Gift

It was Christmas 2010. I had just received the greatest gift I could ever unwrap, a baby boy swaddled up in a soft white muslin blanket. Not just any baby boy, however, he was a big brown eyed, curly haired boy, … Continue reading

Unfit

The waiting room was small, hot, filled with swollen bellies and joyful hearts. New life was bursting at the seams all around me, including in my single stroller. He was just six months old, my son, whom I prayed and dreamed for years over.  A true picture that sometimes God answers our prayers in just the way we hope. Other times, He surprises us and it takes a little longer to see the blessing or the lesson that He has for us. Here I sat pregnant again, 20 weeks along with my second. My ‘surprise’ child that was due to arrive just 10 ½ months after my first. Today I would learn the gender of this life growing large inside of me, and I just wasn’t sure I was ready to hear the answer.gabby ultrasound

Insecurity is a harsh and deceitful friend. Making us believe that we are not enough, as if we ever could be. It’s more than just not good enough, but lacking down to the very core of who we are.  I was just as positive that I could raise a loving, strong, god-fearing son, as I was positive that I could NEVER raise a confident, capable, God-honoring daughter. I was an insecure, anxious mess as my Renaissance Man held my hand and led me back to the ultrasound chair. It was on this cherished throne, this place so many women pray to visit, that my one of my greatest fears was realized.

bows“It’s a girl!” the tech exclaimed. I offered a half-hearted smile before my eyes welled up with tears. These tears, however, were not of joy, they were of fear and certain failure. How could I be a mother to a little girl without her turning out to be as broken, insecure and fearful as me? Raising a daughter from the ground up? Responsible for every part of who she was and was to be? Her role model in life? I did not always have the best example to lean on. No one taught me to French braid hair and cook crock pot meals. What in all the world could I offer this girl? She deserved so much better than me. Have you ever believed this true of yourself? That in no way could you be enough to fill whatever role you’re faced with?

After returning home from the doctor’s office, I did what I know best, I penned my heart on paper. I wrote out my fears and found scripture that spoke truth to each. Through this prayerful time of surrender, God reminded me that I was worthy of whatever purpose He chose to fulfill in me. That despite my past, it would be Him working through me that would make me the mother I was designed to be. And isn’t this true for all of us? When God calls us in or out of anything, He promises to give us everything we need to see it through. As we replace our false insecurities with the security and truth of God’s word,  He becomes our gabby birthreflection in the mirror,  the lens through which we see the beautiful truth about who we are created to be.

Gabriella Noelle Gurley made her sudden entrance to the world in her first bold attempt to scare the life out of me. I was diagnosed with placental abruption, where the placenta begins to separate from the uterine wall. The placenta is the part of the womb that nourishes the baby, providing oxygen and nutrients to sustain life. I was immediately sent in for an emergency induced labor, and all I could do was trust and pray that God would nourish my baby girl, that He would breathe His very life into her lungs and give her everything she needed to thrive.sassy gabby

I still pray this prayer for Gabby each and every day. Because while He has redeemed my insecurity by showing me beautiful parts of myself through who Gabriella is becoming; He has evenmoreso shown me His hand and work in her life in every area that I lack. Despite me, she is beautiful, brave, outgoing, and strong. She is sassy, sweet, loud, fearless, and wild at heart. She mimics me in the way she sings and dancesgabby prays her heart out, is creative, stubborn, and always wanting to succeed. Most importantly, she mimics my love for the Lord in her words and in her deeds, and that is my ultimate prayer. That I would simply be a light in her life; that I would shepherd her heart well, and she would never know a day where the Lord is not her Savior. That she would find her worth always rooted in Christ and her security in His love. He is the true creator and sustainer of her life and I am just the broken vessel He has so graciously chosen to be called her mamma on this earth.

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Gabriella Noelle has taught me that God is all about redemption and His promises are true. That He can give you exactly what you hope for, or He can give you more than you could ever ask or imagine. And Gabby is just that–she is more amazing than I could have ever asked for and my love for her is greater than I could have ever imagined.

xo
Tamara
       

Reflection
Worship:
 I love music and I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Enjoy! Strangely Dim – Francesca Battistelli

GratitudeGive thanks— “Those who trust in the LORD are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.” Psalm 125:1

Grow: “Insecurity is a harsh and deceitful friend…” Where have you allowed insecurity to rule in your life? What false truths have you begun to believe and where do you need God to replace those with the truth of His word?

Give: Who in your life can you share this message with today? When will you share it?

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us.

Kiki

Being chauffeured around town in a stylish limousine, was always a dream of mine.  There was something so glamorous about the idea. I could envision myself all dolled-up, elegantly stretched out across the smooth leather with a bright, glossy smile on my face. There would be laughter and friendship, romance and prestige.  A night that was light, airy, fun and at-ease.

Yet, there was nothing glamorous about this limo ride.  There was no laughter, only tears. There wasn’t any romance, only fear. There was nothing prestigious about this affair, only humility and despair. The short ride from the funeral home to the graveyard was nothing like the endless, starry-eyed night I had imagined. It wasn’t quite the occasion for which I’d been saving my ‘little black dress.’ Surrounded by family members who were each experiencing their own stages of heartache, I witnessed sorrow, anger, and disbelief. The darkness was thick and it was heavy with grief.
kiki & I

***
Growing up, my sister, Kalisha, and I would pretend we were famous singers. We’d put on our oldest sister’s hand-me-down prom gowns and strut around the house with microphones imagined out of serving spoons and empty paper towel rolls. Born exactly a year and half apart, she was my best friend. The ‘kiki to my tam tam’—the nicknames that were yelled out across the yard as we were summoned in from hours of wonder-filled play, for evenings of dinner and chores. We shared a room where we would spend many late nights pouring out our dreams and our fears, holding each other during one of mom and dad’s bad fights, and reassuring each other everything would always be alright. Every memory of my childhood is reflected with her right by my side.

Doc - Jul 10, 2014, 9-07 PM (2)The hurt began as we grew older.  The petty fights over boys and clothes that grew into deeply wounding words and vicious acts. The bitter root that grew in my heart over these matters had made itself at home; so much dirt shoveled over it’s crooked, clenching arms that the thought of it ever being uprooted was inconceivable. She would have to come to me. She would have to take the first step. My forgiveness wasn’t free. It would come at the cost of a repentant heart and a genuinely sincere apology.

I sat in church one cool, spring night sunk low in my chair, heart swollen with sadness over the state of my childhood best friend. She was struggling through this life; allowing the weight of a fallen world to sweep her up with its temporary, tasty, poisonous lies. I wanted her to remember the freedom in Christ she had found the day I held her hand and walked her to the alter. The day she said, ‘yes’ to Jesus ruling her heart and her life. The pain of our family’s past was beginning to steal the best of her and sell it for cheap thrills. I couldn’t stand idly by, but what could I do? She hadn’t made her peace with me. Offering my hand of help, would be offering forgiveness for free and love without condition.

That night, the pastor preached on the book of Philemon. Just 1 chapter and 23 verses long, yet deep enough to widen the built up walls in my heart letting love and forgiveness flow free. Philemon tells the story of a runaway slave who stole from his master; and the plea for the master to not only bring the slave home, but offer unconditional forgiveness and begin treating him as a brother. This type of forgiveness, where it is not just words spoken or a decision of the mind, but a welcoming home, arms stretched wide, slate made clean, be my flesh and my blood type of forgiveness, can only be possible through Jesus. The type of forgiveness where you lay down your life and your rights for a friend, like our Father laid down His life and His rights for us. Jesus whispered to my heart that night and reminded me that I could not just receive His forgiveness without cost, but I had to give of it too. For whatever debt of remorse Kalisha owed me, He had already paid the price.  It was His forgiveness flowing through me that allowed me to call her and say, “I’m sorry, come home, be my sister again.” We rekindled our friendship, our sisterhood that night. We didn’t name each wrongdoing and reconcile them one by one. We just settled on ‘it’s over’, and I am ready to move on.  I am only thankful, it was just in time…

***
One month later, I sat hunched over on that smooth leather seat, preparing to throw one last shovel full of dirt; but this time it was over her grave. Preparing to live life without my sister, just 21-years-old, preparing to be without my best friend. Had I allowed my stubbornness to stop me from forgiving her and asking her forgiveness, that limo ride would have haunted me for thekiki gravestone rest of my days. Instead, it reminds me of the journey God took me on prompting me to live each day with a heart ready and willing to forgive. It reminds me of God’s sovereignty, His still present voice, and the transforming power of His Word. It is evidence that life is so short it deserves our attention and our urgent response to unreconciled relationships. It was a hard and painful ride, one that left many jagged stains on the surface of my heart.  Yet, in hindsight, the hard heart lessons learned on that road to restoration, made this ride greater than the one I had always wanted; because it gave me the gift of what God knew I most desperately needed. A chance to reflect back on the last days of her life, and know that we were more than sisters, we were and always would be the very best of friends.

(In honor of my sister, Kalisha, 7/12/2004. xo forever)

xo,
Tamara

       
Reflection
Worship:
 The song that played the night Kiki accepted Jesus into her heart. Run to you- Angelo & Veronica

GratitudeGive thanks— “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Grow: Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.” Philemon 1:15-16a. Who in your life do you need to reconcile with? Will you trust God enough to protect you and sustain you so you can offer this type of slate made clean, arms stretched wide, be my flesh and my blood type of forgiveness, as he did for you?

Give: “Welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” Philemon 1:17b-18. We have the opportunity to love unconditionally and show Jesus-like forgiveness in nearly every moment of our days. How will you shower those you come in contact with, whether family, friend, coworker or stranger,  with this type of gracious living? 

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us.

© Tamara Gurley 2014

Dust

Sitting with tears in my eyes, head hung low amongst remnants of a toddler spaghetti fight that broke out during lunch leaving crimson stains across my walls and eat space cushions. It was one of those days. One of those hard days where you can’t see past the ugly to find the beautiful. God brought my eyes up, off the mess, calling my gaze to His Creation. It was here I peered into the beauty, the sea of lush green flowing through my wooded yard. Birds flitting amongst the trees, squirrels running free, all in search of something to nourish the hunger in their bellies. And I was there, too. Empty, needing filled. I thanked God for the beauty; the way I am learning to enter his presence—“with thanksgiving in my heart…with praise.” psalm 100:4. Just then, a piece of dust glided past that large picture window falling slowly with the day’s gentle breeze. The Lord whispered to my heart, reminding me that all of life was born out of dust. The Lord breathes into the dust and it rises and it lives. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust—so many of our days feel void of life. So much of this world so broken. But God promises to make beauty out of ashes and breathe life into dust, He is the author and sustainer of every moment of our days. I simply need to have a heart that is willing to be still, look up, and see. I have to partake of His Word and remain in His presence. It is in this surrendered place that he breathes into my day, shows me the beauty in the ashes, the life in the dust.

These lyrics were inspired from that brief moment on that beautiful, dusty day.

Dust & Ashes

We cry ashes to ashes
We cry dust to dust
From dust we were born, to dust we will returndust

But You make beauty out of ashes
You breathe life into dust
You are the author and sustainer of my days

When I am broken into pieces
It is your holy arms that pick me up
You heal the open wounds of sorrow with your Word
When I am overwhelmed with the silence
Or overcome by the noise
You whisper sweetly to my soul…

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
From dust we were born, to dust we will return
But You make beauty out of ashes
You breathe life into dust
You are the author and sustainer of my days

We are surrounded by the ashes, surrounded by the dust
So many days lived void of life
Dying, hurting, weeping, crying
But from the dust we rise
From the dust we live eternal
From the dust we cry…

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
From dust we were born and to dust we will return
But you make beauty out of ashes
You breathe life into dust
You are the author and sustainer of my days

You give gladness for sorrow
You turn weeping into joy
You are the author and sustainer of my days

So I thank you for the ashes
I thank you for the dust
Without them I would never know Your greatness
I would never know Your grace
© Tamara Gurley 2014

xo,
Tamara

       
Reflection
Worship
I love music & I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Listen & Enjoy! Wasteland- Need to Breathe

GratitudeGive thanks—  “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving; I will enter his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name”. Psalm 100:4. 

Grow: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soulGenesis 2:7. “And out of the ground, God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky” Genesis 2:19a. How does the knowledge that God initially brought up all of creation out of the dust, breathed life into your being and promises to continue to do so, affect the way you face the hard, dark, and weary days? 

Give: Jesus came “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 Who can you share this message of hope with today?

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us.

 

Father

He didn’t have to do it…

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But he did.

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It didn’t start with long chats about one day bringing home a baby girl, or a choice to do our part to try and make that happen.

It didn’t start with I wonder if she’ll look like me or you, or what colors would look best on her nursery walls.

It didn’t start with big parties decorated in pink balloons and cupcakes with toppers that said “congrats to you!”

It didn’t start with inordinate amounts of planning and preparing, all in the hopes that we’d somehow be ready to properly care for her.

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It started with I will and I do.

He said I do love you and will cherish you from this day forward, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.

It was one of those times our vows were put to the test.  It was a dark time in my family. My little sister Grace was in harm’s way, she needed a place to call home, a family to call her own, a father to claim her as his and his alone. Overnight we became “parents” with no toys, spare beds or size 4t clothes, just our love and commitment to never let her go.

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He didn’t have to do it, but he did.

He didn’t have to say yes to the unspoken requests of please sacrifice your newlywed lifestyle, just a year and a half in, to give life to a little girl who may have none. Please give of your heart to a child that is not your own, be the father-figure to her that she has never known. Please empty your pockets, to clothe, feed and shelter her. Please give of your time to teach her and coach her. Please cover her in your prayers and in your strong arms.  Please always be the one she can turn to, no matter how hard.

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Please stand beside her when she feels her first heartbreak, teach her what it means to have a man who  always puts God first. Please walk her down the aisle, and be ‘Papa’ to first baby girl, help her redeem what was lost in her world. Tell her I love you as much as you can and let her say the words, most of us can—“Daddy.” So simple, yet for some, an unknown. But for Grace because of Joel it is a profound known.

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What words of gratitude could ever encompass how thankful my heart is that she has this man for a father?  What a gift from God that he did not have to give. For he is our heavenly father and will always be enough. His very life  fills the empty places in our wounded, beat up hearts.  He loves us so much, that he gave his one and only son, so that we may have life and have it to the full. So that we could be his adopted daughters and sons, crying out, “Abba Father”–we are children of God!

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He didn’t have to do it…but I am so glad that He did.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:5-6

xo,
Tamara

       
Reflection
GratitudeGive thanks—  “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:4-7

Grow: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” 1 John 1:12-13
Have you received the gift of salvation by believing in and giving your heart and life to God? If so, what does it mean to you to be a child of God, not birthed out of passion or plan, but by the love of the Father?

Give: “And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:17
What wounded, beat up place in your heart can you allow God to fill with his very life? As you do this, what gratitude can you offer the Father or forgiveness, grace or mercy to someone involved?  Can you trust that while we may suffer on earth, as children of God our eternal inheritance is with him and in his glory!

WorshipI love music & I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Listen and Enjoy! Lamb of God

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us.

© Tamara Gurley 2014

Sidelines

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Having two children 10 ½ months apart presents as many challenges as you are currently imagining. Especially in regards to my two curious, adventurous, and nearly fearless toddlers. However, for a great deal of time there has been a certain challenge that I have allowed myself to begin to resent. I like to have fun with my family and allow my kids to enjoy a wide-array of experiences. So most days we gear up for what I always pray will be a seamless, stress-free outing (please note: it never is;). We arrive to said destination all body parts intact, and make it successfully from the car to the location of choice (this can be harder than you think;). I plop down my bags and then the fun begins.

gj5g3Let’s take the pool for example— We arrive, I hop into the pool and get shot with water by the somewhat annoying spray guns, chase my little one underneath those unpredictable buckets that fill with water and bring a chilly splash crashing down on my head, run after my daughter who is halfway up the waterslide steps before she becomes the next drowning victim, give in to my son’s demands to hold his hand and “jump in, mommy, jump in” and my daughter’s desire to fill up watering cans and slowly dump them down my back…and that is just in the first five minutes. I then take a breath, look around and see all of the moms and dads who are sitting on the sidelines, relaxing in the sunshine, chatting with friends, reading a good book or playing on their phone, simply shouting out “be carefuls” and “good jobs”.IMG_0080IMG_0076 Hmm…must be nice.

Then we venture to gymnastics lessons where I am the only parent required to join my kiddos on the bouncy mat-covered floors. Here they are supposed to sit in a circle and patiently wait in line for things like swinging and flipping on bars with cute stuffed animals dangling from them, or jumping on a trampoline or into a pit full of foam squares. It never happens. I work up a REAL sweat chasing my babies all over the room as they seek to experience all of the fun this place has to offer. I look through the glass windows and see parents whose kids are older or more experienced able to just sit and watch from the sidelines.

These stories ring true for nearly everywhere we go or everything we do- whether typical day-to-day things like grocery shopping, nap time, bath time, Grace’s soccer games or more adventurous fun-filled outings– that I do realize are a privilege. It’s just that I am in a truly hands-on stage of life and I am being called to be right next to my kids as they take part in all of these experiences. But what I am realizing, is that someday I won’t be able to. There were 27 years before they were born and as many God-granted years after they grow up that I will be able to indulge in simple pleasures, like sitting, sleeping, uninterrupted potty breaks, adult conversations etc.

Truly though, there will soon come a day when I will no longer be able to take them by the hand and plunge with them into whatever waters they are facing—whether calm and beautiful or stormy and ridden by fear. I won’t always be able to hold them when they are scared, keep them safe from harm, and see up-close the laughter and joy on their faces as they soak in this life. I will go from instructing to hoping, from holding to watching, from seeing it all to just hearing about it. Someday, I’ll be on the sidelines of their lives, only able to cheer them on and pray God’s absolute best for them. Someday, I won’t be holding their hands, I’ll be forced to let go.

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So for now, I’ll be covered in sand at the sandbox and drenched at the lake. I’ll linger a little longer to sing just one more song or tell just one more story. I’ll be holding hands and chasing my dreams–two little gifts, I never want to take for granted. Until the day comes when the sidelines is where I rest, I’ll be jumping and running and soaking in all the beauty of their lives.

Hmm…it must be nice. Well, yes, it really, really is.

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xo,
Tamara

        
Reflection
GratitudeGive thanks—  “Every good and perfect gift is  from above…” James 1:17

Grow:   “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1. What season are you currently in and how can you fully embrace it? How can you thrive instead of just survive?

Give: As you fully embrace your current season of life or the circumstances you are currently facing, how can you use them to bless someone around you?  If you have children, how will changing your perspective to embracing each season allow you to give more and enjoy more in parenting?

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us.

© Tamara Gurley 2014

Daughters

It’s hard to be a mom. Not necessarily the sleepless nights and toddler tantrums—while those can present their challenges.  It’s the weight of responsibility that comes with shepherding a life, the ‘raising up a child in a way they should go’, the hoping, that unlike you, ‘they will not depart from it’.grace3

It’s harder yet to feel this weight while trying to raise a daughter who is just as strong-willed as you. Everyday can become a
battle of wills until one chooses or is forced to concede. I often lie awake at night imagining all of the ways I can try harder to help will her along. Perhaps a  few more lectures and stern “talking to’s”, maybe a few more camps, tutoring sessions or scheduled activities, if I just throw more scripture at her and call it ‘bible study’ or pray my will over her and pretend it to be God’s—well maybe then she will be all I think she should be. All I know she can be.

What more can I do to help her be great, to raise her confidence, increase her success academically and athletically, teach her right from wrong and ensure she’ll stick to it, build in her strong character, compassion and respect for others, create in her a soft and gentle spirit. What more can I do?

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:1,3

My Father gently reminds me that all of my efforts are nothing, all of my words are just clanging cymbals, fruitless without love.

I repent. Lord forgive me for putting off love. Forgive me for allowing the shepherding of her heart to become second to encouraging her performance. Forgive me for managing and controlling instead of guiding and trusting.

gabby2And aren’t these the things I poured tears over before I became mom?  The fear of my daughters becoming just like me—prone to perform and to please man instead of God.

But Christ desires obedience from his children to be in response to their great love for him, which is birthed out of his relentless, all-consuming love for us. And this is my heart’s cry–that my children would live their life in response to the inordinate amount of love that they receive, more than the constant correction or pressure to please.

“And these three things endure—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13        

I do not believe that I can love my children enough that they will never make a mistake and always follow the path that I may feel is best. However, I do believe that I can love my children enough to trust God with their lives because I have confidence in the fact that he loves them so much more. I can show my children the kind of love that only comes through Christ’s life flowing through me when I am abiding in his word and being filled up with his spirit. And that is my true calling as a mom—to know God’s love, experience it, be filled with it, and pour it out over my children.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” 1 Cor. 13:4-6

And while I’ve read these words over and over and could recite them by heart, it is when it gets hard, when struggle is real that hope begins to fade and my human nature begins to reign. Yet, it is in these moments that I can cling to the cross and know that whatever I am facing Jesus died and lives for that. So instead of reacting to the bad fruit I can pray over the root. I can pray that 487602_10102266476869105_241509087_nmy daughter would love the lord her God with all her heart, all her soul and all her strength because she knows His love for her. I can pray for her salvation, I can pray for heart transformation for “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

And more than anything that is what I want for her—not perfection but redemption. So I keep these words hidden in my heart, my anchor in the midst of the storm:

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:7

xo,
Tamara

        
Reflection
Worship
I love music & I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Listen and Enjoy! Love Alone is Worth the Fight

GratitudeGive thanks— “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Grow: 1 Cor 13:4-6. The Love list. In what areas do you need to see growth? In what areas do you need to ask forgiveness for not displaying love in the way that God desires?

Give: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:7
Who can you share this with today? How does this resonate with you in your parenting journey?

Each LSLW post includes three areas of reflection in hopes to offer a chance for us to give thanks, grow in our personal faith and find ways to pour out from our lives what Christ has poured into us

© Tamara Gurley 2014

Rise

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Maybe this Easter Sunday your heart was feeling heavy. Perhaps your weariness and burdens made it difficult to celebrate the beauty of this day. You are grateful for the blood he shed, thankful for the empty grave, yet saddened by the broken … Continue reading

More

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Last week my family and I escaped this harsh and weary Midwest winter to enjoy the gift of sunshine and the beauty and vastness of the ocean.  Often while my children would freely and joyfully run through the sand, chasing … Continue reading

Daddy’s

Dear Dad,

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Growing up, I always wanted to be just like you. I am sure you noticed how at the dinner table I would cut my food just like you did, keeping everything separate on the plate rather than mixing it all together. That’s how daddy did it, and that’s how I would too. I am sure you recall those spanks I used to wear with “Daddy’s Little Girl” embroidered across the back. I was so proud of those spanks and made sure everyone on the preschool playground knew that I was labeled yours. I believe I knew it wasn’t right to show off your britches on the playground, but I was just too proud to care.

We both know the hard part about when I was brought into this fallen world, was that our family was on the brink of falling apart. By the time I hit my adolescent years, there wasn’t much of a family left. The sin and the demons that had plagued our home since the day you and mom said “I do” had all starting claiming the victory.  In a home like ours where brokenness, addiction, and abuse abound, you grew up pretty fast; and the starry-eyed childhood dreams of always being “daddy’s little girl” finally came caving in, creating a crater and a void so deep in my heart that it nearly overcame me.

Dad, you taught me that a “Dad is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love” and you were right. I loved you since the day I breathed my first breath of life. You were my first love. When you began to slip away from me I never stopped trying to reach out and grasp that deep, unexplainable love that is put in the heart of a little girl for her earthly father by the heavenly Father, himself. I kept reaching out, until eventually, there was nothing left to grab on to.

photo 5I have only seen you cry a handful of times in my life. One of those times was the day you and mom gave in to the devastation of your marriage and decided it was time to part ways. I was selected to move in with mom while you stayed in our now empty childhood home. A lifetime of memories now packed away in trash bags and worn out boxes. In the midst of this wreckage, I watched you stand defeated, dampening that old, tattered carpet with a flood of tears full of pain and regret.  At the time, I didn’t fully understand why you were so very upset. In my mind, I had been searching for you for so long and it didn’t seem like you wanted to be found. So what did it matter if I was leaving now? It broke my heart to see you that way and evenmoreso to know that maybe, deep down, there was a glimmer of something of you left for me that was being poured out in tears on that old cream carpet floor.

What I didn’t know at that time, was the depth of the love you had for me. What I didn’t know was the truth of your history growing up without a father and your inability to see how the choices you made impacted me. What I didn’t see was how hard you hoped and prayed that I would be ok. That despite you, I would be alright. What I couldn’t see was the work that God was doing in you so that even though I couldn’t have all of you when I was young, even though I had to lose you for a time, it was so that I and the world could gain a stronger you, a more deeply rooted in Christ you, for today.

I still want to be like my daddy and you may wonder after all we’ve been through, why? I want to be like my dad because he is a man who didn’t just let me go, but he came back for me. He didn’t just wound me, but he asked for forgiveness. He wasn’t just a part of my brokenness, but he became a part of my restoration. And I want to be the kind of person that is strong enough to look in the mirror and see when I’ve been wrong. That I would not only look in the mirror and face my failures and see my pain, but I would be a part of the healing of those who are hurting in the same way I am and to the ones whom I’ve hurt myself. I want to be strong enough to face my fears and my sins but to not allow those things to define me. Instead, like you, allow those things to become a part of the story of God’s graciousness and goodness in my life.

When you couldn’t be there for me and all you could do was hope the best for me. What neither of us realized is that Hope in Christ is not a wish, it’s a promise. It’s an assurance that God would never let me go, and He never did. And He never let go of you either. Even though I couldn’t see it, all these years you were fighting hard to get healed and whole for me, you were on your knees praying hope and life for me. And God brought us both up out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. He was the Father we both needed, in just the way that we needed Him. Filling the voids with his healing touch and the craters in our hearts with his pure love.

Because of you, I will live my life never ceasing to ask for forgiveness, and always being willing to forgive. Because of you, I will fight to be an agent of change and a champion of restoration. You have given me a new hope that God is still in the business of miracles. And when others ask me how I overcame the pain and struggles of my past, I can tell them with full assurance that I always wanted to be just like my Father. I now know, I was and always will be, Daddy’s Little Girl—your’s and Jesus Christ’s.

dad tam retirementdad tam fishing   Dad & kids

Worship: I love music & I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Listen and Enjoy! Restoration

Reflection:
GratitudeGive thanks- “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1a
Grow:  “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”” Deuteronomy 31:6 What area in your life is there a void that you have been filling with anything other than Christ? Can you trust him to fill this crater with the knowledge and full assurance that he will never leave you nor forsake you?
Give: “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:19a Hope in Christ is a promise not a wish. Who can you share this hope with today?

© Tamara Gurley 2014