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 church retreats, 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.

Keeping Easter…

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My Lenten experience did actually prepare me for Easter this year. Though I did not fulfill my fast in the way I intended, in many respects, the way it ended up was more real and I sensed a greater awareness of God, and of Christ’s journey, while walking in my weakness.

But really, isn’t that what we’re told, that His strength will be made perfect in our weakness? (Hebrews 2:9-10) …and how much greater still is God’s strength made perfect through Jesus’ weakness…? That is then part of the Truth of Easter.

Which leads me to the idea of keeping Easter…

…keeping it in our hearts, our lives, our day to day relating to each other, our experiences in nature …and on and on…

How do we walk in each day with an awareness of our weakness and God’s strength, inviting Him into the depths of our depravity, trusting Him there and allowing Him to love us there…then believing in that love so much that we allow it to transform us so that we walk in all the realities that are ours because we are loved by the King, the Creator, and He WANTS to be in relationship with us, in the midst of all our messiness…allowing Him to be the Strong One so that we recognize our need of Him but also allow ourselves to feel the relief and freedom found in the fact that Someone else has made the way for us to be victorious in this life as well as the next.

This Truth spurs me on to make the choices in my day to day life that will foster an atmosphere in my heart and mind that allows the Spirit’s work to change me from the inside out. These daily choices become habits which eventually become second nature in me and ultimately develop into the character of who I am.

Some call these choices disciplines, others simply say good habits, while someone else may consider them rituals. It doesn’t matter what you call them, just that you intentionally choose to pursue whatever it is that brings you and God closer and that allows Him to turn weaknesses into strengths, despair into peace, ashes into beauty, chaos into order….

For me, those daily disciplines/habits/ choices have changed over time as I’ve grown older and as God and I have become closer. A large aspect of this has been my looking back at all that has formed who I am and allowing God to pull all the pieces together to form what is becoming a whole picture, fitting all my pieces together to make something beautiful of my life.

My walk through Lent this year was only a small fraction of that piecing together in my life. In the posts to come, I’ll share more of the specifics of what I’ve just been learning these last 6 weeks or so, but beyond that, I want to share more of my the complete journey I’ve been through since I was young and first began my pursuit of trying to understand my life holistically and why I’ve wanted to allow this work of the Spirit in my life to bring order from the chaos.

Entering the last week of Lent…

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img_0921As this 6 week focus has progressed, I’ve had my successes and failures with following what I set out to do.  My experience with God, however, has proven true and real.  I’ve drawn closer and invited Him to enter further into my deepest struggles.

I’ve sensed Him reminding me that even though “man does not live by bread alone,” there is an inference given to the statement which I have come to recognize and embrace…bread is not a bad thing and sometimes a man, or woman, needs to eat bread, and sometimes it needs to be eaten simply because we are breaking it with someone else.  Food is okay to enjoy and sharing a meal with someone is a rich and necessary part of living in human relationship with others.

In this, God’s Spirit has spoken to me more intently on the goodness of all things in moderation, the call t

o living balanced in holistic wellness.  I feel I have a better way to move forward now, a greater sense of what I need, what I should limit, and what I must do in order to be healthy as a whole person.  While caught up in this Lenten introspection embodied by my literal actions, the journey and sacrifices of Jesus have impacted me in new ways.

My desire is that this last week of Lent will provide a few more moments of an awareness of the fullness of God’s presence in the midst of my own sensations of physical emptiness.  I’m praying this for me now, and for you, whomever you may be that happens to read this….

I’ll share more details of my journey forward next weekend when we await the sunrise of Easter morning….

Order from chaos….

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Bouncing forward from those high school days and my first psychology class, I took on the psychology minor in my undergraduate studies. My major was Christian Education. I feel it was the true beginning of discovering all that had shaped me into who I was and learning how to grow and become who God intended me to be from the start.

One of my close girl friends was a psychology major. For one of her courses, she had to determine her worldview (a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world). I didn’t have that course, but I decided to think through what my thoughts were on my view of the world. I came to embrace my primary worldview as being God creates order from chaos.

Over the years, I’ve thought through my view numerous times, to see if it still made sense and rang true for me…and it has. This view of life has helped to keep me grounded and to see the big picture beyond the details of day to day challenges, suffering, and uncertainty. The idea that God creates order from chaos laid the foundation for seeing life as a puzzle or mosaic, observing how all the pieces can come together to create a beautiful whole.

It reminds me of an Impressionist painting like Water Lillies by Monet. When I’ve had the chance to see it, or other Monet paintings, in person, I’ve compared the difference in viewing the painting up close versus across a room.

If you stand very close, you can see all the individual brush strokes, and though you can see beauty, artistry, and talent in all the details, you can’t see the true image. You have to stand back from it to capture the full magnificence of the entire work of art, to see the order in the chaos, how all the pieces fit…

An old post, revisited…

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Back in September 2013, I wrote the following as a beginning of this website and to help give a little explanation of the title of my page, “fitting the pieces together”.  I’m re-posting it at this time as a new beginning of some thoughts that have been reawakened in me.  I’ll continue the story as often as I can in the days to come, interspersed with my Lenten updates for the next few weeks until Easter.  After Easter, the theme of fitting the pieces together will continue in full force until I say all I feel the Spirit moving me to say…for now, here are my thoughts on PIECES….

Growing up, I highly disliked working puzzles.  My sister would always have one of those 5000 piece puzzles sitting out on a table, the entire winter, working on it as she had time.  Holiday time, when the entire family was around, puzzles would be brought out for everyone to work at putting them together.  I would stop and attempt to put in a few pieces, but I would quickly give up on it.  I couldn’t figure out a strategy.  It all seemed so random to me.

It’s only been in the last few years I’ve finally found some secrets to working puzzles.  Now, I can sit down and confidently work on one, knowing I can at least get the edges done and find some of the inner pieces, until it gets to the part where all the colors are the same.  I can’t say that I ever actually choose to work a puzzle, but at least I feel competent to associate with the puzzle-working crowd.

On the flipside, fitting the pieces of my life-puzzle together has interested me for a very long time, since I took my first psychology class in high school.  That class started me to wondering about what had shaped me into who I was and what was forming me into who I was becoming.  I began to question why I did the things I did.

I had a crush on the son of my high school Sunday School teacher.  He and I would often sing together in church, and we would spend many Sunday afternoons practicing songs, just for the fun of it.  I admired his Mom and looked to her for wisdom.  The two of them sang one particular song, regularly, and I never forgot the chorus to it.

The song was called “Pieces”, and the words I remember were….

“He said pieces, pieces, so many pieces to your life…

scattered all around, and some of them are gone.

I can put them all together, and there will never be

another one who can.”

I was moved by those words, especially because of what it meant in the lives of that Sunday School teacher and her son.  They had come through a lot of rough places in life, and I knew what it took for them to trust that God could put the pieces of their lives together again.

That gave me courage and hope for my own life.  It spurred me on to begin the dangerous journey of searching for all the pieces to the puzzle of my life and allowing God to put them together to show me the big picture of how my life had come to that point, where it was going, and what He wanted to do to transform it so that the puzzle could be the picture He intended it to be from the start.

The longer I live, the more I realize that everyone has puzzle pieces of their lives that are scattered and jumbled, that don’t make a lot of sense.  How easy it is for us to just let the pieces fall where they may and not try to put them together to find understanding and meaning in them.  It is a daunting task to allow God to take those pieces into His hands, to let Him reveal their meaning to us, and then to give Him the freedom to put the pieces together His way, so that the picture of our lives turns out as He desires it.

He is the Master Puzzle Maker, though, and no matter how we might try, we can never put together a life puzzle that will fit perfectly and become a breathtaking work of art.  When we give the pieces to Him, the life He forms from that puzzle, becomes a picture that makes sense; it takes it’s true and intended form, and ultimately, it radiates His glory for all to see.

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The best laid plans…

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As I make my journey through this time of Lent, I am reminded of many days and years of my life that have been walked to this point. I’ve journeyed with God as far back as my memory goes, though my “official” traverse commenced at age 11 when I knelt at an altar to formally ask Jesus to “save” me.

The longer I walk with God, the more I have learned that plans are not always for the long term. Not to say there isn’t an end goal, because there is…which is to become all God intended me to be from the start. But, what I mean is that the getting there isn’t always clear until I’m in a certain moment and that moment’s choice becomes clear, while the next moment’s choice may not be, yet …

Ergo, “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray…” , and I would say this may be even more true for Christ followers. I could write much more on that thought, and probably should, but for now, I simply want to say that it has become ever clearer for me that being present and living in each moment is a critical aspect of our lives when we choose to follow Jesus.

Currently, my plans for my Lenten challenge have morphed. What started nearly 3 weeks ago as a cleansing, restrictive time, has turned into my fasting from bread and bread products and wrestling with all the ways this impacts me, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Then, today, after a routine medical procedure, realizing I also need to do better about fasting from chocolate and candy (which I’ve been giving into having as a reward, or crutch , for not eating bread).

So, I have a better plan for the next 3 1/2 weeks of Lent as I continue to fast from bread. I know I need to add fruit, figs, and some veggies back into my diet while I eliminate the sugar “crutches”. Long term, beyond Lent, my health will be better going this route, anyway. Also, for the long term, I think I’m seeing that my health needs actually might still require me to have some healthy bread choices (emphasizing healthy…i.e., my whole wheat toast but not cookies, cakes, crackers, pretzels…).

Yet, for the rest of Lent, the bread fast will continue. I can hear the Spirit speaking to me in the moments I’m grappling with longings for bread and I don’t want to give in to have the bread and miss what God is trying to say in His still small voice in my soul….

Learning in Lent…

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This past week has been challenging to say the least. A week ago yesterday, I rolled my ankle as I stepped off my front porch. I was thankful one of my sons and my husband were there to help me with the initial process of crawling back inside and quickly icing, elevating and wrapping it.

Since then, I’ve continued caring for it carefully and am able to walk now, with a limp. The swelling has mostly dissipated and the bruising has gone through an array of “pretty colors.” Yet, I know it will be quite a while before it feels normal again.

Dealing with my ankle has made my Lenten focus go a bit askew. I’ve not done as well with my week of mostly clear liquids as I had hoped. My nutritional needs have felt different because of dealing with my ankle, and frankly, my emotions have been a struggle I hadn’t anticipated. It’s just outright difficult to be unable to do the things you normally would do because of an injury getting in your way!

That being said, I’ve not given up or “thrown in the towel” on my Lenten challenge, and in the process, I have heard God speaking to me about the impact of food on all the areas of my life, in new ways and in ways I had previously considered but forgotten.

Overall, I’ve eaten a lot less, consumed much more liquids, and not had and bread, crackers, or cakes/cookies, etc. when I have eaten, it’s mostly been proteins and I turned to bananas thinking I needed the potassium to help manage muscle cramps in my injured foot/leg.

As I begin my second week, I will continue as I did last week, trying to have more liquids than food, and I am committed to keeping away from bread. I pray for more clarity and clear direction from God as I walk openly with Him in the depths of myself, seeking more grace and freedom in the spaciousness of who He is.

A time for everything …

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Psalm 139:23-24 has popped up in devotions and emails quite a bit the last few days. These verses first impacted me when I was in college. “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”(NLT)

For a person who struggles with anxiety issues, this verse became significant to me in ways it may not for those who don’t have an inclination towards anxiety. Praying these verses invites God into my struggles.

Over the years, I’ve learned much about the root of my anxiety, learned to know God sees my heart in the midst of biological issues in my brain that cause anxiety to spin out of control at times; I’ve grown in understanding that this seems to be genetic and generational, a family propensity, and began to grasp how to address it, to manage it, and to overcome much of it, while still realizing that I’m going to have times when it knocks me over like a wave crashing on the shore.

I could go on about the anxiety, but this post is actually more about the aspect in these verses that invited God to know me in my inmost parts, to examine the depths of me and reveal to me what is found there. This self examination is really what the season of Lent is about.  The forty days of Lent are based off of Jesus’ 40 days in the “wilderness”/”desert” when He was tempted to the core by the enemy of our souls.

Jesus faced true self-examination during those days, confronting the reality of who He was as God’s son but also who His Father called Him to be in becoming fully human, for our sakes.  Jesus had choices to make, an identity to embrace, and truth to continue to walk in with His entire self, and since we are called to follow Him, we have similar roads to journey through our own wildernesses/deserts.

Currently, my journey is continuing to walk me through moving towards greater physical wellness.  This has been a concentration of mine since turning 50.  I had thought it would only be for the one year, but when I turned 51 and didn’t yet feel I’d accomplished enough balance in the physical area, I committed to continuing that pursuit.  So, here I am….

If you’ve been reading here in the last few months, you know I’ve had a difficult winter.  My eating has been out of control at times, as has my anxiety and depression.  In the last 6 weeks, I’ve been using CBD oil and that has helped me to stabilize in my emotions and keep moving forward.  Thus, in the last couple of weeks, I arrived at the decision to make the most of the self-examination and reflection of Lent by going through a time of internal, digestive cleansing.

Yes, this is for a number of reasons, not only spiritual, but spiritual is a part of it, and I do feel an affirmation from the Spirit that this is the right timing for this in my life.  I did this 6 week cleansing re-set last May/June, and it is based off of the diet I had to follow after my gastric bypass in 2001.  It is the only diet from which I’ve ever truly been able to experience lasting and real results, both physical and emotional/spiritual.

My Lent began yesterday (instead of Ash Wednesday) due to personal family reasons, therefore, I’m beginning this blog today.  My plan is to document as much of this six weeks as I can, without putting the demand upon myself to write every single day.  My hope is to allow this to keep me accountable, since doing so has helped me in the past, as well as to encourage or inspire others along the way.  My goals are to delve deeper into my issues with food, anxiety, fears, and my relationship with and trust of my Abba, Father.  Yes, I hope to proceed with weight loss, as well as becoming more balanced holistically.

Along with my cleansing, which began yesterday with a day of all water and continues this week with clear liquids (as well as eggs, for their protein source, since they are a clear liquid before they are cooked), I also plan to be intensifying my use of EFT Tapping to break the emotional connections I have with food.  I have a couple people in my life I can lean on during this time, as well.  I will share here with you again in a couple days, but for now, I’m feeling hopeful and excited about what God has for me during this time. 🥰

The Lord bless and keep you in your Lenten journey, whatever that may be.  I pray you are strengthened in your inner being and that you are more aware of God’s presence than ever.