Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seeing Jesus in the least of these

Strange gurgling noises caused me to look up in surprise. I had to see who in the world was sitting down in the chair across from me. I didn’t stare, but I couldn’t help stop the queasy feeling that flew over me. Before me was the stunted figure of a grizzled man. His face was oddly proportioned with large vacant eyes. The weird gasping, gurgling noises from his throat increased as he struggled to lift his stiff body into a chair much too tall for his compressed stature. I immediately turned back to my notebook — guilt overcoming me — though the uneasy fear made me focus harder on the nearly blank page in front of me.

When the medical assistant cheerfully called for “Richard”, the deformed man slid out of the chair, clutched his giant walker, and wobbled to the back, his personal care assistant following close behind. The gurgling noises faded with him into the hallway. I was relieved. Face it: he was different. I was…scared.

Keep reading...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The greatest lesson I've learned

Yesterday morning I grabbed a little journal off my book shelf, intending to find my life goals at age 13. I’ve forgotten why now.

What started as a quick search for a scribbled list turned into a long perusal of the heart of a young, growing preteen. From disjointed paragraphs in 2005 to sparse entries in 2010, I read about the confusion and blushes of early infatuations, the anger at those who hurt me deeply, the excitements of discovering a new genre of music, the lies I once believed about myself. I laughed at several of my childish rants, and shook my head at my immaturity and naivety in other entries.

When I came to some blank pages toward the end of the journal, I decided to write one more entry. I have learned numerous lessons since I began journaling, but there was one prominent lesson I had to address. The greatest lesson. And, since I don’t think I’m the only one learning this, I decided to share with you what I wrote:

February 24th, 2014

Wow.

Talk about an interesting read. Since 2005, this gal has been on an incredible journey. (Ugh, this journal is difficult to write in — and it makes my writing look pathetic. ) Rather embarrassing at times, colored with dreams and expectations, and mellowed by trials and heartaches, but overall, this journal is another record of God’s gracious and persistent work in my life — for His glory!

I see ways I have matured greatly since April 11th, 2005 — writing and style and is just one example — but I also notice besetting sins my heart easily falls into..."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Announcing: A new website has been born



A momentous thing has occurred in the internet: a new website has been born.

But really, what is a website? Some code, some images, some words, that’s all — birthed from an abstract idea, crafted into a concrete form, and intended for a purpose, a vision, a passion.

There are thousands, if not millions, of websites clamoring for your attention when you open your browser of choice. There are emails to check, friends’ blogs to read, world news to catch up on, music to listen to, and don’t forget “that thing” you’ve been meaning to search…which subsequently leads you to a nearly endless amount of sites to visit.

So, why would you want to read this blog? Maybe because I’m another one of your friends who blogs occasionally. Maybe because the name is intriguing, or the design appeals to you. Maybe you’re curious, maybe you’re bored — who knows?

Besides, you’re a busy person, and I’m a busy person, so why do I bother to write and ask for a few minutes of your already full day (and devote my own time to write)?

It’s simple. I believe we are missing our calling.

Read the rest on ArisetotheCall.com...

Monday, February 11, 2013

One Word 2013: Grace

Grace 2013

How’s 2013 going for you thus far? I believe I can safely say that 2013 is bound to be filled with the greatest change and growth for me yet in all my twenty (rapidly approaching twenty-one) years. And falling off the ottoman in the last moments of 2012 has nothing to do with it.

Or, maybe it does.

It was during Leesha’s “End of the Year Report” – what a wonderful report she had – yes, the final minutes of the glorious year 2012, and I had to re-position the ottoman I was sitting on. The red room, the cozy fireplace, and my family surrounding me began to disappear in slow motion as the ottoman dramatically began to tip. The thought plodded (as I related, it was all in slow motion) through my mind, “Oh. I’m falling over. And I can’t stop it.” BAM went the ottoman and KER-SLAM went me. My back responded in whimpers of pain as my family burst out laughing. (I admit, it must have been a hilarious sight.) I – slightly humiliated - picked up the fallen ottoman, wondering what exactly happened, and resumed my perch on the suddenly untrustworthy piece of furniture.

Okay. What does that have to do with 2013?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Honest Admission...

“I don’t know if God even wants me to do this anymore.”

The tears rolled down my face as I cried pathetically on the couch. Mom sat nearby and Dad was seated in the rocking chair across the way, both listening to me unload the heavy weight which had been burdening my heart. I was confused. I was upset at myself. I felt pressured. I was discouraged.

The website I had begun at age 14 was in shambles and sadly neglected. I had been desiring to redesign it, to relaunch it with fresh vision, but there it sat for several years. Good friends would give gentle, yet persistent reminders, “Hey, how’s Godly Girlhood coming?” People would come up to our CD table and grab my business card, while I would sheepishly explain that it was still in the works. And every once in a while I’d visit the site and say, “Oh, I should do something!”

But the “something” I kept striving for wasn't really what it was meant to be. God’s plans have been different from mine.

Read more...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Milk Chocolate Love or Nursing Home Love?

"So, do you have any big plans for tomorrow?"

Mom and I looked at each other.  What was tomorrow?  Oh.  Valentine's Day.  We turned back to the banker.  "No, not really."

The older I get, the more prone I am to forget this holiday.  Years ago you would have found me making Valentines for all the kids in my kindergarten class (at least my "friends" - definitely not Joshua the bully!).  Then several years later, I'd be handing out Valentines to the kids in my homeschool co-op class (and especially treasuring that one I received from that certain boy).  Then came the Valentine's Day when everyone was sick with influenza except Mom, Dad, and I, and I learned much about sacrificial love!

Three years ago?  Wishing for a rose someday.  Two years ago?  Feeling a little left out.  Last year?  Too busy with a concert to really care.

And then, this year:  I've almost forgot.

We saw a sign yesterday which stated boldly, "Roses + chocolate = love."  Hmm...perhaps that's the reason I could really care less about this holiday and why I'm tempted to kiss Valentine's Day goodbye once and for all.  Love.

Well, not true love.  It's the milk chocolate love I'm talking about.  The love which comes stuffed among a bouquet of flowers.  The love scrawled underneath a cheesy Valentine.  The sweet-heart candy love.  It's so cliche.  It's so...fluffy.

Okay.  I should admit, I wouldn't mind a bit of fluffy love someday from that special someone.  Really.  But, that's not true love.

True love is the nitty-gritty side of marriage, of families, of friendships.  True love is the something that will hold you through the battle.  True love goes much, much deeper than "I love you."

This Sunday as our family was leaving church, my brother stopped to ask an elderly lady how she was doing.  Her husband was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, among all his other numerous health problems.  It's been a difficult ride for her and her family.  Her response to Ben's question was, "I'm sticking in there."

That's true love.  Sticking in there.

Take Harold for example, the ninety-something year old man who attends our church.  His wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago and fears him at times, and then has bursts of anger sometimes when he visits her.  Same thing with Bruce...except his wife doesn't even know him anymore.

Both are sticking in there.  That's true love.

I don't think flowers are really going to demonstrate how much these people love their spouses.  Their presence, their concern, their prayers, their dedicated daily care...these might somewhat reveal how deep their love goes.  

So, do you love like that?  Or is your love a milk chocolate love?

You may not be married (unlike the people above, and very much like me), but you probably have family.  Dad.  Mom.  Siblings.  Is your love toward them a milk chocolate love, or is it a nursing home love?  Is it going to stick in there when the going gets tough, or will it just melt away?  How about toward your friends?

True love is sacrificial.  True love is forgiving.  True love is faithful.

And you know what, to me, true love looks like a Savior dying, bloodied, broken, and bruised, stretched across a tree.  True love looks like a Redeemer stepping out of His grave clothes and proclaiming victory over death, sin, and the devil.  True love looks like a book covered with blood, blotting out the records of times I haven't had true love.


That's true love.

Though I'm tempted to altogether kiss Valentine's Day goodbye, I'm choosing to really consider my love, to evaluate what kind of love it is - fluffy milk chocolate love, or sacrificial nursing home love?  Is my love as shallow as the world's, or it's like my Lord's?

"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
(1 John 4:10-11 ESV)  

Happy Valentine's Day.

In HIS Love,
Taylor

P.S. You may have noticed the lack of posts here; I have too!  :)  I have been concentrating on re-building Godly Girlhood and writing series for the new site.  If you'd like to follow the progress, head on over to www.GodlyGirlhood.org.  I will be putting a more concentrated effort on Godly Girlhood than Surrendering My All, so if the frequency of posting decreases here, don't worry, but head on over to GG.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Would You Still Be Thankful?

I sent this Thanksgiving message to my friends via email, and thought I'd share it here as well (just in case I forgot anyone!).


Hello Friends,

"I am thankful for..."

Ah, the phrase we often hear around this time of year.  We count our blessings, number off the things we are grateful for, and then celebrate over a feast of turkey and pumpkin pie.  A generic list of blessings usually includes: family, friends, home, health, possessions, food, etc., and oftentimes, the "I'm thankful for" line turns into a cliche and is reduced to nothing more than holiday tradition.  

But, I will ask, for the sake of asking, "What are you thankful for?"  Take a moment, pause, consider what you are truly thankful for - the most precious treasures in your life.  Have them in mind?  Okay, good.

Now let me ask: 

What if they were gone next Thanksgiving?

Perhaps, like me, the greatest blessing on your list is your family.  The thought of my family - any member of my family - being absent next Thanksgiving is almost unbearable.  How deeply would I miss my sweet siblings, my wonderful parents, and the precious times we have together.  What would I do without them?  

Could I still be thankful?

Another large item on my own list is health.  Despite a few allergies and the occasional cold, I must admit I have been blessed with good health.  What if next Thanksgiving finds me in a hospital bed, struggling to battle a precarious disease?  What if I were given a few months to live?  What if I am inflicted with continuous, excruciating pain from some illness?

Could I still be thankful? 
   
Shelter and security.  Huge item.  How I take for granted a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, the confidence of a house to "come home" to after long trips.  What if a year from now I am without a home, without a safe place to sleep, or even without some sort of shelter of protection from the elements? 

Could I still be thankful?

How about freedom?  Imagine with me next year not being able to worship inside a church building, being banned from fellowship with other believers, not allowed to homeschool or be a traditional family.  What if I'd be imprisoned for my "radical" beliefs, stripped of the religious freedom I hold so dear?  

Could I still be thankful?

The list can be extended with further blessings: food, technology, music, etc. etc., and still the question remains: Could I still be thankful?

If everything was taken away from you, could you still find reason to be grateful?  It is easy to be thankful when all your needs and comforts are fulfilled, but much harder to say "I'm thankful" when challenged by extreme trials.  Oftentimes the definition of "Blessed by God" is dependent on our comfort level, rather than our contentedness.

So this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to examine yourself: Are you really grateful?  Are you really content or are you comfortable?  If next Thanksgiving found you without the blessings you listed this year, could you still praise God and say, "Yes, Lord, I am truly grateful for Who You are and what You've done, and the blessings You have given me"?  It's something we all must consider.


"...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11b-13)
"...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5:20)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In His Love,
Taylor Garms

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vote for the New GodlyGirlhood.org!

Finally! With the help and opinions of my best friends (Ben and Leesha, naturally) I have narrowed GodlyGirlhood.org's website design to two choices. Except now, I don't know which one I prefer! :) Okay folkies, it's your turn to share your thoughts!


Share this with your friends; the more input the better! Also, don't forget to follow GodlyGirlhood.org!

Someday I'll have to do a post with all the designs which never made it...

Lacheln!
Taylor

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tying Shoes

"Can someone help me?"

"What?"

"Can you tie my shoes?"

"Sure."


The little voice rose from the entryway, and I had to go: there were not many more opportunities like this left. Seven-year old Caleb is growing up fast, and as he was telling me as I helped him tie his shoes, Dad was teaching him on to do it on his own.

As I double-knotted the little tennis shoe, I looked up into his darling blue eyes. "You know what?" I said. "What?" he replied, a small smile enlarging on his smooth face, his dancing eyes twinkling. "When you're big and old, and perhaps with a big Southern Gospel group someday," I began mischievously, "I'll come to one of your concerts and tell people, 'That's my little brother. I helped him tie his shoes.'" He grinned his broad 'Caleb' smile. "Mom and Dad would be really old by then!" he said, hunching over to demonstrate their way-future age.

I then began a walk down memory lane with him. "Yep, I used to help tie your shoes, help change your diaper, help feed you baby food. I was there when you started to crawl, when you started to walk. Ben was the first person to make you laugh." Caleb laughed as I told him stories of his babyhood and the times when Mom asked me to help out with him.

"Oh yes, and I used to put you to bed sometimes," I said with a hint of annoyance in my voice. "Did I make you tell lots of stories?" inquired Caleb, scrunching up his darling face. "No, we used to sing, and SING! You wanted to sing all the Cathedral songs. Your favorite was 'Roll Away Troubled River', and you would make me sing that over and over again. Your favorite part of the song was when George [Younce] would go down a scale like 'Rol-ol-ol-ol-ol away'. And you would sing along in your baby voice. I would leave you, and then pretty soon I'd hear you call for me to sing some more. And then I'd hear you singing to yourself after I finally said 'No more'."

Caleb looked down at me from the bench in the entryway, his little stocky legs swinging over the edge. "I'd ask you when I'd change your diaper, 'Who are your favorite Cathedrals?' And you'd say, 'Scott [Fowler], and George [Younce], and Glen [Payne], and Ernie [Haase], and Roger [Bennett].'" You wanted to be a bass singer even when you were little [two-years old], and you wanted to be like Scott and George." He laughed. (Ah, even now I can hear his little lisp!)

To some questions of his, there were no certain answers: "When was the first time I ate popcorn?" "Boy, I don't remember, Caleb!" :)

We sat there, brother and sister, in the foyer, just talking for perhaps 15 minutes. As he finally went out the door, I said, "Have fun outside!" He turned back in the doorway, and grinned his Caleb grin. "Okay! I will! And you have fun inside!" We both laughed, and I watched my little brother charge onto the deck, filled with youthful ambition and all the joys of childhood.

If I had said I was too busy to help him tie his shoes, I would have missed that beautiful time of investing and sharing in this precious life.

"Lord, help me treasure these times while I can."

Several months ago, during my nightly journal-wrting session, a song idea came into my head about celebrating younger siblings. It's been sitting in my desk for a while...along with so many other of my song ideas! While the word flow is still very rough and the music sketchy, I thought I'd share it anyway, as it fits so well with this post.
Vs. 1
He runs in the yard and falls in the dirt,
Getting mud all over his shirt.
He picks dandelions and asks to play ball;
Will he always be this small?
Then I think how fast it will go -
Watching the little boy grow -
I learn to be patient, I learn to be kind,
And suddenly I don't mind...


Chorus:
Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.


Vs. 2
Our time here together will go all too fast
Soon these moments will pass.
I look o'er the faults and see all the smiles,
Counting them off with the miles.
There is no one I care for more -
Of this you can be sure -
So, God, help me to show it to him today
Before time slips through my hand...


Chorus:
Treasure all these things in your heart,
Hold them tight in your hand;
The little boy will soon be a man;
Treasure it while you can.


Tag:
Treasure it while you can.

("Treasure" - Copyright February 24th, 2011 Words and Music by Taylor Garms)
How can you "treasure" your siblings and family today?

Lacheln!
Taylor

[This post was first composed in April, and shortly after the completion of this post, my dear Caleb successfully tied his own shoes. What a bittersweet moment!]

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Purity Pact

At 13 years of age, I made the decision to keep myself pure for my future husband and I chose not to date. Throughout the years, I have made boundaries for myself and have verbally told people my standards, but I recently realized I have never written precisely what they were. I did this exercise in my journal to set in stone my purity pact, and to make sure I have my commitments written down. I'm sharing them with you as inspiration if you have never set boundaries for yourself, or have never made a commitment to purity.

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September 21st, 2011

TAYLOR'S PURITY PACT
  • I am committed to courtship, and refuse to date.
  • I will not have solitary phone conversations with young men.
  • I will not be in a room alone with another man.
  • I will keep physical contact with young men (and guys in general) to a minimum: handshakes and "quick" hugs are acceptable, "long hugs", holding hands, patting back/arm, etc. are not allowable.
  • If I feel intimidated or am made uncomfortable by any guy (young or old), I will seek help, protection, and safety from my older brother, father, or another safe person.
  • Emails to young men are done through the family's email account for accountability purposes and generally will have an editor - unless it is a quick correspondence. My parents have access to all my email accounts, and business emails with men are focused on business.
  • I will not have in-depth personal conversations with young men.
  • No snail mail correspondence with any guy.
  • I will not ride alone in a vehicle with a young man, and generally not with any guy, unless out of great necessity.
  • As for me, I will avoid and shun flirtatious behavior. This behavior is appalling to me and definitely "unattractive".
Is it okay to be friends with young men? Yes, I believe it is all right to have brother/sister-in-the-Lord relationships. But there must be boundaries to keep the friendship pure and safe. It is so easy to go a step further than originally intended, so it is very important to have accountability (preferably through parents and siblings).

May I always treat young men as brothers - unless they are of such character so as to be avoided. From the times I have overstepped my boundaries, I move on with a freshly determined outlook, resolving not to compromise.

SIGNED:
Taylor K. Garms
September 21st, 2011
"Keep yourself pure..." 1st Timothy 5:22b

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What boundaries have you established for yourself? I urge you to deeply consider and pray about your own "purity pact"!

Lacheln!
Taylor