The Holy Companion

Your Best Bestie!

In 2005, when I was rebuilding my relationship with God, my dog, Lady, who I had recently rescued, stayed very close to me. She was always following me from room to room around the house. She rarely left my side. The Holy Spirit reminded me that that’s how He is. He is always my companion but even closer than any human or pet friend can be.

For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  

So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear…”

Hebrews 13:5-6

Pets are sometimes our best friends. And for some their only companion. Our furry friends are a gift from God to be sure. But we need to remember that we have a friend that is even closer and better. Someone who is there for us at all times. Not just for our lifetime. But Forever. He’s only a conversation away, only a thought away, only a prayer away.

Are you feeling lonely? Do you sense God is far away?

I hope you will take a few minutes and watch or listen to Misty Edwards beautiful song below. It’s one of my new favs!

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My Mother’s Day Floral Adventure

Helping Prepare Love Deliveries

On Mother’s Day weekend in May, I was blessed with the unexpected opportunity and honor to work behind the scenes in a large florist business. If you’re like me you are unaware of the incredible amount of hard work that goes into preparing and designing professional floral arrangements. The Mother’s Day holiday is upstaged by only one other holiday, Valentine’s Day. So needless to say, it was a hectic day for the florist shop and warehouse where I was working. 

During the six hour shift I worked, there were at least 16 people feverishly working to send love out the door in the form of flower arrangements. There were floor cleaners, box preppers, vase preppers, flower preppers, floral designers, office staff, delivery drivers, and of course, the owner, Sue, over seeing every step of the process. 

When I arrived I was quickly assigned to vase washing. It wasn’t long before I was reminded of another monk who is famous for washing dishes… Brother Lawrence. Once I thought of him, the rest of my day was an incredibly contemplative experience. 

When ordering professional flowers we usually think how we are sending our love to a friend or family member. I never imagined the amount of physical labor that goes into the florist business. Back breaking, sweaty hard work is attached to every professional flower arrangement especially those prepared for a major holiday. 

This experience will stay with me for the rest of my Life. I am grateful to God for providing this opportunity for me. I hope it won’t be the last time. 

“We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”

~Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

 

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Chasing Karma

Trusting Good Works to Save Us vs God

 

Sometimes we’re so focused on getting that we do things for the wrong reason.

We might be doing the right actions but our heart motives are wrong. Just because you are doing something good doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get good back. Yes, there is the law of reciprocity, give and you shall get. But if our heart is resentful while we are giving, what we will receive will match our heart motive.

The Old Testament believers were under the Mosaic Law which meant they had hundreds of rules to follow every day to stay in right relationship with God and their future. When Jesus came he abolished that law and provided grace to make the way for our way to God and our future. Thanks be to God! Grace replaced rules!

Instead of following a bunch of laws and rules, or chasing karma and expecting a high return on our time and energy investment, we can relax and accept the grace that Jesus provides for us.

The Bible says, Trust God and do good. (Psalm 37-3). That means as we are doing the good things that we have the ability to do, we can trust God will bring about the best outcome for us and our future.

Let’s make a commitment to do something good for the right reasons with the right heart motive!


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A Hard Reboot

Has Your Life Been Restarted Without Your Permission?

 

After children misbehave, have been too self-dependent or possibly rebellious, parents will sometimes give children a time out to their room, restrict them from activities or friends. They’re given time to evaluate their behavior and hopefully reset their attitudes.

There are times when our computers freeze up for various reasons. Maybe the memory is low or too many programs are running at the same time. The computer won’t respond to any keystrokes or instructions from the user.  Whatever the case, in these times the only way to get our computer back in working order is to perform a hard reboot.  A hard reboot is done manually by pressing the power button until it shuts down the computer and then pressing the power button again to restart the computer. A second hard reboot method is done by completely unplugging the computer from its power source then replugging it into the electricity and pressing the power button to restart the computer.

In much the same way, God may perform a hard reboot on our lives when we have, as my daddy would say, “gotten too big for our britches.”  We may be edging God out by allowing our ego to run the show. We’ve become self-dependent thinking we know the best way to run our lives. Whatever the reason, God knows exactly how to reboot our lives in a way that will humble us and get us set straight back on His path.

Is life challenging for you today? Do you feel like you’re in God’s timeout? Take a few minutes to watch/listen to this incredible song sung by Jenn Johnson. It’s given me much hope in the last week. I pray it brings peace and hope to you as well.

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Befriend Your Empty Spaces

Fueling Life on God's Grace

We all have empty spaces in our lives. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time for a life companion or maybe you’ve removed a bad behavior and are now left with a nagging empty spot with cravings to boot. Whatever your empty space looks like chances are you have more than one to deal with.

My personal empty space is connected to many things that have been removed from my life in the last year… Job loss has forced a move to another city to live with a family member while we get back on our feet… loss of home, car, finances; possessions; freedoms and privacy; our only grand children have moved to eastern Europe; my two elderly dogs went to heaven; health challenges that require a new very restricted food plan; not to mention trying to stay sober while living in a home that isn’t. Lots of empty spaces that could be filled with complaining, anger, resentment, and depression.

Last Fall I read Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addiction by Gerald G. May. This book has been a life changer for me. Since reading it I haven’t looked at God’s grace in the same way. My favorite quote comes from the last paragraph:

The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger God has given us.

May tells us to make friends with the empty space and its pain, because that pain is God’s grace reaching out to us. You may have heard that empty space called a God-shaped vacuum a term coined many years ago by Blaise Pascal. We’re always trying to fill that empty space with anything BUT God!

With our EGO in charge we’re always Edging God Out fueling life with temporary worldly fixes. A food diet run on the empty calories of foods that either are sugar or turn to sugar, won’t lead to a healthy body. In the same way, trying to fuel our spiritual life on the empty things of this world will lead to an unsatisfied spirit that longs for more.

All through Scripture we ‘re taught to empty ourselves of worldly desires and fill that empty space with God. When St. Paul was given his “thorn-in-the-flesh” he asked God three times to remove it. God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Whether our empty space is from putting down an addiction/behavior or because something/someone was removed from our life involuntarily, we are still dealing with an empty space. God’s grace gives us the power to endure, to press through, to be obedient, to lean on Him when we have the cravings or the loneliness hits.

Why not allow God’s grace to fill that empty space? Life will be much better when we do.

“My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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Faith Full

Staying Committed In Trying Times

 

My favorite season of the year has arrived and I’m finally ready to write again.

It’s been several months since I posted a column. Our challenges haven’t changed, the transition hasn’t been resolved and life hasn’t gotten any easier. I just finally found my determination to stay committed to my ministry purpose even in the midst of the challenges. My faith has been on a roller coaster ride but I’m thankful to say, my heart is full of hope again.

The last 17 months of sobriety have been very hard. As a result, I needed to take a break from writing because I didn’t have anything to draw from, nothing to share. I needed to re-fuel my spirit.

I’m working a part-time job now. I’m back in my Bible daily and have established a good routine. So it’s my hope to get my blogging and podcasting back up more regularly.

For those of you who are recovering addicts, you can relate to the sobriety challenges that come with job loss, a long distance move to live in someone else’s home that doesn’t practice faith or sobriety. It hasn’t been easy and honestly I haven’t kept the best attitude. But I’m doing better and feel strong enough to start writing again.

I so appreciate your patience as I birth this women’s ministry platform. By God’s grace, our life will be back on track in the not too distant future and I can really get things going. Until next time…

May the Grace and Peace of Christ be yours…

Tamara

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Processing Life 

Hi friends, 

My silence and inability to podcast or post blogs these last several weeks has been unavoidable. I apologize. 

My husband and I are yet again in another work/life transition. It’s my hope and prayer that we will get settled into our new life quickly so I can get back on my writing schedule. I appreciate all your prayers and patience as I continue to try to grow this budding ministry. 

Blessings Tamara

Living Life Lessons

ETERNAL GLORY


IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMN EACH MONTH I’M SHARING VARIOUS LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME. This story tells how i learned that god uses all my life experience for my good and for the good of others…

 

 

It was late in March 2006 — Houston, Texas. I had been in addiction recovery a little over a year and was soaking up God’s Word every chance I could. I listened to Joyce Meyer daily and had recently purchased an Amplified Bible to read along with her lessons.


On this particular day, I needed to take my mother, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for a routine doctor appointment to update her prescriptions. 

I remember momma sitting on the exam table with her feet swinging, waiting for the doctor like a little kid. The diseases had her in a child like state, this was no longer my mother but a young girl in an old woman’s body. 

The elderly doctor made his way into the exam room. Having performed a brief examination of momma, he began making notes in her file. 
During these early recovery days I never left home without a Bible. So while I was waiting with mother, I opened up my new Amplified Bible to 2 Corinthians chapter 4. I was so taken by these verses, which I had never read before, that I had to read them aloud to momma. The doctor also paused and listened intently. 

(Please read the verses below aloud, slowly before you proceed.)

For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (Amplified Bible)

Now think about where I was…

I had just come through what was probably the most difficult time of my life. I was in the early stages of recovery from multiple addictions, my family was scattered and dismembered, I had recently experienced jail time, and was pressing desperately into God for healing. You can read my life story here.  

Here with me this day were two elderly people, my mother and the doctor, who, no doubt, had each been through various turmoils in their long lives. 

After I finished reading the verses aloud, both momma and the doctor smiled and chuckled with a sense of satisfaction. It was a moment I will never forget.

This section of Scripture quickly became my Life Verse. Time and again I have drawn on it for strength. I am there yet again. God is taking me to a deeper level of holiness, but not without pain. Struggling through new areas of sobriety, He is peeling off more layers of the flesh that must be removed so I can live unencumbered by worldly desires and bondages. 

Paul’s words give me hope that these momentary trials are fleeting in the big scheme of eternity. If I will keep my eyes focused where they should be…

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NIV) 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:: What are your momentary troubles today?

 
If you can’t see a screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful Hillsong worship video.


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07.17.13

The 12 Steps of Humility :: LISTEN MORE THAN TALK

IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 
 

THE NINTH STEP OF HUMILITY: A monk restrains [her] speech, not speaking until an answer is required.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10-19 (MSG)

 






In a culture big on watching most of us don’t really know how to listen. Do you find yourself listening to friends or loved ones with virtually no eye contact or verbal responses while surfing email or social media on your smartphone? 

Turn listening into a living response rather than a cerebral activity. That means we may have to listen when we don’t want to. If we pick and choose we may miss an important message God is trying to bring us. Besides that, it all comes back to honoring Christ in the other. It’s basic Golden Rule behavior really.

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.*


Benedictine spirituality calls us to listen to four things:

  • The Gospels.
  • The Rule.
  • Each other.
  • Life around us.


We won’t hear God through any of these unless we stop talking, typing or texting!

If we want to grow in grace, we must learn to talk less and listen more.** 

 
RESOURCES:
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm**

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal*
 

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09.03.14

Celebrate Discipline

MEDITATION

The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people. ~ Richard Foster

 

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES:  activities that make us capable of receiving more of God’s life and power; exercises unto godliness.

The Spiritual Disciplines call us to move from surface living to deep inner transformation. But to change our inner most being requires dedication, an intentional commitment to new actions, and new habits.

MEDITATION: a long, steady look at God, His creation and His Word; stopping to give God our undivided attention.

Meditation is an inward discipline, one that leads to intimacy with God, a deepening of our life, making more room for God.

Many Christians are turned off by the word Meditation. Christian Meditation is unlike traditional Eastern Meditation where the goal is total emptying of the self. What we are talking about here is meditation upon God, His goodness, and His Word… sitting in stillness and listening for His Voice to speak to your spirit; a filling of our spirit with God’s Spirit.

Let’s consider a few practical questions regarding Meditation: 

  • WHAT TIME OF DAY SHOULD I MEDITATE?
Personally, I prefer my meditation time be in the morning when I first wake. But with work schedules that vary around the clock, not everyone is waking in the morning or sleeping at night. The important thing is that you find a time that fits your schedule and dedicate it to meditation. Start small with just five or ten minutes. As you get more and more comfortable with meditation you will find yourself forgetting about time as you soak in God’s Presence.

If I’m sleepless at midnight I spend the hours in grateful reflection. ~ Ps 63:6

  • DOES MY POSTURE DURING MEDITATION MATTER?

We should find a comfortable position, but not so comfortable that you get drowsy. It’s often best to begin with sitting in a straight back chair. If you lay down you may end of falling to sleep. Not that that’s a bad thing, but save this relaxation technique for bedtime. I practice Yoga each morning and find this a wonderful time for meditation on various Scriptures. Surprisingly, a long hot bath is where I have my best meditation time.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14

  • WHAT AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF MY MEDITATION TIME? 
There are many benefits to meditation the least of which is a closer walk with God. With a foundation of silence and solitude in meditation we will find ourselves less stressed, daily life comes with more ease. We will have greater appreciation for the things of God: His Word, His Creation and most importantly His Presence in our life.

I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished and give a long, loving look at your acts. ~ Ps. 77:12

Here are some suggested meditation activities:

  1. Take a nature walk, meditate on the wonder of God’s Creation around you. Enjoy the plants, trees, birds, squirrels, clouds, the breeze… This world is full of beauty that we miss everyday!
  2. Select a section of Scripture (Ps 139, Ps 86, Ps 42) read through it slowly. When a verse pops out, ponder it. What is God saying to you? Write down feelings and questions that surface.
  3. When in a public place, take time to meditate on people, see them as God sees them, hurting, loving, joyful. Delight in them as He does. Take some time to pray for them.
  4. Without getting too bogged down, meditate on current events. Look at the world through God’s eyes. Is He prompting you to pray in a new way?
These are just a few ideas to help you get started in your meditation time. The main goal of Meditation is to gaze deeply on God, His work and His Words. Anytime you can do that it will be wonderful!

What are your favorite things to use for meditation?

You may be in a place of reflection on past transgressions and needed desire to change. One of my favorite things is to meditate with choral music, specifically Gregorian. Here is one of the most beautiful of all: Miserere Mei Deus written in the 1600’s by Gregorio Allegri. I suggest reading Psalm 51, on which this song is based, before meditating on this exquisite music. You will be transformed! https://youtu.be/3s45XOnYOIw 


Resources:
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith

01.09.13