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, August 30, 2007

The Perfect Dream Home

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Philippians 3:12 NLT

I had been tearing pictures from design magazines for years, and had quite a portfolio of ideas collected in anticipation of building my dream home. There were lovely images of warm, elegant bedrooms, functional, inviting kitchens, efficient, well designed offices and fun-filled family rooms. I even had a bag of stones in the colors I love: red, green, yellow, brown, gold, and copper.
We purchased our home two and a half years ago. I still remember the mixed emotions I had the first time I drove up to, parked my car and gazed at the possibilities. I had no trouble seeing beyond the dreary color of paint and the pitiful shrubbery. When I stepped through the front doors, the immediate potential of the structure was staggering. Without question, the task was monumental- far bigger than I had imagined. In truth, I felt overwhelmed at the magnitude of the job I had chosen to undertake. Where to begin?
The bathrooms and kitchen were full of outdated cabinetry, and, were finished with a white, shiny-type coating that didn’t match my decorating plans. The tubs and showers were leaking; the kitchen looked like aliens had designed the cooking area, and the carpeting showed years of cigar-induced burns and other unpleasant mishaps. Some of the doors were warped and in need of replacing, the stairwell carpeting was unraveling in places to the point that you could see the bare, unfinished wood beneath.
The entire house, floor to ceiling was beige. Not a speck of color anywhere, and I’m a girl who loves color. The plastic chandeliers had that Eighties disco feel...very groovy. All I needed to complete the scene was a mirrored disco ball hanging from the ceiling in my living room and Andy Gibbs piped in on the stereo.
I enjoy a challenge, but I was beginning to think I had bitten off more than I could chew. The look of absolute delight on the contractor’s face as he took a gander told me the rest of the story…this was going to be expensive. Cha-ching.
With every change we made, a new problem surfaced. Sometimes it was a plumbing issue, sometimes an electrical glitch, but it didn’t take long to realize we were in over our heads, financially and emotionally. We wanted this house, but could we afford it? Renovations we thought we take us four months, ended up requiring nearly a year and cost three times what we had originally budgeted.
In spite of the fact that the whole project was beyond exhausting, the glad day arrived when we packed up our belongings from the cramped little condo we’d been living in for months, grabbed the dog and cat, and made the exciting trip to our newly renovated dream home.
We were amazed at the finished product. It was all I had ever hoped for and more. Down to the last detail of the artistic touches on the kitchen cabinets to the faux paint on the entry pillars...everything was just as I had imagined, only better.
Jordan’s room is painted with wall murals of trees, grass and lions, and offers the illusion of stepping into a jungle. Meagan’s room is finished in European flair with embellished touches of gold and orange. The living room has angels painted on the entryway ceiling, an inviting welcome to any guests who enter our home.
As I stood looking at the vast transformation, remembering what the house looked like originally and marveling at the majesty of its conversion, I began to think about our journey with God.
When first we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, He must see the monumental task of all that needs to happen. And yet, we are His dream home, the place where His Sprit desires to abide.
Jesus moves through the rooms of our hearts, one by one, with careful examination. When He’s taken a full inventory, He begins cleaning out the unnecessary burden of false expectation, erroneous beliefs and human imperfections. He sweeps all of our mistakes into a heap and washes them away by the power of His Word. He never remembers those errors in judgment again. He heals the wounds of our hearts and strips all the old wallpaper and paint from our fractured souls. And only when He’s completed the cleansing of the old, does He begin the development of the new.
Jesus knows our potential. He is patient as He changes us bit by bit, knowing it is a life-long journey. I renovated my dream home in months. Jesus transforms us over a lifetime. He’s in no hurry, because He’s interested in our journey and already sees the finished product before we take even the first step.
Budgets and cost over-runs are no issue for our Savior. Jesus pre-paid it all. He had the perfect plan for the price of our spiritual renovations. He gave His life, the flawless, sinless sacrifice for all our mistakes. Our reconstruction cost Him everything and He gladly gave it, so that we may become that complete and finished creation He knew we would one day be.
I can agree with the great Apostle Paul as he said, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”
I now understand that the perfection is in the journey. How grateful I am that the Lord has a vision for me…one He painstakingly will pursue from the day I invited Him into the rooms of my heart, until He’s finished the good work He began in me. I’m glad Jesus doesn’t get exhausted or frustrated with the process, and throw up his hands and quit! Because of His patient endurance, I’m on my way to becoming His dream house; the perfect work of His hands that continually shapes me into the glorious image of Christ.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Perfection of Significance

Punting Perfection

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21 NLT

Wasn’t it that great philosopher, Andy Warhol, who once said, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes?” The culture we live in flaunts the importance of popularity, fame and money without apology. Everyone, it seems, has a desire for notoriety. In truth, I think it’s an innate yearning to be worshipped. I wouldn’t doubt it’s that same fatal flaw that sent Lucifer careening out of Heaven’s door a millennia ago.
American Idol, and every other reality television show, sends the same deliberate message- you’re nobody unless you’re somebody.
As painful as it is for me to admit, I’ve entertained the same dream as a million others- to have my name up in lights, my own television show, to sell a gazillion records and accomplish great things.
Not long ago, Pastor Tommy stopped me as I was heading out the door after church and said something that made me take pause. “You’ve always wanted your life to count, Tamra, to do something of value, to be someone others could admire. But, let me challenge you with this: live a life of significance rather than importance.”
I actually went home and looked up those two words in my Webster’s dictionary. Significance expresses a life full of value or worth…Importance relates more to having power or authority. I wasn’t sure why Pastor Tommy felt the need to share his thoughts with me. I’ve always thought that my life had been centered on the idea of helping others. I write books, I compose music and sing songs. Somehow this seemed to me the perfect path by which to touch lives for Jesus. But perhaps the motivation of the heart is really the issue in question. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a while for me to find the light switch. If our goal is the praise and admiration of those around us, then we may find exactly what we’re looking for: importance. But if our intent is to have the heart and character of God
revealed in and through our lives, and to have our words and actions reflect the love of God above all else, then we will live a life of significance.
There aren’t many kudos for the prayer warrior who spends hours on his or her knees before God. There’s no mob of screaming fans for the woman who takes dinner to the widow, and yet Jesus said, “As you do this unto one of these, you do this unto me.”
I believe pride is the obstacle that stands in the way of our ability to live that life of significance Pastor Tommy spoke of. We see ourselves in the light of human understanding and often place values on our lives that are predicated by world views. However, there comes a time in the life of every true seeker of God, when he or she must lay down all that we think we are and all that we hope to be, in order to be transformed into that vessel that God has planned us to be before the foundations of the world.
I remember the moment when I came to the painful realization that I would never accomplish the level of greatness I thought I was entitled to. I would likely never stand on a stage and sing for thousands of people, or have my name in lights on Broadway.
The sense of failure that overwhelmed me was palatable and I experienced a feeling of great loss, almost like a death. The transformation of a dream is often accompanied by a deep sense of bereavement. Yet out of death comes rebirth and an opportunity to explore avenues we never previously considered. The Lord’s definition of our perfection is entirely different than our own, and often requires the relinquishment of our hopes and dreams in order to see His plan unfold.
After months of dealing with my sense of loss, I was prepared to ask the difficult questions. What motivates me? What makes me feel important? What defines me? Why do I have these talents and for what purpose do I use them? In truth, the answers surprised me. I was motivated by the accolades of others. I felt important when I was appreciated for my talents. I realized I was defined not by who I am, but by what I do.
And these acknowledgements brought me to the foot of the cross of Christ. It was there that I laid down my abilities, my talents, my dreams and goals and requested God’s heart in my journey. I wanted Jesus to redefine me, and to make this vessel of human clay into the work of art He desired to look upon. It was a huge step of faith, and not one I took without great thought and consideration. Once we relinquish our definition of self, and offer it up, then we must be redefined by the One receiving our sacrifice. Since we’re not exactly sure what form that new individual will take, it’s a bit frightening.
Here’s what I know for sure- nothing is wasted with God! He uses every gift and talent He’s given us, perhaps in different venues than we would like or hope, but He utilizes those unique and individual endowments in ways we can’t imagine. It’s much like giving up a cubic zirconium to receive a flawless diamond.
I can say with absolute certainty that I have no disappointment in the path I now walk. When Jesus told the rich, young ruler to sell all his possessions and give all he had to the poor, He was really asking him to trade the life he knew for a far more perfect existence. Today, I find myself grateful to be living this life of significance, rather than importance, and I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to understand the difference.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Perfectly Planned

Punting Perfection

God is my strong fortress and he makes my way perfect. Second Samuel 22:3
Do you understand how he moves the clouds with wonderful perfection and skill? Job 37:16 NLT

I don’t know about you, but I’m a real control freak. I’m the type of individual who has to know exactly what’s going on, where the road leads and what will be the outcome. I drive my husband to the edge of insanity, with the need to have our vacations carefully ordered and every day planned to the near minute. He thinks I’m a micro-manager, and I think he’s disorganized. And somehow we’ve learned to deal with our idiosyncrasies.
One summer we escaped the Florida humidity with a trip to Colorado. As I breathed in the cool mountain air, and let my eyes feast on the majesty of the Rockies, I could feel the tension melt away. The drive from Denver to Beaver Creek is beautiful with winding roads, tight turns, and daring drop offs.
This particular trip Jim wanted to do some paragliding. I’d never even heard of paragliding, and looked at him with the usual skepticism. He said, “Don’t worry Hon, you’ll love this. It will be a great adventure for the family.” I always know when he says things like that, and doesn’t bother to elaborate on the details that I’m going to be involved in something I don’t want to be.
The drive up the mountain for the paragliding adventure was inordinately steep, so I tried to keep my mind occupied with the massive green trees, and little furry animals scurrying about the bushes. It seemed to take forever to get there, but when we finally arrived we were greeted by three mountain-men, complete with the hairy beards, back-pack equipment and well-worn hiking boots. I was already getting nervous, my breathing coming in short fast spurts. Of course, that could have been from the altitude in preparation for what was to come.
Meg and Jordan were following close behind the guides, excited about the prospect of experiencing something completely new, and I was tagging behind saying the Lord’s Prayer. Jim was up front asking a lot of questions and glancing back at me with a smile of assurance. Let me tell you, I felt anything but assured! As we arrived at the peak and I got a look at the tiny, bug- sized cars in the valley far below, I swallowed hard and fought to keep my composure.
“We’re going to do what?” I asked incredulously. Jim stepped back- a very wise maneuver, and allowed Mike, Mountain-man Number One to do all the talking.
“You’ve got nothing to be afraid of, Mrs. Nashman.”
“Oh, for goodness sakes, please, if we’re going to be this near death, by all means call me Tamra.”
“I’ve been paragliding for years, and it’s quite easy to do. You merely run toward the edge of the cliff, the chute will inflate and allow the wind to pick you up and carry you. It’s like a bird. You’ll just float off the mountain.”
At this point I was absolutely speechless. All sorts of thoughts were running through my head: Is our life insurance premium up to date? Who will take care of the kids when I’m dead? And what about the laundry; no one does the laundry but me. You see, I’m a very pragmatic woman, not inclined to take crazy life-threatening risks. I looked over at the kids, faces full of wild anticipation, nodding affirmatively at me, like I should accept my fate without question.
“There is absolutely no way I’m running toward a two thousand foot drop- off and trusting the wind to pick me up and carry me. Are you completely out of your mind? Come on kids, we’re out of here.” I turned on my heels and headed back toward the car.
“Babe, wait a minute,..you can just watch us take a turn, then you can decide if you want to do it or not.”
“You expect me to watch while my babies run off the side of a mountain?” Now I was getting very angry at my husband for this monumental assumption.
While we were arguing, halfway back to the car, my kids were getting suited up for the flight. Jim took my arm and gently led me back to the launch point. Meg was set to go, her helmet on, her safety harness strapped to her body and legs, and the instructor suited up behind her. Fortunately, it was to be a tandem ride, so that was comforting to me. Somewhat.
Mountain Man Mike waited until the wind was just right then counted off: “One, two, three, go! Run, Run, don’t stop!” And I saw my baby girl pulling with all her might as the huge wing-like canopy lifted in the wind, and raised them off the ground just as their feet hit the edge of the precipice. I crumbled in a heap on the ground, watching in absolute wonder as they floated gracefully through the air, gently moving with the currents of the wind. For twenty minutes I watched them make circles and melt into the clouds, the gold and white canopy angling and soaring with the airstreams.
Next it was Jordan’s turn, and he ran off that mountain like he was taking a jog in the park. “No problem, Mom!’ he shouted as he waved with glee. All this time, I never took a breath and my finger nails were blue from a lack of oxygen. Jim turned to me, pleased with himself for this latest adventure. “See, Hon, it’s no big deal. You can do this.” And I fainted, right where I stood.
It took me three days to get up the courage to strap on that gear and prepare to jump off the mountain ledge. As Mike was suiting me up I was crying, the tears streaming down my cheeks, explaining to Meagan the location of my gold necklace tucked away in the bedroom drawer at home, should I never see her again. Poor Mountain Man Mike had to explain every strap, buckle and harness to me in vivid detail as it was being placed around my body. I must have asked a hundred questions before we took our stance waiting for the perfect gust of wind. And when it came I ran harder than I’ve ever run in my life, and before I knew it I was airborne, floating weightless through the sky. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. Finally I understood why my daredevil husband wanted me to experience it.
While I was carried through the air, no sound but the wind moving in the canopy above us, I began to think about my life and my obsessive need to know every step of the journey. Near death experiences have the fortunate side effect of introspection. My dream was to become a professional musician, travel the world, sing and play and make albums for millions of people to hear. That was the journey I planned to take. But here I am, a woman who writes books and shares her stories with people for the purpose of spiritual inspiration and encouragement. Not exactly how I expected God to use me. However, in relinquishing control to Him, and laying down my perfect plan, I have found great fulfillment and deep- seated peace. My joy is in the knowledge that I’m on the path Jesus choose for me, long before I took my first breath. I can rest in the understanding that His way is flawless. And I can trust Him to carry me through my life journey as completely as I can trust him while floating from a canopy off the side of a mountain. It’s all in His perfectly capable hands.