Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grrrrr....ateful!












Feet to the floor,
first grumble slipping down my tongue,
missing a perfect opportunity,
for His glories to be sung.

Pass the sun, body aches,
slipping back into my murk,
not relaizing how i stifle
denying that God is already at work.

I look around, begin to grumble,
surveying work to be done in this place.
Breath by breath, complaint by complaint,
choosing to forfeit His daily grace.

I sit down, my eyes settle on,
that haunting 3:42.
Icy water in my face,
I know what I need to do.

Start over, put on the new.
that time doesn't have to be fateful.
I have health, time, a second chance,
transforming GRRRRRRR.......ATEFUL.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Interior Designer



MY INTERIOR DESIGNER
by: Tara Roper


She enters this room, a thousand times she has been in,
But, just now noticing how these walls close in.

Harder to breathe, she sighs deep,
stopping to consider the décor she keeps.

She pasted together this paper didn’t she?
Not knowing that one day it would be,

what defined her, showing wear and tear
Redecorate? Oh no, she wouldn’t dare…

or could she spruce things up a bit?
Do these colors and patterns even match or fit?

The captor’s lies she has hearing over and over she feels,
that she can’t take it any more. She starts to peel.

With each frayed sheet, uncovering more,
just how she has been affected by this deceptive décor.

She is almost done, slinky paper all around.
Grabbing the last strip, as her knees hit the ground.

“Help me Lord, my interior designer,
I’ve given in too long to that inferior designer.”

Bare walls. Clean slate again. She begins to truly smile.
“Lord, this room is for you, do you recommend a style?”

“Which pattern is best Lord, for my floor, to my roof?”

“My child don’t you know?
My design is always
TRUTH.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

EVERY MILE FOR THEM


My brother Matthew is running the Boston Marathon on April 19th to raise money for Dana Farber Cancer Research. He runs this for my mother, my cousin, and the thousands diagnosed each day. Matthew, I am so proud of you.

All of his training led to this,

striving spanning seasons.

He tackles these miles, not for himself,

but for far deeper reasons.


The crowd cheers on, marveling at,

strength of the runners' spirit.

Feet pound the ground, deep in thought,

he doesn't even hear it.


Many run to beat a time,

different drives for glory.

Not for him, not simply driven,

He's called to run this story.


Those driven run for themselves,

but all these months he has fought,

He has been called not simply driven,

to run for those who cannot.


He's halfway there, struggle creeps in,

but he has learned to persevere.

Along the miles memories occupy his mind,

and he hears a whispering in his ear.


"Atta boy, you can do it. Matthew we are here."

Voices very present no longer past.

He feels them on either side of him now,

the miles pass by fast.


Muscles ache, pain is building,

a body pushed past its limits,

But each step he would never trade,

just to have them with him one more minute.


The outward passion, Dana Farber,

in the name of research, the run.

But personally, this marathon is tackled

step by step, as a cousin and a son.


The finish is not far now, tears build,

to see him or one more time to hold her.

As his strength fades, he can feel them,

one hand each upon his shoulders.


They keep him going, pushing him,

past his weariness and strife.

Each mile adding to research and study,

that will someday save a life.


He'll keep memories of them with him,

nothing else can he do or say.

He's crossing the finish line for them now,

and the thousands diagnosed today.
If you would like to donate to Dana Farber Cancer research via Matt's personal pledge page, please click on this link.
Pledges go to Dana Farber for research for a cure.



Matthew, I'd give anything to be there. Know that I am praying for you.

And, know, Ma and Gregory are cheering you on each step of the way.

Love,

Tara

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...and Aunt Pat, and cousin Michael, and Gregory, and Kelly, and Jeff, and Renny and....all the uncles.....

Seems like yesterday to me.

My mom asked me to stand outside on the front walk in my Easter dress to wait for Aunt Pat.

"Tara, head out front, Aunt Pat will be here soon and she needs help carrying in the food. I think she might have something special in her bag for you too...."

No need to finish the sentence , I'm headed for the door.

I was so proud of my outfit. Ma bought it at Sears. It was mostly white with some light blue. The bottom was so pretty, like layers of clouds or something. She insisted I have white gloves for church. I reached down to our rectangular hall table to grab the gloves. As I grab them, I look past the glass to the lower level of the table, and there among the dark wicker, is my Easter purse. It matches my dress perfectly. I have to take it with me of course.


So, there I stand, on the front walk, occassionaly gazing up the street to see if Patti is playing out front. Not today. Oh well, I'm on a mission. I"m waiting for Aunt Pat. No more noble a mission could there have been. Mum hosted and made the ham, and always...the Blitz Torte. Looking back, I think some may have come for the blitz torte! Aunt Pat brought the fudge and stuffed mushrooms. No Carroll celebration was deemed underway until the stuffed mushrooms were put in the toaster oven.

So, on the front walk I stood, sort of pacing. I couldn't possibly sit, too excited, looking forward to seeing all my cousins and showing Aunt Pat how I had arranged the furniture in my room this time. She was always a fan of my furniture arranging. It had only been a couple months, but I am so eager to see Michael, Kelly, Greg, and Jeff. As long as I had known in my nine years, they were an extension of my immediate family. Sitting seemed silly, after all, who could see my dress if I sat? I pace up and down the walk, upon reaching the end, step on the bump on the sidewalk and gaze left where, ultimately Malden was located.

One car, two, three, still no Aunt Pat! I was getting impatient at this point. I knew she would bring her wicked good fudge in the blue metal shortbread cookie tin, or maybe brownies. My favorite part of that was that she put a piece of bread on top. Little secret from Aunt Pat, it keeps the brownies fresh. Who knew!!?

As I pace, I hear my mum inside, all but begging my brothers to get their things out of the way. Danny wants to eat another chocolate bunny. "Oh, no, nothin' doin'" , my mum says. At this point, both he and Christopher have had like 2000 calories of straight candy. Matt is inside, watching TV in the den. During this time, one of the twins must have tried to assert some authority, as I hear " No, I had it first. No....my turn." indicating to me that the remote is in danger of switching owners.


Simpletons! Don't they know Aunt Pat is on her way! Sheesh. My pacing continues.
And, then, I see ....Michael's car! Sweet! "Maaaaa......Aunt Pat is coming."

"Do you have your gloves on?"

Random. "Yah, I do."

"Fix your dress, and pull up your slip so its not showing." She heads up for a last squirt of Channel. It has to last all day, best to apply now I guess.


Finally, Aunt Pat is pulling in. Only my Whitman Street cousins are allowed to occupy the driveway. If anyone else parked in my Dad's spot, there would have been trouble, but, for Aunt Pat, the open driveway was some sort of metaphorical red carpet, just for her and her family. Michael pulls in. He helps Aunt Pat out. They open the trunk. And so starts the parade of food, cousins, and memories vivid enough to blog about 25 years later.

God I love those people. God I miss those people.

My prayer to my family.....know how blessed you are to have each other. Know how wonderful it is that you can all still visit. Know how God smiled on us for the years we had our mum with us each Easter playing Easter bunny hiding eggs in the most impossible and thoughtful places!
Know how much I am missing you this Easter. Blessings to you all, you mean the world to me. I praise God for you daily for the amazing people you are and you totally embody what family is all about.

Greenwood, Whitman, Chelmsford, Concord, Apartment 1A, doesn't matter, we're all Carrolls and....we all know the importance of stuffed mushrooms!

Love,

Tara, Ta, Binhobbin, Dolly Bumps, Chicken Ta, T Bouds

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Out Came the Son and Dried Up All the Rain




The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Just the first line elicits the finger twist climb from moms everywhere.Some, after hearing the first line, go on to hum it most of the day, even when they are NOT with their children. I am one of those.Some time between recitation 200 and 205, I started thinking about the lyrics. That spider, it seems at first, is getting a pretty raw deal. climbing all the way up that spout, leg over leg over leg until all eight are exhausted.




Then, just when she approaches the top, you know it....sing along with me...Down came the rain and washed the spider out. I don't know about you, but I start to feel bad for the spider. Until, ahhh, at last, the second part. Out came the sun, I dare you not to actually act out the song by raising your arms right now. So, out came the sun, and dried up all the rain. Got to love the sun. And, the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.I love a happy ending.




But, since I am headed to sing along #206, I dig a little deeper in my interpretation of this seemingly simple little song. The beginning, fairly cut and dry, a spider, on her way, following the path before her. Getting up, doing her thing. I imagine she had a web to clean, perhaps a morning cup of fly. Which leads me to ponder...do flies contain caffeine? I sure hope so for my new found sista', the arachnid. From here, she sort of gazes at her day ahead.




This, I imagine involves, surveying the web. She looks around and no doubt wonders, " I am so sick of cleaning up this web. I clean up, it gets messed up again. All day long, clean, spin, clean, spin." I have to chuckle as I relate to this. It seems my life is on the spin cycle most days too.




She glimpses a plump little something that her web has caught. But, being an organized little spider, she prepares the little tidbit by wrapping it and setting it aside to stew until dinner. My crock pot and I concur, this is the sanest method. She has a moment to pause after her mornings work. She checks her eggs, still quiet, still calm. I bet all eight hands would raise up in a "Praise God" moment for that. Nothing quite like a quiet little brood when you have lots to do. She places a call into her spider sitting co op and arranges a sitter to stand by the eggs while she heads up to catch some rays. She transfers her already cold cup of fly into a to go mug, sets the tidbit timer, pats her little eggs, and exits the web ready for her journey on up.




There it is, the local spout. The obvious and quick route to some rest and relaxation in the sun. And so, with one last gulp of her venti non fat fly, she takes her first steps. She encounters a few other spiders along the way. They all have that "the eggs are at home glow" about them. She smiles as she passes a few, nods some quick hellos and continues on her way. She wants to bask in the fully earned feeling of sun time and so runs her last few days over in her head. There were some tough ones.




First, the web came loose from its anchor. That was a doozy. She had to work double time that night to repair. She had to make the ends meet. She was missing some parts and had to search on Webslist for a good deal on silk repair gel. Oh, and then , the next day, the wind, a webs worst nightmare. But, her reinforced web held up, the only loss being a few fruit flies, no big deal.




Then, last night, her sixth, seventh, and eighth leg almost tremble at the memory, unexpected guests. The spiders from next door had an unfortunate turn of events in the silk market. They were not able to pay all their webtilities and were being forced to forespin on their web. Being the gracious arachnid that she was, she of course invited them all in for dinner. But, it was nothing short of a miracle that she was able to make her weekly catchings enough for a full stir fly dinner. Her guests were appreciative, and she felt good that it seemed to lift their cephalothoraxes a bit.




But, now, now, it was her time to sit back and regroup. Only another couple feet and she would be at the top. She smiled and didn't even notice the breeze and first drops. In the last few inches she began to look up, already able to see her favorite warm spot. It was then that a drop hit her square in the abdomen startling her to her senses. "Oh no !" she thought. She had worked all week for that looming moment of R & R.




As that thought escaped her drops came, two, three, four. She didn't even have time to claim a dry spot. She, and all the well deserving spiders along the way were gushed to and fro and washed right out of the spout. To make matters worse, she continued out the spout, past the guard, and right into a small puddle. "Great, just great! " She floated a bit and climbed up on a piece of old pine mulch, holding on for a bit. This toppled a few times and she regrouped and held onto a firm leaf. It brought some rest. She floated to the edge of the puddle right up against the spout guard. She waited out the relentless drops.




She begins to wonder where she went wrong. She had it all lined up. The egg sitter, the web all tidy in a row after row after row. Why would the weather change now? She was beginning to wallow in self spinny, when it hit her! She had not even consulted the webmaster before making these plans! Oh NO! Here she was making all these plans, forgetting to ask for guidance from the great www. She stopped right there and offered her thoughts up to him.




" Master, I am sorry I did not consult you. Iknow better than to make my own plans and expect you to bless them. I know your timing is right. I know to consult you first and follow your blessed plans. I don't know what came over me." As she wallowed in her confession, she noticed, her puddle was shrinking. She looks up, just in time to see the sun burst from behind the large clouds.




"Oh Webmaster! You heard me! Is it time now?" Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain. Well, we know the rest, and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. Got to love the webmasters grace. Got to love her teachable little spirit. Isn't this just the way? God using a simple little ditty to help us see his grace and perfect timing. I know that little spider made her way all the way to the top next. It was the right time, the right circumstances, and the right path. After all, when the son comes out, you follow right?




I imagine she steadily, confidently climbed her way up, having peace of spinner, knowing that the silk creator had set this forth as her time. Not an hour ago, not tomorrow, right now. Her reward was waiting higher up. I can see her now, reaching the top. All eight legs straining to reach the destination laid out for her. Arching, arms raising, settling in to just the right spot to bask. The spout, now warmed up just right. Sunlit perfectly, containing the most lovely resting spots. This is so much better than she could have imagined.




She picks her perch, and sinks in. She is still. As she drifts into a sunny slumber, she contemplates this spot picked just for her and softly hums, "Amazing grace. How sweet the spout. That saved an arachnid like me. I once was lost, and on the ground, on pine, but now I see."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

There's a Turn Up Ahead



I was driving with a friend . We were heading to my house. I couldn't help but notice we seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. I thought to myself, " perhaps he knows another way to my house.", and so, we drove on. From time to time, he would stop at lights or signs. I noticed he seemed deep in thought, until the lights turned green.

Then it was a race, he was not much for speed limits. Boy, he loved to race. And, he is very good at it. He comes in first all the time. We continued weaving in and out of neighborhoods. My confidence in his compass began to teeter. He couldn't seem to make up his mind.

We drove in and out of quiet streets, and then immediately back onto highways. Slow then fast, again slow, and fast. But, his face only changed at the red lights and stop signs. Most of the time driving, he is real excited, it shows on his face. But, I was perplexed when we saw yellow lights and had to either slow down or gun it through to make the light. It was perplexing to me, because sometimes he looked as if pondering life, other times, sort of deflated. If he missed the light, deflated that the direction wasn’t clear.

If he came to a stop sign, just sort of quiet thinking. As if wondering, why have I stopped? What authority does that silly sign have over me? A few times, as he stopped at the sign and then went on his way, he would stomp on the gas and off we would go.

No But, it was the other times I noticed the most. Occasionally, he would glance back at the stop sign as we drove, as if recalling a memory or looking for something. Maybe a bigger sign? Was he looking for something? No one else was around. I think he is racing against himself. I couldn't be sure. Here and there, I would think this might be a good time to unfold my map, to suggest the way to go that never led me astray. He would scoff, always politely, but scoff none the less, and cut me off.

"I got it, I got it. My way works, it has to, I've driven it a million times."

And, so, I sit back again, fiddle with the radio.

No sooner do I settle on a station, he quizzically inquires of my taste in music,

" You are really into this stuff aren’t you?"


I have to concur as I reply, "It helps me focus while on the road."

He chuckles, and tolerates my music, seemingly amused. We listen as we continue driving. Every once in a while, he glances over at me as if to say "So....what is it again about this music you like?", but since I assume these thoughts, I say nothing in defense. As the trip lingers, he begins looking around and sees the map I had suggested. He says nothing though. I start feeling as though he may be really lost now.

We continue through his course, fast, excitement, slow, frustration, stopping, saddened. Sometimes really sad I begin to see. Especially when things come to a long drawn out halt. Not wanting to annoy him, I'm alone with my thoughts. I wonder, "How is he making it through that last intersection without this map?" When I come to those types of intersections, I always need a map. I'm lost without it. Truly, truly and utterly lost.

I sit, a little bored, but cozy in that passenger seat. Maybe too cozy given that fact that we seem to be getting nowhere here. I reach up to check my seatbelt, and inwardly sigh with relief that it is fastened so securely around me. He doesn't wear his seatbelt. I ask him about this,

"Hey, you might want to buckle up, these roads get treacherous sometimes."



He replies "Nah, I'm good thanks. Besides, I've never seen the proof for myself that they keep you on the road any better."

My heart sinks a bit. No map, no direction, and now no safety belt. How will we make it home? I peek at my map, and am instantly reassured, I will make it home. I still don't know the whole route from here, but the map is always right. I try to share my new found relief with him, he is indifferent, but listens.

Just then, as I am getting anxious, I look up, and we are pulling into the driveway.

"Awesome, just awesome. " I say. My hand patting my folded map in thanks.

He disregards me and takes the credit for getting us here.


"The map didn't bring us here, I did the driving."

I look at the ground, and although I want to bite my tongue, I can’t anymore. My inner GPS is poking at me.

"Well, if you had just given the map a chance, the ride wouldn't have been so tough. All those potholes, missed lights. At least we you would have known where you were going. Trust me, it shows you the way to get here. And, can only be better for your passengers too."

I know I am sounding annoyed with him, but its more disappointment in myself for not speaking up sooner…and louder. He sort of stares at me, I usually don't speak up this way, at least, not about his driving.


Look, this car is just a shell, moving you from place to place. The important things are inside. Like , the map. It’s inside. Reminds you where you are headed and how to get there. Tells you the way to go.” I stare back at him. “Trips could be so much better, but I can’t force you to use a map I guess, even if it clearly shows the way to go.”

Inwardly, I want to open the map, shake it, and keep placing it in front of him. But, I know, I can’t do that. All I can do is have the map there and available. And so, I’ll settle for that again.

"Nah.....there are tons of ways home."

My head drops as I walk up my stairs. I’m deflated again.

"No, there is only one true way”. I say too quietly. “One road home."

He looks confused. As he turns, I think, I don't know when I'll see him again. My house is pretty far from his. We only get together from time to time. I wish it could be more. I look back, feeling like I want to run back, like I missed something. Like I didn’t share the one thing I wanted to say.

He stands there, not joining me. As he turns away, he notices, I have left the porch light on and front door open for him if he chose to come in. He rolls his eyes, gets back in the car, and he begins to back out. He sees the map on the floor. He pauses, and reaches for it. It’s just out of reach. His car is cluttered and there is too much in his way.

"What’s she all fired up about anyhow?"

He pulls out and heads up the street. He glances over again at the map, and pauses to push some things in his way aside. He sees a sign ahead and rolls to a stop. He glances in his rearview mirror, sees her porch light, still welcoming him if he chooses to return.


She has stepped back out onto the top stair, with the hope that he may return, or at least hesitate on his normal course.


These roads coming up don't look familiar, he thinks to himself. He wonders what is up ahead.

He looks back down, he starts to open the map, which he sees, is not a map at all. He opens it all the way and reads quietly,

"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." John 14:6


He folds it carefully. He looks up. He has come to a fork in the road.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Who is calling shotgun?

First He convicted me.
and I turned my head.
He convicted me a second time,
I listened up instead.

He said to me, "Dear One,
did you not see this habit unfurl?"
"Remember my child, although you are in it,
you are not of this world."

Sin will come, sin will go,
lying just ahead on your road.
In and out of our life,
lusts of the flesh begin to load...

our hearts and minds,
and all that we are about,
before you know it, that little thing,
begins to Edge God Out.

He doesn't want out, He wants all in,
of that we are assured,
keeping us close, pride melts away,
to the things of this world that once lured.

So, when trimming your branches,
fret not,you may feel the heat.
But rest in this my friend,
Jesus is in your NEW passenger seat.