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Weekend Favorites…

weekend faves-between you and me

Shannan talked about her love for valentine’s day swoonery, and she tells you how to make these paper heart garlands here.

weekend faves-between you and me

Hospitality is so much more than inviting people over…it’s inviting people in. loved this post.

weekend faves-between you and me

Aimee featured our home in a tour…

weekend faves-between you and me

Kasey’s new farm table is a beauty and so is the rest of her home!

//Favorite reads//
When you feel like you aren’t a big deal.

The most valuable lesson.

On following a brave sister’s lead.

Jackie - I love Shannan’s heart garland! And Ashley’s post on hospitality. And your home tour…LOVE the new chests and bedding–the indigo looks fabulous! Love the print in the kitchen, too. We just got that in green for our foyer. And your new signs…the RWE one is my favorite (I think). :)

I guess I just love it all!

Can’t wait to spend time with you, soon!!

love you, my dear friend. :)

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Hi friend!! Love all these faves. Been missing you but working so hard just had no time for fun… starting to come up for air a bit this week and looking forward to getting back into routine. Wait. aren’t I always saying that? I think closing the shop makes it harder sometimes than if I just left it open all the time. Sheesh. I need to figure that one out.

Okay missed you and hope all is well. Have to go see what other posts I missed out on!! :)


Snow is magical.











My kids have legit prayed for snow since the day we moved back to Georgia.

The last time we played in it was 6 years ago…right before our move to Orlando.
Lydia had been home for about 6 weeks from China, so she has zero memory of it.

School released early on Tuesday because the weather people said it was coming our way.

Of course, we had to stop at the grocery store on our way home because that’s what you do when you’re a southerner and snow or ice or both is coming your way.You join legions of other people racing up and down the aisles for things needed and for other such items like: marshmallows and rice krispie cereal and salsa and chips. You know…the essentials.

Almost as soon as we got home, it started free falling.
We didn’t know what to do except roll our heads back with our faces toward the sky.
It was like instant happiness. We couldn’t help but smile as it hit our skin.

Snow is a lot like Disney World. It’s magical.

It’s for belly laughs and snowball fights and drinking hot chocolate and making snow slushies with koolaid mix and sledding with friends and making the world’s smallest snowman and warming our feet by a roaring fire and making snow ice-cream and making snow angels in snow that is barely even covering the ground and it’s for freezing hands and frozen toes and home cooked meals and sweet together time.

And if you’re like me….it’s for staying in your pajamas for 18 hours straight and looking ridiculous when you throw a scarf on with a peacoat and cowgirl boots to go outside.

I’m kind of regretting that I didn’t record my fashion statement for you and most importantly for our family book for 2014.
Maybe I should reenact it in a What I Wore Wednesday post?No?? Really?? Okay, maybe not!

Hope you guys are ready to usher in your weekend.
Did you have some snow days this week? Tell me about yours!

paige - why yes indeed you know we want to see your cute little self in your snowweek fashion!!
sweet post & sweet images!

Lori H - Great photos – the joy is obvious! Lydia’s face in the second photo is priceless :)
I got to stay home from work yesterday – did a little shoveling of the driveway to help the sun do the rest of the work. Woke up to our coldest morning in a while today – 2 degrees. Brrrr. Can’t even believe the photos of Atlanta and Birmingham – those poor folks did not enjoy their snow day :(

Becky - Uh next time pics of you! So glad Lydia finally got to experience it. It kinda is magic. Magic that I’m happy to see go in a day or two max;)

Londen - How cool to have snow when you don’t usually have it! Looks like the kids had a blast in it! Our area has been so cold we haven’t even been able to build a snowman. Hopefully with the next big snowfall they are calling for this weekend.

Donna - Love your blog and home. I have seen a couple of your signs before and they are great. Love them! Love the ones on Paige Knudsen’s blog. Would you mind sharing where you found those cute mercury glass lamps and your fabulous dining room table? Can’t wait to look at the rest of your blog! Have a great weekend!

Jackie - Aside from going out to take some photos, I stayed in and enjoyed the view from the window. The rest of our family, however, were out in it nonstop, building snowmen, tromping around and using the sled and snowboards as much as they could in our 2 inches of snow. And there was hot chocolate, too, of course. So fun. :)

michele fry - So glad that you have joined me on the snow is magical bandwagon!! I love a snowy winter, and hoping for some when you all get here!! I want snow but I also want you to get here :]

Amy Avery - Ahhh yes! Snow is so magical! I had an eye-twitch moment last evening when they called schools off for another day here in Knoxville, but I quickly regrouped and humbly tried to find the positive in another day with the girls at home. They are only young for just such a short time and having them home is indeed bliss. Thank you for sharing your snow day fun. I love that little snowman! So cute!

debby messner - Love the snow pictures. My first snowman of the year. With all the snow we have been having, I haven’t seen a snowman. Thanks for sharing yours. I am a crazy snow lady. I go on snowmen hunts with the kids I watch.
I used to be a follower and I don’t know what happened. I will sign up again.

barbara - What fun it is to play in the snow we all need to through a snowball at someone once in our life’s!

Laura - ‘And if you’re like me….it’s for staying in your pajamas for 18 hours straight and looking ridiculous when you throw a scarf on with a peacoat and cowgirl boots to go outside.’
You know it… I wore the same outfit…or my version there of.
Awesome. I actually had just enough fun food & snacks to get us through. My choices were perfection, except next time… I’m definitely getting the rice crispy treats fixin’s. !!
Very thankful we were, I had friends in Atlanta that saw folks waiting for the bus till 6:00 p.m. Thankful for wise administrators on this count… whew. :) hugs!

Shannon - Love this post!!! The kids looked like they had so much fun!!! We are an army family that is originally from the south, so living in a place that gets COLD is a unique experience!! I have to be honest and tell you I don’t always appreciate the cold/snow/ice, but something truly magical happens during those times. I just had one of those moments last night with my hubby. We went out and sat under our heater wrapped in blankets…. And just watched it snow. Not very many things slow down the pace of the world… But in those snow filled moments… God gives us such peace, quite, rest, and awe inspiring beauty of large snowflakes blowing and swirling. The world stops moving and God meets you in a blanket of peace and silence!!! Joy to the World!!!!! Enjoy your snow!!!!


HE is the answer to our questions.

HE is the answer to our questions-between you and me

for a lot of the years that i’ve walked with God, i’ve been preoccupied with parts of my story.
okay, okay–consumed.

many of those years i didn’t ask him any questions. i was too afraid to hear the answers. deep down i was terrified there might not be a sufficient enough answer. So, i just lived life, and life was good. really, it was. but it wasn’t great. it wasn’t abundant like he came and died for it to be.

i’m a little shocked at how many years i just lived life and had a good marriage and made sweet babies and raised toddlers and ministered to teens with Andy and cultivated new friendships and maintained old ones and did laundry and renovated homes and went on family vacations. years i existed in a really good life. just not abundant.

every year i moved forward and presumably closer to Jesus. and then we moved to orlando six years ago, and i hit a wall in my relationship with Jesus. i had tucked my questions about my story everywhere i knew to tuck them until there was nowhere else to hide them. all the sudden, they were highly visible and  stubborn…refusing to be ignored.

that move to orlando was so good. he moved me away from almost everything in my life that distracted me. family, friends, even ministry. teenagers were always at our house. always on our sofas. i loved every minute of being with them and helping them in their stories …because i loved them but also because it meant i could continue to quietly tuck my own story away.

college ministry was a little different. there were definitely a handful of girls there that sat on my sofa, but for the most part, it was the first time in our marriage and in ministry together when I wasn’t right by Andy’s side for every event. part of me felt sad over my lack of involvement, but part of me just knew that this was a season for me and God to sort things out. finally.

One of our favorite things to do in Orlando as a family was swimming in our neighborhood pool every day. sometimes twice a day. our favorite time to go was right after dinner, before dusk.

one night, we went down with our neighbors, and all  the kids swam while we  sat talking. well, not all the kids swam. lydia wasnt swimming because we weren’t swimming, and she was little and couldn’t swim yet, mainly because she was terrified of the water. we tried to force her into swimming lessons, but it’s kind of hard to learn to swim when you refuse to put your face in the water. she was 18 months old and had NEVER had her face in water…not even in the bathtub.

we were having so much fun watching the kids do cannon balls off the diving board that we didn’t really notice how dark it had gotten, until we couldn’t see lydia. in a single moment, it hit me that she wasn’t right by my side anymore. when had she walked away? she was just there with me.

I didn’t know what to do except dive into the pool. I didn’t even know where to jump. i couldn’t see her anywhere. if she was in the water, how long had she been there?  as soon as i dove in, i saw her struggling body, and i swooped her up and brought her to the side of the pool.  Andy grabbed her from me, and she coughed. She coughed! She was alive!

all those seconds seemed like days.

and when it was all over, i collapsed. my arms and legs..everything..felt heavy. my mouth was dry. my chest was in my throat. i couldn’t breathe. i laid my head on the side of the pool. i couldn’t move. i just wept.
later that night, when everyone else was asleep in the house, i wept some more.

i wept because she was alive and for a few seconds at that pool, i thought she might not be. i wept because we had only had her home for 6 months. we had waited so long for her. we had dreamed about her way before she was even born. i wept because her biological mother was somewhere needing her to be survive her story. I wept because her nanny at the orphanage  cried her eyes out when she handed her over to us, and she begged us to love her and take care of her.
i wept because God  had knit this child together in a womb a world away just for us.

i wept because that night, while she slept safely and peacefully in her bed, I realized how much i, too, need her to survive her story. i need her to do more than survive it. i need her to live the fullest, most abundant life. i need her to know her know that God never, not once, took his eyes off of her..not in her mother’s womb, not when she swaddled her up in those blankets and pinned that note to her just before leaving her in that basket at the gate of the orphanage. i need her to know that her story is more than the hardest parts. i need her to know that God has always been with her…that he loves her unconditionally…that he died for her rescue and redemption.

and somewhere in the middle of all my weeping for her, it hit me.
all that fierce love i have for her..all those things i want for her…
God wants all those things for me. he loves me fiercely. unconditionally. fully.
he died for my rescue and redemption.

in that moment, his love swooped down and my tiny story with all it’s questions fell into his great big giant story of redemption.
i haven’t been the same. HE is the answer to all of my questions.
abundant life is found in Him.

{thankful for}
857. our move to orlando.
858. hitting that wall and not being able to avoid my questions.
859. friends in orlando who weren’t afraid to enter my story with me.
860. Rick, our counselor in Orlando, who led us and loved us well.
861. God’s gentleness with me…he’s so patient and loving and gracious. He waits for us to trudge through our stories and “get” that everything we need is found in him.
862. his grace that finds me over and over and over and over and over.

Amy Avery - This testimony is so beautiful Tara and such a powerful example of God’s love for all of us. Tara you are such a gift to this world! I know I tell you often that I am grateful to you for the ways in which you allow God to use your gifts and talents, but I sincerely think that you are a bright light to shine hope and love from our Maker to others. This story that you shared has touched my heart and soul.

paige - oh my goodness friend, i did NOT know that story.
i can only imagine your terrified heart…
my goodness

beautiful powerful post
love you

Libby Larson - I absolutely love your blog, I’ve been following you for quite some time it started because I LOVE LOVE your signs and then I have fallen in love with your heart and relate to you on so many levels. My husband is also a college pastor in Paradise CA he was a youth pastor and we moved here from South Dakota 5 years ago we left EVERYONE all our family. Elijah was 3, Brynn, was not even a year and a year after we moved here I was prego with TWins!! LOL I love how God takes us away from comforts to deal with our “stuff”. Anyhow, love you, your heart, your signs (I have the LOVE Jesus, work hard, have fun forgive and recover Be Generous, honest, etc it’s saved on my phone and I have strongly hinted to my hubby ;) LOL God’s best, Libby

Lori H - I read your post this morning, but did not have words to comment. I have been thinking about it during the day. Your words are straight-forward and elegant in their simplicity. I wish I could express myself the way you do, but at least I can read your posts! Lots of head-nodding going on…

Joni Loyd - Tara, thank you so much for sharing! I love following your blog….I am sad that I wasn’t able to get to know you when you lived in Orlando!

Birgitte - Tara,
Thank you for your post. I am in the exact same place as you — from your post on Rely to now. Thank you so much for sharing. It helps to know that you are on the same journey.
Additionally, am learning to replace all fear with trust.
Reflecting too….

Melissa shepard - How can such a tragic thing be so beautifully written? GOD is definitely using you, Tara to talk to the hearts of Sooo many people. We all have stories..tragedies…things in life that happen… but you make the whole picture understandable when you write. Thanks for sharing. And I’m so thankful He had His hand on her… she is gonna be a mighty woman of God one day… yep… He’s got some big stuff planned for her. I just know it.

LLH Designs - You captured my heart in so many ways with this post. But this…this is me: “i had tucked my questions about my story everywhere i knew to tuck them until there was nowhere else to hide them. all the sudden, they were highly visible and stubborn…refusing to be ignored.” Thank GOD that He doesn’t let us ignore those places that need healing. But girl, it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done! xo

Rhiannon Goodbread - Thank you for sharing….I needed to read that TODAY!

Janice Smith - Such a beautiful story!

lissa - I feel myself letting out my breath as I read this and kept thinking that God prompted you that she wasn’t around so that you would jump into the pool!! As far as trying to walk into that abundant thriving life; we’re right there with you guys.

jami - so good.
loved this.

Becky - It’s such a silent killer. I almost drown when I was a little girl. It was at a friend’s house. Someone jumped in and saved me. I was almost electrocuted…someone pulled me off that charge. Then there was the car that I pulled out in front of in high school. I swear it drove straight through mine. Angels. Guardian angels. Oh how He loves us. How He has a plan for us. Our timing for every season is in His hands!

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Holy cow girlfriend. I feel that teary choking thing in my eyes and throat. That is enough to stop a heart right there. It’s so crazy how it can take ONE moment where we truly realize that God is alive and real and we GET it in that moment and are forever changed. I love that…. glad this story had a happy ending. Whew.

Cathy M. - Beautiful. Huge lump in my throat and weepy eyes. Beautiful. hugs, cathy

K - I’ve never posted a comment on a blog until now. So many years of reading different blogs and enjoying all the wonderful stories, diys, recipes, etc. anonymously, until now, until this post. Oh this post! This truly is the most amazing, loving, trusting post I have ever read. God is so great, he knows our every need, and knows just how and what to give it to us. I am constantly in awe of his greatness through the little things he puts in my life. You have a beautiful family. May He continue to bless y’all. I’m sure I will be reading this post over and over again. And again.


weekend favorites.

weekend favorites-loving this built-in hutch
Where has this blog been all my life?

weekend favorites-digging emily
Loving mixed metals. It started with that gold/silver seiko watch I got one Christmas back in 1989.

weekend favorites-inspiration for Lydia
One of my favorite bachelorettes designed this room that’s inspiration for a few changes in Lydia’s room.

weekend favorites-wanting to add to the top of our kitchen cabinets
I wonder how well it’ll go over when I inform Andy that I would like to add to the top of our cabinets?

//favorite reads//

Edie spilled out the truth about why marriage is so hard.

Shannan made a birthday cake for Robert and had a paper plate birthday banner and everything.

Should is a warning sign.

I’m reading this book, and it’s keeping me up at night.

Becky - wish i was organized enough to do that open cabinet thing. it’s so pretty!

Lori H - Good picks, as always, Tara. I drooled all over my keyboard looking at the Nato’s kitchen!!

Megan - I loved Edie’s post about marriage too. I had to re-read it and even found myself repeating it to myself today!

paige - jessica, ( noonday founder) loved daring greatly! it’s on my list.
great links!!