New Year, New Me

I am 100% a goals and tasks oriented person. 
Todo lists are my lifeline. 

I always set crazy *unrealistic* expectations for myself, and then set about trying to prove to myself and everyone else that I can live up to them. 

This semester is a very good example of that. I took 7 college classes, I worked about 30 hours a week, and amidst that, I still kept looking for new and more ways to prove that I was enough, that I could do it all. I would write myself task lists a mile long and burn myself out trying to finish them. Because I felt like I had something to prove. 

I was wearing myself down mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I was leaving myself almost no time to rest, no time for the most important relationships in my life, and no time to be in the presence of my Heavenly Father. 

One day, I sat on my best friend’s bed and completely broke down. I cried and cried telling her how I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be enough. I didn’t have the strength left to please anyone. 

Her answer was matter of fact and to the point, “Taryn, why are you trying to please everyone? They don’t matter. You just have to please God.”

I don’t know why I had over complicated my life to such a degree that I forgot to believe such a simple truth. 

I love the way Paul puts it in Galatians,

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” — Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

All of that to say, I love my goals, but this year, I learned that they can’t be about pleasing anyone else. They have to be about me and my life and honoring God, not about making myself into what I think the people around me need or want. 

The last week of December every year, I think about what I want to change in the new year. I think about what I want the “new me” to be like. Healthier, prettier, smarter, more organized, more productive, more spiritual… once I start the list, it’s almost impossible to stop. 

But the Bible has something to say about what that “new me” is supposed to be and how I achieve it. 

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and behold, the new has come.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

That right there is what makes me a new creation. 

Being in Christ. 

And that’s what I want my biggest goal of 2017. To be in Christ. That will penetrate and manifest itself in all the different parts of my life but at its core, it’s so simple and freeing. All that’s expected of me, all that God wants, is for me to be in Him. That’s all that it takes to be a new creation. 

Yes, I have plenty of goals — the number of books I want to read, habits I want to form, but what will truly cause my life to fall into place is the Savior who directs it all in the first place. So the “new me” this year won’t come from an exercise regime, a color-coded planner, but the new me came when Christ redeemed me 11 years ago, and that’s the only new me that really matters. 

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What I Got for Christmas

Most likely, the title of this post has you all fooled into thinking I’m going to list off the shirts and books and jewelry that my loving friends and family got me for Christmas. And although I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that, and I’m extremely thankful to each and every one of the special people in my life, I want to take a different approach to this. 
Over the past year, God has blessed me with more amazing gifts than I can count. 

* Relationships 

“Two are better than one… for if one falls, the other can help him up.” — Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God has most certainly filled my life this year with people that help pick me up when I falter. Life has been a whirlwind, but I haven’t had to face any of it alone. 

* Health

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

To be sure, I am not fully healed. But a year ago, I wouldn’t have imagined being able to handle the semester I just made it through. I still have a ways to go on learning to be healthy and eat better and get my strength up, but God is proving so, so faithful. 

* Direction

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. Think about Him in all your ways, and He will direct you on the right paths.”

A year ago, I was halfway through my senior year. And thought I knew what my future plans were, but boy was I wrong! Thankfully, God’s plans are so much higher than mine could ever be (Isaiah 55:9) and He showed me exactly what they were in His perfect timing.

* Opportunities

From starting this blog, to being in a university program where I can work on my Bachelors and Masters at the same time, this year has been full of blessings in the way of opportunities. I’m learning not to take them for granted and to appreciate all the things God is doing around me. 

—–

Isn’t it ironic that on the day we celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we are the ones receiving the gifts? And yet He continues to pour out blessings and all we have to return to Him is our lives and our praise. It may not be much in the comparison to all His radiance and glory, but I want to focus on it more nonetheless. 

Thank you, LORD,  for this beautiful year, and for the hope and joy You bring through Christmas. May I never take for granted what You sent that very first Christmas, and may it impact my life forever. Amen. 


— Taryn

Hiding the Christ in Christmas

A lot of people make a big fuss about keeping the “Christ” in Christmas, and I I got started on that, this post would just get really long really fast. 
But here’s the thing. 
I don’t think that’s what we should be harping on. 
Because what is the big deal about the holiday having “Christ” in the name if we aren’t making him the focus of the holiday in the first place?
I think that rather than focusing on whether people call it by the right name or not, we should put our energy to keeping Christ in Christmas. 
I think we, as Christians, are actually the guilty ones. 
We are HIDING the Christ in Christmas. 
We are contributing as much as anyone to making it the commercialized, secular holiday that it is today. 
We are stopping even saying “Merry Christmas” out of fear of offending someone. 
We are caught up in the gifts and parties and food, much more than in the Savior Whom we are supposed to be celebrating in the first place. 
Rather than condemning the people around me for whether they treat Christmas what I deem as correctly, I want to turn the focus and make sure I am “honoring the Messiah as Lord in (my) heart” (1 Peter 3:15)
Merry Christmas, everyone:)

I Can Never Do Enough

This world is so, SO broken. 

It’s hitting me hard today. 

I’m around so many hurting people, and although my heart is breaking for them, the reality is that I can do so little to help. And that’s hard. 

I can’t solve their problems, can’t bring back their lost loved ones, and for some reason a smile or picking up their dinner bill just never seems like enough. 

I can’t do enough. I can never do enough. 

God calls us to “look after the orphans and widows in their distresses” (James 1:27), but I don’t have the capability to really help them. 

But wait. 

Who does have that capability and that power?

God does. 

How am I so quick to forget? It’s not my job to heal and save and restore. That’s His job. He has asked me to be a vessel through which He demonstrates His love. God wants me to love through the strength and power He provides, but He is the only One that can truly fix this broken world. 

Everything I do seems meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But every little thing I do can serve a bigger purpose if I use it to point back to Jesus, to show those around me where hope really comes from. 

Hope doesn’t come from me. I can’t offer anyone hope that comes from myself, but I can invite them to experience the hope that I have that can only come from Jesus Christ. 

I want to learn to throw off the mentality of wanting to do it all myself. I want to humble myself and realize how much greater God is and how much more He can do than I could ever dream. I want to let Him do the miracles and be amazed and honored that He allows me to be a small part of them. 

I can never do enough. But He can and already has. And that’s what’s really important. 

Everyone Has a Story

This week has been ridiculously long. And amidst all the craziness and dozens of places I needed to be at once, I felt like God was deliberately and intentionally slowing me down, making me stop.

How many people do you come in contact with on a daily basis?

Did you ever stop and think that every one of them has a story? A heart? Pain and hurts and struggles?

I sure didn’t.

It wasn’t until God *gently* hit me over the top of the head with this truth that I started absorbing the magnitude of it.

Yesterday morning I got to hear the stories of the Kroger cashiers, and hearing them pierced my heart. How often do I shrug off these people and not even appreciate their existence? But being as it took a solid 10 minutes to ring up my overflowing cart of groceries, I felt the prodding to talk to them and encourage them.

Let me just tell you, that didn’t come from me. Nothing in me wanted to try to talk and be friendly. But I begrudgingly started out trying to share a conversation with my checker and bagger, both of whom I see working every single Thursday when I go grocery shopping.

But it turns out, I was the one who got blessed.

I got to see their stories and hear their hearts in even those short ten minutes. I got to laugh with one of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met, who doesn’t let special needs get him down and instead focuses on making the days brighter for every single customer whose groceries he bags.

I got to hear about how the checker graduated with his Biology degree from a prestigious school, but is having trouble catching a break, or even getting his foot in the door in the medical field.

Everyone has a story, even the people I commonly overlook. And not only does it brighten their days to tell them, but it brightens mine to hear them. I don’t want to take all the beautiful stories around me for granted anymore. I want to listen and appreciate all the unique and amazing people that God has created. 

Come to think of it, how many of the most well known Bible characters were first commonly overlooked?

David was the youngest son and a shepherd, yet he killed the Philistine giant, became Israel’s king, and is known as “a man after God’s own heart”

Moses was a baby that by royal decree should have been killed and was hidden away for the first three months of his life. He was too afraid to speak in front of people, yet he led hundreds of thousands of Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and into the Promised Land. 

Mary was a young girl, the disciples were fishermen and tax collectors, the list goes on and on. 

“But the last shall be first,” — Matthew 20:16a (HCSB)

Sometimes, the best stories things aren’t the ones broadcasted for the entire world to hear. Sometimes the people that will bless us the most are the ones we least expect. 
Every single person has a beautiful story that has been and is continuing to be written by the King of Kings. I want to remember to start slowing down and listening more often. 

Taryn

When the Music Fades

I filmed this two summers ago when I was in the fullness of my music life. And I look back at this now, often with tears, because it chronicles so much of my music journey. These seven songs span five of the years of myself chasing after my music dreams and giving it my all. And even though that door closed, and many tears were shed, I can look back on this and smile too. Because even though I can’t play like that anymore — not two hours a day, not professionally, I can still play with that passion for my Savior. It’s all for Him and it’s always going to be, and no matter whether I lose the health or the technique or the career, I never have to lose the heart that made me love it in the first place.

Thank You, LORD, for music and the way You have used it to reveal Yourself to me all throughout my life. Thank You for giving me an outlet to use to praise You. May Your praise ever be on my lips for now and forever, Amen.

— Taryn

Living for Every Second

There has never been a time in my life when I was patient.

I’m not patient waiting in lines or being the car that can’t quite make it through before the light turns red.

I’m not patient when my professor takes twenty minutes explaining a concept that he could have covered in five.

And I am not by any means patient about waiting for the future to get here.

When I was a little kid, my favorite number was always the age I was going to turn next. I was always looking forward to what was next — the next grade, learning the next thing, growing a couple more inches.

But this anticipation stole my contentment with where I was at. Since I was so busy looking to what was next, I never slowed down long enough to enjoy where I already was. To enjoy what God was blessing me with right now.

And I didn’t outgrow that when I turned 10… or 13… or 18. I’m still impatient and discontented, and I think I’m starting to realize why.

We don’t see the pain in the future, we only see the pain around us right now. And when we get small glimpses of the future we get the good ones, not the bad ones. When I got to hold my cousin’s baby over Thanksgiving break, nothing in me wanted to go back home to college finals and projects. I got immensely impatient for the years down the road when I am done with college and have kids of my own.

But that season of life, as amazing and sweet as it will be, will have struggles too. All I saw was a few hours of holding a sweet baby, I didn’t see the sleepless nights while he was teething, I didn’t see the tantrums or the endless diapers to change and laundry to do. I didn’t see that that phase of life will have sickness just like this one does. There will be job struggles, financial struggles, relationship struggles, and health struggles just like there are now.

And here’s what else, I’m living a part of life right now that I always dreamed of growing up. I’m old enough to drive and have my own car and the freedom to go do things with friends when I want to. I’m at an amazing university studying a field I am passionate about under professors who hold a wealth of information. I have some of the best and closest friendships that I’ve ever had and for the next few months, almost all of my best friends still live right here at home. Life is good, and yet I tend to focus on the negatives.

I tend to get impatient.

But God keeps gently nudging at my heart, Taryn, enjoy what I’ve blessed you with right now.

In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being content, whether well fed or hungry. Whether in abundance or in need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:11-13 (HCSB)

I can do everything through Him. The good days, the bad days, and everything in between. 

I have one life to live on this earth. And as much of it as it may seem like I still have in front of me right now, it’s going fast. I don’t want to wish my life away. I want to live passionately and purposefully and enjoy every day. I want to make every day count and point people towards Jesus with every second that He gives me.

I don’t want to be impatient for the future and miss right now. With every second that passes goes another chance and opportunity that I will never get back. I don’t want to take that for granted anymore. I don’t want to focus on all the negatives in my day and neglect to focus on all of the joy. I don’t want to miss right now and all the treasures that this time of my life holds.

I want to learn to be content, to learn to focus on all the blessings around me, and to live life for every second, not just in the future, but right now. 

Taryn

 

How Deep the Father’s Love

How deep the Father’s love for us

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

Why should I gain from His great loss?

I can not give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom


God loves us so well and so abundantly. And He reveals it in the most breathtaking ways. 

If you could know the future, would you want to?

If you could choose to know what the greatest hardship in your life would be, would you want to know now?

If you knew how and when the person you love most was going to die, would you do anything differently?

If you could somehow control whether or not they had to die, but the stakes were very high, what would you choose?

I was in tears this weekend as I considered these mind boggling concepts. How would I handle it as a parent watching my child struggle through a fatal illness? Knowing the doctor’s verdict carried little hope. I don’t know that I could do it, I’m almost sure that I couldn’t. 

But God did.

God did that — and He did it for me. Because He loves me that much!!

That hit me hard this weekend. God sent His Son. His one and only Son. His Son that He loves perfectly. He sent Him to die, to be torchered and mocked and beaten and crucified. How?!? It would have been so much easier, in my opinion, to take it Himself. How could He bear to watch that?!?

Because He loves me. 

I’m not in the least deserving of that love. And yet my LORD offers it freely to me and at the highest of costs to Him. 

In the last moments of Jesus’ suffering on earth, the Father had to turn away. He couldn’t even watch His Son suffer and die because He couldn’t in His holiness look at the sin Jesus was taking on His shoulders. 

That’s how deeply the Father loves us. 

If I could choose to see the future,  I would have to choose not to. I couldn’t handle it. But that is a post for another day. Today, the main point I wanted to make is simply that God did. He loves me more than I could ever comprehend. Through all my rebellion and failures. He loves me so much He sent His Son to die. 

 I never want to lose the gravity of that.

Taryn

10 Things I Learned My First Semester in College

Hey everyone!

So technically, I’m not done with college until next week, but as I’m in the midst of finals and projects and all of that fun stuff *not* I had all of these things bouncing around in my mind and wanted to go ahead and get them out there:) Some are basic college tips, some are about life and growing up, and as always, God has revealed some pretty awesome things to me about Himself as well. Thank you to everyone who has come on this journey with me through reading my thoughts a couple times every week, you’re brave 😉 Here we go!
1. Use Rate My Professor — Just do it. Of course it’s beneficial to stay away from the bad professors, but also, look around and figure out who those professors are that you just have to have. This may be just me, but it’s much easier to get myself up and to class in the morning when I’m actually excited for the lectures. I have two professors whom I absolutely love and that gets me to class on days I really don’t want to go.

2. You have to be proactive about making friends — In high school, especially going to a small private school, making friends came naturally. Here on a campus with 30,000 people, I could easily go all semester without speaking to anyone *guilty as charged* I told my Mom I have one and two-half friends on campus, and even that is a stretch. Honestly, I know some of my professors better than any classmates! I’m pretty upset with myself and how I let this semester get away from me. Be willing to start conversations, get to know the people around you, it won’t just happen if you don’t put any effort in.

3. Go to office hours and ask questions — I already mentioned that my two “best friends” on campus are professors, and this may sound really nerdy, but talking to professors excites me so much!! They are such smart people! I love asking questions after class or going to office hours to talk about things in more depth. They love when students come to talk to them about things other than makeup exams and late assignments. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your disposal!

4. I’m no longer a slave to fear — I have sang these lyrics for years, but honestly sang them without much thought. It seemed like a no-brainer because I had never felt enslaved to fear in the first place. Until this semester. I have no idea how or why, but anxiety has been taking hold of my life bit by bit this semester. And honestly, it seems like it is still getting worse before it gets better. The littlest things can set me completely off, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night absolutely sure that something terrible has happened. I worry about anything and everything, and yes, I know the Bible says “do not worry” 365 times. But when I go into panic, I have no control over that. I make myself physically sick and life seems completely and utterly overwhelming.

Now all that sounds really negative and not at all like something I’ve learned this semester. But God has been right here leading and guiding me through. Even though I can’t always feel His presence. He keeps reminding me through His words and promises that His grace is still more than sufficient, He has a hold of me and is never letting me go, and although Satan wants me to be afraid, I am no longer a slave to fear. He has called me by name and I am His. I am His child, and nothing can ever change that. He wants me and loves me just as I am, anxiety and all. And that is something worth rejoicing and celebrating about.

5. Don’t take all your classes on one day — Especially seven. Don’t do seven classes in one day. Because inevitably exams and group projects come up and you will be at school for 14 hours straight. I won’t make that mistake again.

6. You’re not a failure — In a way, these next three all flow together. I have always been a perfectionist and put way to much pressure on myself. But I finally had to realize that I’m not a failure by Christ’s standards. I can’t make everyone happy. Not my friends or family or professors or even myself — and that’s not the goal. The goal is to pursue Christ with everything I’ve got and let that be enough. And when I do that, “failing” is irrelevant.

7. Push yourself, but give some grace too — I had to realize this semester that I couldn’t push myself in absolutely every area or I was going to crash. I pushed myself to take a lot of classes, so I had to realize I couldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t keep a 4.0. There’s balance in life. I worked incredibly hard and studied for all my exams, but some nights I just needed to read and eat ice cream and forget about it all for a few hours. You won’t survive without the grace, so don’t feel guilty for it.

8. To say no! — Yes, that extra Bible Study on Thursday nights would be great. Yes, going to the grocery store every single week would help my family out a lot. Yes, I would love to be able to take my siblings to McDonald’s and the library all the time. My two best friends are captains of their soccer and basketball teams and I would love to be at all of their games. But I can’t do everything. Even all the good things. Even all the things I want to do. So sometimes I have to step back and say no to things, even good things, so that I can say yes to the things that are really most important.

9. Group projects aren’t pretty – -True story. I have a group project due on Monday for a group that has seven people in it. We had our first meeting three weeks ago and four people showed up. The next three still haven’t ever done their parts. Some people don’t care, some people never text back, and that’s going to have to be okay. You aren’t responsible for all of them, just do your best and let it go:)

10. God has already won — In a song by my favorite band, Anthem Lights, they sing Our King has won the war, He reigns forevermore, Hallelujah Hallelujah

The lyrics are simple but so true. God has displayed that truth in my life over and over this semester. When I struggled with health issues, He reminded me that He was the ultimate healer and His ways are so much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:9). When I struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, He reminded me that He was my peace and He was never ever leaving me (Isaiah 26:3). When Satan threatened to attack, when I ran out of time to study for my math exam, when everything around me tried to knock me down… God had already won. He is so much bigger than anything I faced this semester and then anything I will ever face. He speaks victory over me, and I get to live in that victory every day for the rest of my life.


Wow, as much as I wanted to share all of this with you guys, it also reminds me of how faithful my God is and makes me realize how much He has brought me through and taught me over these past four months. I can’t wait to take on whatever He has next, however crazy, I know that His grace will be more than sufficient for all of it.

Taryn