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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Tempting to Play the Blame-Game

“Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?” “Yes,” Adam admitted, “but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “How could you do such a thing?” “The serpent tricked me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” Genesis 3:11b-13 NLT

My son Jordan had an important Science Fair project to complete over a period of a few weeks. He was running tests to find out which consumable product was more damaging to the teeth. He put each tooth into a different solution such as Sprite, Coca-Cola, lemon juice and canned Iced Tea, and each week made careful notes about the visible changes in the deterioration. We drove all over town searching for shark’s teeth to be used in the experiment, because they were the most attainable and a good substitute for human teeth.
You’d think shark’s teeth would be readily available in Florida but, most sharks teeth are treated with a coating or petrified, and consequently are unable to be used in this type of research. After a long and exhausting hunt, driving to every little shell shop and sea creature boutique we could locate, we finally found the uncompromised, sharp incisors and Jordan went to work on his project.
I want you to picture clear plastic cups set up on the kitchen counter, each with a tooth floating in various colors of liquids. Over the days and weeks, the project began to stink, and I was having a hard time making dinner each night with smelly shark’s teeth on my counter. By this time, it was hard to tell what Jordan had poured into those cups!
Each time I inquired of him how the assignment was coming along, he’d say, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ve got it all under control.” Since that was usually true and Jordan wasn’t the kind of kid to be irresponsible, I gave the Science Fair project little thought, doing my best to just ignore the aroma.
The days sped by and before we both knew it, the time was upon us and we had to lug his project board, research logs and the teeth in question to the school. I was confident Jordan would obtain a good grade on his endeavor, because he usually received high marks for his work. Imagine my surprise when he walked through the door at the end of the day, forlorn and despondent and announced he’d received a ‘C’ on his Science Fair task.
My first reaction, like other mothers reading this story, was to pick up the phone and make some heated inquiries into the reason for his low grade. I was ready to put on my boxing gloves and take someone out in the first round. (And to think, I was forced to smell that odor for weeks—how could he possibly have scored so low?)
Fortunately, I choose the wiser road and sat down with my son to discuss the issue at hand.
“Mr. Taylor didn’t explain what he wanted, Mom. He wasn’t clear with us on the requirements of the project. Steve and Alex and Jim needed me to help them, so I really didn’t have the time to work on mine as much as I wanted to. Besides, Mom, you know I haven’t felt so good lately.”
I listened to his explanation and then stood and walked over to his black and red backpack. After a few moments of searching through broken pencils, wadded up paper and half-used erasers, I pulled out the instruction sheet for the Science Fair Project. Wouldn’t you know it- everything that was required for an ‘A’ was clearly outlined on the assignment list.
I sat down next to Jordan and handed him the paper. He looked at it, then looked at me and the expression on his face was priceless -much like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
He was to take pictures each week of the visible changes in the teeth, and record everything in detail in a log. Also, he was to be prepared to give an informed and educated speech before his instructors about the project, the process and the outcome. Because he didn’t follow the rules carefully, his grade was lowered. There wasn’t an excuse in the world that he could offer to make up for his carelessness.
Ever since Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple, lack of responsibility has been a pandemic in our culture. We have all looked for a scapegoat for our bad behavior. Isn’t it always someone else’s fault when we make a mistake? It’s incredibly tempting to point the finger in a direction away from us, whenever our actions are brought into question. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Who hasn’t?
Legitimately, our actions can be the result of someone else’s choice, but nevertheless, we are always responsible for what we choose to say and do, regardless of the deeds of those around us. We are accountable to those we interact with, to the laws of the land, and most importantly, to God.
I’ve learned over the years, that it’s far better to simply stand up and take the hit for my poor choices than to try to elude reprimand. I want my son to understand that he is accountable for the path he chooses to walk. Every choice he makes has a consequence for either good or evil. Nothing is hidden from God, and I really believe when we admit our mistakes and take the high road instead of the road most traveled, our Father is proud of us.
Jordan never spoke a word of regret or remorse over his actions, but the next time a project was due, I noticed the assignment sheet was right next to the computer, adhered to with careful calculation. Now, what more could a mother want?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Temptation by Chocolate

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses for he faced all the same temptations we do and yet he did not sin. Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and find grace to help us when we need it. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT

I still remember the first chocolate cake my mother made from scratch for the family at my brother Richard’s birthday party. It was one of those delicious double Decker cream-filled types with the chocolate icing. The layers were so thick you had to stick your finger deep in the swooping waves of chocolate to get a stealthy taste. Pray Mother didn’t see you sneak a dip. It was absolutely prohibited to touch her cake before the unveiling, and though I was the angel of the family, it was impossible for me to resist slipping the tip of my tiny index finger into the side of that warm, silky, luscious cake! I’m still mystified as to how she could possibly know about my clandestine taste, but I’m certain God and my mother had a direct channel of communication that was second to none. Even when I was absolutely certain no one had seen the sneak, Mother always knew.
I thought perhaps God revealed my indiscretion to keep me honorable and upright, but really I think He knew that I’d have a serious difficulty with temptation-by-chocolate in my adult years, and in His great compassion was attempting to spare me from my own demise. How merciful.
The first time I ate an entire bag of fat-free tootsie rolls, I felt so guilty I couldn’t decide whether I needed to throw up or run a relay race. The only consolation for my indulgence was the comforting words fat free. And still, I wondered why I didn’t have the will power to put that compelling bag back in the cupboard. But, I’ve never been a girl who was satisfied with just one chocolate. It had to be at least two or three to silence the demons. And so, it stands to reason, that a whole bag of chocolate cream-filled Oreo cookies is far more preferable than a measly two or three. It wasn’t uncommon for me to skip lunch if the possibility of chocolate anything was lurking nearby. Chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner was a perfectly acceptable choice as far I was concerned. Isn’t chocolate one of the six food groups?
We’re all created beings and are always looking to fulfill that deep-seated longing in our hearts. I don’t think chocolate is the cure. As much of it as I’ve eaten over the years, if a hole could be filled with that delectable temptation, mine would be full to the brim and overflowing. Whether our indulgence of choice is cocoa, hamburgers and French fries, foie gras, or fried chicken, the bottom line is simply this: overindulgence of any kind will never fill the longing of our soul. Whatever controls us, owns us.
I believe that women overeat to gain a sense of comfort, a protection from the world and its abuses. Whether we struggle in a difficult marriage, our children are testing our limits and patience, our jobs are filled with stressful demands that are difficult to meet, whatever the outside source of our distress, one of the things we can always depend on to comfort us is food. It’s readily available and accessible, it doesn’t argue with us, or test our endurance, it doesn’t cause undue anxiety- at least not while we’re consuming it, and it gives us a sense of temporary satisfaction and safety.
Food, though accessible is only a momentary fix for a deeper underlying problem. It will never be able to offer us a long-term solution to the things that trouble us. We can either continue to address our hurts by using substitutions, or we can get the help we really need to reach the source of our distress. I’ve never yet met a woman who hasn’t needed some in-depth counsel to help her deal with the offences of the heart.
When we let these abrasions and spiritual injuries go untreated, we set ourselves up for a long and painful journey. I really believe forgiveness is key to healing. Matthew 6:14 &15 says, ‘If you forgive those who sin against you, (hurt you, misuse you) your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father God will not forgive your sins.”
Let’s examine this briefly. Forgiveness is a choice, often difficult to make, but God requires it. He knows our spirit is set free by acquittal. He understands that it is a choice of our will and one He can not make for us. When we hold on to blame and refuse to release the ones who have wounded us, a barrier is formed between our spirit and God’s. He cannot forgive us because we have chosen not to forgive. Our hearts then become hard and embittered, and the longer we wait to let go of the pain the more difficult it becomes to relinquish it.
Believe me, I know it’s easier to sit down and eat a full bag of Tootsie Rolls than it is to address the areas of unforgiveness that we carry in our hearts and to spiritually face those who have inflicted the injuries. It’s much easier to cover the pain with outside sources and placate our bodes with a false sense of security.
The indescribable joy of release obtained through the gift of forgiveness is worth more than gold. The spirit soars to the heights God intended when gifted with absolution. There is nothing more liberating than to be in right-relationship with the Father and nothing more valuable to our overall well being: spirit, soul and body.
I’ve been in the position many times to choose between the bag of Tootsie Rolls, or time on my knees before God. I must tell you, the allure of chocolate has been the winner more times than I care to admit, but I’m finally in a place where I realize the temptation to over-indulge is masking a deeper issue, and it’s easier now and certainly more fulfilling to choose the better path.
But let me tell you, there are just times a girl needs her chocolate! All things in moderation, so the Word says.