Thanksgiving

I know that Thanksgiving looks a little different for all of us this year. The year of 2020 has been one for the books for sure, BUT God has been so, so good and faithful. Yes, we are watching our world in turmoil around us but with a God perspective that view is a little different.  Let’s go deeper on this subject.

This year has thrown a great deal of adversity and chaos our way, including the diagnosis of new health issues, online education of our kids, working from home exclusively, stores running out of Clorox wipes and no one will be able to forget the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. Living life during a pandemic has been something. But let’s get down to the amazing things that we can take away from 2020. My family went on a much needed pause in the Spring time. We were able to sit down to dinner and simply talk. No one had to dart out the door to practice. The sad but true fact was that we maybe had dinner together once or twice a week prior to the pandemic. I am beyond grateful for the pause that allowed my family to be a family unit together. Some of our best discussions as a family happen around the dinner table. It was the most amazing opportunity to just be in the moment together. I am grateful that I will take a stand I will value the family unit as a whole. We will not go back to what dinner looked like pre-2020. We have a new standard.

I cannot believe I am saying this, if you worked in the IT department at my work you would certainly agree.. but I am thankful for modern technology. I am so grateful for the ability to zoom, facetime and video chat. I find myself struggling with the need for human interaction. That is saying a lot because I can sometimes need time to decompress. I believe there is something to be said when something you normally take for granted is taken away. Modern technology has allowed our family to visit with family and friends. I have so enjoyed our Facetimes with my grandparents and parents. Of course, I would prefer to HUG them in a big way. If anyone finds a deal of hazmat suit, I am in the market.

I am also thankful to be able to explore adventures in cooking together as a family. The kids and I took advantage of Hello Fresh meals and were able to make gourmet meals together. This opportunity allowed Brogan to find a love for cooking that I dare to say, he probably would not have otherwise found. We also purchased a pellet smoker that has completely wrecked our dining world. Um, all I can say is get yourself one and your stomach will certainly thank you for it. I am grateful for the ability to see personalities show through when we cooked together. Kinsley naturally as a the first born, led. Brody liked the technical aspects of cooking but not necessarily the cooking itself. Our resident other 40 year old, Brody, who lives in a world that is very black (he does not understand his twin Brogan who is 100% living in the gray) made us follow the directions line by line on the recipe cards. The conversation was nothing short of priceless.

Another big one for me is simply TIME, no not the magazine. For example, my commute in the office was approximately an hour plus depending on traffic one way. Now days, I roll out of bed read my devotional and Bible and find one of the greats to tune in to. You know, like Louie Giglio, Jack Hibbs and some guy named Bo Gerken. I have found myself turning to the Word, worship music and speakers of the Word more and more. I have found myself reading my Bible and researching online classes to grow my knowledge base. This is a good problem to have. I am without a doubt grateful for the TIME to be able to focus and dig deeper. I have been able to focus on writing for my blog and book. There is so much peace that comes from expelling my thoughts into written word. Peace and contentment are attributes that I have been able to find a lot easier these days. I am finding who I am through my relationship with Jesus. There is so much FREEDOM to be had with growing your relationship with Christ.

I turned the big 4-0 this November. I was seriously struggling with this number. I also randomly struggled with 26- not entirely sure why. I am a bit quirky I guess. I am about twenty days into 40 and I am learning that I am proud of who I am. I cannot really say that about my 20’s or 30’s. I was constantly searching. I was searching so desperately for a relationship with the King of Kings. I did not know this then of course. I like who I am. I like who I have become. I am a perfectly imperfect mix of somewhere between an ample splash of hot mess meets a Jesus lovin’ Proverbs 31 gal, who fervently loves her family and friends and tells every dog in her path that she loves them- type of gal- otherwise known as quirky or even perhaps different. I am ok with that. I have no desire to be normal. I have reached a point in my life where I am living for Jesus not the world. I am flawed and I fail but I am not quitting, I AM PRESSING IN DEEPER. Join me!

I am grateful for church services and the ability to worship freely. At the end of the day, we all know how the story ends. I will be transparent in the fact that there have been times where I have struggled with hopeless and anxiety. For me, that is a trigger to dig deep. Some nights, I fall asleep while praying. Some nights, it is freezing cold or pouring down rain and I will stand outside and worship. I have to go outside because I was not blessed with a singing voice that sounds like angels-I might need to send apology cards to my neighbors. I am far from it. I also enjoy the alone time, just me, God, the stillness of living out in the country and with hands lifted I worship. You guys, I just know that I need God more than ever before. I need Him to be with me all day, every day.

I am thankful to belong to a family of believers who are focused on the hope that comes with having a personal relationship with Jesus. I am thankful for HIS grace and the Freedom that we can experience as a result of grace. I am thankful to be a part of something that words will never adequately describe. I am blown away by how believers come together in the face of a pandemic and pray collaboratively for a loved one. Words cannot begin to explain the gravity of what it feels like when Jesus enters the scene. Lives are being changed. God is not finished. He is moving and working behind the scenes. There is hope. I mean God knows you. He knows what you are going through. He knows your hurts. Press in. Be different.

Jesus, I come to you today with a grateful heart. I pray for our world. I pray for our country. I lift up those suffering. I am praying for healing. I am praying for believers to go viral with their faith. I am praying hearts, minds and relationships. Jesus, I am thankful for your unforgiving love and mercy. I will continue to lift you higher and bless your name during the storm and the times of prosperity. I pray that we enter the holiday season with grateful hearts and contentment and peace. Lord, we lay our burdens at your feet. In your loving name me pray. Amen.

This is the #givethanks song I am listening to while preparing for Thanksgiving.
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Election Day Prayers

Thank you snapchat for somewhat covering the glitter/ gray.

Since I was a child, my parents would always say not to engage others in politics. Well, sorry mom and dad, I did not heed that advice. As far as politics go, I have always been outspoken with regards to the candidates and the issues. Then 2020 hit and let’s be honest, people have lost their minds for sake of their political stance, myself included.  I have been thinking about this election like many of you for a very long time.  Some folks get excited about Halloween, not me! I get stoked about Election Day! I went to bed early last night to prep for a late night tonight and have my snacks and Black Rifle coffee ready for the late night ahead.  Election Day is my jam!

This year has been nothing short of outrageous. This year has presented so much division in this country over all things related to politics- i.e. wearing a mask, not wearing a mask and Trump versus Biden. People have been unfriended on social media platforms for voicing their opinions. Let me go ahead and emphasize the last word again…OPINIONS. You guys, everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions on issues. We should not condone a person for an opinion that differs from ours. Just keep on scrolling or walk away.

I will share that I vote based upon my Christian beliefs.  I am unapologetically Christian and that is reflected in my voting history.  When the voting is done and the decisions are rendered, I will continue to put my trust and my faith in Jesus not the human(s) elected to office. I am not putting Biden or Trump in the driver’s seat, it will continue to be Jesus who is in charge of the wheel.

I have been leaning on 1 John 2:6, “The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.” That is a big, bold statement, but man it’s good, so good. It has changed my stance on how I will handle myself during this election. I am choosing to Speak Life. Our family, friends and the communities are hurting. So instead of arguing over who should be President, let’s walk how Jesus walked.  Let’s do for others.  Let’s speak life over others. Let’s be a part of the solution, not the problem.

I would encourage you all to be an informed voter. Research, research, research. Before I put my support behind something, I do my research. If that candidate or organization does not align with my Christian belief system then I simply do not back that candidate or organization. I cannot emphasize enough, do your research. I have a spreadsheet that I fill out regarding the candidates from President to local offices. Please see above regarding the nerd comment.  I told you I geek out.

For the first time today, I am praying for all candidates and elected officials. So, let’s get real and biblical here; Trump and Biden were created by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. God created both these candidates. I know what you are thinking, has this girl ever picked up a Bible, of course God created both candidates. I was researching this election for my spreadsheet and I had an “ah ha” moment that shook me to my core. You guys, I realized that I had been reducing the other candidate to a point where they seem so vile that they were less than human. Gosh, that was a hard statement to swallow. Unfortunately, I do not think I am the only person to fall down this path of destruction. This revelation has truly changed the way I speak about the candidates and reaffirms that I am pressing into my faith not the outcome of who wins the election. Afterall, I do not remember Jesus saying to only pray for the candidates you support. You guys, our country needs healing. We need to see a movement of Christians hitting their knees and praying like never before. So, I invite you to join me in prayer for all the candidates today. Yes, all the candidates, not just yours. Then tomorrow let’s band together as a group of believers and pray for those who have been elected into office. Let’s stop the division in this country and come together as a community who prays together.

1 Timothy 2:1 ESV,  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanskgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  Press into this verse today, sweet friends. I know there is uncertainty around us but through Jesus our hearts find sweet, sweet FREEDOM.

Lord, I pray for this election cycle. I am lifting and surrounding each and every candidate and their families in prayer, Lord I cannot imagine the stress and turmoil that an election can cause to a family but I know you can provide much needed peace and comfort in these times. I pray for peace no matter the outcome of this election. I pray for healing. I pray for division to end and unity to spark across this country. I pray for healing of hearts. I pray that as a community we come together in your name and get in the habit of building each other up. I pray that kindness replace hate. I pray that in all things, you get the glory you so deserve. It is in your mighty name I pray, Amen.

Until next time, keep pressing in and encouraging others.

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Back To School, Baptism, Chaos and Fall Y’all

My kids have been back to school for over a week now. They are happy to be back at school. They are not fond of wearing masks pretty much all day but they are adjusting. They are grateful to see their friends and to simply be kids. I am grateful as well. We are creatures of habit and it is nice to have a set schedule rather than the living in limbo like we have all been doing since March. I have noticed my heart was heavy in the last couple of months. I slipped into a deep hole. I let the craziness of 2020 get the best of me. I lost who I was and what I stand for. The truth of the situation is…I saw myself headed down this path. I allowed outwardly circumstances to control me- including my thoughts. I quit working on my book that I was so excited about. My husband and kids did not get the best side of me. I was more than overwhelmed with a situation that I could not control. I have said it once, I will say it again…I just want to see and hug my loved ones.

You guys, COVID sucks, like in the most basic non-political stance ever…it has created mass chaos in it’s wake. I have grandparents, parents, siblings and nieces and nephews that I just want to see and hug! I want to celebrate my daughter’s fifteenth birthday that was in APRIL! I want to walk in a building without a mask. I want to see a person smiling as they walk by not lose their mind because a breach in a six foot space has been infiltrated. I want people to simply show common decency towards others. I prefer to not see folks lose their minds over hoarding thirteen packages of toliet paper. I would prefer to see Americans supporting Americans regardless of political view or socio-economic status. For Pete’s sake, something has to give. This should not be first time news, BUT… YOU can disagree with another’s opinion without blaring profanities and falling short of waging civil war against the other person. It is ok to have a differing opinion. It is healthy to have different opinions.

I am the proud aunt of a police officer and you better believe that this amazing young man is prayed for on the daily in this house. My nephew is serving others day in and out. He works hard in good times and in bad to ensure the safety of those who has taken an oath to serve and protect. For those who do not believe in backing the blue, when trouble comes calling and it quite possibly will at some point and time, who will be on the receiving in of your first call? Truly serving others is certainly something that we as humans need to get in the business of doing. And let me me go ahead and clear up any misinformation, are there bad cops? Yep, but there are also bad doctors, teachers, truck drivers- you can seriously fill in the blank with any profession you can think of.

Let’s get more in the business of supporting and loving on each other rather than putting others down. I can be as guilty as the next person with the comparison shame game. It is something that I need to work on. I, personally need to press in to loving on others more.

Did you see my note above about a book? I am so stinking excited about this amazing opportunity. Writing has always been my greatest outlet. This book is my heart from cover to cover. I have been drafting and editting over the last couple of months. I am closing in on my deadline to get something to my publisher. If you could see the pages they would show my tears, my smile, my heart. Stay tuned for upcoming information!

Updates: Brody got baptized (see pic below)! We have 5 baby kittens. They are pretty stinking cute and I am NOT a cat person at all. Twins are in middle school. Brogan is enjoying running cross country. We are excited to attend his first meet this Thursday. Kinsley is planning on trying out for the school play that is a movie now thanks to COVID. We are about to get started on home repairs thanks to some substantial storm damage from the Summer. I will post pics of our progress. That’s it for now. Stay safe, be humble and exhibit kindness to others.

As I am writing this, I am on a journey to put God first and others second and myself last.

The greatest season is right around the corner. I love Fall. I love pumpkin spice, boots, falling leaves and cool mornings with a cup of coffee.

Hugs,

Tara

Brody got baptized! I am so proud of this guy! He loves Jesus but crowds not so much. He is not one who wants to be the center of attention so this has been a long time coming!
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It’s FINALLY Pumpkin Spice Season!
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Proverbs Bible Study

Spending some time in Proverbs with one of my favorite girls.

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A Simple Kansas Sunset

Psalm 113:3
“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!”

I snapped this picture the other night. I thought the sky and sunset was breathtaking. The picture is a good iPhone quality pic but in real life, wow! I get caught up in being a taxi, a chef, and a maid that sometimes I forget to stop and reflect on the pure beauty of God’s amazing handiwork. I love a good Kansas sunset. This picture has reminded me to slow down and enjoy God’s blessings in my life. Like any other mama I have a to do list that is continually growing. I am ensuring that I make relaxation and reflection a priority so I can give others the very best version of me I have to offer. You guys God is so Good! My family is exploding! My heart is full. My sweet, simple life is bringing such joy!

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A Little Update…

Hey sweet friends! I just wanted to provide a little update to keep in touch with family and friends while we are still under stay at home orders. I am still trying to balance work, household duties and helping the kiddos with their schoolwork. Some days are quite great. Some days I retreat to my closet and eat an entire batch of homemade lemon cookies and I do not even feel guilty! No shame here. I own that, those cookies were the bomb. I think one of our less than finer moments was when I was on a negotiation call for work with outside counsel and my darling twins decided it was a good time to play their trumpet and trombone in the very next room. Let me tell you they got their physical activity in after that. I guess it was a good thing it was not a video chat. That brings me to video chats. Some days, I have to position that camera down or just not have it on at all. I am sure we have all saw the meme with Scarlet O’Hara circling around Facebook that says, “Controlling my tongue is no problem. It is my face that needs deliverance.” This is what I really need to work on.

I just enjoyed an amazing spa experience which now consists of a Vitamin C Epsom salt bath that is uninterrupted and followed by me plucking “glittery looking” hair from atop my head while donning a charcoal face mask. Self care, am I right? Speaking of self-care I have enjoyed drinking coffee with coconut creamer while reading my Bible. I am loving our Real Women of LP Bible Studies in the mornings. I love these women. It is a wonderful way to connect and stay plugged in with the LP gal pals. What else, what else.. I have watched The Office like a million times. I love that show and can seriously watch it over and over. We have had several karaoke and dance parties. We started a daily routine with the kids to learn something new from a youtube video. I have learned about Iroquois Indians, volcanoes, cenote’s in Mexico, hours of #replays of Auburn Softball games, who is the best draft pick from the Chiefs, the Trail of Tears, and how my kids are desperately ready for another beach vacation. We have instilled morning Bible Study together and how it is important to also have time alone with God. We made homemade dog treats- that all our pups LOVED! We also celebrated Kinsley turning 15! We are excited to celebrate once it is safe.

And…now what you all have been waiting for… Tara’s Bacon Chicken Pesto Cavatappi

I grilled a couple chicken tenderloins. Once the chicken was close to being done I added a couple slices of applewood bacon (allergic to hickory). In a separate pan, while the chicken and bacon were cooking, I added a jar of Barilla pesto and a small container of heavy whipping cream to a sauce pan with bit of garlic. I LOVE garlic. I have the squeeze garlic and just used a small amount. I sliced the chicken and the bacon and added the chicken and bacon to the pesto and whipping cream mixture. I cooked the cavatappi noodles. I added a small amount of sliced cherry tomatoes to the sauce. I also added mushrooms. I continually stirred the sauce as it thickened. Drained the cavatappi pasta and mixed the pasta in with the sauce. Ready to serve. So yummy! Enjoy!

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A Time For Pause

I have been praying for time to slow down. I have been complaining about how crazy our lives are.  Interesting fact, guess who sets said crazy schedules?  Ya, uh huh that would be the one complaining.  I know that my heart needed more time at home with my family. I needed time together versus a quick hello in passing. I needed a break from Keith and the boys running one direction and Kinsley and I another. I felt I was fighting for time with my OWN family. I WAS fighting for my family. I honestly did not want to contend with sports anymore. AND WE ALL KNOW I LOVE SPORTS, sometimes a little too loudly.  But here’s a simple and very true fact, I love my family more and we are living on borrowed time together. I did not really know how completely out of sync we had drifted until we were under stay at home orders.  My daughter is missing her first year of high school softball.  She has looked forward to this day for many years.  We discussed her disappointment, but we also spoke of the Senior that does not get another opportunity to play sports in high school. We talked about it being ok to be disappointed but not ok to live in that disappointment.  Same with my twins who are 5th grade.  They looked forward to having their farewell to elementary school. We will celebrate once the storm is over.

We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 epidemic is real and it is challenging our way of life. Actually, in our home, quite honestly, a way of life that I hope I never get back to. This pandemic has altered the way I look at life. Do not get me wrong, I know this is a serious issue that we are faced with.  I am relishing in the fact that my kids are getting a Christian focused education because we are creating an environment that begins with Faith and then school and work.  In a world that is surrounded by chaos and negativity, I have hope. I have been leaning on Romans 5, especially verses 1-5. “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Honestly, I cannot imagine not having hope, especially given the current climate that is thrown at us on a daily basis.  I would love a newscast that was not surrounded by negativity.  I check the weather on my phone and that is where I get the local weather scoop.  It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity.  It was Zig Ziglar who said, “I read the paper every day and the Bible every day; that way I know what both sides are up to.”

The enemy has a way of attacking us where we are most vulnerable. Relationships, family, finances, and self-worth are just a few examples. Personally, I have been struggling with self-worth and the feeling that I am not enough. I am not enough as a wife, mother, employee and now distance education specialist (aka home ipad education patrol) and friend. I have had legitimate fears that I will fail my children, my husband, my employer, my friends and myself.  The fear of not being enough has really come to life in these last few weeks.  In the last couple of weeks, I have called out to God more times that I can count. I have prayed to the point of falling asleep, also more times than I can count.  Sisters, we are all in this together.  We need to press into God through these challenges and lean on his Word. We need to take things one day at a time and allow for a whole heaping of grace.  At our house, when I am struggling, I start talking to God out loud.  I want my kids to know that this is how I handle my struggles.  I take them to the one who can handle them much better than I can.  Each morning after spending time in scripture, worshipping and praying I am better equipped to handle my days.  Somedays I put on my headphones and crank up some worship music to power through the day. Seriously, I needed to adjust my unrealistic expectations of what our days would look like.  Day 1 was full of tears, jeers and fears!  The struggle was real.  The students were dancing awfully close to be expelled and the self-appointed Assistant to the Assistant Principal was about to get a boom box and blare some jams to commiserate the resigning of her self-appointed new job after 23 minutes on the job!  After googling if boarding schools are still open, we decided we need to amend our schedules and expectations.  Sometimes you just need to crank up the volume and DaNcE it out.  One of our family’s favorites is Grace Got You by MercyMe. Try to listen to that song and not move.  IMPOSSIBLE!   We usually follow it up with some NKOTB (for those of you who do not know New Kids on the Block.)

Reach out to your squad.  You know, the gals that we can cry to and with after an exhausting day of picking up Goldfish, re-washing clothes and trying to keep everyone on task with schoolwork.  These sweet sisters know the value of an encouraging call or text, dropping by a latte or your favorite sweet treat.  Pray with them and certainly pray for them.  I would encourage you to #SpeakLife with and into the members of your #squad.  Just make sure ya’ gals are practicing social distancing. Also lean into praying Psalm 91 over your family and friends. 

I can tell you the most amazing thing happens when you praise God during your storms.  Losing my grandpa Keith was one of the most difficult times for me.  It is hard to lose someone who is so larger than life.  This man meant so much to so many.  He had a such a heart for helping others and loved attending Mass at St. Therese.  I always loved how he would get dressed up for church and he was the SMARTEST Trivia Pursuit player- I am sure he sent several letters to their headquarters to inform them their answers were wrong.  I fondly remember him singing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY! I am pretty sure he and I were both skipped when musical talents were handed down. When he passed, my heart broke.  I had put this man on a pedestal.  His love and approval meant so much.  My heart needed peace.  I dove into my Bible and I remember praying 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion and all God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  God’s amazing grace was everywhere.  After my grandpa passed away, my mom and sister attended church with my family.  I remember hearing Kristian sing HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!  You guys!  My heart!  I remember looking at my mom, sister and Keith and just smiling with tears of joy.  We all knew the significance of this song and it is what our little hearts needed at that moment. So press in girls!  Press in when times are good and you are dancing a top that mountain and press in when you are in eye of the storm.  God’s got this.  He will not forsake you and I hear he is a proponent of carrying the one!  See what I did there?!  You know, I could not help myself.  Girls give yourselves an abundance of grace.  Below are two verses that have been on my heart lately.  Hang in there and keep hope alive!

Isaiah 26:20 “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you.  Hide yourselves a little while until the wrath has passed.”

Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

Lots of love, virtual hugs and prayers headed your way!

Tara

My Battle Plans…
This is how I feel since we started distance learning from home.
Jordy Nelson Beattie. This is why he is not allowed to go to the pond when someone is fishing. He’s the problem.
Ignore the window sill that need a paint job. Sweet Chloe girl.

I had an elaborate Christmas planned. I would WRAP the kids gifts in the most adorable Buffalo Plaid Christmas paper. Everything would follow this elaborate Buffalo plaid meets Farmhouse Christmas and it would be GLORIOUS! In my head it was nothing short of AMAZING! In reality, I bagged more gifts than I wrapped, I did use Buffalo plaid paper and very random bags. The “bottom” of all the wrapped gifts looked like someone, probably a five year, crumbled the paper together and secured the paper with an enormous amount of tape. Yep, that was me. I wrap like a five year old in a hurry. I did have everything wrapped or bagged on the evening of December 23rd, ya’ll! Normally, I am a zombie of a person running around like crazy in to the wee hours of Christmas morning getting all the gifts wrapped! Not this year! And I only misplaced/forgot one gift this year. So, in honor of hot mess moms everywhere, I am putting this in the win column. Regardless, we had an amazing Christmas. We were healthy for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were able to enjoy a getaway to Branson for Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family. Our church had a lovely Christmas Eve service. We were able to venture to Branson to the Sight and Sound Theatre and see The Miracle of Christmas. We welcomed Chloe dog to the family. This sweet pup has my heart. I love her so much. She has grown so much too! The kids were busy with flag football, baseball, softball and basketball. We enjoyed cheering them on. Kinsley entered her first year of high school! What!? The boys are enjoying their last year of elementary school, including their last elementary Christmas program. 2019: We won and lost, we danced, we laughed and cried. We went to a Chris Tomlin concert. We paid a TON of in gate fees for well over 70 games. We made 2019 a year to remember. We are excited for 2020 as a family. I hope we enjoy a year full of memories and new experiences. I am also hopeful to find new ways of loving and serving others.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2020! Hugs, Tara

Worship

I grew up attending the Catholic church.  I loved my little hometown church.  I love the people that made up this church.  I loved our priest.  He was not your typical Catholic priest.  He was an older gentleman who wore leather pants and drove a Harley.  He had a zest for life and deep love for Christ.  Attending Catholic Mass was what I knew and I have never been one for change unless I initiate it.    

As someone who grew up Catholic, I never understood how people worshipped with their hands raised and danced in the aisles.  I call these folks the “front row Hallelujah sisters.”  The raising of hands was so foreign to me.  I grew up attending service that was extremely regimented.  I loved the structure of it all.  I knew what to expect and I liked that. 

My life began to take a turn that I did not see coming when we started attending our current church.  I love our church.  It is a church family based on a relationship with Christ not a membership to the church.  I felt a calling to re-dedicate my life to Christ.  I felt myself growing closer and closer to God.  Little did I know, my life was about to be forever changed. 

I am not a singer.  I honestly cannot carry a tune.  I would mouth the words but did not really vest my time into worship.  I tolerated the singing to get to the message, you know the real reason you come to church- so I thought. I will be extremely vulnerable and honest and say that I had a stirring to raise my hands long before I ever did.  I knew God was telling me to re-dedicate my life to him through baptism. but raising my hands… nope not happening- I will fight you on this one.  I full-heartedly believe that was the Holy Spirit trying to grab ahold of me and I resisted.  I was embarrassed to be considered a Hallelujah sister, I thought these gals would have shouted hallelujah at about anything. Honestly, I kept thinking about the Mississippi Squirrel Revival and at that point that was the ONLY way this girl would raise her hands at church.  

A few years later (yes years, I am a little head strong), I went to Desperation, a youth conference with Kinsley in 2018.  I went with the purpose of getting Kinsley from Kansas to Colorado to Wichita for a softball tournament.  I was not expecting this to be a life changing event.  I was not planning on experiencing an “ah ha moment.”  While at Desperation, I was surrounded by thousands of teenagers who were on fire for God.  One of those teenagers was Kinsley.  It was almost like I was on the outside looking in.  Kinsley is one of those kids that is on fire for God.  I never really witnessed her worshipping.  I was humbled and blown away.  This girl worships like it is just her and God alone in a room.  She is all in no doubt about it.  I remember just being overwhelmed with emotion watching her.  I started crying and could not stop it.  Deep down I knew this was the blockage to a more meaningful and deep relationship with God.  My hands went up and my heart opened up to God like never before. 

Throughout the Bible, we hear of characters “worshipping.”  Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”  Worship and prayer go hand in hand.  Psalm 29:2 2 shares, “A scribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” 

I wish I would have had a better relationship with God when my grandma JoAnn passed away, when our twins were born and when Brody broke his femur.  In each of these moments, I needed that relationship with God.  I needed those assurances.  I needed that peace that comes with having a strong foundation in Christ.  Instead, I had wavering faith.  I carried the weight of the world on shoulders that could not endure that type of burden.  Even when I was not engaged with Christ how I should have been…HE was still there.  He brought our family Kinsley when we lost my grandma.  He knew we needed a gentle soul to mend our broken hearts.  Sometimes I am blown away by their similarities- like crying on cue and having this amazing heart filled with love for kids at St. Jude’s.  God was also with us in the NICU.  He loved on us when we were treading on new paths.  He was most certainly there with us when Brody broke his femur.  He comforted our son when he should have been in horrific pain.  He calmed our heart as we raced to the emergency room to get Brody the care he needed.  When I was not present….He has ALWAYS been PRESENT.    

I am not on the front row, but yes, I am a hallelujah sister work-in-progress.  Let me tell you, raising my hands and truly worshipping God has transformed my faith journey.  I have a deeper personal relationship with Christ that entails worshipping, praying and daily conversations with God.  I start my day with worship music.  I clean the house to worship music.  I fight my best battles with Biblical scriptures, worship music and prayer.  Especially the song below.  I will praise his name through the storms, enemies and unbelief.  I believe in the hope that comes with being a believer.  I don’t think that means all my prayers will be answered in the manner I want them answered.  It means that I coming to God with my concerns and I rely on him and him alone.  He can handle my burdens.  I am simply am not equipped as a human being to handle such things.  I am able to find peace knowing that I stand firm in God’s presence and the plans he has for me. 

Hugs, Tara

“Raise A Hallelujah”

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, Heaven comes to fight for me

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder)
Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder)
Sing a little louder (Sing a little louder)
Let’s sing a little louder (Let’s sing a little louder)
Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies)
Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief)
Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody)
Sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me)
Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies)
Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief)
Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody)
Let’s sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me)
Sing a little louder!!

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!
Oh, I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah!

Just begin to raise your own hallelujah
I can’t do it for you
There’s a song written on your heart only you can sing
And when you sing enemies flee
When you sing prison walls come falling down
When you sing Heaven invades the earth
So just begin to lift up your hallelujah
Raise it like a banner
Raise it like a flag
Raise it in the middle of the storm
Let it rise, let it rise
Like a symphony to the King
Everything to You, Jesus
We raise it all
Sing a little louder!!

I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah
I raise a hallelujah (In the presence of my enemies)
I raise a hallelujah (Louder than the unbelief)
I raise a hallelujah (My weapon is a melody)
I raise a hallelujah (Heaven comes to fight for me)

Reality vs. Social Media Presence

Slippers

Over the last week, I have observed posts on Facebook.  I have acknowledged how people tend to manipulate real life to fit their version of their Facebook life.  I’ll be honest I have been guilty of doing just the same.  You know what I am talking about.  When pictures are staged to show only the best side of what life has to offer- the house tidied and decorated to the nines, the kids looking like tiny runway models.  I believe this puts out a distorted view of reality vs. Fakebook.  You saw that right, Fakebook.  So many people live their lives for the next picture or post for social media, but only the ones where everything is shiny and perfect.  Let’s be real, like really real.  Here is some real life straight from my home to yours, today, my kids had late start.  Late start means school starts at 9:00 instead of 8:00.  I enjoy this extra time to do some much needed laundry and read my Bible and devotionals.  Today, I had noble plans of making a gourmet(ish) breakfast, getting the kids up early and spending some quality time with them.   Well, the reality is, I apparently hit the alarm off button on my phone instead of snooze and woke up at 8:49 a.m. 8:49!  What?!  One thing to note is we live approximately 20 minutes (15.5 ACTUAL miles) from the boys’ school.  I tugged on my Christmas moose or is it reindeer slippers (girl, who actually cares, they were literally $0.75 at Satan’s playground/ Wal Mart, but again, I digress) for shoes and screamed like a banshee for the kids to get ready.  Not my finest moment by far.  Wait, let’s add insult to injury, today is only Wednesday and I hate to admit it, but it is a repeat of Tuesday- alarm and all.  Yesterday and today were reflections of real life.  Have I shared this on Facebook?  Not yet, but I will. 

I am not here to bash on social media.  It actually can be very useful when properly used.  I think the point that needs to be driven home is “when properly used.”  I have recently unfollowed some of my Facebook friends because of their very misrepresented life on Facebook.  I also have taken note of who I am truly friends with.  I have no interest in helping someone reach a higher “friend count” on Facebook.  Let’s be real and not paint a twisted view of what your life is actually like.  Y’all, life is messy.  Sometimes it is really messy.  My thoughts are: let them take the picture, whether the silver stands are shining through or not.  I think some of the best memories are made in the messy.  I definitely do not want to indulge in the façade of living reality one way and putting something completely different on Facebook.  I want to ensure that my social media posts are truly reflective of who I really am.  I am imperfectly perfect.  I am His.  My life is messy, stressful and chaotic, but in all this there is sheer bliss and beauty.  You know, the sunset that you cannot look away from, when your sweet dog Chloe runs to see you after a long day and that super awesome dreamy moment as a family when you are all together and giggles fill the room.  Those are my moments.  I long for those moments in chaos.  I share on social media the messy.  I know that the mess and chaotic are what other mamas are enduring too.  We should not shy from who we really are.  I challenge us all to walk in the real life vs. your perfect social media presence.  WE are struggling together.  And if you got it all together, then God bless you, you precious little thing.   

I could not help but think of this Bible version in Ephesians 5:8 “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” 

Until Next Time…

Hugs,

Tara

Debunking the Perfection Myth

Placeholder Image

I always wanted everything to be perfect.  I had a distorted Disney view of perfect.  You know the one, where everyone lives happily ever after and everything looks like it is straight out of a magazine cover.  I remember being a young girl dreaming of this picture perfect life, white picket fence and all.  Well…I am calling crap on the whole ideal of PERFECTIONISM.  I have a great life.  I have been searching for “perfection” in almost everything under the sun.  I wanted the perfect wedding.  Nope.  Not perfect.  The unity candle melted in the trunk of my car for crying out loud!  I am pretty sure wages were made as to whether or not my dress would fit me (cause it did not three weeks before the big day and I refused to try it back on before my wedding day.)  Not sure what I was trying to prove there.  I expected the perfect balance as a working mom and wife.  Still working on that one.  Y’all I expected my kids to be these diligent little people who always had it together and ACTUALLY would want to keep their rooms clean.  Uh ya, not so much.  I set completely unrealistic expectations for family and myself.  I held us to a standard that we can never achieve.  We are fallible.  We are human.

It is only in recent months, that I have finally learned a hard lesson.  We do not find ourselves through perfection, we find it through our Faith in Jesus.  I mean, let’s be real here, the only “perfect human” to walk this Earth is Jesus.  And last I checked he still owned the only title of “perfection.”

Life is messy.  The cars and house do not self clean, but man if they did!  Kids are humans. they are going to lose it from time to time or basically everyday.  You are going to charbroil cinnamon rolls.  Your husband is going to fail you.  Bottom line is our contentment does not come from people, Hobby Lobby (I do love some Hobby Lobby, but I digress.)  Our peace comes from our faith and a personal relationship with God.

I was not putting God first.  I was trapped in that circle of putting the world first. For a long time, I searched for perfection in my home, my children, my husband, or my job.   I was certainly not finding contentment through a relationship with God. I wanted perfection in worldly things.

I am no longer searching for the perfect in everyone and everything.  Let’s be honest, my house is LIVED IN.  On any given day, my house is somewhere between Better Homes and Gardens and an episode of Hoarders.  My kids like to keep everything like their dad, including packages things come in.

What have I learned from all this?  I have learned that I need to press into Christ more and the ways of the world less.  This is tough.  Everyday I am struggling.  I am perfectly imperfect.  Some days I am a straight up hot mess.  You know what?  That is just fine with me because I am HIS mess.  He knows I am flawed and I know that I am flawed too.  Sisters, we need to love on each other and encourage one another.  We need to join forces as a strong tribe of women who are there for each other through the storms of life, and there will be storms, but hopefully the storm of perfectionism is no longer one of those storms.

Until Next Time…

Hugs,
Tara
Philippians 3:12 
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Let’s Chat About Being Equipped to Serve

“King of the World” by Natalie Grant has been a song that has been on my heart lately. In this song, the lyrics depict how we can downplay the over-arching presence of God in our daily lives. In the past, I have been guilty of being a convenience Christian. A convenience Christian is something I totally made up, but I think it is relevant name for the situation. I would put God in a box and only open the box when it was convenient for me…hence a convenience Christian. This song is currently my go to song, especially during the trying times that 2020 has presented. You guys, I have been watching/stalking the prices of counter fake hazmat suits because I just want to hug my grandparents. My heart is struggling with the loss of person to person interaction. I need human interaction and I certainly want more than Facetime with these two. During this season of life, I felt myself needing to reflect on how God is always there. This song brings my heart the reassurance I so desperately seek from Jesus. 

In the past, I have been guilty of using “religion” and “faith” when it was convenient for me.  I cannot count the times I have played it “safe” in my Christian walk. I have fought with God. I ran from God. Sad truth, I felt led to raise my hands in worship at least a year before I finally let God completely in and raised my hands. Note: the strong-willed child in my home may be a little like his mom… I finally let myself fully grasp what worshipping God really meant. I also resisted the calling I knew that God put on my heart because I let fear control that situation. Sweet friends, listen up and listen well!  Fear is a debilitating disorder that immobilizes us and has such a strong hold on us. I had such a fear of failing that it kept me from what doing what I love and what God has gifted me to do. Fear created so much havoc that I ran from God and from my gifting. Picture this, a gal who loves sweet tea, apple cider donuts (by the bag not necessarily per donut, which might a problem, but let’s save that for another post) who wears leopard print Bob’s basically everyday trying to outrun God.  Oh, and if you do not know what Bob’s are, let’s grab some latte’s and chat- because they are life changing and support a good cause.  You guys silliness aside, I thought I could actually outrun what the King of Kings had set out for me. There is a whole lot wrong with that sentence- both grammatically and spiritually.  Well, let me tell you all a little secret, fear is the biggest liar I know. I fight the enemy’s lies with spiritual warfare. I crank up the worship music and praise the King of Kings. Also, I seek scripture to dispel the lies of the enemy and I pray with a thankful heart. Let’s band together as believers and fight the lies of the enemy with truth from the One who has already won the battle. Spoiler alter, we know the ending of the story and it is good.

I have always loved to write.  I started writing short stories at a young age and continued this love throughout high school.  When it came time for college, I fell victim to fear and did not pursue my calling. I chose the legal path, reviewing and negotiating contracts.  Not a bad gig by no means.  Once I began pursuing a relationship with God, I began to feel the nudge to begin writing again. And one day, I dove in head-first. I would have never imagined that I would be writing about Jesus and my faith but here I am. I am equipped by the One who personally knows me and knows my heart. I know when I write not everything is grammatically correct and I am ok with that.  I write in the same manner as I speak and that works for me. God has equipped me to reach people through written word.

There is no calling that He puts on you that is too small.  Whether it is serving in Children’s Church, being part of the clean-up crew, being a prayer warrior or using your vocal talents on the worship team, God has placed these giftings within to serve others. I would use this comparison, there is a reason a baseball/ softball team has nine positions. Each position could not stand alone but all nine together create the opportunity for success.  

In order to truly be able to serve God in the capacity that he wants us to we need to have a teachable spirit.  A spirit willing to grow in relationship with Christ.  This is the sign of a maturing Christian. 

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

If God calls you to serve, he will equip you in the capacity needed to serve. You have to be ready to receive that calling. Friends, do not waste your time fighting His calling on you.  Another spoiler alert, he will win. He will lead and equip those called. Let’s break it down. I mean picture this: a baby, named Moses, is placed in a reed basket and sent down the Nile River in attempt by the mother to save his life. This same baby becomes the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter and enters an esteemed life.  God calls the same man, Moses to lead thousands out of Egypt. Moses says to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not an eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” God then states to Moses, “who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say. God is saying to Moses, come on now fella get it together.  I am calling you to be my servant and I will equip you for task at hand. In Hebrews 13:21, Jesus says, that he will equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” It is literally that simple. Jesus will equip the called.  What does Jesus do for Moses? He uses Moses’ brother Aaron to speak through him.

You guys! His plan is so good. He is a Good Father. He works all things for His good. We simply need to get in the habit of listening. Seek Him in scripture. Give Thanks and truly allow yourself to give in and experience praise and worship. You will not regret it.

I will leave you with one of my favorite scriptures on equipping the called from 1 Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Until next time LP, keep pressing in and encouraging others!

https://livingproofchurch.net/

https://www.facebook.com/livingproofpaola/

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He is the King of My World

I have been reflecting on the song, “King of the World” by Natalie Grant. This song is my faith story. For so many years, I put God and my faith in a box. I kept this box tightly shut and opened it only when I absolutely needed to. These days, that box is never shut. I openly live out my faith and my strong belief and need for God everyday, unapologetically. There is a link to this song below, check it out!

I have learned the struggle of learning to grow in my faith. I have struggled with praising God during the valleys. It is easy to praise God during the peaks. It is not easy to praise during our storms. It is hard. It is really hard. But, you guys, it is growth when you reach a point where you can praise and worship the King of Kings even when are in the middle of a storm. God never ensures that our Christian life will be easy and that we will not face challenges. He gives us him to lean on and press into the Word during those storms. Some of worst moments have been fought while still praising God and worshipping. Did I want to praise God in that moment, probably not at first, but I pressed in and knew that I needed God to fight my battles. I tried fighting my storms on my own and eh, not really working out for me.

My spiritual breakthrough happened when I let God lead and I quit caring what everyone else thinks. I quit leaning on the input from others and started seeking God. I no longer pushed my faith in a box. I am unapologetically Christian. I am led by God in my every day. I am human and I perfectly, imperfect but I am his hot mess and for his constant GRACE, I am so grateful!

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Update

Best views from my backyard

How are we already in October? Time is flying by. You guys! We had an amazing women’s event, the Dare To Be simulcast. It was what my heart needed. It was an amazing evening of worship and a great message. I did not realize how badly I needed a night to worship and praise the King of the World. I truly feel like I lost 20 pounds of worry and stress that was weighing me down. Sometimes you need a room full of women to encourage you and build you up. I am blessed to have some of the most encouraging and faithful friends standing by my side. What a blessing!

Um…how much do I love FALL! Oh, so much! My favorite season is fall. I love the changing of the leaves. I do not love Fall allergies. They are less than awesome for sure. I am not sure what it is with baled hay but I love it too. I love this open pasture. It is one of my favorite spots.

And here’s my sweet walking buddy. We have been walking each morning together. We love these amazing Fall mornings. I love time with this sweet girl. I am trying to make sure I get my 10,000 steps in each day. I am working hard to exercising more and making healthier food choices. It’s tough for this Kansas girl cause I love food, especially mashed potatoes and lots of gravy. Stay tuned for updates on this health quest. Oh gosh, I love Chloe girl!

Chloe girl during our morning walk.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 
Proverbs 3:5-6
This is the verse that I have really been reflecting on lately. I love taking a verse or two at a time and focusing on that verse.
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Get Your Life Together Girl

Sometimes I am a crappy friend. I forgot to respond in a timely fashion. I will see a text message flash across my phone. I will think, girl make sure you respond to this and then here we are three weeks later and I feel like a crappy friend. I will miss a call ad again mental note to return the call and here we are in the same situation as above. I promise I am not a bad friend. I can be a little scattered. I have thirteen, nope three kids. Which does not seem like much, but it is. I have to plan meals. The absolute bane in my existence…cooking. I mean can you really get tired of spaghetti? That answer is apparently yes! I would do well with a personal chef. Hence the reason we tried Hello Fresh so my darling kids could learn to appreciate cooking more than their mom. It worked twice out of ten attempts. Not knocking Hello Fresh it has expanded my cooking to a whole new level. I event prepared a gourmet meal. Holla! And it was darn good.

Ugh. Dishes. I hate doing dishes and I despise laundry. I mean let’s be honest, you will never be fully caught up with laundry…like EVER! However, I recently found a recipe for my favorite Campbell’s soup, Noodles and Ground. I enjoyed this little trip down memory lane last nigh. I am blown away. This recipe would have calmed a lot of pregnancy woes about 16 years ago. I sent poor Keith all over Kansas and Missouri searching for this soup. I went on a letter and email writing to Campbells begging for any remaining cans of this delicious goodness. I even asked for gently expired cans. What in the world is gently expired, Tara?

The last two days have been so amazing and fall-like and my heart is so full. I love Fall. I love the changing the leaves and pumpkin spice and apple cider. We are planning a virtual/ simulcast of the Dare To Be event at our church. I cannot wait to worship and press in with some new and old friends.

Our house had some major hail damage to the roof and the siding. We are excited to get started on that transformation. I am team white or light grey siding/ roof and a wraparound open concept Southern porch. Keith is team green metal roof and log siding. Please feel free to cast your votes if you are leaning towards team Farmhouse Tara…

I just wanted to share a quick update and send you all love and well wishes. Here are a few prayers that are on my mind: I know my Aunt Glenda is dealing with wildfires in Oregon she is on the verge of being evacuated. I pray for her safety. My cousin, Sarah is scheduled for a c-section this Friday to welcome her first little guy or gal. I leaning towards a little boy but praying for a healthy mom and baby. Sweet Lea and her family. This darling girl and her family have a special place in my heart. I am praying for Lea’s treatment and her medical team. I pray for the health and well being of this family. I pray for mom to be enough and to know that she is more than enough. I pray that she presses in to you and leans on you. I pray that dad presses in and seeks you. I pray for Lea’s sweet sisters. I pray that they know how amazing they are. I pray that you comfort and guide this family.

I come before you today God with a heart on fire for you. I am in awe of how amazing you are. I am thankful and grateful. God, I lift each and every person reading this up in prayer. I know that you and you alone know their worries, fears and troubles. Lord, I pray that they press in to you and seek you first. It is in your holy name I pray, Amen.

Tara

Self Care During Covid-19

This is more important now than ever. With the Covid-19 epidemic, lives have changed greatly. It is critical for moms to find some sort of normalcy during the current pandemic. But more importantly it is necessary for moms to take care of themselves so they can give their best to the other members of their family. These days self-care looks a little different than running to the local spa for a tune-up. We may squeeze in a bath at 10:30 at night when everyone has finally gone to bed. An amazing spa experience may look a little something like a Vitamin C Epsom salt bath that is uninterrupted paired with a 2 year old face mask to “cleanse” my pores, followed by me plucking “glittery looking” hair from atop my head. Seriously going to need to work on a part to cover the bald spot or perhaps I just need to wear a hat. Speaking of hats, I recently texted a friend and said I think I need you to talk me out of a good idea. Boxed hair dye. Response was, please don’t. Never a good idea. Girls- if I have one piece of advice it is to avoid dying your own hair. Many instances will turn out ok. However, some of us, me probably specifically, I literally have no idea what I am doing and it will cost more to correct it because I will end of with some weird variation of fire engine red while attempting to cover the gray that is shining through my normally brown hair.

Self-care is also opening your Bible and getting into your Word. Read your Bible while your face mask is blemishing those blemishes and is setting for approximately 10-15 minutes. Self-care is participating in online Bible studies. It can be holding yourself accountable with other women as your press into your relationship with God. I love that this pandemic has allowed so much growth in this area of my life. Take advantage of the time we have to really nurture this relationship. My prayer life is on fire and i am going to invest in this area of my life.

Not all days are five-star experiences, sometimes self-care looks like eating junk food in my closet. I do this frequently. The main thing is be flexible and find what works for you.

Oh Snap Chat, you created the greatest filter.
Matthew 11:28 - Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest
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