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Moving beyond the beautiful Exterior.

I love a good drive by, and there are so many beautiful spots near us to capture.
Do you ever try to imagine what life is like for the people who live inside the homes.
The porches have beautiful outdoor furniture with lamps, and the steps are lined with flowering plants.
Some of the yards have these huge swings hanging from old Oak trees.
The windows have window boxes that are spilling over with gorgeous flowers.
The picket fence has a fresh coat of white paint on it.
To look at the exterior of these homes, you’d imagine that life is grand for their owners
and maybe for most of them it is.
But the truth is, I bet some of these homes are oozing out of their seams with struggle.
Spouses are disconnected.  Financial troubles loom.  Diseases are diagnosed.  Abuse occurs.  Kids feel neglected.
Most of us camp out in a comfortable zone where the only thing visible is a beautiful exterior.
We live in a world that keeps us busy working hard on our exteriors.
We want to look like we’ve got it all together in our marriages and in our parenting and in our friendships.
In everything.  We want to look like we don’t need help.

But we do need help because we weren’t made to do life alone.
We were made for relationship.  Let’s face it though, getting past the exterior is hard.
Inviting people into your life and getting past the surface is difficult.  It’s vulnerable and raw.
True hospitality is inviting people into our imperfect hearts.
When I read Edie’s 31 day series, this truth worked it’s way into my heart, and it won’t let go.
Have you ever really thought about it?  
Do you have people in your life that love you despite your crazy?
Do you love people despite their crazy messed up brokenness?
The challenge in any relationship is not having the expectation that they need to do life exactly the way you do it.
We all have a tendency to judge things people that are different than us.  
They may eat out every meal, while you think it’s important to cook three square meals a day.
You may give your kids candy and their kids may have never tasted sugar.
You may feed your family only organic and never processed.
She exercises five times a week and you haven’t exercised since middle school P.E.
They homeschool and you think they’re lunatics.  You homeschool and they think you’re a control freak.  
You may have no credit card debt and they’re up to their eyeballs in it.
You’re known as Clutter Mcclutterson and they keep their home so spotless you could eat off the floor.
What about their political views?  What about their view of God?
What if you’re a follower of Christ and they aren’t?  Will you love them deeply and invite them in?

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves through obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart.
Most of us can do the work of inviting people in until it gets uncomfortable.  
Uncomfortable is hard and narrow.  
It’s easy to back away at the first sign of a few differences, but differences are so good.
They give us the opportunity to love beyond ourselves.
We don’t have to convince the people in our lives to do things our way. 
It doesn’t matter how they vote or how they feed their kids or how they handle their finances.
We don’t have to be threatened by the differences, and we sure don’t have to judge them.
We can love the people in our lives deeply from our hearts because we can trust that God loves them more.
He is big enough to move and work and breathe his will into their hearts and lives the same as He is in ours.
Love God.  Love others.  
It’s so simple, yet we make it so complicated.  
Our role is love.  The end.
Sometimes we struggle to get past the exterior because we’ve been wounded in a relationship.
I know I’ve been hurt before, but I’ve also been the one to cause the hurt.
When our brokenness bumps up against someone else’s brokenness, we have a choice.
We can let the triggers we experience keep us from genuine relationships or we can work through it.
I want real relationship.  I want to be my most authentic self.
But mostly, I want to be someone that others can be their most authentic selves with in life.
What is God showing you about loving others deeply from your heart?
Have you been hurt once you allowed someone in?
Are you scared to try it again?
{thankful for}
676. My husband, who loves me despite my crazy.
677. My friends who have loved me closer than a brother.
678. The hard relationships that have taught me how to love more deeply and beyond myself.
679. JESUS, who drew me in with his kindness and has been patiently teaching me to love others ever since.

Art and Sand - Your post is beautiful.
Our son left his dog with us – a big old mutt. One morning I was walking her on the beach and we came across a beautiful Airedale. I said to myself, “why couldn’t Josh have brought us a beautiful dog?” And then I realized what I had just said. Our beloved mutt is a wonderful, smart, sweet dog.

Our precious dog is nearly 14 now and she has taught us so much. I just needed to get past the exterior.

Sarah - This is so true. A friend and I recently had this same discussion. After we shared some struggles in both of our lives, she said, “Sarah, I would never have guessed you struggle with this!” And I said, “I never would have known that about you!” But what sweet relationship and encouragement can come when we are real. It is so much better than just looking at the outside. Thanks for this beautiful post. And I do love those exterior home shots! ;)

The Avery House - You are right Tara that sometimes is is so difficult to move past hurt and open yourself up and to be vulnerable and allow another person into your heart. What I have experienced in my life is that each time I close down shop after an experience of hurt, God opens my heart back up wider giving me a greater understanding and love for my fellow man. A couple of years ago when I was resiting a call to go into children’s ministries I was hit over the head by the words of a very wise senior pastor, “God doesn’t call us into ministry for us to be particulary comfortable. He calls us into ministry in order to make meaningful connections with others and to shine his light to the world.” Since that time I have come to learn that everything that we do in life can be a ministry if we choose to open our hearts and to allow God to work through us to serve others. It’s not always easy and often requires that we die daily to self. Even as I type this, I feel I need to die to self in order to serve my family as two little voices call my name to pay attention to them. And so I will, but first with the need for prayer for God to soften my heart taking away my resentment of my time to myself being interrupted and putting in it’s place a feeling of gratitude that I have been given the gift of serving my family. It’s a daily struggle to be vulnerable and to have gladness and singlenss of heart in serving others from my very own family to complete strangers. Thank you friend for this very thought provoking and heart-felt post. You minister to others through your sharing here.

Gee Singh Newbanks - Beautiful post.. So true… We need to let in.
Thanks for sharing, for the inspiration.
Cheers, Gee

Jackie at Roots and Wings - Your first picture is of one of my top 3 favorite houses in town.
But then your words…they’re oh so true and thought provoking.
I want to be real all the time, but the truth is there is an exterior. I think we all have it to some degree.
I’ve had a lifelong struggle with letting people in, but God has been working on that in me for 16 years.
I think I’ve gotten better. Yes, I’ve been hurt by opening up, but the depth of relationship that can only occur from vulnerability is soooo worth it.
And being real is very freeing.
Thanks for such soul stirring words, Tara.
I’m very thankful to be able to call you my friend.

Farmgirl Paints - been hurt so many times. hate that. instead of it turning me away it makes me feel desperate and needy. really hate that. the only perfect love i know of is His. keeps me going day after day. love your hospitable heart. such a good thing to strive for!

Lolo @ The Adventures of Stig and Lolo - I love deeply.
Which is an asset, but most of the time it is a burden and a heartache. I keep at it though, because I like to think I have a pretty exterior, but my interior is where god made me even more special. The interior of my soul is chaotic, messy and crazzzaay, but more importantly my interior is cozy, happy and loveable and smells nice (which is exactly how i like real homes to be!).

I too have always wondered what the inside of homes like you pictured look like. I would hope that they are warm and fuzzy and smell of homecooked meals with toys and love strewn around. Now THAT is beautiful :)


Megan - I needed this today. Just yesterday I was hurting and praying about a broken friendship. It is so hard to push pride away and just love. Pride wants to be right. Pride wants anger. Every time I started to feel angry, the song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West kept coming to my mind. I love what you have to say here. You are right, we make it way too complicated…

LLH Designs - Sweet Tara, I love so much about this post. Thank you for writing it! I’d love to hear more from your heart about the “working through it” it part when your brokenness bumps up against someone else’s. What does that look like? How to you do it well? I love your heart. Wishing we could do life together! xo!

Rachel - This is a wonderful post. It is a great reminder that we need to not judge others and just love on them. Thanks for writing!

Mary - so, so, so good, tara.
SO good.
i am really scared and terrible at this.

MDP - Your pictures caught me, but your words kept me! A couple of those are some of my favorite homes that I make my husband drive by when we head up your way. Such true, true, hard to swallow words! Thank you!

Lissa - I love this post! God is teaching me some of these very same things. (and I do peer into people’s homes and wonder what their lives are like) :)

Beth - Love it!!! This post is so fitting for me right now in my life :-)
And….me, my mom, and sisters are some SERIOUS drive-by-ers! It’s probably our most favorite thing to do together!!

Beth - Hi, my name is Beth, and I am a drive-byer. And that does not sound good in today’s verbiage. My husband was a police officer before becoming a pastor and a lot of calls were to those homes that I would never have guessed because of the beautiful exteriors. Sometimes my hospitality can be hindered by my contentment in that area or stage of my life. I know that is an area that for me that requires constant stretching, because my tendency is to curl up into a little safe nest with limited access. It is safer to love from a distance, but I know that God did not call US to a safe life. He called US to a give it all up and live it for Him. Thanks be to Him, that Jesus did not choose the safe route.

Beth - Hi, my name is Beth, and I am a drive-byer. And that does not sound good in today’s verbiage. My husband was a police officer before becoming a pastor and a lot of calls were to those homes that I would never have guessed because of the beautiful exteriors. Sometimes my hospitality can be hindered by my contentment in that area or stage of my life. I know that is an area that for me that requires constant stretching, because my tendency is to curl up into a little safe nest with limited access. It is safer to love from a distance, but I know that God did not call US to a safe life. He called US to a give it all up and live it for Him. Thanks be to Him, that Jesus did not choose the safe route.

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh Tara… well said my friend. Well said.
I am caught in the part where I am such a mess lately that I hate being a drain on my peeps. I feel like they are all going to have enough and just walk OUT. (I’m pretty sure most of them won’t actually do that) I am constantly SO vulnerable, vomiting it all out that I keep begging God to keep people around. LOL I love how it all comes down to love. I find that often, I have to work on loving myself the way others do. I’m awfully quick to judge my own self and find it lacking. God continually shows me love and grace by others loving the real me, exterior and interior, in spite of ME. That is so great. Loved this post. Love you!!

Tiffini - no truer words!
is this not life’s battle…the flesh and the spirit warring
relationships are hard. when we haven’t the tools for healthy relating
we so often wound others and ourselves.
how much more we need wounded warriors being the traveler that stopped to help the wounded man when the priest and the levite walked right on by! think that might be
a post…lol!
so often our own pain – when bumped… is uncomfortable and it is easier to blame others
and stick our heads back in our shell….oh for the grace of God..thankful for it!!
your words are so where my heart has been for several years now. i think it is time to
do something about it friend:)
praying you are enjoying your Sunday
i am babysitting little Khloey until Wednesday. She’s been sick and mama is done.
now i can try working and babysitting….oh my!

kelly - and now…you need to see silver linings playbook. very appropriate movie after this post. beautiful.

paige - well said my friend!!!
& yes i can totally relate and have done the same. especially when i drive by the older gorgeous homes in atlanta. i always wonder what their lives are like…

beautiful post

Katie G @ sweet peas - This touched my heart so so much. Thank you <3

slip4 - You are very wise. I love this post. I often look at pretty homes and wonder what life is like inside. My mom always told me not to judge others by what they have. She’d say “that Mercedes could be costing them a big payment every month” or something similar. It would be easy to envy.
This was a good reminder that others don’t have to be just like we are. My best friend and I are total opposites when it comes to politics…we really cannot even discuss it. This election season was hard as we are both passionate about our beliefs. I just keep reminding myself that I love her, and hope that she remembers that she loves me!

Yvonne @ StoneGable - Beautiful post… wise and true!

T - So many truths spoken in this post. It is like new breath to my dusty soul.

Thank you for all of these reminders that ground us in Love, helping us all to see others and life through His eyes once again…


randy cox - The exterior resembles everything about home. Beautiful blog to go through.

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