Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Labor Day

January 31st, 2014

Last night I watched as the depressed single mom Adele and her young son Henry offered a wounded escaped convict a ride. As police searched town for the man, the mother and son gradually learned his true story as their options become increasingly limited as their emotions become conflicted.

It’s a beautiful story despite being somewhat implausible. I found what mattered wasn’t the story we see, so much as witnessing the characters finally having a shot at happiness and how the rest of their lives were shaped by this single weekend spent together.

The movie is quiet, subtle and slower than his other films out right now. The pacing lets the actors take us through every emotion. Kate Winslet is a terrific actress and she gave a beautiful performance as Adele, very convincingly portraying a woman who’s given up on living. Josh Brolin was first-rate as well, giving us both a tough convict and a soft hearted man at times. And Gattlin Griffith was great portraying a kid who grew up faster than he should have. I can be iffy when it comes to child actors but he pulled it off very well.

In conclusion, Labor Day is a different, quiet mature film. It’s a refreshing change from the 30-something comedies being released and gives the viewer a chance to dig a bit deeper into their emotions. Labor Day creates tension, tears and some laughs. I recommend Labor Day as a beautifully sentimental movie driven by emotions rather than plot.



God’s Looking For You

January 30th, 2014

I enjoy the Gospel of John. In chapter 9, Jesus travels through a village. He saw a blind man on the side of the road. The man didn’t call out to Jesus. He wasn’t like the blind man Bartimaeus who said, “Please Jesus, have mercy and heal me.” This man was just quietly sitting there, and Jesus went to him.

There are many examples in the Bible where people used their faith, reached out to God and received their miracle. The woman with the issue of blood fought her way through the crowd, touched the edge of Jesus’ robe, and she was instantly made whole. The lepers cried out, “Jesus, please heal us.” Jesus healed them. An army captain came and said, “Jesus, if You’ll just speak the Word, my little daughter at home that’s so sick will be healed.” Jesus spoke and the daughter was well. These people all initiated their miracle. They reached out in faith and saw God’s goodness.

God is so merciful and loving. There are times like this blind man when we feel burdened and our faith is weak. Times when we don’t reach out. But God reaches out to us. If it would be dependent on his faith, or what he was/wasn’t asking for, Jesus wouldn’t have stopped to help this blind man. He didn’t show any signs of faith. He was just sitting there minding his own business, still Jesus went to him.

I think it’s interesting that Jesus didn’t ask the man if he had faith or what he believed. Jesus simply made some mud, placed it over the blind man’s eyes, and told him to go wash it off in the pool of Salome. Some friends led him to the pool, he washed it off, and his eyes were instantly opened. He could see perfectly clear. I can’t imagine being aware of the ability to see for the first time.  He probably ran home as fast as he could, and saw his family. Maybe that night he looked up into the sky and saw the stars twinkling. And God wants to do the same thing for you!

Maybe you think that you’ve reached your limits. Maybe the medical report doesn’t look good and you’re weary.  You’ve been single a long time and feel like you’ll ever meet the right person. Or you took a step of faith, but the business, or the project didn’t make it. Now you don’t see how you can pay your bills. But like this man, when we don’t have the faith, even when we think it’s impossible God is going to come looking for you and show you His favor like you’ve never seen!


That Awkward Moment

January 29th, 2014

Last night I attended the advanced screening of “That Awkward Moment.” In this romantic comedy three best friends find themselves where we’ve all  been … that awkward moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…where is this going?”

There are more than a few times in the opening hour of That Awkward Moment where it seems like the movie is veering dangerously close to becoming Bros in the City. (male version of Sex In The City)  Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller play three twenty-something guys who live and work in New York City, and they spend an awful lot of time focused on girls, picking up girls, negotiating their sex lives and relationships, drinking and so on.

Despite an unconvincing plot with the three guys entering into an agreement that they’ll all stay single, they each find themselves engaged in relationships and at a point where they have to face up to where things are going, With another three actors it could have been a totally different story, but due to the chemistry of the three leads the film always manages to just about toe the right side of the bromance line. Zac Efron is an effortless leading man, making the transition from Disney. And Michael Jordan is a fantastic young actor capable of taking on some of the heavier dramatic scenes of the movie.

It would of been nice to get a sense that this wasn’t totally one-sided conversation, and that the decision to commit isn’t only for men whose partners seek commitment. There’s a decent attempt of this in Jordan’s storyline, but unfortunately his wife’s character is paper-thin. And Efron’s female counterpart is the best of the female roles, she’s poorly developed.

But I liked it. The Awkward Moment achieves plenty of laughter, and the three leads are so good together that you end up having as much fun watching them as they’re clearly having together. The movie strikes just the right balance between the raunchy comedic moments and the sweeter romantic stuff, and even if the relationships aren’t exactly even-handed, there’s no denying that the couples aren’t great on screen together. It’s a solid romantic comedy, even if it has much greater success with the comedy than it does with the romantic stuff..

Keep in mind this is an adult film rated R for sexual content and language, drinking throughout.




His Grace Overcomes Anxiety

January 27th, 2014

Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. Psalm 55:22

It was a trying week last week. I admit there were times when my stomach was in knots and my felt like my thoughts were running amok with concern. I know there’s only one that can offer real relief. No amount of alcohol, drugs or money will suffice.

The Bible teaches us that anxiety weighs down the heart, causing hopelessness and depression. Sometimes our pride and freewill allows the Enemy to invade our thoughts & emotions. But if we will only humble ourselves and invite God into our hearts to align our will with His, God will defeat Satan’s assault.

We have authority over the Devil, but only when we’re truly humble and submitted to God. That is what He requires to align us with His word and power to resist the Enemy in our daily lives. May His peace fill you and bring you joy.

Murphy’s Other 15 Laws

January 26th, 2014


1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

2. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

3. He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

4. A day without sunshine is like, well, night.

5. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

6. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.

7. Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.

9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, someone from California would be stupid enough to try to pass them.

10. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.

11. The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

13. Flashlight: A case for holding dead batteries.

14 . God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.

15. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people, who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.


The Invisible Woman

January 25th, 2014

Did you know that at the height of his career, Charles Dickens met a much younger woman who became his lover until his death? I didn’t know much of his private life until today when I went to the movie “The Invisible Woman.”

The rich character piece is filmed as a flashback between the life of Dickens and the post-life era of Dickens. The mysterious title refers to the young Nelly, an avid-admirer of the literary colossus, as she enters into a secret affair with her idol. She spends the best part of her youth amorously involved with the writer, but given that Dickens was a lot older, it was inevitable that she would outlive her lover.

The Invisible Woman paints Dickens as the talented and charitable man that he was, however we are also privy to a more sinister side of the wordsmith, as we learn of his malicious actions towards his wife as the camera takes its time for us to soak it all in.

Ralph Fiennes, known for his love of all things Shakespeare, is at the helm as well as plays the lead with considerable skill we’ve come to rely upon from him.  Felicity Jones co-stars as Nelly. She brings virginal purity, and passion to the story as a woman whose long standing affair affected long after his death. A special bonus was Kristin Scott Thomas who portrays Nelly’s mother, and who can play so many different characters and always be credible.

I can recommend The Invisible Woman for being beautifully made, which is no surprise from the British, with beautiful costumes and scenery. However, be prepared that because it is a British film, it is also a bit slow unfolding.



His House or Dollhouses?

January 25th, 2014

Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” John 2:17

I read about Huguette Clark, a reclusive heiress who owned mansions in California and New York, though she never visited them. Instead she preferred to live in her Fifth Avenue apartment and rented a room in a local hospital, despite being in ideal health.  Clark was obsessed with collecting dolls. She spent millions of dollars on dolls, doll clothes, and dollhouses! Her love for her dolls dominated her life.

We all need a passionate pursuit, some cause we can pour our lives into. But for the Christian it should be worthy of Him and touch on the eternal. People can be, and are, passionate about many things in life. Mostly politics, sports, and health, but let’s be passionate about our walk with God and advancing His work. Ask Him today for His zeal to fill your heart.

I’ll Cross The River

January 23rd, 2014

Last week my mother loaned me the Christian novel “I’ll Cross The River” by author C. Hope Flinchbaugh. I was nearly in tears as Young Soon lay bleeding on the ground nestling her newborn. Is this when she realized everything her brother told about her beloved homeland, North Korea, was true? I think so.

I was captured by this true-to-life story of  North Korean refugee, named Young Soon and Chinese missionary, named Mei Lin. I’ll Cross The River is the vivid story of these two strangers, who never actually meet, but whose lives are bound together by hope in a collision of grace orchestrated by a sovereign, loving God.

Not for the faint hearted, both moving and exciting, this book is chocked full of the hard truth and horrors of North Korean residents. We hear bits of how North Korea oppresses its citizens in the news, but I didn’t put faces and hearts to it until I read this book. It spurred me to pray for them and want to tell others what I learned.

I also enjoyed reading about how God is moving in the hearts of Christians in Communist China, who are spreading the Word of God at great peril to themselves. I didn’t realize that it was still that dangerous in China.

I recommend this beautifully written, factual book. If you’re interested in the plight of the masses in North Korea and China, you will not be disappointed.


Fruit Inspection

January 22nd, 2014

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

One of the first things preschool children learn to identify are various kinds of fruit, either through pictures or the fruit. After that they transfer the knowledge of the fruit to the tree that it grows on: apples grow on apple trees and oranges grow on orange trees. The lesson? You can tell a tree by its fruit.

Jesus used that simple connection to make a powerful spiritual analogy. When warning His followers about false prophets He said, “You will know them by their fruits”. He went on to explain, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” In fact, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit”. So if the spiritual fruit coming from a person is bad, it is a clear indication of the nature of the tree that bears the fruit. Fortunately, we have examples of the kind of good fruit produced by the Holy Spirit as a standard.

Let’s search ourselves by asking: What kind of fruit are we bearing?


A Texan Walks Into an Irish Pub …

January 20th, 2014
A man   walks into a pub in Ireland and clears his voice to the crowd of drinkers.He says, “I hear you Irish are a bunch of hard drinkers. I’ll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back.”

The room is quiet, and no one takes up the Texan’s offer. One man even leaves.

Thirty minutes later the same   gentleman who left shows back up and taps the elderly Texan on the shoulder.   “Is your bet still good?” asks the Irishman.

The Texan says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Irishman tears into all 10 of the pint glasses, drinking them all back-to-back.

The other pub patrons cheer as the Texan sits in amazement. The elderly Texan gives the Irishman the $500 and says, “If ya don’t mind me askin’, where did you go for that 30 minutes you were gone?”

The Irishman replies, “Oh … I had to go to the pub down the street to see if I could do it first.”


This Is The Day!

January 20th, 2014

This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Story has it that Pastor/Writer F. W. Boreham took lodgings in the home of Old Bessie, the widow of a local pastor, when traveling through England. One morning he noticed some words etched into one of the windows: “This is the day!” At breakfast he asked Bessie about it.

“I have had a lot of trouble in my time,” she explained. “Each morning when I woke up I felt as though I had the weight of the world upon me. Then one day when I was very upset about things, I sat down and read the 118th Psalm. When I came to the 24th verse, I stopped. It flashed upon me like a burst of sunshine on a gloomy day.” With a glass-cutting tool from the kitchen, Bessie etched the words on the windowpane: This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

“There!” she thought. “Now I’ll see that little bit of Bible every morning when I draw the blind.”1

Even biblical characters as courageous as Joshua needed to learn to keep a good attitude despite circumstances. So did Old Bessie. So do we! Let’s rejoice today & be glad in Him!

South Florida Fair Gates Are Open!

January 18th, 2014

Since 1912 each January, over a half million visitors enjoy 17 fun filled days at the South Florida Fair, one of Florida’s oldest and largest community events.  Fairgoers like myself are entertained by first class stage shows, national concert performances, sensational midway rides, unique shopping and just try to pass up the fair food! It can’t be done!

Visitors can also experience historic Yesteryear Village, along with the award winning Agriplex. This year’s fair theme is New York, New York with a giant sand sculpture of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building made from cans and Rockefeller Center ice skating to Broadway tunes in the 80,000-square foot Exposition Center. Exciting, isn’t it? THIS is a fair!

I’m not into riding the rides, I’m more of a 4-H barn visitor & fair food foodie, but the South Florida Fair has LOTS of rides. The flagship roller coaster, the Pinfari RC-48, is the only one in the world.

Check out my pics on the photo page. If you’re in the area, visit the fair and cheer for the racing pigs! It’s THE South Florida event of the season.

Another Gadget You Don’t Really Need

January 16th, 2014

My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.  Psalm 119:48

Last August  a street artist pranked retail giant Best Buy. He created empty boxes and snuck them into stores. The boxes looked like an official product with bar code, price, and label. But a closer look showed these words on the box: “Another Gadget You Don’t Really Need.” Discovering the prank, the stores removed the boxes immediately, but the media kept the story alive for days. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/best-buy-prank-useless-plastic-box_n_3743475.html)

With clever marketing consumers often spend a lot of money for items whether they’re needed or not. Some possessions assume great value to us. Others we use & toss. But the one item everyone should value above all else is the Bible. Early Scottish Christians had a habit of never placing anything on top of their Bibles. They wanted their Bibles accessible, visible, available at any moment. Why not adopt this habit in your home? Keep a Bible within reach so you can always lift up your hand to meet with Him and meditate on His statutes.



Give God the Glory

January 13th, 2014

”Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” Philippians 1:12-13

The Golden Globes were on last night and my cousin posted to Facebook: How many actors gave God the glory for their success? I was thinking about that and decided to ask, “What circumstances in my life are turning out for the greater progress of the gospel?” So many of us pray for God’s will for our life, but we get discouraged when the circumstances in our life don’t line up to what we think it should look like.

You might live in a questionable neighborhood, have a job where you’re mocked for your faith, or suffering illness in spite of your walk with Jesus. It may feel like God’s abandoned you. And maybe, God’s setting up your life, to do something greater than you could ever imagine.

When Paul set out on his mission, I’m sure he didn’t imagine his ministry taking place in a Roman prison chained to a guard. He was probably planning it taking place in a town square, preaching to eager listeners, welcomed into homes for a meal and a cozy place to lay his head. And I’m sure those happened. But when he was thrown into prison, was when Paul experienced Christ the greatest.

Because Paul kept preaching the gospel, even from prison, he gave other Christians great boldness to take their faith to the next level. You may not think about it, but other Christians see what you’re going through. When they see you being faithful during tough times, it encourages them. Hallelujah!

Only because Paul was chained to a guard was he able to share the gospel with this man who wouldn’t have had a chance to hear it otherwise. And because Paul was brought before the courts, the gospel was made known throughout the Roman Empire.

Because of the grace of God, a situation that looked very dire, turned out for the greater glory of God. It’s during trials that we experience God in a greater way. It’s when we experience His greatest grace. What grace is Christ inviting you to participate in this week to show His glory through your life?


The Legend of Hercules

January 10th, 2014

Last night I went to see an advanced screening of the story of the mythical Greek hero Hercules. Betrayed by his stepfather, the King, exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love, Hercules was forced to embrace his real father and use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful role in the kingdom.

The latest version of Hercules is devoid of hydras, minotaurs, and other fantastical beasts commonplace to previous incarnations of the son of Zeus. Still it’s a unique take on a story told countless times, but with such minimal adherence to Greek mythology, there’s very little that relates it to Hercules. Instead, the film seems to mimic the adventures of “Gladiator” and “300” in hopes of capturing their style and box-office success.

That said, Hercules, is a perfectly acceptable action extravaganza, complete with a heroic underdog, dictatorial villains, and thousands of miles of barbarism, betrayal, and jealousy to impede an epic quest to reunite lovers. (aww how predictable) The filmmakers don’t seem to care that they’ve implanted absurd overuse of slow motion, wildly circling cameras, and objects unaffected by gravity. I guess they feel all the extra computer graphics and image manipulation was necessary to make their 3D movie work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. In fact, the audience was laughing out loud at the graphics.

Although the film sometimes resembles mixed martial arts movie and Hercules momentarily takes on the role of Robin Hood, and the politically correct world of filmmaking demands that one of the six undefeated gladiatorial champions of Greece is a woman, “The Legend of Hercules” is a movie that can be enjoyed until the very end – even if it’s forgotten mere minutes after that. Rent the 1997 Disney version if you want Greek mythology done better.

It’s so cold …

January 8th, 2014

It’s so cold that everyone is trying to be funny about how cold it is.

Late night hosts ganged up on the weather:

“It was so cold, the 49ers coach got a concussion when he was hit with a block of Gatorade.” — Conan O’Brien

“It’s so cold that in Georgia, Honey Boo Boo actually wore shoes. In Maine, lobsters were throwing themselves into boiling pots. In Chicago, people were     wearing deep-dish pizzas on their feet.” — Craig Ferguson

“With the wind chill it got down to 63 below zero in parts of Montana. At that temperature, if you remove your hat your thoughts will actually freeze inside     your brain.” — Jimmy Kimmel

And as for the name given to the arctic blast:

“A #PolarVortex sounds like something Mr. Freeze would use to destroy Gotham City… or a new flavor of Powerade.” — Jimmy Kimmel

Facebook users had a sense of humor about it, too:

It’s as cold as… “A brass toilet in an outhouse in Alaska!” — WABC New York viewer Jenny Tozzi

“So cold, I saw Superman in a cab.” — ABC7 Chicago viewer Phil Gayden

“Today’s forecast is ‘holy crap I can’t feel my freaking face’ degrees.” — ABC7 Chicago viewer Gaby Robles

“The devil got under my covers and told me to keep him warm cuz hell had frozen over.” — ABC7 Chicago viewer Ivan Ibarra

“Good tanning weather! *insert sarcasm here*” — ABC7 Chicago viewer Janina Rocio Sandoval

“It’s so cold I just saw a teenager with their pants pulled up!” — ABC11 viewer Stan Donna Smith

“It’s so cold that tomorrow is canceled.” — ABC11 viewer Bryan Lassiter

“It’s so cold that I saw two beagles with jumper cables trying to get a rabbit started.” — ABC11 viewer Don Currie

Even the Associated Press got in on the game:

“The morning weather map for the eastern half of the U.S. looked like an algebra worksheet — lots of small, negative numbers.” — AP reporter Ray Henry

         And since we’re all stuck inside, here are some that never get old:    

It’s so cold that…

“…hitchhikers are holding up pictures of thumbs.”

“…the optician is giving away free ice scrapers with every new pair of eyeglasses.”

“…pickpockets are sticking their hands in strangers’ pockets just to keep them warm.”

“…I chipped a tooth on my soup!”

“…if you want to hear what someone is saying, you have to grab a handful of sentences and take them in by the fire.”

A Different Way of Seeing

January 8th, 2014

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

I learned many wonderful lessons while in Maine this past summer. One was that hiking alone in the deep wilderness can be foreboding. In the morning you may find yourself in a deep rocky ravine between the sides of two mountains, barely able to glimpse the sky above. In the afternoon you may be in a rugged, old-growth forest, completely surrounded by trees with no view but down and soggy feet. In either case, you’re headed toward a destination you can’t see. Aided by a cell phone and number to the ranger station you trudge on with certain expectation of your direction. If you’re me, you get stuck in a predicament, pray hard and have to use the phone.

Isn’t that what the Christian life is like at times? Walking toward a destination we can’t see, but one we have every confidence of finding. The destination may be in this life, such as a decision about our career or family. Or it may be the eternal destination. Either way, we have a heavenly Companion we can depend on for guidance. We don’t know specifically what next week, or eternity, will look like. We’re moving toward destinations we can’t see. But that’s not a problem since we walk by faith, not by sight.

Walking by faith means seeing life differently. We must be prepared to trust in God, where we aren’t permitted to see, for that which He has yet to reveal.

Aroostook SP South Peak 1

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.