A Note to Self and a Letter for You

Hey! Guess what? It’s been awhile. Like a really long while. But I’m glad to be back to share my two cents here and there. I came across this pep talk in my archives that I had written in the past as a note to self, and I hope and pray that maybe, just maybe, you can take something from this too. I don’t know where you’re at but one thing I know, you’re awesome. And awesome people deserve letters once in awhile, so this one’s for you:Dear child of God,Stop running.Stop running from your fears, and face them instead.Stop running through life at this mad pace and ignoring the warning signs popping up around you.Stop. Just stop long enough to catch your breath, heal, and gather the strength to move on.Stop focusing on yourself and your short-comings. Instead, focus your attention on the God Who holds all power. The One Who is full of goodness and grace and all those things that perhaps sound so cliche but really, they’re 100% truth.Start believing. Believe, child. Believe that God is on your side, because guess what? He actually is. For real and for serious. He’s fighting for you, not against you.Light begins to dawn when you toss unbelief to the wind, wash your hands in the rivers of redemption, and slip them into the hands of the good, good Father.When you learn to know God more in a personal way, things begin to make a lot more sense.The puzzle comes together.The waves calm.The storms die down.The vision clears.The steps become more sure.No, I’m not saying your surroundings or circumstances will change, I’m saying that your outlook on them will, and that makes a big difference.The focus is taken off of self.The victim experiences victory.The one in bonds tastes freedom.Pray. Pray hard. Pray often. Pray in faith. Just pray lots, and reap the benefits in due time. Then, remember to thank the One who proves Himself faithful every single time.When things don’t make sense, don’t freak out. It makes sense to Someone, and that’s all that really matters.In time, you’ll understand. In time, you’ll see what He had up his sleeve. Just you wait.Sincerely,the pep talker

The Rant About Life, Messes, and Reality. You’re Welcome.

Life looks messy sometimes. Things don’t go as planned, we make the wrong choices, we fail, we try again.

Sometimes trying to cover up and ignore the mess seems like the easiest way out. Everyone else seems to have their lives together, and we fear to admit our weaknesses and mistakes. Yet we all know that the reality is, no one has their life completely figured out and perfectly in line. Life happens and so do clumsy and messy things. Am I the only one who can get caught up in what I should be doing and where I should be at and what my life should look like?

I’ve heard a comment made that went like this: “But I have no excuse to be sad.”

To this, the wise advisor replied, “You’re human. You don’t need an excuse.”

For some reason, that comment stuck with me. Too often I’ve found myself in the rut of believing I need to have a rehearsed reason for everything I’m doing and feeling.

What if we all gave each other just a little more grace? What if we accepted that we don’t need to understand everyone’s intentions right away? What if we left the confining mold and high ideals for humanity behind and let ourselves realize that not one person is the same and that we were not created for molds?

What if we were reminded that instead of being created for a mold, God molded us with His own hands. Each with a specific, individual plan and purpose in mind.

The whole line of events leading up to our rescue story on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion got really messy.

Did Jesus’ followers always approve of the places He went, the things He did, and the people He took time for?

Not in my Bible.

Do you think Jesus’ friends and disciples always understood why He did what He did and why He had to die such a gruesome death?

Call me Thomas but I doubt it.

Did the “know-it-alls” in the society of Jesus’ time actually know it all?

Nope.

Did all this stop God from working His plan for our salvation?

Not a chance.

Through the miraculous story of our salvation, we can take this with us:

God actually specializes in messes. Sometimes the most amazing things happen in places no one ever dreamed.

Why?

Well, do you think God needs our help to figure those things out?

Maybe He doesn’t.

Maybe He just needs us to trust Him, believe in the good of others, and let Him do the rest.

Do you think God waits around for OUR approval on HIS plans?

Call me Thomas, but I doubt it again.

Criticism doesn’t burst His ego.

Negative feedback doesn’t shake His confidence.

He is God. He knows what He’s doing.

And let’s admit it, sometimes we do not. Throughout His whole plan of salvation, it took a major overthrowing of society’s expectations to bring us where we are today.

Traditions were broken.

Expectations weren’t met.

The religious ones were wrong.

Did things always make sense to our people?

Nope.

Does that stop God from working His wonders?

Also nope.

His ways are so much higher than ours, and that’s what makes life beautiful.

Of Unknowns, Circumstances, and Moving Onward

Dear you. Find the following scenario relatable? Put your name in it, know you’re not alone, and take heart.

She stood on the mountaintop, surveying the journey ahead of her as the golden sun beat down on her tired face.

Now what? She had no perfectly-planned itinerary to view before she continued on. Truth be told, that was exactly what she craved at the moment: something or someone to tell her the exact order of events and their outcomes.

Something or someone to keep her from one of her biggest enemies: failure.

There was no telling what was waiting for her around the next corner. In her state of fear and uncertainty, the rocks and thorns beneath her feet seemed to mock her with no mercy.

Why had she signed up for all of this in the first place? Or had she signed up at all? Shouldn’t someone more qualified be in her shoes right now? Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. Or did it just appear that way?

Her questions hung heavy and unanswered in the atmosphere that surrounded her.

Not too long ago, things had appeared different to her. Perhaps more reliable and predictable. But things had taken a sudden turn. The scenery was different than she was expecting, and the route suddenly looked much different than she had first hoped for.

And what else had changed since that moment of clarity?

Oh yeah.

Regretfully, she kicked at a loose rock nearby, hanging her head in confusion and shame.

In a moment of pride and stubborn ignorance, she had turned her attention from the wisdom of her Guide and blazed on ahead. Perhaps it had been when the going was easy and the problems were few.

But only now did she realize the magnitude of her mistake.

Standing at the top of this mountain, where the breezes carried scents of things both bitter and sweet, she faced yet more decisions. More forks in the road.

Ahead of her lay several different paths, all leading her in a different direction. But which one was she to take?

She dreaded making yet another bad choice. In the atmosphere of isolation and solitude that surrounded her, everything seemed to hang heavy, including the load on her back.

This was too much. Things hadn’t turned out like she had thought they would.

With a heaving sigh, she turned her back on every single path in front of her and chose instead to set foot on the one behind.

Maybe if she turned back and retraced her steps, she could recover what had been lost and redo the areas in which she had failed.Maybe she could even find someone more qualified to take her place in the journey.

In any case, the unknown future looked overwhelming. Too big for someone so small.

In desperation, she cupped her hands to her mouth and called, “Hello? Anybody around? Where’s my Guide? Can someone help me?”

Not expecting a reply, she jumped at the sound of rustling brush and a voice that came back with a calm, gentle answer.

Could it be? Yes, it was! It was the Guide Himself!

Hastily, she began to explain, “I’ve decided to turn back. The path ahead looks too complicated and complex for me. Perhaps you should find someone else for this journey You had in mind.

“It’s turning out different than I was expecting, and it seems to require someone more qualified than I.”

She studied the ground beneath her feet and waited for His response.

“Wait. There’s something you’re not understanding,” He began, “There’s no one more qualified for this journey than you. This is your journey. One of those paths you have not yet taken leads you to your destination.

“But since you’re already turned towards the past, let’s stop and take a look at it.”

Reluctantly, she gave in and followed his gaze to the miles that had already been covered.

“Child,” He continued, “Think back to the place where it all started. Remember who you were back then? Remember how it all began?”

She squinted her eyes, half in deep thought and half in attempt to look back as far as she could.

So much had happened since then. It was hard to get a clear picture in her mind of where it had all started, but there was one thing she knew; she was different. Things were different. Understanding began to enlighten her face and spark in her eyes.

Her Guide smiled knowingly and stated, “Look at you, child. You’ve grown. You’ve changed. Has everything been easy? Most definitely not.

“But look at what each of those circumstances have done for you. They’ve played a role in shaping who you are today. They’ve challenged you. Strengthened you. Equipped you.”

With curiosity, she inquired, “Equipped me for what?”

“That’s what you’re about to find out. If you choose to follow me.”

“So you’re not looking for someone more qualified?”

“No, child. This is your journey. Not someone else’s. To have me as your Guide says you’re qualified.

“You can choose to hang back and dwell on the past, but that’s as far as you’ll get. You can’t change it. Do you know what you can do? You can follow me and keep moving forward in faith.”

With deepest compassion, He extended His hand and the invitation, “There are good things waiting, but we must keep travelling to get there. It won’t all be easy, but I can promise you it will be worth it. Now, will you come?”

Yes. It was a for sure yes. She would leave her expired travel plans behind and come.

She reached for His hand and rose to her feet. His grip was strong and His step was sure, and it was then that she knew; she couldn’t have asked for a better Guide. Everything really would be okay and worth it after all. With Him, there was strength, and there was enough.

And what was this strange new sensation rising within her chest? Why, she was excited! Full of anticipation.

There was something almost exhilarating about the unknown. Before them lay a wealth of opportunity and adventure, right in amidst the trials and tough going.

With a spring in her step, she looked up, smiled, and stated with deepest of sincerity, “I trust You, and You are good.”

And with equal sincerity, he replied, “I love you, and you will be blessed.

And so they went. Onward.

So can you, my dear friend. So can you. For with Him all things are possible. Hallelujah.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Lessons I Learned Upside Down

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This past summer, I was told that your seventeenth year is usually your best year.

This past summer, I turned seventeen.

I was determined to make my seventeenth year the best one yet.

But guess what happened only several days after my seventeenth birthday?

Someone stuck their finger in the waters of my high ideals and sent them swirling, and I was left staring death in the face. What a great start. Let me explain myself.

I was on my way home from a church function, and my brain was on high speed. I was thinking back over the day and the past week, and mentally organizing what all had to happen in the week ahead of me. Things would have to work out just so, and there wasn’t much time for glitches in the system. I was exceptionally busy during that time, and, I’ll have to admit, I was being a bit of a control freak.

The picture somewhat disturbs me. Imagine a child, clenching something tightly inside his fist. You know it’s unsafe for him to have it, so you attempt to retrieve it for the sake of his safety. Instead of willingly handing it over to you, he stubbornly curls his fingers even tighter around the object and holds it close to him in refusal. Probably even says, “Mine!”

I was kinda like that child. I was holding things too tightly, for fear of things swirling into chaos. Did it work? Obviously not. Not at all.

Because not much later, I lost control on the loose gravel of the back road I was driving and was sent sailing over the edge.

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One of the first things that went through my head as I saw the control slipping out of my hands was,”No, this can’t be happening to me. ”

It sounds foolish, I know. I was pretty much telling God, “Hey, this wasn’t on the agenda. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time to die. What’s going on?”

Like that mattered right then.

You can’t fully understand the feeling of being weighed in the balance between death and life until you’ve experienced it yourself. I was told later by the police who responded and investigated that I had rolled end over end and side over side, and part of me wasn’t entirely surprised, based on how the scenery had been in those few seconds of action. I was surprised, however, by the fact that I could remember a lot of the details very vividly.

The kind officer came up to where I was sitting and asked me again, “You’re still feeling okay?”

“Yes,” I replied with confidence, “I am.”

“You’re lucky to be alive, you realize that?” he stated gravely.

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It wasn’t luck, but I knew what he meant. And yes, I realized it, even though I didn’t understand it. In fact, no one seemed to.

The paramedics came, asked me questions and checked me over. Their responses and facial expressions seemed to say, “How can you just be totally okay? There’s gotta be something wrong somewhere.”

At the end of the examination, the paramedic graciously stated, “Well, everything seems to be fine except your heart rate is a little high…”

I almost burst out laughing. In the ambulance. With a bunch of confused paramedics. Not recommended. Unless you’re in the mood to get airlifted.

So my heart rate was a little high? What a surprise. And a relief.

That night, God seemed to say, “You want a good year? First things first, you must be reminded who’s in control.” And was I ever reminded. The hard way, of course.

The next thing on God’s agenda with me that night was to show me what I really needed. The things that would really stand the test of time. The things that were really of most importance. And it turns out, those “things” weren’t actually things at all.

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He left my Bible and the above birthday card right on the passenger seat while everything else was thrown out the windows, back up on the middle of the road, down the ditch, across the field, everywhere. Even my glasses had flown off my head and into the backseat. But God’s divine Word stayed glued to the seat. Is that a miracle, or is that a miracle?

When the action stopped and I realized I was still alive and moving and able to get out, I jumped out and immediately began searching for my phone, gathering CD cases, birthday gifts, glasses, and a shoe along the way. I couldn’t find it anywhere. If you had been witnessing the scene that night, you would have heard the desperate prayers of, “Lord, help me find my phone! I need my phone!”

“Do you?” He seemed to be saying, ” Or do you need me?”

Come on. We might as well have said I was in the desert. How else would I get help?

Just like that, an old pickup came cruising down the quiet, abandoned dirt road. There was nothing to do but stand by my wreck of a car and hope for the best. Would their intentions be good or bad? I was about to find out.

You people, they were angels. Silver-haired ones. Take it as you wish, but either way, their intentions were good. Very, very good. Bless their dear hearts.

So what was I left with that night?

Ever-faithful God, His ever-faithful Word, people, a life that I was fortunate yet to live, and the song that still played strong through my stereo as I searched frantically for what I was desperately “needing”:a choir singing, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”.

Please listen up for one more thing before I go. I’m still learning these lessons. I’m still processing things from way back then. I’m still just as human as anyone. And as gracious as so many of you were to say, “I’m so glad you’re still alive!” and “God must have a plan for you!” , please take this with you when you go: I’m so glad you’re still alive too, and because you’re still blessing this earth with your presence, that must mean God has a plan for you too.

There’s always a reason you’re alive. Let’s pursue the reason and the One behind it together.

A Letter to The Warriors of Change. In Other Words, You.

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Dear you,

You who finds yourself

Grasping for a foothold on the slippery slope of time,

Gulping for oxygen on a fast-moving train you don’t remember boarding,

Losing against gravity on the tough mountain climb,

Groping helplessly through the fog of everything in your life blurred together in order to put your finger on that one specific thing that is all you can think of,

Slumping farther yet again as another pack of expectations and responsibilities is added to your once-young shoulders,

Trying to get somewhere with unclear directions,

You. You who are experiencing change?

Breathe. It’s tough, but God is enough.

No matter how cliche it sounds.

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We can’t always explain the ache of change, loss, moving on, or moving out.

Sometimes we try to ignore the nagging fears of vulnerability and the ever-moving, never-stopping hands of that daunting, impatient clock.

Perhaps to a time, you have wished to put your hands to the hands of that clock and coach them along, hurry them up.

But now you may be wishing to put your hands to it yet again, only this time to turn them back, slow them down, or just take the battery out and make that thing stop altogether for awhile.

I’m guilty of that, but the truth I have to face is this: I can stop my clock, stop the ticking, the moving, and fool myself into thinking that time is taking a break, but it’s no use.

There’s still a million other clocks still ticking, still making their rounds, and time has never ever stopped, even though I’m pretending it has.

We’ve all seen change of some kind. Some have seen it written on a piece of paper, like a diploma, a letter, an acceptance form, a job opportunity, or somewhere in a book. Others have heard it through a phone call, a conversation, a message, a song. Still others have seen it walking down the aisle, or boarding a plane, or moving house.

You know how you’ve seen it, I know how I’ve seen it, and we’ve all discovered this inevitable fact:
Change changes us.

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This is why we can find ourselves somewhat lost and nameless in the world, at times. We look around and wonder, where did the identity thief come from, and where has he gone?

How have we got here?

What are we to do next?

What if we’re feeling unqualified?

Breathe. It’s tough, but God is enough.

No matter how cliche it sounds.

Change hits us in strange and sometimes unexpected ways. Ways that can tear a big, gaping, aching hole through us and will we ever feel right and whole again?

In a sense, change forces us to change. And sometimes, stubborn me doesn’t want to change, at least not in the way I’m required to. Sometimes, I just want things the way they’ve always been.

So we can’t change change, and we can’t change the fact that change changes us…

But listen. We can change the way change changes us. As one who can sometimes look at change a little too negatively and fearfully, I must remind myself: I cannot control the circumstances, but I can control how I respond to them.

Am I the only one who, when I stop and reflect on the past, can wonder if I’m even the same person at all?
No matter how unwanted it can be sometimes, there is positives to these times of stretching and learning and growing, and they are just that. Stretching, learning and growing.

If you’re wishing for a redo on life, stop and reflect on what all took place. There may be lots of things we want to relive, redo. But that’s not the end of it.

Think back to the places you’ve been, the experience you gained, the relationships you’ve built, and the lessons you’ve learned. Would you really want to undo all that? The question stands for you to answer yourself.

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And I’m giving you credit here. You’ve put a lot of grit and elbow grease and energy and time and investment into your life. And I’m talking no matter how many mistakes you’ve made.

Maybe to say I want to go back, I’m saying I want to tear down what has just been built.

What if instead, we focused on continuing to build on the foundation that has already been laid? With the experiences coming our way right now.
Dear you. Your life matters. And all we’re given is the here and the now. So maybe we should just see how much goodness and blessing and wonderfulness we can squeeze out of this moment. Know what I’m saying?

Sincerely,

Me.

That Life Lately Type of Post

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Dear you,

It’s been awhile, but I’m back and please know that I still have lots I want to tell you, not out of a highly knowledgeable mind, but out of a heart that is so desperately imperfect, only it wants to open the door and invite you into the presence of the Most Holy One. It’s about the Maker of this heart, not the heart itself. I’m only a student in the classroom of my God and guess what? You’re my classmate. We’re in this together.

And you know what? In my humanity, I entertained the thought of doing this post on an incredibly clever topic, with catchy examples and professor-like background study and a good choice of words to make up for the time that has been lost but then, God brought me back to my senses. That’s not really what He wants to hear. It’s probably not what you want to hear. And guess what? I’m not interested either. So let’s just be real, shall we? If you can’t support the idea of being honest and down to earth, well, stick with me anyways. Cause I could use your advice.

Look, I can’t even tell you that the reason for my nearly nonexistent appearance here is because I’ve been off galavanting across the globe, the country, or even my hometown doing many great things for the Lord. In all honesty, my relationship with God has kind of been shoved to the back burner for the time being. Priorities, people. Priorities. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have room for growth in this area. And we definitely receive benefit when we put God first. I know what it’s like to feel connected to God, and I also know what it’s like to feel disconnected. The latter leaves you feeling empty and isolated. Something I’ve also been learning through this: don’t make your time with God another thing on your to-do list. It just doesn’t belong there. Sure, it’s a lot to do with your priorities, but it should not be another one of those tasks to be checked off the list in order to wipe your slate and conscience clean.

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When I am reading anything, I can literally read page after page, word for word, while thinking something not even remotely close to the same subject.  When that “not-so-skill” is applied to reading God’s word, you can imagine how fruitful that is. God’s Word is packed with nutrition and life and ready to be devoured, and snacking on it just won’t cut it.God’s got plans and words and answers and power and wisdom to share with us. But if we’re not listening and waiting, we’re gonna miss it. I want to stop missing it, don’t you? Just think of all that can happen when we give our undivided attention to God! That’s exactly why we find ourselves so easily distracted. Satan detests the very thought of it. So, who do we want as the winner?

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Another thing, can anyone tell me what the secret is to being a highly successful, fully responsible, fearless adult full of much wisdom and, well…adultness??🤔 I know I know, that’s stretching it, but cheers to anyone else who feels like the years are flying by way too quickly and that the older you are expected to be, the younger you feel. Ugh. It reminds me of a comment a friend of mine made not that long ago when I said I did not know what I was doing in relation to a particular task. She emphatically stated, “Welcome to the adult world, Taralynn. Where everybody pretends to know what they’re doing, but nobody knows. Nobody.”

When you were little, did you ever hear one of those stories where something frightening is happening and the child is in utter despair but then along comes Father or Mother or any other adult figure and there’s that classic part of the story where it says, ”  ‘Don’t fear,’ said (Mother, Father, whoever), ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of.’ But inside, (Mother, Father, whoever) was trembling.” That was always a comfort to me (sarcasm injected). I was never so quick to believe an adult who said that ever again.

The truth is, though, that no matter how old we are, how much wisdom we store, or how many grey hairs we have, we are weak, dependent, and desperately in need of a higher power than we can attain ourselves, whether we like the idea or not.

Perhaps this growing up thing is related to the subject of change. But don’t even get me started. That’s a whole other post of its own.

This brings me to the end of my long-time-no-see letter to you, and maybe there’ll be more. If you have had enough of this stuff already, please notify me and I will resort to a more tolerable style of writing.

Also, if you have any advice, thoughts or questions about the subject of change, do share! I would love to take them into consideration.

Before you leave, though, I want you to consider this: whose standard of success are you taking most seriously? We were not made to be compared, and we all have a journey of our own, even though we travel together. I’ve had to remind myself to focus on the process and the progress. Even if it’s 2 steps forward, 1 step back , it’s still progress, no matter who you’re comparing it to. You’re going to fail sometimes, but God knows your thoughts and intentions and if He wouldn’t dream of giving up on you, then why should you? You are so totally worth it, my friend.

Sincerely,

Tara

P.S. If u come across any texting abbreviations in this post plz have mercy on me. I was writing it on my phone n tht always calls for such problems. Also, if u have recognized the irony of this P.S. statement, u have just reached a new level of success. Congrats, TTYL!

 

 

 

 

 

I Wonder…

I wonder if there’s a voice inside of you,

That no one else has heard.

So soft, yet so loud at the same time.

Like the echoing cry off the walls of a canyon,

Like the rebound of sound in a dark, barren room,

You can hear it in your head,

In your heart.

It’s silently shouting, the words

Coming straight back at you

The moment they’re uttered.

Why?

Because there’s walls, barriers, fences.

You’ve built them yourself,

Even though that authentic soul of gold

Deep down inside you still resents them,

Still wants to break free.

Still wants to help you reach your full potential.

But let me guess: it’s weary of trying.

Don’t worry, I’m speaking from experience

As a builder of walls, a wrecker of plans.

I’ve felt the dying, did the trying,

And still I am a bird only learning to fly.

And I wonder if there’s a voice inside of you

That no one else has heard.

Maybe it’s because of those walls,

That what’s inside of you cannot come out.

And maybe it’s because of those walls

That on the outside, you’re an echo of

Whatever is influencing you.

So that’s who some think you are.

But I disagree.

Because you know, and I know,

That if walls have been buiilt,

Then there’s more than what meets the eye.

You’re more than a reflection, more than an echo.

And as sure as you and I stand on this earth today,

God has given each of us a voice, but

Not every voice is heard.

Maybe you’re like me, and you want someone

To just verbally give you permission.

To look you straight in the eye and say,

“Listen. We need you. Not an echo of someone else,

Not a messy mixture of the influences around you,

But you. Just you. So come out of that fortress.”

Well, that’s what I’m doing right now.

I’m telling you, begging you:

This world needs you.

Perhaps you’re longing to destroy those walls,

But you’re waiting for a burn permit. A go-ahead.

Well, here it is. And I’m not just permitting you,

I’m telling you. Do it.

Whoever told you God used a mold to create you

Is a liar. They’ll find out soon enough that

You’re not confined to a mold;

There is a role for you to fill that no one else can,

And will you rise to the challenge?

I hope and pray you will.