Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

God’s Loving Pursuit: The Burden of Doubt

June 30th, 2014

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Psalm 23:6b

When Jesus finds us in our mess, how to you think he handles our doubts? He keeps following us. He pursues us until we finally see Him. Even if it takes all the days of our lives.

I personally love this verse. Each word sparkles and begs to be examined in the face of our doubts: goodness, mercy, all the days, dwell in the house of the Lord, forever. And all my doubts are swept away like the sand from the beach.

Look at the very first word: surely. David didn’t say: “Maybe goodness and mercy shall follow me.” Or “Possibly goodness and mercy shall follow me.” He believed in a sure God, who makes promises and provides for a sure foundation.

Our moods shift, but God’s doesn’t. Our minds may change, but God doesn’t. Our devotion may falter, but God’s never does. He is a sure God, which is why David, and we, can say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

After surely, comes goodness and mercy. Not goodness alone, for we are sinners in need of mercy. Not mercy alone, for we are fragile, in need of goodness. Goodness and mercy … all the days of my life! What a huge statement!

Think of the days you have ahead, and what do you see? Days in a dead-end job? He will walk you through. Days of loneliness? He will take your hand. Not some days, not most days, but all the days of your life! He will follow you.

What a way to see God. We envision Him as on the throne. Dare you envision a God who pursues you with goodness and mercy? There are many areas in the Bible He does exactly that. Starting in Genesis in the garden when He seeks Adam. God followed Moses into the wilderness. And he followed Jonah onto the ocean.

God is the God who follows. Through the kindness of a stranger. The majesty of a sunset. Through the innocent questions of a child or words well spoken. Have you sensed His presence? If so, set down your doubts and don’t be bothered with them anymore. You can trust God.

Sometimes we’ve doubted the source of our help, but still He has helped us. Sometimes we’ve refused His gifts, but He still gives them. Not only does he offer them, but He puts them in our path. Even when we choose our hovel over His house, our trash over His grace, still He follows. Never will He leave us. Patiently persistent. Faithfully present. Using all of His power to convince us that he is who He is and can be trusted to lead us home.

His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. HALLELUJAH!!

Ten Dollahs

June 28th, 2014

Stumpy Grinder and his wife Martha were from Portland, Maine. Every year they went to the Portland Fair, and every year Stumpy said ” Ya know Mahtha, I’d like ta get a ride in that theah aihplane.”

and every year Martha would say “I know Stumpy, but that ihplane ride costs ten dollahs…. and ten dollahs is ten dollahs.”

So Stumpy says ” By Jeebers Mahtha, I’m 71 yeahs old, if I don’t go this time I may nevah go.”

Martha replies ” Stumpy, that there aihplane ride is ten dollahs…and ten dollahs is ten dollahs.”

So the pilot overhears them and says ” Folks, I’ll make you a deal, I’ll take you both up for a ride, if you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say ONE word, I won’t charge you, but just one word and it’s ten dollars.”

They agree and up they go…. the pilot does all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not a word is heard, he does it one more time, still nothing… so he lands.

He turns to Stumpy as they come to a stop and says ” By golly, I did everything I could think of to get you to holler out, but you didn’t.”

And Stumpy replies ” Well, I was gonna say something when Mahtha fell out…but ten dollahs is ten dollahs!

Jam Session: The Burden of Envy

June 26th, 2014

My cup overflows with blessings. Psalm 23: 5b

A co-worker at the rehab gave me a jar of homemade rhubarb preserves a week ago. Few delicacies compare with good rhubarb preserves. Rhubarb treats in general are hard to come by these days. Each spoonful is an experience. The only problem with her gift is that it’s disappearing quickly! I’m sad to report the bottom of the jar is in sight.

To be honest, the fact that it’s almost gone has affected my behavior a little. I’m getting stingy. How would I respond if she asked me to bring in what was left for a potluck? If I were my co-worker, I wouldn’t mind because she has plenty to spare and can make more. But I shouldn’t think of it like that, because it just leads to the briefcase of envy.

I also experienced another example of envy this week. This time someone married, with children expressed they were envious of my freedom to work in various locations around the country. I suggested instead of being envious, see my travel as a blessing to use my situation & gifts to it’s highest potential. We are all given different gifts, special situations to glorify God, and He will bless us in our obedience. The person left their briefcase behind.

If you haven’t seen a briefcase in real life, you’ve seen them in the movies. The assassin carries it up the back steps into a vacant room at the top of the building. When he’s sure no one is looking, he opens it up. The disassembled rifle sits on the cushioned slots. Then he sits back and awaits his victim.

Who’s his victim? Anyone who has more than he has. More children, more horsepower, more office space, more church members. Jealousy sets it’s crosshairs on anyone who has more. I’m not saying you’d actually kill anyone with a rifle, but what about your tongue? Your glare? Gossip?

David wrote the antidote for jealousy when he wrote, “My cup overflows with blessings.” Rather the moan about what you don’t have rejoice in what you do have. According to David, our hearts are not large enough to contain the blessings that God wants to give. The last thing we should worry about is about not having enough. Our cup overflows!

And when the day comes and you are home in our Father’s house, you won’t regret what you didn’t have. You’ll be stunned blessings you were given.

Try to Grow Chickens

June 24th, 2014

A Palm Beach yuppie moved to the Maine countryside and bought a piece of land. He went to the local feed and livestock store and talked to the proprietor about how he was going to take up chicken farming. He then asked to buy 100 chicks.

“That’s a lot of chicks,” commented the proprietor. “I mean business,” the city slicker replied.

A week later the yuppie was back again. “I need another 100 chicks,” he said. “Boy, you are serious about this chicken farming,” the man told him.

“Yeah,” the yuppie replied. “If I can iron out a few problems.” “Problems?” asked the proprietor. “Yeah,” replied the yuppie, “I think I planted that last batch too close together.”

Sunday in Maine

June 22nd, 2014
Tiger Triplets feeding. They were a surprise to the father, a 3-year-old orange Siberian tiger and the mother, a 3-year-old white Bengal tiger.

Tiger Triplets feeding. They were a surprise to the father, a 3-year-old orange Siberian tiger and the mother, a 3-year-old white Bengal tiger.

Bob Miner and 3-year-old orange Siberian tiger named Tritan.

Bob Miner and 3-year-old orange Siberian tiger named Tritan.

These Jacob Sheep resemble goats and can have 2-6 horns!

These Jacob Sheep resemble goats and can have 2-6 horns!

Curious Kids

Curious Kids

Lion and Lioness

Lion and Lioness

Bejoux is one of three black leopards.

Bejoux is one of three black leopards.

The red kangaroo is the largest of all kangaroos.

The red kangaroo is the largest of all kangaroos.

The alpaca resembles a small llama to me.

The alpaca resembles a small llama to me.

Bob interacting with the wolves.

Bob interacting with the wolves.

After seeing a photo of a set of tiger triplets, I was compelled to visit the DEW Animal Kingdom in Mt. Vernon, Maine. I enjoyed the journey, and was not disappointed. Right now there are many baby animals on display besides the tiger trio. There are baby goats, alpacas, ducklings and even porcupines.

DEW is a rustic, 30-year old, family run working farm/zoo. Bob Miner started with traditional farm animals and started rescuing exotic cats. DEW has grown to cover 42 acres and houses over 200 animals. Some come from zoos, others from individuals who got in over their heads with exotic pets.

I was able to see the owner, Bob Miner, interact with the wolves and lioness. He and his wife Julie have caring relationships with each of the animals at DEW. Each animal has a name, and personality! It would make for a memorable family-friendly activity if you’re in the area. Visit: www.dewanimalkingdom.com for more information.

Slippery Sheep & Healed Hurts: The Burden of Disappointment

June 22nd, 2014

You anoint my head with oil. Psalm 23:5b

Dis changes everything. Obey becomes disobey. Respect is changed to disrespect. Ability becomes a disability. Grace is transformed into disgrace.

All because of dis. Dis is a power trio of letters. And we’d be hard pressed to find a more powerful example than the word appointment. Disappointment is the burden which reminds us what we hoped would happen, didn’t. We wanted health, we got disease. We wanted retirement, we got reassignment. Divorce instead of family. Dismissal instead of promotion. What do we do with disappointment?

When I’m disappointed I turn to these six words: “You anoint my head with oil.” I can hear wondering what a verse on oil has to do with life’s disappointments. I spent time googling sheep yesterday, so let me explain.

Bugs bug people, but they can kill sheep. If flies succeed in depositing eggs in a sheep’s nose, the eggs turn into larvae, which drive the sheep insane. When a swarm of nose flies appear sheep panic … for good reason! They stop eating, can’t sleep in peace and the entire flock is disrupted. For this reason, the shepherd anoints the sheep. He covers their nose with oil repellent and the flies leave the flock at peace. Interesting, huh?

This peace lasts until mating season when these calm creatures put the ram in rambunctious. They strut around to lure ewe’s and if there’s another strutting near his gal, the rams lower their heads and they start butting heads. To prevent injury the shepherd anoints the rams. He smears the slippery substance over the nose and head. This lubricant causes their heads to slide off each other.

But sometimes the sheep still get hurt, which is the third reason the shepherd anoints them. Thorns prick, rocks cut or a sheep rubs its head too hard against a rock. Sheep get hurt. As a result, a good shepherd checks his sheep daily. He wouldn’t want anything to get infected.

Neither does God. Just like sheep, we have wounds. We have wounds of the heart that come from disappointment after disappointment. If we’re not careful they can fester. Like sheep, we get irritated with each other and butt heads, and then get wounded. Many of our disappointments begin as irritations. Not large-scale attacks, but rather the day-to-day swarm of frustrations, mishaps and heartaches. You didn’t get the scholarship. You don’t make the team. Your husband doesn’t notice your efforts. Like sheep, you don’t sleep well. You may even feel like hitting your head against the wall.

The rest of our wounds come from just living. Sheep have to face thistle, rocks, etc. But we have to face aging, loss, and illness. Some of us face betrayal and injustice. Live long enough and each of us will face deep hurts of some kind. Thankfully, we have a good Shepherd. Jesus tends his sheep if we let Him.

Not teachers, counselors, but God does the healing. Have you taken your burden of disappointment to God? You’ve probably told all your friends, your neighbor, and your family about it! Before any more time passes, take them to God.

In order to be anointed, sheep have to stand still, lower their heads and let the shepherd do his work. And when we come to God we must come with a humble heart. Bow before Him and trust in Him to do His work.

Sheep don’t understand why the oil repels the flies. They don’t understand how the oil heals their wounds. Actually, all the sheep know is that something happens in the presence of the shepherd. And that’s all we really need to know, too. It’s worth a try to trust in Him.

Solstice Strawberries

June 20th, 2014

Farmer Woodman was driving his John Deere tractor along the road with a trailer load of fertilizer.  Joe, a little boy of eight, was playing in his yard when he saw the farmer and asked, ‘What’ve you got in your trailer?’

‘Manure,’ Farmer Woodman replied.

‘What are you going to do with it?’ asked Joe. ‘Put it on my strawberries,’ answered the farmer.

Joe replied, ‘You ought to come and eat our Solstice feast with us, we put ice-cream on our strawberries.’

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On Solstice Eve two yokels were on the train heading homewards through Maine when one of them noticed some cows.

‘What a lovely bunch of cows.’ he remarked. ‘Not a bunch, herd,’ his friend replied.

‘Heard of what?’ ‘Herd of cows.’

‘Of course I’ve heard of cows.’

‘No, a cow herd.’

‘What do I care what a cow heard. I have no secrets to keep from a cow.’

The Crowing Rooster: The Burden of Shame

June 18th, 2014

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:5

Remember Peter the passionate, impetuous apostle that walked on water? Stepped right out of the boat on faith. But, the very same man also went into hiding, weeping from shame.

His howls were probably heard by many in Jerusalem that night. After all, just hours before he swore he would die for Jesus. And as if denying Jesus wasn’t horrific enough, he’d done it three times!

And then, Peter, decided to go fishing. Which seems weird until you realize fishing was a comfortable part of his old life. He was clearly ashamed of himself. Witnessing the empty tomb didn’t erase the shame. Christ returned, but Peter was left wondering if He could really return for a sinner like him.

Some of us have wondered the same thing. And as the rooster crows, conviction pierces because we’ve returned to the familiar behavior we boasted we were done with. “From now on I’m going to bridle my tongue.”, “I’ve learned my lesson with him/her.” “I’m not going to keep secrets anymore. I know it’s hurtful.”

We often do what comes naturally rather than spiritually. And like Jesus was waiting for Peter to come to shore, He’s waiting for us with a table prepared. Just as a shepherd prepares a pasture for his sheep in the presence of poisonous plants and/or wild animals, Jesus prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.

The same God that prepared the Last Supper for Peter, invites us to set down our burden of shame, pick up forgiveness and join Him at His table set before us. Hallelujah! God is good.

Sunday in Montreal

June 15th, 2014

This weekend I hopped the border to explore Old Montreal. My first stop was to La Maison Du Patriot, a hostel in Old Montreal and my lodging for the weekend to get settled. Located between the St. Lawrence River and the downtown skyscrapers, the historic city was once surrounded by walls and can easily be explored on foot. Old Montreal is an exceptional city center, still civilized & busting with life. With Old City attractions like the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Old Port and Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the Biodome, Botanical Gardens and underground shopping, this city is a great family destination.

La Maison Du Patriot is located in the heart of Old Montreal, on a 400 year old cobbled street and walking distance to all the historic sites. The hostel was cozy, clean and the most bohemian hostel I’ve stayed in to date. I detected Spanish, French and German nationals, but no other Americans. Because of the central location to bars and restaurants it was a bit noisy in the evenings. My only disappointments were that there was no parking and no receptionist to give hints about navigating the area.

Steeped in history, and only a block from my hostel, are the quays of the Old Port. It’s thanks to this port that Montreal became the thriving international city it is today. Today the port welcomes six million visitors yearly to various festivals and recreations activities. While I was there, Cirque du Soliel had tents set up for their show Kurios. The port is also home of the Montreal Science Center.

Place d’Armes square is the second oldest public site in Old Montreal. First developed to stage military events, and later used as a Victorian garden, the center now holds a monument in memory of Paul de Chomedey, founder of Montreal. Surrounding the square are historic buildings including the Norte-Dame Cathedral, Saint-Suplice Seminary and the New York Life Building.

Facing Place d’Armes is the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral. One of my reasons for visiting Montreal, Notre-Dame is one of the crown jewels in Quebec’s rich religious heritage and focal points in Montreal’s history. Entering into such a holy place took my breath away. Knowing that many people worked for years to create this space for no other reason but to glorify, worship and praise God is incredible. I was blessed with a random act of kindness when I arrived without cash. I only had my credit card, however the woman behind the counter suggested I pray for her instead of paying. After I assured her I would be honored to carry out her wish, I was granted full access. http://www.basiliquenddm.org/en/basilica/pictures.aspx

Diagonally across the square stands the New York Life Insurance Building which was erected in 1887, when it was the tallest building in Montreal. When the clock tower, which is what captured my attention, was completed, the 9th & 10th floors were occupied by the largest legal library in the entire country as a gift from the owner.

I could bore you to tears writing about each building’s history. Around every turn was another building with exquisite details. I felt like I’d stepped onto a movie set! For example, the Court of Appeal, which covers a city block, was the second Palace of Justice in Montreal. Built between 1922 – 1926 it’s designed in the Classical revival style and built of a Montreal limestone and grey granite. The bronze panel doors are enough to instill justice simply by gazing upon them.

Saturday morning was raining so I decided to explore the Biodome before walking outside at the gardens. Housed in a building originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic cycling games, the Montreal Biodome now allows visitors to walk through replicas of a Tropical Rainforest, a Lauretian Forest, the Saint Lawrence eco-system and a polar area. All ecosystems found in the Americas. There’s a nice variety of animals in each habitat, including noisy parrots in the tropical area. I felt like I was home! I really enjoyed being able to see the puffins up close without having to freeze on a boat. I recommend this as a unique experience for every age group. http://espacepourlavie.ca/en/biodome

The day warmed up, as I expected while I was at the Biodome and I decided to head for the Botanical Gardens. The Montreal Botanical Garden is considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens and promises acres of beautiful themed gardens and greenhouses. Founded in 1931, city residents can obtain a pass for free admission which is why I saw so many joggers using the paths. What a great idea! There are many themed areas, and my favorite was the Chinese garden constructed along the lines of a traditional Chinese garden. There are also a rose garden, Japanese garden, Alpine garden, trails and sculptures to enjoy. I was intrigued by their Youth Garden program for children ages 8 to 15. Kids can sign up and receive their own 2m x 4m plot in which to grow and harvest their own herbs and vegetables. That’s neat! http://espacepourlavie.ca/en/botanical-garden

I will add labels photos at http://emiling.com later today.

P:S: No, you didn’t miss grand descriptions of the delicate French pastries because I couldn’t find any. And I tried. Montreal is very metropolitan full of many nationalities and flavors, unlike Quebec where I could find a Napoleon pastry in every shop. The cupcake trend is very popular there as it seems to be everywhere. Nothing special about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You May Live In Canada …

June 13th, 2014

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May, you may live in Canada .

If someone in a Home Depot store Offers you assistance and they don’t work there, you may live in Canada .

If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you may live in Canada .

If you’ve had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you may live in Canada .

If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Canada .

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you may live in Canada .

If you have switched from ‘heat’ to ‘A/C’ In the same day and back again, you may live in Canada . (or Maine!)

If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you may live in Canada .

If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you may live in Canada . (or Maine)

If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you may live in Canada .

If you design your kid’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, tou may live in Canada .

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km — you’re going 95 and everybody is passing you, you may live in Canada .

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you may live in Canada . (or Maine!)

If you know all 4 seasons: Almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you may live in Canada .

If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you may live in Canada .

If you find -2 degrees ‘a little chilly’, you may live in Canada . (or Maine)

I’m going to Canada this weekend. Enjoy your weekend, too, Aye!

 

Silent Nights and Solitary Days: The Burden of Loneliness

June 12th, 2014

You are with me. Psalm 23:4

Have you ever considered paying more for a service in order to deal with another person rather than deal with a machine and see no one? Could anyone be that lonely? It seems David was at times. Some of his Psalms have the feelings of a lone tree on a winter prairie in North Dakota. He wrote:

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16 and Yahweh, how long are you going to stand there doing nothing? Psalm 33: 13-17

David knew loneliness, and I’m sure most of us have, too. You don’t have to be alone to be lonely. Two thousand years ago 250 million people were on earth, now there are more than 5 billion. If loneliness could be cured by the presence of people there would be less loneliness today. Yet, loneliness lingers.

Loneliness doesn’t come from being alone, it comes from feeling alone. Feelings as if you’re facing the world, or the future alone. The feeling may strike you in your bed late at night or in the silence of an empty house. Bags of loneliness show up everywhere.

They litter the boardrooms and clubs. We drag them to parties and usually drag them back out. They’re near the desk of a co-worker and beside the table of the overeater. And we’ll try anything to unload our loneliness. This is one bag we want to drop quickly.

But should we? Rather than drop our loneliness, what if we embraced it? Could it be that loneliness is not a curse, but a gift from God? Perhaps a way of getting our attention?

Sometimes, when we have no other options and nowhere to go we take the time to listen. God wants us to hear His voice. One by one He might remove all your options until He is all you have left. He wants you to discover what David discovered and be able to say, “You are with me.”

Yes Lord, you are in Heaven, but you are also with me. When we know the Lord is near, everything is different. Whatever you are facing, you aren’t facing it alone! You may be facing unemployment, but you aren’t facing that alone. The Lord will provide. You may be facing relationship problems, but you aren’t facing them alone. Your family may turn against you, but God won’t. Your ‘friends’ may betray you, but God won’t. When you know that God loves you, you won’t feel emotionally needy.

It’s hard because it’s our nature to fear facing life alone. We have fear of going unnoticed or of not being loved and looking for it in all the wrong places. But that all changes when we discover that we were never alone to begin with. He was with us all along.

Learn to see loneliness as one of God’s gifts, His way of teaching you to hear His voice. In this way we can face a season of solitude with grateful hearts.

From Panic to Peace: The Burden of Fear

June 9th, 2014

…I will fear no evil. Psalm 23:4

David wrote this urging those filled with fear to look to God our shepherd and “fear no evil.” He could make the claim because as a shepherd he knew where to look. “You are with me. Your staff and your rod, they comfort me.”

Rather then turn to the other sheep, David turned to the Shepherd. Rather than stare at the problems, he stared at the staff and the rod. Because he knew where to look, David could safely say “…I will fear no evil.” Rather than focusing on the fear, we can learn to focus on the solution. David did and we can too.

My friends know me as an avid swimmer and walker. I don’t swim or walk particularly fast. And compared to marathoners, I don’t walk far. But I get out and I move. I started exercising years ago because I was diagnosed with asthma and my family has a history of heart disease. I don’t want to live in fear of my asthma, or keep my doctor on speed dial, so I swim and I walk.

I exercise in whatever neighborhood I’m in. As the sun is rising, I’m walking. And sometimes, as I’m walking my body’s groaning. I’m over forty and it doesn’t always want to cooperate. The balls of my feet complain and I get short winded. And when I swim, I swim the backstroke so I can breathe easier.

Over the years, I’ve learned I have three options when I experience fear: 1) I can go home. 2) I can focus on my shortness of breath until I work myself into a full blown asthma attack or 3) I can keep going and be able to watch the sun come up. Boynton Beach is the perfect front row seat for a sunrise. And as the world would change from darkness to light, so would my attitude. Any shortness of breath suddenly disappearing as I fixed my eyes on the miracle before me.

It’s alright to have fears, just don’t try to deal with them alone. Take them to the Father. Pound your fists, cry some wicked tears and open your heart to the Shepherd. Be specific in your prayer. Jesus prayed, “Take this cup.” Share the details of the job transfer, health issue, relationship problem or financial worry.

God has plenty of time He doesn’t think our fears are foolish. He won’t tell you to get over it. He KNOWS how you feel. And He knows what you need. Instead of carrying the weight of the burden of fear on your shoulders, talk to the One who holds the world on His. Hope is only a look away. So, what are you looking at?

Sunday in Maine: Bethel Village Historic Walking Tour

June 8th, 2014

This morning I woke to a sunny, beautiful Maine day poised perfectly for a walking adventure. My self-guided walking tour began at the Bethel Historical Center that overlooks the Bethel Hill Commons.

Bethel, Maine was founded in 1768 as Sudbury, Massachusetts. Following the American Revolution the community grew and in 1769 it was incorporated as Bethel, meaning “House of God.”

Farming was the principal occupation early on, until the railroad came to town. The railroad made it possible for summer tourists from Boston, New York and other East Coast cities to enjoy the town’s natural setting and proximity to the White Mountain region.

Bethel has been a regional educational center with the Gould Academy, which was founded in 1836. From the 1890’s to the 1920’s Bethel was also the site of Dr. Gehring’s nationally famous clinic for people with nervous disorders. Bethel’s cultural life was also enriched by William Chapman who founded the Maine Music Festival that often brought in some of the world’s finest artists and orchestras to the area.

Please take the time to browse the Bethel Village photos on my site http://emiling.com Each photo includes and explanation for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

Three Blondes

June 7th, 2014

Three blondes died and arrived at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter greeted them and told them they would be able to enter if they could answer one simple question, “What is Easter?”

The first blonde replied, “Oh, that’s so easy. That’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together to give thanks and eat lots of turkey.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s incorrect.” replied St. Peter, as he approached the second blonde. “It’s the holiday in December,” she replied. “That’s when we put up a tree, exchange gifts and celebrate the birth of Jesus.”

“I’m sorry, that’s incorrect also.” exclaimed a disgusted St. Peter, as he approached the third blonde. “Oh, I know what Easter is,” she said confidently.

“Really?” said a concerned St. Peter. “Sure. Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus was ready to complete his ministry on earth and ate his last supper, the Passover meal, with his disciples. After that evening, he was betrayed and turned over to a Jewish mob by one of the disciples. After a show trial, the Romans tortured him, made him wear a crown of thorns, took him to be crucified. Finally, he was stabbed in the side to make sure he was dead. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder,” she explained.

St. Peter was delighted with her knowledge. Seeing this, she continued, “Each year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out. If he sees his shadow, that means we’re in for six more weeks of winter.”

When Mourning Comes: Burden of Grief

June 6th, 2014

Though I walk through the shadow of valley of deathPsalm 23:4a

Yesterday afternoon I entered a patient’s room and she kindheartedly handed me the obituaries. She had saved it for me because one of my patients was listed and she thought I would want to see it. As I sat on the edge of the chair I noticed the funeral had started at the very time I started reading it. And, for a moment, I resumed my slow walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Are you passing through the same shadow? Was this website pulled up by the same hands that touched the hand of a dying friend? And the eyes that fall upon this page, have they fallen upon the face of a terminally ill loved one? Are you passing through the valley? If not, this particular devotion may seem unnecessary. However, some of us know that the black bag of sorrow is hard to bear.

It’s hard because not everyone understands your grief. They seemed to at first, but they don’t understand why you don’t bounce back after a few days. Grief lingers. As silently as a cloud slides between you and the afternoon sun, memories drift between you and joy, leaving you in a chilly shadow. No warning.

When someone you love dies, it affects you because you’re dealing with more than memories, you’re left with unlived tomorrows. You’re left with disappointment and perhaps even anger. You may want to know why. Why him/her? Why now? Only God knows the reasons behind His actions.

Though we don’t understand His ways, we can trust His heart for us. In God’s plan every life is long enough and every passing is timely. And though we may wish for more time, God knows better. Many times while we’re questioning God, the affected person is praising Him, accepting the situation.

God doesn’t want us to bury ourselves in sorrow. Denial isn’t a part of God’s grief therapy. He wants us to move through, not around, the valley of the shadow of death. And, I’m personally grateful it’s merely a shadow! Shadows don’t hurt.

Yes, we face death and it’s deeply sorrowful. But thanks to Jesus, we face only the shadow. And we can have faith that our loved ones are happy and joyous like never before. Hallelujah!

The Arrogance of Authority

June 4th, 2014

A DEA officer stopped at a ranch in Texas , and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.”

The rancher said, “Okay , but don’t go in that field over there…..”, as he pointed out the location.

The DEA officer verbally exploded saying, ” Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!”

Reaching into his rear pants pocket, the arrogant officer removed his badge and proudly displayed it to the rancher. “See this badge?! This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish…On any land! No questions asked or answers given!! Have I made myself clear…do you understand?!”

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher heard loud screams, looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life, being chased by the rancher’s biggest bull.

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that he’d sure enough get gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…

“Your badge officer, show him your BADGE!!”

I Will Lead You Home: Burden of the Grave

June 3rd, 2014

Yea, I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

When the sheep have grazed the Springtime pasture bare, the shepherd must lead them to the deep grass of the hillsides. The shepherd and his flock will be gone for weeks, perhaps months. They will stay until the grass is gone and chill unbearable.

Not all shepherds make the journey. The trek is long and dangerous. Poisonous plants can infect the sheep, or even wild animals might attack the flock. These are dark and narrow valleys.

But the experienced shepherd knows the path. Besides, he has his staff to nudge his flock and with his rod he will protect and lead the flock safely to the mountains. David, was an experienced shepherd and understood why we needed a good shepherd to lead us to the mountain by way of the valley.

I’ve heard this verse spoken as comfort at a funeral, in patient’s rooms by a loved one. If you walk through a cemetery, you’ve probably read the words carved into headstones. Why are these words so treasured? I think because with this Psalm David gives us two important reminders that can help us surrender our fear of the grave.

Our culture does it’s best to avoid that topic. Our vitamins won’t save us, exercise may buy us a few more heartbeats and medicine a few more breaths. But in the end, to be honest, there will be an end to earthly life. Psalm 23 is treasured during this difficult time because it’s God’s promise to comfort us.

This verse, unlike the first three verses, speaks to God. David’s poem becomes a prayer in verse 4. ‘You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me.” Would a shepherd required his sheep to journey to the highlands alone? No! Would God required His children to journey to eternity alone? Absolutely not – He is with you! David knew God and God alone can guide us through the valley. Only God.

As God told Moses, He says to you “My presence will go with you…” What God told Jacob, He says to you, “I am with you and will watch over you…” and what God said to Joshua, He says to you, “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is with you and will protect you. You have no reason to fear evil, and every reason to feel comforted.

Last year when I contemplated Psalm 23 I used wrote about using your five fingers for Psalm 23:1 one finger at a time. The little finger represents The; the ring finger Lord; the middle finger Is; the index finger MY and the thumb Shepherd. I like to place special emphasis on the index finger, pointing it to Heaven to remind me that He alone will get me home safely, and without fear … His rod and His staff comfort me.

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.