Today, Taryn speaks to us about writers that have inspired her journey, resiliency in illness and what she finds when she seeks Him.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: My Irish grandma was the first on my dad’s side of the family to follow Christ. Her neighbor shared the truth with her when she was exhausted and tearful from working 44 jobs over the years to barely make ends meet (no exaggeration)! She received the rest and easy yoke of Jesus and passed that torch of faith to my dad.
My mum believed on Jesus and was saved in her early twenties after she heard the gospel on TV from a televangelist. I’m incredibly grateful to have been raised in a Christian home in beautiful Canada, where we spent many magical days playing make-believe in the woods and pretending to like the jam we made from foraged berries.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: The meek and quiet spirit that is precious in the sight of the Lord. (Along with her faith, I also inherited by Buba’s Irish temper.)
Profession: I was a high school English and Art teacher before staying home to raise my boys and support my husband. Occasionally, I do work in floristry and photography.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Dear God: HELP!
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I remember marveling at the power of prayer in action from the age of eight when my dad told me to pray for the impossible and I began to see God “part seas” in all kinds of situations. He taught me that God cares about the little things because He loves us, and to not too be shy to ask Him.
Another solidifying moment of my faith was when I was in Namibia. As we washed an old man’s feet and dressed his wounds, my youth pastor began to pray in the man’s native language, which was Bushman of all things. It’s a clickety-clackety tongue tribal language. None of us could even begin to emulate it, although we tried with the village kids, to their gleeful shrieking. He prayed with perfect fluency in the Holy Spirit as the man softly cried and nodded in grateful understanding. I was forever moved by God’s power and compassion and asked God for the gifts of the spirit too.
How would you describe Jesus? I am fully convinced that Jesus is hilarious. Like His Father, He is gentle, strong and His presence is total peace. He’s also a culturally subversive rebel, as we see throughout the New Testament. One characteristic of Jesus that I’ve come to appreciate through communing with Him is how joyful He is.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? Jesus is always bringing new life into my mind and heart. I used to have a lot of fears and a need to prove myself. But I don’t care what other people think of me like I used to. I don’t need or desire the things of this world that used to capture my drive and attention because my longing and total joy is in Him – the only thing that can never be taken from me (not even death!)
When I seek His face through trials, I find the resilience of the cross that picks me up and carries me forward with hope. An intimate relationship with Jesus freed me from many heavy burdens – burdens that I didn’t even know I was carrying. He has even used illness to reveal and heal darkness in my heart and bring in his light. The personal counsel of the Holy Spirit is a privilege that I can hardly believe I’ve been given. I mean, the privilege of prayer alone – to speak with Almighty God – what LOVE is this?! I can hardly fathom it.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? I daily live through the pain of chronic illness and its ravages. I have Bartonella-Lyme disease and Epstein Barr Virus. The stress of living with this has triggered other autoimmune diseases over the course of a perplexing, and frustrating 15-year medical journey. Likely due to a genetically inherited malfunction of the pituitary gland, my body doesn’t recover from illness the way that others’ can.
I post a lot of pretty things on my blog and social media as an artistic outlet. The raw truth behind the scenes is that the accumulation of all this and its effects are excruciating. Many days are spent in simply dysphoric survival, praying that God will help me to see his redemption through it all. A lot of my photography and poetry comes from a place of pain, despair, and the delivering joy of redemption. God gives some of his kids tough apprenticeships! Amen?
When I am flat out debilitated or in anguish, Jesus is there, reminding me through his presence and his written promises that He is worthy of it all — and that his grace is sufficient for me and my family. My point of weakness and defeat has been the entry point for his strength, truth and grace to flourish in my spirit. It never ceases to amaze me how he uses all things for good.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I love reading the Puritans. A.W. Tozer, Oswald Chambers, and Charles Spurgeon have opened my eyes to all of the un-grasped for treasure that there is to be found in a relationship with God, who is ready and eager to give it away. Media-fasting and other types of fasting have also been ways that God has grown me.
Tozer’s Pursuit of God:
A lot of these amazing old sermons can be found on this channel.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves and Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund! I’ve learned so much about the tender love and personality of God in these pages. They have ignited my desire for the Lord in new ways.
Top three essentials: Laughing, eating whole foods, and fresh cut flowers in the house. My husband also likes to shove our karaoke mic in my face when I’m down because he knows I can sing my way free or at least laugh at his living room performances. God’s tender mercies come in many packages, haha.
How did God speak to you recently? God has been peeling away my tendency to fret about my limitations. My over-thinking and my need for understanding to fix what is wrong enslaved me for a long time. He’s been bringing peace to these areas by telling me to just receive. Chronic illness means looking around at all the things I think I need to do and feeling frustrated that I don’t have the capability to do it all. God is always reminding me that he made me to simply receive Him and His blessings as a gift of rest, not burdens. I don’t need to earn them. I can’t anyway. It’s freeing to know he has everything taken care of, isn’t it? He made us to show us the riches of His grace. Why do we worry so much?
Hobby: Gardening, photography, writing, poetry.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Listening patiently in prayer, spending time in nature marveling at God’s creation, and good posture. Sitting and walking upright like a redeemed woman, regardless of my feelings, has been a powerful weapon. It’s a way of wordlessly preaching the gospel to myself throughout the day and in the dark valley. I believe that we also witness to the world simply through the way that we carry ourselves. Our posture should embody the truth: God is good! Jesus redeems! I’m no longer a slave! Posture is powerful. Don’t underestimate it.
“Posture is powerful. Don’t underestimate it.”
Favorite person in scripture? Peter. He’s passionate, impulsive and kinda crazy like me and I love him.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? Tenacious joy is possible through Christ in the messiest, painful places. Grace and grit are two sides of the same coin.
“Tenacious joy is possible through Christ in the messiest, painful places.”
How do you engage with your community? We have neighbors over to our home as much as possible. It’s usually a scruffy affair, because that’s real life and relationships can’t wait until everything is perfect. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” This has proved to be true, even on painful days when I feel like hibernating. I love to cook, but if it’s cans of chili for dinner, so be it. At least I’ll make you laugh.
Favorite holiday? Christmas, because it’s the one day of the year that people who don’t know Christ are willing to come and learn about the miracle of God’s love for them.
A goal you have? It vacillates between eat more cheese and eat less cheese.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: I’m not great with traditions. But recently we began building a Jesse tree out of washi tape on a wall at Christmas as a way of celebrating with our kids that we are grafted into God’s family through faith in Jesus.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Where my peeps at?! I can’t wait to meet all the saints – from David the Psalmist to Johnny Cash to Madam Guyon — so we can laugh with Jesus about what a crazy adventure He took us on.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: If oIf our bodies are affected by the fall, our neurology can also be affected. Thank God that, for those who have mental afflictions, our brains are different from our minds. Jesus lifts shame off his children. Praise God that we can obtain the perfect mind of Christ, regardless of our struggle! (1 Cor 2:16) A “mentally ill” person with a Bible who loves Jesus has a better grasp on reality than any “sane” lover of the world, because they lean harder on the Truth than most people and come to understand sooner that the insights we all pride ourselves in are flawed anyway. Wisdom lands on a humble spirit. No exceptions.
What does your morning routine consist of? I often wake up in a lot of pain. So, I listen to worship music while I unravel myself into the bustle of motherhood. I don’t think that it’s insincere to praise God through gritted teeth. God waits to hear our praise. And, it’s a way of untethering the effects of my broken body from my spirit. I notice that when I don’t practice thanksgiving, I can stay in a funk (and my family bears the brunt of it). God will not always immediately deliver us from our circumstances, but He will deliver our spirit and soul – every single time we seek Him. He’s faithful.
What is on your nightstand? My journal and funny little drawings or notes that my boys leave for me.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Follow Jesus and you will want for nothing!
For more Taryn:
Until next time, keep witnessing!