Jun 19, 12
But it means that at the end of this post, this blog is officially kaput. So please redirect any of your saved links or feeds to either:
www.TaraBarthel.com (the home page of my new website)(And if you’re reading this before June 24, 2012, please be sure to enter my latest giveaway for over $100 in free biblical peacemaking materials and stop by my Gospel Coalition LiveBlogs too too!)
my new blog
Thanks for the 3,200+ posts over here at good ol' ConsiderableGrace! Bye-bye Gerber Daisies and mismatched color schemes ...
Hello new world of purples and grays ...
Hope to see you at the new www.TaraBarthel.com!
Three cheers for Fred the Valiant creating me a new website while working full time at Peacemakers AND doing two hourly consulting jobs to provide for our family’s needs. Thank you, dearest darling! I love you! – t
Jun 17, 12
How grateful we are for family and friends! Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love ...
Jun 15, 12
And so I prayed. I journaled. And I called my wise and loving friend, Amy L. Her patient listening, insightful questions, and wise counsel were just what I needed to see more clearly what was really going on in the depths of my soul:
I was keenly aware that this person was involved in a number of conflicts and stressful situations that were hurting people I care about. Honestly? I knew he was well-meaning, loving, and trying hard to love God and neighbor. But for whatever reason (immaturity, blindness, emotional and relational cluelessness?), he still left “a wake of hurting, bleeding people” behind him (just as my first coauthor, Judy Dabler, and I did when we were in our 20’s).So how did I respond to this insight? I repented. I repented of my over-fixation on SELF that was really at the heart of my inappropriate emotions. (I didn’t want to be hurt. I wanted to protect the people I care about. I wanted to fix things. I wanted him to stop doing this!)
And I was afraid to meet with him because I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t fix the situations or resolve the conflicts (that really had nothing to do with me). I couldn’t protect myself from being hurt by him. And most frighteningly, he reminded me WAY TOO MUCH of my 20-something-self.
I also remembered that just as God had brought wise and mature Christians around me to help me to grow, God was faithfully bringing wise and godly men and women around this person too. God is sanctifying us! And He will complete the task of conforming us to the image of His Son.
And in one of those, "I’ve said this to other people a THOUSAND times! Why did I forget to tell MYSELF this too?!" moments, I also remembered:
1. I have no authority over this man. Other people do (workplace, church). But I don’t. So why I am getting myself into a lather over trying to protect others from him? The leaders are on it. I can pray, encourage, love, and trust that God has put those authorities in place for His purposes. And I am not in authority in this situation.And so. I went to the meeting feeling happy, content in Christ, eager to enjoy by brother ... and everything went just fine. Whew! This relational stuff is HARD. But really? It’s not even about the relationship with this person, is it? It’s about my heart-orientation and whether I live out what I believe—that God is God; I am not God; God is in control of everything and He is good; I am neither in control of everything nor good. But I am His. And this is His world.
2. I really don’t even have much power in this situation. I have maybe a little bit of power, a little bit of influence. I have some opportunities to reflect on the situation and share a little counsel or encouragement (like this meeting). But I’m not a close friend of his. I’m not formally being brought in by any of the conflicted parties to assist as a mediator. So really? I don’t have much power.
3. Which would totally freak me out if I felt I had RESPONSIBILITY. Yes. There it is. I was taking on the responsibility for these situations even though I have neither the authority nor the power to “fix them.” Feeling responsible and not having what you need to do anything about it? This is a recipe for stress and misery. (It’s why so many people quit their jobs! They are given tasks to do without the authority or power to do them and then they are blamed when things don’t get done. It’s just awful to feel that way.)
But in my situation, even a cursory review of the fact that I don’t have any authority in this situation and I have only a very SMALL amount of power, QUICKLY showed me that I was taking on responsibilities that were not mine. Oh, sure, I have a certain level of responsibility—to love God and neighbor, to work hard to protect the unity of the saints through the bond of peace, etc. But beyond that, these conflicts were not MY conflicts and I didn’t have to pick them up and carry them as though they were. ("Not my table!" as the waitresses say.")
"This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.
This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground."
Jun 14, 12
So here is where we are so far:contact me with any typos, broken links, or other errors, I sure would appreciate your help. Our goal is to roll it out in the next few days.
Jun 13, 12
Jun 12, 12
Jun 11, 12
(And of course we always have a brief refresher on principal/agent law and limits of authority—i.e., could I give them the authority to SIN? Of course not. What about to do something foolish or dangerous or unloving of God or neighbor? No way. But could I give them a ride to a museum, park, mountain, ranch, movie theater, pool, store and let them go a little wild in the $1 spot? Yup! I can and I do and it’s very, very fun.)
Yesterday, we even shared the magic wand of power with our friends and ended up having an exhaustingly fun kids' choose the activities day including playing a hundred games at Chuck-E-Cheese and perusing the goodies at Candy Town:
(We were even happily collecting our 2 or 3 or 5 tickets as we went ... right up until Sophie won 75 tickets! We were all very impressed!)
And I don’t know why, but I found it particularly charming how Ella’s sour candy stripe exactly matched her little sock monkey’s stripe:
This morning was a fun morning of friend/prayer group, gymnastics, and summer hair appointments:
Hope your week is going great too!
Blessings and joy,
Jun 10, 12
Yes. It came from out of the blue. I went from a relatively sane wife and mother to an extremely angry, freaking out, completely inappropriate wife and mother in the scope of just a few minutes.
It was completely inappropriate. There is no excuse for my attitude, words, or actions. But there I was—furious. My head was spinning. I kept replaying the situation over and over again (and getting angrier and angrier each time). I was incredibly rude to Fred and pretty frightening to my young daughters.
All in all? I’m mortified to even share all of that with you—and yet I do, for two important reasons:
1. I don’t think I’m alone in having (thankfully, very occasional) bouts with completely inappropriate anger and I want to keep being real before you and keep pointing you to the only hope we have in life—the saving, adopting, sanctifying gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing like a big ol' wave of inappropriate anger to well up huge oceans of gratitude in our hearts for the Cross.Let’s spend some time on that second point ...
2. Fred was so wise and loving in responding to my sinful anger that I wanted to not only commend him, but also point you to a few of the things he did so that his example might help you to diffuse angry situations in the future.
One thing that Fred did very well was that he quickly saw that my anger, at its root, was really fear. Fearful people often look like angry people and that was true of me on Sunday night. The presenting issue in our relational exchange had to do with a boatload of work I had done on my (soon to be released!) new website. I had spent HOURS creating new content and organizing old content and really trying hard to make things professional and helpful. And in one inexplicable technology meltdown moment, all of my work was gone. All of it.
My mind started spinning over how much time I had “wasted” just relaxing and being with my family this weekend (when I thought the work was done). I looked ahead to the next ten days of our lives and I simply didn’t see how we could possibly recreate all of that work. (We’re hoping to have the new website live prior to my LiveBlog of the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference June 22-24). I was frustrated by (OK, angry with) Fred because I THOUGHT he had been working his graphics/layout/etc. magic on all of my brilliant content ... but he was still in a holding pattern waiting on content that I had created but then had gotten eaten by the mysterious world of the mystical internet. Then I got angry and myself for being angry because Fred works so hard and I hated that he had to work so hard on this too. And mostly? I was TERRIFIED that if I even could TRY to recreate all of that work, it would all just DISAPPEAR AGAIN and my time and effort would be completely wasted.
Ahhh ... there’s the real nut of it all, isn’t it? Self. Me. My comfort. My inconvenience. Technology failing me. My efforts failing me. Me me me. Yowza—there is a lot of me at the center of my anger.
So Fred identified my fears and was extremely patient and kind with me. He didn’t respond to my anger with defensive anger (although that surely would have seemed very appropriate to an outside observer). He kept moving towards me even when I was still partially out of my mind and behaving sinfully and unlovingly.
But he did reach a point where he basically said:
"Look, Tara, I know you’re scared and I know this is extremely upsetting to you, but you are persisting in this inappropriate behavior and it needs to stop. You can step away, call someone, pray, read the Bible, journal ... whatever you need to do. But this can’t go on like this."And he was completely right.
Ed Welch unpacks such actions even more thoroughly in his most-read blog post from 2010:Uprooting Anger - Biblical Help for a Common Problem.
But I’ll just sign off with one more thought. This is something I keep thinking of more and more as my daughters get older (and as I get older too):
I’m just SO grateful for forgiveness. I don’t know how people live without God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of loved ones too.We need cleansing. We need changing. We need to know that that we can have a fresh start and God and people will never give up on us (even when—especially when—we most assuredly deserve to be given up on).
Thank God for grace!
With love from your formerly angry friend,
Jun 08, 12
I had such a blast finding very old journals, letter, and photos. Check out my 80’s hair from my first overseas music missions trip:
Hysterical! That’s some seriously big hair.
I also unearthed boxes and boxes of cards from my women’s events over the years. Such treasures! I’ll never throw those away:
(I wonder if any of you are from these events? Toronto 2003, Multnomah Seminary 2002, Alabama 2003, Illinois 2003, San Antonio 2003, Florida 2004, Ontario 2004, Alabama 2005, Texas 2004, Mississippi 2003, Pennsylvania 2004, Alabama 2003, Georgia 2004, Virginia 2004, Ontario 2003, Colorado 2005, Georgia 2006, Oregon 2005, North Carolina 2004, Virginia 2005, Alaska 2002, Georgia 2004, Alabama 2004, Tenth Pres Philadelphia 2007, North Carolina 2007, Florida 2004 ... I’d better stop. I could keep typing locations and dates for a LONG time.)
Bittersweet were the cards from the loss of our baby in 2007 just after the loss of our Golden in late 2006:
Slightly embarrassing, but I’ll still hold onto them, were my journals from my teenage years ... it would be charitable to say that my theology was not very rigorous back then. Sweetly, however, tucked right in the same box, were some flowers from homecoming and prom with my friend, Brian M. (who has his own little Sophia these days):
And SUPER FUN was finding Hal Holbrook’s autograph for Sophie and me. (We met him in a Delta Sky Club and gushed about his role as Albie Duncan on The West Wing.)
I also found lots of cards and love notes from my beloved Fred—which makes me think I need to be way more grateful to him for all of the romance he has lavished on me for 19 years now; goodies from when Sophie was Ella’s age now (so cute!) and many other treasures too. But for now, I think I need to get back to the chaos so that our family can walk through our basement and schoolroom sometime this weekend:
Happy June 8! And thanks so much for all of the FaceBook greetings!
Jun 07, 12
(And if you have even a moment, I’d SO appreciate your prayers because I have to solo the hour-long program due to a scheduling conflict with Cap'n Dave. Yeek! I pray most of all that I lift high the Lord Jesus! And also that I will encourage His people, remain faithful to His Word, and hopefully represent Redeeming Church Conflicts well. Thanks, friends!)
Jun 04, 12
Thanks, Auntie Kali for Ella Bella’s first big girl gymnastics class!
Jun 03, 12
One of my pleasures of the day had to do with gutting the girls' closet and making my standard “give away,” "throw away," “file away” piles. Prior to my happy organizing, we still had 2T winter clothes mixed in with (Ella’s actual size) 5/6 summer wear and things were just a mess. But afterwards, I had that organizer-happy-feeling of good stewardship and order and ahhhhhhhh.
Until this morning.
This morning, when Fred was already at church for worship team practice, I went to dress the girls in the adorable little dresses that my mother in law had made them for the summer and I absolutely could not find the bloomers for Ella’s skirt. This would have been no big deal prior to yesterday. But after hours of cleaning, purging, and organizing? They should have been in her pants/shorts/bloomers drawer. I knew that they were in her pants/shorts/bloomers drawer. They were! They were!
Except that they were not.
It drove me absolutely crazy this morning. I went through their entire dresser and closet over and over again. I knew I had just seen them. I had folded them. I had put them where they belonged. Where in the world were they??! Was I going crazy?? Did I not just organize this entire corner of our home?
Seriously. I blew through 40 minutes of “I must be going crazy” searching and finally the girls and I headed to church. But I could not stop thinking of those stupid bloomers. My heart was not preparing for corporate worship. I was not anticipating receiving the Lord’s Supper. I just wanted to find those bloomers.
Thankfully, two things happened:
1. I realized how out of whack my heart was as we were driving to church and I repented and got over myself and said, “Oh well!” and began to prepare for worship.Yup. SORT OF right in the drawer where they were supposed to be ... but having fallen OUT of the drawer, they were pinned to the BACK of the dresser BEHIND the drawer. (So Fred could only find them because he took the drawer completely out and got on his back to peer into the dresser.)
2. After church, my hero, Fred the Valiant (to quote Andrew Walker) asked me to state systematically where I thought they should be. ("In the drawer where I folded and put them.") And every single place I went after organizing the girls' room. ("Basement. My office. Utility room.") Then Fred found them.
Now that’s a nice guy, eh?
Plus ... I wasn’t going crazy! Well. Maybe a little crazy ... but it was really weird. I just KNEW they had to be there, but they weren’t. And both Fred and Sophie (at different times) said the same thing to me: “Mom? Are you SURE there were bloomers for this dress? We’ve never seen them! Could you have THOUGHT you saw bloomers, when really you just saw the HATS?” No no no. I was sure. But then they weren’t there! It was very strange.
But all’s well that ends well and I’m really grateful that God gave me the grace to have it not ruin my time in church (!).
Hope your Sunday was less stressful but also filled with much grace—
Jun 02, 12
It’s even fun for two year-olds and nine year-olds! (And, apparently, Golden Retrievers.)
Today? Ella really blessed me when, out of the blue, she said:
"Mom? You’re in charge. And Daddy is in charge. And Sissie is very wise."Spot on!
Officially (unless it is one of the brief times that Sophia is acting in loco parentis), Sophie has no authority over Ella. They are siblings. Peers. Equals. But Sophia is a very responsible, caring eight year-old and Ella would be wise to listen to her.
See the difference? Submission? Obedience? Not usually. Wise? Yes!
Good job, Ella.
And thank You, Lord, for the blessing of wise friends and godly leaders in many spheres of life.
Hope your Saturday is a blessed one!
May 31, 12
Ella particularly liked the wave pool. We must have walked/swam that thing 200 times so right now she’s napping hard and I’m feeling all of my days-away-from-42-years-old-ness: