Thank You NYC, For Making Me a Better Person

Times Square

I usually avoid Times Square like carrots in my shrimp fried rice, but tonight I couldn’t help but stand here for a few minutes. I’ve learned a thing or two from the tourists I rush past. They’re so happy and in the moment, as they marvel at the big lights. It reminds me to be grateful for the opportunity to live and learn in this city. And although this past year has been rather tough, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The patience I’ve gained is not only manifesting itself in waiting for the promises God made to me when I moved here, it is also manifesting itself in the way I’ve shown patience with those around me. Like showing kindness to a tourist struggling with her luggage, or treating a homeless man like he’s not invisible.

So I guess I say all of this just to say thanks NYC, for making me a better person.

—Tara Pook

Because He First Loved Me

I’ve been going through what I call a spiritual lull these past couple of weeks. I haven’t been reading my Bible as much as I should, and when I do pray it’s more out of Christian obligation than heart-felt desire. So Saturday morning (5:30am to be exact) I said a prayer before work asking God for the grace to get out of this spiritual valley and to ignite a fire within me. I prayed for my worship to be pure and my praise to be true.  My desire is to chase after Him with all my being, in order to reach new heights and have greater intimacy.

facebook link imageAfter “Amen,” I was out the door.

At work I was mostly going through the motions – checking in members, handling complaints, etc. – and wishing I was back in bed. I was finally relieved to get my break and get some much needed caffeine in the form of a large French vanilla iced coffee.

As I power-walked down the street I heard voices singing. I looked ahead and saw four people— three men and a woman— harmonizing, but I couldn’t make out what they were singing. Living in NYC, it’s quite common to see people performing on the street or just being weird, for lack of a better term, so at first I paid it no mind. But as they got closer, I heard:

Finding Freedom in Sharing My Mess

10678626_10203532050757708_7264541990605032393_nI used to take pride in having it all together. Or should I say appearing to have it all together. In between replies of “I’m fine” and “I’m doing alright” lied the truth– I was a hot mess waiting to boil over. My pleas for help were so buried and stifled that I found it difficult to cry or even pray in the privacy of my room. “Get it together Tara,” I’d say, as if I were a coach prepping his team after a losing half, “You’re tougher than this.”

But I wasn’t, and yet my lingering struggles with perfectionism and vulnerability served as duct tape over my mouth, preventing the truth from coming out.

That I felt overwhelmed. That I felt frustrated. That I felt alone.

And perhaps worst of all that I wouldn’t be understood.

There was no room on Instagram for the shadowed parts of me. No, only perfect selfie lighting to showcase a seemingly Carrie Bradshaw-esque lifestyle of cute vanilla lattes during the school week and bottomless brunches on the weekend. There was no mention of the sleep-deprived and anxiety-filled Tara who was over-drafting her bank account for textbooks.

God Belongs In My City: A Recap of My First Experience


Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King

—”Mighty to Save,” written by Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding

On Saturday I had the amazing experience of magnifying that light during the annual prayer walk, God Belongs in My City. The premise is simple yet powerful. It’s a heartfelt proclamation of faith and prayer that began six years ago thanks to a youth minister in Brooklyn. Now the movement is international.

How I Went From Journalism Dreams to Pastoral Counseling

Last week I began the second year of my Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Care masters program. And despite having a few semesters under my belt, I’m still asked the following:

Wait, what happened to journalism?

So are you trying to be a pastor?

The reason behind my career goal evolution can best be summed up in Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Just a few short years ago, I thought I had it all planned out. Upon graduating with a journalism degree, I would secure an amazing internship at my favorite magazine (they would love me of course), and I would be right on track to becoming the editor-in-chief of my own magazine. From there I’d work my way to the top while squeezing in a 2-year stint of graduate school. It made sense and I didn’t see how it couldn’t happen.

Until well, it didn’t. I didn’t get that dream internship. I didn’t get any internship to be honest. Instead I lived at home and worked 10-hour sweaty days at my local water park. For someone used to having her plans work out, it was rather sobering. I became depressed as I saw countless peers starting to live out their dreams on social media. They were interning, traveling, and hustling- all while making time for happy hour specials.

If You Want More, Prepare for More


It started with a dream.

I was preparing for Sunday Service at my family’s church as I had done times before. The speakers were ready, the microphones were in place. All that was missing were the chairs, and it was then that I realized we only had a handful of them scattered around the room. Definitely not enough for the next morning. Frustrated, I began pacing around because of how unprofessional everything looked.

How could I forget one of the most important details? Why wasn’t anyone else worried about this?

I eventually released some steam and sat down for a moment. Soon after I heard a voice say, “If you want more, then you have to prepare for more.”

And then I woke up.

I consider myself a dreamer, perhaps more of a daydreamer; so this vivid vision and audible voice awakened me from more than just sleep. It awakened me spiritually as I believe it was one of the first times I realized that I was hearing from God.

During that time I was nearing peak dissatisfaction with my life. Each day I felt like I was born for so much more than jobs I dreaded and a bank account statement that didn’t match my taste in food. Weekend bottomless brunches add up over time, you know.

There was something about the voice that resonated with me deeply. At first I brushed it off as a random dream, much like the others I occasionally have. Like the time I dreamt I introduced my new “boyfriend” 2 Chainz to my God-fearing grandparents. But then it finally clicked. If I want more out of life, then I need to prepare for what I’m asking for.