11.30.2013

John Piper quote

"Take the Kingdom violently (Matt. 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all your might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it. More is at stake, Jesus said, in the habit of lust (Matt. 5:29)." - Piper

11.28.2013

Thanksgiving Rest

I went to bed guilty.

I should stay up and sort this out, right, LORD? That's what You want me to do, right?

But the thoughts swirling and the heart racing and the anxiety filling was too much for this frail body.
And it was in my weakness that I saw His strength.

I do not slumber. I do not sleep. I AM will take care of you.

"He will not let you fall.
    Your guardian will not fall asleep.
Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps." - Psalm 121:3-4


So my Protector, my Guardian let me sleep and I woke up and His Word came again in one form: rest. "Rest in Me.", He said.

But isn't it so backwards from the world? The world that says figure your life out before you leave high school and hop into college. Know who you'll marry, when you'll marry, be sure you marry. Get a good job, a great job, one that pays a lot of money. Figure. it. out.

But I can't. You see, all I know is Jesus. All I know is that He'll take care of me and if I don't understand the trials it's okay. It's okay. Ah, but my heart and mind play tug of war. Is it okay? Yes. Yes, it is.

I choose to give thanks to the God who knows it all and has it all figured out. That's why I can be okay when I'm not, because He always is. Is it easy? No. Do I get it right every day? Definitely not. But today is Thanksgiving and I choose in His grace to be thankful for these times where He reminds me that I can't do it. That only He can and He will strengthen me to get through the trials. I choose to participate in Thanksgiving rest in Christ Jesus, my Savior. Amen. Thank You, LORD.

11.25.2013

Thanks... when it's hard.

I'm not sure if y'all are aware or not, but Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Quickly.

Everybody is gearing up for turkey or tamales (shout out to all my Hispanic brothers and sisters! :) ), family time, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (people still watch that. Yes, I am one of those people.), movies, and of course the lovely Christmas season.

I've read and seen SO many posts on thankfulness. So. many.

But can I be honest? (Imma be honest, anyway.) I don't feel very thankful right now.

I know, I know. I should be. I know. I know I'm blessed with so many things and I'm writing them down because Ann Voskamp wrote a nice little book on it and I can't get it out of my head, but dude. I'm still not feeling the thanks. The joy. Am I the only one?

Surely not.

So what do we do when we're not thankful?

Continue giving thanks.

I know it sounds crazy, but it's what we gotta do. Just like when you think you can't take another step and then by the grace of God you do, so we must rest in our Savior even in the seasons where thanks is hard to spit out. I can think of a lot of other things I could do. But how will they benefit my life? Others lives? My relationship with God?

Friend, if this season is hard on you, I feel you. I may not understand exactly what you're going through but our Savior Jesus Christ does. I'm not gonna sit here and say that you're gonna feel any better after you give the thanks to God Almighty for your shoes, shirt, working body, life... but I will say that I know He will intervene and eventually work the emotional stuff out. We need to trust Him more. Lord, help us trust You more.

Life is tough. God knows. Lay it down. Give Him the thanks.

11.24.2013

The Prodigal - Book Review

When I read books, a lot of times it's to escape from reality.

This is not one of those books.

Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett hit you at home with the story in The Prodigal.

Jack Chisholm finds himself in a pretty big mess after Jack cheats on his wife and it becomes big public news. The authors take you on a journey on his effort to redeem himself and the realization that only God can redeem our brokenness.

One of my favorite lines from the book is this,
"Better the battered soul who lives his life on a voyage of discovery than the timid soul who never finds out who he is."
I think we can get a lot from that.

The Prodigal is a beautiful story of redemption and coming home. It's a story of how the people of God help the children of God make it through difficult times. It's a story of a God who remains faithful to a faithless and broken people. It's a story of beautiful redemption in the midst of ugliness and pain.

Pick up a copy. It's a good read.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review.

11.14.2013

Thursday thoughts.

I have pimples on my face and my hair is pulled back in a ponytail with today's makeup nearly gone.

I'm a mess.

My life isn't perfect (incase the name of my blog didn't clue you in ;) ) and today I've cried two or three times unexpectedly.

I started sobbing because I felt misunderstood and yesterday was crazy and today wasn't much better.

I've asked questions that haven't been answered yet... or maybe I'm not listening to His answers.
God, help me hear.

I've longed to live less by my emotions and more by His truth but I'm still struggling.
Jesus, help me to believe.

I'm in desperate need of His grace.

Some days I have to pray and sing really loudly, not just in my head, to remind myself how real I am and how real He is.

So this is life. Full of struggles. Hopes, dreams, fears, doubts, love, hate, evil, good.

And God wins.

Oh, sweet Jesus, You finished the war on the cross. Give us strength to walk through these trials and struggles and endure till the end that we may see Your lovely face. Amen.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." ::Psalm 34:18::

11.13.2013

His Treasure - Book Review (and a giveaway!)

His Treasure is a beautifully written devotional by Sheri Rose Shepherd that is written from the view of our Heavenly Father to His daughters. Each day is filled with so much truth and the design of each page is gorgeous!

One thing I really like about this devotional is how everything can be focused on Him. His treasure, His hope, His identity, His sight, etc. I think that's very important. I also like how each devotional is short and concise. It's good for all of those on-the-go ladies (holla!).

Girls, if you struggle with grasping the way the Lord views you (don't we all?) then I would suggest you grab you a copy of this book.

For one of you, you can have it for FREE! ^_^ As part of the giveaway just enter your name and email address in the comments below and tell me why you'd like a copy of this devotional. Giveaway ends Friday and winner will be notified by Monday.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the exchange of a review. All views expressed are mine.

11.09.2013

Who is your first love? {Guest Post}

I am super humbled to be writing for More Precious tonight. Here's a taste of what I wrote:

 
Who is your first love? Who do you spend the most time thinking about, praying for, hoping in?
 
The answers to these questions are so very important. Your eternity is at stake. Your whole life is at stake… or rather true, everlasting life is at stake. I say that not to scare you, but to be real with you, sister.
 
We can answer those questions with a few different answers. Myself. My boyfriend. My friends. My best friend. But those people were never meant to satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.
 
I really think the Lord took my hands and helped me write this. Read the rest here.

11.08.2013

Letting go and life... they're both hard!

Letting go is hard. Especially when you don't want to.

Living is hard. Especially when it means all you get is a step-by-step view and not a glimpse at the glories He is revealing in you and around you.

But that's life.

Letting go and living in hard places.

The hard places grow you. They teach you to be thankful, to love, to sacrifice, to empty yourself, to pray, to look around, to breathe. They teach you to laugh a little longer, cry a little harder, sing a little louder, and smile a whole lot more. They show you that life is not about you (I know, this one hurts so much), that Jesus will transform your life, and His arms of grace will hold you still.

They teach you that seasons come and go. There will be days when you're lonely and days your heart is filled to overflowing and that either way we can choose to be thankful and joyful in our Savior because circumstances do not determine who He is and they definitely don't sway Him or change Him. Hallelujah! This is cause for praise.

Life is hard and letting go is hard, but if He's beckoning you to let go today, do it. He only has your best in mind and what will bring the most glory to His name. He'll take care of you. Don't worry your pretty little head. Rest, child, in the arms of the God who loves you.


11.06.2013

Forever Friday - Book Review

Huck is a carefree, independent, do-what-she-wants-when-she-wants kind of woman. Gabe is a masculine, hurt, hopeless romantic wondering whether love will ever exist for him again. The two meet and sparks fly while trials are encountered. Can their love survive the tests?

Forever Friday is a beautiful story of these two characters as well as Adam (but you'll have to read the book to find out more about him). I found this book very hard to put down. All women want a man like Gabe. He writes poetry... whaaat?! Swoon. I found myself a lot in Huck, though. She doesn't look to a man to complete her (because they can't), she lives her life well, and she has a personality that I adore. The way she and Gabe go back and forth in their conversations is cute and charming.

Timothy Lewis is a wonderful writer and if this book is any indication of how his other books are to be written then I will quickly be adding more of his little treasures to my collection.

For all you hopeless romantics, this book is a must read. There are many twists and turns, laughs and tears. You will have a hard time putting it down and those 288 pages will seem like nothing once you get started. :)

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review. All views expressed are mine.

11.05.2013

Worth, value, and thanks


November is the month of thanks.

It's when everybody on Facebook starts listing what they're thankful for. People seem happier, more joyful when this time of year rolls around (mainly in the South we're just so thankful that 100 degree weather is finally over for a few months! ;) ).

Well the other night as I poured out my heart, I found a dislike that has dictated a lot of my life... a lot of my thanks. I found quite a few dislikes actually, but one in particular stood high above the others. You ready for it? ...

My size.

Yup. Self-centered Tara. It's a place of pain. I remember as a child growing up larger than everybody else because I used food to "fill up" my love tank... problem was food was never meant to do that and I learned that later in life but that's another post for another day. I remember the fat jokes people told. The comments people made. They stuck well. I remember my third grade teacher coming up and jokingly saying, "When's the baby due?" and I remember well the time that guy I liked came over and said, "You know the reason why I and other guys like you? Because you have big hips and a big butt."

Awesome. Let's put that one in love note, right? Ha!

So each time I look in the mirror I remember those words. I remember those jokes. I remember that I never want to look that way again. I exercise as much as necessary, and eat healthy. I wouldn't say I'm obsessive about it at all, but I am body conscious.

Do you know what the Lord told me to do with all this? Lay it down. Seriously. He told me to let it go.

Do you know what I did Sunday night? I cried and asked for help. Then, I wrote these words,

"Thank You for my healthy, working body. Thank You for my curves."

Wait, did I really just do that?! Yeah. Did it feel weird? Duh! Am I glad I wrote it, prayed it, and am still thinking on it? Yes. Because He has used that to remind me how blessed I am, how loved I am, and how unique He has made me. He is using this to show me that my worth comes from a much more stable, much more solid place than whether my pants size is in a single digit or not. (Which it isn't and no, I will not tell you what it is. ;P )

Our place of worth is found in the arms of Christ.

That place is only made possible by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and it's only found through Him. We need to stop going to people, food, clothing sizes, and numbers on a scale to label ourselves. Go find the Truth! You are a blood bought child of God and you are precious to Him. Let His love draw you closer, deeper into His arms.

Let's stop the comparison game, okay? You're loved as you are. :)

11.04.2013

Jesus On Every Page - Book Review

Okay, so it normally never takes me a month or more to read a book... but this book is one that you must take your time on.

I've been blessed with an amazing Sunday school teacher, who for the past few months (and really ever since I've known her), has spoken on Jesus in the Old Testament. Naturally, when I saw this book and read what it was about I knew I had to pick it up.

David Murray takes you on a journey of seeing the Bible as one great story of our beautiful Savior. He does a fantastic job of showing you Christ in many different Books of the Bible (including Song of Solomon... chapter 16. That happened to be one of my favorite parts). While Christ may not be mentioned by name in these Books, it is hard to deny that He is most definitely there.

I think it's odd how completely blind we are to the fact that Jesus isn't just in the Gospels. He's in Genesis, He's in the Psalms, He's all over the Bible!! However, I am thankful for this book which God is using to open eyes (which includes mine).

This book is roughly 200 pages and is a somewhat dense read. It's not really a sit down with a cup of coffee and relax kind of book. It's more of an intense study to finding the One that brings life to us. God has used this book to increase my thirst for Him and to really seek to see Christ in everything in the Word. I would suggest reading with your Bible in hand, a pen, and probably a highlighter too. I would also strongly suggest opening any time you spend reading this book in prayer because it will be difficult understand without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Great book for anybody wanting to study the Old Testament and find even more of our Savior.

*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for a review.