Tamara and her husband, Mike, live in West Chester with their five children and attend the Gins’ Community Group. Tamara first came to Covenant Fellowship with her family when she was in 6th grade and began walking with the Lord shortly after—she’s learned a wealth of wisdom since that time, as you’ll see below!
Tamara, where did you grow up?
I grew up in Wayne, PA. We lived next to a creek and I have memories of flooding rains where our house was surrounded by water. We have photos of my siblings and me in a rowboat in our backyard. I remember seeing spiders the size of a baseball. I am still terrified of spiders to this day!
Tell us more about your family.
I could cry right now thinking about this, because I have been so very blessed by my family. I have a twin brother. He was that special person who I always wanted to be around, even though we were opposite personalities. I was always in his room…me talking constantly and singing, while he was reading a book! I always felt a sense of security being around him and I still do.
As for my parents. I don’t deserve them. They set an example of faith that I treasure. I remember them sitting, morning after morning, reading God’s Word. That picture sticks with me and encourages me to be a woman of the Word. They loved us sacrificially and poured their lives out to raise us. And they have not let up. They still give their time, wisdom, and love to me, my husband, and our kids.
I met my husband, Mike, at Covenant Fellowship, when we were in middle school. I actually fell in love with him at first sight and then had the joy of marrying him many long years later! He is handpicked by God, the perfect match for me, and the best husband that I could have ever asked for. Our five children are the best…such a gift from God. Our favorite thing to do is to spend time together as a family. The years seem to fly by and I enjoy every minute of being a wife and mom to this crew.
What is your morning routine? What’s the best way to begin the day?
I have never been consistent with a set routine. But I follow a general order and keep my daily priorities simple. Coffee and devotions, cleaning the kitchen (3 times a day!), exercising, pushing the laundry through and taking a shower…and then on to other things. If I accomplish the above while conversing with and spending time with my husband and children, it’s a good day. And if something’s gotta go, it’s usually exercise!
Really, my Bible is the best way to start the day. When I sit in God’s Word and Scripture comes alive to me and feeds my soul, I feel like I have a completely different perspective on my to-do list, on my trials, and on what God is calling me to do each day. Sometimes the Lord fills me with his Spirit, my tears flowing, as I recount how good he has been to me and how much I don’t deserve grace. I speak aloud the truths I just read and go back over the underlined portions. God softens my heart and changes me. Because let’s face it: my thoughts and nature are the complete opposite of who God is making me to be in Jesus.
I also enjoy doing my devotions with my children all around me when they are home for the summer or on weekends. I’ll stop at times and read aloud to them something that really impacted me. They often have their Bibles open too.
What are you currently reading and learning in those morning devotions?
I am currently in Judges, Ecclesiastes, and 2 Timothy. The Old Testament has opened my eyes to more of who God is. It is amazing to me that God called a people his own, made a covenant with them and holds true to his promises. And I get to be included in that! No matter how many times Israel rebelled and disobeyed, he was faithful to the remnant of his inheritance. He never leaves his people. He will never leave me.
What are some things you love?
I love to read, run, sing, cook, and be goofy with my family. I also like to decorate and organize my home. I’m a homebody!
You sing on the worship team on Sunday mornings and for Cross Culture. How have you seen God work in that ministry?
I love how God uses me in my weakness and makes me strong through his Spirit. Every time I sing, I have to seek God and ask for humility. I ask God to conquer my fear of man by taking my eyes off of myself and giving me a desire to bring praise to Christ. I ask the Lord to make the words I’m singing resonate in my heart, to give me a burden to minister to his people and to join in with his Church in worship. During my drive before every time I sing, I recite Psalm 121:1-4 and cling to the words, “my help comes from the Lord,” “he will not let your foot be moved,” “he who keeps you.” This ministry is something that I could never do in my own strength, but God continually equips me.
If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her?
The work that God began in you, he will bring it to completion. My younger self struggled with a ton of performance and condemnation when I didn’t measure up. I would tell my younger self that you won’t be the same person 20 years from now. God redeemed you once and for all. He will be faithful to walk with you and little by little, to make you more like him. He will keep you and will never forsake you. I would also tell myself that giving into besetting sin is not worth it. There is more joy in obedience. And it’s not a lost battle! Your Savior will continue to help you in your fight.
How have you seen God move in a difficulty you’ve faced?
During my last pregnancy, I was severely depressed. I had a pelvic floor injury that flared back up after the previous delivery of my twins. My nervous system went wacky and I was very weak, and caring for 3-year-old twins and a 5-year-old was a challenge. I gained 70 pounds with every pregnancy, and that added to the difficulty.
During this time, I often felt like I had a heart of stone. I didn’t want to pray, read my Bible, or worship on Sunday mornings. I didn’t want to be around people. But I managed to make my way through a book called Morning Devotions by Susannah Spurgeon: Free Grace and Dying Love. This is my favorite quote in the book: “Happy are you, my soul, if you know that God ‘looks through Jesus’s wounds’ on you, and through those wonderful ruby windows sees you so changed and beautiful that he can say, ‘thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.’”
God used this time of depression to help me see my true spiritual condition. The reflection I saw in the mirror one day (swollen face, weight gain, and a body that could barely stand up from weakness) made me realize that this was a picture of my heart at all times. I saw that my heart was ugly and wicked and that it was Jesus who made me beautiful. After I gave birth and went through some postpartum depression, it lifted. The light of Christ flooded in and I began to rejoice in my Savior again. And I treasured him more, knowing that he had been with me all along.