Tara’s Blog

Stupid Ol’ Apology

doctors office

Earlier today, the girls and I had to run to our doctor’s office for a quick well-child check. The entire outing took less than an hour and everything went perfectly on time. But, in one of those “tell your children about your BIG GIANT FAILURE” kind of teaching moments … (Because wow! They sure do love to hear about when we’ve blown it, don’t they?!) … I told them about a visit to this doctor’s office that did not go nearly as well …

Years ago, I rushed and rushed to get through our morning, pack up the (much younger) kids, get them to my friend’s house, and make it to my appointment with this doctor by exactly 1:00. Only to be told that my appointment was at 1:30.


Oh. Sure. I could have just “been in the moment” and “relaxed” for 30 minutes. (I hear that’s something people know how to do …) But, instead, I was very frustrated and pretty much stomped out of the reception area like a spoiled little brat. Thankfully, the reception area was empty, so I only aired my Monster Want James 4 Idol in front of the receptionist.

Still. I was immediately convicted and I did not want to go back when the 30 minutes were up. In fact, I wanted to not only never go back to this doctor, I really wanted to move away from this city and change my name (so I’d stop being associated with “peacemaking women” and “living the gospel in relationships”), and, well, basically climb into a hole and hide away. Forever.

Instead, at 1:25PM, I went back to the doctor’s office, knowing full well what I had to do: I had to apologize. There was no other way out. I had sinned and I needed to confess my sin specifically and ask the receptionist to forgive me.

(Stupid ol’ Seven A’s of Confession pressing into my heart because of Matthew 7:5, Proverbs 28:13, and James 1, and 1 John and, well, the entire Bible!)

Of course, by that time, the reception area was full. And small. There was just no way for me to apologize to her without an entire room full of people hearing me. So that’s exactly what happened. Right there in front of everyone else, I apologized for being rude earlier. I told her specifically that there was no excuse for my behavior or tone and I asked her to forgive me.

She was extremely surprised at my attitudinal change and very gracious in her reply. I was appropriately mortified, but glad I had done the right thing. And glad, too, that years later I would have an excellent teaching illustration to use in my ongoing peacemaking discussions with my kiddos. (As Fred often says:  “There are no wasted conflicts, Tara! Only excellent peacemaking illustrations to use one day … once you repent.”

It’s hard, though, isn’t it? This whole “living in line with what we actually believe” thing. It’s so much easier to say we know and believe something in the abstract (gnosis) than to actually, personally, know and believe something (epignosis). But God really has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness …” (2 Peter 1:3). So today, as always, I am grateful for forgiveness. But I am also grateful for confession too.

May we all be quick to get the logs out of our own eyes (Matthew 7:5)—
And quick to forgive “just as in Christ we have been forgiven” (Colossians 3:13)!

Sending my love—

Your friend,
Tara B.

2016 PCA Women’s Ministry Leadership Training LiveBlog #1: Susan Hunt – Show Me the Savior: Spiritual Mother Sightings Over 25 Years

Live Blog 2016 PCA LT #1: Susan Hunt – Show Me the Savior: Spiritual Mother Sightings over 25 Years

2016 PCA Women’s Ministry Leadership Training LiveBlog #2: Stephen Estock – Show Me the Savior in the Beauty of the Church and the Midst of Changing Culture

Live Blog 2016 PCA LT #2: S Estock – Show Me the Savior in the Beauty of the Church and …

2016 PCA Women’s Ministry Leadership Training LiveBlog #3: Susan Shepherd – Show Me the Savior in the Context of Gospel Friendships

Live Blog 2016 PCA LT #3: Susan Shepherd – Show Me the Savior in the Context of Gospel Friendships

2016 PCA Women’s Ministry Leadership Training LiveBlog #4: Abby Hutto – Show Me the Savior and Nothing Else

Live Blog 2016 PCA LT #4: Abby Hutto – Show Me the Savior and Nothing Else

RED FLAG Re: Confrontation

eager to confront

(To learn more about the topic of redemptive confrontation click here for blogs, here for free audio recordings, and/or here to visit my bookstore to purchase my video series and books.)

Turning and Facing the Specifics of My Assault. (A brief primer on trauma recovery and anniversary dates …)

dark door

Last Spring, when my trauma counselor first gave me a homework assignment that included me figuring out the exact date of my sexual assault last fall, I instinctively recoiled and said, “No way!” I was in counseling to get over this terrible thing that happened to me. I didn’t want to focus on it.

But, of course, my very wise and experienced counselor knew far more than I did about how God has created by our bodies and souls, and specifically how the physiological and emotional responses to trauma often intermix and follow certain patterns. For example, many trauma survivors experience increasing distress around anniversary dates and other exposures to specific numbers tied to the traumatic event.

For me, this first happened when I was flying home from a family wedding last Spring. Unbeknownst to me consciously, my airline routing took me on the exact flight numbers at the exact times through the exact airports where my sexual assault occurred. I really had no idea! But boy, was I revving emotionally. Once I made it home and talked through it all with my counselor, it made perfect sense. And I was, of course, suddenly far more interested in doing the homework of figuring out my exact anniversary date.

I know it it now and it’s actually coming up soon, so I am beginning to reclaim my voice and disempower the date thing by saying it out loud to people I trust.

I first said the date to my husband. And then I told my sister. And then (even though it felt like cold water cutting through my chest), last week I said the date out loud to my best friend, Samara. (And neither of us disappeared in a poof of smoke! So that was great.) Then I could mention the date to another close friend, and then another.

And before I knew it, each time became less and less important—less and less dramatic. In fact, it’s SO less dramatic that I’m going to tell all of you it right now too: One year ago, on November 16, a stranger hurt me in one of my connecting airports when I was flying home from serving at a women’s event.

I would never have chosen to have this suffering be a part of my life story, but somehow, in God’s perfect providence, it is.

Thankfully, I’m getting lots of help with the aftereffects in my life.

My real friends have responded with faithful love, patience, and so much compassion, encouragement, and care that I can hardly describe it.

But mostly, the Lord Himself, through His Word, has assured me over and over again of his faithfulness and care, his omnipotence and goodness, his immanence even as he is transcendent. God provides me everything I need for life and godliness through the Lord Jesus Christ.

So today I am a recovering adult violent crime trauma survivor. I have a long way to go, but I am definitely getting help, and thus, I am grateful.

In a freaky scheduling thing, however, I am also chuckling just a little bit because it just so “happens” that my poor, degenerating knees are going in for their seventh knee surgery on that exact November 16 date. And, just a few hours ago today, I found out that I have to return to the Billings hospital for additional testing because my multi-surgery’d eyes are now apparently Glaucoma Suspect.

I know many, many people are facing far worse suffering in life. So I hesitate to even mention it. But the truth is, ever since I was a little child and I started my eye surgeries (that went all the way through college), I always had this sinking suspicion that one day I would be blind. Oh! How I hope that does not happen. But oh, how discouraging it was to see all of the bright red markers around my optic nerve when they should have been a nice calm green, or maybe a few concerning yellow. But no. Red red red. And so off I go to the hospital for some sort of testing that involves electrodes measuring damage-sensitive neural pathways. We shall see what this new medical challenge brings.

In the interim, let me leave you with the good news of Ephesians 5–one of the first extended passages of Scripture I memorized as a new Christian 30+ years ago. It is rich with so much content, but I will highlight just one little excerpt that has comforted me today (far, far more than the foolish reading of medical articles late at night online!):

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is … giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (from Ephesians 5:13-21)

Tonight, I am facing my anniversary date, my upcoming surgery (on the anniversary date), and my Glaucoma Suspect diagnosis by bringing them all out and into the visible light of the Lord.

He reigns. He loves. Not a stray hair falls. My life is in his hands and so I really do give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the nae of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanks for praying for me. Thanks for sending cards and checking in and just letting me know that I am not alone.

I am grateful for you!

With much love from Queen-Gimps-A-Lot—

Your friend,
Tara B.

redeem conflict

You Can Be Lovable

sophie ella summer 2014

During my undergraduate years, I was blessed to study under Dr. Paul T. Jensen. He taught not only my Presidential Scholar Philosophy of Theology classes (at school), he also taught the adult Sunday School class in our little Presbyterian church.

Dr. Jensen was the first person to introduce me to Calvin and Luther; to send me to Jonathan Edwards; and to make me my first ever xeroxes of scholar-level journal articles on issues of faith and logic. He was and is a thinker and a humble man–two of my favorite characteristics in a person.

So I always chuckle just a little bit when I remember that, in addition to introducing me to great books, Dr. Jensen also recommended that I read a simple little tome entitled, The Friendship Factor (by Alan Loy McGinnis).

Is this a great book? No.
Is it filled with Christ-exalting, biblical theology? Not really. Nope. I can’t say that it is.

But is it worth the read? Yes, I think so–particularly for those of us who (thankfully!) are in biblically-faithful, gospel-preaching churches (so we’re regularly hearing the full counsel of Scripture) and yet we still struggle in our relationships. If you can just take this little book for what it’s worth, I honestly believe that it might prove helpful to you. It was helpful to me way back in 1988 when I first read it, and I always pick up something new to think on whenever I re-read it.

Like this current re-reading. The chapter titles alone were a blessing to me:

– How to Communicate Warmth
– When Kindliness Becomes a Habit
– Be Careful with Criticism
– A Surefire Way to Draw People Close
– Are You the Manipulating Type?
– You Can be Lovable
– Neglect This and Watch Your Friends Flee

(Doesn’t that last one make you want to at least skim the book? :) ! )

For me, this issue of relationships continues to be a challenge more often than not. I try and try, and sometimes people enjoy me and bear with me and we build a true friendship, an honest relationship, and that is so good. I am beyond-words grateful for the friends, real friends, who show me grace and mercy in my time of need. (And I prayerfully strive to do the same for them.)

But sometimes, things don’t work so well relationally. There may be full-blown conflicts. But more often than not, there is just a lack of interest, care, or love—even when people are in close proximity to each other. The author of “The Friendship Factor” taught me a new word about this:

“Talking is hard. We must schedule time for conversation because loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity* with someone who has ceased to communicate.”

(*I had to look up the word, “Propinquity.” It means the state of being close to someone or something; proximity; close kinship. Don’t you love getting to learn new words?! Yay!)

But back to the reason for this post … the title that I took from one of the chapters:

You can be lovable.

It’s true! And more! Not only can you be lovable, if you are in Christ a new creation? Then you are lovable and you are loved. Loved with an everlasting love. Every moment. Every day. God’s love for you is based on the righteousness of Another and his love for you never wavers.

Grace grace grace. Love love love. Even when life in this fallen world feels so much so the polar opposite. Thank God!

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:9-12 ESV)

Tara B.

For more rigorously biblical helps on these topics, I encourage you to really dig deeply into the CCEF books, CS Lewis’s writings, Ajith Fernando’s, Reclaiming Friendship, and William P. Smith’s, Loving Well Even if You Haven’t Been

Peacemaker Conference LiveBlogs


In just a few hours, I will be leaving to serve at The 2015 Peacemaker Conference: The Rhythm of Peace.

In addition to teaching, I also have the joy of liveblogging the plenary sessions.

If you have no idea what liveblogging is, you are in good company! I just heard the term for the first time a few years ago. Basically, LiveBlogs provide continuous “live” coverage of events through text, photos, and links, so it’s like you get to be there, even if the event is halfway around the world. Plus, you get to participate in the LiveBlog too (if you want to)! You can interact with the speakers if they are holding a Q&A, you can ask me questions (“Hey, Tara, would you please put up a photo of the Gettys (at a Gospel Coalition Conference)?”), and even interact with other LiveBlog attendees. (My LiveBlog friends start to get to know one another after “attending” conferences “together” over the years.)

It’s very fun! And very easy. All you have to do is join in the LiveBlog when it is active (“live”). You can just read along and never even make yourself known. Or you can join in the conversation or drop me a private “hello” that no one else can see—whatever is comfortable to you.

Once the event closes, you can read the LiveBlogs in “replay” mode. (I have them listed below under “Archived LiveBlogs.”) This can be particularly helpful because I type almost at the rate of speech—so you can relax during an event and not worry about taking lots of notes because you will have my notes to read and study at your convenience after the event is over.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can do to serve you.

I’m icing my wrists and getting ready now—


Hope to see you on the LiveBlog!

Your sister in Christ,
Tara Barthel

(These links will be “live” when the LiveBlogs are “on air” during their scheduled times.)

   Thursday, September 24

7:00PM (Mountain) General Session 1 – Wess Stafford

   Friday, September 25

8:00AM General Session 2 – Jim Daly

   Saturday, September 26

8:00AM General Session 3 – Kimm Carr

(To access the LiveBlog Replays from the 2014 Peacemaker Conference, click here. And for the 2013 Peacemaker Conference LiveBlog Replaysclick here.)

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