About Me

Florida, United States
I'm a mother of two children, an inspirational and motivational Author and Minister. My greatest joy is to see people gain new insight and understanding about the amazing possibilities that life holds when we put put our faith to action. 'Shoes For The Spirit, is a book filled with real-life stories of people who have walked through great difficulty and have found the right pair of shoes for their personal journey. Whether or not you are a person of faith, there is something uplifting, guiding and compelling in this little book, for everyone. The accompanying CD, 'Songs For the Soul,' is a compliation of original orchestrated tunes, with voice-over verse layered on top of the music. This CD has great encouragement for all who take the time to listen. I hope all of you bloggers will read the new sequel to 'Shoes For The Spirit,' listed in the blog posts below, and if you're so inclined, will purchase my book and CD. You won't be sorry! Be blessed. Love, Tamra

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Skating Toward Self Control


Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors has given to you?” Joshua 18:3

My mother used to always tell me to ‘never put off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today.’ I can always think of a hundred things that need to be done in the house and the yard alone. Our adorable little Chihuahua, Salsa, needs a bath. The rose bushes are in desperate need of a good trimming. Paint is chipping on the old garage door, the pool is full of June bugs and this is October. And that is exactly my problem. I can always think of a multitude of other tasks in order to avoid the one thing I need to do the most. Yes, sadly it’s true. I am a procrastinator. There should be an organization similar to AA for people like me who always want to put off until tomorrow the thing we need to do today. Procrastinator’s Anonymous. I could be the President.
I’m always telling my husband, ‘Look at everything I accomplished today!’ And he sits in wonder at the tasks that have been finished. I actually make lists in the evening before the next day and check them off one by one as I complete them. How could a person this organized be a procrastinator? Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But it’s the one thing I don’t want to do that stands ominously in the way of my peace of mind and truest success. It’s the thing I most need to do that slips through my fingers day after day. And that thing I need to do, but don’t is what keeps me awake at night, haunts me during the day and makes me a certified member of PA whether I want to be or not.
I bet you’re laughing right now, because you see yourself in precisely the same light. There are numerous members of Procrastinators Anonymous. I’ve met many souls of similar persuasion whose closets are running over with clothes that are crying to be boxed up for Good Will, newspapers from years ago they’ve never read that should be in the recycle bin, documents that still have not been signed but are collecting dust instead on the corner of some desk with a broken drawer.
Procrastinators have a moral code they live by and rarely is it broken- Never do today what can wait until tomorrow. Since I’m the rightful President of this club let me be the first to tell you this important truth; self control is the virtue which all true procrastinators lack; the one they need the most.
People often ask me where I got my musical talent. I have vivid childhood memories of my father sitting at the piano, teaching me to play “Little Brown Jug.” It’s a short, simple song with no more then three chords, the lyrics portraying the life of a fellow more interested in his booze than his wife. My Dad, who never took a drop of liquor himself, sang this song like he was auditioning for American Idol, and it was interesting how he could take those same three chords and apply them to any hymn you’d ever want to sing. Ingenious. My mother, on the other hand, sang in the church choir….and everyone could pick her out, because she was the person who enthusiastically belted out every song on the same note, regardless of the key of the music.
This was my musical heritage. “Little Brown Jug,” however, didn’t get me very far in college when I needed to play a Beethoven Sonata or a Bach Fugue. My Mother’s monotone voice did little for me when it came to singing Operatic Arias, and German Art Songs. I had much to learn and the discipline of time and effort required was monumental. Each week, there was a new piano piece to perfect and a new art song to learn, and worst of all, I had to perform them in front of the Webster University music faculty and other students.
When time came for final exams, they usually entailed a recital performance as a large part of our final grade. I cleaned my dorm room. I cleaned it six times. I worked on my other non-pertinent classes- studied psychology, memorized history facts, volunteered in the lunchroom- anything at all to avoid facing the workload I knew I needed to attack.
What was wrong with me? When finally I got down to business and hit the practice room to prepare for my recital, I had only days left to complete the task. Now, unless one is a genius, it’s quite impossible to memorize twenty to thirty pages of music in just a few days. Needless to say, my performance was less than stellar, and my German Art Song, took on a familiar monotone, reminiscent of my mother’s glory days in the church choir.
I have to admit, it was an enlightening moment for this bonafide procrastinator. I had to weigh the consequences of my lack of discipline, and self-control. Like it or not, there is a painful price to pay for putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today.
Paul addressed this particular issue in the second book of Timothy, the second chapter, starting at verse 5 when he says this; “Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. The hardworking farmers are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.” When we can grasp the discipline of priority, and gain through God’s enablement the power to tackle those tasks that are most needful and necessary in our lives, we reap the benefits of that self control.
I honestly never gave myself license to procrastinate practice for another recital after the painful lesson I learned at Webster University. I decided the humiliation wasn’t worth dragging my heels. Of course, applying that precept to all the other areas of my life has been a challenge. Once a procrastinator……
If I knew how to defeat the demon of delay, I’d reveal the secret in this book. But, I know the One who is ready and able to help us prioritize our lives and who genuinely wants us to win the prize of purpose fulfilled. I now start each morning requesting God’s assistance in my quest to order my day and seek his collaboration in my effort to accomplish those tasks most needful. It’s amazing how simple the mission can be when the Lord puts his particular spin on it. What seemed daunting suddenly appears attainable. God has this miraculous way of turning mountains into molehills. Don’t you love that?
So, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord the God of your ancestors has given to you?” Well Lord, by your grace, I’ll get to it first thing tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Skating Toward Self Control (2)

I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me…Philippians 4:13

My husband and I took a kid-less vacation to Aruba one summer when there was a special on airfare and hotel. We were in desperate need of some uninterrupted adult time and we’d never been there before. As we were flying in over the island I was enthralled with the beauty of the surrounding water…the vivid blues and deep greens were like nothing I’d ever seen. It looked like millions of tiny jewels dancing in sparkling symmetry on the water’s surface, as the sun shone through tiny, wispy clouds.
It was a short jaunt to the hotel from the airport and I was taken with how clean everything appeared. The shops and the streets were filled with people from all over the world. I was expecting lush green grass and lovely swaying palm trees, but found myself instead looking at cactus, and sand. Aruba is merely a small desert island.
We unpacked and went to talk to the concierge at the hotel about all the fun activities available to us in Aruba. We settled on a kayaking trip to Palm Island, an adjacent strip of land just off the Aruba coastline. I’d never been kayaking before, and this sounded like loads of fun. We hopped on the bus the next morning for the short trip to the launch site, and waited for our tour guide to appear.
In a few moments a deeply suntanned fellow sauntered up, shirtless, barefoot and with very long dreadlocks. I’d been looking for a man in a crisp white shirt and khaki shorts.
‘Good morning to you my friends! Are you ready for an adventure?” The impish smile on his face told me everything I needed to know. This was going to be interesting.
George, as our island tour guide was called, pointed us toward our bright red, fiberglass kayak, strapped us into our flotation devices and gave everyone a quick on- land lesson about ‘how to paddle a kayak.’
I’ve never been particularly co-coordinated, and in fact was always the last one picked for the softball team, after all other possibilities were exhausted. It wasn’t long before my husband became exasperated with my lack of paddle timing skills. Now tell me, who can successfully paddle in sand? Excuse me, but the last I checked, you need water to accomplish that goal. George, agreeing this might be of help to me, gave our little kayak a gentle push into the soft blue water. And off we went….in every direction you can imagine, but the right one. Who choose this kayak adventure? I was beginning to dislike the whole idea of it, and I hadn’t even mastered my paddle timing as yet.
While all the other kayakers were successfully making their way across the water to Palm Island, Jim and I were still paddling in circles, and all the while getting more and more aggravated with each other. So much for romantic getaways. George, being a kind- hearted fellow, took pity on us, lined his bright green kayak up with ours and shouted directions to us all the way to Palm Island. My husband was so humiliated. Men hate to take directions.
But it was worth the trip. Palm Island was a great place to snorkel and it wasn’t long until we were bedecked in all the necessary eye gear and breathing apparatus, and were ready to dive into the water. I have never in my life seen such glorious fish! Every color of the rainbow was represented in the most unusual shapes and sizes. These fellows were accustomed to being gawked at and would literally come up to you and eat right out of your hand. I couldn’t help but wonder how God comes up with such unique creatures.
All too soon, it was time to head back on our bright red kayak. After we were suited up into our flotation devices, George began to explain the challenges of our return voyage. It seems the water is easily paddled going to Palm Island, but there are four foot waves to navigate on the return. Funny, but George was looking straight at me the entire time he was explaining the perils awaiting us. I leaned over to Jim and said, “Are you noticing George is looking right at me?” “Yea hon, I think he wants you to ride in the kayak with him, and forget the idea of trying to paddle back.”
Incensed, I marched right up to George, and let him know in no uncertain terms that I could handle this trip back, and had no intention of riding in his bright green kayak. I would soon come to regret that decision.
I believe God gives us special gifts in that moment when we need them most….I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And there have been more times than I can count that I have needed that unction, that supernatural strength to get me through the difficulties of life. When my baby spent endless hours in the hospital, when my father had a stroke, when Mother passed away, when our plane went down in the Missouri Ozarks… Those were life-altering events, and I would not have gotten through those times without God’s divine strength. No matter what my fortitude, or self-discipline, I could not have survived the onslaught without God’s help. I think there are lesser trials that also require holy intervention, strengthening our self-control. Surviving my daughter’s rebellious teenage years, my son’s obsession with skate boarding, my husband’s endless stress with work…. Whatever our particular brand of tribulation may be, God is always faithful. He is there to give us the stamina to endure our momentary trials and to bolster us up when our own strength and mastery are not enough. With His help we come out on the other side, wiser, stronger, more patient and more intimately connected to His heart.
It didn’t take me long to see that the idea of paddling a kayak in four foot waves was not a job for a novice. This took skill, strength and experience that neither I, nor Jim, possessed. While everyone else was stripping off their gear and loading back onto the bus, Jim and I were slowly making our way back to shore, one painful, laborious stroke after another, intent on the goal. George stood, hands on hip, with a gaze of genuine concern, watching our belabored effort to get that little red boat back to the Arubian shore. Every stroke brought us a bit closer, but the next wave took us a step back. We finally made it, and with a triumphant gesture, fell face forward on the sand, unable to move.
My self-control is only as refined as the Christ who gives me strength. All the tenacity in the world cannot replace the need for divine intervention in those moments where confidence is not enough. I thank God for that kayaking adventure and every time I think of it, I remember those four foot waves. If the Lord can strengthen my self- control, and gift me with the tenacity to make it across that water, I know He can help me in every other formidable battle I face.
Wonder what I’ll glean from our next romantic getaway?