Slow…

It’s hard to be grateful when you’re going 90 to nothing. Exhaustion. Bitterness. Fear. They all flow freely. I tend not to slow down because I don’t want to feel these things.

But as I slow down, the feelings leave and gratitude is left. That deep sense of worth, unending worth no matter what you’ve done. And the truth surfaces and you realize you are not the one keeping the world moving.

Whether it’s watching your kiddos slowly drift to sleep or listening to birds chirp outside. Or even in the chaos of kiddos screaming and laughing in the pool. Joy.

A pause. Sabbath. Rest. When we trust in the commandment of Sabbath, we know and believe Who is really in control, God himself. Freedom. Deep. Unending freedom from a God who is so good. Kind. Loving. Gracias.

The lie is that we can’t rest. That we do not possess the ability to slow so we say things like “it’s just who I am,” I’ve said that before. But it’s a lie. I was made for rest, to be restored. So I could know and believe God is for me and not against me.

I think this is essential for life, for actually living.

So how are you resting today?

To be a daughter

Oh my sweet girl. She’s a delight. I enjoy sitting and looking at her. It’s a delight just to be in her presence.

Even when she’s ornery I still delight in her. All sides of her are wonderful because they make her, her.

When she smiles it’s from ear to ear. When she talks she has something to say. She’s strong. She’s sassy. She’s kind. She loves helping.

I’m in awe most days we get to have her and raise her.

Today I’m reading Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray and she’s talking about God naming us.

My name is Tara and it means a crag in a tower. I don’t know what that means. But it sounds cool. It makes me think of how I’ve tried to be a tower for so many people, strong, steady, keeping it all together. I didn’t know they really didn’t need me to do that, but I found significant worth in doing everything for everyone.

Then slowly a couple of years ago, God started to call me by a new name. Daughter. A name that made me feel vulnerable. Uncertain. Delighted in. Loved. Cherished.

Similar to how I feel about my daughter.

And it’s been a process to let myself sit there a little longer each day. To sit and be loved. To sit and be cared for even when I don’t deserve it. To lay and have peace because His love for me has nothing to do with what I do but what He’s done for me.

So what’s your name mean? Is God whispering a new name? Let Him, it’s a good one.

We all can be brave

“We all can be brave.”-my five year old.

Last night I was scrolling through instagram and read a little blurb about Kate Spade committing suicide, how sad and lost she must have felt.  And the person quoted from an article stating that we tell girls to be perfect and not brave.  I thought “oh man, I can’t wait to tell Elle tomorrow she is brave.”

So we wake up, I’m doting on my daughter telling her how brave she is as I put in her pink bow and a shirt that says “girls run the world.”  Wow, might have come on a little strong.  I was really feeling it this morning!

And my five year old chimes up and says, “yeah, mom we all are brave because we are humans.”  I mean this kid.  He is insightful without knowing it, which makes it the best.  I’m learning this balance between speaking life over all my kids and not just one.

The truth is we all can be brave.

We all can ask for help.

We all can speak up.

We all can show love.

We all can forgive.

Men, women, boys and girls.

There’s this inclusiveness that we can begin to breathe over our people.  I want my boys to be okay with their feelings, but I also want them to be brave and courageous.  I want my daughter to be brave and stand up for whats right, but I also want her to be kind and loving.

We can have both.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

What are you speaking over your people today?

 

Letting fear lead

Most of my life, fear has lead.

Even after becoming a Christian in the seventh grade, I have journals of asking God to make me brave, to relieve my fears.

To no avail.

It was a way of life before I was a Christian and continued.  I wasn’t sure I was “saved” because this struggle seemed so deep. And a lot of my prayers and faith depended upon God answering these desperate pleas for freedom from fear.  I was asking God to take something away, but it was something that needed tended.

Maybe some of you are like me, I want all of the “how to-s” to do it the same way as so and so and be free of fear.  Because what I’ve always wanted most was that exact thing, freedom from fear, the end result, perfection, Heaven really.

With the help of my counselor, I can sit with my fears a little longer.  I can let them settle so I can see clearer.  Fear was a defense, a way of protection.  That is a correct connection.

There were areas of my life that needed defending.  Needed a voice.  A person to stand up and say I got this!

And His name is Jesus Christ.  When I listen to my greatest fears and hurts, I treat myself with kindness.  And then that kindness can flow out to others.  But the truth is if I sit just a second longer, Jesus, the Holy Spirit is able to come up and the whirlwind clears.

God is a whisperer, not a screamer.  If something within you is screaming by all means give notice, but you don’t have to respond immediately, unless your arm is falling off or something.  If there’s no blood, you got a few minutes to breath and see something different.

I read an article recently, and thought oh crap this is me right?, I have to fix this right now.  I can’t live this way.  (An old response.)  But once I sat a few minutes longer, I realized there was something for me to learn.  A piece for me to take away.

I can sit back and think.  Things are changing, slowly.  Progress is happening.

Fear might always be my knee jerk response, but my guess is it will become less and less my immediate response.  As long as I give it enough attention to listen, let it speak, and choose wisely.

Fear is a means of protection.  We shouldn’t go running into a fire, the fear of it hurting should be enough to stop us.  Fear is purposeful.  But sometimes it has grown so loud, it has drowned out all the other voices, like God’s.

This isn’t easy.  I still fail in this.  But in the failing is where I grow the deepest.  The “oh-yeah I forgot this doesn’t work anymore.”

So don’t let fear lead, not by ignoring it, but by giving it a seat at the table so it no longer has to yell like a toddler in your ear until you listen.

Let a trusted mentor/counselor walk through some of those fears.  Pray that God would show you something knew as you sit just a little while longer until the calm comes.

A book to read

Everybody Always by Bob Goff.

This book.  Bob Goff.  I think he is pretty great.  Not perfect, but hilariously inviting and honest.  Those are things I really enjoy.

His stories hold you in the moment and you feel like you are sitting in his living room listening to him tell them.  They are unbelievable.

In those moments I’m tempted to look at Bob and say “wow he gets to do all these amazing things for God.”  “I wish I could do ________.”  And I can be left there wishing for someone else’s amazing life with God instead of living my own.

So as I read this second book of his, my focus was shifted.  I took those stories as something I could have with God too.  Mine will be different because I am not Bob, I’m Tara.

I think about life more intentionally after reading this book.  And looking at the people around me with more love and challenged to do more out of that love instead of guilt or obligation.

 

If you need a good summer read, read it.  Be challenged.

This is my favorite part of reading, getting to know the heart of someone and challenging the places you are currently standing.

As I am writing this, my kids are talking to me about a monster in the attic as they shoot and ask me to help.  So off I go.  

Summer is here.  

Let the reading commence.

Embracing it all

I have all sorts of emotions, at any time of the day.

I’m joyful.  I’m sad.  I’m happy.  I’m mad.  (This sounds like a children’s book.)

But to say all this, you already know it.  We are human.  We feel.

I got overwhelmed by all the feels this past week.  End of the school year.  Excited to be with all three kids.  Overwhelmed to be with all three kids, all day.  I need a schedule.  I’m terrible at following schedules.  I need freedom.  I felt so frustrated.  I was quitting before I had even started.

Comparison has been a slow killer these past couple of weeks.  Friends doing new things, working, not working, teaching their kids, organizing their homes, and I’m here killing it.  Or so I thought.

Life looks different for all of us.  One area we may be flourishing, and another not so much.  We all have those glamorous sides where we are rocking it, and those areas we sweep under the rug or push in the closet for one more day, laundry anyone?

With this heart of comparison, I had to take a step back.  What was going on?  Comparison was killing my joy and making me exhausted.  Because I cannot be the best at everything, in every area.  It’s not possible.

I’m realizing it was comparison as I write this.  Sometimes getting it out, brings new light.  

So our goal for the summer, I made this up last night, is to play, rest, and relax together.  Because we love being together.   

I’m okay that I compared my motherhood to someone else’s motherhood, because this is where I get to write from.  A place of truth, authenticity.  In that I want to remind myself and maybe you, we don’t have to be anyone else, our people in this case my kids don’t want anyone else, they want us.  All of us.  Present.  Whole.  Completely imperfect.

Lord help us embrace ourselves.

Our Defender

Defender/Advocate

Last night was our last night of connect group for the spring; we take a summer break.  I wish I could have recorded it because so many good things were said last night.

So I’ll try to remember a few.

I believe this is why small group is so important.  We get our thoughts out about God.  Sometimes they are wrong, and when we are in a safe place we can look at them again and see if we think they need to be corrected.

I believe connect group is also a great place for people to live out life.  To be challenged, to struggle, to sin, to seek forgiveness, to hear His truth about who they are, and to be restored.

God has been teaching me a lot about longevity of life.  Not necessarily that we are here for a long time, but sometimes we endure things that are long and having people around you to advocate for you are so important in those seasons.

I have those people in my life, but I don’t always tap into that power.  I wait until I’m in a place that I really need someone and then pour all my junk out.

Our passage this week was 1 John 2:1-2:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”

Jesus is our advocate.  So we can come to Him because He will defend us.  We are guilty of sin, but we have a Savior that will come to our rescue and defend our case.  And we will be proven guilt free by His payment on the Cross-for us.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Yes, we are coming into the King’s Presence when we draw near to Him, but we are coming not to receive judgment but mercy and grace to help us.  And just as God has placed people in our lives we can share with, we also have a great counselor in Him who longs to meet with us, who longs for us to be honest.

Share your deepest struggles with Him; in His Presence there is acceptance, love, grace and mercy.  We need these things.  We need Him.

Learning to rejoice

Its a funny thing.

People say, “Just be thankful.”  “Be happy.”  But sometimes life throws punches and it’s just hard.  Especially when you’ve learned to “get through” life instead of taking delight in it.  The Bible tells us to rejoice a lot.  But, there have been times in my life I felt blind to rejoicing.  I didn’t know how.  And it felt very foreign.

1 Peter 4: 12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”  (ESV, emphasis added)

There have been some moments in the suffering that I was able to rejoice, but most of the rejoicing in my life has come after the storm.  Normally a “thank you for letting me live!”

I looked up “rejoice” and asked the internet what its meaning was in greek.  I was looking for something deeper. (Note: I am no Bible teacher, I literally just looked up “rejoice in greek” and saw a Strong’s definition, remembering that name from Bible college.)

A few pieces of the definition popped out to me.  Rejoice: leaning towards grace.  Whew!  Leaning in, moving closer.  Another definitions “to delight in God’s grace.”  Because that suffering will end, if not in this life, in Heaven.

So rejoice is not putting a silver lining on our suffering, or pretending its not there.  But it is completely delighting in God’s grace towards us.

There are things in this life that do not change.  God’s grace towards us.  His love.  His Presence.  And for me His creation will never stop rejoicing in His goodness.  Just go sit outside and watch the clouds go by.  They are magnificent.  Delight.  Breathe.  Take it all in.  Shift your gaze.

And we can rejoice in these things even when life throws a curve.

How are you rejoicing today?

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Have you boxed God in?

Have you boxed God in?

Have you allowed Him to move freely in some areas of your life and not others?

Me too.

This was easy to do when I first became a Christian.  I let God forgive me for cussing and saying His name in vain.  But then I fell into this deep place of policing my life, which then turned into policing others lives, as well.

I wrestled with this for a while.

My deepest question: Would God really say what He says He will do?

I had hurt.  I had deep pain.  I had wounds that I didn’t know if I could give to Him or not.  Would He be that Good Shepherd I knew in my mind He was?  I had to remove the box from my heart so He could come in.

Then you realize you’ve been protecting yourself from the One you need most.

Boxes.  Walls.  Self-protection.  These have come down.  With the help of dear friends, my husband, my mom, and my counselor, mine are.

Like an addict to a drug, it is very easy to return to this place of self-protection.  It feels safe.  And in a past where I wasn’t sure I was safe, I craved that.  But as believers our safest place is in the hands of our Savior who places beautiful people around us, so we can slowly step out of this place of self-protection and into those pastures with beautiful flowers and sunshine.

It’s breathable outside of our walls.  There’s life.  There’s freedom.  There’s healing.  There’s hope.

So seek someone out today.  Allow them to speak truth or just to listen to your deepest questions about God.  Place your hand on your heart.  It’s okay to have questions.  He wants to answer them.  I bet who you are talking to has had similar questions too.

Know this:

He is good.

He is kind.

He will do it.

Are you angry?

Anger.  I love covering that word with some of the most deflated words.  I’m just upset.  I don’t know.  I just don’t feel good.  But, what I really feel is anger.

Is it okay to be angry?  I think so.  But in the moment I’m not sure if I can allow myself.

When fear normally shows up so do the thoughts.  “Oh, you can’t be angry.  Christians are patient, calm, and kind.”  I tell myself.  “How are your kids going to turn out?”  I remind.  “What would _______ (insert important person, or person staring at the grocery store) think of your angry outburst?”  Shame.

Anger is a complex thing.  It can come up at a moments notice, and I look around like what the heck just happened?  Dr.  Jekyll has come.

Guess who I like more?  The calm, cool, collected mom.  But with three kids five and under, there are going to be some “upsetting” moments.  Stubbing my toe can send me somewhere scary.

When I first started counseling, I had a lot of anger to express.  I had pent it up in this whole idea of being “kind, compassionate Christian girl.”  I wanted to be forgiving.  I wanted to be gentle.  Anger felt unforgiving and the opposite of gentle.

I had some things to be angry about.  They were valid.

And this diagram got me.  Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions has encouraged me more than a time or two in this process of freedom.  He describes anger’s opposite feeling as fear.  Wow.  Fear displays itself in anger sometimes.  So when I’m angry, my thoughts are normally on what other people are thinking about me, fearing how they perceive me as a mom.  Sometimes I’m angry because I’m afraid someone will hurt me.  I feel angry sometimes because of  my lack of control.

Learning how to express emotions is a huge step in walking out freedom I believe.

I like this freedom.  When I’m angry, it is okay, and maybe I can ask myself “Are you afraid?”

Are you angry?  Maybe ask yourself the same question, and then listen.  I like this response.  Feels loving.  Instead of punishing yourself for being angry, embrace it for a moment.