7 years today


Facebook has a way of bringing things full circle for us humans. Bringing up dates of events, showing us memories of the past. Reminding us when we became “facebook” friends with someone.

Today is one of those days for me. I find myself reflective as my life changed forever today and wouldn’t not be where it is if not for the friend I made 7 years ago today.

7 years ago I was married to someone else. I was lost and unhappy and I had no idea who I was. I reached out to an old friend, who I thought was a happily married man, and became friends on facebook. If you have read any of the stories on this blog, you would know Dick saved my life. I was in an abusive marriage, and he showed me real love. We never saw each other, I still haven’t seen his face in nearly 20 years. But that love, that belief from him that I was worth it, made me believe in myself. I was able to push past fears, truly lean on the friends and family that stood by me and rescue myself.

It was interesting to see it pop up on facebook that 7 years ago we became facebook friends on this day. But the wonderful thing is I am free.

All because I made an old friend again.

Life can throw you a million curve balls, but you have to step up to the bat and try to hit one sometime. If you don’t, then you sit on the bench and watch everyone else play the game. Sure, its safer and you won’t get hurt, you won’t get tagged out. But you won’t win, and you won’t live that way. I have lost so much over the years. But the gains have been so much more.

So Dick, you will always be my friend. Thank you for loving me through all that mess. You woke me up. I am free because I am no longer dead and hiding from life’s game. There isn’t enough thanks in the world that I could give you for what that has done for my life.

Endless thanks to you, and I pray blessings over you, your lovely wife and your kids. I am grateful for our friendship and every moment that we shared across the distance of time. Everyone needs a hero sometimes. When I couldn’t be my own hero, my own rescuer, you were there. You saved me.

Sometimes it just takes one person to love you and believe in you when you don’t have the capacity to do that for yourself.

Sometimes you can be that person for someone else. Love people where they are. You may not know the whole story. It may be a mystery why they are in that space. Love them anyway. Love them and remember that you may just be someone’s life raft. You might be what saves them from drowning.








Amanda woke up with a start and realized they were late. She woke up her kids and hurried to get them ready for school. Yelling and griping the entire time, filled with frustration due to her own lateness. As she raced through traffic and stoplights, she felt increasingly upset that nothing was going right that morning. She rushed her kids out of the car and into the school and raced to the office as her whole day was now behind because of missing the alarm clock.

She arrives at work and in her impatience, rear ends a car in the parking lot as she’s trying to park her car. More frustrated that the day continues to fall apart, she gives her insurance information to her coworker who was kind and understanding of her lateness and obvious distress.

She walked into her office and sits at her desk and places her forehead on the cold desktop and breaths. She has no hope for this day now. She feels as if it is pointless to bother and wishes she could just go home and cover her head with a blanket and pretend as if the day did not start with her alarm clock going not going off.

She hears sobbing in the cubicle next to her and looks up from her desk wondering what is wrong with Megan. Momentarily distracted from her own bad day she walks around to see what is going on.

Megan tells her that her sister just called and her nephew was walking to school and was hit by a car. He didn’t make it. She was trying to compose herself so she could leave and safely get to her sister.

Amanda’s heart stops. She thinks about her morning with her own kids. How she has been given the time and ability to drive them safely to school every day by her side. She thinks about how, over missing her alarm, she had yelled and griped and been angry with them for the entire morning. She thought about how ungrateful she was that, instead of a giant car accident on the freeway, it was just a tiny fender bender in the parking lot.

She thought about how if she could do it over this morning when her alarm clock did not go off and everyone woke up late that she would slow down and be grateful for those moments. Instead of rushing and being frustrated, she would’ve really spent the time helping them get ready and being kind and pouring love and understanding into them as they got ready for their day.

How often do we get caught up in the moment and not really think about how valuable that moment is? On any given day were given the opportunity to respond to thousands of different stimulus that can make or break our day. How are you responding? Are you giving your emotional control over to little things that don’t matter?

As I drove my kids to school this morning, and I was filled with gratitude for the time I have them in the car. That I am there to help them in the morning as they get ready and make their lunches. I thought about the people who woke up today and didn’t get to make their child’s lunch, and didn’t get to drive their child to school, whether that reason is because they have to work, or if that reason is that child is no longer living. The feeling is the same, and those of us who have the opportunity to spend those moments with our kids  or with our spouse, have a responsibility to be joyful even when it’s hard.

Life can end so quickly and it is already so very short. I challenge you not to waste your time angry that your alarm didn’t wake you, that you were made late for a meeting for work or school. I challenge you to find gratitude in the moments that are the hardest because that’s when our response matters most.

It doesn’t matter if you have a great day and everything goes right and you respond joyfully. It matters when your alarm clock doesn’t go off, when you hit every red light when you’re already late, when you get a flat tire and you feel like that just ruined your day. Those are the moments when your response matters. It matters because how you respond affects everyone that you come in contact with on that day. I prefer not to leave a wake of bodies that have been damaged by me in a bad attitude that I had complete control over. My response to a situation is my responsibility. It is a choice, and not always an easy one. Choosing to evaluate your response before you become frustrated or inconvenienced by one of those moments that didn’t turn out the way you planned.

Today, as you read this, I hope, that if a moment comes your way that is negative, or unpleasant, that you will choose to respond with patience and with joy. Why? Because you are alive, your heart is still beating, and you have the opportunity to change your day and maybe someone else’s by responding with grace.

He is my gravity

Once upon a time, Joseph, my beloved, wrote me a poem. He called me his gravity. In the small amount of time I spent with him today, my heart sang words of love and I wrote them.
I place it here for memory.  I have been overwhelmed by gratitude in this life today. For my girls, my husband, my family and my best friend.
Be joyful.
Love Always,


I built my life roots in God’s wordMy faith, the foundation of which I built 


My daughters are my seeds.  

Growing and reaching out for the winds

Waiting for the right breeze to pick them up and carry them off into adulthood

Him though

He is my gravity and he contains me inside his universe.

Through the hectic swirl of my emotions

He places all of me in orbit

Each moment its own planet

Each day a moon surrounding a world

His love has given me pause

Instead of the chaotic Meteor shower of my past

I am an organized solar system

He places me inside the stars of his sky

All of me special

Each aspect a sparkling ball of fire
He is the sun that shines down on my earth

His light rays giving growth to all that the light touches
I have grown in his light

I bask daily in those rays

My soul has been filled by this amazing


Only God could orchestrate such music 

And my heart beats grateful every moment in this light

My new story

Stories matter.  My fear is I will forget my story of how Joseph and I grew into husband and wife.

So today I will write all the moments where I saw God change our hearts as we went along.

For those of you who have read lots of my story you know Joseph and I started off in an unconventional way. I had been in relationship prisons till I met Joseph. When we became “friends with benefits” it was wonderful to be part of something that had no demands. No expectations. I know lots of people won’t agree with outbstart. But I truly believe it was Gods way of showing me I could be part of something great without demands.

I remember defining moments that showed me how we progressed from friends to being so much more.

We went camping five months into dating. While driving, Joseph saw this sign that said they were having a tiny town carnival. He said,  “we should go so I can show off my girlfriend.”

Consider my shock. This was the same guy who texted me one day after we were just hanging out and said, “In another life I think you would have been perfect for me.”

My divorced status and my girls would scare any mid 20’s man. With strict Christian parents, I knew I didn’t look like the best option for someone’s son.

That same night, lying under the stars, Joseph held me close and with nervous laughter in his voice said, “I just love all of this so much”

More shock. God was changing his heart and mine. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know if he heard me but in my fear I whispered it back. 

The second time he said I love you was to the tune of the goldfish jingle. “I love Tiarra cause she’s so delicious.” In the beginning I know it was his way of letting me know that his love was there but in a way that helped him share it without the seriousness he wasn’t ready to admit.

8 months into our relationship one night, Joseph and I stayed up way too late. We didn’t want to end our evening so we watched comedy videos till midnight. He had school and me work the next day but admitting bedtime meant he had to go home. Neither of us wanted that. He looked at me, illuminated by my computer monitor and said, “I don’t want to go.”

My reply, “Then don’t.”

He stayed. Just another piece of us trusting each other slowly with more and more of our hearts and our commitment.

Another moment was us sitting at the table eating lunch. He said he loved me. More serious than his previous ones. I told him how I felt every time. I shared my soul with him that day. I saw something in his eyes that day. A gratefulness that I can’t explain in words. I wish I had told him sooner what his words meant (and still mean) everytime he said them. Perhaps I would have seen that bond strengthen in his eyes sooner. But all in Gods time.

One day after an afternoon lunch, as he was headed out to class he turned to me and said, “I can see myself spending the rest of my life with you. But I don’t know about marriage.”

The rest of his life. The rest of mine.

As the time kept going we had many late night talks. One included Joseph asking me what I wanted to do. What was my big dream? I told him that someday I wanted to teach photography. As a professor in a university setting. There was a pause, as if he was considering what to say next. 

“Professor Tompkins. I like that.” He said

My shock. This many who had just said he didn’t know about this marriage thing just replaced my last name with his. 

He didn’t get down on one knee to propose and our wedding was a small elopement. But it was the most wonderful thing to me to commit my life to him. As I watched us grow into each other I saw something that is amazing. He loves me the way Christ loves the church. And I love him as Christ loved the church. 

Why did I write this today? Gratitude. Today the message at church is gratitude. I’m grateful for my husband, for our journey. For his love and commitment to me and our girls. I have never in my life met a man with more integrity, that works so hard. Who wants to take care of this family. In our written wedding vows he said his life was hollow before. That he was just going to school to learn to do something. That we came along and gave his life purpose. Meaning and direction.

My dearest love, you give me that too.

To those of you still waiting for your love story, God will bring it to you. Even if it’s just Christ’s love for you.

Have an amazing day everyone.



The Conversation 2016

Working in a hybrid company is a privilege that most people may not understand. Being the Vice President at OnFire Books and being the right hand woman of the CEO for more than a decade changes your life. 


Because I have been given something from this company that is priceless. An opportunity to be in a job that allows me to serve.

What does working for a hybrid company mean? It means that we strive, in everything we do, to make change. To give. Not just money but time.Not just for the Authors that come to us for work on their Business Book libraries or their legacy books. We work to impact the world through everything we do. From our homeless ministries, through orphanages and through every avenue that we can to impact lives with the power of words. There is something special about reaching out while learning more about the people we serve. We get dirty, we go into where people are and we use our words and resources to change lives.  We don’t just send a check and consider it done. Im grateful that I have the chance to reach out everyday and see the impact on lives that we strive to lift up.

This past Friday was our annual event. The Conversation. This event means a lot to me. 

Why did I tell you all that stuff about serving others? 
A Vice President of a company is rarely accessible. There are a lot of different jobs that I have and hats that I wear. But one thing I always want to be is accessible. For our attendees at our event I am the main contact. Why? Because I want to be involved in making sure that they are ready the life changing  event. That they have the highest quality of contact and that they didn’t get emails from my assistant. It is about a personal connection. 

The Conversation is an exclusive, invitation only event. A mastermind of world changers. Every single guest at The Conversation is hand picked and screened. I am their main contact the months leading up to the event. I answer questions, send hotel information and make sure that they are prepared for the event. Why do I do all of this?


I want to make the connection to each attendee so that they can understand their importance. They were handpicked for this event. I want them to know that my status in the company that founded the event isn’t something that makes me inaccessible. You know what else? I am the person who registers each guest as they arrive. I could get someone else to do this. It isn’t an overly complicated job. I could instead spend my time mingling. Maybe connect with 30 people. That isn’t enough for me.  I want to connect with each attendee as they arrive. I want them to meet the person that helped them prepare for this event. Life and business changing conversations happen around those fires. Ideas are ignited and I consider it a blessing that I can be there to greet each attendee and know that every step of the journey to The Conversation, I was there to connect with them. 

Being accessible to the attendees, welcoming them to The Conversation and see the recognition when I introduce myself is my take away for the night.  The excitement in their face, knowing I helped them prepare for this day is my reward for being accessible and creating that personal connection. It is as if I can see their heart open up to what can happen at this event just because I took the extra time to create relationships with our attendees before they arrive. 

If my connection with our attendees prepares one person to really open up for the amazing conversations that happen around our campfires, than my work at creating bonds before the event was worth it.

We all decide where we will choose to spend our time. I choose to spend my time creating personal connections with our Authors and our attendees and changing lives with words.

It’s a meaningful decision that creates connection, not just for me, but for someone else. 

That is what matters. 

Happy Father’s Day

Dear Terry,

I write this to you even though you are long gone from this earth. I don’t know if you heart belonged to Jesus, so I truly can’t say if we will ever see each other again.

I want you to know that I am grateful for you. Every negative thing you said to me was a lesson. I have learned never to treat people the way that you treated me. I learned to say I love you to my children and to show them grace.

Despite your lack of care in regards to my existence, I have forgiven you. It is not for me, to hold a grudge against you for what happened. I am sure what you learned as a young man when I was born scared you. Running away can be considered a normal reaction. I forgive you for not writing me when I was a little girl. I forgive you for not having time for me when I was 12. I forgive you for choosing your new family instead of adding me to the mix. I forgive you for telling me I should have never been conceived when I was 15 years old. I forgive you for being drunk and on drugs when I needed you to be sober and present. I forgive you for how you treated my mom and how you treated us girls.

What’s more I forgive you for finally apologizing to me when you got sick, but never telling me that you were dying till it was too late. My girls have no biological grandparents (other than my amazing mom) that care, or spend time with them. So I forgive you for not giving me the chance to introduce them to you when you had finally tried to make peace.

I always wanted to have a Dad that would look out for me and take care of me. I realized that maybe that just wasn’t God’s plan. Maybe my lack of a good Dad led me to where I am now. Perhaps had you been a good dad I would have never met my daughters father and made the bad choice to marry him. Maybe I would have made better choices. Those choices might mean I wouldn’t have my girl. Those choices might mean that I wouldn’t have my Joseph.

So I want to thank you. Thank you for failing me. Thank you for not taking responsibility for me. Thank you for every insecurity that you gave me. Without every one of those lessons, I may not be standing here, with the love of my life, and my beautiful girls.

Thank you.



This life is so short. I want to let go of the things that I can’t control. I can’t control how someone treated me years ago, and I sure can’t make someone who has long since died, make up for it. For myself, this year, I give myself the gift of forgiveness. Of letting go.

Happy Father’s Day, Terry, wherever your soul resides. May we both be at peace.