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

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Perfect Place to Find Affirmation

How precious are your thoughts about me oh God. They are innumerable. I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand. When I wake up in the morning, you are still with me. Psalms 139:17&18

I believe our journey in life is a process of discovery. Some of us are born with huge amounts of confidence and move through life without self-doubt and insecurities, while others seem to be plagued from day one.
In spite of the talents God has given me, I’ve never felt completely comfortable to express those gifts. Fear has often consumed me when I’ve attempted to sing or play the piano- even though I have worked very hard to bring those gifts to a place of excellence, even perfection. Mother started my piano lessons at the age of six, and I continued my studies for the next 23 years. You’d think all that practice would make perfect! When I’m at home, singing or playing to an imaginary audience, I’m fine- no stage fright or nausea, But, get me in front of a crowd, regardless of the size- and I’m a wreck. Even thinking about a performance will make my palms perspire and my stomach do flips.
There have been many times of triumph, where I have successfully performed the music without mistakes or concern, but more times when I have fallen short of the mark, disappointing myself and those in the audience of listeners.
Those inconsistencies wreak havoc with the self esteem. Oh how I admire those talented individuals who, time after time, stand before the crowd without an ounce of self-doubt and deliver their offering with such grace and composure. I envy their assurance and self-possession.
Why is it some of us suffer from a lack of self-esteem? I had a doting father who was quick to affirm me in every way possible. He thought everything I did was ridiculously spectacular. From homework to piano recitals- I could do no wrong in his eyes. Mother on the other hand, was far less complimentary. Her favorite saying was always ‘pretty is as pretty does.’ It wasn’t until I was a mature woman with children and responsibilities, feeling fat, frumpy and haggard, that my mother told me I looked lovely.
The most severe onslaught to my self-esteem took place during my 25 years of marriage. My husband didn’t grow up with kindness and encouraging words- and consequently was clueless as to the art of their delivery. After years of living with a man who was unable to compliment or confirm, I felt inadequate, unattractive and incapable. The fragility of our self-esteem is often made the more vulnerable by our environment and the people who are in our lives.
I’ve meet a countless array of women who have offered up the same complaint. They have allowed their self-esteem to be compromised by the people closest to them. The God-given talents and abilities are over-shadowed by the contempt, jealousy and need to control demonstrated by those nearest. It’s the one’s who are dearest to our hearts that have the ability to deliver the most fatal blows.
I’m sorry to say, that I have looked for confirmation, affirmation and love in the wrong places from time to time. And I’m sure many of you have too. These unsuitable paths have offered a temporary fix to my lagging sense of worth, but certainly no permanent answer. The end result is dire uncertainty and a dark dismal road with no end or destination. When we look to individuals to build our confidence, we will be constantly disappointed. Over the years, I’ve made that predictable mistake, and have always found it to be true. We can not develop our self-esteem by depending on the accolades of others. This is a foundation that is sure to crumble. There are simply too many variables in the character of men or women, to base our importance or rest our confidence on the words of human wisdom.
We must know who we are in Christ Jesus. This is the beginning of our journey toward discovering our self-esteem and it is also the destination. In Christ alone do we find the purpose of our lives, the use of our talents and the will to continue the passage in spite of self-doubt. Our Creator is the only one who knew us before we came into existence. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 He endowed us with our abilities and foresaw the ways in which we would utilize our gifting. God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of Spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. 1 Peter4:10 And most importantly, He loves us even when we don’t live up to the gifting or make the most excellent choices. Do we find that to be true of the people in our lives?
I now know that regardless of my musical performances or the directions I may choose in my pursuit of contentment, the Lord is my only constant. I’ve learned to ask myself this question; ‘who am I going to lift up today?’ I find when I choose to exalt the Lord, rather than self, and make my choices about Him, rather than me, the deep seated fulfillment I attain offers the greatest increase to my self-worth.
He’s the rock I stand on, the lifter of my head, the healer of my distress and the comfort of my spirit. He is the author and finisher of my faith. He is the lover of my soul. There is no other place I can go to find authenticity. There is no other path for my feet, or road to travel. I belong to Him and He, to me.
Jesus is the gentle protector of my self-esteem. He defines who I am in every way that bears importance. The words of others pale in comparison to His words over me.
How precious are your thoughts about me oh God. They are innumerable. I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand. When I wake up in the morning you are still with me. Psalms 139: 17&18

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Our Self Esteem is God's Design

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spoke man to the world.” Jeremiah 1:5

Recently my beloved mother passed away. She was a delightful 85 years old, and would have turned 86 on June fifteenth. I had her for 47 years, but 47 years was not nearly enough. Neither for me, nor for any of us who knew and loved her.
Her funeral was a cornucopia of people from all walks of life, various faiths, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. There was one resounding quality in mother’s life that brought all these people together in a tiny, overcrowded and uncomfortably warm room. They all wanted to give back a little bit of what she’d always given to them- love, acceptance and encouragement.
When I was a small child, my parents owned a nursing home called Hampton Manor. It was located on a narrow winding street, on the north end of town, surrounded by big gnarly trees with canopies of lovely green leaves, offering their shade to anyone passing by. There were beautiful flowers planted out front- all pinks and reds, because these were Mother’s favorite colors. Their fragrance welcomed every visitor who entered Hampton Manor.
“How in the world are you today, Mr. Pulley? You must be fine, because how could anyone be anything but fine on a day like today!” Mother’s positive demeanor and uplifting cheerfulness had a way of setting the mood for all the visitors who entered that home. Her beautiful smile could light up a room.
She knew every patient- all one hundred and fifty by first and last name, their personalities, like and dislikes, their family’s names, what they preferred for dinner and certainly what they didn’t. No matter how cantankerous some of those folks could be, Mother always knew precisely the right thing to say to quiet the troubled soul.
My summers were spent as a teen working in the nursing home, feeding patients, changing bed sheets, wheeling people down the hall in their wheelchairs and basically learning the art of the nurse’s aide. I found out then, just how hard my mother worked. I discovered how taxing people could be when not feeling well, or when they realized they were in the twilight of their lives.
Mother was always thinking up something to keep people in touch with the present, not allowing them to live only in the memories of their past. She’d organize picnics outside on the grounds and have visitors bring their pets to the event- a hilarious blend of critters and patients, all co-mingled together in giggling heaps, surrounded by metal walkers, wheel chairs and IV bags. It was quite a sight.
We celebrated every fall by the return of the Geese traveling south for the winter and the patients would make arts and crafts to commemorate the return of the winged wonders. There was a little pond close by the nursing home property and the geese knew exactly where to go. Every year, curious faces of all ages were pressed against windows in silent awe as the beautiful creatures made their graceful descent. It was a time of curiosity and fun at the nursing home as the wandering geese returned home. Mother encouraged a sense of exploration and mental stimulation for those in her care, as she was by nature a fun-loving and inquisitive person.
After hours in that place, walking endless miles from the north, south, east and west of the building, she’d still find time to come home and make the most amazing meals. My personal favorite was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and her special home-made rolls. The smell of that food made everyone’s mouth water and we would dig in greedily with no thought about anyone else. Mom would always get stuck with a wing, or some other unfavorable piece. She’d just smile and say, “Oh honey, don’t you know the wing’s the tastiest of all?” Who was she kidding?
As I grew older and had a family of my own, I came to realize just how amazing my mother was. She handled both a wonderful career and a family with great finesse, and I never heard a word of complaint. She was grateful for all God’s great gifts and the wonders of life, her family and her ministry to those less fortunate.
My mother’s self-esteem, her confidence, came from the knowledge that she was doing exactly what God had called her to do. She was fulfilling her purpose and carrying out the mission appointed to her. She was making a difference in the world- one life at a time. My mother’s greatest gift was the ability to look beyond her own anguish and see the suffering of others.
I find myself getting so caught up in my own world- the struggles and battles of my existence. I often forget that there is a world of people who are at the same moment dealing with pain and heartache.
Watching her example, I understood that all of us have been given gifts and talents- unique abilities to make a difference in the lives of those around us. It may not be as considerable as caring for one hundred and fifty needy patients in a nursing home. It may be as simple as considering the requests of a neighbor, or reaching out to a friend. But our self esteem is surely bolstered to new heights when we take the time to extend a helping hand to those in need and find a way to use our God given endowments to produce a positive change in the world around us -one opportunity at a time.
Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world. Jeremiah 1:5