Let’s Be Real…

It is the middle of the night and I just had to stop and write (hey, when the thoughts start flowing you just have to roll with it!) Are you on Facebook? Instagram? Or any of the other social media sites? Do you look at everyone else and think they have the perfect life? There seems to be several different types of social media adventurists…

  1. The ones who LIVE on there! Yes, this is me. As I am not married and do not have a significant other with whom I can share every detail of my daily life; so therefore, I am “officially” in a relationship with Facebook!! It is what it is!🙂
  2. Then you have the ones who check in every now and then… you will see their best pictures when they celebrate the holidays or go on vacation, but the rest of their lives is fairly silent. Hey, at least they check in occasionally, right?
  3. You do sometimes have the ones who show perfect lives…. their children win everything, they have the amazing house, the beautiful spouse, the perfect job; they become the envy of many who do not truly know them.
  4. But then you also have the ones who lives are miserable, they only complain (misery loves company), nothing ever seems to go right, they never have money, they hate their jobs (you get the picture).
  5. And finally, you have the ones who claim they are never on Facebook… yet when you see them in person they can comment on everything you have been doing and ask questions like they just looked at your profile 10 minutes before your conversation. They are the silent stalkers, lol!🙂

Let’s be honest… at times, we have probably all been each one of these, right?

So here is my question: “Are we being REAL?”

Many times in life I have suffered through depression… and 7 years ago, when my husband walked out the door, I could have easily curled up into a ball on the couch, covered my head and stayed there. I loved the Disney princess movies while growing up, and I do not recall any of those princesses being left alone to raise the children while the prince ran off with another damsel in distress? That just was not part of the “happily every after” ending that we have become so accustomed to in much of we see portrayed in the stories.

To this day, very few of my Facebook friends know what has truly happened to me and my children over the last 7 years… I kept almost all of it off social media; only the few that were closest to me really knew what happened. To be honest, it was actually a real shocker for many people because they only saw the image that I portrayed. Being the perfectionist that I am, I had to make sure the image of my life was so much better than it actually was… even though it was completely crumbling from the inside out.

Things changed for me after July 4, 2009…. okay, let’s be real, EVERYTHING CHANGED!!! My children and I went through hell and back; yet through it all, I learned to truly live and love my life. Now, what you see is truly what you get.

When your spouse leaves you for another married woman twice (and the second time is when you are 4 1/2 months pregnant with child #4), when you lose your house of 12 years (and later a second home of 5 years), when you have to file bankruptcy, when you have to help your 3 teenage children hold their lives together, when you are left with only a part-time job and no degree because you left college to be a mom, when you almost die in childbirth with child #4, when you are both the mother and the father to your children, when you have to go on food stamps for a few years and take the state insurance just so you can literally survive….

New Chapter

Yeah, when that happens, you can choose to live there or fight your way through it and not let it become the chapter that defines your life. (yes I have Rachel Platten’s Fight Song playing through my head right now, lol!)

Again, being real… there were days I could barely breathe. There were moments so painful for us all that it was like a literal knife was piercing our hearts and souls… I was living a life that everyone felt sorry for and no one dared wanted to live. It was hard… it was REALLY hard.

So staying with the theme of “Being Real,” let me just tell you that this journey is one I would not trade… it has completely altered my life in more positive ways than I could ever imagine!!!

I shared with you everything I have lost… now let me share with you what I have gained!!!

A restored relationship between me and God

Incredible relationships with my 4 children (we are truly best friends)

Strength, confidence, maturity, faith, joy, happiness, gratefulness, security, health, success…

New adventures… New career paths… New friendships… New opportunities

A true love for life

A yearning to inspire and help others change their lives

A life lived without fear

A life lived without regrets

A life lived to the fullest

What I thought was the worst curse has turned out to be the biggest blessing! Yes, we were wounded deeply, but we have healed. The scars will always be there, but they will not define us! Our past helps shape us, but we can choose to be any person we want to be going forward!

So if you see me on Facebook and you wonder if what I post is really real… my answer is YES!!! I truly love inspirational quotes that challenge me and others, I truly love that I am able to help people get healthy and take control of their lives both physically and financially, I truly love my flawed, imperfect life that I am privileged to experience each and every day, and I truly love where my future is now going!

SeasonMaybe if we will let the outside world see more of our real, inside world, we will discover how much we truly have in common. We are all part of this amazing human race! None of us have perfect lives or perfect relationships and the opposite is true that none of us enjoy staying in misery. At the end of the day, we just want to be loved and accepted by those around us. Please don’t judge a bad season in your life compared to a great season that someone else may be having. We all go through the seasons… some are in winter while others are in summer. Just remember that the seasons are always changing, and there is much beauty to be seen in each and every one of them.

Let’s just remember to keep it real, folks! See you in cyberworld!

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birth announcmentSeveral days ago, I watched a friend of mine welcome into her family a precious new baby… her first grandchild. It was beautiful to see the instant love they all experienced, the priceless pictures that they shared, and to read the words of pure gratitude and love. On that same day, I watched another friend and her family say goodbye to a very godly man who impacted so many lives while he lived out his days on this earth. It was heart breaking to know they were saying their final goodbyes; even though he awoke in paradise, his wife, 6 children and numerous grandchildren will forever have their lives changed here on this earth. Although they have hope in Christ to see him again, they will still mourn his loss greatly as they loved him with their whole hearts.

One day. February 17, 2016. A day that brought tears of both joy and sorrow. One family will forever celebrate this day while the other family will forever use this day as a remembrance of a life that is gone from their presence.

Dates have a tendency to define our lives. We have our birth date, which we celebrate each year, the date we marry, the date our children were born, the dates of our vacations and holidays, many other significant dates, and then finally the date that will be etched on the stone that lies above the ground as the date of our last breath. These are the dates that are remembered the most… but in reality, they total just a few moments in our lives. What about the other days that we flip back on in our “calendar of life” only to find blank pages?

I have several old calendars I have kept for many years. I am not sure I will ever truly go back and read through these, but even before my children were born, I would write down something that happened or something that I did on almost every date. It seemed to give more weight to each day of my life instead of just the “special” days written down. Although I struggled waiting for those days of significance, each year when I would put away my calendar in preparation for the new one, I would glance back at each month, remembering that each day held value within my year.

I will admit that I had many of those years where I was just waiting for the “next” day, month, vacation, pay check, celebration, etc… Too many times I rushed through what I thought at the time was meaningless only to wish later I would have held onto those moments a bit longer and enjoyed the season of where I was at that time.

TombstoneWhen we close our eyes and take our final breaths, the obituary and gravestone will only list two dates: the day of our birth and the day our death.

(Pause)

Is that how you want to be remembered? What about every day in between that helped to shape your life; every day in between that helped bring meaning into your life? The beautiful, the difficult, the joy, the pain, the tears, the laughter, the mistakes, the new path…

The Dash
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996

​I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
​the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

​So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

So my question for you today is, “How are you living your dash?” Although I am a work in progress, I am striving to live each day to the fullest. I am striving to cherish each and every moment of each and every day… to live in the present, love with my whole heart, not skip a beat, and not wish away the mundane while waiting for the special! The journey of our lives requires daily steps; there are no short cuts, so we need to embrace each one that is taken as it helps to determine who we are and how we are remembered.

I pray for my friends that welcomed new life into their lives… may they truly cherish and celebrate each and every day; may they make every single moment count. And I pray for my friends who said goodbye to their precious loved one… may they have a lifetime of special and ordinary days to always look back on and remember; may they continue to embrace each new day with joy, love and hope as the bittersweet moments are met.

Live your life to the fullest!

Live with no regrets!

Love with your whole heart!

Forgive often!

Laugh, cry and just be still!

Your life is beautiful! Celebrate each day that you have breath in your lungs and be grateful to the One who gives it to you!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

I dedicate this post in loving memory of a dear, humble and godly man that impacted so many lives, Pastor Mike Duke. Thank you for pouring so much into the lives of others!

Mike Duke

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

716. That You (God) love my children even more than I do!

739. A Gorgeous day even though it is chilly!

743. New Friends!🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Kick the “Bucket List!”

C.S. Lewis Do you have plans? A bucket list? Goals? Dreams?

Are they written down? Stored away in an old journal? Maybe even lost somewhere in between childhood (“I can do and be anything”) and adulthood (“I have bills to pay and children to raise)?

So, here’s the deal: If you are not striving and working towards a plan, a goal or a dream… you are just wandering around through this life. You are just waiting for life to happen.

Too many of us are just existing with the mentality of “someday”… Guess what? “SOMEDAY” does not exist!

STOP!!

(Yes, you heard that in my most loving of mother tones)

But seriously, folks… it is time to stop wandering and start LIVING!! Start creating the life you want to live… not someday, TODAY!🙂

I get it, the bills still need to be paid and the kids still need to be raised. However, there is so much about each of our lives that need to lived… so much purpose that still needs to be fulfilled… so much joy that needs to overflow.

Many times during these last 6 years, I did not know where I was going or what I wanted. I had taken all of my previous dreams, thrown them out the window and just prayed, “Your will, God!”

Hmmm…. that is great on the surface; we should all be praying for God’s will in our lives, right?

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” (Psalm 37:4)

May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)

But, if the verses above are true, and they are, then shouldn’t we be delighting in Him and praying for those desires in our hearts?

Right now, I am in the middle of reading several phenomenal books! I began reading The Circle Maker (by Mark Batterson) 19 months ago. Usually I finish a book right away, but not this one.

*sigh*

Here comes my confession.

I truly love this book; however, life kept getting in the way and I could not read it very often due to opening a new business. Months later I picked up the book again and began reading where I had left off earlier. It figures, though… I was in the middle of struggling within my new business, and I began reading the chapter dealing with unanswered prayers and when God says, “no.” Well, who needs that negativity in their life, right?  Not me! I put the book away and decided to finish reading it later. Yes, I knew God was probably talking directly to me, but I was on a mission to pray harder and work harder to make my “dream” business a success.

Guess where the book went? Yep… back on the shelf collecting dust.

Every once-in-a-while I would pull it back down, read a chapter and then put it away again. A few weeks ago I decided to keep reading until I finish it!

I love how God works. The 3 books I am currently reading are all speaking to me about the same idea: Goals! Not just a bucket list, plans or dreams… but true goals that have to be worked for, fought for, planned and executed, dreamed, and accomplished!!

Since my word for 2015 is LIVE, setting goals will ensure that I am truly living!! That I am participating instead of just spectating and striving each day to be a better person than the day before. That I am always reaching and continually growing… pushing myself for more!

Dr. Seuss I do not care if you are 18, 42, 60 or 90… if you do not have goals, stop today and begin your list!

Here are a few guidelines that Mark Batterson suggests:

1. Start with Prayer… our goals should ultimately glorify God.

2. Check your motives… they should not be selfish; go after them for the right reasons.

3. Think in categories… Mark has 5 categories: family, influential, experiential, physical, travel

4. Be specific… if our goals are not measurable, we have no way of knowing if they have been accomplished.

5. Write them down… if you have not written them down, you have not really set them.

6. Include others… goals are relational glue.

7. Celebrate along the way… when you accomplish a goal, celebrate!

8. Dream big… although you will want some small goals, dream big!! You will need some God-sized goals because big goals turn us into big people!

9. Think long… most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in 2 years but underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.

10. Pray hard… God-ordained goals are conceived in the context of prayer, and prayer is what brings them to term.

No more aimlessly walking through this life just waiting for life to happen. No more routine, predictability, and letting your circumstances dictate your life. Get up each day and make things happen! Plan each day so the baby steps you take will get you closer to your goals!

Just do it!

Here are just a few random personal goals I have:

To write a book about my journey.

To have a Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Adventure with my boys in New Zealand.

To drive Route 66.

To see the aurora borealis.

To pay off my children’s student loans.

To inspire and mentor young women.

To own my own house again!

To visit Australia and Paris with my Daughter.

To hold and rock babies in an African orphanage.

To take my children on an Alaskan adventure.

(the list will be forever growing)

I pray you live a very full life and may you find all the beauty that comes while trying to accomplish your goals!!

Please share some of YOUR goals in the comments section below; lets dream big together!

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

557. Lunch with a dear old friend!

580. Closed doors that lead to new beginnings!

668. My Isaac’s eyes… they are intense, dark and beautiful… and those eyelashes!! WOW!

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Experiencing the Magic

Mickey MouseFor my youngest son’s fourth birthday, we recently took him to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida! We had days planned from morning to night with reservations, character dinning, shows, and adventures. His actual birthday, the day we visited Magic Kingdom, was probably one of the best days of his life, so far. We were ecstatic!

Not only did we get to visit the theme parks, stay in an amazing resort hotel, eat with Mickey, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Stitch, but we got to see my daughter who has been there for the last two months as part of the Disney College Program. To keep track of our countdown, we printed calendars, hung them on the refrigerator with magnets, and each day, Isaac took his green crayon and marked a big X on the day. As the days got closer and closer, he began to get more and more excited!

However, there was only one problem. No matter how we tried to explain it, no matter how many pictures or videos we tried to show him, he continued to associate “Disney World” with the “Disney Store” at the mall. How do you get a four year old to understand that which he can not even begin to truly comprehend.

We just knew that he going to be blown away by this experience!

Cinderella's CastleHe was so excited to visit Cinderella’s Castle… that was the only picture he could imagine of Disney World. I could not wait to see the look in his eyes when he realized what all Disney World truly had to offer him and how amazing it was!

Throughout this experience, it has made me think of Heaven. What is our view of the great beyond… past the pearly white gates? Do we envision harps? Floating angels? Calm? Peace?

God gives us a few glimpses; but, honestly, we can not even begin to fully imagine all that He has for us. Folks, let me tell you, It Is Disney World!! (in the heavenly sense, of course!)

All we know is “Earth”… just earth. While it is absolutely amazing and breathtaking, it is nothing compared to what God has prepared for us!!

We live in a intricately designed world that displays God’s workmanship and beauty… but it is just the “Disney Store” in comparison.

 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him.  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Take my advice… Just be there!

Imagine how great it will be for the God of the universe, our Heavenly Father, to watch the expression on our faces and see the joy and excitement we have as we enter the place of His presence that He has prepared for us… as we enter Heaven!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

There is so much beauty both here on this earth and in our eternity with Christ. Just be there!

Oh, in just in case you were wondering… it was an amazing, dream-come-true vacation!!

CONTEMP_CHEFMICKEY1_7220549927

Disney Castle

Tree of Life, Animal Kingdom

Mickey!

STUDIO_VIPMOUSE_7221630471

Hollywood Studios

*And just a little shout-out to Walt Disney World… Everything they did was amazing! We were so thankful for the way they went above and beyond to take care of my sweet Isaac with his many food allergies and intolerances! We were introduced to each chef at the restaurants where we dined, and they did an incredible job to make sure he did not have any reactions! Their friendly staff members made each day such day so enjoyable! I continue to thank God for these memories that will last a lifetime!!🙂

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

513. Downtime!

524. Coffee-free!!

529. Two morning snow surprises!

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Live Out Loud!

Well, it is that time again; time to choose a new word for 2015.

I have to be completely honest with you; the last 3 years have left me questioning and a bit frustrated, (scratch that) A LOT frustrated. Let’s rewind, shall we?

Miracles For 2012 and 2013 my word was MIRACLE. I was so excited as I prayed and believed big miracles for me, my family and our future. Although I did learn to appreciate and be thankful for all the many blessings in my life which allowed me to see small miracles, I never saw to fruition the big miracles in which I had hoped. So I prayed. I then believed that in order to see and witness the miracles, one must first have the faith!! Just small amounts of faith without doubt can move, heal and do the impossible, right? So that was my chosen word for 2014.

I have truly believed and have exerted great faith in many areas over the course of the last year; yet, I have felt let down and many times even abandoned.

*Sigh*

There are many things that have happened this year that have rocked me to the core; that have shaken my faith. Many tears have been shed and many questions have been asked to the One who controls all. I do not think I will understand most of them this side of Heaven; so, the lack of miracles despite great faith has left me wondering. I probably have it all backwards!

Perhaps my year of “Faith” has been a test? When everything that seems to point in one direction suddenly shifts… will I still keep the faith? When perfection seems within grasp, yet slips away… will my faith be strong enough not to fail me? When so many prayers are prayed, yet disappoint, grief, heartache and struggle prevail… will the roots of my faith be deep enough not to shake me off the solid ground upon which I stand?

I do not know… I had hoped for more!

Maybe my chosen words are building blocks? Each year builds upon the other. Maybe they will continue to merge together as God continues to work within me; as He continues to mold me over the course of my lifetime. God is definitely not bound with in the 365 days of our calendar year, right? Maybe looking back over the life lived, I will be able to have the 20/20 hindsight vision to see how these words and lessons have fit nicely into the mosaic puzzle as the person I needed to become. Maybe I will be able to see how it has played into a bigger story outside of just me. Maybe I need to always remember that this is a journey; some things just take time.

Now, back to today. I  have thought much about my word for 2015… many prayers.

For a while, I thought I would choose “Greater” as a reminder of just how big our God is. No matter what my situation is, He is greater. No matter how difficult things are, He is greater. No matter how much my faith is shaken, He is greater still.

However, I think that is my secondary word as I felt like I was given a word very profoundly one evening back before Christmas; it was as if the light bulb over my head lit up and I finally felt this was the perfect word for me.

*LIVE*

I want to LIVE.

Really LIVE! I want to Thrive!

Live

 

For the last 5 1/2 years, every day has been such a struggle in many different ways. I can sum it as “surviving” as that is what we have done… just survive.

Can you hear it? That song in my head?

“I… I will survive” 

(Okay… I will stop now before I get too carried away)

I have had many moments of “life” but  have worked so hard just to keep us breathing, fed, clothed and alive that I have forgotten how to live. I have taken breaths but forgotten how to breath deeply and savor. I have scheduled days of busyness but many times they were necessities and not experiences.

I want to step out into the wide, open air spaces, let go of the survival struggle and LIVE! I want to enjoy every moment, take nothing for granted, dance in the rain (okay, maybe not that… I hate to be wet!), truly stop and smell the roses and find every opportunity to LIVE this wonderful thing called life that we have so graciously been given.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

This struggle has been a very important and necessary part of my journey; but I refuse to let it define me! It is time! It is time to move past my past. To grow in exciting, new directions. To take the off-beaten path. To step outside of my comfort zone. To do what I never thought possible. To no longer live the secondary life or be the victim. Instead to actually LIVE the life God has planned for me with a mentality of every moment counts instead of “survival till tomorrow and start all over again!”

Are you with me? Let’s truly LIVE this year and experience with open arms of anticipation all that God has for us!

No fear!

No reservations!

No regrets!

What will be your word for 2015? What word will help shape or challenge you this year? Pray God will impress upon your heart the word He has chosen for you over the next 350+ days?? Please share in the comments section below as I always love to read your thoughts!

May we all experience incredible joy, love, beauty and life in 2015! May we live and thrive beyond our expectations!🙂

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

500. Gorgeous Storm Clouds

503. My precious Isaac!

505. Courage!

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Faith of a Child

Over the last several months my children and I have been praying for… well, nothing short of a miracle. Do not fear, there is no emergency or immediate concern, but there is something we are really hoping that God will answer as a YES!

During the last five years I have had to completely rely on God for everything from food, necessities, housing, healing, and even for my very life to continue. He has been very faithful. It has not been easy by any means, but I have trusted Him and taken Him at His Word; He has always provided. I refused to give up my faith and belief in His promises even on the darkest and most difficult days. He has been so good to this undeserving daughter of the King!

But now this…

I have the faith… there are many times I “feel” the yes. Have I heard His voice on this issue? No. So this is where I become torn and have to rest assured that He has a plan, no matter what; then I dig deeper into what “Faith” really means to me.

Walk By FaithMy 3 1/2 year old son probably has more faith than any of us. Anytime our “request” is mentioned, he says, “Let’s pray… right now! We are going to walk in faith!” He speaks as if the prayer has already been answered. He has no doubts; he has the true, unwavering faith of a child. If only we could be so bold!

God says faith moves mountains, right? Do we really believe what we say we believe? Do we truly believe our faith… yeah, that faith the size of a mustard seed, can move a mountain?

“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, NIV)

I searched Google to find out just how much the average mountain weighs. One number I came across was “20 billion tonnes”. Not sure exactly what a “tonnes” measurement was, I searched again (this was starting to get way too technical for me).

A “tonne” is a metric ton which equals 1000 kilograms (duh… right?).

So this particular mountain with a height of 2000 meters and a base of 10 square kilometers would roughly weigh 20000000000 metric tons (or 2.0e13 Kilograms). (Thank you Nick S. on Yahoo Answers for that bit of insightful information!!)

Maybe it is just me of little brain, but those are some numbers I can not even begin to fathom. And I am supposed to move it? With my faith? The size of a mustard seed?

Seriously folks, does that Being in the sky have any idea what He is talking about here??

Okay… I know He is probably speaking in more of a metaphorical sense; meaning our “mountainous” problems can be moved by our faith… yeah, yeah, yeah; whatever.

But what if God meant what He said. What if our faith could truly move any type or size of mountain? Would we believe it?

What if it required that faith like a child? That child that believes his father hung the moon?

Well, didn’t He?

If our heavenly Father truly hung the moon and every star and planet in our universe, having faith that He can move the mountains on our behalf would be child’s play, right?

What if it required us to have faith that did not doubt? Faith that produced something out of nothing? Faith that parted waters? Faith that breathed life into death?

If our heavenly Father truly created the earth by speaking it into existence, parted the Red Sea so that the Israelite people could cross on dry ground,  and raised to life those people who had already experienced the taste of death… why in the world would we doubt what He could do in our little lives?

We are talking power! An Almighty, ground shaking, mountain crumbling power that maybe we just do not have the faith to truly see at its fullest.

I know… this is where that counter argument comes into play.

What about when God says No? What about when the healing does not come? What happens when the relationship fails anyway? What happens when the despair still sets in so deeply you can not see the light?

I get it. I ask those difficult questions of God all the time; and to be completely honest, I do not know. Sometimes we can pray so hard; we can pray without ceasing and still not get answers. We can do all the right things that He asks us to do… and still the outcome is very different than what we had hoped and believed.

Do those instances cause us to lose our faith? Do we Get angry with God and feel disappointed in Him; let down by Him? If we are being honest and real… then Yes, absolutely! God created this emotion within us and He understands. As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in such anguish crying out to His Heavenly Father, that He sweat blood. If, in that desperation, God chose to still allow His own son to be crucified, than we have to prepare ourselves for those times of unanswered prayers… prepare for the “no’s.”

Seems a bit contradictory, doesn’t it?

So this is when our trust and faith truly get tested. Do we really believe what we say we believe?

If we really believe God is Omnipotent, then He really does have unlimited power; He really is able to do anything!

If we really believe God is Infinite, then He truly is limitless; He has no boundaries!

If we really believe God is Omniscient, then He has complete, universal knowledge, insight and understanding!

If we really believe God Loves us, then we can trust it is a perfect Love, despite our unworthiness!

If we really believe God is Gracious, then we have to believe that will give gifts to His children; and always remember that sometimes the best gifts do not have any monetary value!

So, if we really believe God is Sovereign, then we have to believe that because He is truly all-knowing and all-powerful, and loves us with a perfect love, that He has a plan…

… and in the end, it will ALL be good!

Very good!

So we pray in Faith… big prayers with unshakable Faith.

And we trust… as if our lives depend on it.

And we believe until the very last moment… no doubts.

And we live out our faith by our actions!

“You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works.”  James 2:22 (AMP)

When the answer is Yes, we praise Him. We thank Him. We tell of His good deeds. We allow His light to shine through us so others will see His Glory and His power: and do not worry, there will be many, many times God will say YES in our lives!!

When the answer is No, we still praise Him. We still thank Him. We still continue to trust Him and His plan; and we still allow His light to shine through us so others will see His Glory and Power. However, do not fear the No’s (as there will be many of these in our lives as well)… this is when we can be stretched and allowed to grow in ways we never could have imagined.

Sometimes a No can lead to a more beautiful Yes! Trust me… I have many of these stories written in my priceless journals!!

So pray believing that as children of the King, as heirs with Christ to His Kingdom, that our Heavenly Father wants to graciously bestow gifts upon us! We must believe with all of our heart that if the gift is a little different that what we had expected,  that our eternal reward will exceed our wildest expectations!

Faith ImageMaybe just a true trust, a faith in the complete impossible and a belief that HE CAN is all it really takes! No Doubts! No Plan B! The Faith of a Child!

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV)

May you find the beauty that comes in trusting God with an unwavering faith that HE CAN! May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

*I had written this post several weeks ago… but, I felt compelled to post it today, 11.11.14

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

485. God’s arms of protection around my daughter during her car accident

495. 42 years!

499. Crisp Autumn air!

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Singing The Song

YOU-MUST-GO-SEE-THIS-MOVIE!

The Song

Any questions? Good… now I will pause while you search for the nearest theatre and purchase your tickets online.

(*insert pause here)

Take all of your preconceived ideas of what a Christian based film looks like, throw it out the window and be prepared to thoroughly enjoy this movie!!

It is not preachy, but the message is powerful and true!

It is not afraid to be flirtatious, sexy and real!

The music is fabulous!! (You can download the soundtrack on I-tunes!!!)

The acting, cinematography and script rival Hollywood produced movies!!

Trust me… just go and enjoy it!

(Watch the trailer at the end of this blog post!!)

Many years ago, when I did some local and regional acting, I worked with City On A Hill Productions; they have written, produced and directed this movie. It has been amazing to see how far they have come over the last decade! They have put their heart and soul into their projects to help provide movies and resources to enrich people’s lives and help point them to Christ. Well done, City On A Hill Productions… Well done! (Standing Ovation!!)

(Check them out here: www.cityonahillproductions.com)

The Song movie is a take on the life of Solomon from the Bible. Solomon has the love of his life, his wife. However, he goes on a quest to have it all… only to later realize how much of what we long for here on earth, is meaningless.

The movie has two main female characters: Rose, the beautiful wife, and Shelby, the sultry temptress. I will not share the details of what transcribes as I do not want to share any spoilers and ruin the movie for those of you are wise enough to adhere to my advice and attend a showing of the movie. However, I will share a little bit of insight on how I have related to these characters.

When I as younger, I swore up and down I would never be divorced. I would never have an affair nor would I ever be the wife left behind. It just was not going to happen to me!

Never say never!

When I married my husband, he was the love of my life! The song I used to always sing was a little tribute to my new family (and yes, we had a newborn son)… it was “Danny’s Song” that so beautifully stated the following lyrics:

“And even though we ain’t got money,
I’m so in love with you, honey,
And everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning, when I rise,
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.”

We were in marital bliss with our new family. Everything was going to be alright and together we had big dreams and plans! Life was good. Our marriage was good. And we were in love… nothing would ever change!

Fast forward many years… things changed.

As life continued, more children were born, jobs were terminated, dreams were deflated, expectations met failures, finances were strained, challenges were presented, pressures mounted… and the two main characters of “our story” changed as well!

I have to admit. There was a part of the “Shelby” character I liked; there was a part of her I saw in myself. I could have been “that woman!” After all, I played “The Temptress” for four years in our church’s Easter production. I could have crossed that line. I liked the attention from others… the looks… the flirtation. There were many times I thought I married the wrong the person or that I married too young. I wanted a little excitement and to test the waters…

No. I never crossed that line. But I could have!

And then there is Rose, the committed wife. There is so much about her character that I see within me during different parts of my marriage. There are many emotions she shows; I have been there, too!

And then there is the movie’s story. Yes, it may have been written for a screen,  but it is my story… it has been my life. (Minus the singing, of course! Oh, how I wish we had musical talent in this family; unfortunately, we can not carry tunes to save our lives!). It is so similar in so many ways that my dear friend who attended the movie with me later said she was afraid to look at me (haha)!!

This movie may be difficult to watch at times. However, it deals with issues, unfortunately, that many of us have faced. It deals with hard core battles people struggle with throughout their lives. Christians are not immune to the temptations and hardships this fallen world provides, but they are given the opportunity to gain strength, perseverance, forgiveness and redemption.

*Temptation is always around us. No one is above it. But with God, He always provides a way out!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.   But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

*He can heal and redeem all! He makes all things new: people… love… relationships… life!

And he that sat upon the throne said,Behold, I make all things new.And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Revelation 21:5 (KJV)

If you are married or ever intend to be married… NEVER say never! Marriage is hard work! It can be very rewarding and beautiful when done God’s way… it takes a lot of effort, a lot of prayer, and a lot of God! You have to be intentional; you have to be All There!

The movie ends (yes, you must stay and watch all the credits to see this part) with a beautiful scene as the main character quotes Ecclesiastes 3:11… Hmmm, that just happens to be one of my favorite verses and the entire theme behind this blog! Oh, yeah… and it just happens to be the birth date of my precious, beautiful child #4)!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…”

(Ecclesiates 3:11)

God truly makes beauty from ashes! May you find the beauty in every broken person, every strained relationship, every shattered dream and every disappointed life! God can make all things new!

 

 

See the movie and lets sing the praises of The Song together!

May you find the beauty in today, Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

475. Oceans

481. Cool temperatures in the middle of the summer!

483. Faith increasing…

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He’s Got This!

I have to be completely honest with you guys… I am in a real struggle right now. I do not understand God, His ways and His timing. It is okay, as that is the way He intended it to be. It is this entire faith and trust thing… but some days are just so very difficult.

Struggle, Photo credit: http://picpulp.com/trust-quote/ ~Sometimes the struggle is right where we are meant to be!

I have decided to change my word for 2014 from “Faith” to “Easy road, paved with happiness and joy… raining down blessings!” There. Now things should be better, right?

What was I thinking choosing the word “Faith” for 2014? If you read my blog post regarding this choice (?what? you didn’t read it?? No worries, just click here), you know I had a bit of fear and trepidation in claiming this word. I knew that in order for me to have great faith, God would put me in situations where my faith would be tested. That He would allow me to struggle so that I would see just how faithful He is. Seriously… what was I thinking? (someone please remind me to choose my word a bit more carefully before 2015, haha)

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person

for an extraordinary destiny.”

C.S. Lewis

I have had so many different situations arise in the last six months that have truly rocked me to the core! From losing dear people in my life, to starting a new business built completely on faith, to being tested on every level… it has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least.

But here I am, still surviving!

I have many options before me in which to choose. However, there is only one option that truly has potential with farther reaching implications than I could possibly imagine. Take God at His Word… Continue in the Faith… and Trust Him, no matter what (even when it does not make sense or seem possible).

*Sigh*

So that is what I will do. That is what I will encourage you to do!

No matter what we go through or how much we struggle, He is still on His throne and in control of all.

He is still the God who creates out of nothing and does the impossible.

He is still the One who promises to give rest to the weary and healing to the broken.

He is still the One who fills us with joy, hope, peace and love.

So when it seems that all is against you and the very ground on which you stand is shaking, just remember to be still and know that He is God. This too, shall pass! He promises there is a time for everything. So in the middle of our struggles we can look ahead to the beautiful joy that is coming.

Trust Him… He’s got this!

from God, Photo credit: http://intelmin.org/2013/10/dave-jenkins-trusting-god-live-your-life-as-a-testament-to-his-grace/

May you find the beauty in today, Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

455. A beautiful spring after a long harsh winter.

459. Business… OPEN!

463. Sidewalk chalk with baby!

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The “F” Word! Oh, Yeah… I’m going there!!!

The “F” Word!

It is a word… or better yet, it is used in an alliteration that has caused complete paralysis within me. It has stopped me from going after many things in my life. It has allowed me to become complacent and remain with little more than dreams.

FEAR.

FEAR OF FAILURE!

For as much self-confidence as I sometimes portray to those around me, I am actually a very unconfident, always-second-guessing, can’t-settle-for-less perfectionist. I am my own oxymoron! My fear of failing stops me in my tracts. It keeps those dreams within the bubble over my head… just out of my reach.

Since I turned 30 years old (just a few years back), I have tried to force myself to try the things I always wanted to do.

I did some acting. LOVED IT! But I realized that was not the life I needed to live for the time being.

I did some photography. Again, LOVED IT! But it seemed I was always in awe of other photographers’ photos… best if I stick as an amateur and just have fun with it!

I tried event planning and fundraising. Once again, LOVED IT! It was awesome; I felt like I was truly able to accomplish something. Still… that fear of failing almost sickened me each and every day.

More recently, I have pretended to be a writer by typing a few words here and there on a blank screen. Even though I do not have to worry about book sales or seeing people’s reactions face to face, I still worry about failing with each and every post.  But lately, God has really been teaching me to write for my audience of ONE! He is all that matters. If I write for Him, He will draw just the right people at just the right time who need to read some encouraging words that I may have written!!

So now, as I have entered into 2014, I have begun a new adventure. It is scary… very, very scary! There is so much riding on this decision… so much of my future and my children’s futures. As I plan and take each step closer and closer, my heart grows heavier and the pressure weighs me down; sometimes I have a hard time just trying to breathe.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal:

it is the courage to continue that counts.”

~Winston Churchill

There is much risk, much opportunity for failure. But this time, I refuse to let my “Fear of Failure” stop me!! I feel that God has been preparing me for this my entire life… and the time is now!

Can I do this on my own? Can I really make it in this world? Do I really have what it takes to succeed? I am 41 years old… I DO NOT have time for failure!!

(*insert pause now while I stop and try to catch my breath… inhale……. exhale……. repeat!)

The answer is NO!

I am inadequate… I am a small fish in a “Big Sea” of competition and experience… and to be completely honest, I really have no idea what I am doing!

But… I HAVE FAITH!

I have complete faith and trust in God above, and I truly believe HE is opening this door for me! (Did you read another of my posts, My WORD for 2014? My new “F” word: FAITH?)

I have FAITH the size of a mustard seed that God will take this humble beginning and grow it into the vision and dream He has placed inside my heart!

“…Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

I have FAITH that I CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)

I have FAITH that He will use this adventure and enable me to shine for His glory!

“Don’t shine so others can see you.

Shine so that, through you, others can see Him.” C.S.Lewis

I have FAITH that with God’s direction, leadership and ability, the impossible can become possible!

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 NLT)

I have FAITH that with complete trust, HE can do immeasurably more than ALL I could ask or imagine!

(Only my life verse!!)

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory…

(Ephesians 3:20-21a, NIV)

So here I go… one step and one breath at a time. This is definitely not going to be a sprint, but rather a walk of faith each and every day. Some days I may need a little push… other days I may need to be dragged! But I will keep moving forward!!

I still have that “Fear of Failure” that keeps trying to come against me, knotting my stomach each and every day… but I will not let it win! I will keep fighting through it and I will keep looking to God above!

At the end of the day, FAILURE is not the worst thing that can happen. At least failure is indicative of a trying start. I am trying to live my life as to not have any regrets! Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; I do not want to leave the dream within the bubble over my head.

Do you have an “F” word… a “Fear”? Feel free to share it below! May 2014 be the year we bury our fears and look to God expectantly to help us rise above them! There is so much beauty when we soar like eagles through these journeys He has planned for each and every one of us instead of letting our fears keep us grounded! Let’s take flight and enjoy the ride!

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

425. My daughter’s safe arrival home during the snowy evening!

434. Life… again, as it is precious!!

441. An unexpected business call.

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The Measure of a Life…

A few weeks before the new year began, I chose my “word” for 2014… Faith! (Click HERE to read all about it!) I chose it with such great expectations! I felt that God was going to increase my faith, and that through this faith He would show me mountain-moving miracles!

I was anxious… excited… and a bit scared.

But I never dreamed that just three weeks into this year, my faith would be rattled to the core!

I never dreamed that in just three weeks I would have two very dear people both lose their battles with lung cancer.

I expected miracles! I expected healing!

I prayed scripture, believed without doubting, cried out to God, begged, pleaded….

But after two visitations, two funerals and too many tears shed, I felt let down! I felt disappointed by God! I was saddened… frustrated!

So for several days, I really wrestled with God.

Why, God? Why?

KristenOn January 22, 2014, one of the dearest women I have ever had the privilege of knowing gained her ultimate victory as she entered her eternal home with Jesus. Kristen Sauder was the real deal! She loved Jesus with all of her heart; He was her passion! Her mission and ministry were to help others seek and be fulfilled within a deep, personal relationship with the Almighty God! She was loved and admired by many, and her one, “ordinary” life has affected an entire community and beyond! She was a prayer warrior! Her prayers have greatly affected both myself and my family… her sweet, interceding words helped to change my life! She inspired me to want to love Jesus more!

**The video below was made before Christmas, when Kristen was given just 4-5 days left to live… it is only a few minutes in length, and well worth it! I could not get it to embed into this writing (#technicallychallenged), so PLEASE click the “POST” link to listen to her sweet message!!

Post by Southeast Christian Church

So why would God choose to take her Home now? She was only 45 years old! Her oldest daughter will be walking down the aisle this June. She left behind an adoring husband, a son in college and two precious daughters still in high school. Why God?

I have to admit… this one just did not make sense!

Things began to change for me the day I attended her funeral. The words used to describe Kristen were beautiful, and everything we all knew to be true! There were stories… tears… and even some laughter. There were some very touching moments, but the most amazing part was the worship that followed. My sister and I were running a little late (no comment as to who that would be attributed to…), so we were unable to sit in the seats saved for us down front. Instead, we slipped in quietly and sat in the back. I think it was a God thing as I needed to see what would transpire from the viewpoint of the back of the building! After the speakers finished their tributes, the worship songs began; the music was loud… powerful! I saw a sanctuary full of men and women standing together, hands lifted high, with tears streaming down their faces… all singing praises to the God of the universe! It may have been the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed! My tears flowed… even quiet sobs at times as I was overcome by the presence of God and the beauty that filled that building. (*Note to self: invest in some good water-proof mascara!)

Let me remind you… THIS WAS A FUNERAL!!!

And then my heart ached… not just for the family, but for those who have no hope… for those who do not know Jesus.

Only Christians can come together in the midst of such mourning and sadness and become so awestruck and aware of who God is that they praise and worship Him with such reverence and joy. When we, as a human creation of the Almighty, understand just an inkling of who Jesus is… when we reach out and touch just the hem of His garment… we are overcome!

(the above video is not from her funeral, but it is one of the songs we sang during it)

As we continued to sing, I became more and more sorrowful for those who do not know Him. Oh, how truly mournful those funeral services are.

So while I still do not understand the reason that God chose to take such a wonderful person so early in her earthly lifetime, I am reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. Each day we are seeing how much her life has impacted the community and beyond. We are learning that through her death, people across this nation are hearing about how Kristen lived, and how she died: humbly loving and surrendering to Jesus. They are reading about her courageous fight with cancer, how despite her struggle she continued to use her words and blog as a way to encourage others. People are being impacted and forever changed!

“If you measure a life by longevity, Kristen lived half a life. If you measure a life by influence, then Kristen lived long and well.” –Bob Russell

As I stated in my first post of the new year, it only takes “ONE” person to make a difference. Never underestimate the power God has to use one individual… to use me… or to use you!!!

On my last blog post, Kristen chose the word “Victory” for 2014; she also wrote about this word on her blog. Oh, sweet Kristen… you have obtained the ultimate victory!

“O sing to the Lord a new song for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” (Psalm 98:1)

What about you?

Where is your hope?

Are you willing to let God use you to impact others?

There is such beauty in the lives of those who say “Yes” to Him!

I encourage you to read Kristen’s blog: http://www.KristenSauder.com and check out the ministry she and her husband started together: http://www.FurtherStillMinistries.com

May you find the beauty in today,

Tara ♥

“He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

~ Leave me a comment, I would love to read YOUR thoughts~♥

Recent entries from my gratitude journal (to read more about this, click here):

407. Potty Training Successes!

415. Puzzle pieces coming together!

421. Softening Hearts!

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