Above the Noise

2 Kings 19:11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Let me tell you, my life has been chaotic recently. 

And I thought I could handle it too, with my willpower and genius time management, I was gonna make it through. 

Check every box and write every essay and keep every commitment — oh yeah, and in the meantime keep a smile on my face and look like I have my life together. 

But you know what?

That’s not the goal. 

This blog post is a sermon to myself and a lesson some of my best friends have been trying to teach me for a long time. 

I. Can’t. Do. Everything. 

And you know what finally made me realize it?

Rest.

The beauty of rest. 

God created and set aside a while day each week for rest. Sabbath. To be in the quiet and commune with Him. To slow down and let the true priorities take their place. 

When I’m running a million miles an hour, I love the rush of adrenaline, I love the feeling of productivity and accomplishment… but I lose the little things. 
Life is full of tasks and checklists, but all the beauty in the little things are choked out. 


The beauty of laughing and long walks with dear friends. The beauty of tea dates and phone calls with friends in other states. The beauty of taking my little siblings to the library or reading a book just for fun. 

And you know what else gets choked out?

The voice of God. 

Going back to 1 Kings which I referenced in the beginning, Elijah was surrounded by the whirlwind of life. But that’s not where God was.

God came in the still small voice, and we have to be still and calm to be able to find them there.

When I’m caught up in the hubbub and rush of life, I’m not going to hear Him. I’m not going to see Him.

Last week, I was rereading a letter my best friend wrote me during freshman year. She told me that God doesn’t knock us flat on our backs so that we will walk right back to the things that knocked us down.

This semester has already knocked me down. And it’s knocking me down over and over, because I’m not letting God speak into it. I’m not letting His still small voice lead me, but rather I’m being led by the busyness and agendas and craziness that I’ve inflicted upon myself.

One of the first Bible passages I ever memorized was Psalm 23, which says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life.”

God wants to give me rest. And I want to learn to embrace it. Not to take it as being lazy, but to except it as a gift he has given me to blessed me in so many ways. And also to allow me to fully experience my relationship with him in the way it supposed to be.

I want to really learn what it means to be still and know that he is God. (Psalm 46:10)

Taryn

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Be Strong and VERY Courageous

“You make me brave, You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.”

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Joshua chapter 1. Moses has just died on top of the mountain, leaving Joshua the gargantuan task of taking command and leading an entire nation in to Canaan to claim their new land. 

Four times in that one chapter God commands Joshua “be strong and very courageous” because God Himself goes before them and will never leave them. 

Joshua was about to be called upon to lead armies to attack Jericho, to establish God’s nation and God’s people in a land occupied by evil peoples. He knew this, and he was surely afraid. 

But I’m not called to go conquer nations like Joshua. 

So does that mean I don’t need courage? Does that mean I’m not called upon to be brave? And does that mean my bravery is any less than that of say Joshua?

God calls different people to different things. 

I remember painfully deliberating an important decision during my junior year of high school and not seeming to have any indication of which choice was right. I remember lamenting to my mentor about my options. One that seemed hard and difficult, while the other seemed like the choice I would enjoy more, “but I don’t just want to pick the easy way out” I told her. 

Her answer was simple and to-the-point, “Just because it’s the hardest thing, doesn’t mean it’s God’s will”

Wow. 

Does God call us to do hard things?

Yes. 

But just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean it’s God’s will. 

God provides the strength and faith I need to fulfill the purposes that He has planned out for me. Not the strength Joshua needed to command armies. Not the faith that Peter needed to walk on water. Not the courage of Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel. The courage that I need. The strength that I need. The faith that I need. 

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” — Ephesians 2:10

God prepared good works in advance for me to do, and whatever those are, that’s what He is going to make me brave for. 

So what am I supposed to do?

Have the faith of Abraham who said “yes” to God’s call before even knowing where it was. 

Have the faith of Ruth who didn’t leave Naomi even though she knew nothing of the Canaanite people or their land or culture.

Have the faith of a child who believes without needing any proof. 

“Now without faith, it is impossible to please God. For the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” — Hebrews 11:6

I don’t need the bravery to lead armies, just the courage to be faithful wherever God has called me. The faith to say yes. 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander so my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. 

— Taryn

I know, I know!! I missed both posts last week. College is hectic, y’all, but God is so good and He always seees me through:)

His Promises are “Yes”

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This sign hangs on the wall in my room directly across from my bed. My Mom got it for me for my 16th birthday, and every time I look at it, I think about the goodness of my Savior.

The Bible promises so many amazing things that we could never begin to fathom, much less deserve. And you know what the best part is?

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 1:20

How amazing is that? All of God’s promises are faithful and true, and they are all fulfilled through Christ. I don’t know about you, but that gets me excited! There are hundreds of promises in the Bible and these are just a few of my favorites:

  • “My grace is sufficient for you” — 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • “His mercies are new every morning” — Lamentations 3:23
  • “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” — Matthew 11:28
  • “Those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” — Isaiah 40:31
  • “No! In all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” — Romans 8:37

There’s plenty of things that the Bible doesn’t promise too, and that’s where we often get hung up and let our perspective turn sour. The Bible, for instance, doesn’t promise that God will show us His plans for our entire lives and careers our senior year of high school so we can accurately pick a college and major. We would sure like to think that He does, but it often doesn’t pan out that way.

But what does He promise?

He promises that His ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), that they are for our welfare (Jeremiah 29:11), and that He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6). And these promises all ring true and are trustworthy, whether we believe it or not.

Again, we would like to think that God promises that life will be safe and painless, when, in reality, Jesus said quite the opposite (John 16:33)

This week has thrown me some curveballs, but standing on the promises of my Eternal King has helped me to stay strong and positive and remember that it all comes back to Him in the first place.

— 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

“Just Be Held”

“Lift your hands, lift your eyes, in the storm is where you’ll find Me. And where you are, I’ll hold your heart, I’ll hold your heart.”

This song first pierced my heart when I was battling through mono my junior year. I had no strength left to do anything that I wanted to do or thought I was supposed to do. I had to learn to release all the expectations, all the standards, and just be held. To know that His grace was more than sufficient for exactly what I was supposed to do, and He didn’t expect anything more from me than surrender to Him. No perfect grades, No perfect looks, nothing. Just trust.

I told my best friend just last week, “The times when I have felt very closest to God, when I have felt His presence the most have been some of the hardest days of my life. The days when I had nothing left but Him.” This week, God has been reminding me of that lesson that I have to learn time and time again. To fall on Him and nothing else. Sometimes He has to knock me flat on my back to get my attention, and as much as it hurts, it is always worth it. Because afterwards, He always picks me up and lets me just be held for a while.

 

— Taryn

 

Be Strong in the LORD

I’ve told the story of my relentless sickness on this blog more than once, but this speech was the very first time I had talked about it or started to see God’s hand in it. This was a turning point for me that changed my perspective in so many ways. I needed this reminder today as well, that when I am weak, then He is so very strong.

Being a Steward of Strength

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” — 1 Peter 4:10

Growing up in church, I heard the words “steward” and “stewardship” get thrown around a lot. Usually, people use them in reference to money. You are a good steward of your money if you use it wisely and in a way that would glorify God. When we are really stretching our minds, we say that we should be a good steward of our time or our possessions. Using them in the most astute manner as to please the LORD. But when I was lying in my bed one day extremely sick, I felt God nudging me saying, “Taryn, I need you to be a better steward of your strength.”
“Wait, umm God, I know You know what You are talking about, but what do you mean a good steward of my strength? I’m doing everything I can with my strength to glorify You, isn’t that what You want?”

I’ve told the story before of having mono and all the long term affects that has had on my health, my life plans, and everything else. My game plan through the whole thing was to try to prove someone or something wrong. Whether that was the doctors, people who told me I couldn’t keep doing everything, or the diagnosis itself. I wanted to prove that I could still juggle high school, working, pursuing a professional piano career, volunteering at church and school, my social life, and everything else. Well guess what? I couldn’t. But I adamantly refused to admit that until I was flat on my back unable to move for two days just because I went to the park with my friends.

Still, I was determined to do everything that I possibly could and never stop to rest when I could have been doing something for the kingdom of God. It took God completely knocking me out of commission to get a point across. 

“Taryn, you need to be a better of steward of your strength”

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes, God doesn’t give us abundant strength. But He always gives us what we need for what He has in store for us. What would happen then if we wasted all of that strength before we got to what God wanted us to use our strength on? That’s what I have been convicted of so often recently. 

My mentality has been to use up every last ounce of strength that I have or “hit the bed hard” as my youth pastor likes to say. But here’s the problem, I’m using the strength just because I have it and then I run out… and then I completely miss what God wanted to do through me. 

When I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed and run errands just to prove I can, I waste all my energy and make myself sick. Then that night when God asks me to go help out a friend who needs encouragement, I can’t because I’m too sick to get out of bed. 

So yes, God asks me to do things for Him. And He gives me the strength for them, He promises His grace is more than sufficient, but that doesn’t mean I can’t waste that strength. I want to learn to be a good steward of the strength I do have and use the gifts God gives me the ways He wants. Time, money, resources… and strength. 

Lay Down What’s Good and Find What’s Best

“Lay down what’s good and find what’s best”

These few words from the bridge of Johnny Diaz’ song “Breathe” struck me from the first time I heard them. They appear simple at first glance, but the truth that they hold is much harder to wrestle with. And when I think about how this truth has made itself manifest in my life, my mind goes back to eighth grade.

“Hold everything in your hands lightly; otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” — Corrien ten Boom

I vividly remember something my youth minister talked about one Wednesday night five years ago that hit me hard. He told us not to curl our fingers over the blessings that God has placed in our hands. He explained that many things God has blessed us with are for a season, and if we leave our hands open we can enjoy them. On the flip side, if our fists are clenched tightly on these blessings, we won’t see them as blessings anymore, but as things we are entitled to. When we do this, we get angry at God when He “dares to take them away” instead of thanking Him for blessing us with them in the first place.

To the extent that I understood this as a middle-schooler, I began trying to hold my hands open so that God could take out the “bad” things that I had sinfully clung to. I wanted Him to take the sins that I had learned to love, the things that had become idols… and that’s all well and good, but it wasn’t until much later that I understood the fullness of the message my youth minister had been trying to convey.

Flash forward to the fall of my junior year. I’ve told the story before of how I became extremely sick and all of the repercussions that the illness had on my life. That was most definitely a season of laying things down. And believe me, I hated it. I cried and complained throughout the entire process. I was mad. I didn’t understand. I chose not to believe that I would have to give anything up, I thought that I might be sick for a few months, but then I would bounce back to my old life… but that wasn’t going to be the case.

Some things, some of my favorite things — good things — I argued to God, I had to lay down permanently. Jobs, activities, hobbies, dreams… blessings… “God!” I pleaded, “Why would you take this? Isn’t this a good thing? It’s something I can use to honor You!” But the still, small voice inside of me was relentless, “Taryn, it’s time to let go.”

I didn’t understand then, I didn’t understand for a long time… I didn’t even want to understand for over a year. I knew that God was testing and strengthening my faith, but I never understood why He felt it necessary to take away such good things to do so. But standing here looking at my life today, comparing my life now to how it would be if those things hadn’t been laid down… I am starting to see why God did things the way that He did. 

God helped me to find what was best. I fought it to the bone. I screamed and yelled and refused to submit peacefully to His will (which I should have known all along really was best). What was best, was certainly not what I thought it would be… but now, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

My life is so different now that it was two years ago. The things that consume my time, my dreams and hopes for the future… My life has changed more than I ever would have imagined. And I never would have experienced any of the amazing changes if I hadn’t had to lay down lots of things. Lots of good things. You see, there was nothing wrong with playing piano or my teaching job, I loved them, they were certainly good things. But God had something different, and so much better in mind for me. 

What I have come to realize, is that God always wants the best for His children. Best doesn’t always mean easiest or most understandable or most fun, but I’ve never been disappointed by God’s best. And He often needs me to lay down all the things taking up my time and mind and energy so that my hands are empty and He can fill them with different things, better things. I don’t want to go down kicking and screaming anymore. I want to live in full surrender to my King, knowing His ways are always so much higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:9) I would be crazy not to trust that my all-knowing, all-loving Creator didn’t know what was best for me — so I want to start living like I truly believe He does. 

His Mercies are new Every Morning

I’m definitely a morning person. I can get up at 5:30 am and be productive (like this morning!), but once about 9 pm hits, I lose any ability to function. Most days, I look forward to going to sleep at night and waking up the next morning to a fresh day — a new start. But some nights, I don’t want to go to sleep, I don’t want to have to wake up and face the daunting day that looms before me.

On those days, I have often fallen into the trap of losing hope — of forgetting that God is sovereign and so, so faithful. I forget the verse that I clung to for all of last year, the verse that gave me a reason to keep persevering when that was the last thing I wanted to do.

“Because of the LORD’s faithful love, we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” — Lamentations 3:22-23

They are new every morning! That is a reason to rejoice! Every single morning when I wake up, God has new mercy and new strength in store for that day. I don’t have to be strong enough, because He already is! And I don’t have to have the strength to get through tomorrow yet, that is in the future and God will provide what I need when I get there. When I wake up tomorrow, His mercies will be new all over again and then I’ll be able to take on the future, but not yet.

Not only does this bring hope and peace, it gives yet another reason not to worry.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — carrying two days at once! It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry  doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” — Corrie ten Boom

Let me tell you what, I don’t have any abundance of strength to be wasting. I don’t want to waste the strength that God has blessed me with today by worrying about tomorrow. Especially since He says He will take care of it for me.

What is going to happen tomorrow, next week, in the future… we have no control over! Worrying isn’t going to change any of it, but what we can trust is that God will give us the strength for it as we come to it. That He isn’t ever going to leave us out on our own. That no matter how bleak and helpless things look, His power is going to claim the victory. That brings me back to the verse that sparked this whole blogging journey…

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

That’s more than good enough for me. I don’t have to worry, I get to live without worry knowing that He is abundantly strong and that He is going to take care of me. I get to rely on His new mercies every day, and drown every single day in His sufficient grace. Grace that’s bigger than failures, bigger than weakness and fatigue, and bigger than my extreme senioritis;) Grace in knowing that no matter what happens today, God is still going to be here being faithful tomorrow and it’ll be a new day with new joy in Him to look forward to.

“Weeping may last for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” — Psalm 30:5

It’s okay NOT to be okay

 

 

 

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong…”

 

These are the opening lines to one of my favorite songs “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. Honestly, that’s how I feel about life most of the time. Like I’m not allowed to fall apart, I have too many people counting on me. I need to be a good sister, daughter, employee, friend, band member, student, and so many other things… All while having a smile plastered on my face because as a Christian, I’m supposed I be joyful. But you know what? Sometimes I don’t feel very joyful. Sometimes I’m falling apart on the inside, and sometimes, I don’t have the strength to fake it one second longer. As the next line of the song says

“But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on”

Sometimes, God is calling us to put on a smile and keep going. And I’m not saying that we should make our life into a pity party. But it is okay to admit you’re struggling. It’s okay to
need help. To need rest. Some nights, it really is okay to need to scoop a bowl of Blue Bell and collapse in bed at 7pm. And some days, it’s okay to not be the strong one and instead admit that you’re hurting. To ask for help and prayer and let down the facades for a while. It can be tough to be vulnerable, and it’s easy to feel like that’s weakness. Like we’re not supposed to let ourselves have problems. Like we’re supposed to push through and not let them bother us. But that’s definitely not the case.

Throughout the first half of my junior year of high school, I was extremely sick with mononucleosis. It should have put me out of commission, but I didn’t want to let it. I wanted to prove that I could keep working, keep going to school, keep playing in the praise band… But in reality, I couldn’t. And although I though I was “being strong” and “being a fighter” I was actually hurting myself all the more. It took hitting rock bottom where I could barely climb out of bed to be willing to admit I wasn’t okay. To be willing to ask for time off work. To be willing to tell my friends I was the furthest thing from okay. And you know what? Sometimes that’s okay.

Sometimes I still have awful days. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, or some crazy combination of the two, there’s days I need some extra grace. And that’s okay. You don’t have to pretend you have everything together, no one does. Some days you’re going to need a nap, and you know what, God knows that. He made us to need rest, and He’s going to keep being faithful when we take some. Be willing to take that first step, admit you can’t do it anymore and fall on His grace, I promise it’s more than sufficient.

“When you’re tired of fighting, chained by your control, there’s freedom in surrender, lay it down and let it go”