Author Archives: Tara Lea

About Tara Lea

I'm a mom and wife first and foremost. I offer Life Coaching as well as speaking for large and small groups, while writing and teaching as opportunities become available. Writing, speaking, teaching, and coaching are my means for fulfilling my life calling of helping others fit together the pieces of their lives so they can move closer to becoming all God means for them to be.

Not over or under or around, but through…

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Not over or under or around, but through…

It’s been far too long since I’ve felt like writing here. Those who know me well would understand that when I’m silent, I am processing and gaining understanding. This past year has given me much to contemplate and sort out, and I haven’t had the words to put together to encapsulate my complete thoughts much of the time, mainly because my thoughts haven’t felt complete.

This puts me in mind of the Matrix movie. For those who are Matrix fans, you’ll remember that Neo learns entire new skills by a program being downloaded into his “main frame”/brain. Neo’s learning happens in a flash…. Me, on the other hand, my new programming can take a long time to process, especially when it’s undoing old learning and re-programming me to think in completely new ways.

I can’t actually say I’m finished yet, with the re-programming, but I have had some breakthroughs in the last couple of months that I do think I’m ready to begin sharing, even while still in process. The major breakthrough I’ve had seems to have become a theme for me during this season, and it is: “There’s no way out but through.”

I feel like I should have learned this so many years ago, and truly, maybe it’s just been a progression of learning it over time and life’s experiences. However, this past year, in particular, as well as some specific challenges that have presented themselves to me and/or some family over the last few months, have made this truth hit home in an entirely new way. I feel like I’ve been forced to sit with this and reckon with it from a fresh perspective and that God has truly been working in my life circumstances to really bring this home as a part of my truth and understanding of living into all that God uses to transform me/us into who He meant us to be from the start.

This truth can actually be summarized as how we learn the virtue of perseverance. We all have to face the facts at some point in our lives that there are situations that can’t be avoided or short-cutted. Sometimes, we just have to do the hard work of slowly working through a tough time in order to get through to the other side.

I have experienced this directly in the last few months with an experience of choosing to take a side road to get out of a traffic backup. I have to laugh now, but at the time, it was a situation that sent me straight to praying out loud and singing hymns from my childhood to help me persevere through the dark, snowy night and the twists and turns on a gravel road that definitely wasn’t made for two cars at a time. I journeyed through backroads that put me in mind of terrible movies like Deliverance and crime shows like Criminal Minds. I gripped hard to the steering wheel, all the while thanking God for every sign of civilization I came across and asking Him for safety and relief from the blinding snow (the kind where you feel like you’ve suddenly chosen to travel at light speed in the Millennium Falcon). The same thought rang through the back of my mind that entire hour on that detour I chose to take….there is no way out of this except to keep pressing forward until the end, which I was hoping would get me back to the highway and on the other side of the traffic backup (and it did).

There are so many circumstances in life to which I’ve been realizing this applies. I see it in mine and my husband’s mid-life transition with moving, changing careers, letting go of our children into their adult lives, and helping our parents prepare for the letting go of their Earthly lives. This is a transition that is taking waayyy too long, in my opinion, but, there’s no way out of it but through it.

Thinking more outside of our individual life situations, looking at the difficulties we have been facing as a nation and all across our world, the same truth applies. Whether it’s COVID or race relations or national and global policy and politics, there are simply things we need to do the hard work of learning from, growing through, and being transformed into something better, people who were intended to be more than who we are and who we have been, people more like our Brother Christ and more like the Creator meant for us to be when we first entered into this life.

So, in all this, I have to ask myself what is going on here that God wants to use for change, for good for all of us….not that God is causing it, not at all….but what is going on that brought us to this juncture, this mountain we have to climb that has no way of circumventing it? Something, or things, led us here to these moments in time, choices we made have ended up bringing about these consequences….because to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We are in these consequences of our own making, but what does it say about what we need to learn from it, how we can grow through it, and ultimately, what good can God bring about if we allow Him to transform us by persevering through all of this, doing the hard work required to change, and leaning into the hope of finding all of the world a better place on the other side of it because of our choice to accept that we must go through it and not take any shortcuts this time?

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

Hope and the Mystery of Christmas 🎄

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This Christmas season has been different than so many others for me. Has it been for you?

Grief has weighed me down amidst the usual joys of preparing for Advent. It’s my first Christmas since my mom passed away last December 27. Of course, this year has also been filled with so many other losses, for all of us this worldwide pandemic. Grief has become somewhat of the norm.

Keeping traditions as much as we have in the past has been my way of fighting for the joy. Yet, I’ve tried to give myself , and everyone else, more grace and leeway to let go of some of the traditional patterns we have kept, to not be so determined to keep them all in place that we end up causing more stress than finding Hope in the usual rhythms of this season.

I found some renewed hope in focusing on making more room in my heart for Christ and inviting Him even deeper into parts of my soul that I may not have even realized had grown overcrowded with the stuff of this world. God’s Spirit has come through for me by revealing a couple things in me that still need His transformation and by reminding me that He can do that for me if I will seek Him in those areas and allow Him to do His work there. God used songs to reach me in those places, and bits of quiet time, moments alone and focused on Him, away from all the sadnesses and disappointments of this world in this last year.

Just this last week, there was a song called “He is Worthy” that lifted me to the true Hope that is found in the Mystery of the Baby who came to our world so long ago. The reason for Christmas is our reason for Hope in whatever season or circumstances we find ourselves, at any time, but all the more so in times such as we have all seen in this last year.

I do not understand all the mysteries of how God took on our flesh in became fully human while still being fully Devine. Nor do I grasp all of Who God is or how all the stories we read in the Bible could’ve happened. However, I know that I find joy and Hope in Him, in reading about the Mystery, through embracing the Truth even though I don’t totally understand, and by asking Him to come into my heart in ever deeper ways, pursuing my relationship with Him and all the rhythms and traditions of life that bring me closer to Him.

I find Hope in believing in the Mystery, the unknowns , while knowing, from personal experience, that He is the only One who is able, who is worthy, who has come through for me in my life on the deepest levels, and who can truly redeem all of this mixed up world. I’m clinging to Him this Christmas, even in the sadnesses all around and within me.

If you ever want to talk more about the Mystery and finding Hope and joy in this life, I would be honored to spend some time with you just talking and sharing together.

God bless you at Christmas and in the year to come.

The strangeness around us…

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This world is weird now. Everyday, I have to remind myself what day it is because so many days are basically the same. I’m relieved when I awake and realize it’s not a workday and I can simply take care of my home, enjoy my family, and rest. Yet, it’s mostly still the same…another day at home without friends, without extended family, hunkered down trying to figure out how to live this day.

Life may not feel exactly the same for you. Perhaps this pandemic has altered your day to dayness in other ways. However, I think we can agree, for most of us, life has changed and it’s not exactly how we would rather it be.

I find myself angry and frustrated a lot, just keep my head down and trying to push forward as best I can. Yet, at my core, I know my feeling are actually grief, feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless, but afraid to give in too much to the seeming tidal wave of sadness that threatens to engulf me. I mean, I’m made for crises; I kick into gear and am one of the first to come up with a plan when a tragedy hits. Day to day hiccups can throw me for a loop, but give me a disaster and I can shine. Yet, long-term , out of the norm, serious marathon-type battles, such as a global pandemic…well what do I do with that?!?

I’m exhausted…how ‘bout you?

So, here we are; it’s Thanksgiving week, time to reflect on all our blessings and be grateful. This is my second favorite holiday ( Easter being my first; Christmas is my third). I fully embrace the opportunity to focus on giving thanks to God for all the good in my lives fe, because I know it’s all from Him, yet, I’m finding this year more challenging. Are you?

I want to be intentional this week to purposefully look for all there is in life for which to be thankful. I’ve also just realized that maybe this year is also a time to be “thankful in all things,” to look for the good that God can potentially bring out of all the challenges and difficulties of the year. He doesn’t cause the bad to happen, but He does take it and transform it into something good…when I allow Him to do so…

I know this is truth because God has done it before in my life, in the lives of my family. We’ve had long, difficult journeys before in our time on this Earth, and God has worked through those times to bring each of us deeper into His grace , to a more spacious place in our souls. I have to believe He’s going to do it again…I have to hope…for my own sake, for my family , friends, and for all of you, too….God makes beautiful things from dust, just look at this world around us….

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The strangeness around us…

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This world is weird now. Everyday, I have to remind myself what day it is because so many days are basically the same. I’m relieved when I awake and realize it’s not a workday and I can simply take care of my home, enjoy my family, and rest. Yet, it’s mostly still the same…another day at home without friends, without extended family, hunkered down trying to figure out how to live this day.

Life may not feel exactly the same for you. Perhaps this pandemic has altered your day to dayness in other ways. However, I think we can agree, for most of us, life has changed and it’s not exactly how we would rather it be.

I find myself angry and frustrated a lot, just keeping my head down and trying to push forward as best I can. Yet, at my core, I know my feelings are actually grief, feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless, but afraid to give in too much to the seeming tidal wave of sadness that threatens to engulf me. I mean, I’m made for crises; I kick into gear and am one of the first to come up with a plan when a tragedy hits. Day to day hiccups can throw me for a loop, but give me a disaster and I can shine. Yet, long-term , out of the norm, serious marathon-type battles, such as a global pandemic…well what do I do with that?!?

I’m exhausted…how ‘bout you?

So, here we are; it’s Thanksgiving week, time to reflect on all our blessings and be grateful. This is my second favorite holiday ( Easter being my first; Christmas is my third). I fully embrace the opportunity to focus on giving thanks to God for all the good in my life, because I know it’s all from Him, yet, I’m finding this year more challenging. Are you?

I want to be intentional this week to purposefully look for all there is in life for which to be thankful. I’ve also just realized that maybe this year is also a time to be “thankful in all things,” to look for the good that God can potentially bring out of all the challenges and difficulties of the year. He doesn’t cause the bad to happen, but He does take it and transform it into something good…when I allow Him to do so…

I know this is truth because God has done it before in my life, in the lives of my family. We’ve had long, difficult journeys before in our time on this Earth, and God has worked through those times to bring each of us deeper into His grace , to a more spacious place in our souls. I have to believe He’s going to do it again…I have to hope…for my own sake, for my family , friends, and for all of you, too….God makes beautiful things from dust, just look at this world around us….

Read the rest of this entry

A time to be silent and a time to speak…

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Ecclesiastes 3 has helped many to navigate the ups and downs of life. I’ve pondered its verses today, this whole last few days, as mom’s 90th was today, 8/15. She’s gone but still I wanted to celebrate this day, honor her life once again, and remember…

I grow silent and pensive during times of grief, when my heart is troubled , and I’m pondering much, yet internally , there are many words, thoughts coursing through my mind, and songs too. If y’all could hear it, you’d ask me to be quiet. 😂

I’ve learned that I need to be silent in order to grow, to become, to learn, for God’s Spirit to transform and heal me. It may not be that way with you. We are all made differently. My hope is that my silence is never misunderstood, though I suppose it probably often has been, is, and will continue to be , by some who don’t take the time to actually know who I am.

I pray that I will always be a person who takes the time to know others in the depths of who they are, that I will listen to others when they speak as well as in their silences. I pray I will allow others to be who they are and to simply love them , if given the opportunity to do so.

My heart is heavy for many reasons tonight; however, missing my mom today seems like the most important reason for the weight of my grief , for today, for this week, not for always, though, yes, her passing changed me forever. That change is real but not bad, just like the grief is real but not bad.

I pray for you, whomever you may be, in your heart heaviness , whatever is causing you to grieve. May you feel okay about grieving and allow yourself to experience it however you need to do so, and may you feel God at work transforming you in the midst of it.

Its helped me to look through pictures again these last couple days. Being in WV, our family’s home state, has also helped ( how I miss it here…been singing Country Roads internally for about 36 hours now …”all my memories gather round her; miner’s lady, stranger to blue water …Mountain Momma, take me home”). I don’t know that I’ll do this every year, but this year, it’s exactly what I needed, and I share some more pictures here to finish this birthday celebration of my sweet momma’s life …

The Snake River runs through it….

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I have this last post about our trip out West. I realize I’ve spent all of July talking about this trip in some fashion or another, but some things must be shared, especially in this time of our lives. I’ve tried to soak up and reflect on every moment we had on our trip, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share it with others.

One thing I haven’t done in these posts, yet, is philosophize and pontificate, share my deepest spiritual thoughts with you. The primary reason I haven’t is because I’m still pondering on all of that. My soul was impacted deeply on this trip, so deeply that at one point I actually prayed to God that I didn’t know if I could take any more in….but that night we went to the hot springs in Emigrant, MT, and we soaked for a couple hours, then slept like babies in our little cabin, and the next day….well, the next day was Yellowstone, and you better believe my soul had much more to welcome into it, and yes, there was room….

The beauty we experienced on our trip was a healing salve for my spirit, so wounded by months of strangeness and violence in our world. I would highly recommend it to you if you’re feeling bruised and battered, sad and mournful, after these last six months of life that has happened around us. If you can’t get away to the West, or the coast, or somewhere immersed in God’s creation, then purpose yourself to go looking for beauty wherever you can find it around you.

I know that I’ve had to do this in the last couple weeks since our return from our trip. SW Ohio seems really rather blah after seeing what we saw, but there is still beauty and joy to be found all around us, whether in the city or suburbs or country, we just have to intentionally look for it, ask God for it (He loves to give us these good gifts), seek and you will find….

So, the Snake River seemed to be everywhere we went out in Idaho, et al. Even the river we rafted, the North Fork of the Payette, is a tributary of the Snake. I was comforted by the end of the trip when we once again crossed the Snake and I got to say farewell to it. lol I would go back again just to travel along it’s winding trek. Thanks to the Tracht’s for sharing all this beauty with us!

I took so many pictures of water, as we drove past in our van and when we stopped purposefully. I deleted many of them because they were blurry or just didn’t do it justice. I share here a few of those that seemed to be worthy of the grandeur I experienced along the Snake…

There and back again, the surprise of Salt Lake City

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I love to fly, and I hadn’t flown anywhere since 2012. When we first made plans to take our trip out West, I was a bit frustrated that our flight needed to be to Salt Lake City, given we would have to drive about 5 hours to our ID destination. Yet, I admit that I had a crush on Donny and Marie Osmond when I was a child and I was always fascinated with their UT origins, so the idea of flying into Salt Lake City grew on me.

I was not prepared for the beauty we experienced there. I sort of wish we could’ve stayed a while to explore it. The downtown was totally easy to navigate. I think the city overall is a large one, but the downtown isn’t huge, nestled right next to the mountains with the vast expanse of the valley before it, leading to the Great Lake itself. Beautiful and a bit awe-inspiring is how I found it.

My pictures don’t really do it justice, and I so wish I’d captured more of downtown, in particular, the state capital building area, but I didn’t. Even my few pics of the Morman Temple area are limited by the fact that it was under construction and we only drove around it without getting out . Nevertheless, here are my pics from our air arrival and departure, as well as a few downtown and then the rest of my Antelope Island pics on the Great Salt Lake….enjoy.

The West’s went out West….

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Of course, a huge part of the joy from our family trip was the fact that we shared it together and with some of our dearest friends. We so so missed Noah and Legend, but their job situation just wouldn’t work with it this time around. I’m sharing just about every picture I took that had a person in it as well as the random pics of the signs from the places we visited. Some of these are duplicates I’ve already posted, but they belonged in this collection….more still to come….

Look for the little things

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Yes, I love sunrises and sets, huge mountains and the expanse of the ocean, but in the day-to-day of life, it’s more often the little bursts of beauty, laughter, and provision that carry us through…

Better late than never

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While on our vacation, Tom and our kids decided it would be good to celebrate my MA degree “graduation” from Northwest Nazarene University (that happened in May 2016). I didn’t get to attend at the time because it was the exact same day as Taylor’s BA graduation from ONU, and his graduation definitely took precedence in my book.

Heidi works at NNU, so she was able to borrow a cap, gown, and hood for me to wear for pictures. It was fun (after I got over the shock of being surprised by it all….because I don’t like this type of surprise…or anything that throws me into the center of attention unprepared…lol). I appreciate that my family wanted to show they are still proud of me for this achievement in my life.

Honestly, though my MA in Spiritual Formation hasn’t opened the doors for a career that I had hoped it would, I have no regrets at all about getting this degree. It has been one of the best decisions of my life, for my personal development and the calling God placed on my life way back when I was still a teen at MVNC getting my BA in Christian Ed.

We got ice cream with the Tracht’s that day, so I’m counting that as my “graduation party” ……lol (though I did share a cake party with Taylor back in 2016). We also went to Oregon a day and had lunch with the Tracht’s, also part of just celebrating time together with friends who are like family. White water rafting was another day, along with catching some beautiful scenery and a sunset, but I’ll share that on a different post…