Pain and Joy Can Coexist

Yes, yes, I know it’s been a longgg time since I’ve posted anything on my blog. It’s been a hard past couple of months. But you know what? It’s been a pretty great couple of months as well. And that’s what I want to write about today.

I used to believe that difficulty and blessing could only exist exclusively. Pain and joy were separate entities that could never intermingle.

But the past few months of my life have proven to me once and for all that that is not true.

<I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace, you will have suffering in this world, but take heart, I have overcome the world. — John 16:33>

This summer has been physically difficult in every way. I’ve been sick more than I’ve been well and I still don’t know why. On top of that, my college classes this semester are miserable and I dread every single day of going to class.

But you know what? It’s also been one of the most beautiful, the most full, the most abundant seasons of life I’ve ever experienced.

I may not be strong enough to hang out with friends every night and weekend, but the relationships that I do have are some of the richest blessings in my life. The people God has surrounded me with to pour into and to be poured into by bless me immeasurably each day.

I may not be strong enough to have taken as many classes this semester as I planned to, but the time it has given me at home to spend with my younger siblings has been so sweet and irreplaceable.

I have learned the beauty of rest and Sabbath. I have learned the value of quality over quantity. And I have learned the sweet victory of our King that breaks through in the smallest glimmers of light but radiates into the most brilliant of rainbows.

<Your Name, Your Name is victory. All praise will rise to Christ Our King. By Your Spirit I will rise, from the ashes of defeat. The Resurrected King is resurrecting me. In Your Name I come alive to declare Your victory. The Resurrected King is resurrecting me>

Life is hard but oh man, life is good. And I’m not contradicting myself by saying that. I’m learning to find the joy, I’m learning to live abundantly, and I’m choosing to live intentionally. I’m not perfect at it, and the tears stains on my pillowcase betray that I have a long way to go. But today I choose to walk in victory and joy, because through the storm, HE is LORD, LORD of all.

— Taryn

Pursuing Christ

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will” — Eric Metaxas

The Pharisees got the Law wrong. Jesus told them time and time again how they got the Law wrong. And you know why? They were legalists. They wanted to elaborate on the Law to use it to fill every crevice and caveat and situation.

So they created their own law that did just that.

But that wasn’t how God created it.

Oh yes, the Law gets specific. It outlines every detail possible for sacrifices and ceremonies and cleanliness and what to eat for the Israelites.

But some things are left up to us. Some places, there is room for freedom in Christ.

Some places… The Spirit is left room to work in our hearts.

Pursuing Christ and His will is a daily process of prayer and submission. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you even start. You just have to start following and start listening.

Apart from God and perfection, good and evil exist on the same spectrum, not separate islands. Small steps and leave us from one to the other, almost without noticing.

It’s hard to draw lines in the sand. Many things can’t be stated in a simple command that encompasses any and all situations. And in those moments, we have to chase Christ in faith, knowing His grace is more than sufficient for us.

Not every decision in the world can be evaluated before hand and the right answer chosen. Many of us don’t even know where we land on a lot of things. There are moral and emotional and spiritual pulls in both directions. And God doesn’t ask us to know it all right now. If He had wanted us to know, He could have told us. But He wants us to continue relying on Him daily, hourly, and when we do that, we know that He really will shine light on our paths and direct our footsteps.

Taryn

The Good in Goodbye

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places

Sometimes, you take your little siblings to see a movie thinking that the only point is to make them happy… and then you get even more engrossed in the movie than they do.

My mind is a crazy place, y’all

Theological connections in movies that aren’t even intended to be there pop out to me and utterly blow my mind from the edge of the theater seat. Even animated talking cars can bring me to tears and cause me to turn my eyes inward.

I guess my case is blown, Cars 3 got me good last week.

We all come to those confusing stages of growing up when it’s time to leave behind what we have always known and always done. Over the past three years of my life, I have had more than my share of those pivotal moments that comes at the end of one chapter and the start of another. And you know what? Those moments are hard, bittersweet, and filled with longing for what will no longer be… but when handled correctly they can also be some of the sweetest and most meaningful parts of life. They may not be as good as the chapter just ending… they may be even better.

The sweet nugget of truth nestled in the movie is that the real beauty of life doesn’t come until you take what you thought would be the best… and send it on.

If all you’re living for is your fifteen minutes of fame — your state championship, your college acceptance, your senior prom — you’re going to be let down. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Living for yourself will never satisfy you. It will never be enough. And you’re going to be crushed when you can’t live out what you thought was the dream anymore.

Maybe the best days are still in front of you though, it’s only you who needs to believe it.

I can tell you from the other side of the fence that it’s really true. The more abiding, fulfilling, and lasting side of victory, is watching the victory of those you love. The victory of pouring into someone and helping them succeed. That’s what makes the best days of life.

Sometimes, good really is found in goodbye.

Goodbye to what is comfortable. Goodbye to what we thought we wanted. Goodbye to people and places and circumstances that were only meant for a season.

Jesus told us to not grieve His leaving because He was “going to prepare a place for {us}” (John 14) and that the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, couldn’t be sent to us until He left.

Abraham set out for the land God promised, not knowing where He was going, leaving behind everything and everyone He knew and love, and through Him God built His nation, His people.

In Philippians Paul describes how he lives by saying, “one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

Sometimes, there really is good in goodbye. Sometimes we are called to leave behind what we’ve known and loved. Sometime it is best for us to neglect our own glory, our own comfort, and what we think is best. Allow Christ to pour into you and in turn pour out His blessing and love on those around you. I promise it will be worth it.

“A word is just a word until you mean what you say, and love isn’t love until you give it away.”

A life isn’t worth anything when it’s spent storing up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven by giving your life away.

— Taryn

{Almost} Nothing Lasts Forever

I never thought this week would come. Some things have just been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. Those things are often the same things that I take for granted. Even if something has a monstrous impact on my life, that doesn’t make it impenetrable. Even good things… even great things… come to an end.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of Our God remains forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

Not just the mundane grass withers. The radiant orchids also fade. The beautiful lilies will droop and fall. Even the most precious and beautiful parts of life are only ordained for a time or a season, not to last forever. And that doesn’t mean they were bad. God made them beautiful for the time and season that He ordained for them. And the new flowers? They will bloom to be just as beautiful in their time, even if we may not think so at first. Don’t harden your hearts against the beautiful new works God wants to bring about in your life.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

There is only one thing that we can cling to and trust to be steadfast, unchanging, even when life spins out of control. We must run to the feet of Jesus, cling to our Savior who is the same yesterday, today, forever (Hebrews 13:8). His Word is unfailing, His promise is unshaken, and no other powers in earth or in Heaven are ever going to change that. And the same power which raised Christ Jesus from the dead is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

Almost nothing lasts forever, y’all, so don’t expect it to. Love every second of it while you have it, but trust our loving Father to know the perfect timing for everything. And trust that no matter what comes or goes, He’s never for a moment letting us go.

Taryn

The Beautiful Gospel

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-7)

Sometimes something sends me back to being seven years old.

I can vividly picture sitting around the living room with my Dad strumming on his guitar and my siblings and I loudly singing “Shout to the LORD, all the earth, let us sing”

I remember determining that I needed to know all the stories in the Bible and perching atop my playset for four hours until I had read every last page in my picture Bible.

I remember realizing the weight and beauty of the gospel through childlike eyes. Back then it was simple, sweet, beautiful.

I wish I hadn’t ever lost that perspective.

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“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” — Timothy Keller

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Last night during Bible Study at church, we discussed the gospel. How hopeless we are without Christ and how He gave us so much more ham we could ever fathom.

And it sent me back to being a little kid again.

The gospel is so simple and yet so profound.  It doesn’t take a scholar to understand that the Great Exchange was a huge deal. Nothing we could possibly ever do would make us enough, so God sent His Son to take our place on death row. His Son, Jesus, took all the punishment that we deserved. Not because we were good enough, loved Him well enough, or earned our salvation. But because He is God and He is good and He loves us so much.

I don’t want to get caught up in the nuances and Greek meanings of words to the point of forgetting the weight and beauty of the Gospel.

I want to learn more about Christ and His Word every day of my life, but I never want to forget how the gospel first hit me.

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“If the gospel is old news to you, it will be dull news to everyone else.”
― Kevin DeYoung

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Jesus loves me. This I know. Let that sink in. The Creator of the Universe made you and knows you and loves you and wants to make Himself known to you. That’s pretty mind blowing when you think about it.

I want to go back to having the simple faith like a child that Jesus talks about in Matthew 18. I want to let the beauty and majesty of the gospel really sink in and change how I live my life every day.

— Taryn

I know it’s been a few weeks since I posted last, life has been crazy, but I have several drafts and ideas going for the next few weeks, so I will try to be more consistent:)

Grace Upon Grace

“What love the Father has lavished upon us that we might become children of God” (1 John 3:1)

Ephesians 1 paints a beautiful picture of the Fatherly affections bestowed upon us by our Creator. Imagine it, we who have rebelled constantly against His will, He died a merciless death to save. God was under no obligation, no contract, no requirement to save us. We never have and never will deserve His forgiveness and love. But He freely offers it anyway. 

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17)

“I have come that you may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10)

Not only does Christ’s death seal us for forgiveness and salvation, He blesses us here on earth with new life. He gives us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of sorts, according to Ephesians 1, but this isn’t a mutually beneficial agreement. God did it for us because He loves us. He doesn’t owe us anything.

“He has blessed us with every heavenly blessing” (Ephesians 1:3)

Now you may notice that it doesn’t promise every earthly blessing. Jesus says quite the contrary when He warns the disciples in John 16 that, “you will have troubles in this world”. But every heavenly blessing that the Father has to bestow, He does in abundance. We are coheors with Christ, our future is sealed, and we have hope of a place where there will be no tears. 

After all, we know that “all God’s promises are yes in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:20)

The Great I Am has given us more love and grace than we could ever deserve. He didn’t stop with creation. He didn’t stop with redemption. He didn’t stop with salvation. He continues to bless us above and beyond what we could ever deserve. He strengths, heals, restores, and claims the victory in our lives each and every day. 

We don’t deserve it, but He doesn’t care. He loves us. He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). And today, we are still sinners. I’m still a sinner. But my God who started a good work in me is carrying it on to completion (Philippians 1:6) 

Taryn

You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything

My mom knows and understands my appreciation for letters and notes of encouragement. I have favorite birthday cards saved all the way back to when I was 5 years old. I’m always writing someone a letter or leaving notes on the whiteboard complimenting my staff at work. So this birthday, my Mom gave me a booklet of cute inspirational quotes that you can tear out and give to people to encourage them. Needless to say, I love it and immediately began thumbing through to read some of them. Then I came to one that made me stop. Turn back. Reread that. It hit me like a pile of bricks. 

You can do anything, but not everything. 

Wow.

And that’s not a bad thing. 

So here’s the deal, if you know me in real life (oh have read at least like two blog posts) you know that for most of my life *and still sometimes* I thought I could do everything. 

Beyond that, I thought anyone that told me otherwise didn’t believe in me and I set about to prove them wrong. 
But the people who came alongside me in life and said “Taryn, you shouldn’t try to do this…” they were the ones who believed in me the most. The ones who did believe I could take 7 hard classes at a time. The ones who did believe I could work full time. The ones who did believe I could be a camp counselor and lead on the praise team and teach Bible Drill. 

But not all at the same time. 

“You can do ANYTHING. But NOT everything.”

This is what my parents, boyfriend, mentors, best friend… what they all tried to tell me. What they all did tell me. And I didn’t listen.

They didn’t want to shut me down, to tell me I wasn’t good enough, to undermine my abilities. They wanted to empower me. They wanted me to have the strength and energy to do my very best at what was important. Not to feel like I was running a thousand miles and hour and could still never be enough. 

So to my dearest friends graduating high school this weekend, this is the one biggest thing I learned my first year of college and what I want to send you off with. 

I believe in you all. You can get a 4.0 next fall if that’s your goal. You can work a job while in school. You can get involved in leadership roles on campus. You can make the best friends of your life. You can, and I truly believe, will thrive. But you won’t do it by doing everything. 

So pick what is very most important to you, and do it to the best of your ability. Prioritize and cut back what doesn’t make the list. Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. 

I believe in you. 

My prayer for you all is in the lyrics of my graduation songs from a year ago:

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow, and each road leads you where you oughta go. And if you’re faced with a choice and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you… I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams, and that faith give you the courage to dare to do great things. 

Class of 2017, go and do great things

Everyone else, you go do and great things too:)

You can do anything, just not everything. 

Taryn

The Power of Prayer

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” – – James 5:16-18

The Bible doesn’t make light of the power of prayer, and if the Word says it, I am going to take it on faith.

Beyond that, I have seen the power of prayer evidenced in my own life in more ways that I can count. So for me, it isn’t so much of taking it on a blind leap of faith, as knowing and having experienced God’s matchless power.

God answered prayers that I was nervous even to pray. In times when I felt like my prayers were too little, too insignificant, to selfish to bring before and Almighty Creator — He proved to me that He loves me and really does care about even the smallest details of my life.

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” — Corrie ten Boom

I prayed prayers that were answered to the T years later, and I can truly feel God smiling on my life when I see those prayers come to fruition years later. It has brought me to tears this week. The detailed prayers I prayed that were answered so clearly and completely.

So why am I saying all this?

Pray for big things, y’all.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying for health, with praying for forgiveness, with praying and thanking God for things. God commands that kind of prayer. And God also asks for the kind of faith that asks big, specific, bold prayers in Jesus name knowing that He loves to answer His children.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:20

Pray for unrealistic things. Pray prayers that put you out on a limb with God. Pray for bigger faith, and know that He is going to answer full well.

Pray that God would take anger and bitterness from Your heart in every situation. Pray that you wouldn’t fight or be angry with those closest to you. Pray that no anger would reside in your heart.

It sounds crazy, right? It sounds unrealistic. But it isn’t. It lines up with God’s will, He asks us to turn away from anger and do good. So ask boldly in Jesus name.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” — 1 John 5:14

God is sovereign. His will always prevails and He is going to do what is right and just and good. But God loves to love His children. God delights in making Himself known to us, and when we pray according to His will, He answers, I promise you He does.

My youth minister once told me that God’s will isn’t one precise dot, one specific situation down to the most minute detail. If that were the case, we would have screwed up God’s will thousands of years ago and never gotten back on the right track.

On the contrary, God can work things for good and according to His will and for His glory in every situation. Even in situations when and where we have messed up. Even in situations that are less than perfect. When we pray and ask for the Spirit’s power in our lives, He shows up.

I’m not trying to say that the only good things that ever happen in this world are because of prayer and that those that don’t pray fervently can not have a good life.

But I would be lying to say that God hasn’t blessed me specifically, directly, and abundantly through answered prayers.

What do you have to lose? Pray big, pray bold, pray often… and expect God to work. I can promise you that He will.

— Taryn

What I did Right and Wrong my First Year of College

Hi Everyone!

I know I missed posting something last week, finishing up the loose ends of the college semester has kept me more than a little busy, but I’ve had this post in my mind all day so I wanted to get it written (and am maybeee procrastinating on my Economics project, but that is beside the point…)

I have loved my first year of college. Some things about it have been absolutely brutal, but so many of the new experiences and opportunities have been amazing and have taught me so much about myself and the world around me. Even just one year into this crazy experience, I can look back and see so many things that I’m glad I did, and so many things that I wish I had done differently or sooner. Today I just wanted to write about some of those things to give you a glimpse into my own life and to maybe help out some of my younger friends who are about to start this journey themselves!

Right: Taking Classes just because I want to

Both of the semesters that I have been in college, I took one class that wasn’t required for my degree plan but that I just wanted to take!! With taking so many classes, it was so nice to have a breath of fresh air in the middle of it all. This semester especially, I took an elective with my favorite professor that I had from first semester and it is hands down my favorite class and something that motivates me to get up in the morning

Wrong: Not Making Friends

Especially first semester, I really didn’t make friends… at all. I don’t have the phone numbers of anyone I met first semester and there’s only one person that I even smile and wave at if I see now. This semester, I got slightly better, but it was honestly only because a really outgoing girl sat next to me on the first day of Calculus and has been a great friend and helped me in so many ways! Make friends! They can help you with homework, go with you to office hours, and beyond that, just make your life better and make you actually want to go to school when you really don’t want to.

Right: Asking Questions

I’m that girl that always sits on the front row even in the massive lecture halls, and after classes, I like to go up and ask my professors questions. Not even just “I didn’t understand {such and such}”, but things like “What is your opinion on…” or asking for more detail on something that especially intrigued me about their lectures. This not only helped me to learn things that I truly was interested in, but also helped me to make great connections with my professors. They are people with an amazing wealth of information and several of them I have gone back and visited and talked to about a myriad of topics since then.

Wrong: Not Taking Advantage of my Resources

My large university campus has so many resources set up to help students succeed! From the math tutoring lab to the Career Center that will help you perfect your resume and choose what to wear to interviews, to the study sessions for every subject imaginable. I wrote all of these things off as things I didn’t need or didn’t have time for and that was a grave mistake. College is hard in a really different way than high school is. I can’t emphasize studying and asking questions enough. I never felt the need to study for exams in high school and did totally fine, but that doesn’t exactly fly in college and I so wish that I had taken advantage of all the help around me much sooner.

Right: Learning to Let Go

I learned the hard way that I can’t do everything. But something I feel like I was good at realizing is that sometimes certain things are more important than what people try to tell you is important. For example, I felt a huge emphasis from people in academia that I should be getting straight As in college. And you know what? That just didn’t happen. And that is totally okay. Other things were much more important this year, and I don’t think that is wrong. I still tried really hard and learned a lot of things, but I didn’t kill myself to get perfect grades, and I still spent time working and doing other things that are important to me beyond just school.

Wrong: Not Getting Involved

There aren’t many times in my life when I’m going to have the opportunity to get involved in anything I could possibly want to within a tenth of a mile of where I already am. I’ve scrolled endlessly through the lists of events and organizations on campus and so many of them pique my interest! I wish I had set aside time sooner to check some of them out and get more involved.

Right: Found a Church Family

But one very important thing that I really know I did right is that I found a church to call home. I spent some awkward Sunday mornings walking into brand new churches where I knew no one, but I am so glad that I did. It was on one of those Sunday mornings that I didn’t even drag a friend with me and walked into a classroom all alone that I found my new church family. They invited me to lunch that first week and even though I don’t know all of the people yet, it really truly feels like family. I feel God’s presence and love talking about the Bible with these people and it builds me up and encourages me so much.

 

All in all, it’s been a fantastic freshman year of college, and I can’t wait to see what the next several years are gonna hold as I keep going on this crazy journey!!

— Taryn

 

Telling a Better Story

What story will be told about you after you’re gone? Will it be a story worth retelling?
Is it a story worth living?
I read a book this week called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller and he broke apart what it means to tell a better story with your life. 
God is the author of all of our stories, and He had such a beautiful story in store for each and every one of us. In giving us free will, however, God gave us, the characters in the story, the power to resist His beautiful story and try to write our own. 
Why do we think we know better than the “author and perfecter of our faith”?
Because we let fear write out stories. We let apathy write our stories. We let comfort write our stories. 
I let anxiety write my story. 
I let perfectionism write my story. 
I write my story in a way that seems safe and comfortable and easy. 
But when does easy and safe turn into mundane… boring… worthless…
I want to do something bigger than my life. I want to be brave and take chances and live fearlessly. 
I don’t mean that I’m about to go bungee jumping or skydiving, I don’t ever expect to be that brave
But I do want to take risks for my Savior. And are they really risks if the One who holds the ends of time and knows when every sparrow falls is on my side?
I want to be a part of the story that He has been writing since the beginning of time, and not just a cameo character, but a character fulfilling the purposes that the Author has designed. 

I don’t know what that story looks like yet, but I’m content to know that He does. And for as long as the LORD leaves me on the Earth, I want to consciously chase after the storyline He has written. 

Taryn