Saturday, March 24, 2012


I have been feeling quite inspired lately.

Or better put-- filled with the Spirit's whisper.

If I took anything away from my last trip to Africa, it was that I loved to go and capture the lives and spirits of orphans... but I wanted to go somewhere different next time.

Always on my heart has been the desire to want to go to India. It may have started several years ago when I saw Slumdog Millionaire. Several people have told me about the overcrowded and smelly conditions, but it really doesn't matter to me. If I chose to stay away from a place that needs documentation due to preserving my personal comfort, then I wouldn't go anywhere.

A couple of weeks ago, my aunt was in town and shared with me some pictures from her recent trip to India. Her and my uncle were invited by a man who used to work for them. He was getting married, so they were invited to his wedding. I loved seeing all of her images and learning about how their culture handles weddings.

Then, a few days ago, I saw on the Lifesong for Orphans blog this video about Lifesong India. Immediately, my first thought was: I have to go.

It was clear to me that this would be my opportunity. I am not sure how or when this will happen, but I am praying that it works out sometime in my future.

I was talking to my Mom on the phone a couple days ago, slightly overwhelmed and emotional because of it. She asked me what it is I enjoy the most about being involved with certain events or organizations, and I told her:

Being the creative support. I love to go to a new place and capture faces and stories. I want to document it in all its truth and reality so I can then bring it home with me and used it. A picture can do so many things; it can go on a brochure. It can be at the pinnacle of a tear-jerking moment in a video. It can live on a website, or be shared with an audience.

If I can share the pictures of orphans in a way that will tell the story to many who will give, then that many more orphans are helped. And God is glorified.

THAT is what gives me passion and purpose. So, with that in mind, that is my goal if I get the chance to go to India. Capture and create.

Last night, some friends and I put on a dinner for Lifesong for Orphans in Morton. It was an amazing evening! God helped us deliver in ways beyond our control!

The goal is to plan a series of events and/or methods to raise money for a school development project in Zambia. Last night's dinner was just the first of many stepping stones to get there. We brought in $20,000 from a night of delicious food, beautiful pictures, several moving presentations and a youth choir who sang an UNFORGETTABLE song.

I had the chance to speak to a couple of VIPs in the Lifesong world and tell them of my interest in traveling to India, so we will see what happens!

On another topic entirely, today I went to see "October Baby."

Oh my goodness- a definite must-see. It's the story of a girl's journey who suddenly finds out she was the survivor of a failed abortion.

It's a beautiful pro-life film. The theme is "every life is beautiful," and since my favorite chapter in the Bible is Psalm 139, I really connect with this.

Anyway, movies like that inspire me. They inspire me to go out and live my life for purposes mentioned in the beginning of this blog post. What can I do with my talents to bless others?

Love you all!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My 12 Ankle-Biters

A few years ago, I had a small problem. I wanted to give my nieces and nephews something for Christmas, but I didn't know what to do.

Giving an actual gift would get lost in the shuffle with everything else, and was becoming an increasingly expensive venture (with 12 to buy for!)

I wanted to give them something that they wouldn't forget, something that was special to them from me. After all, I am their one and only "Aunt T" :)

SO, I had the idea to do something fun with the 5-and-olders after Christmas every year. (Something to look forward to for the ankle biters, AND I don't think the toddlers would get as much joy out of it, thus the age requirement :)

Year 1 was pizza, ice cream and ice skating. I only had 4 for that-- the 3 older boys + Sophia.

The second year, we added a couple more girls and we did spaghetti and bowling.

And THIS year, we added 1 more boy, so I split it up to boys only and girls only, and we did sleepovers at my new house.

Girls were up first (and trust me, they thought it was very cool to be the first ones for the sleepover).

They came over one evening and we made giant skillet cookies with ice cream and toppings, had a dance party, painted nails, and watched a movie. We had a blast, and "Aunt Kristi" even helped out. Definitely down my ally.

The boys' sleepover was last weekend. When I went to pick them up, I was surprised at how grown-up they seemed, just being the boys together.

They were naming off all the current popular music groups and asking me how many miles I had on my car.

When did they get so old?

I decided to do a "Pizza-themed" party for them. We started off and made pepperoni and sausage pizzas for dinner. Then we made a fruit pizza, and lastly, a dessert pizza.

After all of that food, they ran around outside and played tag, then the older boys and I walked to the movie store while Heather (a treasure for helping me!) and Beau stayed behind to clean up.

It was then that I realized that I'm not 12 anymore. The boys started sprinting, and I had to run to keep up. And, they never ran out of breath. I was thankful for the exercise after consuming so much "pizza," BUT I'm not as fast as I used to be!

When we returned, we played a game and made popcorn with the air popper.

It was a very fun night! I'm so thankful to have awesome nieces and nephews, and the opportunity to do special things with them. I am also very grateful to my friends (Kristi & Heather!) who never hesitate to come along and be a co-aunt for the night! It's always easier with a help mate :)

My favorite moment was when my 5-year-old nephew came up to me and said,

"Um, Aunt T?"

"Yeah sweetie?"

"Um, when do I have to go to bed?"

"You can go to bed whenever you want," I told him.

"Thank you Aunt Taryn," he said, "Thank you for having us over."

He has the sweetest little voice and is so endearing when he speaks. It melted my heart.

As I type this, my 8-year-old niece is scooping vanilla ice cream into a bowl for her bed time snack. I told her that she can have ice cream as long as she puts fruit on it. One cancels out the other, right? I'm baby-sitting my sister's 4 kids this week, so the fun has not yet ended! I do love being with the kids, though... it keeps me young!

Love you all...


Friday, March 16, 2012

Music to My Ears

The other day, I was sitting at the chiropractor's office, waiting my turn. As the music played overhead, I remembered a particular conversation I had with my chiropractor the week before.

"Let's see... you seem to like Country, and Jazz," I deduced.

He laughed. "If you hang out here long enough, you will hear a little bit of everything."

He was right. On this morning, a Country song was playing. I am not a huge fan of this genre of music. I was flipping through a magazine haphazardly and letting the tunes fill my subconcious.

Suddenly, I noticed my foot was tapping, and I had the sudden urge to stand up and do a cartwheel. I then realized that a jazz song came oldie but a goodie, probably a Frank Sinatra.

It's funny, the change that came over me without realizing it. I can remember when I first figured out that I loved jazz. I was in college, and I always had a brighter outlook when 8 heard this music. It is 'feel good' music, and it inspires something within me.

I find it interesting that by default, we are wired to enjoy a certain type of music. Jazz is one of those things that definitely reaches my soul; it's an internal appreciation that is there by nature.

I can sometimes feel this way about classical music, too. I love to listen to it, and I especially enjoy playing it on the piano. There is something about the way it flows that just makes sense, and it exhilirates me.

One of my other top genres is Pop. The main pitfall here is subject content. Unfortunately, in today's world, there is very little in this genre that isn't...well, simply put, trash. The message of most of this, at least the songs we see hit the top of the charts, is terrible. So I do try to limit my intake, and I search for the treasures in this area that have something nice to say. At the end of the day, though, it just makes me want to keep moving! It's great exercise music :)

In the spiritual world, I love hymns. Nothing says it to me quite like the well-written, insightful, and incredibly unique lyrics in hymns. I love the variety of melody and verse. Praise & Worship has it's place, too, but I find myself more moved by a thoughtful hymn rather than a repetitive and emotional praise song.

Well, there is my music review. Tune in next time for more thoughts on another topic! There are usually lots floating through my head on any given day!

Love you all... T

Saturday, March 10, 2012

18 Minutes

Lucky for you (or for the ones who don't prefer my LONG blog posts), I only have 18 minutes to write this. That may seem like a long time, but it's really not when you're writing. Another contributing factor is that I have no topic.

But I promised I would try to write more often, so here I go.

It's funny, but I find that I can easily put things into words when I write, but not so easily when I verbally express. Every once in awhile, I can be vocally inspirational, but mostly, I would rather write a person my thoughts than say them. Some may call this a copout, but really it's just a preference due to how I'm wired. In the past 5 years, I have learned to better communicate verbally to those who prefer that form of communication. And trust me, it has been a learning experience.


A few things I'm thankful for in the present:

1) Popcorn. Just finished a bowl. It's my favorite night-time snack.

2) Daylight Savings. The time changes tonight. I LOVE it that the days will soon be better lit!

3) Real Simple magazine. The most recent issue is sitting beside me on the couch. It's just a fun read.

Very trivial things, but it's fruitful to be thankful. Last night, a friend mused, isn't it funny how most people only remember the good times in life? I do believe that part of that is due to how a particular individual is wired, and those who are more realistic and pessimistic don't always only remember the good things BUT I do think that as humans, we have a tendency to relive and laugh about the moments that are fun and joyful and bright, so that is what sticks. Furthermore, it's a defense mechanism to cover up sadness and hurt... who wants to relive that? OK, enough psychology for tonight. My point is, it's good for your health and mind and well-being to be thankful!

Love you all!


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Life's Love

It's time for me to start updating more often.

The problem is... well, there are so many excuses I could list.

Too busy. Not enough time. Out of topics.

But the truth is, you make time for what is important.

And I'm finding that as I get older, I truly cherish my memories, and a lot of my memories are only recorded in my writing.

Fortunately, I can also record a lot of my memories with the camera. And while a picture can paint a thousand words, a picture can't remind me how I felt. Or exactly what I did, or what I learned. A picture can show you something; but it can't talk. A picture is open to interpretation; a written entry tells you straight up.

SO. In an effort to start writing more, I decided to write tonight.

I started this book called "Kisses from Katie." It's a true-life story about a girl who gives up every comfort she had in the U.S. to become a children's missionary in Uganda. I'm not very far into it, but I can already tell it's going to make me want to book a trip back to Africa very soon.

The thing is, though... I love Africa. I loved my experiences there, and I have it on my heart to continue to travel throughout my life to different countries and places of need.

But. I am reading the words on the pages of this book... words that speak of how the Lord placed within her heart an instant love for these children. I read about how she never asked for this, never signed up for it, but it just happened and it's real and it's right. How she could look past the filth and disease and see instead a child who needs to be loved.

And I can readily compare it to how I feel with the prison ministry in which I am involved. It seems so similar, because in a way, I never asked to be passionate about prisoners. I have no reason at all to want to connect with them, no hidden story that makes me similar to them. But I do, and somehow, every time I visit the jail... I just feel a love for the women there. A love that is outside of myself, a love that comes from Christ. A love that wants to reach out and teach, and talk and pray.

A love that I feel like Katie has for the children in Uganda.

And a love I feel like everyone individual living for Christ has inside of them. A love worth giving.

For some people, that love is being given to their biological children, and/or adopted children. For others, that love pours out to an employee at work, or the homeless. And even still, for some, that love gets plugged into giving financially to a wonderful cause or to taking several mission trips a year or for ministering to pregnant women who want an abortion or to the little 6-year-old kid on the playground who is bullied every single day.

I'm not sure how God has assigned that Love in each one of us to work; all that I know, is that He does. And as a believer, I have a tremendous responsibility AND opportunity to give that Love. To serve Him, and to do it daily.

I was reminded recently of the time when we will appear before the throne of God in Heaven... the time when He reviews my life and takes into account everything I did or did not do for Christ.

And I suddenly felt ill.

Not because I was afraid I would be missing a few important jewels on my crown, but because the thought of appearing before the Lord of the Universe with only the life I have lived on Earth to offer terrifies me. It caused me to review my life-- what HAVE I done for Him? It's not that I have done nothing, but have I really done everything I can?

And it's not that we are all called to give up our life and travel to a third world country, but am I even recognizing and taking the avenues to Love on a daily basis? AM I? Because in the end, I answer to that.

When I appear before God, the Ruler of my Heart, I want to know that to the best of my ability, I did everything I could to live for Him, no matter what that takes.

Because at the end of the day, my home is in Heaven, and I want to see as many souls there as I see here.

Love you all!