Monday, December 27, 2010

The Mark of the Lion

I was hesitant at first.

"You HAVE to read this series," Kristi begged. "Seriously Taryn, you have to. You will love it."

I wasn't so sure.

She went on, "It's really not my type of reading. It's more so something you would enjoy, I promise."

I am not sure why I didn't believe her. I later concluded that the scenario I was most afraid of was the one in which I would read the series and not like it as much as she said I would.

Or as much as everyone else said I would. Virtually everyone I talked to said it was excellent.

But what if it wasn't? What if I was left disappointed, after wasting my time on 3 books from a series I didn't enjoy? Disappointment would surely follow.

Normally I love surprises. And actually, although I think way too much into everything, I think that's another reason I didn't want to read this series. Everyone else loved it too much. It had already been discovered in its uniqueness. As with anything else in life, I like going in with no expectations or pre-formed opinions. Otherwise, too quickly, what everyone else thinks or says becomes my stance rather than being prepared to be blown away by something secret that I discovered on my own.

I am not saying I don't have a mind of my own. I am merely just saying... perhaps the thoughts and opinions of others holds far more weight than they should. For example, have you ever had someone tell you about a book or movie, and with their explanation you paint a picture in your head about what you think it will be? Then you read it or watch it, and it is absolutely nothing how you had envisioned it in your mind based on what you were told.

Anyway. One afternoon after lunch, Kristi drove me to her mom's house. Her mom has an endless supply of books and book series, and is great at recommending new finds to me. Before I started this series, I was hung up with Jodi Piccoult. She wrote "My Sister's Keeper" and writes a lot of fiction centered around causes, disorders, diseases, and controversial topics. All her writing is cleverly crafted with a sense of realism. Her books are quite often page-turners and I always learn something. Perhaps another reason I was so held back from reading the series.

The series in which I speak of is "The Mark of the Lion" series. That afternoon, Kristi instructed her mom to seek out the 3 books and she handed them to me.

"It takes awhile to get into them," she warned. "Don't give up after 2 chapters."

The first night I started book one, I curled up on the couch, prepared to get myself through a couple of chapters as an introduction.

I didn't put the book down until page 114.

I finished within a week and quickly dove into book 2. I finished that one last night and plan on starting book 3 sometime soon.

Without going into "book report" mode, I will say that one of the main characters-- Hadassah-- definitely challenges you in your spiritual walk. It seems almost impossible to have the faith, humility, and boldness that she did... but it is not. It is not impossible, it is just merely uncomfortable. And most Christians aren't used to discomfort.

A lot of the situations Hadassah found herself in are situations that we are very fortunate to avoid in today's times and in a place like the US. Yet just because we've been handed freedom in choosing a religion and worshiping as we want, and just because most of us live in warm homes and have plenty to eat, and just because we aren't made slaves or gladiators in order to survive... just because, it does not excuse us from our duties as a Christian. In fact, I would think it would be MORE of a reason to reach out. We, who are fortunate... we who are so blessed beyond measure, what holds us back? In these books, for Hadassah, holding back meant protection of her life. To speak up or speak out could get her killed. So any hesitation on her part is understandable. Yet she never hesitated. She always lived her Faith, no matter what that would cost her. She knew that in the end, nothing was more important than Christ and proclaiming His name, and if she died for it, so be it.

But what of me? I can witness on a street corner, in a coffee shop, or in an elevator, and I won't be sent to the lion's den for it. But do I?

Sometimes, I think our many blessings blind us if we aren't careful. Lately, I have been convicted about a couple of things: what I own, and what I watch. Ultimately, what I own is not mine, but God's. So how much "stuff" that I have... how much of that glorifies God? Second, what I watch affects what goes into my mind, and what I think on. How much of the things that I watch... how much of that glorifies God? How much of it teaches me, edifies me, builds me up, and is pure and lovely?

A lot to think about after 2 books from that series.

So I must say... my uncertainty in reading this series was definitely unwarranted. Thank you, Kristi, for your suggestion!

Love you all!

T

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do you believe in Santa?

Everywhere you go, places are covered in Christmas. Sparkly decor, swaying ornaments, cinnamon scents, and melodic carols all flood your senses. It has been this way for over a month.

In three days, it will all be over. Christmas trees will come down. Ornaments will be wrapped carefully in bubble wrap and stored in boxes until next year. Twinkle lights won't twinkle anymore, holiday cookies and treats will be fully digested, and gift wrap will be 50% off at Walmart.

I find it interesting how society prepares for Christmas so far in advance, and in such a big way... the anticipation leading up this holiday every year is huge.

And then it's over.

Just like anything else in life you plan for... a party, a wedding, or a big event... it all eventually comes to a head. Yet with Christmas preparations, planning, and celebrating, I feel like a lot of it centers around Santa and gifts.

I realized this year that I never believed in Santa. I just never did. I was the 4th of 4 kids, and by then, the magic of playing up a pretend holiday character must not have appealed to my parents any longer. My mom promises that she talked about him and gave us each a present from "Santa" every year. And she probably did. But at the end of the day, my parents are the ones who received my Christmas list... not Santa. And my parents are the ones who bought me those gifts and gave them to me, I knew... not Santa. And the idea of Santa traveling all the way around the world and delivering gifts to me on Christmas Eve never seemed realistic to me. Not to mention, it was always my family's tradition to open gifts with each other on Christmas Eve. So that killed the whole "Santa" theory for me, anyway.

Believing in a fictional character like that must have never appealed to me. And the funny thing is, I am probably the most idealistic romantic out of the whole family. Out of anyone, I'm the one who is lost in thought, dreaming up something new, or 1,000 miles away in another world a lot of the time. So it's interesting that I never entertained the idea of Santa.

I'm not really heartbroken over this, either. I think Santa is great and all, but he's not my idea of quality time spent entertaining a child's imagination over. I'd much rather spend my kid's time talking about the real reason for Christmas, and Someone who IS real.

I'm not condemning belief in Santa. Trust me, I'm not. I think he's great.

From a Christian standpoint, though, I like to more so focus on Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus is born, eventually grows up, and teaches the world about sacrificial Love, displaying the ultimate example of it on the cross to save us from sins. This is our one true gift, the only gift we really need to find peace in life. No amount of Christmas presents from Santa will bring the sort of joy we can obtain by accepting the one Christ has to offer. Furthermore, Christmas is a great time to practice this sort of love... selfless, sacrificial love. God sent Jesus as our (ultimate) gift... how can we "gift" this love and joy to others during the season?

My Christmas season has been quite busy. My sister and her husband and 5 children moved into their new home within this past week. I helped baby-sit a couple of the days. Their new house is beautiful and will be perfect for their family that has done much growing over the past several years. Also this week, my "girl" friends and I had a great evening together eating Italian at a small local Italian restaurant, followed up by heart-to-hearts and dancing with "Just Dance II" on the Wii. Last night was our annual Kaiser extended family Christmas. We rented out the soccer forum, and it worked great for all the little kids to run around. Better that then someone's house. :)

I'm thankful for all these things and looking forward to a wonderful Christmas celebration with my family on Christmas day!

The pictures, although out of order, will help illustrate. :)

Silas, exhausted after a day of eating and watching Dora
Milo has the biggest blue eyes
All the girls
Around 2 pm, Silas and I were hungry for a snack so we each had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios
The boys playing soccer at the Soccer Forum. My brother Tate has not lost his touch!
Just Dance II. Not sure what this move was.
Concentration
Sweet moment-- Sylvie and her dad
Kelly and I
Parachute!
My Grandma K. saying hi to Milo
Kaiser Clan
Naomi painted me a flower.
Popsicle Sharing

Love you all! T

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hankie Curtains

One day, I walked into my bathroom and noted something was different. Hanging from my large window were several vintage hankies that had been sewn together into a curtain. My mom loves to sew, and has her very own unique line of clothing and accessories that she labels "Sutsie Pie." She always incorporates vintage hankies into anything she makes; purses, baby blankets, baby clothes, and shirts.

Anyway, picture below are the curtains that now hang in my bathroom. I love them, and am so fortunate to have such a creative mom!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Cereal

I have been thinking about writing a blog post on cereal all day long.

Pictured is one of my FAVORITE sugar cereals, one in which I often eat before going to bed if my stomach is hungry. Snap, Crackle, and Pop posed long enough for me to get this image; although, one of the poor guys didn't quite make it into the picture.


It started this morning. I was enjoying a bowl of Crispex for breakfast, and I had to marvel at the act of eating this particular food. It is not just eating, you see. It is drinking, as well. It is one of the few meals that you both eat and drink at the same time. But I can't take credit for that observation. I first heard this thought from Jerry Seinfeld.

Along those lines, I began to think of how I eat cereal. I take a bite, and then right away I swallow the milk, while the cereal lingers. I crunch the remaining cereal, then swallow it. I found myself wondering if some people swallow both the cereal and milk at the same time. It would be very hard to do the opposite; swallow the crunch first, and the milk last. Although that method would make the most sense; it's like a drink that washes it all down. The next time you eat cereal, you will have to determine your eating style.

Then I thought: Who even came up with cereal? For real. It is actually a bit odd, if you think about it too long. It's like when you say a perfectly normal word 70 times in a row, and then suddenly that word that you are very familiar with becomes strangely peculiar. It starts to sound funny, and all at once you don't feel acquainted with it anymore. Really-- it's a bunch of little crunchy bites, either full of fiber, sugar, carbs, or a combination of all three... and then you pour milk over it. MILK. The crunchies float in milk, and over time the pieces at the bottom start to become soggy, but if you're lucky, some of the pieces retain a sense of crispness the whole time. But I want to know, whose idea was it to manufacture all different kinds of cereals so that we could pour it into a bowl and then top it off with milk?

I'm not complaining. I'm grateful, rather. Cereal is one of my top choices in breakfast and my all-time favorite bedtime snack. I guess I'm just a little bitter that I didn't think of it first. Then I could have been crowned with inventing a food that you both eat and drink at the same time.

Oh well. I will just sit contently with my passion in photography, and continue to enjoy cereal as a breakfast item and snack.

Love you all!

T

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Church Note #3

It's a blizzard out there today!

It didn't stop Morton from holding church services, though. We're pretty tough here in Morton. We had a few overflows from Washington, Peoria, and Gridley attending, and a lovely Christmas program this afternoon.

Anyway, I was thinking it has been awhile since I have written a church notes post. So here it is...

Not My Will
We received a handout with this service that included an outline that was adapted from a devotional written by Andrew Murray in the 1800s... just to give credit were credit is due. This was a very extensive outline, so instead of rehashing the entire thing, I will pick out a few points and keep it at that. :)

Doing God's Will-The Way to Heaven
"Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." -Matt. 7:21

First and foremost, doing God's will is of utmost importance. We might ask-- what is God's will? That's our very problem. God would will that we repent, give our lives to Him, and then follow Him all of our days. This may not always entail knowing how God wants every situation to work out, but that is where trust comes in. Clay cannot ask the potter to be something different or request to see the end product. Clay must simply be molded, and clay has enough softness and give to allow shaping and refining to occur. We must be clay in God's hands.

Some may know who God is, may recognize Him, may have heard about Him all their life, and may even say they believe in Him. But if we haven't recognized our sinful nature, repented for our sins, and committed our life to Christ, we aren't getting a spot in Heaven. I have a feeling that there are a lot of deceived, misinformed, so-called "Christians" who will one day be very disappointed that they refused to fully understand Christ's cross and His gift of salvation.

Praying-- According to God's Will
"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us." -1 John 5:14

Sometimes, we ask for things we don't need, or for situations that are not good for us. Often, we have no way of knowing this-- and at times, we do, but we want what we want. The key to this verse is that we "ask anything according to His will." How do we do that?

There is no better way to fall into alignment with God's will than by studying His word, deepening your knowledge of God and depth of insight. If you are tuned into God, you will ask for things that are godly, things that please God. If you are tuned into the world, yourself, and others, you will ask for things that are self-focused.

What is more important-- my desire, or God's will? Learn to accept His will as your supreme joy. If any man shall do His will, He shall know His doctrine. He also must believe. Faith and knowledge are both needful.

Suffering-- According to the Will of God
"For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing." -1 Peter 3:17

Even when we do what is right, we may still suffer for it.

That's the kicker. When we do what is right and are punished for it, it is human to want justice. It may be easy to throw up our hands and say, "Fine! I tried to be nice but it doesn't make a difference... I may as well be angry or retaliate." Is that what Jesus did? When he walked by with His cross and people spat on Him, did He spit back? When He was beat from head to toe, did He beat them back? When He hung up on the cross, did He say, "I can't believe I am going through this for a bunch of people who hate me?" No. He said, "Forgive them-- they don't know what they're doing."

Before it all happened, Jesus asked for the cup to be removed-- but for it to proceed if it was the Father's will. And it was. We need to have that same attitude and realization. We may be able to look ahead in our lives and see suffering on the way-- big suffering, suffering that may look like too much to bear. But if it's God's will, and for His glory... which often, it is... we must be willing to accept.

I have been learning lately that just because I act Christ-like or respond in a Christ-like manner to adversity or anger, it does not mean that the other side of that will suddenly fully accept me with open arms. In fact, it may be the cause for further rejection, persecution, or struggle. Being a Christian, when it comes down to it, is not always the most popular label, and Christ himself said we would suffer for His sake.

Remember this during suffering...
I am here by God's will- exactly as He planned.
God will give me grace to conduct myself right.
God will teach me why He brought me here (to refine).
God is also capable of bringing me out of this.

Another point that was brought out during this sermon were the following thoughts:
So often, when we see others, we see them through our own eyes: who he is, what he does, and what he deserves. We need to see all people through God's love.

What if we turn those judgments/thoughts back on ourself? Who am I, what do I do, and what do I deserve? In the end, I deserve Hell... as does everyone else. No job, no personality, no beauty, no social status, no popularity will ever save a person or make him more likely to enter Heaven over another. We are all offered the same gift of Love-- and why would we not want every soul to accept? As Christians, we must see others through Christ's love and not through human eyes. A human sizes up a person and puts him into a box. God sees a soul worth saving, worth sending His only son to die for.

Love you all!

T

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Holiday

I know I promised a return with depth and insight, but instead I am trading for a pictorial update. I am always good for one of those. The past few weeks have brought about a Thanksgiving celebration as well as Christmas decorating.

Before we look at pictures, I have to talk about the weather here for a minute. Illinois has officially turned into Alaska. It's about 12 degrees out most nights. Whenever I go outside (which usually only consists of traveling on foot from my car to whichever warm building is my destination), one thought is always running through my head: Is this necessary? It is SO incredibly cold. But then, we have to be subjected to these polar temperatures before we can truly appreciate the beautiful mild Spring time, the lush green (and humid) Summers, and the bright and crisp Fall season. Right? (That's what I tell myself).

And who doesn't love snow?

I am not sure why I always end up talking about the weather. When I was younger (grade school age), I used to eat my breakfast at the kitchen table while reading the Weather section of the newspaper. I would always check out the high and the low for the day, the average temperature, the record highs and lows, and the temperature in Phoenix. I had a secret goal to become a meteorologist someday. Some dreams never do quite come true, but having the liberty to do frequent weather reports on my blog is right up there with being an actual meteorologist.

Onto those visuals...

Thanksgiving Feast-- fully equipped with BBQ turkey, the best way to eat it!

Sisters
This is how Silas feels about green beans. Actually, I think he does like them.
He's just a boy of many faces.
Applesauce Puffs-- the world's greatest cinnamon treat
Some fresh fruit to offset all of the other empty calories
Classic Tillie
Christmas Decor arrives! My mom's dining room table. This year's theme is silver and sparkle.
I can't help it
The wire tree
Banister decor
Just one of many sparkly ornaments on my mom's tall tree
The miniature tree in my bedroom
Door wreath
It's been a pleasure! I'll be back soon. Ideally, I'll be back on some snowy afternoon, and I'll be all curled up by the fireplace inside listening to Christmas music and sipping a warm cocoa topped with whipped cream, and I'll type my blog entry from the laptop warming my lap.

Ideally.

Love you all! T

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Tree is Up

Has it really been 16 days? Time flies when you're busy. Actually, time flies no matter what. That is my conclusion.

Winter is officially here. The past several days have been swathed in blustery gray, bitter wind, and intermittent flurries. I just talked to my cousin today who lives in Arizona-- it was 70 degrees and sunny there. I have often thought that I lived in the wrong state.

Although, I do enjoy the seasons. Or at least the idea of them. It goes along w/my personality. I get bored of "the same" too quickly, so variety is always advantageous. Yet, every winter, I find myself wanting to scream every time an icy wind pierces my face and halts my ability to breathe.

Along with winter comes the flu, and it has seemingly traveled through most of my family (and family units), starting the week of Thanksgiving. Somehow, I have dodged the illness. Either that, or I had it a month ago. Or maybe I just take too many probiotics, I don't know. At any rate, I am still wiping off everything I touch with disinfecting wipes and sanitizing my hands before I eat anything. Funny that we step that habit up during flu season when in reality, that is how we should always live?

In other news, the Kaiser household Christmas tree is now up. My parents and I always reserve the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas decorating at our house. We used to go chop down a live tree, but the past several years we have set up our "fake" (but still pretty), very tall tree. It sits in the addition of our house, and sparkles in the window... most can see it from the 4-way stop.

So while most are out running from store to store, getting their Black Friday bargains, we are at home listening to Christmas music and winding twinkle lights around our banister, adding sparkly ornaments to our tree, and sprinkling glittery figurines on our mantle. Except this particular Friday, right as we were starting to decorate our tree (our first project for the day), we received a phone call from my sister's house. It was her husband, telling us she was hit pretty hard with the flu, and needed someone to take her to the hospital. He couldn't do it because they had 2 other sick children at home.

Don't be alarmed; this is simply protocol for my sister. Several years back, she had the flu so terribly that by the time she got to the hospital, she was in awful condition. Ever since, when she gets sick, her body dehydrates very quickly so a hospital visit and several bags of fluid are usually needed. We are always very careful in our family to be proactive in this, so this was simply one of those times in which we needed to do so.

My mom spent the better part of her day in the hospital with her, while I stood on top of a ladder and decorated the tree all by myself. I actually quite enjoyed myself. I really like doing projects by myself, especially if it's something that is creative and low-stress. I like to move at my own pace (which is usually quickly) and I have fun in the independence of it all. Don't get me wrong; I love to be with people. And honestly, it was sad my mom and I couldn't share in our tradition together this day. Yet in the end, helping each other is what family is for, and that is exactly what my mom was doing... even if it was at a hospital.

I'll be back soon with something more inspirational. Was a bit tired and hungry tonight, so light-hearted updates always come more easily :) Love you all!

T

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Nice Run

My posts have been a bit more pensive lately so tonight I come to you light-hearted. It's been awhile so I thought I'd say a few things.

I am not a runner. By any means. But the other night, I felt like running... and then I didn't. This evening, I had the same urge. The only problem is that my night was busy until about 8:30. But when that time rolled around, I drove home, ran up to my bedroom, threw on my sweats, and was out the door.

I can't really describe it, but this feeling of urgency is inside of me and I feel like if I don't go run a mile, I might burst. So I did. I drove up to the local high school, where at least 2 different events were going on, and I circled the parking lot for a spot. Once I found one, I locked up, grabbed my ear phones, and headed to the track which was situated in the dark of the night.

I started to run. Lap 1 felt great. Lap 2 felt even better. Every gulp of air was fresh. Lap 3 started to wear me down, and by Lap 4, I was starting to tire. I called it quits at a mile and huffed and puffed to my car. My time was not anything to be proud of; in fact, I was mildly disappointed. But in the end, my goal was accomplished: I ran.

Like I said, I am no runner. It is not something I do on a regular basis. However, on nights like tonight, I become a different person with this spirit of energy and there is no stopping me!

Other than my run session tonight, I will report that my life lately has been pretty normal. Kristi and I helped celebrate Holidazzle this weekend by having our doors open Friday night and Saturday during the day. It was nice to get some visitors! I love the small-town feel that this event gives our town, and it makes me feel warm inside when our community gets together like this to celebrate the upcoming holidays.

I feel like I have slowed down from "very busy" to just "busy." This is great news!

My favorite day lately has been Sunday, for many reasons. Every once in awhile, when I'm scheduled, I get to go to the jail early in the morning and help lead women's church. I am also a part of an adult Sunday school class during morning service, in which we are currently learning about our spiritual gifts. Then comes lunch and fellowship. I always forget, and then am pleasantly surprised when I remember that we now sing in front of the church before afternoon service. It's mostly for the younger kids but anyone is welcome, so I always stand up and sing! I love love love it.

After church, I usually catch up on work around the house, read a book, work on projects, or just relax. My parents and I almost always grab dinner together, or we go out w/the family, and then we usually rent a movie. Last night, we watched Legendary. It was about a boy who gets into wrestling and through it, draws his family back together. Sounds sentimental, I know, but it was actually really good and had a very good plot. The cover read, "Is more inspirational than 'The Blind Side!" I don't know if I'd go that far, but it was good.

I have also been really into reading lately. I love to read. My favorite author right now is Jodi Picoult. She is not a Christian author but writes about very interesting things-- mostly controversial issues. She really gets you thinking. I don't always agree w/what is said but she does a good job of writing from a lot of different perspective and viewpoints, and on top of which, she's just a really intriguing and interesting writer. I have had trouble reading anything other than Jodi Picoult lately, but my book consultant (my friend's mom who lets me borrow all her books!) recently gave me some other books, so I am taking a break and reading "The Christmas Box."

Well... I should wrap it up before I keep babbling on. Speaking of wraps, I had an Aisia Chicken Crunchy Wrap tonight for dinner, but it's just not cutting it after that run so I might need to go make a smoothie before work. I best be off! Love you all!

T

Thursday, November 04, 2010

On Time

In an unexpected and touching e-mail I received from a family friend over a year ago, she had written to me, "Taryn, time slows for no one."

That phrase has often repeated over and over in my mind. I can hear her speaking the words, and every time I do, I realize I have lost even more time.

I have been feeling rather old lately. I know that when I put it all into perspective, I am really not that old. Whenever I make this proclamation, those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s quickly tell me, "You're still SO young!"

But that's what they told me 3 years ago.

How long until I don't qualify for that category anymore?

The other night, I was talking to my mom about my upcoming birthday.

"I'll be 25," I told her.

"No you will not," she replied, "You're going to be 24."

"Actually, I'm going to be 25," I told her again.

I could see the calculations going on her head. Needless to say, I most likely inherited my math skills (or lack thereof) from her. She finally agreed with me. By then, I had already reminded myself that this puts me at a quarter-of-a-century in age.

Sometimes I feel like I am trapped inside of an hour glass, staring out at everyone else around me. For others, time seems to march right on in logical order. Friends get married, have children, move on. Parents age, nieces & nephews grow taller and try out for basketball. And I stand inside the glass, watching it all go on, seemingly trapped in my life that stays still. Day in and day out, I change not, while everyone else marches on to the appropriate part of their life.

Perhaps those thoughts are just an eloquent way of justifying why my life did not necessarily pan out the exact way that I had planned. Yet I am blessed beyond measure all the same. Or maybe the time that passes just gets me panicked. No one lives forever. Every year changes a person.

I was looking through old photo albums recently. Oh, have times changed, and will continue to change.

I found myself looking at pictures of my parents in their youth. Back when I was 4 years old, they were in their mid thirties. The same age group that my older siblings are now in. I found myself staring at my sister wearing a then-trendy 80's outfit, and suddenly I was asking the question out loud, "Are we going to look back at the clothes we wear now and think we looked good?"

I didn't want to hear the answer.

But that's part of what time does.

My friend was telling me about someone who took a picture of himself every day in the same position for a year. When looking at all the pictures next to each other, you could see an evident process of aging over that year. Probably not a notable difference to just anyone who sees someone frequently, but in small, comparable increments the change was noticeable.

We are all aging whether we like it or not. In fact, by the time you get through this post, you will be just a bit older. (Perhaps just as much due to the fact that I'm wordy and this post is longer than it needs to be, in addition to the inevitable process of time).

My comfort in all of this analysis is that fortunately, my trust lies in the One who never does change. I can go from 2 to 25 to 100, and God is still the same.

Thankfully, no matter how much time and age changes a person, it will never change God. His promises will endure, and His Word is always Truth. He is faithful to the end. Over time, God gives life, and He takes it away.

And in His time, He unfolds the best.

I read this quote in one of my bible study books the other day, and really loved it:

"God may not move according to our schedule, but He is right on time for what is best."

Love you all! T

Friday, October 29, 2010

Another Cure for the Hiccups

"I have the hiccups," Kristi told me, stating the obvious, "And I can't get rid of them."

It was another typical work day at IA. I was sitting in my office, and I heard the front door to our studio open. Kristi sits up front, so she usually helps customers. I often try to listen to see who is there through the walls of my office in case I am needed with the customer who has come.

I am straining to hear who it is... and I hear a shriek.

A shriek of delight.

I stand up from my chair and walk out into the hallway. As I turn the corner, I am immediately greeted by an enormous smile and an embrace that just about knocks me off my feet.

"You two are AWESOME," I hear, as one of our most enthusiastic brides pulls away from our hug. "Everyone LOVES the pictures."

"Good, we're so glad!" Kristi and I agree in unison.

After another quick hug for me, she turns to Kristi. It's her turn.

Kristi is enveloped in a bear hug that lasts somewhere around 25 seconds. Knowing that this is not the most comfortable situation for Kristi, I smiled at her from the other side. She often tells me, "I don't like to be touched," and I'm not too far behind her with not ever really initiating physical contact or returning it enthusiastically unless I am so moved. Fortunately, today was a day that I was moved.

We walk her through the studio, as it is the first time she has seen our new place. After scheduling a time to come in and have her order session, we stand and talk for a few minutes.

This girl has to be one of our most vivacious, animated brides, and is definitely a beautiful individual inside and out.

"We were so thankful that the two of you are Believers," she told us, "It was so important to us. It just gave me such a sense of peace during the whole process. I knew what to expect, which is honesty and integrity; you don't see that in business as much today."

After she left, Kristi grabbed me and pulled me aside.

"My hiccups are gone," she stated. "I think she scared them out of me."

I've heard of the finger touch, peanut butter, and taking 3 deep breaths in a row to cure hiccups, but never a bear hug.

Anyway, I thought about what had been said. Lately, it has been making an impression on me how important it is to be a believing partnership in this business. Going into business is no easy task, especially when it is with someone as close as your best friend. There are ups and downs, for sure. But during the down times, it would be really easy to lose faith and handle situations a lot differently if we weren't unified in Christ.

I'll have to use the age-old analogy that having a business partner is like a marriage and say this: It's like comparing a Christian marriage to a non-Christian one. Both will have joys, sorrows, celebrations, and trials. But in the end, the relationship and endeavor that prospers is the one grounded in Christ, the one committed to Him and furthering His kingdom. And in this way, a business endeavor can be more than just a job... it can be a pursuit in spreading the Word through what you do.

Love you all!

T

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Church Note #2

Today will be short and sweet, because I do not have much time.

Tonight's Note:
July 21, 2010

Love is foundational.

What comes to mind when you hear the word "love?" That's right, 1 Corinthians 13. That is what we read. Bottom line of the chapter: If love isn't there, the rest won't last. And the rest doesn't matter!

This is all really quite serious. You could essentially give up your entire life and everything in it, but if it is not done in the name of Christ's love, then it's worthless. Vain. Meaningless.

It's easy to look at this chapter and think, "Oh, well, that just applies to the big sinners out there. Those that steal, murder, lie, and cheat. Or to those who just think that living a "good" life will get them to Heaven."

And well, it does. But it also applies to the Christian who knows something to be good, and doesn't do it. Or the Christian who does something good, but for all the wrong reasons. Or the Christian who poses, pretends, and completes tasks more out of obligation and duty than our of service and love. It's dangerous ground when we get so used to "being a Christian" that we forget that being a Christian means to love... at all times. And to love, everyone. We may not always like people. But we must love them. Because as a soul, any person's salvation is worth just as much as yours.

Don't do things in order to get something in return. Do it out of love.

Love does not keep score. Love forgives seventy times seven times without enabling or rescuing, but with mercy. Love is not proud.

Do you want to know the most important thing about love? God is love.

When we do things out of love, we don't expect the favor returned. Our motive is not for reward or gain, but our motive is for furthering Christ's Kingdom.

This is not a natural human trait. To wake up every morning and perform every action that day out of love does not come easily. After all, if God = Love, we are far from God, and while we strive to be like Christ, the striving is there because we aren't that way in the first place. We do good to remember who we are and who God is, and in that way, we realize that without God's grace and God's help, we are nowhere.

Love is foundational. Why? Because without it, nothing else matters.

Love you all... T

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Church Note #1



First, I will start with some fun Fall pictures. We recently had a family cookout in the park. It was a beautiful afternoon... one of the last mildly warm days we might see in quite some time. Enjoy the pictures, and then I'm going to start something new.

Ollie and me
Lola Mae... a few tears
Beau's marshmallow... golden
Typical Naomi
More S'more Making
5 on a slide!
:)
Tillie swinging
The crazy part about this is that I remember going down this slide when I was her age. Does that make me old?
Oh Sylvia.
Swinging high!

Over the past several months, whenever I attend a church service or bible study, I have been diligent about taking notes. The reason being is largely in part to the way I learn; I learn best visually. If I record a thought on paper and then revisit it later, it does two things: 1) refreshes my memory and 2) gives me a visual cue as to why the thought stuck out to me.

So... I keep this blank paper pad in my Bible and it goes with me everywhere. As I fill up pieces of paper, I paperclip them together and keep the notes with one another. Periodically, I'll thumb through them and be reminded of an excellent thought or wonderful Truth from the Word. Recently, I concluded that I should do more than just review; I should share what I learn.

As often as it moves me, I will blog about a few notes on these papers. I'll probably choose them randomly, because, well, I like to be random.

Tonight's Note:
July 14, 2010

"God specializes in problems to reveal His power and Love."

I remember now that the minister stood up and shared this thought at the beginning of his message. It was very powerful. So often as Christians, we wonder, "Why?" and the cliche question, "How could a loving God allow this?"

The answer is in the quote above. It is IN these problems and these times of trial that God's power and love come forth and His glory is revealed. I don't think God purposely strikes people dead to prove a point, but then again, He could if He wanted to. And it's in scenarios like that... the ones that catch us off guard, make us rub our chins, and wonder what the purpose is... it's in those times that the only thing left to do is to turn to God. And if Christ is in our hearts, He will deliver in a bigger way than we could ever imagine.

The wrap-up of this message was shared by another minister with this:
The Gospel in 3 words:
Faith
Forgiveness
Future

First it takes faith in God. When that is established, we recognize Jesus' death on the cross as payment for our sins, and we reap the peace of God's forgiveness. Lastly, we have a future of living for Christ and hope of eternity in our lives because of the gift we've been given.

A great summary of the Truth! Are we sharing it?

Love you all!

T

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Need to Breathe

Well, here I am. Should probably be sleeping. Unfortunately, the hours of 8pm-1am seem to be my most productive. Possibly because no one is bugging me. No one calls at this hour; no one stops over to talk, no meal times. It's great. Just 5 solid hours of work time.

I get distracted really easily. For those who know me well, this is nothing new. If there is such a thing as early onset of Alzheimer's, there is a chance that I qualify. For example, the other morning I was standing in my bedroom and I had a really good idea. I finished what I was doing (which took about 10 seconds) and as I turned on my heel to head into the direction of my good idea, I totally forgot what it is I wanted to do. That quick. It was gone. It wasn't until I was driving to work about 30 minutes later that I remembered what it was. Something in my brain triggered the remembrance. So I guess the good news is that my long-term memory is fully intact. Somewhere along the line, the information gets stored in my brain. It's just not very retrievable on-demand. It takes awhile to shift to the forefront. Crazy.

So anyway, all that to say that the reason I'm certainly most productive when the sun goes down is because there are minimal distractions. Which is a good thing. Being alone with myself is enough of a distraction... my mind is usually already going in several different directions at once. So to add other people and their interruptions or thoughts only throws me off track even more.

The reason I came to the writing board tonight is because I actually have something I'd like to share. I heard it at a Wednesday night service a couple weeks ago and thought it was a real good thought. Here it is...

It's a story about a young man who was walking with an older man. As they were walking along in the woods, the younger man asked the older man, "How have you stayed so faithful to God all your life, and with such a good attitude? How do you do it?"

The older man did not answer but took the younger man to a creek. Once there, he answered by dunking the younger man under the water. At first, it wasn't a big deal but after awhile, the younger man started to fight back. He was panicking, and felt the need to come up for air, but he couldn't escape the older man's grasp. He was drowning.

At just the right time, the older man let go and the younger man burst out of the water, gasping for air.

"How did you feel?" the older man asked.

"Like I needed air," the younger man sputtered.

"That's how I do it," the older man replied. "In the same desperate way you needed air to breathe, I desperately needed Christ to live each and every day."

Love you all!

T

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Testimony: You Never Know What You're Going to Get!

*I share the following testimony with the prayer that God will touch other hearts, no matter what hardship or struggle others may be going through. I love it that the Lord can turn the bad into good, and work the worst out for the best. During any dismal trial, when we truly have the Spirit of God in us, we have the powerful ability to comfort others who are struggling with the comfort with which we have been given by the Spirit. A terrific promise from our Lord.*

Steak is good, but it's even better when you season it.

This may be a poor analogy, but it works as a lead-in... last year at this time, God was in the process of seasoning my Christian walk. Hardships, difficulties, and emotional times often seem horrific in the midst, but when we are willing to learn, God is so willing to teach us.

At the time, my head knowledge was on key... I knew the Truth. Yet my heart was so wrapped up in emotions that were contrary to what was unfolding that I was blind to my own good advice and prayers. And to that of others.

It's interesting to look back now with a clear head and heart. I can see how God worked out a bleary situation for amazing glory and good. He took the one thing that I always wanted and desired, and He allowed me to see it as temporarily available. When a bigger issue came up, it crushed me. What I finally thought could be, and would be... was just as quickly snatched away.

But I would not let go so fast. I held on as long as possible.

Just yesterday, I read a quote that is so fitting to what my situation was:

‎"Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open." -Corrie ten Boom


After working through the worst of it, I slowly but surely started to heal. In one of the biggest surrenders of my life, I handed the broken pieces of my heart back to God so He could mend it back together.

Over the course of a year, He has done just that. When I am weak, then He is strong... a wonderful promise from God, and one I have come to know dearly and personally. What I have today is a heart stronger than it was last year, and more seasoned with the experience of Faith. What I have is an amazing testimony of how God worked in my life... in a very unlikely way... to reveal unto me where I belong. For example: I feel more involved in my church now than ever before, and my desire to be there and connect with the body is so strong. At a time in my life that could be difficult and painful, I am met with contentment and joy by God's good grace.

He has taught me that attitude is everything. When I dwell only on myself and what I want and think I deserve-- even if those things happen to be good or "for His glory" in my mind-- then I become even more unhappy when those things aren't delivered. But if I focus solely on what HE wants for my life, then I have nothing but joy to cling onto as I see Him work and unfold miracles in front of me.

Like the famous line, "Life is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you're going to get," at times, so are God's ways. Despite our best efforts, intuitions, and insight, we can't always predict God. So we're better off letting Him handle the results because the minute we think we deserve a chocolate-covered cherry, He gives us one with caramel instead, and we end up discouraged.

I don't think expectations and desires are always bad. But only looking at the "wants" and "haves and have nots" of life is a recipe for disappointment. Our job is to ask God how we can show Him the most glory and to be open to His guiding. Yet that requires complete surrender... even when He says, "No."

Because it's in the times that He withholds something good from us that He has something even better to reveal.

Love you all. T

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Man I Never Met

Some say he had terrific arm strength. Just today, a man who owns a horse farm looked me in the eye and said, "He was a very nice man. Everyone who knew him, loved him."

Also reported was that he could walk on his hands like nobody else; he could even climb stairs that way.

I never knew him. Never even got to meet him. He died of a sudden heart attack 6 years before I was born.

Sometimes, I wish I could have the chance to talk to him. Or see him. What did he look like? I hear that he liked to tease... but that he could also be quite serious. That he was quiet, but when he did talk, you listened.

I love to hear the story about what happened shortly before he died. He was a farmer, and he was out in the field. And suddenly, his dad, who had been deceased for quite some time, was there with him, sitting beside him.

They talked.

"You've had a good life," his father told him.

He lives on in so many other people, but now it's been so long that I am not sure what part is his legacy. All that I know is that somehow, part of him still lives out in me.

Someday, when I get to Heaven, I'll get to meet my Grandpa.

Love you all-T

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't Rain on my Parade

My goals were accomplished.

1) Eat an Elephant Ear.

Pictured. It was placed into my hand dripping in grease, so I looked the other direction and pretended not to see it until I had the cinnamon sugar in my hand. Then I shook vigorously... for a very long time. Until the elephant ear was covered, or until I heard Kristi say, "How much cinnamon are you going to put on that?" I don't remember which came first.

I deducted how much of this treat would keep me up all night with a stomach ache and then backed it off a few bites. Once I reached that point, I handed the rest off to Noah and Silas, my two nephews of ages 9 and 2. They were thrilled to finish it off for me.

2) Drink a Lemonade Shake-Up.

Confession: This picture was staged. The lemonade shake-up cup in my hand was not actually mine. However, I did drink one... I just failed to photograph it at the time. I will say, though, that it was truly a good experience. Most sips consisted of 80 parts sugar and 10 parts lemon and 10 parts water, making for 100% satisfaction.

3) Eat a Meal in the Food Tent.


This actually happened on the very first night! Who would have thought. Kristi and I finished up at IA around 7:15, then headed to the food tent for dinner. On the menu for me... the usual: a pork chop, nachos & cheese, pumpkin pie, and a pop. All the must-haves. I must comment on the new system put into action this year by the food tent; it is very efficient! Kudos.

4) Ride the Ferris Wheel.

This is how this went down:
5:30pm on Saturday night...
Kristi: Finally, we're done.
Taryn: Yes, believe it or not, I am about PFested out. Wait...
Kristi: What?
Taryn: I didn't go on the Ferris Wheel.
Taryn is about to shrug it off when Kristi says: You have to go!
With her mind made up, we head towards the festival.
Kristi: Who will you go with?
Taryn: Myself.
Kristi: You are going to go on the Ferris Wheel by yourself?
Taryn: Yes. I kind of like going by myself.
Kristi: You are strange.
Taryn purchases a ticket for $2.50 and gets in line.
Taryn boards the Ferris Wheel.
Kristi takes pictures with the little pink camera.


Goal #4: check.

5) Attend the Parade.
On Saturday morning, the usual crowd gathers at my Grandma's house on Jefferson St. She has always had the perfect location for the parade-viewing party. Wonderful food is brought by everyone who comes, including but not limited to hot dogs, cheese dip, donuts, cookies, and sweets.

Rumors of rain was in the air, but those in denial kept shrugging it off.

"It will slip right by us," some said.
"I think we're on the edge of the system," others predicted.
"It won't rain. Last night, there was only a 40% chance!"

However, right before coming to the parade, my dad said, "We should be prepared for rain. The storm is supposed to hit right when the parade starts."

If there's anyone who knows when to expect the first rain drop, it's Fred Kaiser. He watches the radar as if he himself is responsible for predicting what it will do.

So.

It's 15 minutes before the parade is to start. Kids are restless and excited, running around with little Pumpkin-shaped candy-collectors in their hands. Adults are standing in the lawn and along the edge of the street, talking amongst one another while enjoying a hot dog or cookie. My grandma is perched up on her normal spot on the porch, and had already proclaimed, "I'm ready for whatever it is that I'm supposed to be watching."

Yet as I peer down the length of the street, it seems to me as though all of the hundreds of other spectators standing around, anticipating the parade, are in denial of the storm clouds rolling in. Uneasily, I look to my left. Up above, the clouds are getting darker. Leaves have started to fall rapidly from the trees as the wind has picked up, and a bite is now apparent in the air.

I look to the person I am standing by and remark, "This is the point in a movie or book when you sense imminent danger."

"Yes," he agrees, "All that is missing is the eerie music."

The parade does begin. I sit on a lawn chair close to the curb, trying to enjoy my hot dog while gusts of wind blow at my face and it begins to drizzle.

Umbrellas pop up all around me, and I still attempt to eat the food on my plate as my mood grows darker along with the weather. This does not look good.

The first band to march by suddenly takes a sharp right and turns down a side street. That's not on the parade route.

But neither was the gusts of wind and downpour of rain that has now seemed to take over. Thunder sounds in the distance, and no one can mistake the faint flashing of lightning in the sky.

Not 5 minutes later, about 12-15 families are huddled in my Grandma's garage and household, where the food is now.

"The parade has been suspended," comes the announcement.

Suspended, which comes to mean, canceled.

Pumpkin Festival 2010 did not see much of a parade.

As the sad truth dawned on most of us, I noticed a small child that was crying, clutching his little empty candy bag.

Call me crazy, but at 24 years old, I wanted to do the same thing. I was mildly heartbroken.

All your life, you hear phrases like, "Starving kids in Africa" and "Don't Rain on my Parade." Until you can experience them personally, they are just a grouping of words to be tossed out when the situation seems to fit.

However, as a lot of you know, I traveled to Africa this past year and saw, firsthand, what starving kids in Africa looked like. And to me, that's not just a phrase anymore. It's real.

Much less serious but still just as true, sometimes, rain DOES occur during a parade. And at that point, it ruins it. So when someone says, "Don't rain on my parade," what it really means is, "Don't ruin this planned event that happens to be special to me."

I can't control hunger, the weather, or create world peace, but this I know: I don't like it when it rains on my parade.


6) Run the 2-mile Fun Run/Walk.

This was an added goal. It was something I was tossing around and decided to do, so since it was accomplished I will add it. My dad, brother-in-law, and 8-year-old nephew, Domniq, signed up to run the 2-mile fun run. About 2 days into the Pumpkin Festival, I decided to take my chances and do it, too. Why not?

My brother-in-law happens to be a very gifted and faster runner. His son, Domniq, seems to have inherited his skill. My dad has been running religiously over the past few months.

Me? I hadn't ran a mile since... May?

So my goal was to run the whole thing without walking.

As we arrived on early Saturday morning, I stood by after registration and waited for the big event.

"We're going to run this thing in 18 minutes," Brad proclaimed, looking down at his GPS-powered stopwatch device.

I calculated that this meant 9-minute miles. Doable... I think.

Those ambitious enough to run the 10K were situated in a huge group at the front line. The rest of us had our own line behind them. At take-off, we all moved as a giant mass down First St. By the first turn, we spread out a bit more. I kept up with Brad and Dom's clip pretty easily; my dad faded out into the background after awhile.

The first mile was mostly a breeze, much to my surprise. Every 1/4 mile of the way, Brad gave us updates.

"More than halfway done," he would say, or ,"80% completed," or "We're running at a 9-mile-minute pace right now."

We would pass by older couples who had shuffled out to the curb with their morning coffee, wanting to observe those jogging by. Towards the end, several people were lined up on the sidelines, cheering us on and waving.

By the mid to last part of the second mile, I was starting to get pretty tired. First of all, I threw this whole idea onto my body without much warning. Very little stretching, no training, and not to mention, it was earlier in the morning than I am used to seeing. However, I did push through, all without walking. Brad and Dom finished at about 16:55, and I rolled in a few seconds later. My dad was a little while after that.

Today, needless to say, I feel a bit rattled. Actually, my body feels like that of someone in her 80s whenever I try to stand up after sitting for long periods of time. I brought it on myself, though, and it does inspire me to continue to stay fit so races like this are possible. Although, before beginning, when someone heard that I had not trained, he said, "Well, she has youth on her side."

And I'm afraid that fact, more than anything else, contribute mostly to why I was able to finish without walking or keeling over and dying.

I won't always be 24, though, so next time I would be better suited if I was physically prepared.

---

Love you all! I'll be back soon with more thoughts.

T

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review

Wearing a mustard yellow dress and a camera strapped around my neck, this weekend I was both wedding photographer and brides maid. I pulled it off because I have a business partner who is a great wedding photographer, with or without me. The moments with me were a welcome break to her, but the moments without still turned out nicely.

It was a lovely wedding and a wonderful day. And I'm not just saying that because my good friend got married and it's my duty. It is all true-- my friend was a beautiful bride, inside and out. The style and details of the wedding was so "her," and everything ran smoothly. I was honored to be a part of this special day on Saturday.

Below are a couple pictures I snagged from our IA Facebook page to share with you... check our IA blog or website for more (tomorrow):




On Sunday morning, I attended an adult Sunday School class. It is something new that our church is offering. I am signed up to be in this class for the next 4 weeks with around 20 other individuals, and our teacher is a man in our church who recently lost his wife to lung cancer. His topic is Heaven.

Needless to say, the first session was a tearjerker. His interest in the topic paired with his passion for Christ and his ability to teach is going to make this class fantastic. I can't wait to see what God continue to teach us all about Heaven. He made a good point to us all: when we plan a week-long vacation, we usually do research. We're going to a new place, and we want to know all about it before we go. Fair enough. But. Are we researching with the same vigor regarding our eternal destination? A vacation lasts a week, but your final retreat after death is a forever place. Are we interested in the details, or do we just take for granted what we think we know about it? I am anxious to learn more!

Pumpkin Festival starts in about 48 hours. IA is finally coming along. Today we made great progress. I have spent about 14 out of 16 of my waking hours today at the office, but it's all been worth it. I can't wait to have our doors open to the P Fest crowd. My to-do list for the festival is as follows, despite the fact I'll be in this office for most of it:
1) Eat an elephant ear.
2) Drink a lemonade shake-up.
3) Eat a meal in the food tent.
4) Ride the Ferris Wheel.
5) Attend the parade.

If I get all that done, I'll be happy.

Tonight, during about an hour and a half of the time I wasn't at the office, I attended my small group bible study. We're studying Philippians. I really love my group. I am by far the youngest. There are 4 other couples and then another single older lady, and then me :) But I love it. I feel like I have so much to learn from the older and wiser, and the more I can surround myself with those type of people, the better.

Upon arrival tonight, the leader of the group looked at me and said, "Taryn, do you realize you are the most important person here?"

Speaking with sarcasm, I answered, "Of course. But does everyone else realize it?"

He laughed. "Really, though," he said, "You're the youngest one here. We have a lot to learn from you."

Someone else nodded.

"I think it's the other way around," I told him.

Well, kids. I better sign off. I need to get home, eat a bowl of cereal, and get some sleep before starting another busy day. Love you all. I'll end with a picture of the San Fransisco skyline I took while in CA this August. A bit random, but just got done editing the rest of my CA trip pictures tonight, and I liked this one.



T