A Moment in His Presence

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.

Foundation and Wings

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.

Go write your story sweet girl.

School’s Out for Summer

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.

Love,

Tara

We are a HOT mess

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.

Love,

Tara

Mother’s Day

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.

Love,

Tara

Calling All Christian Mamas of Teen Girls- Share Your Thoughts.

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!

Thanks, sweet friends!

Girls Trip

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.

Brunch at Clear Sky.
I had an amazing Lobster Omelet and it was delish!

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?

I love piers. Not sure why but I think they are so cool.

Junior Prom 2022

This song is so good. I pray this song over these sweet kiddos. I pray that they set the world on fire because they choose to be different. Live out Romans 12:2

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.

Love,

Tara

Kinsley’s Junior Prom 2022
I love these sweet girls and their friendship.
Lifelong friends.
Kinsley and September- makeup artist of all things awesome.
Kinsley and Taryn at walk-in.
Kinsley and Aunt Susan. Thanks for all the GREAT pics!
Shannon, Tara, Kinsley and Angela
I love how they look so carefree in this picture. Blissful joy. Go live out loud Romans 12:2.

I was riding the struggle bus yesterday. Yep. I let the stress of life get the best of me. I lashed out, I had an adult melt down and then when I got home the flood gates opened. I was going on very little sleep. Our sweet Jordy boy had to have an exploratory surgery to figure out what is causing his bloating and vomiting foam among other digestive issues, Brogan broke his front tooth- AGAIN and my stress level at work has been through the roof.I had no humor left to make fun of the situation which is what I would normally do. Nope. I just threw an adult temper tantrum and then had to apologize to my son for straight up flipping my top. I acted like a fool. That is certainly not who I want to be. I want to be the woman that leans in when times get tough. I felt convicted and knew I needed a reality check. Today is a better day. Tooth is getting fixed, dog is eating and recovering well and is certainly acting less like a zombie and I got some good sleep last night.I am thankful to have the most amazing friends praying behind the scenes and always steering me towards God. I appreciate my village. I am sorry for being a jack wagon.

Jordy

How I Use My Spiritual Gifting

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.