Finding Out Who She Was

As I lay in bed with my sleeping wife, on her birthday, I can’t help but think of the ways I am thankful for her. I recount the years of our relationship and smile. I cannot capture the essence of Tara with words. It is not fair to immortalize her with flattery. The best I can do for her is show her life accurately in the words of this blog.

In April of 1996 we moved to Burlington, Iowa. The ensuing 4 years were potentially the most significant in her life, and mine. She always desired a career but chose to follow me on my career path. It wasn’t like I was making a lot of money or anything, she just did it…for me. At each stop (Kansas City, Memphis, and now Burlington) she worked a job, each time being promoted and valued just in time to move on. Kids were not on the radar for either of us and we were debating, 2 or 3.

In 1998 she decided to pursue the next phase of her education. Over the next few years she earned (and I mean earned) a Masters degree at Western Illinois University. It was an hour either direction. She took 20+ credits each semester. She worked her job the entire time. She rocked the program and was promoted at work.

At the same time, she was gaining a passion for the word of God through inductive bible study, and was most struck by the knowledge that her identity was in Christ. Her life wasn’t about who she was, rather who she was in Christ. I remember well when this clicked in her heart. Her head knew it for years, but once her heart knew it her life changed dramatically. Our marriage improved. Her joy at work improved. She became more content. She was good with who she was; degree, career, or not.

Her education, work and faith intersected at that point. She had achieved what she wanted in her education and career simultaneous with her heart knowledge of her identity in Christ. I was in awe watching it all. Any way it went from that point was good with me. It was then that she desired children. In 1999, to our joy, we got pregnant. She desired to be home with the baby, once again setting her career aside.

I am not describing those 4 years well enough. God was at work in her life like I had never before seen. It was a drastic change. A new course. And now I lay in bed with my wife of 19 years, 5 kids later, cancer stricken, tired of battling. But joy still remains because of those 4 years where she wrestled with who she was and found out. Later, I’m pretty sure we will look back and find out that the years from 2013-?? were also significant.


11 thoughts on “Finding Out Who She Was

  1. Happy Birthday my dear Sister! Wow it seems like only yesterday I was woken up in the middle of the night and had to be taken across the street while Dad took Mom to the hospital. I think I was asked if I was excited that I would be getting a brother or sister by Marilyn, I think I was too grumpy and angry that I had to be woken up. Well that did not last long, how could I be angry with this beautiful little sister they placed in my arms when you came home. That was 42 years ago (sorry I know I should not have, but I did) well we may not have met eye to eye on everything and fought some or have gotten the other in trouble for something we did not do, but I have always been proud to say you are my sister. Being the big brother I know that I should be the role model, but I feel that you have taught me so much and that I hope that I can be half the person you are today. You are truly my role model. You are such an amazing woman, wife, mother, and servant of God. God truly blessed us on this day 42 years ago! Thank you God!
    I love you so much, may God Bless you with a very special day.

  2. Happy Birthday Tara. Hoping each day shows improvement. You are all in my prayers. Hope the English Muffins arrived and that everyone enjoys them. Hope you had a good day and could enjoy your birthday. The Lord knows your every need.

  3. Happy Birthday Tara! We woke up this morning thinking of you and praying that blessings would engulf you this day. We thought back to those days when you were just a wee one. I still can see you peeking over the crib, dark eyes sparkling, and a smile across your face….so angelic. Through the years, we watched grow and mature into a beautiful gifted woman….which still stands today. Know you are loved and held very close in our hearts. We love you, Uncle Gary and Aunt Barb

  4. Happy Birthday dear Tara! The blessing of your friendship is a continuous gift to me! What a treasure you are! So thankful God brought our lives together at the Fairmont Community Hospital 42 ago! : ) I love you so much!

  5. A beautiful and apt tribute. I this day was a “good one” and birthday celebrations joyous. Our prayer is for many more to come, Tara.

  6. Happy Birthday Tara. You have been in my thoughts a lot today.I remember many BD parties we did together celebrating Abby,yours, and grandpa Gayl’s special days. By the way dad(grandpa Gayl) would have been 103 today!! Many many prayers continue to be said daily for your recovery from CL Iowa. .Love to you and your precious family. Aunt Cathy&Uncle Mike

  7. I’m so glad that Steve and I had been part of your lives while in Birlington. We hated to see such good friends move away. But God’s timing is everything. Tara, you are amazing! We love you very much. Happy belated birthday. You would think I didn’t have cards to send you. PS: We love you too, Jay!

  8. 42 years ago today, our miss Tara Lu Ellen Woods brought much joy into our lives!
    We waited 10 years and prayed then for a miracle of another child. We had been accepted for adoption and then bingo..God blessed us with expecting you…Tim was 10 years old and wanted a brother.
    Tara was born on her Grandpa Johnson’s birthday, if a day later, she would have been born on her Grandmother Woods birthday.
    In the same hospital, 4 days earlier, another girl born and after a year, her parents bought the house next door to ours.. They grew up together, went to school together all 13 years. They were just like sisters, would get mad with each other and say “never playing with her again”, 15 minutes later, they were back having fun. They made the choice of going to the same college..
    Tara got married first and moved but still stayed in contact with phone/visits. As Jay stated in a past blog 13 years ago, God knew they would need on of the best medical centers in the world, brought them to Rochester. God also knew that Tara needed her best friend since birth to be along side of her at this season of life. We are so very grateful she was led to live in Rochester also.
    We wanted several children but God had different plans. We are so blessed and grateful, Jay and Tara gave us 5 of the most amazing grandchildren!
    Tara has been an amazing blessing and joy with her smile, laugh! Her love, faith, helping others, has been a tremendous example and testimony for many. I believe this is why their map has so many pins from all over the world on it, as many also are praying. The song Somebody’s Prayin by John G. Elliott has helped us.
    Somebody’s prayin’, I can feel it
    Somebody’s prayin’ for me
    To protect me from what I can’t see
    Lord, I believe
    Lord, I believe
    Somebody’s prayin’ for me.
    To protect me from what I can’t see
    Lord, I believe
    Lord, I believe
    Somebody’s prayin’ for me.
    May your birthday be blessed, special . Blow out all those candles and may your wish come true and know we love you very much and many are
    prayin’ for you.. Love, Dad and Mom Woods

  9. Happy Birthday Tara!!! We love you and hope this birthday brings you nothing but the sweetest things in life. The Anderson’s

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