Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Luggage Jokes

April 30th, 2014

Describe Your Suitcase

I was flying into Portland last week and when I went to find my luggage, it seemed to be missing. So I went to the airlines customer service center to find out how to locate it. So the clerk asks me “Ma’am, can you describe your suitcase?” So I tell her, “it’s a hot pink suitcase shaped like a star”. She looked up and asked “Okay, and is there anything distinctive about your bag?”

Lost My Luggage

I couldn’t find my luggage at the airport baggage area and went to the lost luggage office and reported the loss.

The woman there smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and said I was in good hands.

‘Now,’ she asked me, ‘Has your plane arrived yet?’ ….

The Pilot’s Backpack

Sal, a pilot for a major airline, carries his running clothes in a backpack, freeing his hands for his luggage. On one trip, he told me, he noticed passers-by grinning at him in the terminal. Sal smiled back. Maybe some of them were on my last flight, he thought.

His ego was brimming until he got to the cockpit and stowed his bags. That’s when he saw the “Parachute” sign his co-workers had stuck to his backpack.

Two Vultures

As migration approached, two elderly vultures doubted they could make the trip south, so they decided to go by airplane.

When they checked their baggage, the attendant noticed that they were carrying two dead raccoons. “Do you wish to check the raccoons through as luggage?” she asked.

“No, thanks,” replied the vultures. “They’re carrion.”

Without Your Knowledge

I was at the airport, checking in at the gate when an airport employee asked, “Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?” To which I replied, “If it was without my knowledge, how would I know? ” He smiled knowingly and nodded, “That’s why we ask.”

The Luggage of Life

April 28th, 2014

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

On my recent flight to Maine I did my best to travel light. It’s not easy when you’re going to be gone for 3 months, but I tried. Ever since I raised my three fingers and took the Girl Scout pledge to be prepared, I want to be exactly that – prepared.

I looked around, there were a lot of “prepared” travelers. They look prepared for a bar mitzvah, baby dedication or even a costume party. Many of us don’t know how to travel light. Haven’t we all been known to carry a few extra items?

Odds are, you picked up a few bags this morning on your way out the door without even thinking. The baggage I’m referring to aren’t made of fabric or leather, they’re made of burdens.

The suitcase of guilt. A sack of discontent. Maybe you draped a duffle bag of weariness on one shoulder and a hanging bag of grief on the other. A backpack of doubt and overnight bag of loneliness. No wonder you’re tired, carrying around all that luggage is exhausting.

But God will lighten our load as demonstrated in the verse above and an old favorite, Psalm 23.

Do more beloved words exist? They are hung in hospitals, scratched on prison walls, and whispered by the dying. Psalm 23 is deeply loved and widely known. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t turn to them. I recently applied them to Glen’s heart. The cancer had taken so much of his ability to eat and his strength. And, over the phone, I started, “G, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

By the time I got to verse 4 Glen was reciting in unison with me, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me.” I don’t know if Glen had his eyes open or not. But I wondered if God was helping him set down some baggage, his fears & doubts, as we recited the Psalm together.

Do you have baggage of your own? Do you think God might use Psalm 23 to lighten your load? Traveling light means to trust God with our burdens we were never intended to carry. Have you ever thought about the impact that excess baggage has on relationships? For the sake of those you love, learn to set them down. And for the sake of God, do the same.

He wants to use you, but how can He if you’re exhausted? God has plans for you! Under God’s care I’ve gone places I’d never been before and served in ways I never dreamed before. And the enemy has tried to load me down! I had to drop some baggage. How can you offer comfort if you’re disheartened? How can you lift someone’s load if your arms are full of your own?

Set it down. He is our father at the baggage claim that tells the child trying to drag the trunk from the carousel, “Set it down. I’ll carry that one.” I say, let’s take Him up on the offer. You might just find yourself traveling a little lighter and further than imagined.

P.S. Fact is, there’s still a lot about travel I find confusing. Take, for example the restrictions on a supersaver fare: half price if you leave on Wednesdays during moose-hunting season and return on the full moon in a nonelection year. Why don’t they build the whole plane out of black-box material? And I don’t know what to say to somebody in Maine who upon learning I’m from Florida asks if I know Donna Miller who lives in Notsurewhere, Florida.


Maine Trivia

April 26th, 2014

I didn’t start out planning to give you Maine trivia this morning. To tell you the truth I thought it was time for a good joke. But, I looked out the window and here I am in Maine. And as Robert Frost says in “The Road Not Taken,” when we come to a fork in the road, we take it. I hope you enjoy the trivia that I’ve collected over the past couple weeks. I’m certain knowing these tid-bits will make you appear smarter to everyone you decide to share it with.

Q: On what date did Maine become an independent state? A: March 15, 1820

Q: Maine was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state as part of what famous compromise? A: The Missouri Compromise. Maine was admitted as a free state and Missouri was allowed to enter as a slave state, to maintain the free state/slave state balance.

Q: Prior to statehood, the District of Maine belonged to what other state? A: Massachusetts. And apparently the people of Massachusetts were rather upset at losing Maine land and have been buying the state back one house at a time ever since, as proven by my current neighbors.

Q: In what year did Mainers first vote on whether to separate from Massachusetts? A: May 1792. It seems statehood didn’t come easy for Mainers. It was twenty-seven years, before Mainers would vote for the final time, approving separation. Wow! And some thought the Brits were bad!

Q: How many miles of coastline does Maine have? A: It’s 225 miles as the crow flies, but roughly 3,500 miles if you decide to walk the entire length of Maine’s picturesque coast. That’s plenty of opportunity for a lobster dinner.

Q: Where was the first ship built and launched in the Western hemisphere? A: The Virginia was launched from Maine in 1607. And the first atomic submarine, the Swordfish, was also built in Maine. And just for fun, Maine produces more canoes than any other state in the Union.

Humorist Will Rogers remarked, “Did you ever see a place that looked like it was built to enjoy? Well this whole state of Maine looks that way.” I agree.

For more information, please see: http://www.netstate.com/states/intro/me_intro.htm



The Preeminent One

April 24th, 2014

By Him all things were created … that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:16-18

Wikipedia recently released a report based on Skiena and Ward’s book Who’s Bigger: Where Historical Figures Really Rank listing the ten most influential people in human history. Who tops the list? Jesus Christ, of course. Followed by Napoleon Bonaparte, William Shakespeare, Muhammad, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Adolf Hitler, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, and Thomas Jefferson.

It’s undoubtedly true that Jesus of Nazareth is the most influential person who ever lived. But here’s what’s wrong with the list. Jesus Christ is in a class all by Himself. There are no competitors, no rivals. Jesus is unique. He is Lord of all. He is King of kings, Lord of lords, the image of the invisible God. He is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Preeminent One.

That’s amazing to contemplate. We’d be in sad shape if we had to worship Napoleon or some other name on that list. We don’t want to pray to Shakespeare. We may admire Washington and Lincoln, but they can’t give abundant life. There is only one Jesus, and He alone guides our steps, receives our worship, and gives us everlasting hope. Our Creator and Redeemer. He alone is preeminent. Hallelujah!

Moving Through Grief

April 20th, 2014

You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

God would not collect our tears in a bottle if our grieving were not precious moments with Him. Even though precious, grief is a messy emotion. It’s face can be tear-stained, blank, or a pasted on smile.  Sometimes we camouflage it well.  Other times there is no mask stiff enough and large enough to cover the fact that we are engulfed in the moment. How do we get through it?

With God’s loving mercy, be kind to yourself. Sleep on the couch & sleep in if you need to. Sip tea & watch the birds fly in the sky. Take a deep breath.  Wonder slowly through a park.

I’m learning to give myself permission to forget the task at hand.  Grieving has no rules and takes time. We need to allow ourselves to stop and recall, stop and weep, stop and drink in a memory. Don’t miss a valuable moment of healing and moving forward. I’m also writing a journal of all the fun times I had with Glen along with my reflections to God.

If you’re grieving, surround yourself with positive people.  You know who they are. Even if it’s long distance, it’s absolutely necessary. I’m also giving myself permission to try new things. It’s hard because we want to hold on to things out of fear of forgetting, but I know I won’t forget. It’s good that God sent me to a place that holds no memories to be my aid in moving on. When it feels right, change old habits.

Last week Glen said to me “Guard your health.” He always cared for my spiritual and physical well being. Now, when we are numbed by grief you might feel like ‘Who cares?”. You might feel like you have no reserve to focus on anything more than simply making it through each hour, each day.  But I can tell you that it feels good when you are able to focus on some exercise that renews your body and your mind. Honest.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others that may be going through something you’re unaware of. And remember that grieving is not only normal, but every  tear matters to God.



The Fatigue Factor

April 16th, 2014

I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. Job 42:2

The word fatigue has been showing up in the headlines lately. It’s not just me.  Congress suffers budget fatigue. Sports teams lose because of travel fatigue. Trains derail because of driver fatigue. Soldiers face battle fatigue. Ministries go unfunded because of donor fatigue. We’re a society of tired people in a tired world.

I’m suffering from the fatigue factor. I wake up tired. Even the simplest things seem to turn into unnecessary challenges. I’m tired. How about you?

Thankfully God isn’t tired.  The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. He can do everything as easily as He does anything. Nothing is more difficult for God. He does all things with the same amount of ease. He never grows tired.

So take care of yourself, avoid unnecessary weariness, rest in Him, and draw from His strength.


Move On With Faith

April 13th, 2014

For in Him we live and move and are! Acts 17:28

When I was six years old, my grandfather bought me my first bicycle. It was purple. But, I’d never ridden one. Patiently, my father tried to teach me the art of cycling. I soon found out there was one thing I must do if I was to stay on the bicycle. Keep moving forward. If I stopped pedaling to go forward, I would fall and hurt myself.  Isn’t that what happens with our Christian life? We can never live this life on the highest plane unless we are continually growing and moving forward. You should be closer to God today in heart, soul, and body, than at any other time so far in your life.

I understand we all struggle with the difficulties of letting go of the old to grasp the new. Take heart, God understands that letting go of the familiar is hard. Yet he has called us to move on to new life in Jesus Christ by letting go of our old worldly lives, our old habits, our old dreams to boldly move forward in faith in Him. When you feel God’s call to move, allow him to guide you. He will give you the grace to do whatever he has asked.

Look at the areas that you may have progressed too slowly in your Christian walk and ask God to draw you closer to His the light of His grace. Then hold on tight, because things will start moving!

The Other Woman

April 11th, 2014

Last night I saw the advance screening of “The Other Woman”. The Other Woman attempts to prove that friendship lurks in even the most unexpected places, along the vein of Bridesmaids. Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a New York City lawyer with a long list of conquests and strict rules about dating. She thinks she’s finally stumbled on a decent guy, only to discover the man of her dreams is already married to the annoyingly manic but sweet Kate (Leslie Mann).

When the truth about Mark is revealed, Carly is alarmed to find Kate reaching out to her for help and companionship. The plot thickens when the two women discover Mark has another mistress, the much-younger Amber (Kate Upton) who soon joins Carly and Kate on their revenge mission to bring the serial adulterer down.

While The Other Woman starts off strong and delivers a basket of sight gags and gross-out jokes to rival any male-centric comedy, it quickly loses steam and sight of its goal. The narrative is entirely predictable and unsatisfying, much like the second half of the picture. The characters are reduced to the stereotypes ‘bitchy mistress’, ‘weak wife’ and finally the ‘ditzy, big-bosomed chick’.

The movie is sometimes playful, but that wasn’t enough for me to give it 3-stars. Your level of enjoyment will depend on how much you enjoy the implausible, raunchy revenge humor genre and how much of your brain you’re willing to turn off. (2/5 stars)


Disguised Disasters

April 10th, 2014

The Son of Man will die, just as the Scriptures say.  Matthew 26:2

Have you ever noticed that God’s greatest blessings often come disguised as disasters? That the darkest night comes before the brightest day? And look at Calvary. Jerusalem’s collective opinion that Friday was that Jesus is finished.  What other conclusion made sense? The religious leaders had turned him in.  Rome refused to bail him out.  His followers tucked their tails and scattered.

He was nailed to a cross and left to die, which he did.  They silenced his lips, sealed his tomb, and, Jesus died. For those of little faith, they had followed him for three years of promises only to see Him placed in a borrowed grave.  His disciples, friends and even Jesus’ enemies couldn’t find even one ray of hope for Him to get out of this one.

But God wasn’t surprised.  His plan is right on schedule.  Even in (especially in) death, Christ is still the king. He ruled over His own crucifixion so that we may have eternal life. Amen!

The greatest victories don’t always happen on the field

April 8th, 2014

Last night I attended the advanced screening for Draft Day. As we watched the 2014 NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver (Costner) has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL.

To be a sports fan is like being in a relationship. You love your team for they joy they provide, but it comes at the price of heartache. You love your team and can recall not only the highlights, but heartbreaking times. Nothing is worse than when a player you value leaves to go to another team and might win the Super Bowl with a new team. No place knows that like Cleveland. When it comes to sports, they just can’t catch a break.

Cleveland is the butt of so many sports jokes that the only way their teams win is when Hollywood makes a movie about them. Do you remember Major League? Like that movie, Draft Day is a very entertaining movie for casual and hardcore NFL fans. You don’t have to be from Cleveland, but locals will really appreciate all the little attentions to detail used from historic landmarks.

Kevin Costner to a perfect choice to be the lead Sonny Weaver, Jr., because you can’t think of romantic sports comedies without Bull Durham and Tin Cup coming to mind. I enjoyed how Costner was able to command the situations with stoic humor.

As always Jennifer Garner was lovely. She plays a sports lawyer who is charge of maintaining the team’s salary cap. Garner and Costner were a good onscreen couple, both supporting and challenging each other. Denis Leary as Coach Penn, the new coach, was arrogant, fast talking and perfect for the role. Langella as the team owner reminded me of a typical rich guy who knows about business, but nothing about how things get done.

I really enjoyed Draft Day. It’s not just because I’ve learned to enjoy a good NFL game, but because I appreciated the level of hope and character demonstrated in the movie that even non-sports fans will be able to relate to. If you’re looking for a fun sports comedy/drama it’s worth checking out.


Wakodahatchee Breeding Ground

April 6th, 2014

I can hear you know, “Wakoda who?” Well, let me tell you that today I took a walk at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands located in Delray Beach, FL. It’s name has an interesting history. It’s derived from the Seminole Indian Language and translates as “created waters.” The created waters at Wakodahatchee Wetlands are an example of people giving something back to nature. Fifty acres of unused utilities land have been beautifully transformed into a wetlands ecosystem.

Every day, the Palm Beach County Water Utilities pump approximately two million gallons of water into the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The wetlands cleanse the water by acting as a natural filter.

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands attract an abundant variety of wildlife including turtles, frogs, alligators and birds. More than 140 different species of birds have been spotted here! These species thrive in the various wetland zones found at Wakodahatchee Wetlands:

  • Open pond water areas to attract waterfowl and diving birds
  • Emergent marsh areas for rails, moorhens, and sparrows
  • Shallow shelves for herons and egrets
  • Islands with shrubs and snags to serve as roosting, nesting, and basking sites
  • Forested wetland areas for long-term habitat development & breeding grounds

The three-quarter mile boardwalk winds through three of the wetland’s ponds, allows visitors the opportunity to read interpretive signs and learn about water purification, wetlands ecology, natural history, and the inter-dependence of people and their environment.

Check out photos on the photo page at: http://emiling.com

Do You Know Me?

April 4th, 2014

A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in a trial–a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?”

She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”

The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?”

She again replied, “Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he,too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.”

At this point the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be in jail for contempt within 5 minutes!”

Act of Forgiveness

April 3rd, 2014

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. LUKE 23:34

If Jesus forgave those who nailed Him to the cross, and if God forgives you and me, how can you withhold your forgiveness from someone else?  How can you withhold your forgiveness from yourself?  If God says, “I forgive you,” then the only appropriate response is to say, “Thank you, God.  I don’t deserve it, but I accept it.  And to express my gratitude, I will forgive those who sin against me.”

We forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because He deserves it!  The reason we need to forgive is that He commands us to. And obedience gives up opportunity to say to Him, “Thank You for forgiving me. I love You.”  Our forgiveness of others then becomes an act of worship that we wouldn’t enter into except for the overwhelming debt of love we owe Him.

Suffer Like Christ

April 1st, 2014

He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  Hebrews 5:8

The main reason Jesus died on the cross was to save us from sin.  But the New Testament also stresses the importance of His suffering as an example for us.

The Greek word for example comes from ancient school life. It refers to something written down by the teacher to be copied exactly by a child learning to write.  Christ is our copybook.  We look to Him as our teacher, and by His suffering He gave us an example to follow, so we can learn how suffering is to be handled.

How did He bear it?  By not giving in to despair or doubt.  By looking beyond the suffering and keeping His eye on the glory that was to come.  By knowing the Father was with Him and would use His suffering for good.  It’s not easy, but the same can be true for us.

The author of Hebrews writes, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Jesus wept.

Preach to my heart, Lord!

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.