8.04.2017

To know and be known by him

I hope my life speaks to my love of Christ.

I hope goodness and mercy follow after me and flow from me.

I hope the signs mentioned in Mark 16 are present in my life: speaking with new tongues, laying hands on the sick and seeing them be healed, etc.

But more important than all of that, I hope I know God and I hope He knows me.

We can be so close to the church and even identify as a Christian but be far from Him.. So focused on doing work for God that we forget to know God. 

Lots of people were near Jesus in the crowd, but the woman with the issue of blood was the only one that touched Him.

If I busy myself with the work of God, but neglect my relationship with him.. I've missed the point. If my biggest concern is making myself known, I've missed the point.

In a world full of people seeking to know and be known by others, may we seek to know and be known by Jesus.

4.06.2017

I don't know what's coming, but I know it's gonna be good.

When I was a kid, I planned out my entire life with the help of a MASH game or two or 10 until I got one with the most favorable answers. I was SURE it would happen exactly like I dreamed, because that's how life happens in the movies.. And well, because that's sometimes how life happens in real life. Although I would quickly learn that sometimes that's how life happens in real life.. just for other people.

You see, twenty-five was THE golden age. I'm not sure what it was about twenty-five exactly that made my kid self geek out. But she sure thought it would bring fulfillment, even completion. When I looked into my crystal ball to the twenty-five year old me, I was married... duh. To a handsome and funny and kind man. He and I had a love story that made Cinderella and the others jealous. We lived in a big house, or sometimes a shack, because odds are you weren't getting everything you wanted in MASH. I was definitely a mom to 2, maybe 3 beautiful, smart, funny kids who all started speaking in full sentences at 13 months, never talked back, and always ate their vegetables and always cleaned up after themselves. Remember, this is kid me (and maybe adult me) wishing these silly, impractical things. Oh, to be a kid again.

But God definitely has a sense of humor because I told him my plans and he said, "Bet." Word to the wise: Never bet opposite God... House always wins in this casino. And so, as if I made all my childhood wishes on Opposite Day, (almost all of) my twenties came and went without a drop of romance. The golden age flew by and I was neither married nor a mother and my relationships certainly weren't making anyone jealous. I spent a lot of those years in prayer asking God, "Why?" and "Why not?"

I didn't usually hear back from him, but that probably had less to do with him and more to do with me. I have a case of what my mom likes to call Selective Listening. She says I get it from my dad. I wanted God to say that he had forgotten about me, that it had slipped his mind to send a family my way.. but that he was sorry and would fix it right away. But God wasn't saying that, because he's no one's genie. And so, I wasn't listening.

I closed my ears and entertained myself with my own cruel and misguided thoughts: I thought because my life wasn't progressing at the rate of those around me, it wasn't progressing correctly. I thought because no suitors were calling, something had to be inherently wrong with me. I thought because my finger lacked a ring, my life lacked meaning. I thought because churches favor married people, my ministry was on pause until the day I died or the day I said I do, whichever one came first. I thought because no one was calling me Mom, I wasn't responsible for birthing new life. I thought because God wasn't answering me, he either didn't care or couldn't do anything about it.

Life quickly became dreary and burdensome. Again nothing like I imagined when I was a child. The perfectionist in me couldn't come to terms with this off-track life I thought I was living, so along came my dear friends, anxiety and depression, and their cousins, guilt and failure. It took a while for me to part the clouds and start listening for the answers to the questions I'd been asking for years, instead of just pretending that something was wrong on God's end.

Nope. Something was definitely wrong with me and the unrealistic expectations that society and I had placed on myself. I was struggling through life and losing every battle because I was wearing armor that wasn't designed for me. I was counting myself out because other people seemed to be already at the finish line, when in reality, we were playing different games. I didn't understand that God intended me to run the race he had set before me, and Sally to run the race he set before her, and Jimmy to run the race he set before him. And while our paths might intersect at different points in life, our races were our own.

Crazy how it happens.. the more I began to listen for his voice, the more I began to hear him speak into my life. Over time, he began to teach me some lessons about himself, about myself, and about staying in my own lane. I'm going to elaborate on two really important lessons he taught me during this time that have helped me for the better:

The first being, God is as unchanging as life is changing.. His goodness, his faithfulness, his grace, his love, his being never change, diminish, or falter. Therefore, God is always worthy. On good days and on bad days and on those grey in-between days. Whether we're married, single, divorced, or widowed. Whether we're parents, not parents, can't be parents, don't want to be parents. Whether we've outlived our parents or even our children. God is still worthy. When we understand and when we don't. When we are sick and when we are healthy; when we have money and when we don't. God is still worthy. In seasons of blessing and in seasons of famine. In times of growth and in times of pruning. In a perfectly planned out life or in a flying by the seat of His pants life. God is still worthy and he will be forevermore.

The second was definitely the hardest of the two: Nothing in this life is about me. Sure, sometimes I like to pretend that the Sun (and the Son, if I'm being honest) revolve around me and are here only to bring me joy.. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Truth is I am here to bring God joy. I am here to praise him according to his greatness, not according to his ability to follow my plans (but trust me, he has the ability to follow our plans, he just doesn't need or want to follow our crap human plans. So I guess, if I were praising him according to his *ability* to follow my plan, I'd still have to praise him).

Yet somehow, I convinced myself that my life existed so I could be the happiest or the prettiest or the smartest (which will only lead to disappointment because there will always be someone happier, prettier, and smarter than me). At its core, my life is to point people to Christ. Plain and simple. Every blessing, every trial, every sin, every betrayal, every valley, every mountain has been crafted so that I react and live in such a way to bring glory to God. If this life brings me nothing but earthly pain and I use it to draw people to Christ, I will be able to look back and see only beauty. If this life falls short of every earthly success but meets God's expectations, I will not feel any loss. This life is about him, not me.

So with these lessons learned, I started praying those "Why?" and "Why not?" prayers a little less and started thanking God a little more for the path He's chosen just for me. I stopped complaining and started asking him for help to run my race with endurance even when I can't see around the next bend or over the next hill, which is often. You see, God isn't confined to our limits of time and space and knowledge.. My odds are astronomically higher if I allow him to call the shots, because remember: House always wins in this casino.

My favorite song right now is Adelina by Johnnyswim. When they sing this song live, Abner and Amanda start ad-libbing and sing, "I don't know what's coming, but I know it's gonna be good." over and over. I seriously get chills. If I had to pick a life motto, something I want to be known as saying often, it's this:

I don't know what's coming, but I know it's gonna be good. I have no idea what God has planned over the next couple months or the next fifty years. I don't know if kid me will ever get her "happily ever after" ending. But I do know God loves me and has good things in store for me. Whether it's a life filled with pain or joy or sorrow or laughter or heartbreak or love or loss, I know it will be good because God makes all things good in time. And even if he chooses not to in my life, God is still good. And that's enough for me. 

9.10.2015

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015 + Don’t promise me the world, just promise me tomorrow.

Around the world, there is one suicide every 40 seconds
Think about that. EVERY FORTY SECONDS.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. And today, over 2000 people will choose to take their own lives. There will be people that you will see and talk to today that feel they are at the end of their rope with no other way to end the pain they are feeling. They have a bought into a lie that their tomorrows will always be like their today. Please find a way to get involved today. Help someone. Talk to a stranger. Smile. Call a hotline (1-800-273-8255). Talk to a friend, a counselor. Get helpTake 5 minutes to learn the signs of suicide. Do something.

---

Today is full of real-life aches and pains, deadlines and demands, busy and stressful moments, but tomorrow holds so much hope in its arrival.

Hope that the sun will come out.. tomorrow.
Hope that healing and rest is coming.
Hope that tomorrow will be different.. that tomorrow, the sun can shine a little brighter and the darkness can feel a little less overwhelming.

I don't know if tomorrow will bring any of that.. but I'm crazy enough to believe it just the same.. And I promise that I’ll still be here to find out..

Will you do the same? Promise that you’ll look past today and see hope?
Don’t promise me the world, just promise me tomorrow.
Promise me that you won’t quit today, because there is still something for you here.

--

One of my favorite non-profits, To Write Love on Her Arms, is challenging people to share why you'll still see them tomorrow. Here are a few of my reasons:

You’ll see me tomorrow, because I have a long list of to-dos that are still unchecked.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because there’s ice cream in my freezer that I can’t eat until October.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because there are 4 continents, dozens of countries, and a couple oceans that I haven’t put my feet on or in yet.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because September is the best month ever, and I’d hate to miss it.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because I am not BFFs with Taylor Swift yet.. October 17th, here I come! #TashandTay #Tashlor #Taysha #werestillworkingonit
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because I have a weekend trip to Cali to see my older sister receive a well-earned diploma.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because I haven’t gotten married yet, because I’m not a mother yet… and most importantly, because I have at least 10 really good baby names filed away for future use. :)
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because my apartment is a mess and I’d hate for my family to have to clean up after me.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because I haven’t gotten my half-marathon time down to 2 hours yet.. And I didn’t wake up at 5:15 this morning to work-out for nothing.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because FOOD. All the food I’ve yet to eat.
 
You’ll see me tomorrow, because I’m too competitive to leave the race early

xoxo,
Tasha

Linking up with Sincerely, Paula and Annie + Natalie with #thoughtsforThursday.

7.01.2015

Bye Felicia, I mean Debt: Update 2

If you missed the first post about my "live a simple life, get-out-of-debt, say good-bye to Felicia" challenge and want to catch up, here's the link.

In a nutshell, I started the year off with credit cards and a car loan that totaled a whopping $19,039.42. I pretty much stopped spending money and starting putting all my extra cash to my debt, and between January 1 - April 1, was able to pay off $8,447.71!

Now, I'm back for my 6-month check-in. Let's see how I did!

starting debt, as of April 1:
CCs: $0
Car Loan: $10,591.71

numbers update:

Three months later, I have managed to pay off an extra $2,915.15.. bringing my six month pay-off total to $11,362.86!!

individual breakdown:
CCs: $0
Car Loan: $7,676.56

total amount paid off since January 1: $11,362.86
total amount of debt left: $7,676.56

See y'all, October 1st!!

4.01.2015

Bye Felicia, I mean Debt: Update 1

a life of simplicity:

My main goal for this year, and life in general, is to live a simplistic and free life. A life that isn't necessarily filled with the latest gadgets or flashy items, but with joy, contentment, and happiness. A life rid of hurtful people, harmful habits, and an excess of things. A life that makes itself ready for my dream of traveling the world and giving back physically, emotionally, and financially.   

One big way for me to make that happen is to gain control over my finances. My money has to be mine to put whereever God and I want it to go whenever we want it to go. I can't build my dream if I'm steady putting money towards interest on loans and worthless purchases. 

So because of that I'm setting some goals for myself!  I'm 26. I want to be totally and completely debt-free (including credit cards, car loans, and even student loans) by the time I'm 30. That's a target date of September 20, 2018. A lofty goal, sure. But with some work (and more work) and Jesus I think I can make it happen in 3.5 years. 

I started seriously working towards this goal January 1st of this year. To hold myself accountable to my family and the few people beside them that read this blog, I'll be posting updates every three months about my lengthy goodbye with Felicia.

This first post is to share where I was January 1st, how I've done over the past three months, and how my debt looks now, April 1st.

starting debt: 

Three credit cards and my never-ending car loan totaling $19,039.42. Yowzers, and that's not even counting student loans! (***Student loans, while receiving the minimum monthly payment, will be officially tackled once credit cards and car loans are gone. To save myself a heart attack every time I look at these numbers, they'll be included at a later date. :) )

individual breakdown:

CC1: $763.92
CC2: $2,104.67
CC3: $2,590.83
Car Loan: $13,580.00

the game plan:

Something that I've found helpful when saving money before is doing a spending fast of sorts. The basic idea is you only spend money on necessary items: food, bills, tithes/offering, gas, debt. If you counted it up, you'd be amazed at the amount of money that you spend on fast food, coffee, cigarettes, and many other things you really don't need.

(The idea for a spending fast comes from Anna over at And Then We Saved. Check her out. She has great tips and ideas for saving money and getting out of debt! She paid off thousands of dollars of debt in her first year of doing a spending fast.)

Since January 1, I have, for the most part, stuck to a pretty strict spending fast, funneling all extra money to my debt. I've also been using Dave Ramsey's snowball method of paying down the smallest debt first. I didn't worry about interest rates, because I knew I wanted to specifically tackle credit cards, then car, and then student loans no matter their balances.

numbers update:

Annnnnnnnnnnd *drum roll* As of April 1st, just three months in, I have already managed to pay off a pretty nice amount of $8,447.71!! That means my credit cards are gone!! Bye, Felicia!!

I don't even know how this is possible as I don't even make that much money in a three month period, but God surely provided! It's like the less I was spending, the more He was putting in my account. 

individual breakdown:

CC1: $0
CC2: $0
CC3: $0
Car Loan: $10,591.71

I'm so excited to continue to see this number decrease until it is officially gone forEVER. 

I'd like to hear from you guys... How do you feel about having debt; good, bad, indifferent? What are some tips you have for getting out of debt?

Well, see you guys July 1st for update 2. And if anyone has $10,000 just lying around, I'll gladly accept your donation to help pay the rest of this off. Haha. Kidding... Sort of. :)

total amount paid off to date: $8,447.71
total amount of debt left: $10,591.71

3.03.2015

How can it be?


We all know the story by now, but a perfect God standing in as a ransom for my sins will never get old to me. How can it be that when God looks at me he sees His beloved? How can it be that God loves me so relentlessly knowing how much and how often I fail?

They say love is blind, but love certainly doesn't make God blind. We talk about God throwing our sins into this metaphoric sea of forgetfulness, but I don't think it's in God's nature to forget anything. I believe He looks at me and sees everything I've ever done. He is not ignorant of my shortcomings or of my humanity. I'm an open book before Him with no missing pages, no edits or rewrites to make everything picture-perfect. My sins are not perfectly blotted out, though I've been washed in His redeeming blood. They are ever before Him. He doesn't hold them against me, sure... but I believe He still remembers them. 

But the mind boggling part is that He still loves me and delights in me, even though knowing me so intimately! Or perhaps because he knows me so intimately. He created me with all of my quirks and personality traits. He knows what makes me tick and what ticks me off. He created me this way! He gets my competitive streak and my perfectionist tendencies, he understands why I've built walls around my heart, he knows my deepest desire to be a mother, he sees the reasons (flawed they may be) behind why I make all of my decisions. There is nothing hidden from Him. Good or bad. And He still loves me and delights in knowing me.

It's a rare and powerful love that can look through a person's flaws and see a person worthy of love and mercy. 

I'm forever grateful for a God who loves like that.

12.08.2014

Emma Lee

My dear grandmother passed away today and there are a million thoughts swirling around in my head and feelings weighing on my heart. I came here in hopes of getting them all out. So this post might not have any rhyme or reason to it, but I hope it's as cathartic as I'm needing.


I know that since a couple of bites in a garden long ago, these lives... Our lives have never been meant to last forever... Our fragile, human hearts are just not programmed to beat forever. And I know that Death is just an ugly companion of Life and no matter how hard you try, you can't very well get one without the other.

Now, you'd think that knowing and understanding that would help Death become an easier pill to swallow. But that's just not the case... Knowing that Death is no respecter of person or time doesn't make a visit from him any easier.

It still sucks.

It still sucks even knowing that Gram got eighty-seven trips around the sun, which is more than a ton of people are given. It still sucks even knowing that Gram had a long, beautiful life filled with all the good things that money just can't buy. It still sucks even knowing that Gram was no stranger to the Lord.

You still grieve.

I'm grieving for the generations to come that will not know Emma Lee in all of her stubborn glory. I am grieving for the lessons that they won't learn firsthand from her... Like how absolutely important it is to turn off all electronics and sit still during a storm, because... or how your feet belong on the floor, not her couch, and if you disagree, you can go get her a switch from the bush yourself... Or how important it is to be faithful to church and how your time is best spent peering out of a window at a passing car or kneeling at your bedside in prayer or watching daytime soaps. I'm grieving for a future without my grandmother.

I love you, Emma Lee, and I will miss you until I see you again.


 
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