Swimming under the Stars

It’s the last night of summer. I’m cuddled up in my blanket reading a book when my Dad knocks on the door. “Wanna go for a night swim?” which I promptly reply, “I’ll have to check the temperature first.” (I know, who actually says that? Then again, I am very strange.) Right then my senses kicked in. YES YOU WANT TO GO SWIMMING WITH YOUR DAD UNDER THE STARS. So that’s what I did. I went swimming with my Dad under the stars and boy oh boy, it was an experience I will never forget.

Upon first getting into the pool and feeling a bit uneasy about the temperature being roughly 2 degrees colder than I would have preferred, I quickly realized what I special night this was. A clear sky, my sweet old man, and a quietness that was more comforting than creepy. Life was good.

As I floated in the pool and gazed up at the night sky, something happened in me. A divine intervention, perhaps? I soon became overwhelmed with how big the sky was, or rather, how small I was in comparison to it. This thought blew my mind. The same moon and stars I was looking at were the same moon and stars someone across the world was looking at. Someone who is a stranger. Someone who could be my soulmate. Someone who is rejoicing. Someone who is grieving. A new life, an old life. Hopeful eyes, a breaking heart. All under this same sky – a blanket of darkness with thousands of stars sprinkling throughout.

And then it hit me. That sounds a lot like life, right? It seems everywhere we look there is darkness. Heartbreak, depression, loss. Wars, famine, crimes. If we’re not careful, this darkness can overtake us, overwhelm us, consume us. Make it seem like there is no end to the darkness; no way out. The night sky. But then there are the stars. The moments in life where we feel a glimmer of hope. A light at the end of the tunnel. A few seconds of peace. The stars, though not immediately visible, are always there. But we must search for them. Seek them out in the darkness. No, the stars don’t beg for our attention. They don’t scream for us to look at them even though they know the infinite power they hold. Just like those moments in life. Far and few between sometimes. But once you find one, magic happens. Hope develops. Hearts lighten. Eyes open. If only we stop looking around and start looking up.

Look up. At the sky. At the stars. At the light. At God. He is, after all, the creator of both light and dark. The One who placed the stars in the sky. The author and perfecter of our faith. But when it comes down to it, He himself is the light. The One who illuminates and shines in areas of darkness. The One holding the flashlight, whispering softly, “It’s okay. Follow me. I know the way.” And the way? It’s Him. The only way we can escape the darkness of this world, the overbearing heaviness of this life. In Him, we find safety and rest and joy. We find clarity and renewal and forgiveness. He is the stars, He is the light.

If only, we would look..

UP.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” -John 1:5

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No Longer a Slave

I have no words but too many words at the same time. I am so overcome with emotion that it has left me speechless. There is no way to describe exactly what happened but all I know is Friday night, August 12th 2016, my life changed.

So rewind to a few weeks ago. I was listening to the Christian radio station and they were advertising some concert that I was only half paying attention to. A radio station advertising a concert, nothing special. But for some reason, God urged me to pay closer attention. The concert was for Bethel Music, a group I had recently become obsessed with, and was downtown. I immediately texted my sweet friend Megan and asked her if she wanted to go. She said yes, I ordered the tickets, and that was that.

So flash forward a few weeks. It’s Friday, the day of the concert, and I’m in a less than stellar mood. I’ll spare you the details but tears were definitely falling down as I was driving to the concert. Things got better once I met up with my friend (don’t ya just love people who automatically put you in a good mood?) and we went to the arena. I was expecting to have a good night full of Jesus and music but I was not, definitely was not expecting for my life to change.

I’ve been to a lot of Christian concerts but let me tell you, this was something different. Bethel is a group that is so raw, so authentic, and so refreshing. All of their singers perform with such ease, such gentleness, as if they merely breathe out these angelic melodies. But at the same time, they are powerful. They are strong. They declare the word of God with boldness and fire in their hearts. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Oh and the people! I have to tell you about the people! To be in an arena full of Christ followers is a magical experience. Just looking around and knowing these people are your brothers and sisters in Christ is such a comforting feeling. Without knowing these people, I already felt connected to them. We shared the same God, we believed the same things, and we were there to worship our good good Father. And that’s what we did.

We worshiped. We sang. We cried. We danced. We shouted out praises to our Father. We fell to our knees in prayer. We sang our own melodies, our own hymns, our own cries to the Lord. But we were all connected in Spirit. Without anyone telling me their story, I understood them and they understood me. We were all there and we were all broken. We had different stories and backgrounds and things going on in our lives and yet, we were there together right then. Begging our Father to hear us, to heal us, to restore us. And that’s what He did.

Towards the end of the concert, a guy came on stage and starting talking about addictions. He invited anyone who had an addiction to be bold, be brave, and raise their hand. My hand went up. But listen up, it wasn’t me who raised my hand; it was God. Normally, I’m nervous and self-conscious and scared of what people think of me. But there I was, with my hand up, declaring that yes, I do have a problem. But more importantly, I have a Father who can solve it. A Father who is more than able to heal me. A Father who can set me free from this bondage. My hand was still up.

People I didn’t know laid their hands on me. Strangers were praying for me, praying that the power of this addiction would be broken. The guy onstage was asking God to heal everyone with their hands up, to break them from their bondage. He asked God to lift our addictions off of us and that’s exactly what happened. In that moment, I felt something physically lift off of my body. My fear, my obsessions, my addictions, my pain; they left me. I was free. Thank God, I was free.

Next thing I know, the lady next to me started whispering in my ear. She said that the Holy Spirit was speaking to her about me. She then began to tell me what God was telling her. As she spoke, I cried harder and harder. Everything she was saying was everything I was going through. I was confused how this stranger knew things that were going on in my life that I hadn’t told anyone and that’s when it hit me: it wasn’t that lady speaking, it was God.

Ya know, I’ve never had that happen before. I heard God’s voice through someone here on Earth. And I know it was God because this lady could not have possibly known the details she was revealing to me. It still blows my mind. She (or rather God) gave me hope, gave me reassurance of His plan, and comforted me that everything was going to be okay. That I just needed to wait. I don’t want to share the exact details of what this lady said because it was such a special moment that I just want to leave it between me and God. Some things are just so sacred and personal. But God knows, I know, and I’ll leave it at that.

The next song was the last song. Not by coincidence, it was called “No Longer Slaves”. It couldn’t have been a more perfect song to declare what had just happened. I was no longer a slave. I cried and sang and shouted. I had chills all over my body, yet a warm feeling inside of me. The Holy Spirit. He was there. He was in me and He was in that arena. I felt thankful and alive and restored and overjoyed. But mostly, I felt free. Finally free.

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Take Care of Yourself

Today was just one of those days. As soon as I woke up, I could tell something wasn’t right. I felt uneasy and unsettled, like at any second I was going to burst into tears. Why? I couldn’t tell ya. My depression randomly hits me without warning but very quickly takes over me. I get really low really fast and I could feel myself heading in that direction today. Over and over, I kept hearing one of my old therapist’s voice in my head: “What are you going to do to take care of yourself today?” I’m not kidding you: that question was like in echo in my mind all day long until I finally addressed it and asked myself, what AM I going to do? I have two options: sit here and feel crummy or try to turn my day around. And let me tell ya, everything in me wanted to choose option one. I wanted to put on some dark clothes and sit in a dark room and listen to dark music and read a dark book. I wanted to match my mood. But you see, I’ve done that method over and over for years now and here’s the thing: IT DOESN’T WORK. Yeah, it’s somewhat comforting to listen to sad songs and read depressing poetry and feel like you’re not the only one feeling this way. But in the end, it doesn’t bring you out of your darkness. In fact, it brings you deeper into it. And that’s a hard truth I have come to realize. So, even though everything in my head was telling me to isolate and drown in my sadness, I chose option two. I chose to take care of myself. I listened to my body and what it needed. I did things that made me happy. I worked out, did yoga, took a long shower, and put on peppermint lotion. I listened to happy music and forced myself to hang out with a friend even though I didn’t really want to (no offense victoria, you know I love you). I listened to sermons and spent time in my bible and flooded myself with the Truth. Little by little, my mood started to shift. Nothing drastic but it didn’t get worse. And when you’re feeling that low, that’s the goal. No, I’m not dancing in the clouds and pooping butterflies and feeling on top of the world right now but I’m also not in the dark place I was this morning. I’m not having scary thoughts, I’m not stuck in my head, and I’m not feeling numb anymore. Progress! But here’s my point in telling you all of this: you need to take care of yourself. You need to act the way you want to feel. (Side note: I first heard of this concept in a book called The Happiness Project which I highly recommend!) Let me put it this way, if one of your friends was really upset, what would you do? Try to make them feel better, I hope :’) But come on, you would try your best to cheer them up! You would bake them cookies or watch their favorite movie with them or surprise them with coffee. So why don’t we do the same things for ourselves when we’re feeling down? Bake yourself some freakin cookies! Watch your favorite movie! Surprise yourself with coffee! Treat yourself like you would a friend. Don’t ignore your problems and try to distract yourself from them, but rather approach them with gentleness and love. Give yourself what you need. Take care of yourself. Let yourself heal. Trust me, you deserve it ❤

“Be softer with you. You are a breathing thing. A memory to someone. A home to a life.” -Nayirrah Waheed

XOXO Tate

I’m Having a Moment!

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Guys!!! I’m having one of those moments. Ya know, those moments? The “wow I’m truly happy right now and I am so blessed and all is right in the world and my heart is full of joy” moments. Yep, that’s me right now. I don’t even know why this is hitting me so hard but for some reason, it is. I’ve just spent 5 (okay 45) minutes standing in my backyard and obsessing over the sky. A STORM IS COMING PEOPLE A STORM IS COMING!!! Or so I think. And what’s even better…big moment coming up…it feels COOL out! Yes, you heard me. For those of you who don’t live in Arizona, “cool” and “august” are two words that never ever go together. I actually don’t think it has ever happened before which is maybe why this moment is so cooool! Haha get it? My stupid play on words is something I really need to work on BUT ANYHOO. This moment. I am in it and I am happy. I feel full and content and extremely thankful. Here I am, just a little girl in Phoenix, looking up at this great big sky. This great big sky that the Creator of the universe has painted for us today. Good one, God! Good one! And in this moment I feel both big and small. I feel powerful and fearless, like I can conquer the world. But I also feel itty bitty. My problems that seemed sooo big just a few hours ago now seem strangely little. Stupid, even? IT’S ALL HITTING ME. All the feels, all the insight, all the wisdom from God. Perspective, man. It changes things. When we keep our eyes on the big things in life, our problems seem to shrink in comparison. The big things like the sky or perhaps, God? Everything turns into a God moment with me but think about it!! How small am I compared to the sky? A stupid question, I know. You would think I would be even smaller to God but (plot twist) I’m not! Yes, my problems and troubles right now seem annoyingly insignificant, BUT I am not annoyingly insignificant to God. He cares about me and therefore, He cares about my problems. But sometimes, He uses moments like these to nudge (slap me in the face) about what’s really important in life. I can imagine him saying “Oh Tatum, my sweet daughter Tatum. Look at the sky. Look at how beautiful it is. Look at how beautiful you are. Keep your eyes on the big picture. Keep your eyes on Me, my daughter. Keep your eyes on me.” Oh man, I just love moments like these! Moments of clarity and moments of joy and moments of hearing God’s voice. Who knew a cloudy day would bring so much insight?  All I can say is thank you Lord. Thank you for your grace and thank you for slapping me in the face when I need it and thank you for still loving me after you have slapped me 12 times and I still don’t get the point. Oh, and thank you for the sky!

Okay stop reading this and go look at the clouds people!!!
Love youuuu,

Tate