Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.


May 31st, 2014

Have you ever been on a blind date? Not just any blind date, but the blind date you wished never happened and would end quickly? That’s what happened when Lauren (Drew Barrymore) agreed to meet Jim (Adam Sandler) for a blind date at Hooters in today’s movie: Blended. Before they know it they find themselves, and their children, stuck together on an unconventional ‘blended family’ week at a resort in South Africa. While on vacation the kids benefit from the inevitable.

I hesitated before deciding to see it because the critics were a bit harsh. I suggest you ignore the critics and see this movie. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore still have the onscreen magic they had in “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates.” They still play off each other perfectly and created a hilarious, sweet and entertaining movie without a complicated storyline.

I like that Sandler, who also produced Blended, used South Africa as the backdrop. They showed enough of it to be enjoyable without distracting from the movie. I’m not convinced Blended is a good family movie, only because it does have some scenes that aren’t really appropriate, or good examples, for the younger kids. Not just kissing, but there were times when the cartoonish, but memorable lounge singer, portrayed by Terry Crews, was a gyrating a bit much for my taste.

Regardless, the movie was funny just about right form the very start. The comedic moments and jokes are nice. They’re delivered in a neat flow, not forcing you to laugh all the time and lose some of it along the way, and not so distant in between that it starts to feel like a drama.

For this movie, I think the critics just need to take it for what it is. It’s fluffy, a bit of fun and fills a couple of hours in our ever burdened lives with entertainment. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in a summer movie are a guilty pleasure.



Get Over Yourself: Burden of Arrogance

May 31st, 2014

For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3b

Something humbling happened to me yesterday. I arrived at work early to sit in the quiet of the rehab area and get my day organized before everyone else arrived. That’s when I noticed a family member of one of my dear patient’s  walk by and look in my direction. I asked him in, and soon another family member joined us and before long there were five of us fellowshipping & sharing encouraging conversation.

I felt pretty good that God chose to use me as His tool of comfort for the family during their personal time of need and went about my day. Later on, a patient called me over and I thought “Wow, I’m on a roll today” smiling, I walked up to her and asked what I could do for her. She didn’t need comfort, she only wanted to point out I had spilled my lunch on my top. Oh, the things that keep us humble! I wouldn’t want to be saddled with arrogance anyway! LOL

Prideful arrogance is one piece of luggage God hates. He hates arrogance because we haven’t done anything to be arrogant about. We have rest, salvation, blessings and a home in heaven, and we did nothing to earn any of it. Who did? The answer lies throughout Psalm 23: “He makes me…”, “He leads me…” “He restores my soul…” And to make sure we get the point, David added “…for His name’s sake.”

With the same intensity that God hates arrogance, He loves those who are gentle and with a humble heart. The mighty saints were humble, Moses was more humble than anyone else. And Paul didn’t mention his deeds, but introduced himself as God’s slave.

So, how do you cultivate humility? Start by assessing yourself honestly. Don’t confuse humility with low self-esteem. Being humble means you know what you have to offer and that’s it.

Don’t take personal success too seriously. The Bible warns that when silver and gold increase, your heart can become proud. Keep in mind the frailty of earthly wealth.

Celebrate the significance of others. I remember the story of a boy that came home from play try-outs and announced he had been chosen to sit in the audience to clap and cheer. When you get that chance, do you take it joyfully?

Don’t demand respect, it’s like chasing a hummingbird. Chase it and you’ll likely never catch it. Sit still and it may come and sit at your window sill feeder.

Never announce your success before it happens. Whew, that’s almost a given in today’s world. And speak humbly. People aren’t impressed with cocky, opinionated people on any level.

One last thought to foster humility: Live at the foot of the cross. If your self-esteem needs a boost you don’t need to name drop or talk about your bank account. Just remember that the maker of the stars would rather die for you than to live without you. So, if you need to brag, brag on that.

And, don’t forget to check the front of your shirt after lunch. LOL!

Don’t Like The Water?

May 29th, 2014

A man walks into a monastery and says “I want to be monk.”

The abbot replies “Great! But you realize we are not allowed to talk except every ten years.”

The man replies “Fine.”

Ten years go by and the man goes into the abbot’s office. The abbot asks, “Well my son what have you to say.

The man replies “Bed’s hard.”

The abbot remarks, “Is that it?”

The man says, “Yes”.

Another ten years go by and the man goes into the abbot’s office and says, “Food stinks!”

The abbot asks, “Is that it?”

And the man says “Yes.”

Another ten years goes by and the man goes into the abbot’s office and says “Water’s cold. I quit!”

And the abbot replies, “Figures! You’ve been complaining ever since you got here!”

Heavenly Exchange: Burden of Guilt

May 27th, 2014

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake. Psalm 23:3

One of the therapist where I work likes to organize potlucks. It’s simple, if you cook something than you get to share the meal with everyone. But, what if you don’t have your kitchen, like me? I’m not in my own kitchen, with my pots, pans and utensils right now. And they didn’t want store bought items. I had a problem. If I didn’t cook something I would be left out.

God’s planning a party, too. His will be much more impressive and we will see God! Not His works or words, but we’ll see Him! There’s only one hitch, the price of admission is somewhat steep. In order to join Him we much be righteous. Not good, not decent. Citizens of Heaven are righteous.

We are not righteous, not one of us. And God is always righteous in everything He does. If righteousness is the price to get into Heaven, what do we do about it? Carry a load of guilt? Many people do.

What if your spiritual baggage were visible? You know what we would see most of all? Suitcases of guilt. Bags bulging with binge, blowups and compromise. Look around, there may be someone you know dragging around decades of regrets for words or deeds they can’t take back.

So far in this series we’ve taken a look at the weight of weariness that pulls us down. Self-reliance that misleads us. Disappointments that discourage us. Anxiety that plagues us. But guilt? It consumes us.

So what do we do with it? We confess our needs to the Lord. Remember the potluck lunch? I talked with the woman and told her I couldn’t cook what was requested, explained my kitchen limitations and she had mercy on me. I purchased the potato salad at Hannaford and was part of the potluck. I felt great sitting with them knowing a good soul heard my plea. My contribution was a humble plea.

And because God hears our pleas, you’ll be given the same mercy and it will be better than my potluck! Jesus stood in our place and said, “Punish me for their mistakes.” And God did. Jesus died for the sins of all and gave us His righteousness.

The path to righteousness is narrow, winding trail up a steep hill. Calvary is the littered compost pile for guilt. Feel free to leave yours!


Sunday in Maine or Memorial Day Weekend in Maine

May 26th, 2014

Before I tell you about my weekend, let me encourage you to shake the hand of a soldier today. Hang a flag in honor outside your home or on the gravesite of a fallen soldier. Talk to your kids about true heroism and patriotism. Patriotism is supporting your country and deserving soldiers all the time.

My grandfather fought in WWII in the Pacific arena. My uncle also joined the Navy and Glen was with the 101st Air Calvary in Vietnam. To honor them, I drove to Fort Kent and stayed with a retired vet friend, Gary Argraves, whom I met last year while staying on Cross Lake. We talked about what it meant to serve your country in hard times over lobster and fiddleheads, chicken stew and ploye.

I was also able to spend some time with my friend, and maple syrup maker, Holly Hardwick. We met at the Fort Kent Bible church, and after service shared a meal at the Swamp Buck. (You can learn more about her maple syrup operation at www.northwoodsnectar.com .)

The Fort Kent area is special. The people are patriotic year round, and American flags hang along main street without cause for a holiday. There’s a real sense of community in this rural town that much of America has lost that makes it desirable to me. The town motto is “The Little Town That Could.” And they do!

There’s a vibrancy to the town due to the diversity the University of Maine brings, but also being home to the Can-Am international dog sled race (http://can-am-crown.net/), world-class trails &  training center for Olympians (http://10thmtskiclub.org/) , scenic surroundings and fantastic regional foods.

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was spent in the company of good friends, having good times.

I’ve uploaded some of my photos from last year at http://emiling.com under Fort Kent.


Life’s Jungle: Burden of Hopelessness

May 21st, 2014

He restores my soul. Psalm 23:3a

I’ve been writing to you about my experiences in Maine so you can imagine yourself here. But, could you imagine yourself in a dense, dark jungle? What if someone convinced you that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip so you scraped together the fare, crossed the ocean and ventured into the strange world of a jungle.

Are you following me so far? Sound interesting? Now imagine that you were hiking through the jungle with a group and you needed to stop and tie your shoe. You handed your pack to a member of the group and when you got up, they were nowhere in sight. You’re suddenly alone and without your gear. How would you feel?

Afraid? Of course, anyone would in that situation. Anxiety? To say the least. What about hopelessness? No idea where to turn or what to do. Who could blame you for sitting on a log (after checking for critters) and crying. I can relate to feeling out of my element, but can you imagine how it feels to be out of hope?

Sadly, many people feel lost in a different kind of jungle every day. Jungles filled with failing health, broken relationships and empty wallets. We don’t hear screeching birds overhead, but we might hear complaints of spouses, neighbors and demanding bosses. Our predators are our creditors. It’s a jungle alright. And for many hikers, hope is in short supply. Unlike other bags of burden, this one is empty. It’s the emptiness that creates the burden.

However, if we can imagine being lost without hope, can’t we do the same with being rescued? What would it take to restore hope? Three things come to my mind:

  1. A person, but not just any person. You don’t want another confused soul. You need someone who knows the way out.
  2. A person with some vision. Someone to lift your spirits and say, “There is a better place than this. Don’t give up.”
  3. And finally you need this person to have a good sense of direction. The person needs to be able to take you from where you are to the right place in order to restore your hope.

David tells us the Lord is our personal guide to restore our soul. Whether we are lost sheep on a craggy ledge or a city slicker in the jungle, everything changes when He appears. All loneliness diminishes when we have fellowship with our Lord. Despair decreases because He gives us vision. And confusion begins to lift away because He gives the direction. The jungle is still there. That hasn’t changed, but you have.

Our loving shepherd knows we struggle in this place, but He has come to guide us and restore hope to our souls. Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We all need that reminder sometimes. All of us need hope. Maybe not today, but we don’t know what tomorrow brings and you need to know whom to turn to. Or maybe you do need it right now, today. You might feel like you have no hope and want someone to lead you out of darkness. If so, call out for your shepherd. He knows your voice and is listening for you.


Sunday in Maine

May 18th, 2014

My goal today was to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in Portland. My first stop was for food and I knew exactly the place to satisfy my hunger. Duckfat. Duckfat in Portland offers upscale versions of classic sandwiches, such as the homemade meatloaf panini with bread from nearby Standard Baking Company. You won’t want to miss Duckfat’s namesake fries, which are crispy, creamy, and shamelessly addictive. I’ve been lucky to try various poutine, and none have been more decadent and indulgent than Duckfat’s poutine. The poutine was worth the trip to Portland and better than I ate in Quebec.

As I wandered away from Duckfat in a poutine stupor, I noticed a baking scent wafting from Two Fat Cats Bakery across the street and simply had to investigate. One smell and look convinced me they are committed to high quality, scratch baking with an emphasis on American desserts and pies. I purchased a single shortbread cookie with a lemon glaze which melted in my mouth with only a delicate hint of lemon. It must have had a pound of butter in it, but I didn’t care. They offer a Pie For Breakfast menu!

With my hunger satisfied I moved on to Victoria Mansion, a much-loved Portland landmark. It is easily distinguished in the area for it’s pre-civil war Italianate architecture and amazingly original interior. It’s a one-of-a-kind home that I was asked not to photograph. Rules are rules. You can learn more about the mansion at: www.victoriamansion.org

On the way home I stopped for a tour of one of the world’s most famous waters. (at least in Maine) It was Poland Spring Water that built Hiram Ricker’s family empire, and if you visit Poland Spring be sure to include Poland Spring Preservation Park, home to the Poland Spring Museum and Spring House, to learn about the legendary healing power of the water as well as to the three-story, octagon Maine State Building & All Souls Chapel which are maintained by the Poland Spring Preservation Society.

I suggest you begin at the free museum, where exhibits detail the history of the famed water and explain its origins. Poland Spring water won the Medal of Excellence at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and the Grand Prize at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. After that be sure to visit the nature trails lace the grounds and connect to the other sites. I need to return and finish hiking those as it was too wet and messy today.

See photos at http://emiling.com and I’ll you next Sunday from Somewhere in Maine!

Million Dollar Arm

May 17th, 2014

This afternoon I sat behind home plate watching “Million Dollar Arm” as a sports agent staged an unconventional strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to pitch for Major League Baseball.

Million Dollar Arm is a Disney movie based on the true story about a sports agent that goes to India to try and find the next big major league baseball pitcher. Bernstein needs to get some new clients, so he figures why not try India? He takes a trip to India and has a talent hunt, in the form of a reality show called Million Dollar Arm, in which the winner will win a trip to America and the chance to try out for the major leagues.

What makes this movie work is the performances from all the actors. It’s a grand slam performance. Jon Hamm, with his flawlessly groomed stubble and cocky grin, plays the haughty, all business sports agent Bernstein with ease. The two stars of the show are Suraj Sharma, the star of Life of Pi who plays Rinku and Madhur Mittal, the older brother from Slumdog Millionaire who plays Dinesh. Both of them perform their roles very beguilingly and inspire affection for their characters so you’ll become emotionally invested in them and their journey. The rest of the supporting cast also perform their roles very well especially Lake Bell who was impressive in her role as Brenda. She does a fantastic job as the mediator between JB and the boys, helping JB come down to earth to treat the boys right.

There are times the comedy in the movie is hilarious. I am not a baseball fan, and yet I found myself laughing and cheering several times throughout the movie. I enjoyed every moment of it because the main focus isn’t on the sport, but the relationships built. These two Indian boys are still teenagers that have never been far from home. They’re scared, nervous, alone, and don’t know English. This is an emotional roller-coaster for everyone involved and watching it unfold is touching and beautiful. The direction and editing are also pretty impressive.

During the end credits, they show pictures and video of the real Rinku and Dinesh from India that the movie is based on. You will also get a recap of what happened to them after the try outs. It’s rated “PG” for some mild language and has a running time of 2 hours & 4 minutes.

Million Dollar Arm is a predictable, motivating sport film from the Disney field of dreams. Run the bases to see this feel-good film with your family. Don’t let it slip by you, even if you’re not a sports fan.

Whaddifs & Howells: The Burden of Worry

May 17th, 2014

He leads me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2b

I am currently working with a 90-year-old patient who’s worried about everything. All the time. So anxious she can’t eat. So worried she can’t sleep. “What’s wrong? You’re making wonderful progress.” I inquire empathetically. And she shakes her head and replies, “I’ll never be what I was. I need to set a better example for my kids.”

As adults, we seem to worry about so many things. I imagine worry as the burlap bag of burdens, overflowing with “whaddifs” and “howells.” “Whaddif it rains when I have plans?” “Howell I know if I’m doing the right thing?”

The burlap bag of worry. It’s cumbersome. Unattractive. Scratchy and impossible to give away. No one wants your worries, not even you. The Biblical word for worry is merimnao which is Greek for divide the mind. Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrows problems. The result is being half-minded.

But that’s not the only result. Chronic worrying can also lead to the physical manifestations of high blood pressure, heart troubles, migraines and stomach problems. Anxiety is a costly habit. And futile.

If worry has never solved a problem, how do we deal with it? Look to God’s promise in Psalm 23:2. “He leads me beside still waters.” And in case we missed it, verse 3 states, “He leads me in the path of righteousness.” He leads me. He isn’t behind us yelling “Go!” He is in front of us, clearing the path and showing the way.

He leads us. He tells us what we need to know, when we need to know it. We will be given help when we need it like the child trying to lift bags off the airport turn style. Or the Israelites that were given manna during their time of need. One day at a time. Trusting in Him to provide frees us to enjoy the present.

God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. The key is to meet today’s problems with today’s strength. Don’t start worrying and tackling tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. You only have strength for today.

I know it’s easier said than done in today’s culture. But, allow me encourage you to set down the burlap sack. Stop letting worry rob you of rest. You can’t prevent anything by staying awake all night, or postpone anything by thinking about it over and over again. Trust that God is in control. Leave tomorrow’s worries until tomorrow.

There are five important words that stand out in the hymn Lead Kindly Light, “Lead kindly light … Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step enough for me.” (http://youtu.be/piUDbCtgymw)

God isn’t going to let us see the distant scene, so we may as well stop looking for it. He promises a lamp upon our feet, not a crystal ball to see the future. We don’t need to know what will happen tomorrow. We need to trust Him to be our caring shepherd to lead us to green pastures and beside still waters.

Thank you God!




Rest In Peace

May 16th, 2014

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside him and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.”

“Good morning, Pastor,” replied the young man, still focused on the plaque. “Pastor Chaney, what is this?” Alex asked.

“Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the men and women who have died in the service.”

Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex’s voice was barely audible when he finally managed to ask, “Which one, the 7:30 or 10:30 service?

He Will Give You Rest: The Burden of Weariness

May 13th, 2014

He makes me lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:2a

It affects 70 million Americans and leads to 38,000 deaths per year in the US. The condition costs the US $70 billion annually in worth of productivity. Studies show the 64% of teens blame it for poor school performance. Researchers say the most severe cases occur between ages 30 and 40. One study suggests it impacts 50% of our senior citizens. Any idea what causes this?

Drug abuse? Divorce? Long church services? Nope, insomnia. American’s can’t get enough sleep. I’ve always considered sleep a luxury. I even scoffed at people with a problem sleeping. But, recently I went to bed closed my eyes and nothing happened. I didn’t fall asleep. Rather that slowing down, my mind kicked into high gear. Thousands of thoughts rushed at me and before I knew if midnight had come and gone. I wandered into the kitchen for a snack, went back to bed and started thinking about people. What were they doing? Finally, as morning approached I fell asleep. Along with 70 million other Americans.

Many of us with too much work and/or too little sleep pick up that duffle bag of weariness to drag around. It’s tiring! Our minds and bodies are tired. And if our bodies are tired, chances are nearly 1/3 of the population is dosing off at work, napping through class or sleeping behind the wheel.

The only other creature that has trouble sleeping is … sheep! It’s true, sheep can’t sleep. Everything must be just right. No predators, tension in the flock, bugs in the air or hunger in the belly. Everything has to be calm.

Unfortunately, they can’t find that on their own. They need a shepherd to lead them and help them lie down in green pastures. Without a shepherd they can’t rest. And without a shepherd, neither can we.

Notice how David wrote HE makes me lie down in green pastures. David’s referring to the shepherd and it’s our job to follow the shepherd in order that we’ll be able to rest.

Sometimes life can get so loud that we forget to shut it down. Maybe that’s why God made such a big deal about rest in the Ten Commandments. He knows us well! For us to be healthy, we must rest. Slow down, He will bring rest to your mind, to your body and soul. He will lead you to green pastures.

Can you imagine the satisfaction in our Shepherd’s heart when he sees His sheep rest? This pasture is His gift of divine mercy in a rocky world. That’s where we can find the rest we seek.

Mother’s Day Journey

May 11th, 2014

After wishing my mother a Happy Mother’s Day, I decided to honor her with a relaxing Sunday drive. Sunday afternoons were the time to take a family drive without set destination, just getting in the car to see where the journey would lead and stopping if you felt like it because you had nowhere to be.

So I filled up the gas tank and to start by heading north towards the Sunday River Bridge in Newry, Maine. The 87 foot bridge, built in 1872, is also called the Artist’s Bridge because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted of the nine covered bridges in Maine.

Just a short drive from Bethel, the bridge looked like what you would expect to see in “Sleepy Hollow.” It offers lovely views of the Sunday River and there are trails that you can also get some pretty views.

Not far up the road, still in Newry, I came upon a sign for Step Falls Preserve and pulled into the parking area to explore. I learned Step Falls was The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in Maine, however it has since been turned over to a land trust. The 24-acre preserve features an easy walk to the base of the falls and a longer, steeper climb to the top, where the view of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking. Glacial melt water carved Wight Brook at the end of the last ice age. The falls flow over granite with veins of milky quartz.

There are many ‘steps’ to the fall which falls a total of 200’ in elevation. It was quite nice, and I could have spent a lot of time exploring different cascades and angles to photograph. But, I had more journey ahead of me.

As trees fell away in my rearview mirror, the road began to climb up to Grafton Notch State Park. What a pleasant surprise! Not long after entering the park I came to Screw Auger Falls, which was very impressive. The main plunge is dramatic, but also the natural arches, flowing into a wide river area before making a sharp right and plunging again. It was my favorite find of today’s journey.

Another mile further up the road and I came to a small parking lot for Mother Walker Falls. Mother Walker Falls is a 980-foot-long flume that drops about one hundred feet as it steps down through a narrow gorge. Before the water reaches that flume drop, it’s more of a series of pools and cascades. There were families picnicking on the boulders for Mother’s Day.

And yet, another short distance up the road was a turn off for Moose Cave. Moose Cave isn’t a cave at all, but rather a very narrow opening leading into a 45′ deep and narrow flume through bedrock where water flows and temporarily disappears by this cave opening beneath a granite slab. According to the legend, a moose fell into the cave and became trapped. A hunter heard the cries of the moose, but instead of offering it help he shot the moose, removed him and ate him for dinner. Strange but true Maine fashion – why waste the opportunity.

So I continued driving over the notch and could see a few old stone walls and parts of the former roadway through this mountain range before I entered the VERY small town of Upton. This is where the journey ended because the town is so small they didn’t have anything to eat and I was getting hungry and had to turn around. I understand that Upton is one of the premier fishing destinations in New England, but they must have to fish to eat. It’s probably a hot spot for snowshoeing in winter.

Next time I’ll pack a picnic. (check for photos under Grafton Notch photo section at http://emiling.com)





Prison of W-A-N-T: The Burden of Discontent

May 9th, 2014

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

Imagine the most populated prison in the world. The facility has more inmates than beds. More prisoners than plates. More residents than resources. The inmates complain incessantly that they are overworked, underfed and their bunks are hard.

The name of this prison is WANT.

You’ve met the prisoners. They always want something. Something bigger, newer, faster, thinner. But they don’t want much, just one thing. One new job. One new car. One new house. And when they have the ‘one’ they’ll be happy. Until … the new car smell fades. The new job gets old. And before they know it, they’re back in the WANT jail.

Are you in the WANT prison? You may be if you feel better when you have more, and worse when you have less. If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drink, drive, or digest, you are in the prison of WANT.

That’s the bad news. The good news is you have a visitor. This visitor can get you paroled. The Psalmist David has come to tell you what God has for you is greater than anything you don’t have, that you still want.

Think about the things you own. Think about the house you live in, the car you drive, the money you’ve saved. Envision all your stuff and then think about this: You can’t take any of it with you. Ask any coroner.

Who you are has nothing to do with the cloths you wear or the car you drive. Life isn’t defined by what you have. Heaven knows you by your heart. When God thinks of you, He may see your compassion, your devotion, or your tenderness. He doesn’t think of your things.

And neither should you. Contentment comes when we can honestly say with Paul, “I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have … I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty.”

What is the one thing separating you from joy? How do you fill in the blank: “I’ll be happy when _____ ?” When I get that job? When I get married? When I have children? When I’m rich? But what if your ship never comes in, You never have children, or your dream of being with that special someone never comes true? If the situation never comes to fruition, could you be happy? If not, you’re in prison. And you need to know you have a Shepherd.

Our shepherd gives us grace for every sin, direction in every turn, and is an anchor for every storm. We have everything we need in Him.

And nobody can take God from us! No illness can infect our salvation. Bankruptcy cannot impoverish our prayers. A storm may take our earthy house, but cannot touch our heavenly home. AMEN!

So, why WANT for God? Aren’t we mighty privileged to have a God that provides all our needs, allowing us total contentment? What will you gain with contentment? I’d say you’ll gain the inner joy, and faith to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not WANT!”

Try repeating it softly to yourself a few times… Shh! I think I hear the opening of a jail cell.

Sheep Joke

May 7th, 2014

A pastor was taking a group of parishioners on a tour of the Holy Land. He had just read them the parable of the good shepherd and was explaining to them that, as they continued their tour, they would see shepherds on the hillsides just as in Jesus’ day.

He wanted to impress the group, so he told them what every good pastor tells his people about shepherds. He described how, in the Holy Land, shepherds always lead their sheep, always walking in front to face dangers, always protecting the sheep by going ahead of them.

He barely got the last word out when, sure enough, they rounded a corner and saw a man and his sheep on the hillside.

There was only one problem: the man wasn’t leading the sheep as the good pastor had said. No, he was behind the sheep and seemed to be chasing them. Oops!

I’ll Do It My Way: The Burden of Self-Reliance

May 5th, 2014

The Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23:1

In Florida there are many weekend golfers who used to like to say they can swing a club like Tiger Woods. That’s saying a lot. Golf, like the nylon running shorts seen on runners along A1A, reveal a lot about a person.

Too much stubbornness. Whack! Too much independence. Clang! Too much self-reliance. Plop! Can you relate? As humans we want to do things our way. Forget the easy way. Forget the common way. Forget the best way or even God’s way. We want to do it our way. And that’s precisely our problem.

Yet, sheep are obstinate. Of all God’s creatures, the sheep is the least capable of caring for itself. They can’t be trained and they’re defenseless. Sheep don’t have fangs, they can’t outrun you and you’ll never hear of a national sports team called the Lambs. Who wants to be a lamb?

Surely David could have come up with a more appealing metaphor. After all he beat Goliath. How about: “The Lord is my commander, and I am his warrior.” At least a warrior sounds important. But David remembered his days as a shepherd. He remembered how he lavished his attention on the sheep day and night. How he watched over them.

The way David cared for his sheep reminded him of how God cares for us. David rejoiced in saying, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Happy to be the Lord’s sheep.

If we look back over our lives, we couldn’t always control our moods. Maybe a few of our relationships are shaky. We have fears and faults. We aren’t capable of being self-reliant. We NEED a shepherd. Otherwise Psalm 23 might be more like: I am my own shepherd. I am always in need….Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life.

We NEED a shepherd. We NEED the Lord. Why would we resist Him when scripture says do it God’s way. Experience tells us, do it God’s way. And every golfer in Heaven begs, “Aye, do it God’s way!”


Norway, Maine

May 3rd, 2014

As you know, I was sent on a traveling assignment in South Paris, Maine which is located in the Western side of the state. I am happily housed in a cozy cabin in North Waterford facing a lake. My local post office is a little one room building and there’s Melby’s, a small market and restaurant 2 miles down the road. It’s perimeter is lined up with cars each morning from people stopping for morning coffee.

On my way to work I pass through the eclectic small town of Norway, Maine. As you can see by the photos (http://emiling.com) there are many interesting shops and restaurants that I think “the natives” are slow to appreciate. The most interesting building to me is The Weary Club of Norway, Maine.

The Weary Club, organized in the early 1920’s, was a gathering spot for local men who were thereby known as “the weary ones.” It’s believed the Weary Club got its name from the men who escaped to the clubhouse, weary of their domestic duties.

Conversation had to be restricted to fishing, hunting and a few other topics including village gossip. The club’s slogan, “The Weary Club of Norway, Maine – Makers and Dealers in Cedar Shavings, Social Gossip, Political Wisdom and Yankee Philosophy,” pretty much sums it up.

Whittling was apparently serious business while gossiping at the club. Membership to the club was said to be granted only to those who could carve a cedar shaving light enough to float. LOL!

Also along Main Street is The Fare Share Market, a local co-op grocery, and buy-local store owned and operated by a group of owners. Produce and goods have to originate within a 25mile radius of the store. (This rules out China) They also put on local art shows, lectures and workshops. It’s a fun place to explore. All sorts of colorful seeds and honeys along the walls.

Of the restaurants, I’ve only been to Ari’s Pizza and wasn’t disappointed. I ordered a calzone and the crust was tasty, without being doughy. On top of that it was enormous! I also purchased a homemade peanut butter whoopee pie that was delicious. I have yet to find time to try Café Nomad and Taste of Eden.

Last Sunday I was invited by the pastor’s wife to join a group for brunch at Maurice’s in South Paris. The food was a pleasant surprise. I was a bit concerned since the restaurant is housed in a two hundred year old clapboard house. I didn’t need to be concerned. They serve French Continental in an elegant atmosphere at very reasonable prices. I’ll return for another helping of their charm.

Afterwards I decided to take a hike up Streaked Mountain. I’d heard about it from co-workers and knew it wasn’t far outside South Paris going towards Buckfield. Turns out, Streaked Mountain is a challenging but rewarding hike. Once I made it onto the granite slope, I was rewarded with a scenic view of the Little Androscoggin River Valley, the Oxford Hills, the White Mountains. I understand on clear days you can also see the Presidential Range.

From the road, the first quarter or so of the hike is wooded and with loose rocks. I started to feel confident early on. However, the remainder of the hike is on the steep granite face of the mountain. The trail rises about 700′ in its short half-mile ascent! I really must invest in good hiking equipment if I’m going to continue with this activity. Mercy!

Keep checking for more Maine travel logs as I explore the area once it warms up.



The Burden of a Lesser God

May 2nd, 2014

The Lord … Psalm 23:1a

So, I’ve been thinking about Psalm 23 while I sit here. Have you ever thought about WHY David wrote the Twenty-Third Psalm? I believe it was to build our trust in God. To remind us of who God is. David devotes one hundred and fifteen words to explaining the first two: The Lord.

Who is He to you? A busy Dad perhaps that doesn’t have time for your questions? A kindly old grandpa who’s too weak to carry your load? Or maybe even the “genie in a bottle” God that comes and goes at your command. Is that the kind of God you want in your life? Is that the kind of God we have?

David’s answer is a resounding NO. He writes, “Yahweh is my shepherd.” Though we don’t use that term much, it was an important term for David to use. He used it over the other names God Almighty, or God Everlasting. Yahweh is God’s name. You may be called Dad, Mom, Doctor or student, but these aren’t your names. If you want to use my name, you say Tamara. If I call you by your name, I say it. And if you want to call God by His name, say Yahweh.

The Bible doesn’t give us a definition for Yahweh, but the name I AM comes close. That’s important because we need a big God. An unchanging God. He creates, but was never created. He is ungoverned.

You and I are governed. The weather determines what we wear. The terrain tells us how to travel. Health determines our strength. But God, doesn’t check the weather, He makes it. This is the shepherd we need. And according to David we have one.

Our God is like a tuning fork always striking a middle C. It was a middle C when I was in high school music class. It will be a middle C today and it will be middle C a thousand years from now. You and I need a middle C God. There are enough changes in our lives with relationships, weather, and health. But God is our constant middle C. Our unchanging shepherd to comfort us in our time of need.

Thank you Yahweh!

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.