Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lessons from the Lunch Room

During the second semester of each school year I have the incredible privilege to visit my young friends from church at lunch.  I love seeing them in their environment and with their peers.  I have decided to blog each week with what I learn from these visits.  I have had the privilege to have 3 of these lunches so far (two in public schools and one lunch at the church for homeschool kiddos).  The snow has my schedule a little off.  I always take my lunch.  From my best recollection I almost always took my lunch as a kid too.  I know at one point I had a strawberry shortcake lunch box.  It probably looked something like this:
 
 
Lunch boxes are very different now.  I will have to try and take some pictures of lunch boxes.  I sure wish I still had my metal lunchboxes because I hear they are worth a lot of money now.  However, I am so sentimental I would most likely never be able to part with them. 
 
 

Here are some lessons I have learned so far this year:
  1. Google can not be trusted for directions- instead of taking me to South Polk Elementary the directions took me to Benton Elementary. 
  2. When you are lost the school secretary is your best friend!
  3. Some children you think are quiet and shy will really open up when you spend one on one time with them at the guest table. 
  4. As I met one child for lunch (after she had been through the lunch line) she had purchased her an ice cream but also purchased one for me! I loved having a push pop - it had been a long time since I had eaten one.  More than anything I loved the kindness she displayed. 
  5. Homeschoolers loves being able to get together for special outings.  (and so do their parents!)
  6. Some of our schools have unbelievable diversity.  As I sat with 4 young men at lunch- 3 of them knew 2 languages and one knew 3 languages.  The languages they knew were English, Spanish, Arabic and Filipino.  
Lesson number 6 was perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned so far.  Why?  It was a great lesson perhaps a reminder, of the many nationalities that live in Bradley County.  You may wonder about what the importance of this fact.   The opportunity to share Christ among our neighbors in our city and county is far reaching.  Among those who may never leave Bradley County are people who will leave.  Some will move to different places within the United States.  There are also many who will leave this great nation and return to their homeland. 

This lesson reminded me I need to be about telling others about Christ and facilitating ministries that can reach children for Christ.  It will have a great impact on our country as well as many others.  My Co-Pastor Jim often says - we can reach the world for Christ from Bradley County.  So very true.   

It also reminded me it starts with my physical neighbors.  Do you know your neighbors?  This is something I need to be more intentional about because I do not know all my neighbors. 

Lessons often bring challenges.  I am challenged and am asking God to help me in these areas.  How is HE challenging you today?


Much Love!
Mrs. Tara




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stressed Out?


Deadlines, volunteer spots to fill, leader training, Fall kick off, meetings, new Family Check in procedures,  new kid's ministry schedule........just to name a few things that are occupying my time these days.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I commented to a friend tonight- All the things we are encountering God knows we can handle.  Can you imagine the things that we are never faced with because He knows it is way too much?  It reminds me that all the things on my plate right now I can handle and conquer in and through Him!

Glad I can rest in Him and place all my worries (STRESS) at His feet.  Working diligently to accomplish many tasks.  Will you take a moment and pray that our church staff would follow His steps as we are preparing for some exciting things in the life of our church?

Personally you can pray for the following for me and the Children's Ministry:

  • I will listen and follow God in leading the Children's Ministry 
  • God would continue to bring together the two teams for Kid's Church  
  • Volunteers that are needed for weekly, monthly and quarterly positions would be filled with people ready to teach children how to love Jesus with their whole heart (Discovery Zone, Kid's Church and AWANA) 
  • Pray God will help me be faithful to follow up and discipleship with children who accept Christ 
  • Pray God will help me launch a new Neighbor to Neighbor Ministry this fall 
  • Pray that on a personal level that I am diligent and faithful in my quiet time 
  • Ask God to help Mike and I to continually strengthen our marriage
  • And on one last personal note- pray for me as I try to continually work on eating dinner home more (because I've cooked) rather than eat out..... I keep telling myself  = "The crockpot is my FRIEND!"  As you pray that prayer for me (I am serious too!), I am asking if the Lord reminds of you of a quick and easy recipe or crockpot recipe to please send it my way! 
Thankful His love and mercy are new every single day! 
Thankful I know He loves me! 

Much Love! 
Mrs. Tara 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What is Your favorite Walt Disney World Tip?

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Yes, I am talking about the magical place of Walt Disney World.  I love it and am actually some think I am obsessed.  Often I am asked to give advice to those going for the first time.  I finally have made a document that I can email out to those wanting some advice......... or go to lunch with a friend asking.  The document is a work in progress document.  I try to think of all the things I have learned from all my visits and often those are learned from friends who share my love for this magical place.

A few of my tips are-


  • Disney allows you to take snacks inside the park.  I always take bottled water in my backpack.  
  • Everyone should ride the ferry boat to Magic Kingdom at least once - you can take gorgeous pictures.  
  • Always use the Disney Photo Pass- even if you do not purchase any of their pictures.  After they take your Photo Pass picture ask them to take a picture with your camera.  This is one way to get all of your family/party in the picture.  Plus they have the "prime" spots for photo opportunities.  
  • A great souvenir for children is to let them press pennies throughout Disney World.  They also make books for you to put the pennies inside.  This can not only be a lot of fun for your children but also cheaper than purchasing souvenirs inside each store.  
  • Your first trip in the Magic Kingdom you need to go down Main Street to have this "magical" experience.  After that first time, board the train after you enter the park and ride to the back of the park.  Begin riding rides there and work your way through the park.  Don't forget to get fast passes where you can (and look into the option to sign up for fast passes when you book your trip- I am not sure of all the "rules" of this because it is new).  
  • If you are traveling with children- especially preschoolers- go to the park early to ride.  Head back to your resort for nap time and then head back to the park late afternoon / evening.  
  • Remember most people visit the Magic Kingdom on the first day of their trip (Sunday or Monday).  So if you can avoid MK on these days.  Crowd forecasters say the best day is Wednesday (unless it is a holiday).  
  • Visit Downtown Disney if for no other reason than to see the Lego displays, the free shows and experience the excitement at this stop full of shopping, restaurants and views.  I always visit the Once Upon A Toy store to see what Potato Head pieces they have in stock.  For $19.99 you can fill a box full of Disney Character pieces (don't waste your space on a potato head, you can get those really cheap at Wal-mart or Target).  
These are just a few of my tips - what are some of your tips?  

I also get asked what are my favorite restaurants.  I am on a quest to visit as many restaurants as I can.  Here are a few of my favorite - 


I am often asked if I ride the rides and my answer is YES.  Although I don't ride many roller coasters anymore, I do enjoy all the other things.  I love, love the shows.  I love to people watch.  My favorite things to do are the fireworks and the parades.  I also love to look for Hidden Mickey's.  You can purchase a book to help you with this quest.  Sometimes I get my picture made with the characters- sometimes I don't.  I visit all the parks.  My favorite is Magic Kingdom.  My passion for this place began when my parents took my sister and I along with my grandparents, aunt and uncle to Ft. Wilderness for our first trip.  I visit several times a year and due to this I purchase an annual pass.  You should look into it if you purchase tickets for a week.

Here is my Disney Board on Pinterest!  Do you have one?  If so I would love for you to leave your link in a comment.


I have read many books on Walt Disney and books about Walt Disney World's customer service.  My dream would be to go to the Disney World Institute.  I can't imagine how fabulous that would be since I thought the behind the scenes tour (Keys to the Kingdom) was amazing.

So who wants to guess how many trips I have been to Disney World (not times through the gate but trips because I may go 5 times in one trip).  Let the guessing begin............

Much Love and Blessings!
Mrs. Tara

And yes my favorite character is the mouse himself!




Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Memories

As I walked to my car to go home, I heard a familiar sound.  A sound that took me back to my childhood.  It took me to a special place.   It is a place I simply call "The Ball Field".  

When you grow up in a family who loves softball you spend many days at this place.  Just thinking back brings many moments flooding to my mind.   A big smile spreads across my face as I shut my eyes and go back in time.  For just a moment I can smell, even taste this place.  I smell hot dogs and popcorn.  I begin to crave a cherry sno cone.  I snarl my face as I remember the times I tasted dirt in my mouth.  I can hear the cheers and encouraging words of team mates.  I hear my coach clap his hands and point his finger to his eye and tell me to keep my eye on the ball.  I hear that coach call time out and pull me to this side and tell me to take a deep breath and tell me I can do this.  I shake my head and tell my dad (yes he was always the coach) that I am ready.  I head to the batter's box - remembering that anxious feeling that your team was counting on you.  I remember the pats on the back with words next time when I struck or grounded out.    I can feel the high fives and excitement when I got a hit or threw someone out.  

I am sitting in my car now but can't seem to move.  My drive down memory lane isn't over.  I am laughing.  I look around wondering if anyone can see me because they will surely think I am crazy.  I am laughing hard.  I am remembering this silly song my mom sang.  No, she didn't really sing it she screamed it.  My teammates as well as my two younger sister's teammates always loved it.  Funny I don't remember how she got started with this little song.  But we loved it.  The song was about a little chicken who wouldn't lay an egg.  I can't seem to remember all the words- I need to ask her for them.  

I realize I need to leave but all the sudden I see lots of faces - as if they are scrolling on a movie screen.  I see team mates, coaches, umpires, parents, siblings, etc.  I remember special memories with so many of them.  

I am thankful for "The Ball Field" because it taught me so much about life.  It taught me about having a extended family with those in the softball world.  It showed me my parents were willing to make sacrifices for me to be able to play and travel to tournaments.  It took our family to many exciting places.  More than anything it made me a better person.

If you were to pick a place from your summer memories, where would you go? 

Monday, April 8, 2013

He always knows...........

He always knows when you need to know He is right there with you.  Those times you may wonder- even if for just a moment- if He is near or cares.  I know I have those times when I feel down and those feelings can overwhelm you.   Before anyone wonders if I am having a break down- relax.  I am fine.  But if we are all real we have those times that we need encouraged.

I don't know why I stand amazed when He orchestrates so many things that lifts my spirits.  Most of the time individuals have no idea what their actions mean to me...................

Today I needed to feel Him close and He did just that in the following ways (and more) ........


  • a kind word 
  • a smile 
  • a hug 
  • a friend who sat beside me and went over a list just so I would feel better 
  • a little child declaring "I love you Mrs. Tara" 
  • sunshine 
  • gifts to our mission team from lots of people 
  • encouraging words that reminds you why you do what you do (and who you do it for) 
  • forgiveness 
  • friends
He is good, He is faithful.  He loves me.  He loves you! He not only cares about the BIG stuff in life but the small stuff too.  He knows just when we need reminded of His love.  And friends HE loves us, oh, how HE loves us! 

Much Love! 
Mrs. Tara

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A lesson learned

Almost 19 years ago while serving in my first church position as the School Age Program Director, I was excited to use the Resurrection eggs with the children in our ministry.  I had saved the last egg (aka the special egg) for a little boy that I thought needed to feel extra special that day.  He kept asking if it was his turn to open the egg and I would reply not yet, be patient.  I was super pumped for him thinking he was gong to be so excited.
However, I did not stop to think about his age and the fact that he couldn't fully grasp the concept that this special egg was empty because of the incredible gift Jesus gave to us on the cross of Calvary.  Anticipation built in both of us.  I couldn't wait for him to realize he had the most special egg of all- the empty one to represent that Jesus is alive! His anticipation was to see what was in his egg like everyone else.  Never in a million years could I have prepared myself (or the other kids) for what happened when he opened his egg.  Instead of excitement and great joy there were tears.  A lot of tears.  Oh my goodness it was a colossal fail on my part.  To top it all off I was in seminary studying children's ministry and childhood development at the time.  I should have realized he could not grasp abstract concepts at his age.  I just wanted him to feel special.  I got him calmed down and tried to recover somewhat for the main point of the group devotion.

As I reflect on the happenings so many years ago, it makes me wonder how many adults don't grasp the concept that the tomb is empty and HE is ALIVE! It makes me wonder do they realize He died for them.  For each of us.  For my sins and yours.  Yes He loves us that much! 

Resurrection Eggs®You can get these on Amazon Here!
Note- I highly recommend the Resurrection eggs as a teaching tool.  However, I advise you learn from my mistake.      

Much Love!
Mrs. Tara  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Celebrating Easter

One of my favorite books to help as families celebrate Easter is ..........

                                                          Product Details
                                                           The Parable of the Lily


Liz Curtis Higgs has penned this book to capture in you in the story while telling you the truth of His death, burial and resurrection.  I am praying for you as you have the opportunity for many teachable moments this week and the weeks following Easter.  It is a glorious time to help teach that He is Risen Indeed Alleluia! 

Much Love, 
Mrs. Tara