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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Making Time

It has been awhile, but I always eventually return. You will never get rid of me completely; the writer in me can't stay away!

Where to begin?

The last time I wrote was about 2 months ago. I was just starting my new job, and looking forward to my Jamaica trip.

I am now fully acquainted with my job-- in a way, I feel like I've already been there for a year-- and Jamaica is behind me. It is interesting how time marches on, whether we stop and realize it or not.

I continue to stay super busy, too busy, actually. Things have slowed down a little bit, but of course being gone for a week didn't help as it put me behind. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel; one thing God taught me these past few months was how to prioritize, make the most of my time, and how to say "No." Just because I CAN doesn't mean I should, right? :)

Meanwhile, I do like the new rhythm I have established, and once I can collect myself and all of my projects into an organized fashion, I look forward to enjoying things like bike rides in the evening, baking cookies, trips to the gym, and just a night on the couch in front of a favorite movie. But right now, those options seem a little far off, because other things take their place in line. That's OK; it will come.

As I always say... I would rather be busy than bored, and ironically, I am so much more productive when I have too much to do than not enough. I think I actually thrive off of fast-paced, super-busy living. I'm not inspired until I have a deadline!

Of course, as a predictable result, my devotions/prayer life is suffering. I have to make a conscious effort to make sure this happens. In a way, that is always the case; a priority is only there if you make it one. And why should this not be a priority?

Sometimes I stop and think about how foolish I am. I so often try to take things into my own hands or dwell on my anxieties instead of just breathing a prayer to the Lord. That's the thing; I always try to make it too difficult. I always envision a grandiose scenario, one in which I sit in a quiet room for over an hour, writing out prayers and feverishly studying the Bible in complete concentration. Wouldn't that be nice? And sometimes, that can happen. But most days, I'm doing good to make time for sleep. So in those cases, I need to remember that making time for God doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing mentality. It can simply mean talking to Him at different times throughout the day in my head through prayer, or taking 5 minutes on my lunch break to just stop and thank Him for the sunshine. It can be choosing a kind attitude over a frustrated one, or it can be reading a Bible verse in the morning and dwelling on it all day long instead of thinking I need to get the whole chapter read so I can "check it off my list."

I had the opportunity to share my testimony while in Jamaica with the group. It was so neat to revisit. I was actually contemplating doing a blog post on my testimony before I left, and never got around to it. It ended up being cool to just remember back where I started with my Christian walk at age 13; I wasn't perfect, but I knew I was a sinner. And as a sinner, my destination was Hell, regardless of what I had or had not done. The best part was that another guy shared his testimony, which was an amazingly miraculous transformation. He completely changed his life around. And while he may have "sinned more" than I did by the time he came to the Lord, he was still forgiven. That is the beautiful thing about grace; God does not hold back. He gives us what we need, and we do well to remember not to judge, because before grace, we are all going to Hell.

Anyway, tangent. You can count on a spiritual tangent in almost every blog post :)

There are so many other things I could share about Jamaica, but I won't tonight. I didn't necessarily want this to be a "Jamaica" post but just a nice update.

I really am enjoying my job-- I love that it is fast-paced, and no two days look the same (typically.) I like variety, and I like having creative autonomy. Also, the view is pretty cool!

Otherwise, I stay busy with photography, too. The past couple weeks have been a bit slow, but I didn't really put my camera down in Jamaica so I feel like I've been capturing a lot lately. I am so pleased that I am mostly shooting newborns and kids... that is exactly what I was hoping to do. And in a way, going to a photo shoot after a long day at work is weirdly relaxing. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it's just a way for me to "unwind" and be creative in a different way.

I am also still keeping up with the jail ministry. It really is dear to my heart. I have started going every other Wednesday night now, too. It's great because I feel like I can establish an ongoing relationship with these women, rather than seeing them maybe once a month (by which time I have forgotten their name). I feel privileged that God has given me a special love in my heart for them. I know it's not for everyone. And that's OK. It takes all kinds; some are called to do kids, some love the handicapped, and others take care of the elderly. I like the prisoners :) There is something about seeing beyond the veil of brokenness and pain that intrigues me. To me, there is ALWAYS beauty hiding behind it. I have always been about being "real" and getting down to the raw. You definitely go there when you're in jail.

Well... I should go. As I always say... I'll try to be back sooner rather than later. We'll see!

To close, a picture from Jamaica. This is one I took at the infirmary-- the place that touched me the most.

Love you all,


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Direction of My Passion

National tragedies always bring out an interesting side of people.

Some appear shocked:
How could this happen? What is this world coming to? Who would do such a thing?

Others use it as a means of pointing to their own causes:
Why do we react in such horror to this when children are starving in other countries and dying every day?

And still others act as a sponge, soaking in every possible inch of data to form their own conclusions.

For me—I tend to have a “big picture” approach. It’s how I’m wired. And I’m not here to point out whether other’s reactions (or my own) to this tragedy are right or wrong; I simply want to share my thoughts on the situation.

My first reaction to the bombing was… That’s terrible.

My second thoughts were: Two bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, and only 3 were killed? That’s not a lot. I don’t mean to belittle it—it was definitely three too many—but I was thankful that it wasn’t more destructive in terms of numbers of lives lost.

Another thought I had was—why ARE we so surprised by this act of evil? This world is an evil place. The hearts of man are desperately wicked. On Sunday, one of our ministers shared, “Evil in this world should NOT surprise us. The only thing we should be surprised about regarding evil is HOW PATIENT GOD IS WITH IT.”

I agree.

With that, I don’t think we should just become complacent and say, “Well… oh well. We live in an evil world… what can we do. I guess we’ll just start to accept it…”

Rather, my hope is that events like this do 2 things:

1.     Reminds us of God’s sovereignty. Certainly, God does not inspire these events. But He IS in control. And He has all power in His hands. We have been warned by Scriptures that the end times will be terrible: full of evil acts, wars and rumors of wars, sinful activity, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes… the list goes on. With that in mind, AND knowing that the Lord has a master plan in which all of these things work together for His good (ultimately), we can rest in that comfort rather than being ruffled by the externals.
2.     Renews our perspective concerning spiritual warfare. And when I say spiritual warfare, I mean as a whole (as big as wars and evil acts like bombing a marathon) and individually (all the way down to the very hearts of the bombing brothers).

I often attend a prayer meeting at church that takes place before services each Sunday. Last week, I was so thankful for a lady who had the conviction to remind us to pray for the surviving brother responsible for the Boston bombing.

“He is currently being treated in the hospital for his injuries,” she explained. “There is an opportunity there for someone to witness to him, and tell him about the salvation message.”

She’s right. So often, we forget about the criminal, waving him off as a lost cause. Who wants to pray for someone who just tried to kill thousands of people?

It caused me to think, though. As I have been keeping up with the news and the search for “motive” and the research of evidence… the thing is, these brothers in crime had a passion. It doesn’t appear to be against American people but the American government. Specifics don’t necessarily matter; the concept is that they had a strong passion that led them to a terrific act. They had something to say. They were diligent and purposeful in what they did, and one even died for the cause.

This sort of wrongfully placed passion reminds me of someone from the Bible—Paul. Before God got a hold of him, he was placing his energies in all the wrong causes. But once he saw the Light, He was an amazing instrument for Christ. Without Paul, a large part of the New Testament wouldn’t even exist. A lot of our practical application in Christian living wouldn’t be written. He went from fighting against a cause to contributing to a large portion of its future reach.

It’s amazing, really, when you think about it. And I’m not hear to suggest that the young man responsible for taking lives in Boston last week will be a “Paul conversion,” but I’m here to point out that it’s possible. ANYTHING is possible with God. It is awesome to me that anyone with a passion, even if it’s in the wrong places and for the wrong things, can be converted into something beautiful.

And it brings me to my final point: this guy’s salvation. I have always had a heart for the brokenhearted. It’s why I am in the jail ministry. I wholeheartedly believe that deep inside every individual’s soul is a beautiful story, waiting to be told. Depending on family history, past circumstances, how someone grew up, choices made, values taught… sometimes it’s a lot harder to break down the walls of filth to get to it. But it’s there.

It is ironic to me that this guy is sitting in a hospital right now, being treated so he can live, only to find out that he has a sentence to die. How would you feel if you were one of the nurses giving him care?

But it begs the question… who promises you tomorrow? Aren’t we all “sentenced to die?” Maybe not because of a crime we committed… but then again, wait. Weren’t we all born as sinners, and it’s because of sin that we die a human death? It is ONLY Christ’s gift of salvation that allows us any other option post-death.

So the guy that still lives… who cares about him right now? Who cares for HIS soul? Who wants to share the salvation message with him? And… maybe it IS a lost cause. Maybe he has made up his mind. After all, he was willing to take lives, and quite possibly his own, to do what he did. That’s the kind of faith he had in his beliefs. But I still think of Paul. And I think of God, and how nothing is impossible. And I pray for that soul, because it’s still not too late.

I also examine my own standing with my Faith.

Where is my passion level for MY Faith? Am I willing to do something radical for God? So radical that it affects many lives?

So radical that it may mean losing my own?

I am thankful to live in a free country and a very accepting Christian community. SO thankful. But this past week, my views have been shaken and my perspective has been enlarged. It may not always be so easy to proclaim what I believe. How am I doing now, when I’m not punished for it? Sometimes, I know I take the easy way out.

Daily, I have to remember: die to self. To live is death, and to die is gain. In the end, God gets the glory. In the end… I live in Heaven.

Who’s going to be with me?


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Happy Spring!

The windows are open in my house... so refreshing.

Well... kind of. Despite it being REALLY warm inside and the little black bugs that have made their way into my house, I am definitely enjoying the Spring weather.

So is Lily. Her newest project is to hunt and kill all of the bugs, and mine is to sit on the couch as still as possible so I don't break a sweat. I will take this ANY DAY over the snow storm we had a couple weeks ago, that's for sure.


Anyway, some news in my life.

I am starting a full-time job this coming Monday. The opportunity came up for me a couple weeks ago. I am not going into full-fledged detail here on my blog, but if you see me in person, feel free to ask me about it! I will say that it is a marketing/graphic design position, and it's in East Peoria. It sounds very fast-paced and exciting, so I am anxious to get started and see what it is all about!

Also, I am on a 30-day trial, so I would appreciate prayers for anyone who wants to lift me up... just that I would be able to put forth my talents in the best way possible and shine in this new role. Additionally, that I would be willing to let God guide me and be open to whatever He has for me!

Ideally, I would love it if this worked out. God has been teaching me a lot about myself over the past several months, and one of the things I have learned:

I am a passionate, creative, free-spirited person, but with that I need structure. So to me, having a stable, full-time job that ISN'T just a "desk job" but something energetic, active, and creative, then with the opportunity to supplement with my photography business on the side, sounds like perfection.

However! I leave that up to the Lord, and in the mean time I am just thankful for the opportunity to give this a shot.

Moving on...

I am going to start going to the county jail twice a month on Wednesday nights. Tomorrow evening is the first time I'll go. I'm really excited. I usually just go on Sundays when I'm scheduled, which ends up averaging about once a month, but now I'll get to go even more often. I feel like it will be a little more laid back than Sundays, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the ladies more.

I did go last Sunday and met a girl. She was an amazing encouragement to me. She had transferred from another nearby county jail and had just arrived. She talked about someone else in the ministry who had introduced her to Christ within the past month.

It was SO cool to see how much she had already dug into the Word. She spoke of Bible verses and Jesus' teachings as if she had studied them her whole life. When I asked her if she grew up with a church background, she said no. This surprised me, since she already seemed so familiar with a lot of Scripture.

More than anything, it was so exciting to me to see how enthusiastic and peaceful she was from the Word. It was evident that Christ had transformed her life and her attitude, and her insights and wisdom were already on solid ground.

I look forward to seeing her tomorrow night when I go and I will be passing along a Bible that the previous lady promised to get her. I am so thankful for the freedom to give Bibles to prisoners, meet with them about Christ, and pray with them. It's such a liberty, one we take for granted. I'm glad God is still allowed in jail!

Anyway, enough for tonight. Love you all!


Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm going to try to post more.


Here's the start... by me posting TWICE within a week!

I saw this today on Tony Evans' Facebook page and liked it. What makes me smile? When I have joy, but sometimes joy can't be brought on by just happiness. It has to come from deep within... kind of a confident assurance from Jesus that You are loved, cared for, and accepted, despite external circumstances. To me, often joy goes hand-in-hand with peace.

A smile can do a lot... and when you can't muster one because you "feel" like it, reach deep inside yourself and find your Faith... and I guarantee, it will bring a smile.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Garden

By now, you would think I could have the more elementary things figured out in life, such as...

Being selfish doesn't make you happy.

No matter how much you gain or lose in life, true joy and contentment comes only from having Christ.

People will always disappoint you, because they are imperfect. God will not disappoint you, so why not trust Him?

Daily communion with Him (prayer, reading the Word, worship), the closer you feel to God. It is a relationship that is always worth investing in.

Love and grace are a gift given to you by God. Ask for them and use as needed!

So, all of these things and more, God has been teaching me lately. Attaining completeness in any of these concepts will be a lifelong journey, really. I will only truly be complete when I reach Heaven.

I feel God drawing me close to Him right now. Or maybe it's just that in me "drawing near to Him, He is drawing near to me." Whatever the case, I am loving the feeling of peace I have regardless of my external circumstances. I have had a lot of opportunities to trust Him lately. I am thankful for a God who loves me and cares for me so deeply.

As the Easter season is upon us, I have been thinking a lot about His sacrifice lately. I can have a tendency to become apathetic towards repetitive holidays, no matter how spiritually meaningful they may be, much to my shame. This year, however, God has awoken me to a passionate longing to meditate on the importance of His sacrifice and plug in to His Word in general right now.

Last week, I studied and shared with the ladies at prison the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I'm not sure why, but recently that story struck a chord in my heart. I believe it's the idea of Jesus praying to God in the garden with tears of agony, knowing full well what His mission would be but in his humanness, wondering if there would be a way around it. He knew what He had to do to save mankind... But, was there any other way?

There wasn't. And while Jesus asked, He also said... "Not my will, but thine."

How often do we have this attitude? As humans, we want to avoid the path of hurt and pain. Sometimes, we feel it impossible to believe a loving God would allow it. Are we as quick to say,"Not my will, Lord... But yours?"

Jesus knew it was the only way, yet as a human he could have also chosen not to go through with it. He could have thrown in the towel.

Why not? Up until this point, it's not like we had a very good track record with him. His own disciples-- those closest to Jesus while He lived His life here on Earth-- betrayed Him, denied Him, and scattered.

I think they wanted to believe Jesus. But in the final moments, they were scared. Scared for themselves. Scared of what would happen. Selfish.

And yet, Jesus decided to save us. He did it because He loved us. And He loved us despite how short we fell.

I go back to the story of Jesus in the garden because to me, it illustrates a struggle. It shows me that while Jesus was perfect, He was also human. And being human, he experienced our pain, our shame, and our problems. He knows what we go through when we cry, when we're angry, when we are sad or upset or disappointed. When we feel lonely or forgotten or betrayed... He knows. He knows what it is like to have to make a hard decision, even if you know in your heart it is the right one. He knows what it feels like to be beaten, tormented, despised, and rejected.

He also knows what it feels like to smile, and to laugh. To feel human touch, and to give a hug. To walk next to a friend on the sand, and to reach out a helping hand. He knows what it feels like to have little children sit on his knee, and he knows how to teach an audience. He walked and talked with several personalities while he was here, and he loved them all.

Anyone who may know me, knows that I am all about being "personal." I don't typically enjoy small talk and avoid it if at all possible. With that, I have loved revisiting how very personal our God and our Saviour is... So personal, in fact, that he "dwelt among us in the flesh."


Tonight I had the privilege of going through a "journey to the cross" tour that my church put on. It was phenomenal, and told the story of Jesus' path to the cross while tying in personal meditation and reflection. As you were led through dark hallways lined with little lights and into dark rooms with a narrator and soft music, you were guided through the story of Jesus. You smelled the ointment Mary used to wash Jesus' feet. You held coins in your hand and listened to the clank of then as they hit the table to symbolize Judas' betrayal. You saw His crown of thorns and meditated at the foot of His cross. You saw the rock close up the tomb, and the hope and light of a risen Saviour.

This Easter, I am thankful to Jesus for deciding to love me and save me. I am thankful for Heaven. Some days, when Earth seems hard, I wish I was there now. But selfishly. Because while I am still here, it must mean God has work for me to do.

Lately, my prayer has been one of open hands... In most all areas of my life.

I have been asking the question:

God... What will you have me to do?

Love you all.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meeting Cori

I have always loved letters in the mail.

Several years back, God put it on my heart to get involved with the prison ministry. I didn't know how or why, but I knew it's where I needed to be.

I became involved through my church by visiting inmates in a nearby county jail. I am scheduled to go talk with these women about once a month on a Sunday morning. I love it.

Not long after I started doing this, my church also offered a program that involved writing to the incarcerated. Because of my loves for letters and my heart for those in bonds, I knew it was the perfect fit for me!

I was assigned a girl named Cori. I could tell from her very first letter that it was going to be good. She wrote honestly and thoroughly, and I immediately felt a connection. We continued to write letters back and forth during the entire course of her stay in prison, which ended up being for the next three years.

It was amazing to see her growth, and watch her transform throughout this experience. I was amazed at her attitude and her candidness, and how willing she was to learn and grow.

She is only three years older than me, so it felt easy and natural establishing a relationship with her. We talked about a lot of experiences, thoughts, emotions, fears, and struggles. It was always so refreshing to hear from her. We wrote about me coming to visit her while she was in prison, but it never worked out.

Last Spring, she was released from prison. She is under a 2-year house arrest, so when we talked about meeting again, that meant that I would go to her.

This past Saturday, I made the 3-hour trek to Grayslake, where her parents live. It was a drive, but it was so worth it. People kept questioning me about safety, and why I was choosing to drive such a far distance in a short amount of time, etc.

I knew it was right, and that's the confidence I stood by. I knew in my heart, based on our letters and our relationship, that I could trust her. And I wasn't surprised at all when I pulled up to her parents' house, and it was in a very nice neighborhood.

I used the drive to pray off and on all the way there. I really wasn't nervous to meet her-- just excited. When I arrived, Cori met me at the door, as well as a big, burly dog :) She invited me to the basement to chat for awhile. Unfortunately, I was on a time crunch, but we talked away 2 hours without it feeling like any time at all had passed!

Overall, I was amazed and overjoyed by how grounded she was. Her outlook on life, her insight about situations, her advice, and her attitude were all amazing. I was glad to hear about many support groups and people in her life to help her get through this time. And most of all, I love her honesty and forthrightness about where she is at. She told me about her desire to grow.

"My biggest fear is to wake up a year from now the same person I am today," she said, "I want to be able to look back and see growth in my life."

This hit home hard with me, as I have recently traveled through an apathetic stage in my life... it's easy to fall into a rhythm that is selfish and simple, when we are called to live radial lives of challenge, growth, and love!

If I lived closer to her, I know I would visit her more often, but we said we would definitely keep in touch via phone and letters.

That night, when I got home, I received a text message from her saying,

"It was really cool to be able to spend time with you in person today. Thanks for making the trip out, I know it wasn't a short one. It was by no mistake God placed us in each others lives. I'm grateful you're on this journey with me."

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Love you all,


Monday, January 28, 2013

Through Heaven's Eyes

I have decided that I love my life.

The thought occurred to me last Wednesday, when I was driving home from working in Pekin. I realized how extremely blessed I am.

I feel like I lead a life that the more "orderly" types would cringe and run away from... but that is precisely why I like it.

In fact, I feel like Jennifer Lopez's character in the film Monster-in-Law. She had about 8 different jobs: she was a dog-walker, a doctor's office receptionist, and many other things.  I remember watching that movie several years ago and thinking it would be so fun to live that kind of independent, carefree life, but knowing it would probably never happen.

Well, it did happen. To me.

The thing is, though, I love all my jobs. And I love that I don't have to wake up every morning and do the same thing everyday. I love that I get "paid to sleep," but that I also feel like I'm making a difference and I get to work with special, heartwarming people. I love that I can help serve my church in a small way, and on my own time. I love that I get to use my graphic design skills to help out at a marketing company in my FAVORITE town :) and I love that this job gives my life structure, yet is so unpredictable in its hours that I could be called at the drop of a hat and be needed the very next hour. I love that I get to run my very own creative business, one in which I could not even possibly be confident enough to run without my foreknowledge and experience of co-running a previous photography business with a friend for 5 years prior.

The combination of all of these things is what works for me right now. It may not be a "forever" status, but for now, I like how each of these roles fit together like pieces of a puzzle to make up my "career." Every single job uses different facets of my personality and talents to help fulfill my heart.

And if anyone is still wondering, my ultimate dream job would be to travel as a missionary photojournalist, but for now, I'm letting that be another "part-time" volunteer endeavor that may pop up here and there in my life :) 

It's amazing that I can write all of this right now, because I have actually been rather discouraged lately. I think I am letting Satan get my down. I let him speak lies to me and stir up hurt in my heart, and he pushes me to regress and regret. But it usually doesn't take long for me to put on my "big-picture" glasses, and I'm back on track.

If I look at any portion of my life under the microscope, I'm in trouble... I have to gaze at the sky, instead. I have to remember that my very life is only just a vapor... and what am I really here for? Sometimes I lose sight of that when I become too wrapped up in myself, and I bypass the very tools God has literally handed me. He has given me an opportunity that not many people get... the opportunity to care for people, to have a part-time position doing my first love, to stay involved with my church family and lastly, to be an entrepreneur and continue to enjoy what I love most: capturing life. What more could I really ask for? It's like He is saying, "Taryn, I have designed you very uniquely to carry out my purposes in an unconventional way," because... let's face it. I'm anything but conventional in the way I do things!

Like I said, with all this "LOVE," I'm not above getting down. In fact, I'm the best target for it. It is daily that I must equip myself with the Sword of the Spirit and the Truth of His Word, and honestly, the minute I humble myself in His Love, it's like Satan withers away. The devil knows his place, and when I remind him that I am content with where life has placed me, he moves on. 

That's just it: It's easy to look back with rose-colored glasses. But as I recently discussed with a friend... the grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side. And why is that? Because we are a disgruntled people. We're used to instant gratification and when we get what we want, we're still not happy. Someone else always has what we think we should have, and so on. But at the end of the day, who really cares? That's the thing. How many people have we truly touched in all of our bickering and bitterness and covetousness? 

I heard this song for the first time in a long time this weekend, and it was exactly what I needed to hear... I love its lyrics and it spoke to my life right now. Here it is:

Through Heaven's Eyes 
(Prince of Egypt soundtrack)

A single thread in a tapestry
Through its color brightly shine
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the grand design

And the stone that sits on the very top
Of the mountain's mighty face
Does it think it's more important
Than the stones that form the base?

So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life

Look at your life through heaven's eyes

A lake of gold in the desert sand
Is less than a cool fresh spring
And to one lost sheep, a shepherd boy
Is greater than the richest king
If a man lose ev'rything he owns
Has he truly lost his worth?
Or is it the beginning
Of a new and brighter birth?

So how do you measure the worth of a man
In wealth or strength or size?
In how much he gained or how much he gave?
The answer will come
The answer will come to him who tries
To look at his life through heaven's eyes

And that's why we share all we have with you
Though there's little to be found
When all you've got is nothing
There's a lot to go around

No life can escape being blown about
By the winds of change and chance
And though you never know all the steps
You must learn to join the dance

So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through heaven's eyes
Look at your life through heaven's eyes

Love you all!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Real Life

Well... it has been awhile.

I am now on the other side of holiday cheer, the whirlwind of transitioning into a new business, and my 27th birthday.

My blog always seems to be the place that I feel obligated to be honest. I think it is because I have always, ALWAYS been truthful when I take the time to write. It is like FINALLY at last, all of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that have been swirling around in my head come pouring out. I sometimes don't even know what any of it is until I write it out, and my own hands surprise me with what they type onto the screen.

Strangely, I have been good lately.  I shouldn't say that it is strange-- it is truly a blessing. I often think about the couple of weeks following the split of Imagine Artists, and how I received the unexpected yet amazing outpouring of love and support from all kinds of people. I know now that God put that there for me to look back upon as a vote of confidence from the Lord himself.

However, what follows is real life. God promises to take care of me, but He never promises that it will be easy. A week ago, I was sitting Indian style on the floor of my friend's new studio. We were both looking at each other through tears in our eyes. Those tears were a testament to the hurt and pain we have both suffered as a result of our split, and while I wish I could say it was the last tears either of us will shed over it, I know I would be wrong.

Somehow, though, the hard times spur me into confidence. Not confidence in myself, of course-- but confidence in the Lord. It reminds me to realize that without Him, I fail, and there is no possible way to get through anything difficult without His help. And I am so confident in HIM-- what He can do, who He made me to be, and what He will do with my life.

And it is then that I realize that I have a tremendous responsibility. Those reflections almost always spin me into a forward-thinking motion, gazing at the "big-picture" reality of life and everything that it means. I usually have the sudden urge to book a flight to a third-world country to start a photo-journalistic missionary business, or start serving full-time at a soup kitchen in the south side of Peoria, or take foster classes and adopt 10 children without loving families.

Once I have had a chance to remember that my own life and backyard can be a mission field, I settle in and just open up my hands, reminding myself that God has me exactly where He wants me. I cannot question Him, I cannot drive myself crazing over-analyzing it or predicting what it could mean or what lessons He may be trying to teach me or what amazing adventure He does or does not have up His sleeve next; my one and only job is quite easy. It is simply to rest in His loving-kindness, allow myself to be wrapped in His arms of love, and breathe easy in the confidence He gives me by obeying Him with complete contentment and trust.

It is then that I can truly see my purpose in this life, and it is then that I am reminded that my problems here in life are so futile. It puts my passion into perspective, and it reshapes my day-to-day into a meaningful melody. I love it.

But since I'm all about honesty, I have to admit that lately, I have not been doing any of that. This weekend, one of my very dear friends who is always a breath of fresh air and spiritual insight was telling me about a Bible reading plan she was doing that she thought I would enjoy. It convicted me, because I am not in a place where I am consistently in the Word or even talking to God through prayer. It's not purposeful; it's honestly just me being complacent. I hate it. And I'm going to change it. Now.

Not because it earns me points in Heaven, or because God will give me a gold star. Not because it will make me feel better about myself or show how "spiritual" I am. Not even because it's the right thing to do. But only because by talking and listening to God, I will be paying attention to the best and most important relationship that I have in this life.

Nonetheless, I am happy. I am full of joy. I love my life & everyone in it. And all of that is cause to be thankful.

Thanks for listening to me... I'll try to get back sooner rather than later next time with some fun stuff.

Love you all!