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Finn the Human and Parenting.

It’s homecoming week at school this week, and today is character day.
Luke wanted to be Finn the Human from Adventure Time.

First things first. I needed to find out what he looked like, so I googled him.


I want to go on record saying that Finn the Human looks like a goob.
I have no idea why Luke would choose this character over all the other characters in the universe, except he’s 13, and that might be the only reason in the world that will ever make sense to me.

I wish I could say that we planned for Finn’s costume two weeks ago, but that isn’t our world right now. Nope. We planned for it yesterday morning on the way to school. I told him I would try my best to pull something together for him.

These kind of things are never real convenient, mainly because I wait until the last minute to prepare for them.
I ran to party city hoping to just buy a costume…that would have been perfect.
Bummer. They didn’t have one.
This is the moment when I was tempted to kill his whole dream of participating in character day, but I knew this mattered. I don’t always listen to that gut feeling, but yesterday I did. WIN!

Okay, plan B. I grabbed the cheapest blue shorts and t-shirt I could find, and I asked Andy to pick up white and green fleece to finish out the costume. Teamwork builds champions!

Wednesdays can be hairy for us with ball practice, homework for three, and small group.
So, our teamwork went into overdrive to get it all done.
I did homework and dinner while Andy sewed a white hat and covered an old backpack in green fleece.

In the end, we pulled off a spectacular-last-minute Finn the Human costume together.
Luke must have thanked us no less than 10 times for it. He was so appreciative for our efforts.

This morning, he got dressed and came downstairs for breakfast, and this is what he looked like::

Speaking Love-between you and me

He looked at both of us and said, “I feel so loved. You guys worked so hard to make sure I could dress like Finn. It makes me feel so special.”

Finn the Human still looks like a goob to me.
Adventure Time consistently reminds me why I wish we didn’t watch television.
BUT, this morning I’m thankful for that ding-dong character on that ding-dong show.

I’m amazed at how little it takes to make our kids feel loved and special.
It’s one of those moments when I know that God deposited something lasting in Luke’s heart.
There have been a few of those lately…when I could see God clearly at work in his life.

It shouldn’t surprise me that God can use Finn the Human in my kid’s life, but it does.
It floors me and humbles me.

He doesn’t need us, but he sure does love to use us in our kids lives.
We just have to pay attention and say YES.

Okay…your turn! How are you seeing God move and work in the hearts of your kids?
{and if you’re not, and you find yourself feeling super discouraged, let me know..I’d love to pray!}

Amy Avery - Tara, this may be one of my most favorite posts of your of all time. Everything about it is just wonderful; the way you googled the character of Finn, to you saying he looks like a “goob” (I agree btw,) to the way y’all teamed up to make the costume and the way your actions were used by God to show your son true love. Just awesome, friend! I wrote about a way my own daughter’s heart and mine were shown God’s true love just recently on my own blog from a child we were serving at our church who was a guest with his family. God has countless numbers of ways in which he displays his love and uses all opportunities to do so. You are a wonderful mother!

Starr - Way to seize the day and make it happen friend. Not too many costume-wearing years left. [wipes a single tear]

Kerrie - Ahhh that is so sweet. You have many more years of these last minute activities. My son Jeremiah would tell me the night before an event that we had to some how pull together a costume but we always did and he was always thankful. H.S is full of last minute everything!!!!! Luke’s do have a tender heart. I have a Luke and he is strong and corageous but gentle and kind too.

Jackie - 1. Great job, Mom!
2. Andy can sew?!!! I’m very impressed.
3. Luke is a sensitive soul and the fact that he was aware enough to thank you is beautiful. He’s a terrific kid and becoming a fine young man.

We are seeing a heart of gratitude in Berkley. God is using his difficult fall and not being in school to help him appreciate the gift of UGA right now. He has thanked us several times for the sacrifice we’re making of paying for college. God’s using difficult times to hone perspective in all of us. :)

Lynda - That is great! Having two teens myself I get the costume choice. Mine like funny too. That is so nice that your son noticed, appreciated, and vocalized his thankfulness. Very sweet!

Flower Patch Farmgirl - Love those Mama moments! You did good.

Laura - Oh my. I’m with you on adventuretime, but that’s just the thing you needed to share for me today. I’m sooo struggling with that offering love instead of judgment aspect. Failure turned into a moment for mom to ask for forgiveness yesterday, and encourage my precious boy to know how well he was/is doing in life– all aspects. I was having a crisis. The kind only mom’s have, the one where you wish you had a dog collar on your child, with a zapper, because you’re about to have ‘an accident’ because you can’t get to the restroom. I lost it. in such a lousy way. And he just took it. and then recovery. but I don’t want to have that kind of bad day, just to enjoy the recovery. I just want the good part. He deserves it. The whole family does.
Thanks for going all the way with this bizarre character. And making his day- way to go Andy & Tara. :)


Thin Places.

Blessed-between you and me

A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted
and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.

I’ve always known that a thin place for me is nature.
Give me a mountain to climb or an ocean that stretches to infinity or a field of wild flowers or a trail to hike, and I feel as if I’m dancing with God. Held by him.

Lately though I’m realizing that another thin place for me is in living grateful.
I’ve spent so much of my life with Christ being tossed around by my circumstances…almost bullied.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re walking closely with God and trusting him, until life throws you an unexpected curve ball and you suddenly feel as if you might be ground to dust.

A long time prayer has been that God would teach me to trust his goodness no matter what comes my way.
…to experience his grace and glory in the midst of broken places, too.

A dear friend’s husband lost his job 6 months ago. She says it has been the hardest thing they’ve gone through together, yet they’ve grown. They’re stronger than they were before this happened.

Another dear friend has just completed 5 of her 6 chemo treatments for cervical cancer. She has walked this road with such grace. Not one time have I heard her doubt God’s goodness. In fact, she says there was a moment early on in her diagnosis that she wanted to ask why her, but she heard God whisper, “Why not?” Her perspective challenges me on every level.

And yet another friend is walking a road so terribly hard with her family that there aren’t words to share here. At night, the darkness closes in on her and she feels like she might be swallowed whole.
She’s walking a road no one wants to ever walk, yet she is learning to say It Is Well With My Soul.

All around us people are suffering trials of many kinds, yet they have joy because they know that we are not blessed by our circumstances. We are blessed to know Christ in his death and resurrection.
Our hope reaches beyond our changing circumstances.

Yes. This is a new thin place for me..this living grateful.
I’m embracing a grateful heart and praying I always see glimpses of his glory in every circumstance.

What are your thin places? Where do you see his glory and feel like his presence is almost palpable?

Lisa - Love the idea of a thin place. My thin places are true, sincere, knee rubbing prayer, definitely nature, and interacting with others. Seeing, hearing, knowing of their goodness for one another makes Him more real to me.

Lori H - Gorgeous places in nature, yes, but also just a perfect Fall day. Or a cold, crisp morning walking my dog; a beautiful sunset; funny cloud shapes to giggle over. I feel God so close then. Also when I read a Bible verse followed closely by a real world example, it is like He is saying, “see?”. Thanks for this post.

Kimberly VanDyke - So many are hurting but not letting their pain dictate their relationship with God. He is our source. I love this article. For me, there is nothing like the ocean, open, wide, magical…the music of water on the seashells, sounds like bells sometimes. The thin place for me really is when I am surrounded by worship. The songs of total admiration for Him. This usually happens in church but there are times when I have worship music on in my home that you just feel totally wrapped in His arms of grace. Worship is the place I go for peace. Knowing, All Is Well, even when circumstances seem to say something opposite.

Jackie - Nature would be that place for me as well. When I am sitting and watching the ocean brings a peace and closeness that is hard to describe. Needing to hear this today. Last year was one where I was constantly tossed by circumstances, this year I want to cling to HIM more than ever before.

Kris - When I stopped asking Why is when I received His answer. Again another really turbulent year with pain and sorrow, this time I accepted. I have been feeling the call and now in the process of finding a place to serve Him and teach my young child. The beauty in the sightline between the blue of the ocean and where it meets sky, I could just look at that forever-it is where I feel the closest to Him and I feel at peace.

Peggy - I see His glory in this beautiful post. Thank you for sharing and reminding us to live a life of gratefulness through Him.

Lemonade Makin' Mama - I read this and I want to shout, “HERE too!” Amazing how different things bring us low… low before His throne. I am in this amazing place of hope and joy these days because of humbling circumstances and life changes and I can’t imagine going back to where I was before- unaware and not blissfully so. I thought it was “all good.” But it hadn’t been tested yet. I know a whole lifetime of testing lays before me but I am trusting in the plan and living grateful too. Love your heart sweet friend. We seem to be on the same page so often. I say that to Becky all the time too. Love that God has placed such amazing women on this path with me.

tiffini - i know…all the hard stories being written out all around us. it is so hard. sometimes i makes me want to roll mine all back up and keep them to myself–but that withholds hope and comfort from others
i want to fix them..heal them
take it away
but i can’t. but we do know One who can comfort so i pray for that
my thin place this year has been this road of surgeries. making the decision to have my colon removed…the WHOLE change of life that has ensued. the constant battle of not liking this bag at ALL! to being grateful for the miracle of remain teachable through it all…and yes..the being grateful through it
love you….xoxo

Melissa shepard - Oh tara!! This is Sooo good. You write so beautifully! I’m certain you made A’s in literature class :). I guess I would have to say when I see a rainbow!! Takes me back to that childhood Bible story.. of that promise…. That He never breaks. His word is FULL of promises.. we just have to read and believe……..One more question off the subject.. i noticed you said you get y’all’s boxes from lowes…we make pic frames in the spring..i have trouble finding boxes that are not too deep..i thought lowes just had big deep moving boxes????When you have time could you please share about that size? Thanks so much… and thanks for a post today that I needed…

Irene - Thin Places… The vast surrounding appearing unsurmountable situations around me leads me into a strange Praise that pours out Heaven onto me: the Hosts and their LORD our Christ; Jesus! I simply command my body to praise the LORD despite the challenge even in near death or grave situations…since the LORD loves riding on the wings of our Praise… Hallelujah!


When the Evening Comes…

Let me be Singing-between you and me signs

Let me be singing when the evening comes. This is the cry of my heart!!!

I’ve never really thought of myself as a pessimist. I really do try to see the good.
But there’s definitely something inside of me that has a serious radar for the “worst-case-senarios” of life.

I think I mentioned to you in another post that my counselor refers to this as “expert disaster planning.”
I think it’s safe to say I’d make a fabulous trauma planner.
Except I don’t want to spend my life like this anymore.

We all develop coping skills when we’re experiencing things or watching things happen around us that don’t make sense and can’t be rationalized…especially when we’re too young to understand.

I have to believe that God gives us these coping skills to survive things, when we need them.
In some bizarre way they’re a gift. The problem is when you keep on living in them way after you need to, and that’s what I’ve been doing.

God is so good in the way he slowly over time, as your heart can handle it, begins to reveal things in you that aren’t wholly surrendered to him. He reveals lies that you’ve believed and vows that you’ve made.

When I was young, I experienced some things that caused me to believe some pretty major lies.
One of them was:: When bad things happen, God doesn’t notice or doesn’t care to stop them.
Somewhere along the way, I learned to trust myself and my planning, strategizing, and preparing more than I trusted God. I felt responsible to take care of myself, and my struggle for control began.

As I’ve unpacked my story as an adult, I know beyond a doubt that I can believe that God has always been with me and that no detail, large or small, has ever gone unnoticed. I know he cares for me.

He’s put his thumb on my heart in this area for several years now, and he’s honestly done a miraculous work in me. He’s loosened my grip for control, and he’s taught me to trust him over and over and over.
Specifically, he’s taught me how to sing, even in the midst of hardship and suffering, and he’s done it right slap dab in the middle of hardship and suffering.

This year, I’m relying on him. I’m not trusting myself, my feelings, and my thoughts.
I’m trusting him. Every time I catch myself operating in those crusty old coping mechanisms, I’m going to remember that I don’t need them anymore, and I’m going to ask God for his mercy and his grace.

Life is a gift.
I want to ride it on two wheels with hands lifted high and with a heart that trusts God fully.
When the evening comes, and it will come, I want to be singing.
no more doubting. no more walls. no more self-reliance. no more trauma planning.

What about you? Do you wanna be singing when the evening comes?


Tanya - Amen! “Lean hard on His sovereignty” (as John MacArthur puts it). I think this is a lifelong lesson that brings so much joy and peace in the midst of our chaotic world.

LLH Designs - Our hearts are on the exact same page right now. I have tears in my eyes as I picture you doing the very thing you wrote at the end…hands lifted high, trusting God fully, singing. Beautiful.

This bit you wrote feels right out of my own heart today: “I have to believe that God gives us these coping skills to survive things, when we need them. In some bizarre way they’re a gift. The problem is when you keep on living in them way after you need to….”

I was just telling my counselor that I think all the things I’ve prided myself in being are coping mechanisms. Not the real me. So now here I am, 39, and trying to learn who I really am now that I don’t need (and don’t want) those coping mechanisms.

Not sure if I’ll write it out loud for all to read or not, but I’ve got this farewell letter to my Type A self just rolling around in my brain. It needs to come out.

Thanks for sharing your heart today. I’m blessed by it. XO!

bethanie - This is so true Tara…and so “me too”. I’ve learned thru some very hard times lately, that He does give us what we need to get thru. When my brother was killed this summer, I wondered how I would take another breathe. To write that sentence is enough to bring tears to my eyes, I still can’t believe he was so tragically taken from us— but each morning the Lord gives me breathe and life and even joy. Some days are harder than others, there are still times when I’m so angry that the person responsible for his death has not even been charged…that’s when He reminds me, “I’ve got this…” It is not for me to worry and fret and lose sleep over, HE’s in control. The coping skills really are a gift, I don’t know what I would have done the past 6 months without them. But His promises are a gift. He also gives us friendships, and encouraging words from others to get us thru these hard times. I think that is His way of saying, “you are not alone.” Thank you for your words of encouragement…you are a gift. :)

giosmama2626 - I would LOVE to be singing when the night comes. I would love to rest my head down on my pillow with the most content of hearts and the happiest of thoughts. Without a doubt, fear, anger, or feeling of “unsure.” I want to be signing so loud in my heart that it beams. So loud that my family feels such positive energy that they never live in fear of anything either. It’s a great thing to look forward to. It’s something that I am so glad many of my “never met once in my life blog friends” are sharing too. This seems to be the year for so many. The one that will make the most difference. The BEST year. I’m running with it. I will pray for your peace of heart and mind. I’ll pray that when the night rolls in- it meets you with a happy song.


Lori H - I already said “me too” in your RELY post, so I will just say that I think YOU are one way that God is revealing truths to me, through your own journey. I certainly hope that I can sing when the evening comes. (I can’t carry a tune, but that doesn’t stop me from singing whole-heartedly in happy times, ha!)

Laura - ‘2 wheels with hands in the air’… you know it. I heard a story on 20/20 the other day about folks that have perfect memory of every day of their life. It’ like they were right there, in the exact moment. Mary Lou Henner was one of the guests. Anyway, I praised God right there for the blessing of forgetting. He blessed them with that gift, for reasons only He knows, but thankful for my gift- of forgetting. Lord help me use what gifts I have as He would see fit.

Jackie - Yes and Amen! I’m right there with you! :)

Love the new sign!!!

Felicia - I so needed this post today and found it through your pinterest post. I love, love, love the vignette. What a great reminder every time you see it. I need this!!!!

Allison Hendrix - Love love this! I want to be singing when the evening comes but I’ve never thought about it like this before. Totally resonating with my soul. Thank you. Sharing, pinning, all that stuff

Kelly Cach - YES! Yes I do!!!! Goodness, you are wise! So thankful God has given you a gift for communicating!!! You’re speaking my heart and my life right now, sister!!!

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Girl we are on the SAME page right now. I tell ya. “NO more trauma planning.” Wow. Yes. Here too!! Love the new gorgeousness in the shop!!! Makes me feel tingly. :)

Carrie - You’ve said the words to my story with this post. I am still a work in progress and am so thankful the Father loves me with all of my imperfections. Maybe one day I not need to work on this area of my life, but for now I press onward. Thanks for the reminder that even though I am never alone, He is with me there are others on this same journey. Blessings to you, kindred spirit.

Janice Smith - I love this song! My precious Daddy passed away is Oct. 2012 and this song so touches my soul. The last stanza brings me to tears every time! You do beautiful work! ❤it all!



The Art of Celebrating..between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

The Art of Celebrating-between you and me

Friendship is a gift.
Friends who know you for exactly who you are and love you still are rare treasures.

Part of having deep friendships is being a really, really good friend.
Teaching Lydia about true friendship is honestly one of the greatest desires of my heart as a mom.

I want her to offer grace to her friends. Life is hard. The world can be harsh.
We all need people in our lives who will give us a break.
Grace isn’t about second chances…it’s about endless chances. I love this.

I want her to be willing to walk hard roads with her friends.
Having someone walk through something hard with you changes you.

I want her to be someone who isn’t afraid to have scary conversations. Relationships are hard.
Our humanness always shows up. We disappoint and we’re disappointed. We fail and we are failed.
I want her to have friendships without fear that the bottom might fall out.

The world isn’t the only thing that’s hard on us. We’re hard on ourselves.
We get so hyper-focused on all the things we think we should be doing better.
We lose perspective and we stop dreaming for ourselves because we feel so worthless.
I want Lydia to be the kind of friend who dreams for her friends when they feel like they can’t dream.
I want her to call out the best parts of them and remind them that they matter.

We all have a story. So many of us spend near lifetimes thinking our stories are just about us.
But they aren’t. Every time we tell our story, we’re sharing God’s story.
I want Lydia to understand her story and that it matters…that every single part of it promises to point her to Christ and her need for him. I want her to know that her story depicts that God is good and ever-present…that he redeems and rescues. I want her to value her story and see that it tells of God’s grand story.
I want her to love her friends in the hardest parts of their stories. I want her to remind them that God is in the broken places, too. He doesn’t exist just in the bright and shiny parts.

I want Lydia to be vulnerable and transparent.
I don’t want her to have walls of protection that she lives in so she’s never hurt.
CS Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything at all and your heart will be wrung possibly broken…”
When we’re vulnerable and transparent, it allows others to be the same.

I want her to learn now to celebrate others.
…their successes, their dreams, their beauty, their leadership, their capacity, their favor in the world, their gifts and talents, their provision, their other friendships.

I want her to experience one of God’s greatest gifts…true, authentic, life-changing friendships.

{thankful for}
851. a daughter to celebrate.
852. parties where roses and gold confetti exist.
853. happiness that is a rainbow layer cake.
854. a husband who cleans during the party, so when it’s all over, we can just savor the memories.
855. miniature roses from trader joes called “Lovely Lydias.” I can’t make this stuff up.
856. friendship.

{party details}
Every single idea for this party came from Pinterest.
Visit the board I created to follow links for directions to any of the projects you see that you like.

Amy Avery - Oh Tara! What a sweet little party for your beautiful girl! I enjoyed reading your post on Lydia’s actual birthday. You are mutually blessed with one another and God’s glory shines through your the love and bond that you share! Thank you for being transparent and vulnerable. I know it’s difficult but it allows God’s light to shine so brightly through you!

Lori H - What an adorable party! I pray that Lydia will experience all that you want for her!

Karen - We are adopting our foster baby tomorrow and much of what you have written is my own prayer for our daughter. Love your heart- thanks for sharing your words :)

Starr - “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.” That quote may live in the land of cheesy cliches? But I still love it! :) Lydia is learning so much about how to be a friend by watching her Mama and Daddy love people well. Also – THOSE HATS! Gah! The cuteness!!!

Jackie - The party was precious! Looks like they had a wonderful time! :)
And I LOVE your words on friendship–true at any age, huh?

Christy - Wow! Just WOW! I am in tears. “Grace isn’t about second chances…it’s about endless chances. I love this.” I love this too! I wrote it down in my journal…so profound. The part about the Lovely Lydias did me in. What a beautiful party. Thank you for sharing it and your heart on friendship. I am struggling in so many different areas right now, and friendship is one of them. Have a beautiful day. I wish we lived closer. I would love to sit down and chat over a cup of coffee.

giosmama2626 - Such beautiful wishes for your Lydia. An equally lovely post. That party looks totally fun. Love the ideas you gathered off Pinterest.
“Grace isn’t about second chances.. it’s about endless chances.” That is just TOTALLY awesome. Just beautiful. To live with such a beautiful heart. Thank you for the reminder.

Barbara - Oh my word, what a great party how could you go wrong making your own cake! You have made more memories then you could possibly know for her I’m sure.
And I love your Pinterest boards!

paige - what a precious party. i love the image where she’s sitting up on the side of the chair licking her finger. so cute!!
all the touches are so cute & so thoughtful!
little lydias!! i never knew…
youre a good mama & a good friend!!!

tiffini - oh i LOVED the pictures. what a sweet bunch of girls. i dream for her to grow up surrounded by a solid group of young girls who inspire each other…who call out the best in each other.
i always love her parties. i swear they come around so quick…we were just celebrating her last birthday
love your heart for your babies..i was just thinking today that i pray this generation is like the generation of israel who did believe God and crossed the jordan into the promised land. they didn’t doubt. i pray that for our children to be be courageous.
hugs and love….xo

amy jupin - i want to go back and reread this entire post because it is filled with so much truth.
i just said outloud the other day, “everyone has a story”, because it’s so true.
and i read it again here today, along with many other beautiful reminders and truths.
your daughter is beautiful and i adore her sweet little smile.
blessings abound.

Jenny - I believe this to be so true. One of my family goals is to guide my children to show up, be a friend, offer grace and forgiveness. To be aware and not stuck up in their own little world. Something easy for us all to do even as adults. Loved your post and your heart as usual, Tara.

Maggie - How precious, just letting you know, I don’t know if it is me but when I click on your link it takes me to a vintage revival website??

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Oh how sweet. And the CS Lewis quote is one of my all time favorites! I’ve watched a dear one close to me close themself off from friendships and love because they had their heart broken one too many times from moving away and losing touch. If you don’t use that heart to love, you forget how… such amazing truth. I want my daughter to push through all the girl “stuff” and make amazing relationships. It is SO worth it! I pray that someday she can have women in her life like I do. You did a fantastic job on the party details and I am loving that they each have a little cake! You have blessed your daughter richly my friend. Way to go. Love it all.

Lisa - Perfect. So perfect. Loved your words gain. Vulnerability really is key. To love is to open up completely no matter the cost. Love this so much. :)

Kelly Cach - I’m so in love with your little girl…is that weird?

Happiest of birthdays to her, and I’m totally gonna have to steal some of these ideas ;)

One last thing: we have a new email address. Hope this doesn’t mess things up when I comment.