Happy Birthday to my first-born.
May 9, 1979 was such a special day, I could not have comprehended it at the time. There was no way for me to know at exactly 7:16 p.m. when you made your first appearance, how my life was about to change, how God was going to make Himself so real, His love so apparent, my life so blessed by your coming. I didn’t realize at the time that you were going to be a river of “liquid joy” that would wash over my heart and gift me and cause me to flourish in a way I’d never had the opportunity to before.
Liquid joy. That was a name Lisa Bierer gave you when you were about 12 or 13. It summed you up beautifully. From the time you arrived, I’d never seen such unabashed happiness and innate joy in a human being.
I was serious and sarcastic. I was un-trusting and wounded. You slid down the very rays of the sun into my house and life and arms and coaxed the hope in my heart to grow and believe life could be different. You refused to leave me in my hidden guilt-driven, shame-based stupor, but even as a toddler, pulled me into the merry-go-round that is life. You lived your whole life (almost) as a joyfully obedient girl, a big Jesus-lover, full of compassion and mercy for everyone around you.
Us. Est. 1979
You grew and you blessed us all. First, there was just me and you. Then dad came along and we were a family. Because I was so young and naive and really stupid about being a mom, you, naturally as the first born, had to help teach me what it was all about. For all the siblings who followed, you stood in the gap and represented them, watched over them and defended them.
The giggles and laughter and make-believe and street ball-games and bike races and tether-ball matches that never ended and babysitting businesses and new neighbors as friends and pretend weddings and dress-up and bread sticks from mixes and first boyfriends and ska and singing competitions and basketball and volleyball teams and Five Iron Frenzy and funny fashions and crazy hair and piercings and innocence and sweetness and exuberance and passion – these are all things Stephanie and Tredessa and Rocky and Stormie have to thank you for. I adore you for them all.
When you were 14, I was going through some heartbreak. You were praying for me and came to me with a song to listen to and you carefully gave me a word of encouragement, a word of rebuke, too, really, but with utmost caution. I listened and as I stood doing the dishes, listening to the song and thinking about what you’d just told me, I was strongly aware that God Himself had sent you and I trembled inside from both the discipline of it and the awe that my little Tara was so sensitive to the things of God.
Hope seemed lost for a time. There were those days when the enemy of your soul set out to rip you away from God’s plan for your life. It was a time of grave danger to your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit, and even your physical being. You’d been away from home for quite awhile, but had returned for a couple of months and when you were leaving again, the enemy tried to tell me I was losing you (to this poor choice/direction you were taking) for good. That morning before you left the house (and you saw the hot, stinging tears shoot from my eyes as I plead with you not to go), I wrote this in a notebook:
8.4.02 It’s the morning of the day Tara is moving out, disentangling herself of the strong emotional ties we have – trying to make her own way, trying to shine to us, not realizing that I have already seen her light so bright – spots dance before my eyes. Already the house seems empty. Already a void grows. I have to trust God that my sorrows over what could’ve been – the seeming loss of all hope will give way to what He knows can be greater- and that in all things He is at work, making a way and that His love will not let her go.
And it didn’t. His love didn’t let you go and when things seemed the most hopeless – God was about to turn it all around. Those days were hard, my love, but I am so thankful that I learned to pray during that time. I learned to battle for what was God’s and I grew in faith. I will ever cherish what was accomplished for God’s glory and for you!
You are an incredible mother to Hunter. I love how you love your husband, Dave. I am inspired by and admire your work for the kingdom of God. I am so pleased with you, honey. Your mommy is so pleased with you! God gave you to me (what a gift). I gave you back to Him. And look at what He is doing!
Happy Birthday, Tara…Love, mom
NOTE TO SELF: I was so honored to have Tara with me last night at the Chapel Hill MOPS group! Give her an extra hug for that!(photos: Tara and I when she was 2 and Tara with her husband, Dave, and son Hunter – who is 2!)