Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

You might be a Michigander if …

July 30th, 2014

Since I’m going to be in Michigan a bit longer than expected, I decided I should learn what it is to be a Michigander. You might be a Michigander …

If you define Summer as three months of bad sledding…

If your definition of a small town is one that doesn’t have a lake…

If snow tires come standard on all your cars…

If you have ever gotten frostbitten and sunburned in the same week…

If you point at the palm of your right hand when telling people where you grew up… If you don’t understand what the big deal about Chicago is…

If someone asks you if you’ve been to Europe and you answer, “No, but I’ve been to Ann Arbor…”

If “Down South” to you means Toledo…

If traveling coast to coast means going from Port Huron to Muskegon…

If you refer to your relatives in southern Michigan as “trolls” or “lopers”…

If the “Big Three” can mean either Ford, Chrysler and GM or Domino’s, Little Caesar’s and Hungry Howie’s…

If a Big Mac is something you can drive across…

If you have no problem spelling Mackinac Island…

If you have as many Canadian coins in your pockets as American ones…

If your kid’s baseball or softball games have been ever been snowed out..

If you know that a place called “Kalamazoo” really exists…

If you bake with “soda” and drink “pop”…

If You used to think Deer Season was included as an official school holiday…

If You know that Pontiac and Cadillac are cities…

If you have more fishing poles than teeth…

If you have to go to Florida to get a tan in August…

If you define “swimming season” as Labor Day weekend…

If you decided to have a picnic this summer because it fell on a weekend…

If you look forward to your retirement “Up North” rather than Florida or Arizona…

If you know where the Cherry Capital of the World is…

If you know the dollar value of a grocery bag filled with empty pop cans…

I think I have a lot to work on!



Wright Success

July 28th, 2014

“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” Frank Lloyd Wright

I came across that quote Sunday while visiting the Meyer May House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright. This man was on to something. When striving toward a goal it’s important to break it down in key elements in order to make it easier to conquer our goals. I would add a relationship with God, but we’ll get to that later.

According to Wright, in order to be successful we need to be the following: dedicated, hard working, and devoted. Those three words are general so I’m going to break down even further the three things you need to be in order to achieve success according to Wright.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

If you really want to succeed at whatever your goal is, you must dedicate yourself to it. I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve done something without putting in my full effort and abilities, it never turns out the way I want it to. Whether you’re working towards a successful job, relationship, or any goal, put your whole heart into it and give thanks. Dedicated your time, your blood, sweat, and tears. You don’t want to be left feeling you couldn’t have done more. If you give your goals your best shot and in the name of the Lord, you will know without doubt you did the absolute best you could, no matter what happens.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23a

Secondly, no matter what your goal is, hard work is mandatory. There is no way you’ll be successful at anything in this life, or the next, if you don’t put in hard work. A common thread of the biographies I’ve read is just how much hard work goes into being a success. Sometimes you meet people who appear to have simply fallen into the perfect job or relationship or situation. It might seem like opportunities just fall into some people’s laps, but you can’t know what the real circumstances and trials those people have experienced. Often those opportunities took hard work to get to and/or they are merely jumping off points for lots of hard work to come. It’s not easy to work hard at something that’s not a guarantee, but it’s always worth it to exercise faith.   

Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness. Tie them around your neck; write them on your heart. Proverbs 3:3

To be devoted is very similar to being dedicated, yet slightly different. One part of devotion is loyalty. You must be loyal to your goal. Other things will come up. The enemy will present challenges as you’re working towards your goal, but you have to stay focused, no matter what difficulties you face. Life is always going to be filled with unexpected trials, and they may get in the way of your goal momentarily, but stay focused. Distractions shouldn’t necessarily be ignored, but they should be set aside in favor of your original goal. Keep your eye on the prize and, with all of your hard work and dedication, you’ll be able to turn the dream you’re devoted to into a reality.

Wright obviously achieved great success in his field and was on to something when he chose these three factors. I’m adding pray without ceasing … first.

Dining room table was built with lamps at each corner and original high back chairs to create a room within room.

Dining room table was built with lamps at each corner and original high back chairs to create a room within room.

Entertainment area in back of living room.

Entertainment area in back of living room.

The Meyer May House built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909 for prominent clothier Meyer. It's considered the finest example of his Prairie School era.

The Meyer May House built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909 for prominent clothier Meyer. It’s considered the finest example of his Prairie School era.

Little girl's room with princess balcony.

Little girl’s room with princess balcony.

Little boys room

Little boys room

Wright even created the living room rugs with designed to designate furniture location.

Wright even created the living room rugs with designed to designate furniture location.

Wright carefully situated the house to allow maximum exposure to the outdoors from each room, including the master bedroom.

Wright carefully situated the house to allow maximum exposure to the outdoors from each room, including the master bedroom.

Meyer May's master bedroom was restored to original with help of family interviews, original drawings and reproductions.

Meyer May’s master bedroom was restored to original with help of family interviews, original drawings and reproductions.

Sofie Meyer's morning room overlooking the garden and urn. The chair is a reproduction of the original recliner.

Sofie Meyer’s morning room overlooking the garden and urn. The chair is a reproduction of the original recliner.

Study nook along the staircase taking advantage of natural lighting.

Study nook along the staircase taking advantage of natural lighting.





50 to 1

July 27th, 2014

Today I watched as a misfit group of New Mexico cowboys find themselves on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. Based on the inspiring true story of Mine That Bird, the cowboys in the movie “50 To 1” face a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs, becoming the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world’s racing elite.

I was really excited about this movie because I enjoy horses and watching the Kentucky Derby each year. I’ve actually visited Churchill Downs and remember Mine That Bird’s winning race. Therefore, I knew the odds of Mine That Bird winning, and how jockey Calvin Borel hugged the rail to stun the crowd and the race announcer.

This movie, though, is much more than just about a horse with long odds winning the Kentucky Derby. “50 to 1” is the story of a rather eclectic group of cowboys, trainers, and ranch owners who marshaled their talents and surprised themselves and race fans. The movie is about friendship and hope also highlights the beauty of the hot dusty deserts, with a backdrop of blue-gray mountain ranges and bronze-colored mesas.

When the director got permission to shoot at Churchill Downs, they ended up shooting in over 20 locations, including the actual jockeys’ room, the barn, and the stall where Mine That Bird was housed. In fact, the jockey of the winning horse, Calvin Borel played himself in the film.

I particularly appreciated the fact that Borel even brought his own tack for use with the horse. He helped with the design of the set of the jockeys’ room. And of course, on the horse, he naturally fell right into riding as he did in the 2009 Derby (though footage from the actually Derby was incorporated into the film.) Mine That Bird’s owners Chip Woolley and Mark Allen were on the set quite a bit, ensuring authenticity. Mark even loaned Harley motorcycles so the actors could ride from New Mexico to Churchill Downs as the cousins Mark and Kelly actually did. And, Chip loaned Ulrich the shirt he wore on Derby Day, which you see in photos during the credits.

The open-hearted character of the cowboys comes through in the genuine friendships that build in the story. When in Churchill Downs, Chip, Mark, Alex, Doc, and his family ignore the snubs of the blue bloods of the horse-racing world. They simply have a good time. The friendship between Mark and Chip is honest, so much so I know cowboys aren’t my type, but that’s another story. This film is filled with humor and hope. “50 To 1” doesn’t have the big names or character development of “Secretariat” but you will still cheer or cry at the spectacular victory of this very special horse that won in spite of its owners.

They worked hard to get this movie made and I recommend it as a feel-good, true story for all age groups and families to enjoy.




Suffering and Sweetness

July 25th, 2014

In sneakered feet my sister and I walked the soft and dusty path, a couple days ago, that ended in splashes of wild flowers and shoulder height bushes of ripe blueberries. We laid down our berry pails, rolled our sleeves and went to work picking berries. As we picked the succulent berries, the twigs and branches pricked my untrained forearms, but I knew the momentary irritations were going to be worth it. We each picked enough berries to bake a blueberry dessert, freeze some and still have plenty left over for breakfast.

Plump blueberries were free for the picking, and many were already missing, if you were a blue jay. Seed droppings marked the path and some were already sprouting.

What I don’t care for are the tiny seeds that always get stuck in the gaps between my teeth. The seeds are enough of an annoyance that some people forego blueberry treats. The seeds are a bother and must be picked out or flossed free, but the beautiful berries themselves cost nothing, if personally picked in the wild. But there is a price to pay, a thorn as it were, to enjoying this seasonal delight.

Isn’t this the way with most things in life? The sweetness of living comes with the cost of affliction. Trouble is part of the nature of this imperfect and beautiful world. Sometimes we wonder if life is worth the trouble. God gives us a prickly bush and fruit, and a sweet pie seeded with affliction. I pray He bless us with a balance of struggle and sweetness this weekend. And maybe go heavy on the sweetness. Amen

Renders Blueberry Farm

Our filled pails at Renders Blueberry Farm

The Lunchbox

July 23rd, 2014

Imagine an intimate multi course meal. The premise of the taste provided by a subtle soup. The appetite increases with a delicious appetizer. The bitter sweetness of the greens. The softness and comfort of fine dinner rolls. The whiff of romance like a fragrant lasagna. The subtlety yet spiciness of the sauce. The wholeness and simplicity of roasted garlic. The sweetness of smooth cheesecake.

The dinner takes hours to pour over helping after helping. Such is the pace of The Lunchbox, my second Indie Film in the series. Their simple story begins with a small mistake of the most efficient lunch delivery service in the world and leaves you to make your own assumptions like a meal without desert.

This isn’t exactly the Bollywood romance I had longed for. On the contrary, it’s an expressive film on loneliness. Its essence is mostly that of a short story which brings forth questions such as: Would you fall in love with someone you never met? Breaking the barriers of age and how the society would look at it. And also, is love merely a form of escape from stark realities, such as that of a bored housewife and an aged widower who both have issues as to how life turned about to be for them?

The three leads do give strong performances. Irrfan puts up a great show playing the lead role of an aging old man, especially in the scene talking about that odd smell in his bathroom. Yet the show stealer here remains Nawazuddin as the orphan trainee, followed by Nimrat Kaur, superbly playing the lonely housewife caught in a dilemma.

I’m just not able to call it an exceptional film due to its few unfortunate shortcomings, mainly the pacing and unoriginal story of the film. I felt The Lunchbox went well beyond an acceptable length and becomes quite monotonous after the first 30 minutes. Actually it could have easily been a good short film of 60-70 minutes, but it was stretched to an excessive length of 109 minutes resulting in some repetitive and forced sequences. Then suddenly the film ends in an inconclusive manner which leaves the viewer unsatisfied.  Even the basic theme of the movie was not novel, or even original since it has already been done more than once in both “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

If you are interested in a sweet, quiet Hindi movie you would enjoy The Lunchbox. Just keep in mind that it’s not the masterpiece being promoted.



July 22nd, 2014

“The world is a devastating place. You must learn to protect your emotions to prevent matters … from devastating you.” Lord Mansfield in Belle

That quote sums up the powerful nature of Belle, the first in four films I’ll be seeing as part of an Indie Film Series. Belle is based on the fascinating true story of a mixed race daughter, born out of wedlock, and raised alongside another niece, by her aristocratic uncle in 18th century England.

The greatness of the film comes in its intricate plotting, and in the parallels drawn between gender and race. Author Jane Austen dealt with the position of women in English society through the use of dry humor, though the rage at a young woman being forced into marriage in order to secure a safe future was still present. In Belle however, there is no satire to soften the blow. Matters become complicated when the girls become of age to be courted and wed.

Tom Wilkinson has surpassed himself as Lord Mansfield, Chief Justice of the British courts, plays the exasperated father figure of both nieces with the correct touches of humor and warmth. As a judge, he projects the inner conflicts of a man with the weight of the entire economic system on his shoulders. The viewer can see him try to deflect from the strong-arming of local politicians, who want to ensure that the presence of the “mulatto” in his house will not affect his ruling on the case. Their relationship forces him to examine his own conscience regarding slavery and human rights, influencing a decision in his court that changes the future of England.

As Elizabeth, Gadon takes what could have been a very stereotypical role of the flighty, romantic English girl, and brings a deep sense of hurt to it. Having been left with her uncle after her new stepmother successfully wrote her out of her father’s will, Elizabeth’s cheery exterior hides an emotionally hurt young girl.

And finally, there is Mbatha-Raw. As Dido, the Belle that drives the film, you will deeply feel her frustration as a woman, and as a person of color. As a viewer I was carried away by her passionate belief that things should not (could not) remain the status quo. The camera was able to beautifully capture her ease with her character, the independent-minded heroine could stand toe-to-toe with the multiple incarnations of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett.

I found the film to be a uniquely gripping and moving film on many levels. Beyond the attention to historical detail and breathtaking cinematography, I was emotionally invested in all parts of the story to the point that I wanted to yell at that characters for their mistakes and sobbing with empathy when they were hurt. I expect this film will receive plenty of recognition and develop strong word of mouth because it richly deserves it. It’s intelligent, inspirational and one of the best examples of what truly outstanding movies can offer.

If Belle is playing in your area don’t let it pass you by.







Michigan Summertime Adventure

July 21st, 2014

I am grateful to have a wonderful family in beautiful Michigan that opened their doors to me during my break between travel assignments. Michigan has so much to offer from being home to Henry Ford, Kilwin’s chocolates, the Kalkaska Trout Festival and the Great Lakes. Let me share what I’ve seen over the past week with you:

My brother lives near the four season coastal resort community of Petoskey, Michigan. The City of Petoskey was named one of America’s Best Small Towns in 2013 by Smithsonian Magazine and I certainly agree. Petoskey is absolutely charming with vintage architecture, world-class shops/restaurants combined with a rich cultural arts community.

Thursday morning I drove through Oden to see The Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River. Built by the Catholics as both an indoor and outdoor church, it has the world’s largest crucifix. It has become one of the most famous and most frequently visited shrines in Michigan. The site also includes numerous smaller shrines in their park like setting. I found it to have a calming effect walking among the shrines with benching for prayer and contemplation. It was a perfect way to start the day. http://www.crossinthewoods.com/

Once relaxed and ready for the day, I stopped at the Oden Fish Hatchery and Visitor Center. They have a nice nature walk, but even more exciting to me was the re-created 1914-1935 Wolverine train car. The historic exhibit depicts how employees of the old Michigan Department of Conservation lived on the train while transporting and stocking fish across the state. Displays include the sleeping berths, a kitchen and several uniquely designed stewardship messages. I’ve always been drawn to trains and this was the most unique uses I’ve seen.

That afternoon I explored The Bay View Association. Voted one of the “Prettiest Painted Places” in America, Bay View was originally organized in 1875 as a camp meeting by the Michigan Methodists “for intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” They chose this site for the same reasons people continue to flock there today, the beautiful shores and weather along Little Traverse Bay. By 1877, streets, parks, and public areas had been planted and twenty simple cottages had been built. Ten years later there were 125 cottages, a hotel and a chapel. The religious program expanded and grew into a Summer Assembly of eight weeks.

Now “open” from May to October, Bay View is still “Simply a collection of grand, good people of all creeds, who, because of common consent and under democratic government, flock here in the summer to renew their friendships and help each other to all other enjoyments possible.” http://www.bayviewassociation.org/about-us-3/

Friday morning my brother and I drove to Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula near Paradise, Michigan. Tahquamenon (rhymes with phenomenon) is the second largest of Michigan’s State parks. Their Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi and is the centerpiece of the park. We enjoyed a great hike through an old growth forest to the observation platform which is where our photo was taken. Interesting fact: The Tahquamenn River was made famous in the Longfellow poem Hiawatha.

Going and coming between the peninsulas we had to cross the Mackinac suspension bridge. Opened in 1957, it’s the world’s fifth-longest suspension, and the longest in the western hemisphere. I enjoyed going over it, but many drivers find it stressful with the high winds that blow through when you’re driving over. http://www.mackinacbridge.org/about-the-bridge-8/

We needed to stretch our legs and stopped to climb the Old Mackinac Point Light. Founded in 1889, the Old Mackinac Point Light Station was in operation from 1890 until 1957. Nicknamed the “Castle of the Straits” the Norman Revival style Light Station is beautifully maintained by Mackinac State Historic Parks. http://www.mackinacparks.com/parks-and-attractions/old-mackinac-point-lighthouse/ Mackinac Island and resort area has a great deal to offer with it’s beautiful scenery and activities, but we didn’t have the time on this visit. I need to make the time to return.

Saturday morning I woke to a gorgeous morning to explore another premier Michigan attraction, so I drove up M-119 for the Tunnel of Trees to start my day. The Tunnel of Trees is a magical, scenic road that winds from Harbor Springs to Cross Village and has been ranked among the most scenic roads in the nation. I hope to drive through this fall when the hardwoods will be aflame in fall color.

On my return trip I stopped in by the enchanting waterside village Harbor Springs where I found unique shops, a family run bakery and 100 year old United Methodist Church. In fact, Saturday afternoon my brother needed to run errands and asked me to join him. When we drove by the Harbor Springs Church I was excited to tell him about this morning’s find … until he parked in the pastor’s parking spot and pulled out his keys. Yes, my brother gets to preach from the pulpit of this historical church setting! That was a neat moment when I realized the church I’d been drawn to was his. It was made even more special when I attended Sunday morning service with him in the pulpit.

All good drives must come to an end to allow for a well deserved rest and to get laundry done. Enjoy my photos with further details of this trip at: http://emiling.com/photos/michigan-summers/












July 19th, 2014

So Moses thought, I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up? Exodus 3:3

Curiosity may have “killed a cat” but it’s also changed the world and how I see it. Curiosity beckons me to travel, to deliver the country to you via photos and travel logs. Can you imagine how the world will be if no one had been “curious” enough to explore the unknown? To tap into the secrets of electricity, study birds in flight to get men to fly, or study human anatomy in order to promote health.

Curiosity, though it sometimes gets us in trouble, is a gift God has put into our hearts. One of the signs of a healthy baby is their curiosity. They’re innocent investigators, pure inquirers and scientists without any prior training. They respond to an innate urge to know just for the sake of knowing. Much like Moses’ curiosity got the best of him and landed him at a holy spot where God was waiting and where his great ministry was born.

Are you spiritually curious? Do you ask questions or accept your world as it is?  Do you accept the situations in your life as fixtures or do you seek to find what the will of God is concerning them? If a bush was burning around you like Moses saw, would you ignore it?

Since curiosity is a gift from God, it should be used. I challenge you to develop the habit of investigating. Look deeper into things. Ask questions. Challenge conventions and norms. Investigate claims. Open your mind wide. There is a whole lot you do not know yet that God wants to show you and sometimes it is what you feel you know already that becomes your greatest hindrance. God has created a lot in nature and put a lot in His word and other people that your whole life will not be enough to explore them. So remain like a little child. Not gullible but curious. Retain your fascination about the things God has done and is doing. Then just like Moses, you may just meet God and your calling at the end of the trail of one of your quests.

Fun Times with Family

July 15th, 2014

I am currently visiting with my parents, siblings and niece & nephews before heading out for my next assignment. My nephews kept me hopping yesterday! We played kick ball in the back yard, GaGa ball at the school yard, came home to cool off in the pool and went to spend an hour on the trampolines after dinner!

As if that weren’t enough fun, my nephew wanted me to camp with him before they leave for vacation tomorrow.

When I entered the tent I saw him kneeling at the side of the cot with his head bowed. This isn’t unusual with our religious upbringing, so I decided to present a good example and kneeled at the other side of the cot with my head bowed.

Chandler looked over and asked, “Whatcha doin’?”

“Why, I’m doing the same thing you’re doing,” I replied.

“Grandma’s going to be mad,” my nephew said. “The pot’s on this side!”


Conclusion: Burden Free

July 13th, 2014

As I was putting together a conclusion to Psalm 23, and end of my time in Maine, I remembered seeing a man when I was in Paris as a teenager. The man was asleep … at the Louvre! The most famous museum in the world, the best known building in Paris. Tourists cooing over piece after piece and this man was sleeping while seated on a bench. Crown jewels down the hall, Rembrandt on the wall. Van Gogh was one floor up, The Venus de Milo was one floor down. I was star struck with eyes wide open.

Why did he fall asleep at the Louvre? Looking back, I blame it on his burden of the bags. I think he was worn out from lugging the family luggage. Whatever the reason, he didn’t appear to be traveling light.

Its one thing to fall asleep at the Louvre, quite another to sleep through life…yawn. Sometimes we do. We can’t help it. Its hard work carrying yesterday’s guilt around. This burlap bag of worry has your neck in knots. And the dread of death is enough to break a back, not to mention make you miss out on the magic of life happening all around you. Perhaps you couldn’t sleep last night because you kept rolling over a duffel bag of disappointments. Let’s get rid of the bags! Come, all who are weary and need rest. Give your luggage to God and rest …

Rest from the burden of a small God, because you have found THE LORD.

Rest from doing things your way, because THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

Rest from endless wants, because I SHALL NOT WANT

Rest from weariness, because HE LEADS ME

Rest from hopelessness, because HE LEADS ME IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Rest from arrogance, because of HIS NAMES SAKE

Rest from the valley of death, because HE WALKS ME THROUGH IT

Rest from the shadow of grief, because HE GUIDES ME

Rest from fear, because HIS PRESENCE COMFORTS ME

Rest from loneliness, because HE IS WITH ME


Rest from disappointments, because HE ANOINTS ME

Rest from envy, because MY CUP OVERFLOWS

Rest from doubt, because HE FOLLOWS ME

Rest from homesickness, because I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF MY LORD FOREVER

So, tomorrow when you leave your house and pick your baggage up out of habit, set it bag down, again and again until that sweet day when you realize you aren’t picking it up anymore.

And on that day, with your burden lifted, you’ll be traveling light enough to ponder the mysteries of life. Visit the Louvre, and peer at the Mona Lisa and tell me, what’s the big deal about her anyway?

Time to Go Home

July 11th, 2014

A man is in a bar and falling off his stool every couple of minutes. He seemed obviously drunk. So the bartender said to another man in the bar: “Why don’t you be a good Samaritan and take him home. I think it’s time.”

The man helped the “drunk” out the door and to his car and he stumbled at least ten times. They drove along and the drunk pointed out his house to the Samaritan who stopped the car. The drunk stumbled up the steps to his house with assistance from the man.

The drunk’s wife greeted them at the door and said: “Why thank you for bringing him home for me, but where’s his wheel chair?”

Almost Home: The Burden of Homesickness

July 9th, 2014

I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

For the past few years I’ve thought about wanting a dog. A big Newfoundland. But there were always problems with that. The weather in Florida was too hot for the breed. The apartment too small. My budget too tight. I travel too much. So, I opted for fish.

However, fish don’t really replace a dog. They don’t bark, they’re silent. They don’t eat, they nibble flakes. They don’t lick me, they just come to the surface when I have food. I still sometimes think about getting a man’s-best-friend type of dog. I already have a name picked out: Beauregard. And he would be well trained before moving in with me.

God did the same thing with each of us! Long before our first whimper, our Master claimed us, named us, and reserved a place at the table for us. Right now we’re being prepared for our Master’s house. Just as promised by David, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Right now we are in our short-term home.

This explain the homesickness we feel. Haven’t you ever longed to be home? You know the folks in this region of Maine are very nice, but there have been times this spring when I’ve been so lonely for home I thought I would melt. Times I have wanted to ask for a place at a co-workers table because I felt so far from home. Some of you have felt that way when your spouse died, your parent was buried, you’ve learned you have a major illness or your relationship fell apart.

The twists and turns of life have a way of reminding us we aren’t really home. Homesickness is one of the burdens God doesn’t mind if we carry. We’re being prepared for our Heavenly home. And God’s home is a forever home. This isn’t our forever home, and where we’re going has no pain, no depression, no tears, no sickness and no end.

And on that day, there will be a homecoming celebration. By that moment only one bag will remain. Not guilt, it was dropped at the Cross. Not the fear of death, it was left at the grace. The only lingering bag will be homesickness. And when you arrive in Heaven, you will be setting it down for good. Those you love will shout. Those you know will applaud and you will dwell in the house of our Lord forever. Amen!

To quote Motley Crue, “I’m on my way to home, sweet home.”


Sunday in Massachusetts

July 7th, 2014

My last weekend in Maine was actually spent traveling to Massachusetts. I wanted to spend this Fourth of July in Boston walking the Freedom Trail and learning more about the significance of Boston and the Fourth of July. To my surprise, I learned to appreciate not only how our Freedom was won, but also fell in love with the great City of Boston.

I made reservations to stay at the HI Boston hostel. Located in the Chinatown/Theater district, it was within easy walking distance of the Freedom Trail sites and Boston Commons. Also the Quincy Market with all the food stalls and free street performances. The hostel also offers daily breakfast, programs, lectures and pool/Wii in the game room. This is the most upscale hostel I’ve stayed at and I would recommend for singles or families visiting Boston. http://www.hiusa.org/massachusetts/boston/boston

For years I’ve watched the Boston Pops Fourth of July special and dreamed of being there in person. This year was my opportunity. Sadly, due to Hurricane Arthur, the city moved the Boston Pops and fireworks to Thursday, so I was unable to see John Williams conduct. However, the weather cleared for the remainder of the weekend and I was able to join other patriotic minded people walk the Freedom Trail and witness the USS Constitution perform a 21 gun salute in the harbor. It was spectacular!

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red brick path through downtown Boston that leads hikers to 16 significant historic sites. It starts at the Boston Commons and winds it way to the USS Constitution in Charlestown. You can take a trolley tour which I did to get a feel for the area before walking (http://www.cityviewtrolleys.com/boston/ ), take a self-guided tours or a guided walk with the National Park Service, which is FREE and very informative. For some reason the site of the Tea Party wasn’t included, but it’s not far off trail and easy to include. (http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/)

Once off the trail I was able to explore and enjoy the city itself. I want to go back to Boston and take the time to explore the amazing architecture that spans a hundred years. There are so many delicious restaurants just waiting for me to pull up a table. And still untold stories yet to be shared. One of the more interesting, and nearly unbelievable stories is about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919.

Yes, it’s true. Boston had a molasses disaster strike in January 1919. They built a fifty foot tank along the harbor in the North End which was close to the railway lines, but was also heavily populated at the time. The distillery received one last shipment of 1.3 million gallons of molasses to turn into liquor and sell before the Prohibition. A great pressure built up due to fermentation in the tank. And on January 15, 1919 the sides of the tank burst sending a 15’ tall, 160; wide wave of molasses traveling at 35 MPH into the North End. By the end of the day 21 people lost their lives, 150 were injured and the entire waterfront section of the North End was destroyed. Wow! That’s a sticky situation! http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/08/13/molasses-disaster-boston-north-end-showed-lethal-power-thick-substances/nbhChG332PTOLTAnd7L6DL/story.html

I’m so happy I did this and highly recommend Boston as a priority trip for all Americans. Boston is a safe and family friendly town. I saw many families on this walk discussing the reality of what our Founding Fathers had to do to make us free. History is brought to life for all ages on this trail. And the City of Boston is a vibrant, welcoming city at the forefront of American history, but has champion sports franchises, museums and great food. Did I mention the food? It was wonderful.

See my photos at: http://emiling.com/photos/boston-massachusetts/



Fourth of July Funnies

July 4th, 2014

As far as holidays go the Fourth of July is just not as funny as Halloween, Christmas or Thanksgiving. I base this bold statement on the number of holiday jokes I read from kids:

10) What’s red, white, blue, and green?
A patriotic turtle!
From Jessica, age 7, Abilene, TX

9) What did one flag say to the other flag?
Nothing. It just waved!
From Eloise, age 9, Charlottesville, VA

8) Why did Paul Revere ride his horse from Boston to Lexington?
Because the horse was too heavy to carry!
From Betty, age 9, CT

7) How is a healthy person like the United States?
They both have good constitutions!
From Tom P., age 8, KY

6) What dance was very popular in 1776?
From Rachel, age 8, Long Beach, CA

5) What would you get if you crossed George Washington with cattle feed?
The Fodder of Our Country!
From Marie K., age 12, Dallas, TX

4) Teacher: “Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?”
Student: “On the bottom!”
From Christy, age 14, Denver, CO

3) Did you hear the one about the Liberty Bell?
Yeah, it cracked me up!
From Tom P., age 8, KY

2) What did King George think of the American colonists?
He thought they were revolting!
From Scott, age 11, Colorado

1) Do they have a 4th of July in England?
Yes. That’s how they get from the 3rd to the 5th.
From Big Al, a grownup, Frankfort, KY.

Restoration of America This Fourth of July

July 4th, 2014

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalms 33:12

Today is the Fourth of July & everyone will be celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document through which leaders of the colonies in the New World broke free from the King of England.

The declaration begins: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

While revisionist historians are working hard to remove any trace of Christian ideals from the foundations of America, The 4th of July celebration is founded on a document which appeals to the authority of a Divine Creator. One whom most of the founding fathers fully believed to be the one and only God, and who was the guarantor of certain “inalienable rights”. So the Fourth of July is more than just a celebration of America’s independence, but it ought to also be a day which recognizes we take time to acknowledge God’s participation in the nation’s birth.

Over the past several years I’ve heard all kinds of people on TV talk about how America ought to be transformed, while a simple recognition of God’s covenant to our nation goes ignored. The words found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 could be claimed and applied to any nation, but particularly one whose foundational documents and institutions have drawn their inspiration substantially from Biblical monotheism. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

IF we truly want to see healing brought to our nation, then this conditional covenant is for us and the restoration of our land will require our part in the covenant: humility, prayer and repentance, so that God can forgive our sin and heal our land. That would be worth celebrating!

True restoration and healing only comes through true repentance and God’s grace. With so much work to be done, may restoration begin with us this Fourth of July!


Northern Maine Adventure

July 2nd, 2014

Last July  I drove to the Mont-Carmel Church in Lille, Maine. Built in 1909, this church is on the National Register of Historic places because it is the most intact and architecturally significant of the surviving historic wooden Catholic churches in Maine.

The historic Acadian style of the church include its wooden structure, clapboard exterior, simple wooden moldings, and beautiful hand‑marbleized interior columns. The twin Baroque-style belfries of the church house two 7′ archangels blowing trumpets sculpted in 1908 by Quebec sculptor Louis Jobin. They face Canada in order to ‘call’ people in their homeland.

Today, Mont-Carmel is held by a non-profit organization, which is restoring the church building as a museum and a performing arts center. Last July they held a concert of traditional Gregorian chant music. Gregorian chanting is unaccompanied sacred song (in Latin) of the Roman Catholic Church. The style originated in the 9th century and is traditionally sung by choirs of men/boys in churches or by men/women in religious orders during mass. Thankfully,  Gregorian chant seems to be undergoing a popular resurgence in the Catholic church.

I have listened to Gregorian chanting before and find it both solemn and meditative. That night was no different. I was very relaxed by the time the concert was finished. Then I drove home white knuckled because it was dark and I was afraid of hitting a moose! I was so happy Glen was on the other end of the phone to keep me company and share my thoughts about the concert with me. It was a special evening.

Musee Mont-Carmel Altar

Musee Mont-Carmel Altar


Musee Mont-Carmel Ceiling

Musee Mont-Carmel Ceiling


Musee Mont-Carmel from Balcony

Musee Mont-Carmel from Balcony


Musee Mont-Carmel Trumpeting Angel

Musee Mont-Carmel Trumpeting Angel


Musee Mont-Carmel

Musee Mont-Carmel




Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.