Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Health & Beauty

One of the biggest things I had to consider in packing for Seattle was (other than books) clothes. I knew I would be working with homeless women, so I figured it would be inappropriate to take a lot of nice things because homeless people tend to have a lot less. However, in my decision to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work the first few days like I would a mission trip, many of the women commented on how young I look, thinking I was a teenager. Not that looking young is a bad thing, and I'm not too far removed from the teenage years, but I think people tend to have more confidence in older-looking people than young, especially in relation to their own ages. 

At the same time, I began hearing from some of the women about how inspiring it was for them to see the staff dressed nicely. And the women themselves each have their own styles and look darn good too! I think that maybe the freedom to express yourself is one of those things you hold onto when other things in your life are out of control. And being able to look nice in however you define attractive helps you feel good about yourself which brightens the rest of your day sometimes! That's why I tried harder to look good during test days at school, so that by feeling good about myself I was less worried about the daunting exam.

When clothes and style does become a problem though is when it takes up too much of your energy and devotion. I think it was good for me to leave a lot of my clothes behind, and I've decided that if I buy something new I will have to give something up because I just don't need all that stuff! What I've also noticed is that there are many ways to look nice for cheap, and so dressing up does not necessarily mean you're loaded with money. That was something I was worried about too, looking too rich and seemingly unable to relate to the people I work with. 

But as I was thinking about it, and as I saw how great the women at Mary's Place looked, I realized that I rarely spend money on clothes. About 50% of my clothes are hand-me-downs from friends and family, 40% were majorly on sale, and 10% I have someone with me to say "Tara, you never spend money and you really like this, just do it!" You can ask my mom about how many times she threatens to throw things away that I've worn to the last thread, and you can check out my holey shoes that I like too much to throw away! 

So I guess what I'm saying is do not get caught up in yourself and your looks. Don't waste money on clothes and things, especially when others have greater needs than yourself. And also don't forget to be the best you you can be, expressing yourself in whatever colors and shapes and ideas reflect the creative powers you have been given!

Something that I have found useful since coming here is a prayer we do in the church I've been going to (a real-life reconciling Methodist church! -those are hard to come by where I'm from!), which we do during offering:

I pledge, O God, to discover how much is enough for me to be truly fulfilled, neither rich nor poor, and to consume only that. I pledge, O God, to be part of the discovery of how much would be enough for everyone --- not only to survive but to thrive --- and to find ways for them to have access to that. May this offering of restraint and justice teach me to live like Jesus, healing my life and the life of the world. Amen.

I am still prayerfully seeking what this means in relation to clothes, among other things in my life, and I hope to be able to condense as needed and expand where I am called to as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I came across John 12:24-25 this morning, where Jesus talks about the death of a grain of wheat. It has to go down into the ground, disconnected from the plant it was created from, and only there, alone, can it grow into new life. We talked about the life of a seed in one of my biology classes, and my professor said it was like the mother plant gave the baby a jacket (the hard covering) and packed it a lunch (the endosperm), and the rest was up to the Earth to provide.

I started thinking about how far away I was going from Williamsburg, and that not only was I leaving, but my family moved, and so even my hometown was split apart because going to visit them and visiting my home would mean two different things. I had to say goodbye to my town, my friends, my family, and even my side of the US.

Then I realized that two difficult experiences I had trouble forgiving over actually were part of this process as well. I would not be here if I had been dating the guy I had been with last year. I had a really rough time trying to understand that because I felt like he was the most awesome person I had been close to in life, and I thought we had done everything we could before dating to prevent a painful situation like that, and yet we broke up. However, if I was still with him I would have gone to Wake Forest this year to stay close to him, and I wouldn't be here now.

The other hard time was in losing my cat this summer. I thought that at least he would be able to come with me, but even he was not allowed to go.

Although these things are sad and I still deal with the losses, this verse helped me see the outcome of this pattern. God sent me with basics, stirred up my loved ones, and needed me here alone because the new life He has planned for me here in Seattle and beyond could not be started with any of these previous ties. Yes I will keep in contact with my family and friends, but I needed to be removed from everyone for Him to do something amazing in me. That's given me a lot of comfort in this transition.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Just a small-town girl in the city..boii

I am leaving for Seattle, Washington in 10 minutes (!) to be part of this awesome program called Mary's Place as a US-2 missionary. I am totally prepared for all people have told me about the city: I have rainboots and an umbrella for the rain, my camera for the beautiful scenery, and my garlic for the sparkling vampires. Other than that, I have no idea what is instore for me there but I am so excited! 

I feel closer to being an adult, kind of. I am moving away from Williamsburg, where I spent middle school, high school, and college. My parents and brother and dog left for Colorado two weeks ago, and I'm leaving behind my sister and cat who ran away. I've had multiple goodbye parties and lunches, and I got to spend the last week with my adopted family, the Welch's. We had dinner last night at Cracker Barrel, and Momma Welch had old fortune cookies in her purse, and mine said that I was surrounded by true friends, which is the most accurate fortune I have opened.

I have been drained and filled to overflowing with knowledge and love from training in New York, and I am eager to hear about the movement of God in my brothers' and sisters' lives as I encounter Him in a new place and way of life. I haven't lived through so many changes in such a long time, but I'm ready. In the words of Lecrae, "Send Me, I'll Go!"