Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Change of Plans

May 31st, 2017

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. Luke 1:26-27

Have you ever planned an elaborate dinner party only to have your guests cancel? Or spent days looking for housing after finding a fantastic job, only to have the job get taken by someone else. It’s SO disappointing when the best laid plans go awry.

After all, I’m a woman and women are generally planners. , we tend to be less of the go-with-the flow type. We plan births, meals, and wardrobes with great attention to detail. We research and analyze our tasks – with lists. With that in mind, how could anyone not have compassion for Mary? The girl was planning a marriage.

Maybe she was deciding what entree to serve and arranging seating to make sure Aunt Bertha didn’t sit too close to the wine table, or maybe she was writing “Mary loves Joseph” in the dirt with a stick. Scripture makes it clear that when Gabriel showed up Mary was a betrothed woman. She surely had some things planned, and those plans did NOT include giving birth to the Son of God.

We’ve all had times when our plans didn’t work out. Perhaps we thought we would be married and have children, yet our Facebook status still reads “single.” Or we imagine ourselves enjoying a job on a coastal island spending spare time hiking and kayaking, but instead we find ourselves in the desert.

We thought we would be doing something else, be someone else. BUT GOD had other plans. Sometimes I make the mistake to compare my plans with God’s plan. I like to write them out on paper listing them side-by-side and weight the pros and cons of each. Every single times my realization is the same as Mary’s when the angel crashed her wedding plans, “Let it be to me according to your Word.”

We all like to think we have everything planned. Family life. Summer reunions. Christmas holidays. Finances. Career path. I pray we always leave room in our plans for His providence. I’ll have to see Ketchikan another time.

Memorial Day in Hawaii

May 28th, 2017

Memorial Day is a solemn day set aside for remembrance of those who have died in our nations service. Memorial Day was first proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan and was first observed on 30 May 1868; when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers. It is now observed in almost every state of the union on the last Monday of every May. Since the Civil War more than 1.1 million veterans, both women and men, have lost their lives in service to America.

I’ve been many places on Memorial Day and wish I had the opportunity to witness a memorial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl tomorrow instead of working. The United States submarine service suffered the highest percentage of casualties than any other of the services that served in WWII. They sank over 55% of all Japanese shipping sunk in WWII. This has been pointed out to me with pride by several Hawaiian veterans.

As our National Anthem is played many will start to cry as they remembered all of their fallen comrades, the ones that served with them, and the ones that did not. I think about my grandfather Woodrow Cox, his CO John Squire Drendel, Terry Cox, Glen Constantine, Mike Paschkes, Bob Draper and the countless others that made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may all enjoy freedom.

Several WWII veterans have told me about the hardships and struggles and the fact they are lucky to be alive when so many of their brothers had fallen victim to the war. One talked about how it was up to the veterans to teach “our children about the sacrifices made by so many”. Another said, “that America will only be the land of the free so long as it is the home of the Brave”. WWII veterans speak with so much pride about America that its hard not to think about all the people who have no idea what this holiday is really about. While they go to work, their Bar B Q’s and beaches there are some who wish to keep up a tradition of pride in service to the United States of America and remember all those who had fallen, and rejoice in the ones who still live and remember.


Memorial Day 2016 National Cemetery of the Pacific


Friday Funnies

May 26th, 2017

Job hunting is serious business, but I need an occasional break for a good laugh. Even if you find out you don’t get the job you wanted, it doesn’t have to keep you down. Here are three jokes to help you feel better:

A young man, fresh out of college, went to see his doctor one day. “Doc, there’s something wrong with me. Every time I stand in a baby’s high chair and face southwest, and then touch my tongue to a piece of aluminum foil that’s wrapped around an acorn, I get a strange tingle in my big toe. Can you tell me what the problem is?” “Sure!” The doctor said, “Get a job.  You have way too much time on your hands!”

Dolphins are so intelligent that within a few weeks of captivity they can train a man to stand on the edge of their pool and throw them fish three times a day.

A store owner was dismayed when a brand new business much like his own opened up on his left and erected a huge sign which read, “BEST DEALS.” He was shocked when another competitor opened up on his right, and announced its arrival with an even larger sign, reading, “LOWEST PRICES.” Panic ensued until he had an idea. He put the biggest sign of all over his own shop. It read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.”

Happy & safe Memorial Day weekend everyone!



Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Nosy Neighbors

May 24th, 2017

You should mind your own business. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

I am currently in Honolulu, living in a rented room in a crowded neighborhood. I was talking to my mother while getting ready for work a few weeks ago. The next day I received a text from my landlord/roommate telling me the neighbors complained they could hear me making too much noise in the morning. Mind you I have no TV to turn on and the roommate has never been bothered by my morning routine.

Now I don’t have anything to hide. If you lived with me, you would likely find me waking at 4:30am and turning on the coffee maker before heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair. In that moment, however, I was taken back that someone would be annoyed and grateful for the walls and doors we have.

Most of us, at one time or another, have had a neighbor like that. If we are honest, perhaps we’ve been that nosy neighbor. When people live so close together, it’s difficult not to wonder what may be going on behind closed doors. Or in my current case, it’s difficult not to hear them practice their drums or blow their noses.

Perhaps the tendency is one reason why the Bible discusses brotherly love. Paul told believers to mind their own business. Right there, in between the instructions to live quietly and to work hard, is the directive not to peek in your neighbor’s windows. (ok, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point)

There is no question that we are supposed to love our neighbors. Scripture is quite clear on that subject. But we need to do so without crossing boundaries and complaining for no reason.

Lord, I need help loving neighbors that complain over normal noises. Help me to set a good example by loving my neighbors and concerning myself with my own affairs; and keeping phone calls home to the privacy of my car.

Alewa Drive Honolulu

Friday Funnies

May 19th, 2017

How many times have you laughed at a movie depicting two people not fully understanding each other due to language barrier? I am sure so many and in fact this is a favorite topic at work where the staff and patients are Asian with various languages spoken including Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tonkinese, Filipino, Ilocano and something called Chuukese from Micronesia. Talk about a language barrier comedy session! (and possibilities for unintended medical errors) The only thing they agree on is RICE.

Consider this conversation between a man speaking Pigeon trying to explain to a sales lady at the Honolulu Star that they’d gotten his classified ad wrong. “Hello, this is Classifieds, can I help you?” Customer: *with a heavy Pigeon accent* “Yays, I put een an ad, and eet sayes ‘peacock truck’ but eet should be’peacock truck'”

“The ad says ‘peacock truck’, but it should be ‘peacock truck’? I don’t understand the difference. Did they get the color wrong or something?” Customer: “No, no, peacock – eet ees not a color, eet ees a peacock, a peacock truck!”

“Sir, is there anyone else there who might be able to talk to me? I’m sorry; I can’t understand what you’re trying to tell me.” Customer: “Eet is seemple, eet ees a peacock truck – Pee, uh, ee, ee, uh…”

“Sir.. .are you trying to spell ‘pickup’? Is it a pickup truck you’re selling?” Customer: ‘Yays, yays, eet ees a peacock truck, like I say before.”

“Right, sir, I’ll fix that for you. So sorry. We’ll run the ad for two days extra, to make up for lost time”. Customer: “Thank you. Goodbye.”

The next day: “Hello, this is Classifieds, can I help you?” Customer: “Yeah, I went to look at this truck that was advertised in your paper, and it wasn’t what they said it was. It’s false advertising!”

“What was the problem? What was wrong?” Customer: ‘Well, the ad said it was a peacock truck, and I love that color. We went to see it, and it was black! That’s not peacock!”


Back in the cowboy days, a westbound wagon train was lost and low on food. No other humans had been seen for days … and then they saw an old Jewish Rabbi, sitting beneath a tree. The leader rushed to him and said, “We’re lost and running out of food. Is there someplace ahead where we can get food?” “Vell, I tink so,” the old Rabbi said, “but I vouldn’t go up dat hill, und down de udder side. Somevun tole me you’d run into a big bacon tree.” “A bacon tree?” asked the wagon train leader.”Yah, ah bacon tree. Vould I lie? ….. Trust me, I vouldn’t go dere.” The leader goes back and tells his people what the Rabbi said. “So why did he say not to go there?” some pioneers asked.” Oh, you know Jewish people don’t eat bacon.” So the wagon train goes up the hill and down the other side. Suddenly, Indians are attacking from everywhere and they massacre all except the leader who manages to escape back to the old Jewish Rabbi. The near-dead man starts shouting, “You fool! You sent us to our deaths! We followed your instructions, but there was no bacon tree. Just hundreds of Indians, who killed everyone but me.” The old Jewish man holds up his hand and says, “Oy….. vait a minute.” He then gets on his Google Translate and plays with it a minutes and says “Oy Vey, I made myself such ah big mishtake! It vuzn’t a bacon tree. It vuz a ham bush.”

Thankfully, everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection. Have a weekend full of joyous laughter.





Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Rehab Story

May 17th, 2017

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never learn you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Everyone watched as they made their way around the obstacles in the long hallway. She pushed his wheelchair and pulled her buggy all at the same time. And people just watched as she left him sitting as she went to look for someone knew what his room number was. That’s when it happened. Without warning, his body arched and his head fell back. He began convulsing and people started murmuring, “It’s a seizure!”

Although some knew exactly what to do, the new CNAs stood there horrified and holding the blood pressure cuff. A crowd gathered and some nursing staff began to offer assistance, but the woman waved them away. Very calmly, she picked the man’s hat up off the floor and placed it on his head. She patted his shoulder and said “It’s okay. I’m here, just like always.”

There are times in life when we encounter scary situation. What should have been an ordinary day turns into something unexpected and unwanted. Someone gets ill or injured; a relationship ends; a job is lost. It’s easy to panic. Fear clouds our vision, and we forget that we are not alone.

God is always on our side. He never gets tired of walking with us and never grows weary of doing the heavy lifting when we are weak. He is never embarrassed by our frailty or annoyed by our failings. When others don’t know how to help, He is there. When friends walk way, He stays. Wherever we find ourselves when trouble comes, God will be there, just like always.

There have been so many times in my life when I couldn’t have taken a single step more without Him. He has been a faithful and consistent companion during my adventures. And He will be for you, too.

Sunday in Hawaii: Hawaii

May 14th, 2017

When I tell people that I am working in Hawaii, I brace myself for the responses. And by responses, I mean deeply romantic stereotypes.

Chances are you might be dreaming of coming to Hawaii for a vacation or honeymoon in the future – and lucky you! Hawaii is amazing.

But Hawaii is also home for many and that’s a very different lifestyle than being here as a tourist. Please, let me tell you a little of what I’ve learned about Hawaii.

You may think you’re suffering allergies and respiratory problems, when it’s really a reaction to the VOG. VOG is a smog or haze containing volcanic dust and gases. VOG is a form of air pollution that results when gases and particle emitted by the volcano react with moisture in the air and is a combination of the words volcanic, smog and fog.

It may sound silly, but you might be surprised to find most Hawaiians are Asian. No one told me and I expected Native Hawaiians. I was very naive. There is a confusion that exists here between Asian culture and Native Hawaiian culture going back to the early 19th century when Asians were brought to this land to work the sugar cane and pineapple plantations. I’ve paid more attention to media and Blue Hawaii used Asians as Hawaiians and the non-white actors in Hawaii Five-O are Korean, not Native Hawaiian. By the time, Pearl Harbor was bombed the population was 40% Japanese, 20% Chinese and only 25% Native Hawaiian and then mostly on the other islands. Sadly, the Native Hawaiian identity has been disappearing as the Asians increase.

Today Native Hawaiians make up a meager 10% of the population and 1/3 are homeless. No romantic grass skirts and ukuleles. What happened to them? Historians estimate that almost 80% of the original Native Hawaiian population died after coming in contact with European diseases. With the dwindling population Hawaiians lost more and more control over their lands and Asians were brought in to work the fields.

In 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown, the Queen imprisoned in her palace. In 1921, Congress passed the “Hawaiian Homes Commission Act” designed to rehabilitate their population with the land by setting aside 3% of the total land for people who are 50% Native Hawaiians.

If you meet a Hawaiian, you’ll notice the Native Hawaiians are relentlessly friendly and really live the aloha spirit. It seems deeply engrained in them as a value in their native culture. This “Aloha”was eventually turned into a marketing slogan to drive tourism. Hawaii became this mystical, magical and hospitable place packaged to Mainlanders. The place dreams are made of.

It was smart. It’s worked better than they ever imagined. Hawaii has become a fantasy for vacationers and honeymooners to visit rather than a place to live. Please enjoy Hawaii, it’s an amazing place. But just be aware of your role as a tourist that you outnumber Native Hawaiians 30 to 1.

I urge anyone visiting the Aloha State to leave the beach to visit cultural sites like Hawaiian Plantation Village where you can learn how the Pidgin language was developed and how different cultures learned to live together. Hawaii may be officially part of the United States, but I’ve learned in no way are the people sovereign. http://hawaiiplantationvillage.org/

Hawaii is very beautiful, complex and its history rich. Look for it when you visit.



Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Holding Hands

May 10th, 2017

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

I enjoy watching my niece Grace and her parents walk hand-in-hand-in-hand when we’re out. It’s easy strolling until they make their way to the parking lot, where they instruct her to hold tightly to their hands. Sometimes she does, holding on as tightly as a two-year-old can hold. If she trips over a pot hole or loses her footing, she won’t fall because her parents have a tight grip on her. Tighter than her grip on them.

That is a beautiful picture of what it’s like to walk with God. There are times when it feels like a lovely stroll through the zoo, surrounded by family and friends. Times are good and all is well as we hold on to Him and He holds on to us.

Then the tough times come. The ground becomes uneven and our steps aren’t sure. Rocks cause us to stumble. Someone we love becomes ill. A spouse leave. A job is lost. And even though we may have been holding on as tightly as we could, we would hit the ground if God weren’t holding onto us.

This is the promise we have in Christ: nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. His grip is strong, and nothing that this life throws our way can ever make Him let go.

WOW! What an awesome God we serve. I’m so thankful that He has a grip on me.

Sunday in Hawaii: Makapuu Point

May 7th, 2017

If you’re an early riser like me, the popular 2-mile paved hike to Makapuu Point Lighthouse is spectacular in the morning. The trail is an excellent place to view migrating humpback whales in season and offers outstanding views of Oahu’s southeastern coastline, including Koko Head and Koko Crater.

Koko Head Crater

According to Hawaiian legend, Makapuu was a supernatural being who took up residence on the point. This being’s defining feature was a set of eight bright eyes, which is reflected in the name Makapuu, Hawaiian for bulging eye. On October 1, 1909, the light from another bright, bulging eye was seen on the rocky point of Makapuu as the giant lens of the historic red-roofed Makapuu Lighthouse was illuminated for the first time on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapuu Beach – a stretch of sand known as one of Oahu’s best bodysurfing beaches. Beautiful to look at, but not for casual swimmers.

This moderately easy hike paid off with breathtaking views of the indigo ocean and Oahu’s Windward Coast while bypassing and rising above the off-limits path to the Lighthouse itself. This portion of the island tends to be hot and dry and the paved path is lined with cactuses and windblown brush. If you look at the photos closely you can even see Molokai in the distance. Two other smaller islands, Manana (the larger of the two, also known as Rabbit Island) and Kaohikaipu are also visible just offshore in other photos.

Molokai in the distance center of the photo

Welcome winds and view at the top with Rabbit Island over my shoulder

Why not find a path or hill to climb this week? Perhaps you’ll climb to a lighthouse. Not so the world can see you, but so that you can see the world.


Friday Funnies

May 5th, 2017

Recently I’ve been enjoying the British car program The Grand Tour. I know what you’re thinking, but before you judge, car programs have come a long way. The Grand Tour is a British entertainment program that is watchable by everyone, even those not auto-crazed. By watching enough episodes even you may come up with a silly car joke worthy of Friday Funnies:

A hip young Brit goes out and buys the best car available: a 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4. It is the best and most expensive car in the world, and it sets him back $1.24M. He takes it out for a spin and, while doing so, stops for a red light. An old man on a moped (both looking about 90 years old) pulls up next to him. The old man looks over the sleek, shiny surface of the car and asks, “What kind of car ya’ got there, sonny?” The young man replies “A 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4. It cost $1.24M. “That’s a lot of money” says the old man, shocked. “Why does it cost so much? “Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!” states the cool dude proudly. The moped driver asks, “Can I take a look inside? “Sure,” replies the owner. So, the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around. Leaning back on his moped, the old man says “That’s a pretty nice car, all right!” Just then, the light changes, so the guy decides to show the old man what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 320 MPH. Suddenly, he notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer! He slows down to see what it could be and suddenly, whhhoossh! Something whips by him, going much faster! “What on earth could be going faster than my 16.4?” the young man asks himself. Then, ahead of him, he sees a dot coming toward him. Whoooooosh! It goes by again, heading the opposite direction! And, it almost looked like the old man on the moped! “Couldn’t be,” thinks the guy. “How could a moped outrun a Bugatti?” Again, he sees a dot in his rear view mirror! Whooooosh Ka-BbblaMMM! It plows into the back of his car, demolishing the rear end. The young man jumps out, and good grief, it is the old man!!! Of course the moped and the old man are hurting for certain. He runs up to the dying old man and says, “You’re hurt bad! Is there anything I can do for you?” The old man groans and replies “Yes. Unhook my suspenders from your side-view mirror!”

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Lily Tree

May 3rd, 2017

His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

If you walk down the sidewalk to my front door in Manoa, a tree blooms at the edge. The flowers are a beautiful deep pink, and I imagine them blooming ever prettier each year. A stranger passing by might consider it to be a lovely crepe myrtle.

I’ve been told it was planted in memory of a certain young lady named Lily. What was meant simply to be a memorial, however, has turned into a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. No matter how strong the rains are, or hot the sun bears down, the tree blooms. When it started to overtake the sidewalk, my roommate pruned it back the first week I arrived. I thought perhaps he had cut too much, but 6 weeks later it bloomed even lovelier than it had when I first arrived to admire it.

When God calls me to leave next month, I’ll walk past the lily tree one final time and remember the infernal heat, but also all the beauty that graced my time in Hawaii. And I’ll be able to enjoy this photo of that tree in all of its beautiful pink glory, and I’ll be reminded that God is forever faithful.

The next time you’re out driving around or taking a walk admiring someone’s lovely landscaping, stop for a moment and take it all in. You might be admiring a flowering tree planted as a memorial, and I pray it reminds you of God’s love for you.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.