Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Hymns With a Message: Hallelujah Chorus

September 29th, 2014

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, the Lord reigns. 1 Chronicles 16:31

I woke this morning dreaming about music. Specifically violin music. While I adore the sound of violins, my mother told me yesterday she has never liked the sound. Which if probably why I was dreaming about it.

Another parent that had little appreciation for the violin was young George Frideric Handel’s father. His father tried to discourage his musical interests, preferring that he enter the legal profession. But it was the organ and violin that captured the young George’s heart.

As a young man, George began composing operas, first in Italy then in London. By his 20s, he was the talk of England and the best paid composer on earth. He opened the Royal Academy of Music. Londoners fought for seats at his every performance, and his fame soared around the world.

But the glory passed. Audiences dwindled. His music became outdated and newer artists entertained fickle crowds. One project after another failed, and Handel, now bankrupt, grew depressed. The stress crippled some of his fingers.

Yet, his troubles also matured him, softening his sharp tongue. His temper mellowed, and his music became more heartfelt. One morning Handel receive a manuscript with opening words from Isaiah 40. And the words moved Handel: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people …

Twenty-three days later, the world had Messiah. Messiah opened in London to enormous crowds, with Handel leading from his harpsichord. It’s said that King George II leapt to his feet during the Hallelujah Chorus. To this day people everywhere have stood in reverence during the stirring words: Hallelujah! He shall reign forever and ever.

Handel’s fame was rekindled, and even after he lost his eyesight, he continued playing the organ (and violin) until his death in 1759.


Hymns With a Message: Standing on the Promises

September 25th, 2014

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, in the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Russell Carter, author of this popular hymn, was an athlete, educator, rancher, preacher and physician. Here’s his condensed testimony:

From his birth in 1849 Russell was surrounded by Christian influences. His father stood for nearly 50 years in the Christian workers in Baltimore. By his father’s side, was a patient, loving wife and mother. Russell, like most young people, wandered from the truth until the age of fifteen when he made a profession of faith in Jesus.

But, like others still, he made the mistake of not forsaking his old companions and habits. Therefore, for several years he lived the up-and-down experience so familiar to the average church member. One night Russell was working at one of Dr. Moody’s meetings in Baltimore and his soul cried for deliverance and God’s unlimited promises stood out like stars above him. Yet, he wasn’t willing to pay the price.

In the summer of 1879, Russell’s chronically diseased heart resisted the remedies of his doctors and refused to heal. After spending three years on a farm in California, his health deteriorated so bad he was close to the grave.

Russell had heard of the “prayer of faith” for healing, and kneeling and putting all doubtful things aside, prayed. A quietness came over him and he found the Bible wonderfully open and marvelously satisfying as it never was before.

Russell experienced the Holy Spirit upon him and went to Boston in 1886 for special prayer and anointing though still terribly weak. He returned to Baltimore in three days, walking by faith, resumed his college work in addition to all kinds of religious work. He was healed by the promises of God! And that very year wrote Standing on the Promises.

Sing along here:


Milky Way in Michigan

September 23rd, 2014

My brother and I went outside in the yard last night to gaze at the stars and Milky Way. What an awesome sight to be able to see the Milky Way! The night sky is breathtaking when you get away from city lights. So I decided to make a wish saying, “Star light, star bright first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might….wait a minute it’s just a satellite!” LOL

And another thing. Isn’t it a good thing the guy in charge of naming galaxies was into chocolate bars and not Chinese food. Otherwise, the Milky Way might have been named Moo Goo Gui Pan, and who wants to have to learn about that?

Finally, and I’ll let you go read more interesting diversions, The New York Times recently published a new Hubble photograph of distant galaxies colliding. Of course, astronomers have had pictures of colliding galaxies for quite some time now, but with the vastly improved resolution provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, you can actually see lawyers rushing to the scene…


Dolphin Tale 2

September 21st, 2014

I know my movie reviews have been far and few between recently. That’s why I was so excited to see Dolphin Tale 2 last night. If you missed the original Dolphin Tale you won’t be able to appreciate the chaos Dr. Clay (Harry Connick Jr.), his daughter Hazel, and their co-workers have already confronted to this point. Not only did the fate of Winter hang in the balance throughout Dolphin Tale, but also the survival of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The marine hospital, that does all that they can to rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals that they can, was wallowing in debt with no salvation in sight. Winter would not be alive today if were not for the tireless work done by Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman) who struggled twice to equip Winter with a prosthetic tail that the dolphin would accept before he succeeded with the third try.

Dolphin Tale 2 resumes where the original movie concluded, and everything appears sunny. Winter has become a sensational ambassador and the Clearwater Marine Hospital has expanded to an aquarium. Nathan and Hazel are older and restless to take on greater responsibilities. And while things don’t get as desperately out of whack as they did in the original, there are few genuinely suspenseful moments between humans and dolphins, during the movie.

Anybody who adored Dolphin Tale will like Dolphin Tale 2. Part of the winning formula was assembling the entire original cast again. Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., and Kris Kristofferson are back as the principal players, though some garner considerably less screen time than others. It’s really Morgan Freeman who had me laughing the most, delivering his dialogue with that matter of fact approach that brought out the most humor.

Naturally, the appealing adolescent leads, Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and Hazel Haskett (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), have grown up. Meanwhile, a couple of new seafaring creatures have been added: Mandy the dolphin and Mavis the sea turtle. Of course, Rufus the rowdy pelican supplies most of the comic relief! He almost had me rolling on the floor in tears.

I recommend this inspirational tale for family movie night. Bring a tissue and be prepared to laugh in the midst of life lessons. And be sure to stay in your seat a few minutes at the end. Like the original, Dolphin Tale 2 wraps up with documentary footage about the new animal characters that joined Winter at CMA for the sequel.  You don’t want to miss it.

If you want more of Winter, check out the Clearwater Marine Aquarium website: www.seewinter.com




Hymns With a Message: Trust and Obey

September 19th, 2014

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

When I lived in Boynton Beach I attended a midday prayer service. I was asked to choose a hymn that spoke to my heart and read it. I choose Trust and Obey because it has been a favorite since childhood. Trust and Obey is my ‘go to’ hymn when I don’t understand why things aren’t going as planned in my life. The message serves as a personal reminder of how I need to trust in Him during trials.

Daniel Towner, who wrote the melody to Trust and Obey, inherited his love of music from his father. While growing up, Daniel studied with some of the finest musicians available and began his career as worship leader in a Methodist church in New York. Later, he served in Ohio and Kentucky before being tapped to travel with evangelist D.L. Moody in 1885.

He once explained how this hymn came to be written: “Mr. Moody was conducting a series of meeting in Massachusetts, and I had the pleasure of singing for him there. One night a young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, “I am not quite sure, but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.” (Amen!) I just jotted that sentence down, and sent it with the little story to Rev. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister.”

Sammies wrote a poem based on the phrase “trust and obey,” and sent it back to Towner, who went to work on the music.

However, while working on the music to Trust and Obey Dr. Towner became discouraged. That evening in his home, he crumpled up the paper and threw the manuscript into the wastebasket. The next morning, as his wife was straightening his office, she retrieved the crumpled paper and sang over the words and melody to herself. She left it on the organ and encouraged her husband to work on it some more, telling him, “I feel the melody you have written is just what is needed to carry the message.” She was right.

In 1893, Dr. Towner became head of the Music Dept of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago where he trained hundreds of young people to lead worship in music. He wrote the melodies of some of our favorite hymns, including At Calvary, My Anchor Holds and Grace greater Than All Our Sins. He also complied fourteen hymn books and wrote several textbooks.

At age 70, while leading singing in revival meetings in Missouri he suffered a seizure and died, but his music continues to live on and touch hearts. As long as we have unresolved problems and unfilled desires, we have the need to trust and obey. Click here to listen to a beautiful version of Trust and Obey:


Tuesday in Petoskey

September 16th, 2014

I’m spending this week in the Petoskey, Michigan area and have learned a few interesting facts. Such as Ernest Hemingway spent his childhood summers at nearby Wallon Lake and used it as a setting for his Nick Adams stories.

And the name “Petoskey” is said to mean “where the light shines through the clouds” in the language of the Odawa Indians, who are the original inhabitants. The Petoskey stone and the city were named after Chief Ignatius Petosega (1787–1885), who founded the community and has a nearby campground named after him, that has very nice hiking trails.

Petoskey is also famous for a high concentration of Petoskey stones, the state stone of Michigan. And I found one while at the lake last month. The stone is a combination of fossilized coral and stone giving it a unique look. When they’re dry they look like any other limestone, but when polished the six-sided coral fossil emerges.

Petoskey was also the location where 50,000 passenger pigeons were killed each day in the late 19th century, prior to their complete extinction in the early 20th century. A state historical marker commemorates the events, including the last great nesting in 1878. One hunter was reputed to have personally killed “a million birds” and earned $60,000, the equivalent of 1 million dollars today. Crazy!

What happened in your area?

Originally established as a boys camp in 1920, Camp Petosega now  encompasses some 300 acres and offers year round recreation to visitors.

Originally established as a boys camp in 1920, Camp Petosega now encompasses some 300 acres and offers year round recreation to visitors.

The Petoskey Historical Marker says: At one time North America's most numerous bird, the passenger pigeon was particularly abundant in the Upper Mississippi valley. The mature male was about  16 inches long. Less colorful  and big was the female. In 1914 the last known survivor of the species died.

The Petoskey Historical Marker says: At one time North America’s most numerous bird, the passenger pigeon was particularly abundant in the Upper Mississippi valley. The mature male was about 16 inches long. Less colorful and big was the female. In 1914 the last known survivor of the species died.

Petoskey stone in shallow water.

Petoskey stone in shallow water.

Hymns With a Message: Jesus Loves the Little Children

September 14th, 2014

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

Having spent so much time with my nieces and nephews lately, I began to recall the hymn “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Almost everyone knows this hymn, but few of us have sung the three verses that go along with that chorus. And even fewer people realize this was originally a Civil War ballad.

George Frederick Root was born into a large family in 1820, and showed signs of musical genius. By age thirteen he could play thirteen different instruments. As a young adult he taught music in Boston and New York while serving as church organist in his church.

The outbreak of the Civil War deeply affected George, and he immediately began using his gifts to advance the Union war effort, writing several patriotic songs to rally the  soldier’s moral. As a serious composer, he was embarrassed at the simple music coming from his pen, so he signed them with the name “Wurzel” the German word for root. Among his most popular pieces was a ballad entitled, “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp!”

After the Civil War, the melody remained popular, but the words were dated. A minster George was friends with, named Clare Woolston, wrote new verses and a chorus. And that’s how a Civil War ballad about a soldier in prison became one of the most popular children’s choruses in history. That’s pretty interesting.

Friday Funny

September 12th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I could use a couple jokes. Here is goes …

A man wanted to get his wife something nice for their wedding anniversary. So he decided to buy her the latest cell phone she’d been wanting. She was very happy and excited. She loved her phone. He sat beside her and explained all the features on the phone. The next day she went shopping. Her phone rang and it was her husband.

“Hi hun,” he said, “how do you like your new phone?” His wife replied, “I just love it. It’s so small and your voice is clear as a bell, but there’s one thing I don’t understand though.”

“What’s that?” asked the husband. The woman replied, “How did you know I was at Wal-Mart?”


A man stormed up to the front desk of the library and said, “I have a complaint!”

“Yes, ma’am?” asked the librarian. “I borrowed a book last week and it was horrible!” Yelled the man.

“What was wrong with it?” she asked. The man replied, “It had way too many characters and there was no plot whatsoever!”

The librarian nodded and said, “Ah. So you must be the person who took our phone book.”

The Day Before September 11th

September 10th, 2014

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Matthew 28:20

September 11 is a date that’s imprinted on our national consciousness and will take generations to fade. But it’s September 10 that stays with me somehow. It’s just the other side of a line of demarcation, perhaps the last day of an era before the chaos.

September 10, 2001, was another hot late-summer day in south Florida, like the infamous day that would follow. I imagine New Yorkers went about their business, absorbed by the daily trials and rewards of life in the city just like I did that day. I chatted with a good friend over lunch. We complained that a restaurant we liked had gone out of business. How could they? The baseball pennant races were on, important enough to make the front pages of the papers. I seem to remember thinking it was about time I should make my plane reservations for a trip home for the holidays if I wanted a good fare. I didn’t give it a second thought. Why should I?

Since then, nothing has been quite the same. But on that September 10 none of us could have possibly known what the future held. We’re not given that knowledge. That’s what stays with me about this day. The complete uncertainty of tomorrow.

Yet we are given a knowledge far greater than the ability to see the future. I know, with the utmost certainty, that whatever unexpected events the next day may bring, God is with me, today, tomorrow and forever. Hallelujah! His love and protection are always ahead of us, guiding our way through uncertain times.

Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” http://youtu.be/gPHnadJ-0hE

Monday Funnies

September 8th, 2014
I’ve been studying hymns for my blog recently and have put together a list of ‘Hymns for Christians over 65 years old’. Let me know what you think …
  • Give Me the Old Timers Religion
  • Precious Lord, Take My Hand, And Help Me Up
  • Just a Slower Walk with Thee
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain, But Speak Up
  • Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seeing
  • Guide Me, O Thou, Great Lord God, I’ve Forgotten Where I’ve Parked The Car
  • Count Your Many Birthdays, Count Them One By One
  • Blessed Insurance
  • It Is Well With My Soul, But My Knees Hurt

Yes, it’s a joke! It’s time for Monday funnies to start your week with a smile on your lips. I’ve been smiling since Saturday. In preparation for a fishing excursion with my nephews I was digging for bait in the garden with my youngest nephew Gavin. He uncovered some sort of insect with lots of legs and proudly dangled it before my face.

I told him “No, sweetie, that’s not bait. It’s not an earthworm.”

“It’s not?” he asked, his eyes wide. “What planet is it from?” LOL

Speaking of dirt, did you hear the one about the scientist who went before God and said, “We’ve figured out how to make a man without you.” God said, “OK, let me see you do it.” So the scientist bent down to the ground and scooped up a handful. But God stopped him and said, “Oh, no you don’t. Get your own dirt!”






Hymns With a Message: Precious Lord Take My Hand

September 5th, 2014

I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘Fear not; I will help thee.’Isaiah 41:13

Last night I fell asleep praying for the many people I know that are facing trials right now. It seems we all know someone who’s struggling with various challenges in their life. When I woke up I had the song Precious Lord Take My Hand in my dream. It’s a personal favorite whenever I need Him to draw nearer to me, and I’d like to share it with you today.

Precious Lord Take My Hand was written by Thomas Dorsey, not the famous ball player Dorsey. He has been called ‘The Father of Gospel Music’, and his music is loved around the world. The journey to this title and fame was a very difficult one.

Thomas loved music at a very early age. And in 1921, at the age of 22, Thomas gave his life to Jesus. Almost immediately he began writing Gospel music. He took great effort to circulate his musical scores, but it was three years before anyone started to notice. Little by little his reputation grew, not only as a songwriter but as a church music director.

In 1932 Reverend Dorsey was leading a church service, a man came on to the platform to hand him a telegram – his wife had just died in childbirth. Within 24 hours his newborn baby died also. Thomas quickly spiraled downward into the depths of despair, doubting the goodness of God and determining never to write another hymn.

A week after that horrible, life changing day, Thomas was deep into his grief, sitting alone at a piano, in a friend’s music room. Suddenly the room was filled with peace such as he had never known before. As that peace enveloped him, Thomas felt the urge to play the piano. His fingers found a familiar melody and the words to Precious Lord, Take My Hand began to well up from his heart and to spill out of his mouth. God had given him a song that would not only lift him from despair, but would also change the course of his music career.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand has been translated into more than 40 languages, has been sung by some of the biggest names in Gospel music, including Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley, and it was Dr. Martin Luther King’s favorite hymn. Reverend Thomas Dorsey went on to write many more hymns, including the famous Peace in the Valley, which when recorded by the Sunshine Boys in 1951, became the first Gospel song recording in history to sell more than one million copies.

If you are facing a heavy burden today, reach out to our precious Lord and ask him to take your hand today. Here’s Elvis singing Precious Lord Take My Hand: http://youtu.be/P1d4Rp8SXF8

A Little Rain Must Fall

September 4th, 2014

I woke to the sounds of a steady hard rain this morning and realized I hadn’t posted any jokes lately. I hope these put a ray of sunshine into an otherwise dreary day for everyone:

A motorist is making his way down a flooded road after a night of torrential rain. Suddenly he sees a man’s head sticking out of a large puddle. He stops his car and asks the man if he can help him out and give him a lift. The man says, “No thanks, I’m on my bike.”

I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows. And a roof leaks, and a soccer game gets called off, a car rusts …

Love. How sweet it is! I’d cross the hottest desert, I’d swim the deepest sea, I’d climb the highest mountain. But I can’t come over today because it’s raining.

A couple were watching “Singing in The Rain” when the girl turned to her boyfriend and asked, “How come we don’t do romantic things like running through the rain holding hands?” He replied, “Because I’ve got an umbrella.”

Why did my sister cut a hole in her new umbrella? Because she wanted to be able to tell when it stopped raining!

And in closing, we all know that into every life a little rain must fall. And it’s usually when your car windows are down.


Hymns With a Message: Blessed Assurance

September 3rd, 2014

… nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until the day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Frances Ridley Havergal and Frances Crosby never met, but they became dear pen pals across the Atlantic, and the two most famous female hymnists of their time. Havergal wrote a poem about her friend Crosby: Sweet, blind singer over the sea, Tuneful and jubilant! How can it be, that the songs of gladness, which float so far, as if they fell from the evening tar are the notes of one who may never see ‘Visible music’ of flower and tree … Oh, her heart can see, her heart can see! And its sight is strong and swift and free …

Phoebe Knapp was another dear friend of Crosby. While Frances lived in the Manhattan slums and worked in rescue missions, Phoebe lived and entertained in the Knapp Mansion. She was an elegant dresser and her music room contained one of the finest collections of instruments in the country.

One day in 1873, while Crosby was staying at the Knapp Mansion, Phoebe went to the music room and played a new composition on the piano while the blind hymnist listened. She clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Why, that says ‘Blessed Assurance!’” She quickly composed the words, and a great hymn was born.

Many years later, D. L. Moody was preaching in New York at the Dutch Reformed Church. This service was so crowded she couldn’t find anywhere to sit. Moody’s son offered to find her a seat. To her bewilderment, he led her onto the platform just as the crowd was singing ‘Blessed Assurance’. Moody, Sr. jumped to his feet, interrupting the singing, and shouted “Praise the Lord! Here comes the authoress!”

Frances took her seat amid thunderous ovation, humble thanking God for the making her a blessing to so many. What a beautiful story indeed.

To listen to Blessed Assurance click here: http://youtu.be/MtbN5N8I8Hk

Labor Day Devotional Thought

September 1st, 2014

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13

Labor Day has been observed for so many years most people don’t even know why. According to Wikipedia the first big Labor Day in U.S.A was observed on Sept. 5, 1882 by the Central Labor Union of New York. It became a federal holiday in 1894, during the Pullman Strike under the presidency of Grover Cleveland.  Fearing further conflict with the labor union, making Labor Day a national holiday, was rushed through Congress & signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.

The Bible instructs people to stay busy, to work and earn the bread they eat. There are some people who seem unwilling to work but all too willing to accept free handouts. Then there are those who do nothing but work. As we stop and think about the work we do, remember that our work is not only to provide for our families and to enjoy the luxuries of life, but, rather, work for the service of God. Our work is never finished for God. There was a free handout given for all but, so often, this is the one free handout that is rejected by man. This free handout of Salvation was given with love. We can’t earn it. It’s by God’s amazing Grace that we receive the free gift of Salvation.

Jesus did the work for which He was sent. What are you doing today?

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.