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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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