Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Keep Calm and Carry On

August 29th, 2014

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I was researching something completely different for today’s devotion, but this keeps being put back on my heart. Lately I’ve received emails from dear friends, and observed others firsthand, that have various crisis happening in their lives. It’s so common we often hear someone say, “Don’t we all?” Yes, we do. The difference is how we handle it.

Some will take on the popular slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” attitude. I have one of those shirts myself and I wondered how it came to be. It turns out the British Government commissioned a series of posters to distribute during WWII. Only capital letters were used against a simple two color format. The only graphic was the crown of King George VI.

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON was the third poster in the series. Never released, it was held in reserve for an extreme crisis, such as an invasion by the Germans. It was found 60 years later and purchased at auction by a bookstore owner. He knew and opportunity when he saw it, and the rest is history. After handing the poster in his store window, he started producing identical images on mugs, shirts, etc.

Everyone, it seems, appreciates the reminder from another generation to keep calm and carry on. You can’t control the weather, you aren’t in charge of the economy, but you can remain calm knowing God is in control.

Remember, God is in the crisis and  already has a plan to use this for your good. To create an opportunity in your life. Keep calm and take heart in the fact that our understanding is not His. Keep calm and God will quiet your spirit and shift your focus.


Fun With the Family Pets

August 25th, 2014

While visiting my family, I’m getting to know my niece and nephews a bit better, along with their various animals.

There are reptiles, amphibians, birds, a hamster named Frosting, a couple dogs and a few cats. When I go into the house each morning I pick fresh thistle greens for the tortoise, and he along with the other reptiles, birds, hamster and dogs respond with gratitude. It’s as if they’re thinking “Hey, these nice people we live with feed us, love us, provide a warm home and take care of us. We’re so happy to have such wonderful owners.” The cats, on the other hand, strut around as if to say, “Hey, these people we live with feed us, love us, provide us with a warm home and take care of us. We have a good staff working for us!”

Seriously, I can say any foolish thing to the dogs and they’ll give me a look that says, “You’re right! I never would have thought of that!” That’s about the time Bif, the tortoise, retreats to his shell.

Winston is the lazy dog. This dog is so lazy at times, that when Dad was watering the garden yesterday he never lifted a leg to help him. I get the feeling this dog waddles from the living room to the kitchen and forgets why he walked in there.

I find the pets, and their behaviors entertaining. May your surroundings provide a multitude of reasons to smile and feel joy.

Hymns With a Message: Abide With Me

August 23rd, 2014

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

I stayed up late last night watching a British drama with my mother. During one scene the actors were singing Abide With Me during a memorial service for a fallen soldier. Instinctively I started humming and singing along. The hymn stayed on my heart all night long. I couldn’t wait to research it this morning and share it with you.

Abide With Me was written by Henry Francis Lyte, a vicar in the small English fishing village Brixham. He ministered faithfully for twenty-three years to the seafaring folks.

He and his wife lived in an elegant estate provided by King William IV, who had been impressed with Henry’s ministry. The home was built at the water’s edge, with beautiful coastal views. Henry laid out walking trails through the estate’s forty-one acres and enjoyed the tranquility of the house and grounds. This is where he wrote most of his sermons, poems and hymns.

But Henry had a lung condition and England’s coast suffered terrible damp winters. While in his early fifties Henry was told his disorder had deteriorated into tuberculosis. On September 4, 1847, age 54, he preached his last sermon with difficulty.

That afternoon he walked along the coast in prayer and retired to his room, emerging an hour later with a written copy of Abide With Me. Shortly afterward, Henry embraced his family a final time and departed to Italy for a therapeutic holiday where he revised Abide With Me and mailed it to his wife before his lungs finally gave out. It was obviously very much on his mind during his last days.

When news of his death reached Brixham, the fisherman of the village asked Henry’s son-in-law, also a minister to hold a memorial service. It was on this occasion that Abide With Me was first sung. The message is now sung all over the world for all occasions including the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

To listen, click here: http://youtu.be/i5nbq_VEea0

Midweek in Michigan

August 21st, 2014

This morning I put on my walking shoes and hit the road for Grand Rapids. I started in the south end at the Grand Rapids Public Museum before crossing the street to the Ah-Nab-Awen Park. The park is near the Gerald R. Ford Museum. I continued to explore the nature side of the city as I walked through parks and along the Grand River in search of landmarks and sculptures. I hope to return for another walking tour when the weather isn’t so questionable. In the meantime please enjoy today’s photos, complete with descriptions, at: http://emiling.com/photos/michigan-summers/

Bucket’s in the Joke

August 21st, 2014

With the advent of the viral Ice Bucket ALS fundraiser, I decided to post some timely bucket jokes. Hope they put a smile on your can!

“Dear celebrities, OK, now that’s enough. Please stop pouring lovely fresh water over your heads” – Africa

What did the big bucket say to the little bucket? You look a little pail!

A pair of  brothers were working together as overnight janitors. Moe stopped what he was doing went into the bathroom while Larry kept working down the hall. All of a sudden there was a loud scream coming from the bathroom so Larry ran to investigate. He went inside and asked his brother what the problem was. Moe said that everytime he flushed the toilet something reached up and squeezed him! Larry shook his head and said, “Well yeah, you’re sitting on the mop bucket Moe!” 




Hymns With a Message: Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

August 19th, 2014

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Before writers Charles Wesley or Isaac Watts, there was Thomas Ken who has been called England’s first hymnist. He was born in 1637 on the fringe of London. When his parents died, he was raised by his half-sister and her husband, who enrolled him in historic Winchester College. Thomas was later ordained to the ministry and returned to Winchester as a chaplain.

To encourage the devotional habits of the boys, he wrote thee hymns during a time English hymns didn’t exist. Thomas suggested the boys use the hymns privately in their rooms.

One hymn was to be sung when waking up, another at bedtime, and a third at midnight if they couldn’t get to sleep for some reason. His morning hymn had thirteen stanzas, beginning with: Awake, my soul, and with the sun they daily stage of duty run; Shake off dull sloth and joyful rise, to pay the morning sacrifice.

His evening hymn, equally meaningful, included this verse: All praise to Thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light! Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, beneath Thine own almighty wings.

All three hymns ended with a stanza which has become the most widely-sung verse in the world: Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

When Thomas died in 1711, he was buried at sunrise, and the Doxology he wrote in 1674 was sung at his funeral.

The words of this short verse are still encouraging and can used to sooth weary souls. Click here: http://youtu.be/T1rW2qLaeu0

Love and Football

August 18th, 2014

A man fell in love with the girl of his dreams. They were perfect for each other, except for one minor problem: She was a New York Giants fan and he was a Dallas Cowboy fan. He decided to make the ultimate sacrifice and become a Giants fan.

He went to the doctor and asked if there was an easy way to do this. The doctor replied, “Yes, it’s a very simple procedure. What we do is go in and remove half your brain. When you wake up, you will be a Giants fan.”

The man agrees, and the next week goes into surgery. After he wakes up the doctor comes up to him concerned. “Sir, I apologize, but there was a mix-up with the scalpel. Instead of removing half your brain we removed 3/4 of it. How do you feel?”

The man sat up, looked around, and said “GO DOLPHINS!”


Hymns With a Message: The Lord Bless You and Keep You

August 15th, 2014

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Dead Sea Scrolls were, until recently, our oldest copies of biblical text. But in 1979 archaeologists were excavating a burial cave site in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley, when they saw something resembling the metal cap of a pencil. It was a sensational find. A tiny silver scroll of great antiquity. Another was found nearby. These tiny scrolls dated back to the Hebrew monarchy 700BC. They are so small and fragile that it took several painstaking years to clean and open.

When scientists finally unrolled them, they found the world’s oldest copy of the text Numbers 6:24-26! Can you imagine their excitement? While the amulets date from the seventh century BC, the original words are far older. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, the Lord commanded the priests to bless the people with this three part blessing.

So special is this blessing to our hearts, it has been set to music many times. I tend to prefer the melody and classical flare by Peter Christian Lutkin. Lutkin was born in Wisconsin in 1888, studied the music masters in Europe and devoted his life to church music.

And, in his “Notes from My Bible” D.L. Moody wrote about the priestly bless of Numbers 6 “Here is a benediction that can give all the time without being impoverished. Every heart may utter it, every letter may conclude with it, every day may begin with it, and every night may be sanctified by it. Here is blessing, keeping, shining, and the uplifting upon our poor life of all heaven’s glad morning. It is the Lord Himself who gives us this bar of music from heaven’s infinite anthem.

May you be blessed and be a blessing to others today. To listen to Lutkin’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” click here: http://youtu.be/QB2FVlaPM-o



New Daddy Tea Party with His Princess

August 13th, 2014

Little Gracie was throwing a tea party with her Daddy. She brought him a miniature cup of “tea” which was just water, of course. After several cups of tea, her mother came into the room. Vaughn asked Hillary to wait in the living room to watch his little Princess bring him a cup of tea, because it was “Just the cutest thing!” Hillary waited, and sure enough little Gracie came down the hall with a cup of water for Daddy. She watched him drink it and then said … “You know the only place she can reach water is the toilet!”

Hymns With a Messages: Because He Lives

August 11th, 2014

Speculation? I have none, thank God. I am not resting my dying soul on guess-work, but on the finished work of Christ. ‘I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that Day.'” 2 Timothy 1:12

What a beautiful testimony to the assurance we have as believers, because of the finished work of Christ! Bill and Gloria Gaither’s song “Because He Lives” affirms the same truth, the hope that we can face not only the challenges and trials of today, but the uncertainty of tomorrow as we realize that our Lord does indeed hold the future.

Let’s take a look at how scripture supports the lyrics written from a very personal time in the Gaither’s life:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow … “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Because He lives, all fear is gone … “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Because I know He holds the future … “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

And life is worth the living just because He lives … “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

The first verse is a presentation of the gospel of Christ, reminding us of His death, burial, and resurrection. In the second verse you see the life of a new baby and sense the assurance that Christ alone can give. The little one can have a victorious life because Christ lives.

As we realize that God holds the future and makes life worth living for all who trust in Him, we can face tomorrow with all the uncertainty it brings. He is always with us. Nothing can separate us from His love. We need not fear death, either, because we who have accepted His marvelous gift of salvation are promised abundant eternal life with Him.  Life truly is worth the living, because He lives!

To listen to hymn, click here: http://youtu.be/2Oz_caE8oQE



The Hundred-Foot Journey

August 8th, 2014

Today is my birthday and I spent part of it going to see The Hundred-Foot Journey with my mother and sister Heather. Set in a small village in the south of France, the Steven Spielberg- and Oprah Winfrey-produced movie follows the story of Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a culinary protégé who travels to France with his displaced Indian family in the hopes of settling down and opening an Indian restaurant in the French countryside. However, when the Kadam family purchases property one hundred feet away from a restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren) a heated clash between the two establishments and cultures, until undeniable chemistry causes the Madame to take gifted young chef Hassan under her wing.

Although the film is billed as a drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey offers enough laugh-out-loud moments to appease rom-com fans. While Mirren’s snobby, uptight portrayal of Mallory delivers everything you would expect from the Academy Award-winning actress; Om Puri’s Papa Kadam steals the show as the family’s stubborn yet sweet patriarch. The Hundred-Foot Journey also marks the Hollywood debut of Montreal-born actress Charlotte Le Bon, whose portrayal of Marguerite is sweet and refreshing.

At its core, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a movie about the love of good food, good living and one man’s passion for cooking. Despite some pacing issues, it’s still a satisfying alternative to the violent, big-budget blockbusters that flood the silver screen every summer.

But The Hundred-Foot Journey portrays a gentle life. One where understanding, decency, love, and the cooking of really amazing omelets can drives crabby old women to tears of joy. The rural fantasy demands the triumph of small-town values over decadent Paris, seen here as a nightmare of stress, wine-guzzling, and cellphones and, most horrifically, the trendy scourge of authentic food.

Of course, The Hundred-Foot Journey is predictable, but that’s like looking at a menu at your favorite restaurant and ordering the same meal you’ve had dozens of times before. The familiar can be just as good if presented the right way. When Mirren is involved, all the characters are elevated to the highest quality.

If you enjoy cooking shows, love cooking yourself, or simply want a gentle movie with a happy ending, then go see The Hundred-Foot Journey. With so many layers of passion it’s a rich and creamy treat.



Hymns With a Message: Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace

August 7th, 2014

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:26

A few days ago I started this series on hymns and suggested you contact me with hymns that had touched your life in some way. I immediately received an email from a very dear friend of mine that witnessed her father dealing with serious illness while singing “Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace …” but she didn’t know much more of the song. It’s probably new to many others as well.

“Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace” was written by Warren D. Cornell in 1889 and the music was added by W. George Cooper. The hymn was first introduced at a Methodist camp meeting near West Bend, Wisconsin. And while it is seldom sung today, its message of peace is one that we so desperately need today.

When we turn on the TV news and witness what is happening in the world around us and in the lives of those we love, it’s easy to see that people need the peace that only God can offer. As the chorus promises “Peace, peace, wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above. Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”

We live in a world that is cursed by sin. Because of that, everyone will face various trials and tribulations in life. It might be sickness, the loss of loved ones, financial difficulties, family problems, accidents, job insecurity, approaching death, and, for those who are still outside of Christ’s family, the guilt of sin. Christians suffer many of these same heartaches and sorrows because the Lord has never promised to take all our problems away.

However, everyone, saint and sinner alike, needs to know that if we submit ourselves to the Lord, we can find in Him “Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace.” No matter what you’re going through, no matter what challenges you face, God’s peace will sustain you and give you joy.

To listen to Wonderful Peace click here: http://youtu.be/547e7uoNPcw

Three Hymns

August 5th, 2014

One Sunday, a pastor asked his congregation to consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns.

After the offering plates were passed, he noticed that someone had contributed a $100 bill. Extremely grateful, he wanted to personally thank the generous person before the whole congregation.

A quiet, elderly widow shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the altar. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and asked her to pick out three hymns.

Her eyes brightened as she pointed to the three most handsome men in the congregation: “I’ll take him and him and him.”

The Cure for Shot Nerves

August 3rd, 2014

It was a small lake of cold water behind my Waterford cabin surrounded by woods on every side. Glen passed away three days after I arrived and I was alone, exhausted in an unfamiliar place. There were times I felt close to some sort of breakdown. Then winter loosed its hold and the sun was warm. Leave burst forth and the birds raised a carefree chorus with the frogs and no one else was around. As I began my walks in through the woods, the words of old hymns often came to mind, and instinctively I began singing.

Those walks beside the still water was better for me than more than a dozen books on grieving could have ever been. Then and there I felt emerging twinges of a “restored soul” as promised in Psalm 23. It’s been on my mind, what if I had not known those hymns?

It seems hymns are an endangered species in this time of contemporary praise worship on video projectors. There’s a place for that, but as we sing a new song to the Lord, let’s not forget the old ones.

Hymns, especially those full of theology, permeate our souls with the timeless truths of Scripture. Hymns helps us praise God. They’re like sunlight through the clouds. Hymns enable us to pray when we’re too weary or worried for words, we can sing “O love that wilt not let me go/ I rest my weary soul in Thee…”

I believe hymns give us a way of encouraging ourselves, as we do when we sing “Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side…” Not only do they speak to us, but we can use them to teach others. And hymns connect us with current and past generations of believers that join voices singing hymns and spiritual songs to the Lord.

I’m going to devote the next several weeks to the history and meaning of timeless hymns. I love hymns, and if a specific hymn has made an impact in your life, please contact me at tamarawilbur@hotmail.com

Get On Up

August 1st, 2014

This morning I was blown away by Chadwick Boseman, and you will be too when you see him in “Get On Up.” In case you don’t know, “Get On Up” is a movie chronicle of James Brown’s rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history. Boseman as Mr. James Brown gives the viewer a fearless look inside the music, moves and moods of Brown with ease.

The director tells the rags-to-riches story in an odd, nonlinear fashion with times when Boseman’s character addresses the camera and audience directly. Still, the film shares a similarity with biopics on Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. Both of those pioneering icons were haunted from a young age by the deaths of their brothers. Brown’s early trauma was being disowned by his parents as a boy in rural Georgia in the 1930s. But where Cash and Charles come off as tragic and sad figures in their films, the lifelong mantra of Soul Brother No. 1 was to “look out for yourself,” because no one else would.

No doubt, everyone (including myself) will be hyping the electrifying performance of Boseman. You may recall he played another African-American hero, Jackie Robinson in last year’s 42. He nails Brown’s rhythmic, funky rasp down pat, and his dance moves are outstanding. Maybe even Oscar worthy.

But if one is placing bets on Academy Awards night, the money could also be placed on Nelsan Ellis who gives an affecting, nuanced performance as Bobby Byrd, James Brown’s long-suffering but loyal bandmate and quasi-brother. Ellis was up for the lead role, but settled for the sideman character when Boseman got the job. Basically the same thing happened in real life between the two, when James Brown took over the Famous Flames and became the ruthless, unlikable boss of the band.

Where the film fails is in its fizzled, melodramatic ending. The problem is that Brown the man had no third act. Early in the film, Brown is shown upstaging the headlining Rolling Stones in a 1964 concert broadcast, the T.A.M.I. Show. Jagger and the Stones found out the hard way that nobody follows James Brown. As it turned out, not even James Brown himself.

Get yourself on up to this movie and don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing in your seat, and as you leave the theater. This is the Godfather of Soul, and he would want you to feel the funk. Get On Up!







Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.