God Is Everywhere

January 10, 2018

God is Everywhere

We usually talk about movies after watching them.  The girls were discussing a movie while sitting at the “stone table” (what the little girls call the stone bench and table they get to do school at while waiting for the big girls at college) today.

The exchange from this movie being discussed goes generally like this:

“Don’t rob me of my hate…”

“…God has given us a second chance.  Don’t slap His hand away.”

“God? Can’t I ever get away from Him?”

“No.  God is everywhere, even in a kiss…”

And so this story that, as a novel, is a story of bitter vengeance and betrayal becomes morphed for the big screen into a story of forgiveness and God’s mercy.

Jaquline says, “I like how God is everywhere.  The Bible says He’s in the darkest valley and the tallest mountain.  Is God really in a kiss?”

“I think so,” Kimberly pipes up, “God also gives life and love.”

“So if God is in everything, do squirrels get married?” Jillian asked.  (She loves the Landmark Tribe squirrel stories, and in those, the squirrels are married.)

“God is in everything; He created everything,” Jaquline sighed, “but I don’t know if squirrels get married for real.  Dogs don’t but when we are feeling sad, God uses Prim’s and Sheba’s kisses to make us happier.” (Prim and Sheba are our dogs.)

“So God is even in doggie kisses!” laughed Jillian.

I smiled.  The sun that warms us, the air we breathe, the water, plants, animals; each spark of life is a gift from God.  “God is in everything” isn’t just a movie line; it’s real.  Sometimes we try to make God so distant when in reality He’s inside us, touching everything within and around us.  No, we can never get away from Him.  That’s the beauty and mystery of His love.  Why would the God who spoke the universe into existence want to “chase after” each of us?  God is in everything so that everything we see, feel, and love reflects His love for us.  In this way, all of creation sings God’s glory!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Saying No to Nagging

November 29, 2017

Saying No to Nagging

As the oldest of seven children, an analytical puzzle-solver who is rarely wrong (sarcasm), and a perfectionist, I also have a rather uncanny knack of nagging to get people to do stuff (I heard a sermon on the persistent woman before the judge and thought nagging was the same as her persistence.)   Since I was about ten or twelve, I started to learn (mostly from watching my Daddy while he was driving) that I don’t have to say what I’m thinking to that person’s face.  Because of this, I learned how to keep my nagging thoughts to myself around my siblings.  The younger ones who didn’t remember the nagging dictator began to enjoy my company and actually listen to me when I suggested they do something!  (This was an amazing and empowering discovery!)

Fast forward to when I’m a young woman considering long-term relationships with a fearful heart.  (I actually have to talk to a person I know nothing about? GOD!  How I am going to do this?)  I think I could actually hear God laughing, and the wind blew my Bible open to Proverbs 31.  (Anyone else remember singing that catchy song a guy sang about a “P31”?  Airplane-crazy younger me thought he was talking about a plane.  At least, teenage me realized he meant a woman.)

Have you ever read Proverbs 31?  The whole thing??  I freaked out and thought, “no way can I be all that.”

God said, “one verse at a time.”

So I started studying about the ideal woman.  (Most of the time, I laughed and journaled stuff like “I am NEVER going to be that!” and “This is IMPOSSIBLE!”)  Slowly I realized that this perfect woman just loved God first, loved her husband second, and allowed love and wisdom to rule her.  (Her business savvy totally intrigued me.)  Then came the part that is still my hardest challenge… I study by flipping to suggested parallel verses and almost everywhere in Proverbs this poor guy was saying stuff that I interpreted as “it is better to be buried in the deepest, darkest, scorpion-infested, cave that belongs to lions named “Ghost” and “Darkness” than to live in a palace with a nagging woman.”  (I thought, “CRUD!  Okay, God, this one you will really have to do for me.”)

In my study I realized that by “nagging” the Bible meant a woman asking, telling, or pleading with a man to get him to do something.  (I substantiated this by interviews with older married men I knew and they agreed.  One guy even said, “ask me once, I heard ya; say it twice and I turn my ears off.”)  I decided that once I was married, I would practice not nagging by only voicing my opinion once.  (At this point, I still “know” I’m right 99.9999% of the time, so I made an asterisk in my journal that added, “but in important matters I will remain firm.”)  I think God laughed at that too because who is to say what is important?

God’s timing is always perfect.

I finished writing my five-pages-in-my-journal decision after almost a year of study – writing everything I thought a Biblical woman in today’s world should be and listing the qualities I wanted to cultivate in preparation for being a wife and mother.  I ended it with a prayer (as I usually do when I journal) that read: “God, I think I’m ready to start my forever relationship.  If you think I am ready, please let the guy ask me out if I have met him…”

And God laughed again.  (That was written Monday, July 1st.  Louis told me we were going out on Wednesday, July 3rd.  We were engaged on July 20th & married life began on November 22nd.)

Have I conquered that nagging thing?  (NNOO!!)  My brain still talks back, but I have learned to keep my sarcastic thoughts inside, take a breath, form a perfect suggestion, SPEAK IT ONCE (ONLY ONCE, remember?  You promised God that!  – I had to argue that with my brain for the first 12 or 13 years of marriage every time.), and leave the rest to God.

This was also a HUGE trust issue for me.  (See, I like to be in control so giving that to another human even if I trust God to lead him is just bonkers to my analytical brain.)

I learned that to respect my husband meant to trust him to trust God with his decisions (our decisions) and over time, God has taught Louis that most of the time; it’s a good thing to listen to my suggestion.  (He said that, not me.  I never even mentioned this challenge until about a year ago when it was mentioned to me that “you never nag” and I had to answer the question, “why?”  It had always been something between me and God.)

Well, I guess the good thing is that Louis hasn’t lamented for people 3,000 years later to read “I wish to be in Daniel’s lion cave instead of with this nagging woman!” (At least, he hasn’t said that yet.)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Meet Eloi

August 7, 2017

Meet Eloi

Eloi Malikama is a sweet, friendly girl who was orphaned at a young age.  Among the Swavarians, orphans are usually taken in by relatives, but some are recruited by the Warrior-Spirit schools.  Eloi had a teachable talent – she had already been taught basic healing and understood on a basic level the special connection between the medicines in the world around her and the intricacies of the human body.  This made her a desirable asset for a training school.  She was recruited into Ja’hline.

Eloi doesn’t remember her parents or birth village.  Her memories start in Ja’hline.

She is discovered to have another talent; The Second Sight.  This is an inborn talent, few possess it, but when discovered it can be a powerful tool.  Often Eloi sees things about the people around her and sometimes can interpret what these viewings mean.  Eloi’s viewings warn her there is death about a new student – and she quickly perceives him as someone to stay away from.  His strange manner clashes with the culture of Ja’hline.  But soon she sees his faith and realizes he is not as she perceived; rather he is attempting to conform as best as he knows how.  Eloi becomes his friend.  But the death-about-all-around-him viewing stays.  She now pretends it doesn’t exist.

Eloi is strong-willed and usually practical.  She is fiercely loyal to her friends.  She is trained Klnu’mori, but despises the secrecy of it.  Her tendency to follow emotion rather than reason is balanced by another friend’s analytical logic.  Ryn, trained Klnu’mori as well, constantly reminds her of the one vow she made.  She cannot break her secrecy until one specific question is asked.  She hates this charge because she was told it would cause pain.

Eloi loves passionately.  Her friends are her sisters and brothers.  She protects without consideration for herself.  She gives without thought.  Although she is a Warrior-Spirit, she does not see how her small ability can help her friends in their quest; all of them have greater powers than she.  What she cannot see is that her brilliant love is the tool that can pull one heart from the danger she has always seen.

Sometimes we cannot see how powerful we truly are.

Read more about Eloi in “Web of Deception.”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Who You Are

July 28, 2017

Who You Are

As a teen, I decided never to “change myself” for others.  I watch people.  I watched many relationships in various stages during my teenage years and learned that I didn’t want to present myself as something I wasn’t.  It seemed that those who faked who they were had a hard time in their relationships.  You don’t have to pretend to love everything another person enjoys to “capture” them.  My mom didn’t have to bury herself in computer code to get my Daddy’s attention, she just does the bend and snap.

I analyzed the relationships of those whose love I admired.  They were the couples who had vowed til death do us part and meant it.  They enjoyed each other’s company in simple pleasures, like taking a walk, exploring a park, watching a movie, or eating a meal.  They built their relationship on trust and honesty.  They didn’t always do everything together.  They didn’t always have the same interests.  They did respect each other.  They loved each other.  They did life together.

I didn’t want a “catch” or “conquest.”  I wanted a best friend.  I wanted someone to grow up with, raise a family with, get old together with, and enjoy forever – I wanted someone to do life with.

I like to dress up (Heels, skirts, blouses and dresses) for church, work, and dinner.  I’m competitive.  If you want to play a game with me, I’m going to try to win!  I’m stubborn, so I won’t surrender.  I love to be outside.  If you ask what I want to do, surfing, tennis, bicycling, and swimming top the list.  I love worship.  I love to dance and be childish when I’m happy or feel free.  If I’m watching a sunrise on the beach, I am likely to start singing and twirling.  Bored on a bus or in a ride queue?  I’m probably singing some silly song with whatever child will sing along.  I am myself.  I wasn’t looking to change anyone else, so why would anyone want to change me?

That was my attitude; still is.

Truly it came down to self-worth.  I knew that God loved me so what else mattered?  My self-worth was in how God saw me.  I figured He died for me.  He must think I’m something good.  Out of love for Him, I’m constantly trying to improve myself, but not because He says I’m no good as I am.  (I am also a perfectionist, so yes, I’m always critically looking at myself and trying to self-improve – we tend to be hardest on ourselves.)  I especially want my girls to know that no matter what flaws they see in themselves, they are always loved by God.  (And by family, of course, but we are all human so putting your idea of self-worth in a person isn’t perfect.)

So think of who you are.  How do you see yourself?  Are you seeing yourself as the amazingly beautiful creation that Jesus loved so much He died and rose again so you can have life with Him forever?  You are a beloved child of God.

Today, my sense of self-worth is still in how God sees me.  This has helped me not to expect perfection from anyone except God.  (That seriously helps with all relationships!)

I have my husband, daughters, son, family, and friends to do life with.  We are loving every day of it!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Butterfly Dryer

June 22, 2017

Butterfly Dryer

My Dad calls them “butterflies.”

Little coincidences that God orchestrates just so.

It’s almost like God says “I know you need this, here you go.”  It can be something simple like a kind word or a child’s smile, something amazing like trust, belief, or healing, or something material like as awesome book, a home, a bonus, or a ride.

The latest for me was a dryer.

I do love to hang-dry clothes.  I love being outside, I love the fresh smell the clothes have, and I love having time to meditate (because hanging clothes is something I could do blindfolded).  The only thing I don’t like about it is the time it takes from other things.

Yesterday, I thought I was keeping up on everything; I would clean the house, go out to hang a load of clothes, come back in, and a new tornado had spun through.  We’d clean up again, work on school as the washer did its magic, and I’d gather the younglings and go back out to take off clothes and hang out new ones.  This cycle continued – between answering calls and hanging clothes, it appeared there was time for little else. (Of course, there was cleaning, cooking, and school work also done.)

Lucas bumped his head while I was outside getting the last load (the girls had him inside to escape the mosquitoes) and he spent about 30 minutes screaming “NO ICE!” at the height of his vocal strength while we sang “1, 2, buckle my shoe” to distract him while applying ice; so an hour later, in total frustration over this days’ craziness, I announced I needed a dryer to have more time.  As I was saying this (and running down the hall after Lucas to make sure he didn’t fall in the potty), I missed a call from my Mom.  She wanted to know if we wanted her dryer.  (I hadn’t told anyone else I needed a dryer, but several knew we didn’t have one.)

I laughed as I thought of my silliness.  Call it a coincidence, butterfly, or whatever – actually it felt like a hug from God.  As if He were telling me, “I see your frustration; don’t let a little thing like this bother you, I love you.”

It isn’t really the dryer so much as it was God’s impeccable timing.  He already knew these events would go as they did and knew me well enough to know I would be frustrated at my lack of time management (I sometimes wish for a 30 hour day, but I’d fill that up too).  The perfectly timed phone call was just a reminder that nothing is out of God’s sight.  I need to trust a little more and worry (or be frustrated!) a lot less.  I’m not perfect, but I know who is.  And I get to call him Abba (Daddy, Father).

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Trucks!

May 22, 2017

Trucks!

     Lucas is almost two.  He loves trucks.  He loves food.  While all of the girls had “Dada” as their first word, Lucas heard the air popper and screamed “Pop-pop!” running into the kitchen with his popcorn bowl in hand.

Currently, his newest craze is yelling on the condition of the trucks that pass his window.  At home, it’s just the UPS or Fedex trucks (BIG TRUCK!) and Grandma and Papi’s trucks (PAPI TRUCK!) which enter the yard.

We had a friend riding shotgun.  She says hi, but Lucas pretends he’s shy.  A garbage truck goes by.  A squealing yell erupts from the second row, “BIG TRUCK!”  This is followed by two “PAPI TRUCK!” yells, an ear-shattering “RED TRUCK!” shout and a Publix big rig.  Huge gasp, “BIG, BIG TRUCK!  MAMA BIIIIIG TRUCK!”  Shotgun is laughing hysterically.

This boy can spot a policecar with lights off a mile away.  Those are “Woo Cars!” or “Please Cars” since he can’t clearly say “POLICE.” (This made an officer smile and give him a toy car at the Family Fun Fest – “WOW, PLEASE CAR!”)

Any toy with wheels is “my truck” or “my train” or “my car.”  His daily exercise includes fifteen miles of running behind a wheeled toy sputtering “rrrrrr” or “brrrrRrrrrr.” (If it looks like it should have wheels but doesn’t, he will pretend it has wheels and push it all over the house instead; examples are empty boxes, pillows, toy boxes, baking pans, and chairs.)

Today he discovered two of his wooden trucks in the last of the moving boxes and was cradling them yelling “yeah! My trucks!”  Scattered around him and overflowing his car shaped toy bin are probably two dozen assorted vehicles, but these were missing for almost two months and now demanded all of his attention.

What was lost was now found.  God does that when we come back to Him.  He loves each of us tremendously – He sees us coming from our “far-away” place and runs to us.  Like we are the only person in the world.

Isn’t it neat what images God puts for us to connect to His love?  A little boy with his trucks reminded me of God’s amazing love.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart