Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Christmas Guest

The Christmas Guest
by: Helen Steiner Rice

It happened one day near December’s end
Two neighbors called on an old-time friend
And they found his shop so meager and mean
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green
And Conrad was sitting with face ashine
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched a twine
And he said, “Old friends, at dawn today
When the cock was crowing the night away
The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, ‘I am coming your guest to be.’
So I’ve been busy with feet astir
Strewing my shop with branches of fir
The table is spread and the kettle is shined
And over the rafters the holly is twined
And now I will wait for my Lord to appear
And listen closely so I will hear
His step as He nears my humble place
And I open the door and look on His face.”

So his friends went home and left Conrad alone
For this was the happiest day he had known
For long since his family had passed away
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest
This Christmas would be the dearest and best
So he listened with only joy in his heart
And with every sound he would rise with a start
And look for the Lord to be at his door
Like the vision he had a few hours before
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound
But all that he could see on the snow-covered ground
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn
And all of his clothes were ragged and worn
But Conrad was touched and went to the door
And he said, “Your feet must be frozen and sore
I have some shoes in my shop for you
And a coat that will keep you warmer too.”

So with grateful heart the man went away
But Conrad noticed the time of day
He wondered what made the Lord so late
And how much longer he’d have to wait
When he heard a knock and ran to the door
But it was only a stranger once more
A bent old lady with a shawl of black
With a bundle of kindling piled on her back
She asked for only a place to rest
But that was reserved for Conrad’s Great Guest
But her voice seemed to plead, “Don’t send me away
Let me rest for awhile on Christmas Day.”
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup
But after she left he was filled with dismay
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
And the Lord had not come as He said He would
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood

When out of the stillness he heard a cry
“Please help me and tell me where am I?”
So again he opened his friendly door
And stood disappointed as twice before
It was only a child who had wandered away
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day
Again Conrad’s heart was heavy and sad
But he knew he should make the little girl glad
So he called her in and wiped her tears
And quieted all her childish fears
Then he led her back to her home once more
But as he entered his own darkened door
He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas has passed away
So he went to his room and knelt down to pray
And he said, “Dear Lord, why did You delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
For I wanted so much Your face to see.”

When soft in the silence a voice he heard
“Lift up your head for I kept My word
Three times I came to your lowly door
Three times My shadow crossed your floor –

“For I was the beggar with bruised cold feet
I was the woman you gave something to eat
And I was the child on the homeless street
Three times I knocked and three times I came in
And each time I found the warmth of a friend
Of all the gifts, love is the best
I was honored to be your Christmas Guest.”

– Helen Steiner Rice

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pass it on...

The coolest thing just happened to me at Kroger. I went into pick up one of those new Bounce dryer bars, a Bertolli pasta for 2, and some milk. When I went to the aisle and found the Bounce bar, sitting next to it was a manufacture coupon for $2.50 off that someone had placed there. How cool is that? AND THEN...I go to get the pasta, and lo and behold, yet ANOTHER coupon, this time for $2.00 off, was waiting there! I was completely blown away by it!

So, what would've cost me around $20 for the entire trip, wound up being around $13! I now vow to do the same for others!! Why not? We all get coupons all the time for products we may not ever use, but someone else will! And how cool to know that you get to pass on your good fortune to someone else?

Very cool indeed! I hope God blesses the person that left the coupons that I found in a great way!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Marathon or not to marathon

Since moving to Nashville, every year around this time the buzz begins to circulate around locals about the Music City (now Country Music) Marathon. And every year, someone asks me if I'm going to participate, to which I quickly respond, "Are you CRAZY?!?"

But this year, I'm thinking I might actually do it. Not the full marathon...but the 1/2 marathon, which is only 13.2 miles. (ONLY...HA!) I'll have to start training, like...yesterday, but I think its possible.

I haven't committed to anything yet, and the early bird discount doesn't end until New Year's Eve.

So be praying for me as I make this decision. Because I believe this is a lifestyle changing decision, not just a fly by night decision. And I might walk for a charity, like the Bridge or something that you might be able to help me support. I need to check that out, but it's a thought.

:) (I must be crazy...)

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Seriously, I just threw things in the pot, so this is all a guesstimate...


1.5 - 2 lbs. of BONELESS Pork Ribs, Country Style
1 large Sweet or Yellow Onion
1 or 2 cups Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce (key ingredient)
1 or 2 cups of Heinz Ketchup
2 tbs. of Honey
2 cloves of garlic (or Two 1/2 tsp. of the stuff in a jar)

Dice the large onion and lay in the bottom of the Crock Pot. Add Boneless Ribs (can be frozen or thawed...I put in frozen ones.) Add the BBQ Sauce & Ketchup and spread it over the ribs, front and back to where there is a nice, thick coat of the sauce. Squirt honey onto the top of the ribs w/ the sauce & ketchup, and spread it around. Add garlic. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until meat is fork tender. Use sauce in bottom of crock pot to spoon over ribs when done! :) (Approx. 4 adult servings)

Enjoy! :) If you decide to use this recipe, let me know how they turn out! So far, my bro-in-law, sister, my parents, and my husband all give it rave reviews!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Saying It Out Loud

I recently finished a brief Bible study by Beth Moore called, "Living Free". (Basically a much quicker version of "Breaking Free".) I learned a lot through it, and I'm planning on reading through it again b/c I feel like I missed a lot. I did get a song idea out of it though!

But the basic premise idea of the study was to dig into the Word, combine it with prayer, and don't let the enemy get a hold on your mind. This is definitely a struggle for me, and for everyone, I am sure.

So, all this to say... I've been working out with a trainer recently, and part of this whole working out thing is obviously to get healthy. My family has a history of heart disease, and I don't want to die from that. But another reason is b/c I know Kyle and I will want to start a family in the next couple of years, and I don't want to be so overweight that I develop gestational diabetes while pregnant. And while I have said that part out loud, Satan began to play a mind game with me. He started putting the idea in my head that if I started working out, dropped the weight that I wanted to drop, then I would have to immediately get pregnant. Which, quite frankly, I'm not ready - we're not ready - to bring kids into the picture. So those thoughts were scary and paralyzing. That one thought kept me from pushing myself in the way I needed to go, and I never shared it with anyone, not even Kyle.
That is, until we were with my parents on the way home from our family reunion a couple weeks ago.

My mom recently received her certification for a job title I don't remember, but she works for a health care company and counsels employees to improve their physical & mental health, etc. etc. So, she's obviously been using me as a sort of guinea pig. :) She was asking me questions about stuff with Dad & Kyle there in the car, and I finally just blurted out what I had been thinking. I prefaced it with, "This is going to sound completely crazy, but this is what I have been thinking." And once I said it out loud, it didn't have as much power over me anymore.

Which brings me back to the Bible study... Beth reminds us that scripture says to take every thought captive for Christ. And I know the more I do this, the harder that Satan is going to try and knock me down. And while I do get discouraged with the whole working out thing (I can barely walk this morning, and sitting down takes a lot longer!!), I know that through Christ, I can do anything!!

Thank you, Lord, that we don't have to be prisoners of our own minds b/c you have SET US FREE!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

We recently went through the process of house hunting, then putting an offer in, and then passing on the house b/c of the ridiculous counter offer. Due to that, we decided to wait another few months/year to pay off some debt (school loans, etc.), and try to make our current living situation look more like a home than a temporary dwelling. So, we started looking for a couch & also decided to get another queen mattress set to make the office into an actual guest bedroom/office. :)

After looking at like a GAZILLION couches (it's something I don't want to have to do for another LONG while), we finally found one at American Signature that we fell in love with. And the great thing is that it was on CLEARANCE b/c of a tiny little tear on the back of the couch. This couch is HUGE, and took a long while to get through the door to our apartment. LOL I think you have to have some sort of expertise in geometry to fit a big couch through a tiny space. But it's in, and we love it!

The best thing though was something Kyle said to me last night after the CRAZY time of getting the couch in. He said to me, "I might not be able to get you a house right now, but I can at least make this place look like a home." I melted and promptly begin to cry, and every time I think about it, I cry out of knowing how much I am blessed to have such a wonderful husband.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bridge Ministry news!

Hey everyone!

Yes, I am a slacker. I know this... :) But at least I'm back to share a couple items with you! YAY!

1 - First Assembly of God (Cookeville) came to the Bridge Ministry a couple weeks ago, and they recently put a video up on YouTube about their time there that is just AWESOME! I wanted to share it with you!

2 - Christie Cookie is doing a $25,000 giveaway to charity! Please follow this link to found out how you can nominate us! Thanks in advance for doing that!

3 - I write an article each month (well...try to anyway) about the Bridge Ministry for Click on the link to read this month's article where I talk about the Feed the Children food drop that took place on July 16, 2009:

That's all folks! I think we've got all the bases covered now!

Friday, April 17, 2009

More vlogging...

Paco & I discuss American Idol, and I share about a date I'm doing this weekend w/ The Galloways! I also answer a viewer's email questions about my music likes. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Family-Life Sunday Night LIVE!

Last August, Kyle and I went up to the Martinsburg Singing in Martinsburg, PA. Great times...great people...great food. (You know me....I'm all about the food. :) While there, a rep with Family-Life TV came over to my stall (yes...stall. Our "booth" was in a cattle stall in a barn.) and wanted to know if I'd like to be on their Sunday evening program that goes out LIVE. Well, of course I said yes. :)

Fast forward to this past weekend when Kyle and I drove up to Kittanning, PA, to do the TV thing and a church. (Note to self: Make a note on the booking schedule when the time changes happen, and plan accordingly.) Sunday morning went GREAT at the Cornerstone AoG of Kittanning. What a great church! Such an incredibly sweet spirit about the place and the people. After the service, we had lunch with Pastor Richard and his wife, Carolyn, at Kings (think Shoney's...but w/o the buffet). After that, Kyle and I went back to our room and took a much needed nap. Thankfully, the TV show didn't start until 9 PM, so I didn't have to be there until 8 PM. Plenty of time for a great Sunday afternoon nap. :)

That evening, we went to the studios of Family-Live TV, and had a great time with Pastor David, Pastor Paul, and David's mom. I sang about 4 or 5 songs from my album, and also did a medley with David at the piano. I always love having the ability to go "off book" with folks. Just wish I had the money to have someone with me on a full-time basis!!

So, for those of you that missed it or were unable to be in Kittanning that night (ha ha!), you can watch the show ONLINE. :) Click on this link to go watch the show! :) (Note: The streaming media will ONLY work in Internet Explorer.)

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments. And yes, I love the jacket I'm wearing, too. :) And it's not "green". The correct color term is "ocean". ;-)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

So, this is how they thank us?

Really, Idol? Eight years of viewership, and you "thank" the audience by giving Tatiana a spot in the Wild Card round? Really?? Oy.

I was very hopeful about this season's crop of singers, but they just keep choosing ones that are just kinda "eh". I don't see any Jennifer Hudson or Clay Aiken types. Truly, the only one that screamed "STAR" to me was Felicia Barton, and she's no more. But maybe that's a good thing for her.

Just please, please, PLEASE do NOT put through Tatiana. Lord help us if they do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And so it begins....

The voting rounds of American Idol kicked off case you missed that. :) I had really high hopes for several of tonight's contestants, and wound up being really disappointed. Song choices were all over the place tonight, which made some contestants just sound like bad karaoke. When Stevie Wright announced that she was doing Taylor Swift's song, "You Belong to Me", I immediately was frightened. I just got Taylor's new album, and that is one of my favorite songs on it. And my fears were certainly founded...bless her heart.

But anyway, here are my Top 4 for the night (Four b/c 3 move on; 1 could be wild card)
1. Ricky Braddy
2. Danny G.
3. Alexis Grace
4. Anoop Desai (wild card)

Danny G. is clearly the favorite (right now) to win the competition, but we'll see what happens. I really haven't made a prediction yet. I'll wait until we get the Top 12. You never know who could come out and surprise you.

Until next time...

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Happy Hooker

Shocked by the title? You should be. You should ALL be shocked that I, Tara Jackson, one of the least patient people when it comes to crafts of all time, has taken up crochet....and I LOVE it.

I stumbled upon this once Leah Hemphill, the women's minister at our church, decided to start having us do crafty things (per my suggestion & God's leading actually) at our monthly women's meetings. I am a very fidgety person, always needing something to do with my hands if I have to be in one place for a while. And I can only listen to people for so long before I zone out. So, the idea of doing something else came up.

Over Christmas in NC, I told my G'ma what we were going to do, and she took it upon herself to teach me right then and there. There was no waiting for the women's meeting in January. LOL And she has now created a monster. I absolutely LOVE it, and I am like a sponge soaking up all sorts of new and interesting ideas. Granted, I am taking baby steps, as I have only been crocheting in straight lines. But soon, I will branch into making hats, blankets, mittens, etc. The possibilities are really endless! It's all very exciting! Right now, I have a top secret project in the works (still studying the pattern and deciding on colors) that once finished, will be one of the things I am most proud of, for sure!

I think this has all shocked my mom. The Christmas before I met Kyle, I balked at the idea of her buying me measuring cups & spoons as gifts! I wanted COOL things! Not KITCHEN UTENSILS! But...ironically enough, the very next Christmas, I wanted a new set of pots and pans, and kitchen stuff. :) And now, I've taken up crochet. Watch out world!!

Click on the picture below to see my finished crochet projects:

diva0427/Crochet Projects

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things I've Learned About Myself

I'm going to be 28 this year. That's 2 years from being 30. THIRTY. And as the clock that continues to tick-tock, I'm learning a lot more about myself. And I am realizing that I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I think the whole becoming yourself thing is a process that doesn't end until you pass on. I think where this whole thing stems from for me is the weight struggle that I've had my all my life, and with that, especially growing up, comes a (again, for me) lack of confidence that bubbles over into life. As we all know, you give me a mic and a stage, and I light up. But when I was younger (and even today this still happens), I desperately wanted to be like all the cool people. Only now, looking back, I see how we ALL struggled with lack of confidence no matter what crowd we were a part of.

Then there are times that you go through trials and times of great pain, which also help you to learn more about yourself on a much deeper, emotional level.

So, to "celebrate" things I've learned about myself, I'm compiling this list full of some random, some serious, some just downright crazy things about myself:

1. I still don't like eating tomatoes BUT I have learned I can eat them in a stew. And of course, in a different form, like ketchup.

2. I still don't drink coffee. But I can hang with the "hip" people at the coffee shops and enjoy my hot chocolate. :)

3. I need structure and a routine to keep me on the straight and narrow. If my routine gets out of whack (which it currently is), I have trouble sleeping and being motivated to do anything.

4. I love to crochet. I have always wanted to be creative, but had never found an outlet or craft that I wanted to stick with. Since my G'ma taught me the basic crochet stitches over Christmas, I've been hooked (ha ha) ever since. I love the process of starting out with just a skein (ball) of yarn, which becomes a scarf, a hat, gloves, or something else that can be given to someone. I have always ALWAYS been a big gift giver, and it has broken my heart over the past couple of years to not have the money that I wanted in order to buy everyone I know a Christmas gift. Now, I can make them something, which for me I think, means a lot more than just something I found in a store. Making them a scarf or whatever shows that I put time, effort, and a lot of love into the creation of the item.

5. I have learned that I'm very loyal and mainly to a fault. I usually put way too much trust in people. I do get dissapointed with people that have "titles" attached to their names, but those that have the title of "My Friend" and betray me....those hurt the worst. I do try to act like it doesn't bother me and put on a brave face, but deep inside my heart of hearts, I'm still reeling and hurting.

6. I am discovering who I am from a musical stand point, but I don't have the money right now to further develop that. LOL I'm praying that changes in the near future. I'm really proud of my first album, but I want to go even further musically with the next one. I want to take more risks.

7. I like strawberry cake better than chocolate cake. Didn't think that was possible, but once you've had the strawberry cake at the Hen Peck Market in Franklin, anything is possible.

8. Even though I need structure and a routine, I suck at a corporate environment. I was just not built for that at all.

To be continued....I have to meet a dear friend at I can be hip and cool.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gatlinburg Gathering 2009 - MAINSTAGE BABY!!

I'm one of the tiny circles at the bottom for MAINSTAGE Sunday matinee!! Yippie!! Come one, come all! For tickets and other info, visit the Ray Flynn website! (click on the flyer to view a larger size so you can really see my tiny bubble)

Look on the sunnyside...

Well, in less than 48 hours, we depart on the 2009 Gloryland Gospel Cruise out of Jacksonville, FL. (!!!!!!!!!!!) I have NEVER been on a cruise before, so this will be a first for yours truly. And of course, I picked the first cruise I take to be one I sing on. Great planning...I know. Especially since I have bad vertigo. :) I've already picked up my box of Dramamine, so we should be good to go at this point.

It is all a bit surreal right now since I really don't know what to expect. Kyle is very excited since he's been on cruises before. He's been getting all the paperwork filled out, packing clothes & product, making sure all of that stuff is done. Me? I made sure to get my eyebrows waxed, my hair color touched up, get my toes painted with a "cruise" color (whatever that is), pick out my outfits...ya know...the important stuff. ;-) I've yet to pack the first thing. LOL

I will be sure to post pictures of our adventures! The boat is stopping in Key West, FL, and Nassau, Bahama, so it should be fun! I've never been down that way before, but I'm excited to see what all the fuss is about. :)

Off we go!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas in 3 parts

One of the joys of being married is now having multiple families in multiple locations, thus creating multiple celebrations of all the various holidays....especially Christmas. We've been celebrating Christmas since last Wednesday!! LOL We had a great time with the Jacksons in Lebanon spending Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with them. Spent most of the time just relaxing and talking to each other, which was really awesome. I enjoy hanging out with them, and getting to spend a couple days with them in a relaxed environment is always a treat!

Christmas Day was awesome! The Jacksons only take 30 minutes to open their gifts, where it takes my side of the family at least 3 hours to open hours. LOL (Yes, it can be exhausting.) We went to church at Daryn's church in Smyrna, and it was just a great service. The church is very much an arts driven church, so full a solid hour, the service was packed with dancing, singing, poetry reading, skits, and other forms of art. It was so great! I hope we get to experience it again! The service also inspired me a bit on the direction I would like to take the Christmas album I hope to record this year.

The day after Christmas, we went to Sevierville to get G'ma and to spend time with our friend Whitney. We went to dinner at Tony Gore's restaurant, and the food was spectacular, as usual. Saturday morning, we had a farewell breakfast with Whit. So sad to see her go, but so happy for all that is happening for her!

We headed the rest of the way to NC with G'ma Scott in tow. After a lovely Christmas (or post-Christmas) meal lovingly prepared by my mom, we got into the present opening. We started at 6 PM, and we weren't done until after 9 PM. I get tired just thinking about it. Lots of great gifts though, but most importantly, just great time with family!

Over the past week, we've just spent time with the family watching movies (Anne of Green Gables trilogy!!), playing LOTS of Wii, eating out with friends, shopping, and more. Really, we've just been biding time until Bethany got in from England. She flew into Charlotte last night, and was welcomed with open arms! We had a "Welcome Home!" banner that we held up, which actually made a lot of people that came down the stairs before her really happy. :) It was just so awesome to have her back in the states, though I know it is very bittersweet for her. But never fear, Brett will be here for her soon! We had Christmas with her tonight, so Christmas is now officially DONE!

One other highlight is that I have learned how to crochet in preparation for an upcoming church women's event. I'm pretty close to having a scarf done!! I'm pretty proud of what I've made b/c I've never been the domestic or crafty type. Thanks to G'ma for teaching me! Crochet is easier to me than knitting b/c I could just NOT get the coordination down for knitting. One needle is easier than two.

Well, that's it. Next weekend, Kyle and I are headed to Warwick, RI, to visit the TAPS office and attend a meet-n-greet with Jay & Grant of Ghost Hunters!! Thanks Southwest Airlines for the travel vouchers!! :) :) I'll definitely be posting about that and lots of pictures!! So excited!