Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Devotions From the Black Hills: Snowstorms

February 21st, 2018

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? Job 38:22-23

If you’ve ever driven in the Black Hills in a snowstorm, you may feel like you’ve seen God’s storehouses of snow! I know, because I drove home during a snowstorm Monday night. When a storm rolls in, clouds envelop the Hills. Snow was flying thick toward my windshield and the tall evergreens lining the road were cloaked in white. My co-workers had the day off because their children didn’t have school. Tuesday I heard how enchanting the kids thought the snow was, meanwhile I was behind the wheel about to swallow my tongue as it was nearly impossible to tell where the pavement ended and the soft shoulder off the side of the hill began. I’m very glad I invested in good snow tires earlier in the season because there wasn’t a single snowplow in sight. By this morning the plows and sanders had been out and driving conditions were mildly improved.

This photo taken Monday by the local newspaper on the road I drive every day.

In town President’s Day

Storms of all kinds are painful reminders of just how powerless we can be. How do we respond? How do we approach the Lord in those tumultuous seasons? Poor Job was hit with so much: the deaths of his children, the loss of material wealth and comfort, and the ruining of his physical health. When he questioned God, the Lord’s response was to remind him at length exactly who He was, and who Job was NOT. Snow was one in a long list of things that God created, understands, and has power over. Though He never explained any purpose for Job’s suffering, Job was chastened and replied, “Surely, I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” How often do we respond to God with that kind of trust and humility in our storms?

Snow is beautiful in it’s infinite variety of those tiny flakes. We can trust that God is in control even during our very personal storms of life – blizzards and every other kind! He will bring you through in ways that are far beyond our understanding.

Devotions from the Black Hills: Moonlight on Snow

January 17th, 2018

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8: 3-4

Have you even seen snow-covered hills on a clear early morning under a full moon? The snow covered Black Hills reflect the moonlight so well that they practically glow. Although it’s normal to see the pine covered hills during daylight, to see them so visibly at night is startling and strange but in a nice way, like running into an old friend when you haven’t seen her in a while and weren’t expecting to see them.

If you can get away from the lights of town, moonlight and snow are a dazzling combination. The shadows are sharp,, and it’s amazing how well you can see! During the recent super moon I could have read a book by the light created from moonlight on the snow.

Genesis describes the creation of the moon on the fourth day. “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the  vault of the sky to give light on the earth”. When God reflected on what He had made that day, He said that it was good. And it is good! It’s AMAZING! How ingenious of God to design and create the solar system! He planned the complex pattern of seasons and weather that come together in moonlight and snow. It’s a phenomenal gift worthy of our praise.

The moon and snow are a brilliant combination, but add the Black Hills and you have a stunning trio.

Advent: Snow

December 14th, 2016

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

If you live anywhere affected by the current “polar vortex”, then you’re probably aware of the importance of winter gear. Any true northerner knows that you don’t simply rush out in freezing temperatures to make a snow angel in your yard. There are a series of items that you must first put on your body. A warm sweater base layer is needed to hold in body he A properly insulated jacket keeps out the cold. Appropriate footwear is also needed to prevent feet from getting wet and cold.

At this point, you may feel prepared to take on the frigid temperatures, however, you aren’t fully protected, are you? You still need to wrap a scarf around your neck, put on a hat over your head and pull gloves onto your hands. Only then are you ready to step out and face Old Man Winter.

It may be tempting, in the rush to get outside, to skip something. The problem with that is that each item protects a certain part of the body. Each one has its own job, and without it, you’ll leave something out in the cold.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he told them how they could defend themselves: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, shoes of peace, and sword of the Spirit. In one short passage, Paul told the believers to put on the whole armor of God. To neglect any part of the armor would be to leave some area vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.

You wouldn’t rush out to make a snowman with your bare hands, or trudge through the snow wearing flip flops. If you are wise, you wouldn’t go out in this weather without being properly protected. How much more important than is it to be properly protected before going out into the world?

Sunday in Michigan

February 7th, 2016

Life in the Upper Peninsula is all about the snow. Snow boots. Snowshoes. Snow skies. Snow tubing. Snowmobiles.

As the snow accumulated at alarming rates over the past week, so did students love for all things snow at Michigan Tech’s 95th Annual Winter Carnival complete with monumental snow sculptures in Houghton.

Organized by Blue Key National Honor Society since 1934, Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival started in 1922 to celebrate the large amounts of snow they experience and has grown to become one of the largest annual winter festivals in the nation. The carnival is characterized by dozens of huge, intricate snow sculptures around campus and the community. This event also brings together students to participate in broomball, comedy skits, sleigh rides, ice bowling, human dog sled races, skiing, ice fishing, a queen coronation, and lots more winter fun.

I arrived just as students were starting a broomball game. Always intense, and a Yooper favorite, broomball is much like hockey, and yet different. In North Dakota my father played with a broom dipped in melted plastic. Today players were using duct-taped brooms, a mid-sized ball, and no skates. Players slide madly around the ice trying to put the ball past the goalie. Sounds simple if you’ve never tried it!

The ice & snow sculptures were outstanding. Some were built over the course of a month and others were only given overnight to build prior to judging. Good grief, it would have been difficult to judge them. I especially liked the USA Eagle and Alaska. I was only able to transfer the one photo, however you can click on the link to view them. They’re fantastic!: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michigantech/sets/72157659833177884/with/24189066434/ and www.mtu.edu/carnival

Yooper’s especially determined to enjoy the snow, so Carnival is a meaningful time for them. Even the sleigh horses seemed happy to be a part of the event.

MTU Winter Carnival Sleigh Rides

MTU Winter Carnival Sleigh Rides

Whatever you do this week, enjoy it in earnest.

Friday Funnies

January 15th, 2016

Snow. Snow. And more snow. Time for silly snow jokes.

Q: What do you get from sitting on the snow too long? A: Polaroids!

Q: What’s an ig? A: A snow house without a loo!

Q: What do snowmen eat for lunch ? A: Icebergers !

Q:. Where does a snowman keep his money? A: In a snow bank.

Q: What do snowmen eat for breakfast? A: Frosted Flakes.

Q: What do you call a snowman with a six pack? A: An abdominal snowman.

Q: What do you call a snowman that tells tall tales? A: A snow-fake!

Q: What do you call an old snowman? A: Water!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire? A: Frostbite

Q: How does a Snowman get to work? A: By icicle.

The Newness of Snow

January 13th, 2016

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

“It’s below freezing outside?!” I muttered to myself as I glanced at my weather app while getting ready for work yesterday. I guess growing up in North Dakota, you might assume that I would be used to cold weather. A winter type of girl. In reality, winter is something I have never looked forward to. And the reason I moved to Florida.

I swear, it seems like all the life and energy of the summer dwindles away as birds fly south, snowbirds head to Florida and insects tuck themselves away. The days become shorter, and even the bright sun doesn’t seem as bright or as warm hiding behind clouds. Instead, with every second you stay outside you grow colder and colder.

But yesterday after work something else crossed my mind. As I stepped outside I quickly noticed a fresh thick covering of snow on EVERYTHING. There really isn’t anything like the fresh snow fall, which leaves everything in its path covered with fluffy pure white, free from any dirt or debris. Immediately, my mood shifted from one of coldness to one of awe for what God can do with any situation. Even when you can see your breath INSIDE your car.

While winter in the North Country is not warm like the summer months, or have the same characteristics, God makes it special and wonderful in its own way. The same way He does with all of us. God makes all things anew, clean and beautiful in His, and our, sight.

Today, remember where you came from, and how God has changed and improved your life. And keep warm my northern friends.

Sunday in Michigan

January 10th, 2016

I can still remember that day. If you asked me, I thought the world was coming to a bitter cold end. Well, at least my world. It was a very humid and hot summer afternoon when I left West Palm Beach for Marquette. Not unusual for February in south Florida. It was quite a coincidence actually; since this was the type of severe winter weather I should have to been used to since growing up in North Dakota. After all here I was on my way to work in Munising. In February. During a record-breaking blizzard. And now, I’m in Ironwood watching both the snow and temperature drop while I type.

It was a mere two months ago when I told my friends and family I would be returning to Ironwood for the worst winter months. At first, some of them didn’t believe me. I admit to thinking, “What kind of sick joke is this God?” But, after a few days everyone realized I was serious.

Joke, or God’s perfect plan, I’m delighting in seeing how the snow is totally covering all the dirt and grime and making everything untainted and white. The landscape is utterly breathtaking, transformed and even thrilling.  Those who live in southern Florida probably have little idea of what I am describing, but I hope that you try. (Head over to the notoriously cold Town Center Mall without a jacket)

Snow seldom falls in Florida.  The mean temperature of Orlando in the winter time is 60 degrees Fahrenheit, thus they should never see snow. However, snow occasionally does come to the “Happiest Place on Earth” when the temperature drops low enough. Everything in the south stops when a flake drops slowly from the sky. Not so much in the Upper Peninsula.

This winter, I get the chance to watch the snow when it falls and blankets the ground and streets. I mean REALLY see the snow, up close and personal. And I’m going to try to remember to give thanks for this wonderful gift of winter bringing sub-zero temperatures and icy winds along with it. The dark, frigid days make it tough to stay positive as I curl up on the couch watching rental movies.

So please, let me encourage you that even in our most stressful moments, a fresh, fluffy snowfall maintains an almost supernatural power to calm us down — mind, body and soul. It’s magical.



Ironwood visitors cernter 1 Ironwood visitors cernter 4

Friday Funnies

March 27th, 2015

July 25 – Visited Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula with my brother Vaughn. It’s so beautiful here. The falls in the woods look so majestic. I can hardly wait to come for a longer visit. I’m going to love northern Michigan!

Me and my brother Vaughn in front of Tahquamenon Upper Falls having great sibling time.

Me and my brother Vaughn in front of Tahquamenon Upper Falls having great sibling time.

February 9 – Moved to my new home in Munising, Michigan. It’s so beautifully white here. The very frozen Lake Superior looks so majestic. It’s snow covered. I’m going to learn to love it here!

Munising snowmobile road onto Lake Superior to their fish houses

Munising snowmobile road onto Lake Superior to their fish houses

February 14 – Went for a ride to Marquette to see the dogs cross the finish line of the UP200 Sled Dog Race while sipping hot chocolate. The dogs are amazing athletes having just endured going through a blizzard for the past 24 hours. Certainly they are the most hardy animals on earth. The UP is definitely the most exciting cold place on earth! The pines are all covered in fluffy white snow making this a magical place. This must be paradise, I LOVE IT HERE!!

UP200 winning team 4

February 21 – Snowing heavily creating an igloo effect in my cottage. I get to spend time perfecting my still life photography over the weekend. I love it here. The snow drifts look like rich shag carpet. HOW BEAUTIFUL. Shoveling the porch will be an opportunity for invigorating exercise in the cool crisp air Monday morning.

February 23 – Ah, more snow and more exercise.

February 26 – Good grief, still more snow. Guess it’s best to wait until it’s done falling overnight before I shovel again. Where is all this snow coming from? My right thumb is white and numb. Should probably remember to wear gloves.


The view I had from inside my cottage  before shoveling myself out this morning.

The view I had from inside my cottage before shoveling myself out this morning.

February 27 – Had a strong wind off the lake last night and my porch is covered again even though we didn’t have new snowfall. Oh well, maybe the wind will shift and blow it away from the door. Otherwise shoveling will just have to wait until after work.

February 28 – It snowed last night. Woke up to find everything blanketed deeper in white. It looks like a postcard. I went outside and shoveled the porch so I could clean the snow off the car. Then the snowplow came by and I had to shovel the end of the driveway again.

February 29 – What a beautiful place the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is on a crisp winter day. Drove to Trenary to see the Outhouse Classic with 3,999 of my closest strangers and had a fantastic time! My toes are numb from standing in the snowbank, but I’m loving it here. I even learned a good lesson today. You should ALWAYS keep your tap running so your pipes don’t freeze like mine did. Time to call the plumber.

The Magic Stool outhouse with Spiderman running by.

The Magic Stool outhouse with Spiderman running by.

March 4 – Still more snow last night, but I suppose I needed some more exercise. I’m loving it here, but I’m tiring from shoveling morning and night. As if dealing with the snow wasn’t bad enough, now I’m getting blisters on my hands from shoveling. (I must remember to wear gloves) I think the snowplow hides around the corner and waits until I’m finished shoveling the driveway. Jerk.

March 6 – So happy this morning as I look out and realized it didn’t snow last night. I don’t have to shovel my way to the car and wipe the car free of snow. Then I look at the end of the driveway. Seems I won’t be getting to work without shoveling after all. If I ever get my hands on the snowplow driver, I swear I’ll smack him. Don’t know why they don’t use more salt on the roads to melt the ice. Sand even!

March 8 – More white fluffy snow today keeping me from driving to see the Eben Ice Caves. Have been inside for two days except for shoveling out the driveway so the plow can go by. My hands are frozen. Co-workers think it’s just a mild case of frost bite, disfiguration is probably only temporary. My little green Kia is nearly stuck in a mountain of white. The weatherman says this is the last of it and says snow total for the week was 10 inches. Do you know how many shovels full of snow 10 inches is?

March 20 – Finally got out of the house to hike Wagner Falls and Valley Spur today. It felt so fantastic to get outside and stretch my legs. On the way home I passed the garage in town. Cars and trucks are rusting out from all the salt they put all over the roads.

Munising Valley Spur Trail 5

March 25, 26 and 27 – The weatherman was wrong. We got 6 inches of new snow and it’s still snowing, very chilly and windy. At this rate I’ll never get to turn off my water and the snow won’t melt until summer…and I’ll be gone by then. The plow got stuck up the road and the driver came to the door early this morning. He wanted to borrow a shovel. After I told him I’d already broken six of them shoveling all the snow he pushed into the driveway, I broke my last one on his head.

All I can do is shake my head and laugh thinking about how I would be at the Palm Beach Yacht show if I were in Florida this weekend. How could it be that sunny and warm somewhere when I’m still up to my thighs in snow?!

137 Superyacht Bread seen at the Annual Palm Beach Yacht show

137 Superyacht Bread seen at the Palm Beach Yacht show

March 28 – Meeting at Tahquamenon Falls with my brother for a winter perspective. It’s so beautiful here. The falls in the winter are going to look so majestic. I can hardly wait to return for a summer visit. I’m going to love northern Michigan in the summer!



Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.