Love

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I was teaching her about Jesus’s love. His dying on the cross for our sins, so we could live love. His sacrificial love, patient love, enduring love. His forever love. She was fighting with her brother that morning (like they … Continue reading

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

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

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.

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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

Puddles

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I sat there warm by the fire amidst the snow-capped hills so many saved dollars and a million expectations in, as the perfect weekend that had played out in my mind time and time again seemed to be crumbling at the seams. It can be so easy to make oceans out of the puddles of our problems. Yet, these times, just me and him, quiet, still—so rare, so precious. But there he was lying alone, hollow in that hotel bed, struggling to breathe and fight those heavy lids that matched my heavy heart. He was sick and I was unsympathetic. With a bitter heart and unmasked disappointment, I was sure my pity party would at least make him feel guilty for ruining our perfect plans if it couldn’t change the truth of the situation. He asked me to lie with him and I childishly shook my head. He couldn’t help but fall deeply into an unsound sleep, each labored breath serving as a reminder of the moments we wouldn’t spend together. The enemy had me trapped right where he wanted me, bound to that leather chair across the room, thoughts traveling to all of the times the Renaissance man had “let me down”, to all of the prayers I had prayed over this weekend that were going unanswered. God, don’t you love me enough to give me this one gift?

The truth is, when we cry out to God, He answers.

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He reminded me that just that morning I stood weeping on the front steps of my neighbor’s home, staring grief in the face as we clasped hands and shared in the mourning of the loss of her husband and her sorrowful encouragement to always love my family well. He reminded me that just that afternoon, I poured tears over the grief-filled words penned in a letter from a relative whose husband had just been laid to rest. Both taken too soon, both taken by cancer. Both leaving a hollow mark in the hearts of the wives who would do anything to once more be beside the one to whom they said their vows, hear them breathe just one more breath, labored may it be, feel their heart beat one more time, respond to the their request to  ‘come lie with me’ just once more.

“Yes, I love you.” my Creator speaks to me. “I love you enough to remind you, even in your selfishness, even in your lack of gratitude that this life is full of beautiful gifts that can’t forever on this earth be held —and right now you’re gift is lying right in front of you. Take this time to rest and cherish what you have. Take this time to love your family well.”

I stripped off my socks, shoes and pride and curled up next to the one I love. Wrapped my arms around him and thanked God for that moment of stillness surrounded by the beauty of his creation. I listened as each labored breath now serving as a reminder that he, in this moment, was here. That God had granted me one more day to love and be loved by this man.

It wasn’t what I pictured. A weekend away with no kids, filled with Kleenex and cough drops. Mustering just enough energy to enjoy the slopes and scenery. Yet, in the end, it was exactly what my soul needed. True R&R for the heart in the form of deep Reflection & Restored gratitude. It’s in these messy real life moments that our love grows for one another—stronger, profounder, and more deeply anchored in Christ.

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xo,
Tamara

WorshipI love music & I love to share it. Each song is for each post. Listen and Enjoy! You Make Beautiful Things
Reflection:
Gratitude:  Are you facing any puddle-sized problems that you are currently turning into ocean-sized ones? What areas of disappointment can you surrender to Christ and find in them a reason to praise?
Grow:  How has God loved you well? How can you pour out the love and blessings he has poured into you and unconditionally love your family well?
Give: “Love suffers long and is kind” 1 Corinthians 13:4.  What does it mean for Love to suffer and for Love to be kind? What is one way you can live this out 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.

© Tamara Gurley 2014