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.

 

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

Calamity

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The road to Christ is paved in a heap full of grace and a mighty splash of mercy. He to us and us to others. For we cannot display to the world the ultimate riches and glory of the cross … 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