Friday, August 08, 2014

My Blog has Moved!

Just an FYI... for anyone who checks my blog... I moved it to a new address! So if you would like updates, please read here:


Much love, T

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Confessions of a 20-Something Single Female

As a single girl in her 20s (I'll keep you guessing on the actual age), there are many realities I have come to both accept and enjoy. Here are a taste of some...

1. I love my freedom.
I wasn't always an independent person. But now, that word is the best way to describe me. 

2. They have my order memorized at all the local Starbucks locations.
I'll never forget the swelling of pride I had when I walked up to the counter at the East Peoria Target Starbucks, opened my mouth to order, and instead, the Barista filled in the blanks for me. Although, maybe I shouldn't be proud. Maybe instead, I should be booking a coffee addiction support group.

3. The Mexican food place two blocks from my house? They also have my order memorized.
Because too many are the nights when I'm driving home from work and I'm in my I'm-way-too-hungry-to-cook-and-even-if-I-did-I-would-starve-before-I-finished-cooking-it mood. Either that, or my mom hasn't called to invite me over for dinner with her and my dad.

4. For the past decade of my life, I have always worked anywhere from 3-5 jobs at one time.
And really, I don't mind it. Getting paid to sleep? Taking pictures of darling little newborns and color-coordinated families? Sign me up!

5. I used to roll my eyes at the person who made a big deal over their pets and referred to themselves as "mommy" to them....... I am now that person.
I have two cats, and they are my children. I buy them clothes, sparkly collars, and toys. I feed them and keep them alive. I have a picture of them on my desktop screensaver at work. Don't judge... they keep me warm at night!

6. I am unable to sleep in past 10am, and for this I have deep sorrow.
I'm not joking. I have completely lost the art of it. I think my ability was lost sometime between college and 3 years ago when my job made me get up at 7am.

7. Some nights, I get into my PJs at 6pm and lay on the couch watching Gilmore Girls.
Rest assured that popcorn is involved.

8. My idea of a productive Friday night includes getting my laundry done for the week and cleaning the house.
I do have a social life from time to time, but I'm just saying that the idea of folding laundry doesn't make me nauseous as it once did. In fact, it's downright satisfying sometimes.

9. My relationships are different.
But good different. I am able to invest more fully and reach out more freely.

10. Traveling.
It's an option, and I have minimal headache in making it happen.

And so it is... the life of a single girl. Today, I heard a quote that said something like, "Contentment is being satisfied in Christ, and not thinking you will only be satisfied in a different set of circumstances."

These are my circumstances, and honestly... they're pretty good!

Love to you all... be back soon.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Better than Nothing... I think!

Time slows down for no one. They always say that the older you get, the faster time goes. I find that to be true and wish I could slow it down... just a little...

I have had blogger's block lately. I can't tell you how many times I have come to the blank post board in the past few weeks. I stare at it, start to write a few paragraphs, and then close out the window, slightly exasperated and convinced I can no longer write.

So I'll make this a simple update, highlighting a few lighthearted topics, just to get back into the swing of things.

First up is Aldi. Yes, the grocery store. I just read an article about how there were two German brothers long ago that started grocery stores-- one is what we know today as Trader Joe's, a high-end, Americanized grocery store-- and the other is Aldi, an inexpensive alternative which incorporates the German way.

I've been to Aldi before, but the article inspired me to go back, so today, I did. I have determined that I should shop there from now on, that it is a "Taryn" store, for the following reasons:

1. Shopping at Aldi is like shopping in a different country, because it is so different than American grocery stores. I like that it's different; that there are boxes stacked up and lining the store instead of shelves, that you have to put down earnest money to get your cart and that you bag your own groceries.

2. Nothing is in order. This appeals to my personality. While this might cause heart palpitations for more organized, OCD types, the disorder puts me at ease. I don't like the predictable and it stresses me out less that I don't know what's coming next. It's like a surprise every time I turn a corner :)

3. Less options. This may be a drawback for some, but honestly, for me it's best. Again, grocery stores are usually a nightmare for me, because I can spend hours there. The more options, the more likely I am to get lost, wandering up and down aisles, studying the 50 different types of brownie mixes before I can make a decision. But at Aldi, you only have one option, two tops. This, for me, is like magic. I look at the product and only one decision needs to be made: do I need it, or not? If I do, I take it. If I don't, I move on. The process goes by much quicker and I find I am in and out in record time.

4. It's inexpensive. Aldi can keep their prices low because they don't have the overhead of lots of grocery staff including a bakery, flower shop, meat department, baggers, etc. Plus, they don't have to have "paper or plastic" in stock, and they're a quarter richer every time a careless shopper leaves their shopping cart in the parking lot without returning it. The drawback for me is that you have to have cash on hand and remember to bring in my own bags, but those two items are worth it if I can cut my grocery bill in half... which, in most cases, I can, for equal or greater value.

5. There is a feeling of accomplishment. Honestly, most of the time, shopping at the grocery store is something that takes longer than it needs, distracts me more than I ever plan on, costs more than I expect, and it all ends at the check-out line where inevitably, I impatiently tap my foot while waiting on the cashier and bagger to finish the process. Then, there are the nearly-dozen plastic bags I have to unload into my car, then back out of my car and into my house, where my cat Isabel promptly runs inside of one and goes tearing through the house with it hanging around her neck. But with Aldi, the checkout process takes way less time, thus minimizing the impatience. I am efficiently rung up, I wheel my cart to the nearest open spot on the loading dock, and I bag my own groceries. I like that, because I feel like I am doing something rather than just standing there letting everyone else wait on me. Furthermore, all of my groceries can fit into two large "green" bags as opposed to a dozen plastic ones. So loading into my car is easier and quicker.

Can you believe I just wrote all of that on Aldi? It's like I am campaigning for them. Maybe I am. Maybe they should pay me marketing money. But then they'd have to raise their prices, so never mind.

The next topic is exercised-induced urticaria. It sounds big, but really it's just a fancy way of saying exercise that causes hives. I first discovered this several years ago, when I was walking briskly outside one winter. It never bothered me much again until this past winter in Florida. I was walking on the beach, and suddenly my legs broke out into red blotchy hives, and it felt like one thousand bees had stung me. It is the most intense, uncomfortable feeling, and it always occurs in my thighs. I literally feel like crawling out of my skin and itching my legs simultaneously, all while contemplating getting sick. It will usually go away on its own within 5-10 minutes if I decrease or stop the exercising, but it's not fun while it lasts. It can also be avoided if I stay on an allergy pill, which I have been living on the past month or so. However, I ran out a few days ago and went on my usual sprint-walk-jog tonight, and was quickly reminded how much I hate this ailment. And I always feel slightly offended... like my body is trying to tell me I'm not in shape. I know that's not the case, that's it just an allergic condition that I have, but still. Can't I handle a little sprinting or brisk walking?

Oh, well. There are bigger problems in life.

I'll close with this... because embarrassingly, it's probably true of me.

I'll be back eventually, once I snap out of my writer's block :( T

Thursday, March 27, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you all. T

Friday, January 10, 2014


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

So I'll try. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I immediately opened the door to greet her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that's all I need to know :)

Love, T