did use Buffalo plaid paper and very random bags. The “bottom” of all the wrapped gifts looked like someone, probably a five year, crumbled the paper together and secured the paper with an enormous amount of tape. Yep, that was me. I wrap like a five year old in a hurry. I did have everything wrapped or bagged on the evening of December 23rd, ya’ll! Normally, I am a zombie of a person running around like crazy in to the wee hours of Christmas morning getting all the gifts wrapped! Not this year! And I only misplaced/forgot one gift this year. So, in honor of hot mess moms everywhere, I am putting this in the win column. Regardless, we had an amazing Christmas. We were healthy for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were able to enjoy a getaway to Branson for Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family. Our church had a lovely Christmas Eve service. We were able to venture to Branson to the Sight and Sound Theatre and see The Miracle of Christmas. We welcomed Chloe dog to the family. This sweet pup has my heart. I love her so much. She has grown so much too! The kids were busy with flag football, baseball, softball and basketball. We enjoyed cheering them on. Kinsley entered her first year of high school! What!? The boys are enjoying their last year of elementary school, including their last elementary Christmas program. 2019: We won and lost, we danced, we laughed and cried. We went to a Chris Tomlin concert. We paid a TON of in gate fees for well over 70 games. We made 2019 a year to remember. We are excited for 2020 as a family. I hope we enjoy a year full of memories and new experiences. I am also hopeful to find new ways of loving and serving others.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2020! Hugs, Tara
I grew up attending the Catholic church. I loved my little hometown church. I love the people that made up this church. I loved our priest. He was not your typical Catholic priest. He was an older gentleman who wore leather pants and drove a Harley. He had a zest for life and deep love for Christ. Attending Catholic Mass was what I knew and I have never been one for change unless I initiate it.
As someone who grew up Catholic, I never understood how people worshipped with their hands raised and danced in the aisles. I call these folks the “front row Hallelujah sisters.” The raising of hands was so foreign to me. I grew up attending service that was extremely regimented. I loved the structure of it all. I knew what to expect and I liked that.
My life began to take a turn that I did not see coming when we started attending our current church. I love our church. It is a church family based on a relationship with Christ not a membership to the church. I felt a calling to re-dedicate my life to Christ. I felt myself growing closer and closer to God. Little did I know, my life was about to be forever changed.
I am not a singer. I honestly cannot carry a tune. I would mouth the words but did not really vest my time into worship. I tolerated the singing to get to the message, you know the real reason you come to church- so I thought. I will be extremely vulnerable and honest and say that I had a stirring to raise my hands long before I ever did. I knew God was telling me to re-dedicate my life to him through baptism. but raising my hands… nope not happening- I will fight you on this one. I full-heartedly believe that was the Holy Spirit trying to grab ahold of me and I resisted. I was embarrassed to be considered a Hallelujah sister, I thought these gals would have shouted hallelujah at about anything. Honestly, I kept thinking about the Mississippi Squirrel Revival and at that point that was the ONLY way this girl would raise her hands at church.
A few years later (yes years, I am a little head strong), I went to Desperation, a youth conference with Kinsley in 2018. I went with the purpose of getting Kinsley from Kansas to Colorado to Wichita for a softball tournament. I was not expecting this to be a life changing event. I was not planning on experiencing an “ah ha moment.” While at Desperation, I was surrounded by thousands of teenagers who were on fire for God. One of those teenagers was Kinsley. It was almost like I was on the outside looking in. Kinsley is one of those kids that is on fire for God. I never really witnessed her worshipping. I was humbled and blown away. This girl worships like it is just her and God alone in a room. She is all in no doubt about it. I remember just being overwhelmed with emotion watching her. I started crying and could not stop it. Deep down I knew this was the blockage to a more meaningful and deep relationship with God. My hands went up and my heart opened up to God like never before.
Throughout the Bible, we hear of characters “worshipping.” Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Worship and prayer go hand in hand. Psalm 29:2 2 shares, “A scribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”
I wish I would have had a better relationship with God when my grandma JoAnn passed away, when our twins were born and when Brody broke his femur. In each of these moments, I needed that relationship with God. I needed those assurances. I needed that peace that comes with having a strong foundation in Christ. Instead, I had wavering faith. I carried the weight of the world on shoulders that could not endure that type of burden. Even when I was not engaged with Christ how I should have been…HE was still there. He brought our family Kinsley when we lost my grandma. He knew we needed a gentle soul to mend our broken hearts. Sometimes I am blown away by their similarities- like crying on cue and having this amazing heart filled with love for kids at St. Jude’s. God was also with us in the NICU. He loved on us when we were treading on new paths. He was most certainly there with us when Brody broke his femur. He comforted our son when he should have been in horrific pain. He calmed our heart as we raced to the emergency room to get Brody the care he needed. When I was not present….He has ALWAYS been PRESENT.
I am not on the front row, but yes, I am a hallelujah sister work-in-progress. Let me tell you, raising my hands and truly worshipping God has transformed my faith journey. I have a deeper personal relationship with Christ that entails worshipping, praying and daily conversations with God. I start my day with worship music. I clean the house to worship music. I fight my best battles with Biblical scriptures, worship music and prayer. Especially the song below. I will praise his name through the storms, enemies and unbelief. I believe in the hope that comes with being a believer. I don’t think that means all my prayers will be answered in the manner I want them answered. It means that I coming to God with my concerns and I rely on him and him alone. He can handle my burdens. I am simply am not equipped as a human being to handle such things. I am able to find peace knowing that I stand firm in God’s presence and the plans he has for me.
“Raise A Hallelujah”
I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody I raise a hallelujah, Heaven comes to fight for me
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar Up from the ashes, hope will arise Death is defeated, the King is alive!
I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar Up from the ashes, hope will arise Death is defeated, the King is alive!
Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder) Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder) Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder) Let’s sing a little louder (Let’s sing a little louder) Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies) Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief) Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody) Sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me) Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies) Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief) Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody) Let’s sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me) Sing a little louder!!
I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar Up from the ashes, hope will arise Death is defeated, the King is alive! Oh, I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar Up from the ashes, hope will arise Death is defeated, the King is alive!
I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah!
Just begin to raise your own hallelujah I can’t do it for you There’s a song written on your heart only you can sing And when you sing enemies flee When you sing prison walls come falling down When you sing Heaven invades the earth So just begin to lift up your hallelujah Raise it like a banner Raise it like a flag Raise it in the middle of the storm Let it rise, let it rise Like a symphony to the King Everything to You, Jesus We raise it all Sing a little louder!!
I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah I raise a hallelujah (In the presence of my enemies) I raise a hallelujah (Louder than the unbelief) I raise a hallelujah (My weapon is a melody) I raise a hallelujah (Heaven comes to fight for me)
Over the last week, I have observed posts on Facebook. I have acknowledged how people tend to manipulate real life to fit their version of their Facebook life. I’ll be honest I have been guilty of doing just the same. You know what I am talking about. When pictures are staged to show only the best side of what life has to offer- the house tidied and decorated to the nines, the kids looking like tiny runway models. I believe this puts out a distorted view of reality vs. Fakebook. You saw that right, Fakebook. So many people live their lives for the next picture or post for social media, but only the ones where everything is shiny and perfect. Let’s be real, like really real. Here is some real life straight from my home to yours, today, my kids had late start. Late start means school starts at 9:00 instead of 8:00. I enjoy this extra time to do some much needed laundry and read my Bible and devotionals. Today, I had noble plans of making a gourmet(ish) breakfast, getting the kids up early and spending some quality time with them. Well, the reality is, I apparently hit the alarm off button on my phone instead of snooze and woke up at 8:49 a.m. 8:49! What?! One thing to note is we live approximately 20 minutes (15.5 ACTUAL miles) from the boys’ school. I tugged on my Christmas moose or is it reindeer slippers (girl, who actually cares, they were literally $0.75 at Satan’s playground/ Wal Mart, but again, I digress) for shoes and screamed like a banshee for the kids to get ready. Not my finest moment by far. Wait, let’s add insult to injury, today is only Wednesday and I hate to admit it, but it is a repeat of Tuesday- alarm and all. Yesterday and today were reflections of real life. Have I shared this on Facebook? Not yet, but I will.
I am not here to bash on social media. It actually can be very useful when properly used. I think the point that needs to be driven home is “when properly used.” I have recently unfollowed some of my Facebook friends because of their very misrepresented life on Facebook. I also have taken note of who I am truly friends with. I have no interest in helping someone reach a higher “friend count” on Facebook. Let’s be real and not paint a twisted view of what your life is actually like. Y’all, life is messy. Sometimes it is really messy. My thoughts are: let them take the picture, whether the silver stands are shining through or not. I think some of the best memories are made in the messy. I definitely do not want to indulge in the façade of living reality one way and putting something completely different on Facebook. I want to ensure that my social media posts are truly reflective of who I really am. I am imperfectly perfect. I am His. My life is messy, stressful and chaotic, but in all this there is sheer bliss and beauty. You know, the sunset that you cannot look away from, when your sweet dog Chloe runs to see you after a long day and that super awesome dreamy moment as a family when you are all together and giggles fill the room. Those are my moments. I long for those moments in chaos. I share on social media the messy. I know that the mess and chaotic are what other mamas are enduring too. We should not shy from who we really are. I challenge us all to walk in the real life vs. your perfect social media presence. WE are struggling together. And if you got it all together, then God bless you, you precious little thing.
I always wanted everything to be perfect. I had a distorted Disney view of perfect. You know the one, where everyone lives happily ever after and everything looks like it is straight out of a magazine cover. I remember being a young girl dreaming of this picture perfect life, white picket fence and all. Well…I am calling crap on the whole ideal of PERFECTIONISM. I have a great life. I have been searching for “perfection” in almost everything under the sun. I wanted the perfect wedding. Nope. Not perfect. The unity candle melted in the trunk of my car for crying out loud! I am pretty sure wages were made as to whether or not my dress would fit me (cause it did not three weeks before the big day and I refused to try it back on before my wedding day.) Not sure what I was trying to prove there. I expected the perfect balance as a working mom and wife. Still working on that one. Y’all I expected my kids to be these diligent little people who always had it together and ACTUALLY would want to keep their rooms clean. Uh ya, not so much. I set completely unrealistic expectations for family and myself. I held us to a standard that we can never achieve. We are fallible. We are human.
It is only in recent months, that I have finally learned a hard lesson. We do not find ourselves through perfection, we find it through our Faith in Jesus. I mean, let’s be real here, the only “perfect human” to walk this Earth is Jesus. And last I checked he still owned the only title of “perfection.”
Life is messy. The cars and house do not self clean, but man if they did! Kids are humans. they are going to lose it from time to time or basically everyday. You are going to charbroil cinnamon rolls. Your husband is going to fail you. Bottom line is our contentment does not come from people, Hobby Lobby (I do love some Hobby Lobby, but I digress.) Our peace comes from our faith and a personal relationship with God.
I was not putting God first. I was trapped in that circle of putting the world first. For a long time, I searched for perfection in my home, my children, my husband, or my job. I was certainly not finding contentment through a relationship with God. I wanted perfection in worldly things.
I am no longer searching for the perfect in everyone and everything. Let’s be honest, my house is LIVED IN. On any given day, my house is somewhere between Better Homes and Gardens and an episode of Hoarders. My kids like to keep everything like their dad, including packages things come in.
What have I learned from all this? I have learned that I need to press into Christ more and the ways of the world less. This is tough. Everyday I am struggling. I am perfectly imperfect. Some days I am a straight up hot mess. You know what? That is just fine with me because I am HIS mess. He knows I am flawed and I know that I am flawed too. Sisters, we need to love on each other and encourage one another. We need to join forces as a strong tribe of women who are there for each other through the storms of life, and there will be storms, but hopefully the storm of perfectionism is no longer one of those storms.
Until Next Time…
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
I have looked at church as a place where overly religious people came together in their perfectly pressed clothes and their painted on smiles to make their weekly appearance. I used to think people with a checkered past were not the church going type. I had a distorted view of what it meant to be the church, thanks mainstream worldly views for making me think this way- this view could not be more wrong.
The church is not a building. The church is made up of believers who love and want to live for Jesus and want to disciple to others to live for Jesus. Those that make up the church share their testimony to reach others for Jesus. Their mission statement is to live their lives for Jesus in accordance to the Bible and go live it out. The church is not made up of people who have all the answers. The church is a safe place for sinners to come meet Jesus.
On any given Sunday, there is not a church building or gathering place where those that congregate have it all together nor do they have all the answers. I do not believe that as believers we will ever have all the answers, but it is our quest to keep searching and growing. We are called to be the church because we do not have it all together but the testimonies within the walls could change lives. We are called to share our hearts with others. Salvation begins with simply engaging another in conversation. Be real. Be honest. Do not miss an opportunity for an encounter.
So, every Sunday we are called to bring our brokenness, our hurts, anger, struggles, temptations and sin and lay them at the feet of the Cross. We are called to not let pride, fear or humility stand in the way of freedom that can be experienced from releasing yourself and living wholeheartedly for Jesus.
Some are really great at masquerading their hurts. Some are always fine, but not really. Fine is that word that you throw out there and hope it sticks. Well, that has been my method anyway.
If you are broken, fighting past hurts and struggles and are struggling with hope, then I cannot think of any better place then being surrounded by men, women and children who have hearts like Jesus for the hurting, broken and hopeless. Those with hearts like Jesus are the church. They are Earthly disciples that are ministering to those in need. These men and women will welcome the opportunity to stand in the gap, hit their knees and fervently and without hesitation pray for others.
But here’s the deal…I am telling you to bring your past and current hurts and burdens and lay them at the feet of Jesus…but I am not practicing this as I should be. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a “I will handle this on my own type of gal.” My vice is accepting any help.
In the last couple of months, I have identified with the woman at the well. I have purposefully isolated myself. I have struggled with a past hurt that I have not shared with a single other person until recently for over twenty-five years. Don’t do the math, I will save you that step, I am 41. I have a past. I am not defined by that past, but I have unresolved hurts that have stunted my ability to heal, forgive and move past that hurt. I am haunted by hurts that occurred when I was sixteen. It has defined the way I parent- helicopter parenting method- deeply disliked by my children. At sixteen, I drew a line and vowed never to cross that line. As far as I was concerned, I would take that hurt to the grave with me. I mean I did the whole thing where you write your deep dark hurts on paper and burn it and I thought that was good. I did feel a sense of release when it burnt but it would come back to haunt me again and again. I never laid the worst of the worst at the feet of Jesus. I recently shared this hurt with my husband after nineteen years of marriage. As a result of this past hurt, I struggle with forgiveness.
I am a black and white type of a person. I believe right is right and wrong is wrong. I previously thought there were some wrongs that could be deemed unforgivable. I am learning that I do not have the authority to deem something as unforgivable. I can choose forgiveness or notbut not to deem something as unforgivable. You see this wrong was not a simple mistake or lack of judgement. So how do you forgive something that was intentional and life altering? I chose to dig my heels in and deem this unforgivable and it has profoundly affected me and the life I want to pursue. I repeatedly told God no. No, I will not forgive. No, I will not trust. No, I will not remove the line that was drawn. I will not forgive this; I will just exist with it buried so deep. But that has created a woman who gets angry at the drop of a hat with a hair trigger fuse that could easily blow at any moment. I struggled to understand how my unforgiveness could be causing so many issues. There had to be something else because I was not willing to head down this road. I did not want to relive this nightmare nor face these demons. Here’s your wakeup call Tara! I have been stuck in a rut because of a heart condition that would not allow me to drop the walls and allow healing to take place. I struggled with what the “healing” would trigger. I am not someone who wants to be in my feelings. I mean I am not a robot; I cry when others are struggling, sappy movies like Marley and Meand when others are experiencing great joy, but I hate dealing with my emotions and I have to process items that could trigger an emotional response. I am guilty of trying to be funny or avoiding it all together. Healing from this would take time, energy, effort and allowing others in. Not my thing.
When I shared this hurt with my husband, I had a nightmare that evening. It felt like the flood gates were opened and it all came back in snapshots with a forceful blow to the gut. Unfortunately, my husband has had to endure the aftermath that comes from the emergence of repressed hurts. I know that sharing this with him has been extremely hard on him as well. He is my safe place and I know he wants nothing more than a healed and whole wife who can find a path forward and move towards forgiveness. In all honestly, I do not know how to forgive. I am still that sixteen-year-old girl, drawing her line and not knowing how to move forward, stuck in a rut. I know that the Bible speaks to forgiveness and is very clear that we must forgive. In fact, Jesus demands us to forgive others so we may be forgiven. How? Where do I start?
I started by writing a letter. A letter that I will never send but a letter that hopefully helps me release a demon that has plagued my heart for far too many years. A letter that will hopefully put an end to a chapter of my life that was suppressed for many years. A chapter that nearly broke me. A chapter that caused me to be like the woman at the well and feel like I was not enough. I am hopeful that it is a chapter that will end a great deal of hurt that has shaped the woman I have been, into the woman I know Jesus is molding me to be. I am hopeful.
I am the woman that wanted to run to the altar this past Sunday. I felt like Bo was speaking right to my heart. Bo and Kristian are very good friends so it should have been a safe place, right? It should have been easy. I felt compelled to run to Scott and Jeanna. I know they would have held me when I completely fell apart. I knew I was going to completely fall apart, and I did not want anyone to see me fall apart. I do not do vulnerable, and I surely did not want hundreds of people see me when the flood gates would break. Meeting people at their weakness is what it means to be a part of the church. Anyone who is willing to stand in for you and surround you in prayer, love and compassion at a moment’s notice, well friends, that is what it means to be the church. I do not like feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable. But sweet friends, that is what it means to be a part of the church. It means allowing yourself to vulnerable, uncomfortable, and willing to accept the love of others in the name of Jesus. Testimonies are great but you must allow the breakthrough to happen to kickstart the testimony. You see, I not only robbed myself of the blessing of others praying for my heart, but I also robbed the church the opportunity to be the church. I robbed my dear friends the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth. I had the opportunity to allow an encounter to happen and I hesitated. I failed to do my part as the church. I failed to allow the opportunity for the others to BE THE CHURCH.
So, here’s my challenge to each and every one of you reading this. Go be the church. Take your burdens and brokenness and meet me at the well so we can release ittogether. Tell your desires to be comfortable to go take a hike and let’s get real with God. Allow the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let’s stop robbing each other of experiencing an encounter with Jesus. Let’s flood the well. Let’s not be ok with being lukewarm.
Thank you for allowing me to take a step in being extremely vulnerable and raw with you all. My heart is for Jesus. Like you all, I am learning everyday what it means to love and follow Jesus. I certainly do not have all the answers, but I am encouraged to keep learning and growing in being the woman God has in mind for me. I encourage you all to keep learning and growing in who God has created you to be.
I am praying that we can all release any strongholds that are weighing us down. Strongholds that we tucked away and did not know would re-emerge and wreak havoc.Jesus, please continue to mold us into the men and women you need us to be to fulfill your purposes of us to be the church. Please create a place where the chairs are full because sinners know they are welcome and belong. The church is called to be like Jesus, to walk beside the sinner, to eat with the sinner, to worship with the sinner, to do life together and most importantly; to flood the well together to turn those past hurts into a testimony for His glory.
What are the hot topics that you face when parenting a teen girl? How do you handle discipline for your teen? What do healthy boundaries look like in your home? How do we handle our teens and dating? What are some ways to instill in our daughters the importance of a relationship with Jesus? How do we boost their confidence? How do we teach them to turn from the world and not seek validation from a broken world?
I am working on a project and would love any thoughts/ feedback. Details coming soon!
I just got back from an amazing, first-ever, girls/ mama’s trip to Clearwater, Florida. I went with three friends on a quick little moms’ getaway. We ate all the seafood that our bellies could hold. I had the most amazing calamari. Calamari is my greatest seafood weakness. We enjoyed time on the beach. I enjoyed listening to my Bible app and having quite time to read “Find Your People” by Jennie Allen. This is a MUST read! So so good!
This trip was a nice little getaway. I used it to reflect on a lot of things that I have been debating about lately. I still do not have all the answers but there is something pretty amazing about sitting on the beach and just reflecting.
I did not take a ton of pics. I enjoyed just being in the moment. I loved the deep belly laughs, the friendship and the memories we made together. I love foodie vacations and we hit the jackpot everywhere we dined. I really enjoyed all the food, especially fresh seafood!
I missed my kids and husband, but I am also thankful for the opportunity to reset and refresh. Keith said that Jordy (our Doberman- who just had surgery) roamed our house looking for me. Truth is, I am his primary caretaker and provider of all things food, treats and meds. He wanted fed and might have missed me a bit, but it more about the food probably.
It was a great trip and wonderful to flee the weirdly chilly Kansas weather. Where is your fav location for a girls trip? What are your suggestions for a mother/ teenage daughter trip?
My daughter, Kinsley had her Junior Prom on Saturday. Let me tell you that just a couple short months ago, I would have been a mess of tears, but man I have enjoyed this journey of soaking everything in. Let me just say that we have the most amazing tribe of friends that pour into us. They joined us for hair and makeup. They are our people and we are grateful for their sweet and loving hearts to share a special day.
I honestly could not stop staring at McKinsley. She has grown into a beautiful young woman. I love how these pictures show pure blissful joy on each of their faces. I pray that these sweet kids find joy in the every day and embrace the grace that comes with being different.