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{2014} CHRISTMAS signs in the shop

I can’t believe I’m advertising Christmas signs before I light my first fall candle in the house, but I am.

We’re excited again to be partnering with several other bloggers this season, who will show off their favorite Christmas signs in their homes for us, so stay tuned for those in the next few weeks. They’ll be offering coupons for you to use in the shop, and a couple of them will be offering a give away.

Visit our shop to order your favorite sign of the season…and find me on Instagram to find out about give-aways and coupons for Christmas orders in our shop!

NEW SIGNS::

The Weary World REJOICES

The weary world REJOICES

Joyful, Joyful we ADORE thee

Joyful, Joyful we adore thee

MOST POPULAR FROM LAST SEASON::

O Holy Night 2x2

joysign

Merry little Christmas

O Holy Night 4x2

let us adore

Silent Night

Peace on Earth

MaKaela - I am a huge Christmas fan to begin with, but with us expecting our third baby in December, the first sign and fourth from the bottom nearly make me cry. There will be weary hearts rejoicing in our home and we will need a night divine. I hope to purchase one of your signs very soon! Loving them!

Rebecca W - I would be happy to show off one of your signs for you if you need :) They are beautiful.

Lemonade Makin Mama - Oh girl I just cherish my sweet sign. I was just thinking about where I want to hang it up this year… Ha!!

Lisa - These are my absolute favorite signs!!! Thinking I may just need one for my new mantel!!!

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A Praying Life.

A Praying Life Book Review

I haven’t done a book review in a while, so I thought I’d share with you a book I’ve purposed to digest slowly over the course of the summer. I’ve read a lot of books on prayer over the past 20 years because it’s something I’ve always struggled to understand, and quite honestly, it’s something I’ve always struggled to do.

It has only been in the past five years that I’ve come to understand why it is that I have struggled so much with this spiritual discipline in my faith. As I have unpacked my story over the years, it is clear that it is the stronghold of independence in my life that keeps me from fully surrendering myself to a life of prayer.

Prayer is the ultimate vulnerability. God created us to be naked and unashamed before him.

At our core, we long to be one with Him, whether we recognize it or not, and our souls aren’t satisfied until we are.
C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I’ve known for years {YEARS} that I wasn’t really living “naked and unashamed” before the Lord. The best way I can describe it is a block. Do you know what I mean? I felt as close as I could possibly feel to the Lord, but not really. There always seemed to be a missing piece. A dissatisfaction.

I never really wanted to talk about it to anyone other than Andy and a few close friends, because I’m prideful. We’re in ministry, and I was convinced that I needed to have my act together, or at least die trying to look like I did!

I rock “continuous prayer.” You know, praying breath prayers all through the day, like Paul encouraged in 1 Thessalonians 5. I convinced myself through the years that those prayers were enough, until I just knew that they weren’t. Deep down there was a nagging feeling that reminded me over and over that there was more. All the excuses and justifying in the world weren’t working anymore because CS Lewis knew what he was talking about when he said nothing in this world can satisfy.

Paul Miller wrote A Praying Life, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read on prayer because it’s an honest approach to understanding why we all struggle to pray. He breaks the book up into five parts: Learning to pray like a child, Learning to trust again, Learning to ask your Father, Living in your Father’s story, and Praying in real life. He candidly shares that he has learned to pray through his suffering. He shares story after story of how he has learned to survive and thrive in a world of stress and disappointment.
This book brings to life the truth found in 2 Corinthians 1:5:
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Suffering is the hang-up for most of us. We just don’t want any part of it. It’s painful and uncomfortable. Yet, it’s inevitable. It was part of Christ’s life, and it will most assuredly be part of our lives here on earth. I really believe that an intimate prayer life starts with honesty. We have to be honest about whatever it is that we feel like keeps us from fully trusting God when suffering and trials come our way. We have to let Him ask us the hard questions, and we have to allow him access to those places in us that seem determined to take care of ourselves. And, ultimately, we have to submit our wills and our hearts’ agendas to His will and His plan and trust that He is good and He is with us and He is for us. You know what else we have to do. We have to believe that He is able to raise dead things to life. We have to know that He always brings beauty from ashes.

When I look back at the amazing, miraculous work God has done in my own life over the past five years, so much of what he has done has been exactly what Paul Miller unpacked in these five parts of his book. Somehow, I’d like to share this summer how each part of his book mirrors my own story, so stay tuned for some kind of series.

Katie - This book sounds awesome. Definitely put it on my to read list. Years ago, I read Becky Tirabassi’s “Let Prayer Change Your Life.” I felt the same way about that book.

Tracy - I need this book! Wow, you are taking the words right out of my mouth. So glad you are back to blogging. You’ve been missed my friend. And HEY…good luck on Monday, you go girl!!! That’s awesome.

Caroline - That CS Lewis quote is my favorite of all time. I found your blog through something I had pinned on Pinterest. (distressed white table with glass bottles and the worded sign above it) I enjoyed reading!

Lisa - I have read and re read this book about 3 times. It is so good. Honesty in suffering is so necessary and very opposed by christian culture. I need to get this book out again.

Kristina - This is so true for my own life, thank you for sharing.
Blessings,
Kristina

Maureen - So glad you are back! I have missed your wisdom

Starr - My copy arrived in my mailbox today! Can’t wait to start.

Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty - Yet another book we’ve both read and loved. I’m pretty sure we could swap libraries and have almost the same books! This was a good one. xo

Lynn Richards - Sounds like a really solid, good book. Thanks for sharing about it. I’m looking forward to hearing more.
The book I’m devouring right now is by Bonnie Gray, “Finding Spiritual Whitespace”. I’ll have to pick up the one you are reading when I’m finished.
xo
lynn

bluecottonmemory - Wonderful book review! I’m trying to build up a book selection in my thinking room for my growing boys to men – and I think this would be a good book to slip in there for all of us.

Grace White - This book offers a real-life approach to prayer for busy families and connect the broken pieces of our life to God. Thanks for reminding :)

Carolyn - I have recommended The Praying Life so many times! I always qualify it by saying that it is not just about prayer, it is about Life in Christ!

Denise - Tara – as usual you have written what I needed to hear. I too am a master of the “arrow” prayer. I can shoot those off quickly and easily. I will be looking for this book! Thank you.

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Hello. Anybody there?

all of me for all of you

Longest break ever.
It has been so good and so needed.

When we moved home to Georgia, life cranked up a notch or twelve. We’re at a church we love serving with friends we adore, we’re here with family and old friends that we want to invest our time and hearts into, our sign business grew and grew and grew, and our kids are all in school now. You know how that story goes….their academic lives, social lives, and sports agendas dictate our calendar! I feel like the time span between school starting last August and finishing this May lasted two minutes.
These years are so short.

By the time Lent rolled around this year, I had so many things jostling around in my head and heart that I couldn’t think straight. At one point, I am certain I was twitching.

*The kids were crazy busy in school, and I was crazy busy managing their work and their sports.
Hats off to all you mamas who’ve had all of your kids in school for forever. Homeschooling might seem daunting to you, but let me just tell you, for us it was quiet and uninterrupted. We were almost always home together living a much more slow-paced life. I had no idea how C to the R to the A to the Z to the Y {CRAZY} our life would become having all three in school! NO REGRETS. They love it. I couldn’t pay them to come back home, and guess what? They couldn’t pay me to bring them back. It is exactly what our family needed…I desperately wanted partners in their education and in their spiritual formation. There is nothing sweeter than having people who love your kids and who are willing to provide echoing voices in their lives. But hear me say…It added CRAZY to our lives.

*Andy led a college team from our church on a spring break mission trip to Haiti, which is awesome, but when he knew he was going to be gone for about ten days, he suggested that it was officially time that I take over the communications side of our sign business.
SAY WHAT WILLIS? That’s basically what I said to him. No joke. Up until this past Spring, I have been responsible for the marketing and creative design with our signs. This meant I gave Andy the ideas and he made them happen, and then I networked through blogging and Pinterest and Instagram the finished product. It worked great for us for the first three years because I’m definitely the “people oriented” person and he’s absolutely the “task oriented” person in our relationship. However, when the kids went to school this past year, we knew that somewhere along the way it would benefit Andy’s sanity to remove a few things from his ever-growing to-do list, especially since he has a full time job. He had to work HOURS each night after he got home from work in order to get everything done for our sign business. He sat me down right before he left and showed me the administrative ropes, which honestly made me cringe. {and twitch.} I think I mentioned that earlier. Anywho, he left for his mission trip, and I dove into the deep end and figured it out.

BUT. The added administrative tasks on me started to drown out my creativity. Blog posts felt as much like work as the laundry does for me, and you know how I loathe laundry! I felt behind. Late. Lost. Out of touch. I started comparing myself and my blog and our business to others, and that pretty quote floating around on Pinterest is true…Comparison really is the thief of joy. It’s not a pretty site when my flesh gets involved, which is why it was time for a break.

Sometimes you have to stop looking around at everyone else’s creativity so you can uncover your own.
When you notice yourself not celebrating other people and their gifts and successes, it’s a red flag that you need to step back and let your heart be searched by God.
His heart dissection allows soul-searching questions to interrupt your ego’s agenda, and transformation occurs when you face the hard truth to some of his questions.

He wants all of us for all of Him.

It has been almost 4 months since that last post. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. My heart feels, uuummmmmm, dissected. It feels amazing to be in a place where my heart doesn’t have a will of it’s own. I don’t feel like the weight of my world is all on my shoulders. Any fear I had about a blog break hindering our sign business has been squished. God has a great sense of humor like that. I needed to be humbled and reminded that this business is from him and for his glory. We’ve sold more signs in the past 4 months than any previous year during those same months. He is our provider. Everything we have is from him. I don’t know why I ever lose sight of that truth.

On top of some major heart-work, God also made clear to me what’s next, which is a beautiful answer to years of prayers. I’ve always wanted to pursue my master’s degree in counseling. I was in the middle of choosing a graduate school when I met Andy, fell in love, got married and moved off to Seminary. As he finished his degree, we started our family, and I’ve been at home with our kids for the past 13 years. When we sent them to school this year, I decided to spend the year praying and processing if now might possibly be the time for me to pursue my degree. I am so happy to say that he has confirmed it over and over to me that this is absolutely what he made me to do. It’s not even something I feel like I’ll be doing..it’s more just who I am.

I actually start classes this coming Monday. {Insert SCREAM!}
Who knows what in the world that means for writing blog posts?
I know that I love the process of writing. I feel like my soul comes alive when I write, but I’m going to be getting my fair share of writing done in extra long papers over the next two years!! Maybe I’ll share with you all what I’m learning as I dive into classes!

I’m a ball of nerves about balancing marriage, parenting, our business, life, and school, but I know it’s what’s next for me. I’M SO EXCITED!!!!!!

Thanks to those of you who have sent texts and emails over the past few months…just checking in. They always came at just the right time.:)

I’ll be back soon {I HOPE} with pictures from our New York City vacation!! Best ever. I think I say that after every vacation, though. #littlemissdramatic

Alely - Life is full! Happy for your new chapter as you pursue your masters degree in counseling!

michele m fry - So glad you are back blogging!!! I am so excited for you to start school, this is your calling!!!
Love ya!! :)

Jackie - Excited for you as you venture onto this new path…God has some great things in store for you through this! Can’t wait to see what they are, how He grows you and leads you to bless many. You will be a fantastic counselor! xoxo

Lori H - So excited for you! And so excited when this post showed up in my reader today :)
You will be an awesome counselor – you are a natural! I know that just from following your blog and emailing. Good luck with your first day of school :) xo

Debbie w - I mussed you. Most every day ( after lent! ) I checked your blog to see if you were back. I am excited for you…you’ll be fine!

Christy - I just LOVED seeing your post pop up in my inbox. Wow! You have a lot on your plate. Glad you found peace on your blogging break. Blessings for the days ahead.

Becky - Oh girl. He’s in the mind blowing business. So happy for the boom in your business and for you pursuing your gift of counseling. Thrilled for you!! It’s gonna be good and I wouldn’t worry about blogging at all. It’ll all take care of itself :-)

paige - so excited for your TOMORROW!!!!!!
can’t wait to hear all about it my friend…and life over the last four months
xoxo

giosmama2626 - Going back to get your degree? You go girl! I’m so happy for you and super proud. So very wonderful. I’m rooting for ya. No fear- you can accomplish all of this without a problem. Moms just ROCK like that.

XOXO

laura@top this top that - good for you with school and with the sign business. will still be cheering you on as you journey through this next chapter.
Happy summer. Let me know if you are around my area and we can get together for coffee…tea.

Lynn Richards - Good for you!!!! I so appreciate your honesty. Both my husband and I are going through a time of being quiet in the sense that all plans we make are put on hold and we wait to see what God will do.
Maybe a blog break is in need for me as well. Something else to consider.
xo

Shar - Missed your blog posts. Glad you were blessed with answers in your quiet time.

Lemonade Makin Mama - I loved every single word of this post and the truth within it. He truly DOES know what we need and how to make it happen in ways that blow our minds. Cant wait to see what’s in store for you girly!!

Kristi - Love you and miss you too!

Katie R. - Isn’t it neat how Gid speaks to us so clearly when we are obedient in the hard things?? I can’t wait to hear how diving into counseling stretches and blessed you :) It’s kind of funny, because I feel like I’m doing things opposite you. As soon as Jistin and I got married, I went to grad school for social work and have been loving counseling and meeting people where they’re at. But now we have our first baby and I feel such a tug to not return to work. But it’s hard decision for me, transitioning from one season to another. Social work isn’t a job to me, it really is an extension of who I am. So while I’m sort of grieving (that sounds dramatic, I know) taking a step back from social work, I am really excited (and nervous) to see what being a full time mom means for me. All that to say, I’m praying for you as you move from one season of life into another, equally as important one!

Linsey @ Bravehearted Beauty - If you’re writing, heck YEAH I’m here! I missed you and I bless you whether you write here or not. Flipping out about your pursuit of counseling! Yes, God! This is SO GOOD! Love you, girl!

Laura @ Finding Home - Beautifully said – and just know that we will be here whenever it works for you! Take care sweet lady, Laura

Donna - Good for you! Glad you are going back to school. I know how busy life gets when you have a big family .Just so you know , it doesn’t change too much when they are older, as we remain busy with them and grandchildren. But it is such a joy. Life goes by in a wink honestly. The older you get the faster it goes. I’m sure you will be a wonderful blessing to many as a counselor. I hope you have a little time left for blogging as I love your blog and seeing pictures of your home.enjoy the rest of your summer. I will look for that prayer book. I need that.

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Breaking for Lent.

breaking for lent-between you and me

I’ve started and stopped this post so many times because I’m not quite sure how to put into words all the reasons I’m taking a break from my blog during Lent.

First and foremost, I’m feeling it as deep down as you can feel something…I know it’s what I need to do.
I could just end it there, but that wouldn’t be the least bit fun, so here goes…

People start blogs for all sorts of reasons. Mine is a super simple {somewhat ridiculous} reason.

When our family moved to Florida back in 2008, I left behind a sweet community and my precious family.
I felt lost.
My boys went to public school about a month after we moved, and I was at home all day with our brand new daughter who came to us from China just 6 months before the big move.
I was lonely and all out of sorts.

Lost and Lonely. Those seem like perfect reasons to start a blog, right?!
The good news is that God uses all things, even ridiculous things. Thankfully, in God’s economy, nothing is wasted.

Somewhere along the way, my love for design and my love for words collided, and our sign business was born.
The life lessons that developing and running an on-line business are teaching us are endless.
Blogging has also introduced me to some people I’d like to think would be genuine friends, if we lived closer.
So many of you have emailed me after a post and shared some of your story with me and asked me to join you in prayer for things going on in your life. What an honor. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it is sacred ground.

After just a few years in Florida, our family moved home to North Georgia.
We’re able to do life with my family again, we’re serving in a church with dear friends, we’re at a school with parents and teachers who are partnering beautifully with us for our kids’ education and spiritual formation, and we’re in a small group with people who are opening their stories up to us and letting us do the same.
Life is full. People are in the arena with us.

It’s been about a year or so that I’ve struggled with blogging. It’s been a struggle to become willing to just lay it down. Apparently, I hold tight to the things that bring me the least amount of comfort. I guess we all do.

It’s time to reevaluate what place blogging needs to have in my life.

I’m not lonely and lost and all out of sorts anymore.
All of those people that make life full are right here in front of me. I want to be fully engaged and present.

Also, God has been stirring something in me all year. I knew when the kids went back to school in the fall that He would use this year to make some things clear to me.

Here’s why it’s been hard to just lay it down and take the needed time to process and pray:: I’m afraid.
Fear often finds a way to step in front of faith.

One fear is that taking a break from blogging might somehow hurt our sign business.
We’re not closing our shop, and I’ll still be reaching out on Instagram and offering discounts through other bloggers, so there’s absolutely no relevance to my fear.
I want to surrender to the truth…the business is from God. He is our provider, and whatever he brings to us is exactly what we need.

Another fear is trusting him to lead me in the desire that he’s been stirring this year…to trust that everything will fall into place. I want so badly to operate in my old ways…taking the bull by it’s horn and making a way for myself. We so often make his will about our plans, and it’s just not where his peace resides.
I want to surrender to the truth…he knows the plans he has for me, and they are good. His timing is perfect. His will is that I know him and make him known. His peace is found in knowing him.

Lent is the perfect opportunity to be disciplined and sharpened by Jesus and to refocus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection to him. I’m breathing lighter just taking the step of obedience away from myself and my fears and towards him.

Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ - Release your fears and go with where HE leads you.

Lori H - Speaking as one of the people who would love to be friends in person if we lived closer (smile), I will miss your posting during Lent, but it sounds like the right thing for you. I hope that you will return after Easter, but know that you only make big decisions with prayer and thought so I would understand. I hope your Lent season is God-drenched and that you can continue to breathe lighter! Hugs!

BARBARA N - Good for you it will be a nice break to be all in in this special time. xoxo

Bethanie - I will miss you, my friend. I always feel like I’ve done a devotion after I’ve read your words…. I understand the need to follow His will. Don’t stay gone too long :) xoxo

Starr - Goodness how I love you.

paige - you are brave my friend, not only to step away but to share your heart!!
not brave like…ohmygah what if? but just brave in its pure form.
i love that about you

will miss “hearing” from you over here but glad that you’re doing what you think is best!!

xoxo

Amy Avery - Tara, again your words have touched my hear in a deep and profound way. I will pray with you as you make this leap of faith onto the path God is guiding you. What I hear in your words is not fear. What I hear is that your ready. This is your time and he’s waiting for you. Enjoy this time as he draws you nearer and whispers his love into your heart. Let it fill you with his peace and strength as you prepare for the transformation that you are now ready for. God bless you, my friend!

Glenda Childers - Enjoy your rest and time to hear from the Lord. I put in my tiny vote for you coming back … your voice would be missed. But sometimes there is something even better ahead.

Fondly,
Glenda

Christy - I will miss you.

Jackie - I’m proud of you and inspired by you, Tara. I know this is hard; your step of obedience will make the path before you clearer. And I’m thankful that I’m in the arena with you here, so I don’t have to miss you during Lent. Love you much, my dear one.

Regena Fickes - I too struggle to let God do the very thing I have asked Him to do…. Take my life and make it into a reflection of Him. Bless you for following Him. If you are to return, we will be here. If your life takes a different path, our prayers will follow. Take care, dear spiritual sister. God’s love shines through your words.

Sandy - You are an amazing inspiration to me! We must always listen to God, follow His direction. I’m so proud of you & your dedication.
You have so many blessings … They need your touch & nurturing. God bless you & your beautiful family! xo

Lemonade Makin Mama - Alright, I get this. Lately I keep thinking maybe I should quit blogging altogether. There are so few people reading them anymore yet I adore my loyal little commenters and readers and I don’t want to ever let them down… I didn’t give anything up for Lent… I just purposed to change some things and in the process some of my blogging energy and drive up and left. I don’t know what the future holds but I could quit it ALL and just do Instagram in a heartbeat. One of these days I may just do that… still considering things but man, my plate is full these days. Especially blogging for that radio station once a week. It just took it all right out of me. So we’ll see… I have shop fears too though and feel like I have to keep my blog open. Ugh hate feeling that way. Apparently, like always, we’re chewing on similar thoughts. Huh. Go figure. :)

jj - Good bye~
Will miss your insites <3

Becky - Hey sweet girl. Just seeing this. So proud of you for being obedient. He always honors that. Love youuuuuuu and I know we would be that kind of friend in real life. I have no doubt. You’re my blog family.

Kelly Cach - Tara!!! I don’t even have a blog, but feel I’m being nudged to quit it….hahaha!! Seriously, I have thought about starting one for 3 years now (I even have a name), but I honestly don’t know how I could fit it in with the few social media things I’m already involved in (instagram and reading blogs). I understand whole-heartedly wanting to go back to the way it used to be. You are so wise to listen to the Lord’s whispers.

Glad you have an arena! And I know we could be in the same one if not for the miles between us.

Bless you! And I support you!

Trudy Haynes - Hi Tara,
I just found your blog today by way of Edie at Life in Grace. You have so much to offer in so many areas. I found it hard to stay within my allotted time frame for blogging, ok, I went a little over, but I could have easily spent the whole day there. I actually live in Tucker which is fairly close to Athens. Will your blog stay up while you are not blogging? I wasn’t quiet sure if you had decided not to blog any longer or just through Lent. Would love a reply!
Thanks so much, Trudy

amber@grace.to.be - oh, you just speak my language!
i got every single word of this post~

“All of those people that make life full are right here in front of me. I want to be fully engaged and present.”

yes.yes.and yes!!
amen & hallelujah. :)

wishing you a blessed & peaceful lent season.

Lemonade Makin Mama - Just popping in to say that I miss you…

Rachel Santana - I so enjoy your blog, though I don’t get the time I’d like to read it, and I just want it encourage you. God has given you the gift is words. You were always such an inspiration when we were in Georgia. I loved our small groups. Keep sharing! You are reaching and encouraging with your wonderful talent. Love you and your beautiful family. Hug those Marks for us! I miss the old gang!

Hello. Anybody there? » Between You & Me - […] the time Lent rolled around this year, I had so many things jostling around in my head and heart that I couldn’t think […]

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