Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Laugh! It’s Good for You!

November 30th, 2013

He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing. Job 8:21

I’ve been enjoying the Christmas classics already being aired on TV. However, I have yet to watch “The Christmas Carol.” I was thinking last night about the scene in which It Scrooge is surprised by his nephew’s laughter. It was a much greater surprise to Scrooge to find himself in a bright, dry, gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smiling by his side!

In the scene, Scrooge’s nephew is seated in a circle with his guests playing a game called ‘The Governor’s Cat’. There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor. Scrooge’s nephew was laughing while holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions, and Scrooge’s niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends are joining in.

Dickens also saw the benefits of laughter. He often used irony and satire to make his readers laugh. In this scene from A Christmas Carol, we see the contrast between Scrooge, a grumpy old man, and his young, fun-loving nephew. Laughter was a foreign concept to Ebenezer Scrooge. He saw no value in being merry, just as he saw no value in people celebrating Christmas.

Yet the Bible is filled with stories of rejoicing and celebration. One example is when Sarah gave birth to her son as a very old woman. It was such an unbelievable miracle that Sarah laughed with joy. She said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”

So remember to laugh, long and often. It’s good for you!

You Can’t Take It With You

November 28th, 2013

For film-goers and movie fans that are from my generation, it is easy for classic films to get lost in the shuffle. Ask someone my age, what the best movie of all time is, they’re likely to say Pulp Fiction. I’m here to suggest that they’ve missed out if they haven’t rented the classic “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Capra’s storytelling is flawless. He very cleverly sets up the two very different families, the Sycamores, a large offbeat, free-spirited family that dance, make fireworks, paint, write novels, and construct toys with equal joy, laughing their way through the Depression with much love & great contentment. And the Kirbys are a stiff, mean spirited, up tight banking family intent on taking over their neighborhood.

Tony Kirby (James Stewart) loves Alice Sycamore (Jean Arthur) no matter what, and doesn’t want her or her family to put on a show to impress his family. When he surprises her by turning up a day early for a dinner engagement, the Kirbys meet the Sycamores for who they truly are, wind up in jail, and along the way, learn a little bit about being human beings.

There are several delightful scenes in the film, all beautifully filmed and connected in such a way that the story flows smoothly. Capra uses much of the same sentiment that he does in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s sweet, it’s real, and it’s a style of film making you wish would still happen today. Even the littlest things like Grandpa Sycamore’s dinnertime prayers are enough to remind the viewer of what a world could be if we kept our values simple, our wants satisfied, and ourselves happy.

Evidently, I was completely charmed by James Stewart and Jean Arthur, who are both incredibly talented, and who together make Tony and Alice an utterly credible couple. Edward Arnold was great as the stuffed shirt Anthony Kirby Sr., too. But my greatest praise would have to be reserved for Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof. You couldn’t imagine a sweeter, lovelier old man. His role, is as relevant today as it was in 1938, is a complete change from his much-better-known Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“You Can’t Take It With You” is artistic, Oscar winning comedy produced by Frank Capra. This film is rare. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and quite frankly, it’ll make you glad to be alive. Just rent it. You’ll feel good for days!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2013

Come to Me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy My Presence.

This is Thanksgiving; a day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! He wants you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow. Search for all that He has prepared for you, anticipating abundant blessings and accepting difficulties as they come. Our Lord can weave miracles into the most mundane day if you keep your focus on Him.

Go to God with all your needs, knowing that His glorious riches are far more than adequate to meet your needs. Stay in continual communication with Him, so that you can live above your circumstances even while you are in the midst of them. Present your requests to Jesus with thanksgiving, and His Peace, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind.

I wish each of you the happiness of good friends, the joy of a happy family, and the wonder of the holiday season. Have a magical thanksgiving!

Turkey Is Not For Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2013

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

For some people, there is nothing that strikes fear into the heart faster than the thought of having to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I fear a few things, but cooking isn’t one of them.

That because I grew up observing my mother. For a month she’d prep and plan out the entire menu, and then enlist the help of us kids, who were excited to chip in any way they could so we could sample along the way.

One by one, she assigned each of us a task and outlined instructions to make sure nothing was missed. We would parade in and out of the kitchen completing our assignments as mom worked endlessly to make sure that she had every dish in the works.

I’m from the midwest so a typical menu consists of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, savory stuffing cooking inside the bird, and a smoked turkey along with various deserts. Ah! The deserts!

In all the hustle and bustle, I can’t remember if there was any major mishap. There were times when deserts wouldn’t turn out just right or once when it took longer to smoke the turkey than expected. But, can you imagine a beautiful Thanksgiving spread without the main attraction?

Of course, we could have a laugh around the table, and all things considered, we probably had more than enough to eat! I mean did we really need a baked turkey AND a smoked turkey? That reality didn’t relieve the frustration or change the fact that turkey would be served late in the day instead of when everybody was sitting at the set table.

It’s easy to be thankful when you have more than enough, but true gratitude is when we offer thanks to God in all circumstances. Happy Thanksgiving.

Turkey Poem

November 25th, 2013

When I was a young turkey, new to the coop,
my big brother Tom took me out on the stoop,
then he sat me down, and he spoke real slow,
and he told me there was something that I had to know.

His look and his tone I will always remember,
when he told me of the horrors of…. Black November.

“Come around August, now listen to me,
each day you’ll get six meals instead of just three,
and soon you’ll be thick, where once you were thin,
and you’ll grow a big rubbery thing under your chin.

And then one morning, when you’re warm in your bed,
in will burst the farmer’s wife, and hack off your head,
Then she’ll pluck out all your feathers so you’re bald ‘n pink,
and scoop out all your insides and leave ya lyin’ in the sink.

And then comes the worst part”, he said not bluffing,
“She’ll spread your cheeks and pack your rear with stuffing”.
Well, the rest of his words were too grim to repeat,
and as I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat,
I decided on the spot that to avoid being cooked,
I’d have to lay low and remain overlooked.

I began a new diet of nuts and granola,
high-roughage salads, juice and diet cola.
And as they ate pastries, chocolates and crepes,
I stayed in my room doing my fitness tapes.

I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
and tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed.
But ’twas I who was laughing, under my breath,
as they chomped and they chewed, ever closer to death.
And sure enough when Black November rolled around,
I was the last turkey left in the entire compound.

So now I’m a pet in the farmer’s wife’s lap.
I haven’t a worry, so I eat and I nap.
She held me today, while sewing and humming,
and smiled at me and said….. “Christmas is coming…”

 

Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens

November 23rd, 2013

From the shores of Japan and the South Pacific to the shores of South Florida, Ronin Taiko & Polynesian Proud Productions brought the connection between Japanese Taiko drummers and the magic of Polynesia to the Morikami stage.  I attended the theatrical presentation which combined music, drums, and dance, exploring the trans-Pacific connections between Japanese and Polynesian sound.

The concert was yet another wonderful experience at the Morikami Japanese Gardens. There’s so much to see at there. It’s one of my favorite places in Palm Beach County, with their ever-changing exhibits and beautifully landscaped gardens means there’s always something new to see.  Once you go, you’ll want to visit again and again. (www.morikami.org)

Security with God

November 23rd, 2013

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Who among us never struggles with insecurity? No one. Insecurity is a universal phenomenon that paralyzes some folks and sends others into a frantic scramble.

Insecurity basically means we feel uncertain or can’t relax because we’re fearful that something negative might happen to us, and we’re unsure how to respond.

Today’s verse is a promise. It’s perfect for all the insecure moments of life. It eases our fear and diminishes our apprehension by reminding us that the living God is always with us. Can we get more secure than that? The One with all power and the ultimate source of help assures His people of the strength and aid they need in every situation. Hallelujah!!

We don’t have to be afraid because God is with us. Take time to thank Him for His constant presence that drives away insecurity and doubt. Oh, victory in Jesus!

Black Nativity

November 22nd, 2013

Yesterday I attended the premier screening of a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes’ celebrated play “Black Nativity.” It’s a holiday musical film which follows Langston, a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson), as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs. (Forest Whitaker & Angela Basset) Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs’ rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima. The teen embarks on a surprising journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family in the form of a Christmas miracle.

“Black Nativity” is a retelling of the classic Nativity story with an entirely black cast, and was first performed Off-Broadway on December 11, 1961. Traditional Christmas carols are sung in gospel style, with a few original songs created specifically for the show.

In the movie’s early scenes characters break into song in everyday settings. However, once Langston reaches Harlem the music becomes straightforward and presented in a more realistic fashion. “Black Nativity” comes together during a lengthy church service, a heavenly fantasy that envelops Langston and galvanizes the movie in a Christmas card moment.

Whitaker and Bassett both sing reasonably well, and their performances add unmistakable gravitas to the film. But it’s Jennifer Hudson that really demonstrates her vocal talent into the ensemble. Even in this heavyweight company, however, Latimore may be the new talent standout.  He’s convincing as a potential bad boy punk, but he always has us rooting for him to end up on the right side. And his musical gifts are pretty surprising.

I recommend “Black Nativity” for those that are looking for a religious family movie and enjoy Broadway theatre. The movie’s heart is in the right place, I’d give it 3 stars.

 

 

Snowy Pleasure

November 21st, 2013

Last night I attended the highly anticipated screening of Disney’s beautifully animated “Frozen,” which is based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen.”

In it we follow Princess Anna, a fearless optimist, who sets off on an epic journey. She teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Anna’s sister Queen Elsa appears poised, regal and reserved, but in reality, she lives in fear as she wrestles with a mighty secret. Haunted by a childhood memory, Elsa has isolated herself, fearing she’s becoming a monster that no one, not even her sister, can help.

Frozen is a combination of classic princess fairy tale and Ice Age with catchy Broadway-style songs. There’s a funny-looking snowman walking on ice and struggling to stay on his feet and a likable reindeer. This movie is aimed at young kids, especially young girls that love fairy tales and will leave asking their parents for Princess Anna dresses and plush Olaf and Sven toys.

I recommend Frozen for families looking for holiday entertainment, however there is not much to entertain the adults watching. Prior to the movie is a charming new Disney short titled “Get a Horse” which demonstrated the best use of 3D I’d seen in a long time. PS: stay for an extra scene during the credits.

Thankful Thursday

November 21st, 2013

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is His name. Luke 1:46–49

Throughout the month of November, I have been doing a Countdown to Thanksgiving on Facebook. The verses have been carefully chosen to help as we meditate on all of God’s blessings in our lives and are meant to encourage conversations of thankfulness to Him.

The concept of thanksgiving seemed to escape the early Israelites. They had been delivered from bondage by God’s power, yet within days, they had apparently forgotten. On top of that, they began blaming God for delivering them from Egypt so they could die in the desert.

Then God again exerted His mighty power and divided the Red Sea so they could go across safely. And when they became hungry and began to whine again, God sent them fresh manna every morning!

Think back, do you remember if God has done something for you recently? Are there things you’ve forgotten about? Great things the Lord has done? Take some time now to thank Him! Prepare your own personal Thankful List and share it with your friends and family.

Hopelifters Need Hopelifters, too

November 18th, 2013

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I challenge you to think about how you refill yourself when you’re feeling worn out. When you’ve poured out every last drop of energy, how do you refill your pitcher during the busy Christmas season? I’ve learned that nurturing myself and taking a little walk with Jesus helps me refill. If I don’t I’m unable to pour out hope to others as joyfully.

Even Jesus was intentional about getting away to rest and pray. Spending time alone with the Father always filled Him up. It’s true if you don’t take the rest, your body will eventually force you to take it.

However, we also need the comfort of relationships. We need people beside us to be our companions through happy or hard times that will share in our laughter and tears. People that encourage us fill our pitcher. Even Jesus needed friends beside Him. He invited Peter, James, and John to pray with Him and share His sorrow in the garden before He was arrested and crucified.

Think of a list of ways you can nurture yourself. Your ways will be whatever fills you, replenishes you, and fits into your routine.

Be filled with comfort and joy this week.

 

Historic Worth Avenue

November 17th, 2013

Yesterday was a big day in Palm Beach County. Someone seeking adventure could head to downtown West Palm to see the giant Christmas tree lit at Cityplace or drive across the bridge to Palm Beach where iconic Worth Avenue celebrated 100 years of being named after Seminole War hero Gen. William Jenkins Worth.

Worth Avenue has been voted on by USA Today Travel, as one of 10 favorite iconic American streets. The famed avenue is known for its upscale boutiques, such as Emilio Pucci, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. To celebrate there was live music performances, models, and a showcase of 40 Lamborghinis presented by Lamborghini Palm Beach. I even took a ghost tour of the avenue thought to be one of America’s most haunted locations.

The tour gave me the opportunity to explore antique sites and hear about Worth Ave’s scandalous past, legendary stories while drinking in the glamour of Palm Beach. Let me fill you in on what I learned …

Col. ER Bradley built the Beach Club, which was to be the world’s finest gambling casino even though gambling was illegal. Bradley circumvented that technicality by operating as a private club with security recruited from the mountains of Tennessee. Yes, he was raided several times, but had always been tipped off and would have everything was folded up within moments. Suddenly the guests were sitting down drinking tea at the tables.

Located across from the Beach Club, on the southeast corner of Worth Avenue housed Gus’ Baths, the only place open for year-round swimming by the beach. Owned by Gus Jordahn, it had shops, apartments, three saltwater pools and a tunnel to the beach. Jordahn also built a 1,000’ pier for fishing, and it’s here he started Cowboys-of-the-Sea, in which all members had helped save someone from drowning; membership was for life. He also patented a life preserver nicknamed the Palm Beach Roll still in use today.

Located west of the Beach Club is the famous Colony Hotel, the non-official capital of American royal-lovers. The most romantic couple in the history of late modern era, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, whose three year romance, and subsequent marriage, caused the most sensational scandal throughout the world, were yearly guests of the Colony. Though Miss Simpson was hated in Britain, their romance was very differently perceived in Palm Beach, where the royal lovebirds were warmly hosted by some of America’s greatest living philanthropists.

In Palm Beach County, there’s no more infamous tall tale than that of the Styx. The legend of the Styx has been passed down by oral tradition and is accepted as gospel by many. But the evidence all but dismisses it. The shantytown sprang up in the 1890s for more than 2,000 black workers at nearby hotels. The story is that Henry Flagler was eager to oust the residents so he could develop the land. He had it condemned on health grounds, then hired a circus to set up across the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach, gave residents free passes, and while they enjoyed the show, burned their homes down.

However, Flagler didn’t own the property, Col. ER Bradley purchased it in 1910. In 1912 Bradley ordered workers to move the residents out. He gave them two weeks to move across the bridge. After everyone left, Bradley cleared the land, pulled up the trash and burned it.

Beyond the Styx, lays the Everglades Club. Opened in 1919, non-members have speculated about what, and who, is behind the huge carved doors of this massive iconic building anchoring the west end of Worth Avenue, where America’s elite gathers in the winter. This is where famous architect Addison Mizner first created the romantic architectural styles known around the world as “the Palm Beach look” and is still very exclusive.

One of the rules of Palm Beach is that you cannot be buried, nor can you bury a pet, on the island. However, eccentric Mr. Mizner proved that wealth provides privileges and was able to bury his pet spider monkey ‘Johnnie Brown’. Today you can visit the tombstone which lays in a restaurant courtyard, just off fancy Worth Avenue. It simply reads: Johnnie Brown, The Human Monkey, Died April 30, 1927.

I encourage you to visit these sites and more if you’re in the area. Worth Avenue is a historically important place, sometimes referred to as the Rodeo Drive of Florida, only four blocks long it houses 250 high-end retailers from Cartier to Hermes and where JFK spent his last weekend. The street is also beautifully lined with 200 coconut palms reaching 32 -40 feet tall. It’s a sight to see.

Come, explore what Florida has to offer!

25 Hill

November 16th, 2013

This morning I watched the family friendly movie rental “25 Hill”. Set in the small town of Taft, CA, it’s the story of a 12-year-old boy whose soapbox derby dreams are left in pieces when his Army father is killed while serving in Afghanistan. Trey is left with his devastated mom, an unfinished car and a dream that’s all but dead. His teacher teams Trey up with local fire chief Corbin Bernsen, whose firefighter son died in New York on 9/11. In a story of faith and redemption, they embark on a journey to build the soapbox car and complete the derby. Along the way, they form a strong friendship and learn that together they can mend old wounds and accomplish more than they ever imagined.

As they work on the car, and Trey begins to race in various derbies, getting better as he goes, Roy keeps training him. Roy won some of his own races in the past. They encounter a few bumps along the way, including Roy’s drinking problem, but Trey persists in opening his eyes to the problem it’s beginning to cause.

It’s a heartwarming family movie with realistic grieving, however there are also terrific themes such as carrying on when life is difficult and being open to new friendships. Trey names his car “Faith & Courage” which could be the movie’s subtitle. 25 Hill will pull a couple tears out of the toughest critic and leave you feeling uplifted.

This movie was awarded the Dove “Family Approved” Seal in 2011.

Counting the Days

November 15th, 2013

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life … Psalm 23: 6a

I woke up this morning to the local news announcing that there are only 46 days until Christmas. That’s hard to believe. Where did the year go? As we (quickly) progress toward the beginning of another year, it’s important that we evaluate how we spent the last year. Our days on this earth are finite, but do we ever take the time to think about what that means?

There are 168 hours in a week, and if you sleep 8 hours a night, 56 hours of your week is used. Add to that your work week, time spent getting ready for and driving to work, meals and suddenly time has dwindled away. One must have time for friends & family, but what about time for God? Do you make time in your life for the Lord?

I find waking early in the morning works for my personal prayer time, and after that walking with Him throughout the rest of my day in all my activities great and small. He’s my ever present guest. That way I don’t have to “make” time.

Intentional Kindness Is a Choice That Could Change the World

November 13th, 2013

Today is World Kindness Day, so I looked up the definition of kindness. Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. This is a way of life that’s about putting the needs of others above our own. In today’s world this is becoming increasingly rare.

We live in a world where people are busy, tired and consumed by a culture encouraging us to maintain a certain level of material possessions.

The results of this are that people have very little time left for others. We live in a world where our elderly are increasingly forgotten about, abandoned and isolated. We live in cities where the code of conduct is never to make eye-contact, least of all have the courtesy to smile or chat. We live in communities where many people don’t know their next-door neighbors.

All is NOT lost. Kindness is listed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. However, the only way the Holy Spirit can work within us is if we make the daily choice to follow God’s will rather than  allowing ourselves to be heavily influenced by society.

To display kindness is intentional. Just like what we choose to wear each day, we must choose to be kind. Make that choice today. A single act of kindness sends roots in all directions, and those roots spring up as new life in our souls.

You Matter To God

November 12th, 2013

This is what the Lord says he who made you, who formed you in the womb, will help you. Isaiah 44:2a

Good news! You’re not an accident. You matter to God. Even before the universe was created, God had you in mind, and he planned you for His purposes. These purposes will extend beyond the years you’ll spend on earth. You were made to last forever!

Yet, searching for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point: ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like “What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, ambitions, and dreams for my future?” But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. When we stop and think, it’s God who directs our lives.

Therefore, to find our purpose, we must begin in prayer asking God for His purpose. We were made by God and for God, and until we understand that, life isn’t going to make sense. It’s only in God that we’re able to discover our identity, meaning, purpose, significance, and destiny.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.