From the first day that I met Jeffrey Daniel Leach, I was smitten for him. It only took a matter of weeks before I knew that I was madly in love with him, though it took him months. I’ll never forget “all the feels” when Jeff and I first started dating.
The beginning days were precious (and still are!). I can remember sitting criss-cross in front of my mirrored door as I got ready for dates. I carefully did my make-up, applied my curling iron on my hair to form the most perfect curls, and chose an outfit that would catch his eye.
Often times Jeff would wait for me in downstairs in the townhouse family room as I would get ready. Without fail, I would walk down the stairs with knots and butterflies in my stomach as he would take his first glances at me.
Would he think I’m beautiful when he first looks at me?
I loved him, and I knew I wanted to marry him. We would spend hours upon hours sharing with one another our hopes, dreams, and passions in life. We talked about everything from astronomy to theology to grocery shopping techniques.
As we grew closer, our talking became more vulnerable. We shared our fears, our traumas, and our hidden longings. I can remember some of our most intimate conversations, and as I shared, I wondered if he would love me more or reject me.
Vulnerability is like that. It’s scary, that is. In moments of vulnerability, we wonder if the longings and secrets of our hearts will be embraced or rejected.
Over the couple of years I embarked on a vulnerable project – a scary one. I wrote a book. But this isn’t just any book, it’s raw at times. And much like I felt when I would round the corner to walk down the stairs to greet Jeff, I feel right now as my book is about to be released to the world.
And much like I was head-over-heels in love with Jeff, so am I with the church. And this book, though vulnerable and raw, is a love letter to the church.
Like a mother who wants to see her children grow and flourish, so am I a pastor who wants to see the church live into her missional fullness. And I think the church can do a lot better.
So, Emboldened is a very heart-felt call to the entire Bride of Christ (If you’re a professing Christian, then this book is for you) to fully embrace the kingdom vision fully rooted in Scripture, and allow the Spirit of Pentecost to be unleashed on sons and daughters.
So here I am, just a month away from release date. Feeling vulnerable and afraid. How will the Bride of Christ feel when she reads my book? I recently shared my fears with a friend of mine, Kimberly Whetstone, Discipleship Pastor, Parkview Community Church, and her words washed over me like a healing oil:
“I went to a concert of an Indie artist last week. She shared many beautiful new songs. Before one song that was so personal, she shared the fear she battles each time she creates. My summary of her thoughts, “You work and write your story, your heart, and then there is a moment for every creative when you feel utterly alone. It is you and your heart poured out (in song/on paper) and you wait to see if the world will receive you. It is frightening. You know what you have just shared is one of the truest things about you.” So, my friend, you have and will be sharing your gift, your journey with the world. It is beautiful truth that breathes life and freedom. That song she was so afraid to share? It brought the room together, believers, nonbelievers, men and women of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Her act of faith, truth and courage, will be rejected by some, but for those of us who heard the melody, it brought life, breath and an inviting rhythm we all needed in a chaotic world. It reminded us of the truest thing about us…our humanity and our hope. My prayer is as you release your vulnerable, true story into the world, you’ll see the joy and tears by those whom God captures with its melody and inviting rhythm. My prayer is that God will affirm the truest things about you as you see men, women and the Church realize the truest things about themselves. May God guard your heart and give you supernatural eyes to see the pain and brokenness of any haters. I also pray God’s invitations to you, his beloved child, will be clearly heard in each moment. You are a gift, Tara Beth, and so is your journey for so many who are losing hope and longing for more. Peace and strength in every sphere of your life.”
When I read her words, I just wept. She named exactly “all the feels” that were saturating my heart and mind. But as I prepare to release my “baby” into the world, I both receive my friend’s words, and I echo the prayers.
Lord, I offered this book to you before I wrote it, and I offer it into your hands now. I pray that every person who reads the book would will find at least one nugget of encouragement, and I pray that your kingdom vision for the church would envelop their hearts and minds. I pray that sons would come alongside of their sisters and push them to the frontlines, and I pray that daughters would be captivated for what can be. Lord, I believe now is the time for there to no longer be token women. I believe now is the time for their to no longer be anomalies. I believe now is the time for women to no longer be held back only because of their gender. Lord, I pray that the Spirit of Pentecost would burst forth in the local church. I pray for revival in and through your daughters. Let their be a new dawn of men and women partnering together for this incredible mission at hand. We are all in, Lord. Have your way. Amen.
You can preorder Emboldened here.