Life Preserver

tara-young

“Those who guard their lips, preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

This verse gave me such a mental picture!  I saw a person flailing and splashing about in the water. Screaming and yelling, though I am not sure if it was out of fear or anger. Fear of being alone. Fear of past or present. Fear and anger that nothing ever done is good enough. Fear that the kids won’t succeed. Fear that always keep friends pushed away, because we don’t want them to see the evil in our hearts. Or just because we are sinful, hurt people.  Fear consumes.

Regardless of the craziness, the first part of the verse, “those who guard their lips, preserve their lives.” struck me with full force.

Our words build up, encourage, tear down and hurt all out of the same mouth.

The latter part of the verse talks about bringing ruin. Not just ruin for us, but also for those around us.  This was a painful blog to write about, because of this very thing I am guilty. Perhaps this is the reason I was led to write these words?

I have a challenge. Let’s watch the faces of those we love, crumple as we speak loudly and rudely.  Let’s watch as they shine and sparkle as we encourage them. Let us see their hearts fly as we encourage them. Or, see them chained to the pain as we yell mercilessly.

I want to be a life-preserver. Not one who brings ruin.

Join me!

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Holy In Your Sight O God.

Gently You call me to Your throne. Your love for me abounds.

I yield my my selfish ways to You O God. Let me be a vessel to be used.

Holy in Your sight O God. Holy in Your sight O God.

Holy in Your sight O God. Holy in Your sight O God.

 

Humbly Bowed

Humbly bowed, in your presence Lord.  I call to you, come find me where I am.

I’m begging now, down on my knees. I need you God, to make me pure again.

Here I am, a sinner needing cleansed. Come wash me now, from all this filth and sin.

Forgiveness flows, like blood and water flowed. From Your side, Your life just slipped away.

Thank you God, forgiveness floods my soul. I’m pure again, washed as white as snow.

My sins are cast. Far away from me. From east to west, thank you God I’m free!

 

There Is Always Time…

This is something that struck me fully today. We are often so tied up with time constraints and schedules. Kids games, parties, lessons and even church activities stretch us. We frequently say that we don’t have time for anything.  The truth is, we make time for what we want to make time for.

Today.

Remember, “There is always time to do what God asks us to do.”  Donna Otto

The Bad Place

The Bad Place

My husband and I were missionaries in Africa early 2000-2003.  We were so excited to plan a rafting adventure!  Rather, he excitedly planned a rafting trip on the Nile River, while I was leery and fearful! I nearly drowned as a child, so it was natural apprehension.  Being the good wife, I put a frightened smile on my face and off we went.

Typical, well-balanced rafts, carry 8 or more people.  Our raft, including the guide, carried 5.  Should that have been an indication of our day???  It wasn’t as if we could say, “We’ll wait and do it another day” as we had flown from Kenya to Uganda!   We were at an extreme disadvantage with that, and that none of the four passengers had ever been rafting before.

img_6108With trepidation I carefully put my helmet on and tightened my life jacket.  It was so tight for safety reasons, it was really hard to breathe.  I felt trapped.  We paddled for a few minutes to practice.  He taught us how to hold onto the oar and the raft if we flipped, and how to climb back in the boat.  In calm water, that is much easier to do! He called different terms like the obvious, “ROW HARDER!” and “GET DOWN!” (I excelled at the latter!)  That was one he called most frequently because that meant we were either going to flip, or go into the rapid and come out properly in the boat on the other side,  and he was trying to keep us safe.  Did you know that guides have done this so often, they know if you are going to make it through the rapid or not?  Did you know that they will flip you for your own safety? No.  Me either.

So out of our 8 hour Nile River rafting adventure, we flipped 5 out of 10 times.  Wait.  He flipped us 5 out of 10 times.  We made it through the level 2 & 3 rapids, but not the level  4’s or 5’s.  Also unknown to me, because I was not aware much of the time being separimg_6109-1ated from the boat, and being rescued and brought back to the boat by my own personal kayak-er rescuer,  that there were Nile Crocodiles on the banks as I sailed by crying and peeing my pants as my life passed before my eyes. I was also hit by branches and had red ants on my life jacket and in my hair. (On a good note, though I was unable to hold on to the raft, I did hold on to my paddle!)

At the end our long journey, there was one more optional level 6 rapid. Saved for the risk taking, professionals!  It was called The Bad Place.  I can hear you saying, “Don’t do it! Tara! Don’t do it!”  That  was what my heart and mind were saying as well! Believe me!   One of the men said, “Man, I am not doing that!  No way!”  “I am going to sit this out!”  It came down to me.  Sammy and the other guy were game so I had a decision to make. Quit, or hit this rapid head on, knowing full well we weren’t going to make it through.  I can honestly say that I had tears of fear dripping down my sun-blocked, sunburned cheeks. Not all weepy boohoo, just plain old fright, panic, horror and dread!   My comment, which made my husband beam with pride was, “I didn’t come this far to quit. Let’s go.”

the-bad-placeWe got into the raft and as soon as we sat down, he pushed us off and yelled, “GET DOWN!”  it was at that moment, I let go of my paddle because I was already under water.  I was tossed, turned, scared and tumbling like a towel in a washing machine!  I thought I was going to die.  I couldn’t get to the surface. I couldn’t see the surface! Twisting, whirling, spiraling out of control, until I finally, I reached the end of the rapid.  Sammy apparently was still under water, but popped up soon after I did and was already at the bank down river a bit smiling. I on the other hand, was breathless, hyperventilating and crying.  I saw just a hand reached out saying, “I got you. You are ok.” One of my fellow rafters was there to help me out of the water.

Sammy and I walked up the hill with his arms around me.  He said something like, “that was fun.” Or, “I am so proud of you!” or both.  We arrived at the top of the hill, after a long day, to an awaiting celebration feast.  In my heart I thanked God for my survival.

I can say with pride, “I Rafted The Nile River!”

Life is like rafting that river sometimes isn’t it? We are rafting along smoothly enjoying the ride,  until He being the guide,  sees things that we can’t and protects us by flipping our boat. Or circumstances like the life jacket, tiny red ants, or branches smacking or biting us, cause us great discomfort and pain.  We begin flailing and tumbling in the rapids of life, and forget that God is always there.

He sends friends to give us a hand. He sends a way for us to get back in the boat.  He never leaves us alone. Psalm 138:3 says, ” On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”  He hears us when we call. He gives us strength.
He equips us for  “The Bad Places” in life and gives us the courage to go through them, even though we know going in, it is going to be hard and scary.  Yet, we are able to say, “I didn’t come this far to quit.”

Lord, be with my friends who may be going into, or are already in The Bad Place. Please protect each one and bring them safely out the other side.

In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

About Nana

About Nana

We met Karen in our old neighborhood and weren’t instant friends, but the kids were drawn to her and wouldn’t give up the pursuit. She let us love her, and loves us in return.

Karen quickly became the kind of friend whose door was always open, and the coffee pot was always on. She came to our house for noise and excitement. At her home,  Jelly Belly jelly beans and water were always present.  She is a woman who is retired from the army after 22 years. A little rough around the edges, but life has dealt her some harsh blows.  I think in many ways, we are all rough around the edges aren’t we?   I want to be a friend like her. One who always opens the door to her neighbors and their wild, full of life children. One who gardens in the heat of the day, to get rid of those awful weeds.   One who accepts a glass of lemonade on a hot Texas day, from grubby little toddler hands, and drinks every drop and is thankful. One who seeks to know what our favorite things are and pops in with surprise groceries, when we didn’t know how we were going to make it that month.  The friend who always listens, asks the right questions, and seeks to make sure we know how loved we are. She has been the break from reality, when Sammy was coaching 96 hours a week.  She comes for birthdays.  Truth be told, she has brought the birthday many times! The kids found chocolate chip cookie cakes with maraschino cherries, whipped cream , icing, sprinkles and whatever toppings they chose to be undeniably delicious!  I think she has made cookie cakes for the last 8 years!

She was there for the activities of the kids, a supporter of odd requests and purchaser of random last-minute birthday gifts that we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) purchase.  She has a son and daughter in law, but grandchildren haven’t arrived.  She has wall plaques, and picture frames that have Nana phrases. She has our hearts.  So, as she suffers from her third form of cancer in 3 years, we cry out to the Lord with sorrow and gratitude. With sorrow, because it hurts us to see her suffer.  With gratitude, that she has been led to the Maker of Heaven and Earth and we know eternity is in her heart. Selfishly, we want her forever here.  Not for her to be in suffering, but in selfishness we want her here, with us.  She became Nana.  You see, she is adopted into our family and as much of our family as any Grandmother or Grandfather would be. We wormed our way into her heart, and she planted the gift of love in ours.

So this is where the wish comes in. I wish we were all healthy at the same time so visits could be more frequent. Will you pray that we can be healthy to visit as often as possible?  According to the Dr, we have a month give or take.  A month of quiet kisses and I love you.  A month to take as many pictures as we can take. A month to get in as many cuddles as her pained body can bear. A month to share laughter and love over a meal. One last Christmas, birthday and Thanksgiving. One last…

Every day is a gift.  Every day matters.

I want to be like Nana. Full of love, patience and humor.  Generous to a fault.  Ready for adventure!

We love you Nana.

In times of questioning… part 2

Here I pick up where I left off.

Our cat passed away, my husband has just recovered from the flu, one of my daughters missed 3 days of school due to fever, and another had a fever today as well.

I heard the truck pull into the driveway after my husband and daughter left Friday morning for school.  I wondered what was wrong.   On the way out of our driveway, our eldest daughter saw our guard dog Shadow, lying lifeless on the road in front of our mailbox.  He NEVER went out of our gate. He NEVER left the property. Sweet Shadow was gone. Gone were the late night barks on alert. Gone was the goofy galloping, as he ran to us when we called…2 days after burying Mr. Pickles, we were burying another one of our pets.

img_4822

Gone.

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In our sorrow, we were thankful. Thankful that a friend had loaned us his tractor so that we could shred our property. Thankful that we were able to bury this sweet boy more easily in the parched, rock filled soil. “How much more Lord?” was a resounding question in our hearts.

I apologize for being so sorrowful, but as I said in the first post, these last few weeks have been tough.

Transparency.

That is what I offer you.

Here tonight as tears slide down my cheeks, I trust.  I trust in God.  I trust. He knows each one of our needs.  He knows that I may, after 13 years of not working a full-time job,  may have to place the kids back in school and get a full time job.  This isn’t a surprise to my Heavenly Father.

The truth? I’m scared.

Scared of giving up the blessing of being a stay at home mom, to become a full-time working mom.  People do it all the time.  I just never thought that I would need to.  Times change.  Home insurance goes up. Health insurance goes up. Cost of living goes up.

My eyes lift toward heaven as I pray.

Psalm 121:1-8

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
         From where shall my help come?

2My help comes from the LORD,
         Who made heaven and earth.

3He will not allow your foot to slip;
         He who keeps you will not slumber.

4Behold, He who keeps Israel
         Will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
         The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

6The sun will not smite you by day,
         Nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
         He will keep your soul.

8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
         From this time forth and forever.

http://biblehub.com/context/psalms/121-1.htm

 

It is all going to be ok.  It will.  God will provide as He always has.

“What is Your will Father?” When all else seems to be lost in the time of confusion, one must ask, “Will You clear the way?” He has promised to do so.

So.

I.

Trust.

Psalm 20:7

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

http://biblehub.com/psalms/20-7.htm

We trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Wherever you are on your journey, I pray that you don’t feel alone.  I pray that you will be able to lift your eyes up.  Lift your face to the Creator.  He loves you.

Lord, to all who carry a heavy burden of grief, fear, shame or loss, please comfort them. Please hold them tightly and allow them to feel Your presence as they never have before. Love them deeply with Your love everlasting.  In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Love and hugs,

Tara

 

 

 

In times of questioning… Part 1

In this time of questioning, one must ask, “What is Your will Father?” When all else seems to be lost in the time of confusion, one must ask, “Will You clear the way?” Yet, here I sit typing away wondering about the days to come. Not because I doubt His plan for us, rather what do I do to be obedient to Him.  When you don’t know what to do, what is the best option? Wait. Wait. Wait.  Wait until His path is illuminated. Wait until He tells us what to do. What until there is peace in the decision-making process.  So how am I going to do that??? I don’t honestly know.

These past few weeks have been really hard.  Challenging and frustrating. Scary and sorrowful.

I homeschool two of our three children. We have had an amazing year. A quote from Charles Dickens comes to mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Homeschool can be just that! Amazing and wonderful most days, but there are days I want to snatch them bald to be perfectly honest.  (They still have all of their hair 😉

Last week, my daughter’s computer crashed.  The one that she has been using for all of her school curriculum. In my 40+ years, I have NEVER had a computer crash. Needless to say, we lost everything. Why now?

We had some options. Option 1 was send the hard drive to a team of specialists in a white room where they would take apart every little minute piece of our hard drive to try to save the data, to the cost of $600-$1000.  Or option 2, (which we chose) was to replace the hard drive and lose everything.  EVERYTHING! All of her work since August was gone.

That left us with a very creative fun week of letter writing, cooking and library trips, to check out our weekly 60 plus books.  Though the computer was returned in perfect working order, I am bummed about the loss of her hard work.

We then received word that our health insurance policy was expiring, and they were not going to be renewing our policy. WHAT? Ok. Now what?  After doing research, finding an agent, and meeting at a local restaurant, we find that our income doesn’t support the need we have.  Swallow. Deep breath. God has this under control. He really does. Yes. He. Does. I continually tell myself. HE DOES. Full time work may be calling me out of the home.  God knows. He does.

That same week, my littlest runs in from the shop yelling that there is something wrong with one of our cats.  He had been sick, but not for long, and I had a feeling that Mr. Pickles wasn’t going to live much longer. Within moments of that conversation, he had passed away.  Sadly, their little hearts were throbbing in and their cries of hysterical pain echoed across the open area between the shop and our home.

Typically we have to bury an animal quickly, but daddy wasn’t home and I couldn’t break the rocky ground with the shovel. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t get a hole started. The questions came from the kids, “Why did this happen to Mr. Pickles?” “Why couldn’t we have one more week?”

Helping children whilst crying yourself, isn’t always effective.  Through the tears and struggle, we made it through the day. Daddy came home and we buried Mr. Pickles.img_1054

I will close this post by saying this, life isn’t easy. Pain comes and hearts that once beat strongly, are snuffed out. Exhaustion is getting the best of me so I will close. Part 2 will not be far behind.

May you find solace in the One who catches every tear in a bottle.  Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

I know we have been covered in prayer and seek that same solace.

Blessings,

Tara

 

 

 

Heart under construction.

imageGod has been truly working on my heart. it has been under construction.

My voice to the kids is acidic, and hurtful at times. I would like to blame it on them but I am responsible for the actions and words of my mouth. This week I’ve been reading in Proverbs.

Proverbs 12:16 it says,  “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Regardless of what they do, I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth, and how I say it. That’s confirmed two verses later in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierced like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” I certainly do not want to pierce my children with my words, I would much rather bring healing. So why did they frustrate me so? It probably boils down to selfishness. They don’t act like I want them to act. They don’t act how I expect them to act. Yet I have to train them to behave properly. To be a functioning and productive member of society and show self-control.
Newsflash! They are kids. Kids do dumb stuff. Kids get into fights. Kids do great things. Kids help when they’re asked. It’s just the balance of the way I view them. Therein lies my problem. I need to view them as a gift more often rather than I view them with frustration. I need to show love and patience, rather than my first response being sharp like a sword piercing them.

Psalm 85:10-13 “Love and faithfulness meet together; Righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him; and prepares the way for his steps.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I would rather have love and faithfulness meeting together, but see, it starts with me. Not them. Me. He is faithful to work through me and I need to yield do that part of me to Him on a daily or hourly basis (minutes or seconds in reality sometimes).

I paint a rather icky picture of myself here perhaps because of what I know is on the inside of me. Parenting isn’t easy. It definitely can refine us as people.

The truth of the matter is, I want my kids to love one another. I don’t want damaged relationships, though I realize that is out of my control. I want to share from what I have seen and experienced so they don’t have to go through things I went through. Yet, just as I chose my path, they also must choose theirs.

I need to equip them for life and what lies ahead. In doing that with a relationship with God, a blanket of peace and arms full of love, they will succeed. They are God’s children. On loan to my husband and I. A lofty task, yet a worthy one.

Lord, may We today be the moms you have asked us to be. Help us to love without fear, teach without anger and be a peacemaker rather than a peace-breaker.
In the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

You can do this friend!