Thursday, March 27, 2014


I have been gone for awhile. I am well aware. I keep thinking... "I need to write." And then... nothing. No topics rise to the surface, nothing inspires me. It is at those times that I forget that the very act of sitting down at the keyboard is an inspiration, and it's the blank screen in front of me that best pulls out my thoughts. It's just... getting me here, that is the difficult part :)

One topic of interest on my mind lately is one of my dreams. I have had many dreams in my life, and some of them have come true. A lot of them haven't. Either way, I will never stop dreaming.

Of late, I have been tossing around the idea of being a missionary photojournalist. In my mind, it would combine all of the things I already love to do... photography, capture and tell a "story," traveling and experiencing new places and faces, and communicating a message by way of words and pictures. Is there an organization out there looking for me?

A couple years ago, I almost had the opportunity to travel to the red light district in India. It was only a possibility for a very short time, but while it was I remember the feeling I had. I felt so excited, so empowered, so inspired. It felt so right.

I have to be careful that I don't look at something like this as glamorous, or with rose-colored glasses. It's not that it wouldn't be meaningful and completely fulfilling, but I am sure it would present it's challenges. And it may never even happen. But it's just something that has been kindling in my heart lately, so I needed to write about it :)

Continuing, another thought on the mind has been my current stage in life. On the one side, I am mightily grateful for where I am. Some days, I think to myself, "I love my life," and I mean it. In a lot of ways, I have the best of all worlds. I am single and independent, free to live my life exactly how I choose. I am a single working aunt of 12 with a perfectly-sized house decorated in my colorful eclectic style fully equipped with 2 darling kitties and my dream car. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do, and thus; if I want to come home from work and get straight into my PJs, make a dinner out of a bowl of Cheerios and treat myself to a bubble bath for the rest of the evening with book in hand, no one's stopping me. The ability to have the choice to do or not do anything is a wonderful feeling. At the same time, being on my own also means being responsible with my finances, wise in my choices, and accountable for my time. I have enjoyed lazy nights in, but I've also enjoyed the freedom and ability to counsel at the jail 3-4 times a month, run my own business right from my home and schedule photo shoots whenever it works for me, or go stay at my sister's house to watch my nieces and nephews for a weekend. The name of the game is flexibility, and I love that feeling.

Now let's look at the other side. I am blessed with a huge circle of supportive family, friends, and church members. Yet, I have advanced to a place in life where almost all my friends are married and are well into starting their families. Most of my friends are currently pregnant and/or just delivered a child. The miracle of a friend's love in the form of a beautiful baby never grows old for me to see or be excited about, but it is also a reminder of what I don't have. Marriage and family are both things I have desired since my teen years, and while I completely and fully trust God with the timetable of my life, I often catch myself falling into the comparison trap. Satan gets in there with mind games and makes me doubt my worth because, "I'm not there yet-- and why not? There must be something wrong with you." I know this is a lie, but it's a poison that creeps in from time to time. If I don't watch it, I can be completely panicked and debilitated by this whole situation. Then, ever so quietly and gently, the Still, Small Voice soothes me with His Truths, "Taryn, I know the plans I have for you. I love you very much, and am using you exactly where you are. Have faith... trust... and remember, I have the whole picture in mind."

And I am comforted. Then I usually zoom out big picture and remind myself that even if I never receive the blessing of marriage and/or children in my lifetime, God has begun a good work in me and will not stop until He has finished it... and with or without my specific blueprint, He will do it! And that's all I need to know. My ultimate desire in life is to love God, show Jesus' love to others and to do His will. That, I am certain, is a dream that cannot fail.

Love you all. T

Friday, January 10, 2014


I have been thinking a lot lately. So much so, as I come to the writing board, I'm struggling to put it all into words (this coming from me... I know.)

So I'll try. 

My life's journey... I just turned 28 years old on January 2nd. It would seem as though my life has not gone according to plan, at least regarding the blueprint I had started for myself as early as my preteen years.

{Pictured-- myself and my niece Sophia while celebrating my birthday}

Do you know what I have learned, though? None of it really matters. I mean-- don't get me wrong. It's good to have a plan, to have goals, to have desires. But you can't live your life with moment-by-moment expectations, because what inevitably follows is disappointment.

According to my younger self, I should have been married by 23. I should be living in a house with my husband who has a job that he loves, and I would be staying at home by now with my 2 lovely children and 2 pet cats. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

But that's not what God had planned, and for the past decade He has been showing me this. At 28, He still wants me single & childless, and not because those plans of mine were necessarily bad, but because He had bigger blessings for me instead. I believe Him.

All I have to do is look at my life. Yes, I have been able to enjoy material blessings on my own (dream car, my own house, Starbucks frapps, shopping splurges, fun vacations, etc.) but those things don't fulfill me. What fulfills me is what God has done with my single life up to this point. How has He used the very unique fact that I am TARYN, and that I am "single" Taryn?

The biggest thing that comes to my mind is all of the relationships He has given me. Opportunities for relationships that had I been married and/or with children, it wouldn't have been the same. I lose out on my biggest blessings when I choose to fixate on the things God has "not yet given me" or "won't" rather than on the very opportunities He places right in my path.

Throughout my experiences of college, owning my own business with a friend, living both alone and with room mates, making big purchases on my own, the prison ministry, and all my friendships... He has taught me a heart of mercy, the challenge of differing personalities, the act of forgiveness, the art of unconditional love, and the importance of attitude. He has shown me how to be authentic and genuine, and has convicted me to be true and not compromise. He has helped me overcome temptation and crawl my way out of spells of sin, and most importantly, He gives me the Hope of Heaven. It is this important truth that not only leads me into each and everyday, but motivates me to share it with others.

Last week, a "God" moment happened. I was with a friend at TAPS in Pekin, a place I have never been before. I was inside of a tiny room with the door closed, and only a glass window to see out. Suddenly, a woman walking by caught my eye, and as I recognized her as familiar I smiled and waved, only to stare in unbelief as I recollected who it actually was.

I immediately opened the door to greet her.

She looked so good. She had a smile, she had joy, she was focused. As we talked, she introduced me to her younger daughter, and she told her, "Honey, this is Taryn. She taught me about God while I was in... you know, while I was locked up."

With bright eyes, she told me that she had an upcoming court date, that her nursing license would be OK, that she was getting to spend time with her daughter and they would be trying out a new church on Sunday.

As we said good-bye, she told me, "Seeing you wasn't a coincidence. God wanted this to happen."

God knows what that meeting meant to me. I love the women I minister to in jail, and often I wonder what happens when they get out and are "on the other side." It was amazing and encouraging to see her living life, and it was like in that moment God sent me a smile.

I was recently reading back in my journal book that I started back in 2008. I record my prayers and thoughts in there from time to time... sometimes consistently for several months, and sometimes with gaps of up to a year. But it is neat to see what I have been through, how I have grown, and how my prayers change over the years. One quote I had written down that stuck out to me that I will end this post with:

I do not know what the future holds... but I know Who holds the future.

And that's all I need to know :)

Love, T

Friday, December 06, 2013

Time to Start Swimming

I am ready for a revival.

I am just going to be dead honest-- my entire life has turned to apathy. I very strongly dislike that fact, but it's the truth.

It's not like I'm depressed; I've been there, too and it makes you feel like you don't want to go on.

I want to go on, but I want to go on strong, and right now... I'm just floating. Have you ever treaded water in the deep end for a long period of time? That picture is representative of my life right now. I'm treading, treading, treading... and it's tiring, and it's keeping me busy, and even with all that treading I am not moving anywhere. I'm just stuck in the same spot, day in and day out, and in fact I'm getting so tired that I'm starting to sink and slip beneath the water. Satan loves it, he loves it so much that he's lurking underneath, waiting to nip at my foot and pull me completely under.

Wow, I sound like a complete disaster. But I find it impossible to be anything but honest when I write, it's my cardinal rule. I have to be real.

Anyway, to me, writing something down is validating it, and validating it is admitting it, and admitting it creates accountability. No more elephant in the room, no more "put on a happy face and pretend like all is well," no more lying. It's real stuff.

I was recently listening to a pastor on the radio and he was talking about sin. I believe his illustration applies to an apathetic life, as well. He said, "When we find ourselves trapped in a certain sin or addiction, we must ask ourselves, how did we get here?"

He went on to say we get there by essentially "worshipping ourselves." Sounds extreme, but it's so true. Any sin is an act of worshipping the self. It's so selfish. We only think about ourselves. Lying? We want to stay out of trouble. Gossip? We want to feel better about ourselves. Cheating? We want to get ahead. Worry? We're trying to control our own life. Pride? We think too much of ourselves. Lust? We are seeking self pleasure. Sex? We are trying to gratify the flesh and are taking someone else with us.

The list could go on and on. The point is, we sin because we worship ME.

But are we really so surprised? Everywhere we turn in this world, this is what we are told. You really don't have to go far. In fact, you could pretty much live inside of a plastic bubble and still see the giant flashing subliminal message the world is throwing at us in every direction to just "DO WHAT YOU WANT. DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY. DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD."

However, it's not an excuse. Anyway, it's not an excuse to those of us who know better, who know Christ, who know His Word. It's no excuse to me, who is treading but not going anywhere. It's no an excuse at all.

So the radio pastor's advice was, "How do you get out of this mess, this mess you have created for yourself? The same way you got into the mess. Worship. But stop worshipping yourself, and start worshipping God...


This theme has been resounding in my mind for several weeks now. It's a powerful one.

Worship isn't a small word, though. It's not something a treader can pull off. Trust me-- I've already tried. Worship requires devotion, dedication, love, honor, persistence, desire, and humility. It means that we recognize that our glory belongs Somewhere else.

It means that it's time to stop treading and start swimming.

Love you all. T

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Living Slower

The last time I posted, I wrote about my computer crashing. Just a small blip on the radar, although it did upset my schedule for a week.

A couple nights ago, I was driving home thinking... Wow. My computer crashed a couple weeks ago, and I remember at the time wondering if that was God's way of getting my attention. And then, the inevitable guilt washed over me as I realized that yes, while it did get my attention, I hadn't changed a single thing in my life.

I was still feeling overworked, overwhelmed, over-busy, and overextended, all to the sacrifice of time with God.

Then I had the thought, I wonder if God will try to teach me another lesson?

We all have those thoughts, like "What's next?" but very few of us ever really think God will actually strike us down with the proverbial lightning bolt.

As it turns out, my computer was not the only thing scheduled to crash this month. The next morning, on my way to work, I was driving along Interstate 74. I was actually on time and paying attention, but still letting myself follow along with the flow of traffic when all of the sudden, the car in front of me suddenly and unexpectedly slammed on his brakes.

I noticed immediately and slammed on mine also, but braced myself for the impending crash that I knew was imminent. It all happened so fast. Within seconds, my brakes locked up (with the accompanying road screech) and my little green bug literally slammed into the car in front of me. Later, I found out that my car actually weaseled underneath his, but it occurred too quickly for me to notice.

Fortunately, the accident occurred right before the East Peoria exits, and there was a large area to the left to pull over right before the road blocks started up again. We pulled over, as well as the car in front of us. The lady driving checked that we were OK, and then was on her way.

The guy I hit and I were left alone standing in the cold chilly morning, bright sun shining, several east and westbound cars whizzing by on their way to work. I examined my little green car, now completely smashed in the front.

"So... what happened?" I asked.

"The lady in front of me slowed down suddenly and locked up traffic," he said, "And I had to slow down."

"I'm so sorry," I told him, "There was no way I could stop in time."

He nodded, rubbing his neck.

"So... what do we do? Um... do you know how to call the police?" I ask.

"Not really..."

"Nothing like this has really happened to me before. Should I call 911?"

He agreed that was a good starting point.

After a few transfers, I was on the phone with the EP police, who dispatched a cop to come find us. It took awhile for him to get there, so while I waited in the comfort of my warm vehicle, I sent a few texts and then called my mom. I debated about making that call, as I knew I would cry as soon as I talked to her. And I was right.

But she was comforting and I sucked it up, wiped away my tears and was able to deal with the cop just fine, citation and all. My dad was kind enough to come and meet up with us, just to make sure I could drive to work safely and everything was OK.

What has followed has been an interesting journey through dealing with the insurance company and scheduling GRN T BUG to get fixed. I take it into the shop tomorrow and pick up my rental in the morning.

At any rate, I have not missed the message. It's as if God personally showed up at my door step and said, "Taryn. SLOW DOWN."


He showed me the best way He could without sending me to the hospital, and I am so thankful everyone is OK.

It was humbling. It really was. Honestly, it showed me that I'm not invincible, that I can't do it all, that I don't always have to be on high speed. It's just not necessary. And it's not doing anyone any good, especially myself.

I rarely take time to just sit down and read the Word anymore. I'm lucky to whisper a few prayers a day, and I have so much to do on my to-do lists that at times, I feel like I need a to do list for my to do lists.

Yet it is interesting how in all of that chaotic living, I still find time for the things that are a priority to me. So something is off. And truly, I am thankful God gave me a second wakeup call, even if it had to come in the form of a crushed beetle. It's not a threat, like, "Slow down OR ELSE..." but it's just a little nudge, almost like jumping into an ice cold pool on a hot summer day... at first, it startles you and the unexpected chill almost makes you lose your breath, but eventually, it's refreshing.

I can't wait until I get to the refreshing part :) His mercies are new every morning.

Love you all... thankful to be alive, as the good Lord is the only reason I take each and every breath. To Him I owe my life and every thought, word, action, and deed.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Every Moment

I always think I know this until God gives me a wakeup call.

The other night, I chose to stay home from a fun night out in order to catch up. I needed to log some hours on my computer and get up to speed with all my projects.

Instead of having a productive evening in, I spent the greater part of it on the phone with IT support, figuring out why my computer crashed and finding out that I would need to erase the hard drive and start over in order to make it work correctly.

My first thought: It’s never convenient to have your computer crash, but especially now.

But then I looked heavenward, and even in my seething frustration, I smiled. God knows what He is doing. He knows exactly what He is doing, and He knows how to get my attention.

My problem is, I treat God like a genie in a bottle sometimes. I come running eagerly when I need a problem solved or want a wish to come true. I too easily forget about Him when things are going great, or even when things are going so-so, and especially when things are so busy I can’t keep up. That’s like a built-in excuse NOT to be in the Word or in prayer… the Devil loves when I use that one.

So it is as the quote says… I too easily forget that at EVERY MOMENT I am totally dependent on God. How does God remind me? He takes away temporary control of something I thought I had control over. And then I am oh-so-quickly reminded :)

I am ashamed to admit all of this, and I am ashamed to confess that I am struggling with keeping God #1 in my life right now in more ways than one. My life will not end because my computer broke down, and God knows that. But it does provide for me a lesson to put the brakes on, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and then look around at my life to see which areas need attention. And I believe it all starts with searching my heart.

Be back soon, hopefully smiling and with something fun.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6 Years Old

Pictured is my precious niece, Tillie. She is 6 years old. You will soon read about the importance of her age :) She is spunky, spirited, smart, and savvy... she also has a loving, caring heart.

Do you want to know what amazes me most about God?

His patience.

He is so patient with me. I make the same mistakes over and over, yet He forgives me and welcomes me back with open, loving arms. He even gives me encouragement so I know He is there, and when I ignore the things that will so easily help me, He readily accepts me back when I come running.

I'm doing a bible study right now called, "Idol Lies," and one of the recent chapter discussed that as believers, often we still only "understand" God as a 6-year-old might. When life is tough and throws circumstances out of our comfort zone or suffering that we do not understand, our inclination is to throw a fit. We point fingers, we come up with excuses, we complain, we ask a thousand questions, and all the while ignore the source of comfort, healing, and peace. We doubt God's faithfulness and plan in all of the turmoil, and it is because quite simply, we are 6 years old (or at least acting like it:) When it comes to understanding why God does what He does, our little human minds cannot possibly fathom the why. And really, is it ours to know? We are not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, but God is. That is why we trust Him.

To give an example, it's like stopping your 6-year-old after his 3rd cookie. The cookie tastes good, and the cookie makes him happy, but if he eats too many, you know that a stomach ache is in store. He may not know or understand the ramifications, or even the future plans (i.e. a healthy dinner on the way!), but you do. So as a loving parent, you stop him after #2. He whines, he complains, he throws a little fit, but he eventually forgives you and comes running back to your arms in 5 minutes when he falls and scrapes his knee. Why? Because ultimately, he trusts you, even when he doesn't always understand why you do what you do. He knows you love him, and he knows that without a shadow of a doubt.

So, this picture has been floating around in my mind, mainly because I have felt like a 6-year-old lately. I have also been using "I'm so busy" and "I just feel apathetic" and "There are a few other things I need to get done first" as my excuses to avoid reading God's Word. I was talking to a friend tonight, and we asked ourselves the question, "Why? Why do we do this?" It doesn't make sense, but yet it does; it's one of Satan's best tricks. If he can nurse an apathetic attitude and present 1,000 distractions, he will, and guess what? Most of the time, we're more than willing to take the bait.

It's our loss, really. God misses us when we ignore Him, but most of all, we miss the blessing. We miss the opportunities, we miss the peace and joy that comes from feeding on His Word. Yet it's a viscous cycle. WHY?

Again, I tell you. We're 6 years old :) But fortunately, 6-year-olds are typically teachable and impressionable. They have the gift of "faith like a child." They listen to the one they love and trust, and the teacher has the power to shape their attitude.

I'm so thankful that my teacher is God, and that my Savior is Christ. I'm so thankful that even when I neglect my time with Him, He never stops calling my name. I'm blessed to be forgiven, and that because of the Cross I can stand before him blameless, and white as snow. And it's free, a gift. The best gift. The only gift in this life that delivers into the next.

The more I am in His Word, the more power I possess to say NO to the devil. The more I am in His Word, the more it sits on the tip of my tongue to speak love and truth. And the more I am in His Word, the more I realize just how thankful I am for His supernatural patience and love.

Love you all!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Weekend Pleasures

This was the perfect Fall weekend.

I started it out by going to Spoon River Drive on Saturday morning with a friend. Skies threatened to rain on us, but we made it through dry. We enjoyed walking through the different booths, and I found one in particular that I loved. Everything was unique and one-of-a-kind, and I found out the sellers just opened up a store in the St. Charles area last August. I need to visit there soon!

Anyway, I bought a fun hat and a really eccentric purse :) I was wanting a new purse, though, so I felt this helped me accomplish a goal!

Also, I have to mention the food... delicious pork chops, these amazing potato chips that they made right there, and a funnel cake with cinnamon sugar. Not one of my healthier days, but I took it easy for dinner :)

I had never been, so this was a fun experience for me! I then had a photo shoot scheduled that afternoon. It was a rain date from the weekend before, and while the morning skies were not friendly, it cleared off in early afternoon and turned into a gorgeous Fall day! We were so thankful, and I was glad to be able to use sunlight and colorful trees for my pictures.

Another goal of mine lately has been to move my computer home. It has been in my office/studio since I moved into Jefferson St. Art Studio last winter, but now that I'm working full-time, I have been so busy. I have tried to alleviate my schedule by going down to only booking 4 photo shoots a month, which has somewhat worked ;) but then when I DO have a free evening, I would rather spend it at home than in my office editing pictures. So, thus, the computer move :) But I wanted to find a desk that would work in my space, which is quite small.

Today after church, I was in a "go-go-go" mood, partly because it was a gorgeous afternoon and sunny days make me smile and make me move :) But also, I felt oddly energetic, so I hopped in my car and drove over to Washington to A Step Back in Time. I felt a pull, like there was something there that needed me to purchase it. I looked around and found exactly what I was looking for: a black desk with a unique shape and measuring perfectly. 

As I type, I am doing so on my NEW desk. After recruiting my Mom to help move around my furniture, we ended up keeping everything and adding to it and STILL managing to make my space feel more open than it did before. Not sure how that happened, but I'm glad, because I thought we would have to get rid of my tall black hutch. Instead, we're using it near the kitchen, which I believe will be more useful, anyway.

So, I feel as if this weekend has been both fun and productive, two of my favorite things!

Enjoy the visuals...

The new setup. My kitchen table used to be where my new desk now is. This opens it up a bit more.

New work station! Cozy at home... now I can do loads of laundry or get a snack in between editing and answering e-mails :)

New purse from Spoon River Drive

 Lily Belle... trying it out!

Chair, coffee table and sign have all be relocated.

Couch and birdies, the same :)

Katie, if you're reading this, do you recognize the orange gnome? :)

The new "kitchen" hutch

The little kitchen table

Silly Lily

Love you all. Hopefully, be back just as soon!


Monday, October 07, 2013

4 Months Later...

Wow, 4 months?

That's pretty bad.

For those of you who actually still read my blog and may or may not check back... I'm sorry for my absence. Life has been so busy for me lately, and somehow the personal blog gets put on the backburner.

Anyway, in a nutshell, not a lot has changed since we last visited. The summer went by like a breeze, jump started by my Jamaica trip. At work, we opened the Marriott Pere Marquette at the end of June, and are currently working on the Courtyard, which is being built next door. I continue to stay busy on the weekends with photo shoots, and my evenings seem to fill up pretty quickly. When they don't, I'm thankful for a night here and there to relax at home (i.e. tonight!)

Pumpkin Festival came and went; I enjoyed way too many elephant ears and pieces of pumpkin pie. Lily is still crazy and sweet all at once. I did acquire a new room mate! So that is something fun-- Lynnae moved in with me about a month or so ago. It's been great having someone else around to talk to and live with :)

I won't keep you long tonight... but I will try to be back sooner next time. For now, a few favorite pictures from the past few months...

Lola Mae chalking up the sidewalk during our Labor Day cookout

Pretty of Sophie and Tonya

Christy & Jason

We walked to DQ :)

I love this kid!

I love this cat :)

Sophia and her cousin Abigail; fun to have Arizona family visit in July

The "first cousin" girl picture :)

Cousin love! Soph and Adelayde

Lola Mae and Naomi Tasha

The 3 sisters and their husbands :) Love.

WI Dells family vacation in June. Such fun!

More cousin love, and this is making me miss summer already :(

Our "family picture." This about sums it up!

Soph and me

Fun Night with Aunt T; MHS dance/cheer with the girls, then movie night :)

Liam & "Ten"

Grandma K. in the P Fest Parade!

My dear friend Terri :)

Sister love

More sister love

Kel and Elowen (this one is for you, A. Chris, since I know you watch my blog!)

Love you all. Be back soon :) T