“Dear Taria, I forgive you. Love, Taria…” Episode 28

Have you ever felt like you needed to forgive yourself for some things that you did to yourself or that you allowed to happen to you??? I have too! But guess what? You don’t have to remain in that place. I mean if GOD has already forgiven you, who are YOU to still hold yourself hostage? Take a look at the process I went through to forgive myself and to allow myself to live free in Christ!
First, let’s define the word forgiveness. According to Merriam-Webster, forgiveness is defined as:
*to give up resentment of or claim to requital; forgive an insult
*to grant relief from payment of
*to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

So now lets start the process:
1-You need to identify the hurt that you have caused yourself. Stop sweeping it under the rug and look it square in the eye so that you can see what you are about to let go and get rid of.

2- Understand that forgiving yourself is not about forgetting. It is about not bringing the offense up to yourself in negative ways. Forgiving yourself is simply letting go of what you are holding against yourself so that you can move on with God. If God has moved on, shouldn’t we do the same? And to add to that, don’t allow others who may know of the decisions you have made that weren’t so great, continue to bring them up! Let them know that if they want to stay stuck in your pass mistakes that is there business, however, you have chosen to move forward and will no longer participate in the conversation with them.

 Knowing that forgiving yourself is a PERSONAL ACTION. The energy it takes to harbor anger, hatred, and resentment towards yourself is exhaustive. Every bit of energy we give to negative activities and dwelling on regrets, robs us of the energy we need to become the person God wants us to be. Forgiving ourselves does not let us off the hook, it does not justify what we have done, self-forgiveness is a choice that takes courage and strength, and it gives us the opportunity to become an overcomer rather than remaining a victim of our own scorn.

Forgiving Yourself is Helping Others and yourself. The longer you avoid forgiving yourself, the longer you allow yourself to harbor the feelings that you deserve to suffer for what you did, the more explosive you will become and, therefore, the more apt you are to hurt others. You have to, again, remember that while you cannot change what has happened and the decisions you have made in the past, forgiving yourself will allow you to truly heal from the inside out change the direction of your life. And remember this: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1 vs. 7 NIV

5-Remember that even though 
you made decisions that were different from the path that GOD has for you and even though you may have had to deal with the consequences of those actions, you are still GOD’s child. And he still loves you. Isaiah 43:1 NIV reads, “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
Those words weren’t just for Isaiah, they are meant for you too!

These are some notes that I wanted to share from my podcast episode titled: “Dear Taria…I forgive you. Love, Taria…” Episode 28.
To listen to the full podcast episode on how to forgive yourself and hear my letter of forgiveness to myself, click the media player below.



Well, Hello there Butterfly…letter to my FUTURE self…

Wow! Can you believe that half of October is already passed and we have officially moved into a new season of life? This is the time of year when we realize that the year is, in fact, almost over and while some of us are giddy with anticipation of making New Year’s resolutions, others of us are filled with regret thinking about the New Year’s resolutions of our past that we did not keep. And we begin to beat ourselves up about the things we did not change, do, or accomplish…And for me, I start to think, “If I could just go back and change it. If I could just rewind time, and talk to that Taria, I would make sure I did everything I set out to do.” And there are moments when I have become so discouraged over a space in time that is no longer available for me to occupy, that I ignored the beauty in the time that I have right now and the time I hopefully have ahead of me. And during those moments, I would start to think about all the things I messed up in my past, all the ways I let others influence certain decisions and all the opportunities that I didn’t fight for and just procrastinated away. I felt like I had to do something to clear the cobwebs of past “failures” out of my head so that I could feel like I had a clean slate, and THEN I would be able to reach all my goals and fulfill my God-given purpose. So, I decided the way to do this was to write a letter to my past self. To tell her it is ok if she falls and stumbles. That she will get back up. That the hurt she experiences, whether by someone else, or by her own hand, she WILL make it.

So, here we go…

Dear 13- year- old Taria,… Wait! Wait! Wait! What am I doing? At 13 I might not be ready for the advice I am about to give. So, let’s try……16. Ok. Dear 16- year- old Taria,… Wait a minute! I don’t know if 16- year- old Taria was ready either. Then it dawned on me. I am attempting to write a letter to a past self that no longer exists, while in a present state of mind, to inspire a future that I longed for and yet wasn’t sure about how to achieve, because I kept reflecting on my past. And I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her, to that Taria, my past self. There is nothing I can say that would change the different situations that she experienced, both happy and not happy, both fulfilling and unfulfilling, both hurtful and life changing. No warning I could give her to just hold on and keep going…to not give up because hope and faith lie beneath the surface of her heart, etched into her DNA. And while I know writing a letter to my past self could be therapeutic, I also understood that I needed to embrace the new seasons in my life without trying to wear last season’s clothes. To not birth my past failures and disappointments in my present and allow it to miscarry my future. To not use my past as an excuse for current behaviors that would forfeit my future. And the scripture came to mind: “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Philippians 3 vs. 13 NIV and in that moment, I made up my mind to use my past as a step stool and prophesy to my future.

Dear Future Taria,
You did it! You made it to 40! Remember when 40 seemed so far away? And now you are here! Healthy, happy and whole! And I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished! I am proud of the way you decided to pursue every dream that GOD showed you and to drive every gift that GOD gave you with faith being your only method of transportation. I am proud of you for understanding that in this life, it is not always about you. That your gifts, your faith and your obedience to GOD are not always for you and you alone. That sometimes, GOD will use your gifts to encourage someone else, your faith to inspire someone else and your obedience to bless someone else. And to not immediately ask what you are getting out of it, but to remember that it is about building up GODs’ kingdom by edifying the body.

And how about that Podcast and your blog, Tales of a Butterfly?!?! You DID it! You jumped, feet first into a pool of dreams, wading through a little self- doubt, a little fear and a little uncertainty…unsure of whether you could do it… but with GOD as your life vest, you made it through to the other side! And I am depending on you to keep going, to keep pressing toward the mark of the “higher calling”, because there are people you don’t even know who are depending on you. And the people that you envisioned that would say yes to being a guest on the podcast, you interviewed THEM ALL! I would tell you who they are, but you will find out soon enough, in our future:)

I am so proud of you for becoming the person, the woman who you were looking for. For becoming the person, you needed in your life, knowing that one day, someone will need a you…and you will be ready. For understanding that the words you spoke would either be the breath of life that sustained you to the future you, or cause you to choke and your dreams to die by asphyxiation, never moving beyond the past you.

I am proud of the woman you have become. A woman who knows her worth is far above rubies and doesn’t allow anyone or anything to make her feel less then. A woman who chooses to recognize her strength as a mother, while knowing GOD’s power is made perfect in her weakness. I am proud of you Taria, for recognizing what you bring to the table of friendship, although not perfect, you sit in love and at the same time you are willing to lay your fork down, turn your plate down and walk away in grace, when what is being served has been contaminated, whether by another table guest, or yourself. I am proud of you for no longer defending yourself or apologizing for the type of friend you are. For understanding that although you may have experienced hurt at the hand of a friend, you have probably caused that same hurt in someone else and have chosen to forgive yourself and to continue to strive to be a better person, not for people, but for GOD and for yourself.

I am proud of you for acknowledging that while the sum total of your PAST experiences adds up to the person you used to be, on this forward moving journey of your life, you understand the price of taking extra bags would cost your future too much. So, you decided to exercise your right to hand over all over your past baggage to a GOD whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. And although you appreciate and recognize the important life lessons that you learned from a past Taria, you made the decision that she could no longer dictate your future…to you. So, I celebrate this Taria today, and the way you have chosen to submit your heart fully and completely to GOD, choosing to follow him at all costs and allowing HIM to define who you are.

I bid adieu to the caterpillar of the past who had to fight to survive the process of metamorphosis and I say hello to the beautiful butterfly that has come forth as strong, powerful, bold and free…Well, Hello there Taria Shondell and welcome to your future…
Love, Taria…

I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with a past that seems to want to keep a hold on you. A past that may seem insurmountable. A past that seems to have a foot hold on your present with the intent of strangling your future. You CAN make it. You CAN be a success. Every plan that GOD has for your life will come to fruition. Every promise he made to you, will come to pass. All you have to do is lay your burdens/baggage down, and he will pick it up. Submit yourself completely and fully to HIS will. Start speaking his word into your life, start speaking to the future self you want to be…Write a letter to your future self, declaring what you WILL be! Habakkuk 2 vs. 2 KJV says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” And I promise you, you will not fail…because in him there is no failure.

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29 vs. 11 NIV




Sometimes Motherhood can be a real…Mutha…

Motherhood has given me some of the most beautiful days of my life. And some of the darkest hours of my life. As a mom, I am a bullet proof vest, covering my children from what life would throw at them. And once the shots are done being fired, and all that is left are the shell casings and the residue, and after everyone has ran to the one wearing the vest, the wearer will eventually throw the vest on the ground and complain about the vest being too heavy or not padded enough, but no one thinks twice about the vest in the aftermath. They forgot that while the vest was covering the child, it was taking the bullets, and those bullets tore at the vest, sometimes puncturing it almost to the point of it being unrecognizable…

I was 19 years old, 23 days’ shy of my 20th birthday when I became a mother for the first time. I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t fit enough to be someone’s mother, someone’s guiding light. I was really going to be someone’s mother…Fast forward 5 years and I became a mother for the second time around and again, two years later, would be the third and final time I became a biological mother. And I thought maybe I had a handle on being someone’s mother, being a mommy, being the mother I thought I was supposed to be. Gathering the husband and children together in the car for surprise picnics at the park for dinner, having family tv night where we would bond over the latest family sitcoms while discussing our day and having movie nights out at AMC Movie Theater (daddy thought they needed the movie experience with all the snacks from the snack bar while I was trying to sneak them in from the outside in my purse) just to name a few things. And then what felt like out of nowhere, my motherhood axis shifted to a place where the music wasn’t as loud, the laughs weren’t as frequent and the sun didn’t shine as bright. I went from being looked at as someone’s Mother, to being perceived as a real Mutha… Everyday became a battle of wills, a war zone of sorts and a protective vest was needed, only I couldn’t wear myself could I? So I did what many mothers do, I continued to be the best parent I knew how to be, while dealing with the voices that where swirling around me like a tornado telling me I needed to do better, should do better and could do better. Those voices unknowingly became the bricks that were used to build walls between parent and child, all the while pointing to me as the brick layer. And yet there is only so many times you can run into a brick wall without doing harm to yourself and potentially knocking yourself out. So you numb yourself to the pain of loving the very thing that feels like every day it is taking a piece of you, a piece of your heart, a piece of your soul, a piece of your sanity and you continue to be a mother, the best you know…but it’s still not good enough.

I remember the day my husband and I grabbed hands filled with love and hope and he prayed and asked GOD for clarity… and the answer came as clear as day. We decided to let one of our children choose where they wanted to live, to choose who would win the blessing of their presence and my household felt like it lost. And I felt like I lost a piece of Taria, the piece that knew who she was and where she fit in this world as a mother. I no longer felt like I was even really present with my family, I felt like I was outside of myself looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars, my family out of my reach. I felt like I had been in a fight going 12 rounds and I was hit with a blow that pierced me to the deepest part of my skin, down to my hypodermis, and in order for it to heal, I had to keep it stuffed with gauze and covered with a bandage. But there were times when I felt like the wound was healed, so I would open up the bandage and share my tales of motherhood that seemed hopeless, hoping for relief from this weight of guilt and sadness that was clinging to me, only to realize that I in fact wasn’t healing, and was making the wound worse by continuously opening my bandage and exposing my pain to others who could potentially infect the wound and leave me feeling worse than when I started. And I did…I felt worse…With every time someone would say to me, “I would never send my child to someone else because it’s my child, or, “that couldn’t be me because I would do XYZ”, to “you’re the mother you need to fix it”, I fell just a little deeper into what felt like despair. It got to the point that I would leave my phone in whatever part of my house that I wasn’t, because I didn’t want to see the messages that would be carried over the cell tower wires reminding me of the mistakes that I made. I wanted to avoid the gatherings we were to attend as a family because I feared my every interaction with my child would be looked at and judged. I felt alone, lost, like I had been put on an island of mothers, but it was an island of one. And it was in these lonely moments, right before dawn, that GOD spoke to me and reminded me of who Taria Shondell was TO HIM and who Taria Shondell was IN HIM. I was HIS Taria before he formed the foundations of the world. I was HIS Taria when I was in my mother’s womb, BEFORE I was a mother. He had already laid out the plans for my life, and this was a part of HIS plan, for HIS glory. He reminded me that just like I prayed for clarity in the beginning of this process and he answered me, I still had to go THROUGH the process in order for my situation to be a testimony to other parents who may be going through the same situation, and he would be there, guiding me, comforting me and healing me through it. And it dawned on me that in order for him to heal the wound, I had to stop opening up the bandage and exposing it to the elements. I needed to leave it covered and in due season, it would be completely healed and I would be able to take the bandage off. But a scar would remain. It had to remain to remind me that I wasn’t just a survivor but that I was an overcomer. You see the word survivor means: “a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died” while the word overcomer means: “to succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).” I had come out alive in a situation that could have killed my joy, stole my peace and destroyed me emotionally BUT by trusting in GOD even when I didn’t see him, when I felt like I didn’t know how this would all turn out for my family, I held onto my faith that felt as small as a mustard seed, and it was that faith that helped me to successfully deal with the process and come out stronger on the other side.

I want to encourage mothers from all walks of life, whether you’re a single mother, a married mother, a divorced mother, a mother who birthed children or a mother who inherited children via raising a family members child or through marriage, no matter how dark your situation seems, no matters how many voices you hear that make you feel as if you are being brought to your lowest point, no matter what other families and the mothers in those families around you look like, understand that YOU WILL get through it. There may be times when all you can do is cry through the night, and it is ok to do just that…but know that GOD will bring joy to your morning…he did it for me, and so I know he will do it for you…

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

Revelations 12 vs. 11 KJV

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;……”