Monday, May 19, 2014

Run Brave. Run Strong.

Can I just share with y'all a little about how my jogging/work outs go down?

This is how it goes: 
Me: "Hey, Tim! I am gonna jog 24 miles today."
Tim: snort
Me: "WHAT? I can do that. I can run a long ways. It'll be great. It'll be invigorating"
Me: "Tim, where's the joggy iphone case? Where's my headphones. I cant find them. Maybe I shouldn't jog."
Tim hands them to me.
Me: "Oh, thanks. OK, i guess I could jog.... but it's kinda warm out there...."

30 minutes later:
Tim: "You better start on those twenty-four miles."
Me: "Well, 24 miles aren't good for my knees. Maybe I'll do 10. Or 2 miles. Yeah, 2 miles is great cardio."
Me: "OK, here I go. I need to get in at least a mile today. That'll work off those 8 pepperoni rolls, right?"
Me: "DON'T MAKE ME JOG! I CAN'T JOG! UGH IT'S SO HARD. OK fine. I'm going."

Then I head out the door in a panic but I shove that screaming voice down and I jog. 

Friends, what must it be like to me married to me??! This charade happens everyday.

Here's Tim's pre-jog dialogue:

Tim in a sing-song voice: "I'm going jogging today!! Oh I can't wait! I'm gonna do a half marathon for fun. Maybe I will skip a few miles of it! Oh boy! I feel so freeeeeeeeeeee when I run!"
Me: "shut. up."

So recently when Tim was very excited about jogging with a friend I barely paid any attention.

But one day as he geared up he said, "I'm going to meet Justin to jog. Be back soon!"

I stopped. I said, "Justin? our drummer, Justin?" 

Tim grinned ear-to-ear. "YEP! He wants to run a 5k and I am gonna help him. I will lead and he will hold on to me."

You see, Justin is completely blind. I've never once considered Justin incapable of accomplishing anything but jogging gave me pause. Not that he couldn't do it. But because it's SO HARD and that's when I can see where my every step will be.

I panic when someone turns the lights out on me. I have huge fears of breaking my toes on something. How did Justin find the courage to run in a race? on the sidewalks? on and off curbs? up and down inclines?? 

When Tim got back from jogging with Justin he said it was great and they'd be practicing alot to get ready for a 5k. Inwardly I marveled at Justin.

Then, they signed up for their very first 5k. They were going to run a 5k in the Aggie Mile Race.

I was excited. and nervous. 

This past Saturday they did it. Justin knocked down a limit many people would've placed on him. He paid no attention to others who said it couldn't be done.

They lined up at the starting line.
















I was there as the gun went off and Tim and Justin began running. I still just marveled at the courage and strength and bravery it took on Justin's part. 
I got into my air-conditioned, DVD equipped suburban and drove to the finish line. 'Cause yeah

I got to the finish line and waited. I was so anxious and nervous and excited. I was a hot mess. 

As they got close, I was waiting several hundred yards up from the finish line. I saw them round the corner and my heart jumped into my chest.






















Can I just say, that I am not a crier. I don't cry at sunsets. I don't cry at sappy love stories. I am just not a public crier. I have found myself OFTEN sitting between Aaron and Tim with both of them bawling their eyes out and I am just not. I look like I have a heart of stone, but I just don't cry in front of people very often.

There are a couple of exceptions. Since my dad died, I cry during worship. It's beyond my control. My gratefulness just streams out of my eyeballs for some reason.

And extreme generosity makes me cry. alot. (mom and ashley- never stop being generous but stop making me cry all the time.)

And I found a new exception.

When Justin and Tim rounded the corner and I raised my hands in the air and expected a shout of cheer or encouragement to come out, but instead a choking jumble of nonsense flew out of my mouth. I was shocked to find I was weeping.

I heard Tim as they passed me say to Justin, "We are almost there. We are almost home. 100 more yards. 70 more yards. We can do this. 50 more yards, Justin. I see the finish line. Almost home."

And then as I watched them, and was scream/choking out my cheers, I saw everything change. 

I saw me and Christ. I saw me, blind, not able to see where I was going, what I was doing, not knowing my next steps, not knowing the WHYs in life. 

Not knowing why my father died. Not knowing why my friend's baby died. 

Not knowing anything about where I am going or what I am doing. And I saw me clinging on to Christ and just fully and completely relying on Him to guide my steps.

I heard Christ tell me, "We are almost home, Tara. 100 more yards. 70 more yards. We are almost there."

Then I saw Tim and Justin approach and cross the finish line. And I heard the shouting and cheering. And I heard heaven. I heard the people of heaven cheering as we cross that finish line.

And I just lost it. 


































Later as we recapped and I continued to bawl like a baby all. day. long. Tim told me alittle about the run.

He told me he warned Justin that he'd probably hit a wall after a mile or so and want to walk. But Justin's goal was to NOT walk at all but to run the entire course. And Tim told him, "When we hit that wall, we are just gonna kick it down."

And Justin kicked it down. 

When he had finished the race I asked him, "Justin, did you like it??"

Justin said, "It was SO hard. and I want to do it again, and again, and again."

Those words will stay with me forever. 

Friends, this race we are running is hard. SO HARD. But we have Christ guiding our steps. We can trust Him. Cling to Him. Press into Him.

Run brave. Run Strong.

Here's a video Tim made of their run. Turn up the volume and watch it on full screen.



KBTX- our local news channel- covered Tim and Justin's story. Check it out here:

http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Man-Overcomes-Odds-to-Run-First-5k-259752501.html
Thanks Kessler for covering the story!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

There's One Called Stress-Away??! Yes, Please.

Many of you know that recently I have been researching essential oils. I wrote about my first experience here and that running vomit drills caused me to go out of my mind in search of a solution to stomach bugs.

As I researched this wild and, let's just call it what it is, hippyish world, I found out there was quite a trend forming. The more I learned, the more I saw that it was quite "trendy" and acceptable to use essential oils in everyday life to ward off illnesses, calm emotions (SIGN ME UP) and even regrow hair. I mean, you name an ailment, and there is an oil to address it. So as I researched and found out there were parties and facebook clubs dedicated to essential oils, my natural born rebellion reared it's precious little head.

Let me pause here to say that I might have a tiny rebellious streak a mile wide. To some of you this is not a news flash, but if you tell me "Oh, it's all the rage" or "everyone is doing it" then I always had one answer. "Then count me out."

I don't know why. I was born like this. You say "no", I dig my heels in and say "YES".

Never once did I hear my parents say, "If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you jump too??!"  Because they knew the answer I'd give them. "Oh? Everyone's doing it? Then hell no. I want no part."

I have always gone against the current. And when I heard that, "Everyone's into it" it really caused me to pause and grit my teeth and in pure desperation I still moved ahead. Because I WAS SO OVER THE VOMITING. If one more person in my house got sick I was moving out.

Against every fiber in my body I went to a Young Living Essential Oil party. I tried every way imaginable to come up with an alternative way to find out more about these oils but then the host of the party told me they were serving mimosas. Game over. I'm in. You had me at mimosa.

I went and learned ALOT. And now I am sold. Hook, line and sinker I am an Essential Oil Hippy. Don't get an illness around me or I'm slathering you in an oil. Sneeze or look cross-eyed at me and I'm whipping out the oils. I KID YOU NOT. And friends, you must know, I am a cynical, doubting, painfully sarcastic, oh-yeah-prove-it kind of girl.

When I started with the oils, I started with just a couple and put them to the test.

I put the oils on the boys and they haven't been sick since we started using them. PEOPLE, WE ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A MIRACLE HERE.

If that doesn't convince you then you don't realize how constantly everyone was sick up in my house because apparently they were licking each other's faces all the time.

But I hesitated to put the oils on my daughter because she is tiny. She's little and she's underweight. She was a failure-to-thrive baby and has always struggled with health issues and especially bladder problems. The very first time I put Thieves Essential Oil on her, her bladder issues began to resolve.

I was shocked.

So I ordered more and read everything I could get my hands on. I am convinced. I partly think it's due to God's meticulous, beautiful design in this world and I partly think we've over-used antibiotics and our bodies are no longer responding the same to western drugs. I believe these oils are working where chemicals and drugs are failing due to "super bugs" and over use.

If you are interested in giving them a try I wanted to make it a little easier for you. At first it can be overwhelming but if you wanted to try, I have some thoughts.

You can jump in and order the Premium Kit from Young Living (which is my recommended brand for purity and quality) and with this link you get it at a discounted price (just choose Premium Starter Kit). It has EVERYTHING you need to get started. A diffuser, 11 of the essential oils (stress-away is a bonus) and much more. Here is a chart of what you'd get in the Premium Kit and what they can be used for.(click image to enlarge)

Or you can order a few of the oils and see what you think. If I had to order just three, I'd order
Frankincense- used for immunity, infections, depression, skin care, anxiety....(not mention it was Jesus' oil)
Thieves-colds, flu, viruses, headaches, strep, germs...
Lavender- allergies, calming, bruises, cuts, insomnia, bug bites...

If you are interested in ordering something, here is a link to use to get a discount. Just fill in your info and then scroll down and choose no thank you (to the kits) and you can order individual oils. Also, email me and I can send you more info.

I truly believe that God so perfectly designed this world and there are His treasures and majesty within every inch. I believe He gave doctors minds to help and heal and He also gave healing qualities within His creation.

I am happy to send you more info. Feel free to email me at Harley168@hotmail.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Top 20 Reasons to do Antique Week in Round Top, Texas

Many of you know I work at Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. I go to Round Top and live down there twice a year for ten days.

Because I've been working on all things Marburger, and antique week is RAPIDLY approaching,  I offer you my top 20 reasons you MUST give Antique Week a go.

Top 20 reasons you should visit Round Top Texas during Antique Week

1.  Round Top, Texas is a tiny town, populatation NINETY, but during Antique Week, there are tens of thousands that descend on this quaint town. This alone is worth seeing.
2. Someone taking a picture of you shopping could land you smack in the center of an issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.
3. Drinking iced tea on the porch of a 100 year old Bingo Hall.
4. World class artists at Marburger. "What? oh, you don't say? You sell for Anthropology and are on the cover of Uncommon Goods?? I didn't know that....no, I didn't stalk your art like a crazy person and come running to see you..."
5. Shopping for rare, incredible antiques with longhorns standing in fields of bluebonnets as your backdrop.
6. This is the ONLY place and time in my life I can hail a guy on a golf cart and he jump at the chance to haul my items all over tarnation and deposit me at the end of the day at my car.
7. Marburitas at the Blacksmith Bar after a long day of shopping.
8. Sheriffs on horse back keeping order. Everytime I see them I have to suppress the desire to yell, "Keep ordah, here!" in my spot-on British accent.
9. Telling your friends you'll meet them in the Silver Dollar Saloon after you finish in the Dance Hall.
10.  Bud’s Chocolate Chip Pie from Pie Haven. Ok, let’s be honest here. ANYTHING from Pie Haven.
11. The chance to accidentally (accidentally on purpose) bump into Matthew McConaughey, Tori Spelling, or Miranda Lambert at the Kettle Corn booth.
12. Junk Gypsy as seen on HGTV. Yehaw.
13. Prom Night. Yes, there is a prom night for all ages (over 21) and costumes like a light up two person gondola and working lamps that are stunning and bizarre. My two favorite combinations.
14. People watching (see #13)
15. There are over 20 venues of antiques spread throughout Round Top, Warrenton, Giddings, Carmine, Fayettville, and Burton. (but the best is Marburger's 43 acres packed with antiques!)
16. Road Trip with girlfriends!
17. Fried food on sticks.
18. Seeing a helicopter land in the back field to deposit shoppers at Marburger. (um, hello best way to travel, EVER.)
19. The chance to wear your cowboy boots and say "y'all" a lot.
20. We set up a treasure hunt for you with antiques from around the world. 'nuff said.



I hope to see y'all April 1-5th at Marburger Farm Antique Show


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Late to the party again.


Some people practice fire, tornado or earthquake drills. Here, in the Suel house, we practice vomit drills.

Here are the rules of vomiting:
In case of vomit, grab barf bag located at every bedside. Place over mouth. Proceed to nearest restroom. Help will come.
DO NOT: 1. panic. or 2. run around the entire house barfing in said panic or 3. run to sleeping cohabitants and barf on them.

I am serious. We run vomit drills because we have had four rounds of vicious stomach bugs and for the love of baby Moses, these stomach bugs insist on presenting after 10 pm but before 4 am. Every. Single. Time.

Because this cold/flu season has been especially brutal for us I decided to embrace my inner granola and do whatever it took to stop the madness. Every time we got sick the answer was the same from our doctor.

Doctor: "It's a virus."
Me: "But we've already had the virus."
Doctor: "This one is new"
Me: "That's not fair.We were fine with the one we had. We didn't want a new one."
Doctor: "Well, it's just another one of the countless viruses going around right now."
Me: "You mean to tell me the pits of hell produced armies of these viruses??!"
Doctor: "That'll be 90 bucks. Oh and the vomiting will probably continue for a couple more days."
Me: "Well, that's just precious."

Let me tell you. I am SO over viruses. So since there was no pill to make this madness stop I decided I'd research some natural answers to avoid this fresh hell.

I began researching essential oils. And I realized I knew nothing about this cultish world but I was ready to pledge my allegiance if it would ward off the barfs.

In order to learn everything I could, with the least amount of effort on my part, I called my most granola-holistic-sugar/gluten/dairy-free friend. She lives in phoenix because of course she does.

I called her and she talked me through how essential oils worked. I took notes on carrier oils and diffusing oils and immune boosting oils. She informed me the "thieves" essential oil was great for immunity. It got it's name over 600 years ago when four thieves put a secret blend of oils on themselves to protect themselves from the plague as they robbed the dead and dying. And it worked for them. I mean seriously??! I'm in.  

So I began researching online the list of oils I could buy and what they did. I saw all kinds, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, coconut oil, and as I was scanning the list my eyes stopped on one and I couldn't breathe.

I couldn't believe my eyes. First, let me say this: I know I am late to this party. I am forever late to the party, but I had NO idea you could purchase oils and that they had medicinal applications. But as I read and reread what my mind could not process I saw it. I saw that you could purchase Frankincense and Myrrh.

Frankincense and Myrrh were purchasable from a company who harvested only organic, wild growing, pure plants. This was as close to the oils used during biblical times as we could get.

Let me pause to say when I read the wise men brought Frankincense and Myrrh to Jesus I don't know what I thought. Maybe it was incense on a stick that could be burned and smell good. Some sort of nice expensive smell offering. I. have. no. reasoning. here. I just ran past that and pictured incense on sticks, I guess.

But when I saw that it was an essential oil used for anything from skin diseases to infections and it was prized and expensive it clicked. I realized this was an expensive gift given to Jesus.

So as my heart pounded out of my chest I knew one thing: I know a mother's heart, and if I know Mary, I know she used these oils on Jesus. She knew Jesus was special. The angels told her. The wise men told her. But not only special, He was her baby. So I know, at some point, Mary put Frankincense on Jesus. I know she must have in a secret, quiet, mother moment, put a drop or two on him as an offering, or a protection, and if for only a day or even just an hour, Jesus must have smelled like Frankincense.

I ordered it immediately. My hands shook. I couldn't think of anything else for days waiting for it to arrive. Then two days later the package arrived. I walked up to it sitting on the doorstep. Slowly I picked it up and went inside.

I knew what it was. I told the children to go. I told them to go play, mommy needed to smell Jesus.

I opened the package and I unscrewed the bottle and I smelled it. I couldn't stop the tears. Literally I felt my spirit jump inside me and I inhaled the wood, earth, clean, organic smell. It smelled like a carpenter.

I just sat down and cried. I just know at some point Jesus smelled like this. I thought of my friend who had lost her precious baby son and I thought, oh, she needs to know what her baby smelled as Jesus held her baby when he went to heaven.

I hoped that Jesus still smelled like that and I imagined my dad inhaling the smells of heaven as he entered in.

I long for heaven in a way that makes me want to just get a glimpse, a whiff, a sense of anything going on there.

I still have work here that has to be done. But oh how it helps when I find myself longing to be with Jesus to just get out my treasured hidden bottle of Frankincense and imagine Mary putting these oils on her baby.

And if you were wondering, since we started diffusing and applying thieves and onguard oils, we haven't been sick.

Just sayin'. Maybe those wise men were wise.



~for tristie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stirring and Lego Harmonies


I've made no secret that my house is noisy. And I know you are thinking its because of my boys and while yes, they are loud, they are not the primary givers of noise.

Tim is responsible for a load of the loud. If it's not my boys it is music. The piano, the banjo, the guitar, drums... being married to a musician=loud.

We spend the majority of our days listening to music. We scrutinize vocals, we evaluate bands, we listen to new songs, to drummers, etc. It comes with the job.

Worship music is our passion and our life. Recently I walked some very sad and dark moments. I have seen the valley and some of the evil inside it. And there are times it straight up plagues me. Images, thoughts, doubts, fears, they come sometimes without cease and without relent. So on days when the torment seems unbearable, I turn up the music to drown out the attacks.

And yes, I turn it up loud. Truth and scripture floods in and it brings relief.

So, often almost every waking moment, there is music happening in this house. The other night was no exception but my mind was not entirely aware of it. It was just business as usual.

My kids had each gotten a new Lego set and they were sitting at the table begging for assistance. With a groan and a fleshly curse of all-things-requiring-parental-guidance, I sat down and said, "five minutes".

I started helping and at first it went something like, "No, not that one. Stop. Hand that here. Pick it up. Good grief. Cora, touch ONE more of your brothers' Legos and I will banish you from this table forrreeeever...." 

But when a rhythm was established it grew quiet. Everyone working on their Legos. Only in that moment did I hear my boys singing. Without intention, without conscious thought they were singing to the song that was on the speakers.

The lines I heard whisper-sung from my sons' lips were,

"Lost are saved find their way at the sound of Your great name 
All condemned feel no shame, at the sound of Your great name 
Every fear has no place at the sound of Your great name 
The enemy he has to leave at the sound of Your great name 
Jesus, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, 
Son of God and Man You are high and lifted up 
and all the world will praise Your great name 
All the weak find their strength at the sound of Your great name 
Hungry souls receive grace at the sound of Your great name 
The fatherless they find their rest at the sound of Your great name
Sick are healed and the dead are raised at the sound of Your great name" 

Now in this moment, I wanted to sing His praises as an overflow of my heart. It took no effort or thought, it was an exclamation that just flowed out in this rare and precious moment. My kids, singing songs of worship, doing mind challenging activities... people, we were witnessing a rare gift. Perhaps a miracle. 

There are times in life, like during Lego Harmonies, or let's be honest, in the midst of a bowl of Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream when the praises pour out of my mouth and my heart swells. Praise is a natural outflow. 

But what I'm learning is that those moments aren't ever-present. There are long stretches of desert wanderings and if I'm not careful I forget the bread falling from heaven and start squalling with the "why me Lords?!?"

It's in the long wanderings that it takes intentional purposeful stirring of my affections for God. When I'm wiping rear ends, breaking up fights, cleaning vomit, or playing bus driver it's not normal for my heart to naturally overflow praises and thanksgiving.

One of the things I've been working on is identifying the things that stir my affections for the Lord. I want to know them, identify them and do them. 

What stirs your affections? Motivating your praise sometimes needs to be an intentional, deliberate act to bring focus and admiration. And sometimes those things that bring to mind all that God has done and His faithfulness or His character is what is needed to do battle.

For me, it's worship music. For some it's nature or maybe it's prayer, or just silence.  I want to encourage you to not wait for those rare moments of overflow but to lead your heart intentionally. Praise becomes a lot more every day when you purposefully and intentionally stir your affections for Him.

Here is one of our favorites (see lyrics above as proof). Even if you didn't set out to worship in this moment, I hope this song stirs your affections for Him as it does mine. If not, you have a heart of stone. I'm kidding. Sort of.  :) 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How will they know Me?


Today, I am going to let you in on an issue God and I have been "working" on. This isn't going to be flattering to me. Rarely are my issues flattering to me. But, for the love of authenticity here goes:

I have been a walking, seeking, Christ-follower for 16 years. I have learned many hard lessons and walked many rough miles with the Lord. He has shaped me and molded me, at times gently, and other times ruthlessly. So, to be fair, I do have some lessons filed under "nailed it".

But this simple, elementary, YEAR ONE, basic Christian lesson, I have quietly and secretly filed under "inept".

And here it is: Love others.

Let me explain. People can drive me crazy. People can be idiots and I should not be required to LOVE them. They can be flat out dangerous. People inflict pain and heartache so I learned how to keep myself safe from people.

Turns out, I am a master wall builder. I can build a wall fast enough to make your head spin. And they are thick. They are impervious to all forms of attack. They can keep out ANYONE. So, instead of trusting people, I built walls. It kept me safely inside and potential sneak attackers outside. 

Years of keeping people at an arms length, safely outside the walls, had me a master at people avoidance. People getting too close to me physically or emotionally left me very uncomfortable. I've mastered the duck and sneak down grocery isles when seeing someone I knew. I found it easier to avoid than engage. If I avoided people or at least deep conversations or deep relationships, I couldn't be hurt. This had just been a lifelong skill that I developed. It brought me comfort and I had made peace with it. 

But about 6 months ago I felt my heart de-rail. I sat down to talk with the Lord and I heard a very still and very quiet, "Tara, if you love Me, you love My people." I sat there thinking about all the people I love. Tim. My kids. My family. And a few people in my church. And smiled. I answered, "I know Lord. I love them."

End scene.

Isn't it just oh-so-precious how we think we can end a conversation with GOD the Almighty, Creator and Master of the entire universe?

Every single time I sat down to read my bible, pray, listen to worship music, cook, shower, sleep,  I heard, "If you love Me, you love My people."

GAH!! I know! I know Lord!

In one of my more mature moments I replied to GOD, "Yes, Lord, I LLLOOOVEEEE Your people. I serve many of them at church. I lead a bible study. I feed them. I clean up after they come over to eat. SEEEEEE??? LOVE LOVE LOVE. Lord, You know me, THAT IS HOW I LOVE."

Close bible, say amen, turn off worship music. done.

And still I heard, "If you love ME, Tara, you love My people."

I opened a new book I'd picked up and the first chapter broke out John 21 and the whole "Peter, if you love Me, feed my sheep..."  More wisdom oozed forth as I said, "Lord, I love the people you put close to me. But if you are talking about loving the FRINGE sheep, the ones with RABIES... those sheep BITE, Lord. Surely You don't want me loving the rabid sheep."

I began to talk to Tim about how I felt the Lord wanted us to go find the homeless and lost and marginalized and serve them. I shared what God was saying over and over to me and I told Tim I had come to the conclusion we needed to serve in a homeless ministry or feed them a Thanksgiving meal or SOMETHING, because God wasn't going to let this go anytime soon.

Thanksgiving was approaching so we packed up the car and headed to my childhood home in Tyler. And this is where things got interesting. The Lord had an object lesson for me. I pray one of these days, I will not need the object lessons. But I am thick-headed so here we go:

On the day after thanksgiving as I packed my car, and was saying goodbye to family, I heard God tell me, "Hug them".

HUH??!

This is not something I normally do, (I am universally known in my family as the non-hugger-people-phobic) but being a bit broken and off-center, I obeyed. I hugged them. And I heard God say, "Don't let go until I tell you."

Let's just say some of those hugs were LONG. My recently adopted 5 yr old niece, Emmy, started with an awkward obligatory hug that turned into a baby clinging on for dear life. I wept and felt my heart physically move in my chest to get closer to her heart. I felt her grip soften, I felt her melt. And my heart broke. The dam released. And God moved in. I felt my boundaries dissolving and God saying, "If you love Me, you love My people".

I looked at this crew of a family. 
 I saw a sister turned young mom forced to grow up too early, a cousin fiercely loving two adopted, hurting babies, a newly widowed wife, an exhausted brand-new mom. And I saw the Redeemed.  My heart wanted to hug them and never let go. This was a wall coming down.

We got into the car and I began reading from a biblestudy book out loud to Tim.  I was crying and reading aloud from this book about how to love and serve the homeless and the marginalized. We were crying and praying together. 

Then I heard a squall from my 2 yr old. She had to pee and she had to pee RIGHT THEN. I hollered for Tim to pull over. Anywhere. He said there was NO WHERE to stop. 

Then he spotted a burned out gas station. I said, "Great! pull over and she can squat" (two seconds into screams and I'm going straight heathen-raised-by-apes)  He pulled over and then spotted an actually working gas station behind the burned gas station. Awesome. We are in business.

With tunnel vision I grabbed Cora and ran for the station. I didn't look around. I didn't take in my surroundings (have I mentioned we are awesome in crisis?!?).  I ran for the building and plunged on in. I saw the sign for the restroom and like a bull in a china shop I crashed in. Then as I grabbed Cora to hold her on the potty my tunnel vision faded and I saw blood and matter ALL over the restroom. As I froze, Cora began to pee in her pants. I held her over the horrific toilet and not letting the door close me in this murder scene?!? I freaked. I said, "Hurry! Hurry! Cora!!" and when she finished, I didn't even pull her pants up. I spun to leave and ran smack dab into my ash-faced son. 

He said, "Mom! I can't go in there!" He pointed to the boys room. He said, "There were cuss words written in poop on the walls." 

I said between clinched teeth, "Go to the car!" I pushed him towards the door and as we tried to pry open the door to leave my husband was on the other side.

I looked at Tim and said, "Go!" He looked at my face and although I was giving him the Holy-Crap-Eyes he said, "We can't go. The prostitutes outside are being vulgar and I don't want the boys to see."

I said, "I'll take prostitutes over blood and feces. GO!"

He grabbed my sons by their faces and we ran. We threw the kids in the car and got out of there. 

And not a word was spoken for miles. From anyone. And I heard, "If you love Me, you love My people."

I saw two completely different worlds that day. Are we to serve and love the lost, the homeless, the prostitutes and the desperate? ABSOLUTELY YES. This is not optional but a command of Christ's disciples. If we are attempting to model our lives after Christ then there is no question that He went after the very lost, the tax-collectors (in Roman society these were not IRS style tax collectors but stealing-to-fund-the-Roman-goverment's-murder-of-men-women-and-children type of tax-collectors) the sinners (the outcasts, homeless of Roman society) and His own flock (His disciples).

And perhaps the ones I struggle with loving the most? The ones in my very own flock. The ones sitting beside me in church. These are the very ones I built walls to keep out. Loving people means being vulnerable and getting bruised and beaten occasionally. I had only learned that keeping them at arms length kept me from getting bitten by some rabid sheep. But really, it keeps me from learning to love others.

Am I willing to risk bruises and sorrow and hurt in the call of obedience? Yes. Am I willing to do what He asks of me even when it scares the daylights out of me to take down protective walls? Yes. Is this hard for me? HECKS YES.

But because His radical, unconditional, sacrificial love for me was given when I was in the crowd spitting on Him I'll do whatever He asks. 

And I am marinating on this verse to help me love others when I want to run or scream or cry or vaccinate the rabid. 
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Why God walks us through the lessons He does at the times and ways He does I do not know. But I share this so that if you get an awkward hug, a weirdly placed, "I love you" or a bizarre ANYTHING from me, it's because we are working. God's leading me. He's teaching. He's whispering to me and I am listening.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Lesson in Suffering from a Fish


Recently Tim and I got the most amazing gift. We were given an entire day. ALONE. With just each other!! Tim's parents were in town from New York and told us they'd keep the kids.

We ran for the suburban, jumped in and hit the gas. We were at least 20 miles out of town before the hysterical giggling subsided.

When we were a safe distance from College Station, we began to have the first uninterrupted conversation in months.  Normally our conversations go a bit schizophrenically like this:

Tim: "Tara, what if I do this song on Sunday?"
Lockett: "MOMMMMMM Harrison keeps attacking my face!"
Me:  "GAH! You MUST do something with that child you made."
Tim: "ok. Did you know the sink leaks?"
Lockett: "Mom, I am going to donkey kick him if he looks at me again!"
Me: "Since Thanksgiving. Did you call your dad?"
Harrison: "Mom, can zombies survive under water? They don't have to breathe..."
Tim:  "Sort of. When's dinner?"

I mean honestly, people. WE NEVER FINISH A CONVERSATION unless we lock ourselves in a room and ignore the hysterical cries on the other side of the door demanding immediate attention. Because seriously, that lost Lego is a matter of life or death!!

So, as we sped away, we took a breath. I reached over and held my husband's hand. I said, "Honey, I need to tell you something I've been dealing with this week. All alone. I haven't had two minutes alone to share with you something that broke my heart this week."

He looked at me and said, "Ok. Let's do this."

I said, "You are gonna think I've lost it, but here goes: So, about a week ago I noticed Harrison's fish swimming crazy. You know, one of the long skinny ones we bought as a pair? You know how one lives upstairs in the shipwreck and one lives downstairs?..."

He looks at me, He's tracking...

I say, "So, one started swimming crazy and I knew his days were numbered." (this is not new, we are great at flushing fish...) "I watched him and he began to show some spots, breath crazy, etc... He moved from upstairs in the ship to a plant leaf near the top of the tank. And he rested there. Laying on the leaf.... Alive but suffering. When he relocated to the leaf, his partner moved out from downstairs in the ship. His fish-friend moved to laying beside him. He put his body up next to his suffering friend and stayed by his side for three days. Until he died. When the fish died, his friend went back inside the ship. It broke my heart."

I looked at Tim and waited for the laughter, the crazy eyes, letting me know I'd tripped and landed in a pile of crazy.

But he looked at me and said, "I didn't need that!!  Oh good grief! I think I need to pull over and cry for a few minutes."

He was deadly serious. I love him. God made him for me. He gets me. He didn't make fun of me. He teared up.

This led Tim and I to discussing our roll in suffering in this world. Recently, we've walked through some pain and we watched with heavy hearts our friends walk through sorrow upon sorrow. Experiencing the death of someone you love is one of this world's greatest heart breaks.

We talked about how not only to suffer, but to suffer with a friend. To bear one another's burdens and how that looks. How does it look to suffer with someone?

Sometimes it looks like laying beside a broken, hurting friend. Because death is not something we were intended to experience, it is NOT natural at anytime, in anyway. We were made to be eternal with Christ and sin entered and death was the consequence. So, because it is so broken, and foreign, our words will never make it feel any better. Sometimes it means just being there.

And as Tim and I discussed the inevitability of suffering, and how the greatest, wisest people we know have suffered incredible pain, we talked about how Christ came, walked every bit of humanity we would and He suffered. He hurt, he bled, he walked every bit in human flesh. And He has overcome.

Hebrews 2:14-15 tells us "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery."

 Ps 31:24 says, "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord."

I am in love with this song that speaks to exactly this.

"So take heart, let His love lead us through the night. Hold on to hope, and take courage again."