Don’t Just Drink the Juice… Eat the Apple!

In today’s instant solution society, shortcuts to the “good life” abound…

Get rich quick schemes vs. old fashioned hard work.

Crime vs. education.

Lottery tickets vs. a savings account.

Quick weight loss fads vs. a changed lifestyle.

Watching the movie vs. reading the book.

Junk food vs. cooking a healthy meal.

Sermon recordings vs. in depth self study.

Juice vs. eating the whole fruit.

Certainly all these things in moderation are not bad. But when our entire life is bent on taking the short cut, we will miss some important lessons the world has to offer.

As suggested by my title, let’s consider fruit juice for example…

Weighing the pros and cons of fruit vs. juice, it seems whole fruit (and vegetables for that matter) win. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Many commercial juices remove the fiber from the fruit to make juice; so you lose a nutrient rich, disease fighting component.
  2. Some “juice drinks” add sugar or are made from concentrates with not much nutritional value at all!
  3. Loads of research shows that beverages do not register in the same way as foods do in terms of filling us up. So, if you have a weight loss or weight loss maintenance goal, stick to the chewable food!
  4. For the pros on the juice side, if you are having a hard time eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables, and if you have a home juicer THAT PRESERVES THE FIBER, this might help you increase your intake. To make a healthy juice simply use 3 vegetables to every 1 fruit and do not add additional ingredients like sweeteners, protein powders, etc. 

The point I’m trying to make is so often we want someone else to do the hard work for us but we still get all the benefits. The only place I can think where that really works is in the case of our Spiritual Inheritance, which Jesus died to give us. We didn’t have to do anything, just accept the work that Christ did for us on the cross. 

A firm foundation is built on growth, not rushing. Growth, whether plant growth, muscle growth, or mind growth is governed by natural laws. It can’t be forced beyond previous preparation. Each day’s growth prepares for the next day’s growth. We can’t break nature’s laws, but often break ourselves trying. ~ Anonymous

Let’s make a commitment to dig in, and go deeper in the Lord; not depending on someone else’s study and hard work to summarize for us. But take our own time and effort so we will learn and grow. 

It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the flood waters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. ~ Luke 6:47-48 NLT

Have You Made Your Reservation?

With the heat of summer on and vacations all a bustle; making reservations are top of mind for many today. We busy ourselves making arrangements to fly or drive, for destinations and accommodations; locating friends and family to visit and oh, yes, don’t forget about the budget. 

Along the way we’ll travel many miles, see special sights, take memorable photos and gather collectable souvenirs. 

But in the midst of our fun and frolic have we forgotten to make our most important reservation?

Photo courtesy of 123RF Stock Photos

My husband, Bill and I were studying Chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel the other day; an amazing chapter with many important events, but I’ll share only one story today: Jesus sends out 72 disciples. 
You may not realize it but Jesus had more than 12 disciples. Luke tells us: Jesus appointed 72 others and sent them out two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go.

The teams were given instructions and sent on their way. Upon their return they joyfully reported to Jesus that even the demons obeyed when they used His name. Jesus told them don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you, rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.

Bill and I took great notice of this last statement. Our names are registered in the most important reservation book!
In a recent post titled Reflections I wrote about a trip Bill and I took to North Carolina for a ministry conference. While there, we took the opportunity to do some sight seeing and visited The Biltmore. As America’s largest home with over 175,000 sq ft and 250 rooms it is a grand castle indeed; certainly the biggest mansion I’ll see this side of heaven.

In the Gospel of John Jesus said:

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

By believing in Christ we make the reservation for our room in that Great Mansion in Glory. We can only imagine the beauty and grandeur that await us in our Heavenly Home!
Is your reservation made?  If not please take a moment to pray this prayer:

Dear God in heaven, I come to You in the name of Jesus Christ. I’m sorry for my sins and the life I’ve lived without You. I ask You to come into my heart; forgive me and erase my past mistakes with the blood that Jesus shed for me on the cross. Today I make You my Lord and Savior. O God, You are now more than my God; You are my Heavenly Father and I’m going to serve You all the days of my Life. I thank You that my name is registered in heaven and I have a place waiting for me to be with You for eternity! Amen

Book Review: Real Sex ~The Naked Truth About Chastity

Real Sex ~ The Naked Truth About Chastity
by Lauren F. Winner
Published by Brazos Press 2006
183 pp

Wow! …Is the best place to start with Lauren Winner’s hard hitting book Real Sex ~ The Naked Truth About Chastity. I’ve taken a long break from reading, so it took me a bit to get into; but once in, I couldn’t put it down and plowed through it in one day.

Ms.Winner beautifully and intelligently takes on the subject of sex: sex in our culture and the community, sex before and after marriage, sex and single adults and most importantly sex and the church. Real Sex is conservative yet honest, direct and engaging, intellectual (keep a dictionary handy) and best of all–completely scriptural!

Real Sex is a must read for every Christian adult, single or married. Parents, read it and share what you learn with your teens and tweens. There are excellent discussion questions in the back of the book for small groups or family talks around the dinner table.

Ms.Winner teaches us valuable lessons about how our culture and the Christian church view sex and deal with chastity. She raises some great points that will leave your thinking about what we should do differently. We would all do well to step up to the challenges she humbly puts forth. This book would be an great resource for single and married adult ministries as well as youth ministries across America.

In the last 6 years I’ve read numerous books on sexuality, secular and Christian. But I have yet to find a more relative book that speaks directly to my testimony and the ministry to which I have been called. Blessings, gratitude and applause to Ms. Lauren Winner. I am now a huge fan!

I highly recommend Real Sex~The Naked Truth About Chastity and intend to use it regularly as a resource for my ministry…

Working the Steps–Step 7

Continuing my goal to work The Twelve Steps, one Step for each month of the year; focusing on Step 7 for July…

Step Seven:
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and will prepare us for the next stages of our recovery. In the first six steps, we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves and became ready to change.

Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove these hidden areas. If you are anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to humble ourselves before the Lord in prayer.

We must not hold anything back. It is only in surrendering everything to Him, that we will find true healing and freedom. We must take the inventory list and give each item to God; only then will we experience the serenity that brings the true joy we seek.

Going down the list of shortcomings can cause us to dwell on our self. To take our mind off self, we can meditate on Christ’s presence in our life, on being free to live life following His example. We will soon begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. We will begin to understand who we are and find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be.

To truly humble ourselves in the biblical sense, we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life as been spent seeing our self as worthless. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life. We must empty our self like Christ did, surrender to God’s will, serve others and thereby fulfill God’s plan for our life.

It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankfulness we can go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will come to our sight.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Originally posted January, 9, 2009

“Mimi, What is Love?”

…asked my three year old grand daughter in her innocent boldness.

Surprised at a question that most adults can’t even ask, I quickly summoned a simple answer…

Well, Anna, love can be many things: sharing, caring, helping, listening. God is love and we show His love by doing these things for others.

Later I thought more about Anna’s question.  

What is love? How do we usually look for that answer in the world?

Growing up I stereotypically looked for love in all the wrong places. But even today, living as a Christ follower, it’s easy to look to my husband, children, friends, even things and activities to fill an empty place in my heart that can only be satisfied by God’s Love.

The world often equals sex to love. God graciously allows us the joy of sex to show love to our spouses, but that isn’t love by definition.

Then there’s love languages. I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman many years ago. But for the purposes of this blog, I decided to retake The Assessment Test. The scoring system is 0-12 with 12 being most important.

Here are my results

  • Words of Affirmation-9
  • Quality Time-8
  • Acts of Service-8
  • Receiving Gifts-5
  • Physical Touch-0

As a recovering sex addict, I find it very interesting that physical touch didn’t even register! Just goes to show you… sex isn’t always about love; and acting out in my addiction, it never was.

In a previous post titled Reflections, I wrote about the Exodus Freedom Conference where I attended a workshop called A Basic Understanding of Female Homosexuality. Christian Counselor, Melissa Ingraham spoke on the complexity of lesbianism and factors contributing to same sex attraction.

Because of family circumstances, and by no fault of my mother, the primary factor for my same sex attraction  was: I never bonded with my feminine nurturer. Which is why Physical Touch isn’t my love language. Being unmet, that childhood need still hungers; and with my mother deceased now 2 years, I’m left with an emptiness that only God can heal.

So what is this thing deep inside that we need? Is it love? 

Yes, not a human or worldly love…

But THE LoveGod.

And the only way to get it is to press in that much more, to the Heart of God, His Word and His Presence. It is there we will find …True Love.

** Prayer for healing.**

Almighty God, creator of all things, Who in Your infinite mystery, can be both mother and father to those in need; reach down with Your Hand, that overflows with Love and touch the recesses of our souls, our hearts, our minds and our bodies to bring about full and complete healing. Thank You Lord Jesus that we can walk forward, fully confident and whole, with Your Ever Present Love filling us by The Holy Spirit. Amen

This post is dedicated to my incredible husband on our 32nd wedding anniversary. Bill, thank you for never giving up and for believing in me when I couldn’t. I love you more than ever! ~ Tamara

Working the Steps: Step 6

Having been out of town the better part of the month, I’m late posting June’s 12 Step work. Better late than never 😉 Blessings…

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Getting ready for God to remove character defects in itself is a process. Some character defects are like old friends, comfortable and available.

We can’t even get ready with out God’s help!

In Steps One and Two we realized our powerlessness and found God’s Power to be greater than ours. Step Three we turned our life and our will over to God. Steps Four and Five we admitted hard truths to God, to ourselves and to another person.

Now in Step 6 we wait for God to do some internal work on our hearts. It’s not an action step on our part, but rather preparation that will enable us to become ready to release our character faults when the time comes in Step 7.

This is not quick work. Most of our character defects have been deeply ingrained in us since childhood. These patterns of behavior were often used as coping mechanisms in a traumatic environment. It will take time and practice to switch from our comfortable character defect to trusting God and allowing Him to be completely in control.

We must see our faults not as comfortable friends but harmful behaviors that have begun to control our lives. Once we know the truth about our faults and what must be removed; we can overcome our fears and with God’s help, gather our self in readiness to go forward in recovery.

Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.~ James 4:10


The Blue Ridge Mountains

Two weeks ago, my husband, Bill and I set off on a road trip from Dallas to North Carolina for the Exodus Freedom Conference. It wasn’t an official vacation, though we stopped for some interesting tours along the way…

Our first stop was Memphis, TN. I’ve never been an Elvis fan, which my husband says I shouldn’t admit in public, but after taking the tour of Graceland, I now see why so many people love him. It was totally a time warp experience, with the home still decorated the way it was when Elvis lived there and the audio guide providing real life sounds from the glory days.  

We left reflecting on a life that once rejoiced in God but sadly got lost in the fame and glamor of celebrity. 

On to Tennessee where we stopped for dinner at Loretta Lynn‘s Kitchen. We were too late for the tour but were able to drive around her sprawling dude ranch and plantation home in Hurricane Mills. Most amazing was the wonderful vacation getaway she and her family have created on their property for her fans; with museums, shopping, camping, horseback riding, rafting and more.
We left reflecting on family togetherness and enjoying the simple things in life.

Our trip destination was the Ridgecrest Conference Center nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Established over 100 years ago on 1,300 acres, its rustic charm offers excellent accommodations and activities for all ages. During our stay the camp was bustling with several events: a teen youth camp; marriage and family retreats and our Exodus Freedom Conference.  

We left reflecting on the heritage of an organization providing a spiritual retreat where people can come enjoy the mountains –  and listen to God.

The Exodus Freedom Conference was excellent! The morning and evening general sessions brought amazing worship followed by touching testimonies and incredible main speakers focusing on The Reality of Grace. During the day a variety of workshops were available for those struggling with unwanted same sex attraction and for ministers called to help those who struggle. Mine was the dual purpose. 

I left reflecting on the growth in my own journey, more aware of weaknesses to press through.

Homeward bound after the conference, our first stop was in nearby Asheville, NC at The Biltmore; the home of George and Edith Vanderbilt, built over 6 years by 1000 workers and completed in 1895. It is America’s largest home with over 175,000 sq ft and 250 rooms; an authentic American castle with grand rooms, exquisite tapestries, lush gardens and the first scientifically designed forest. Another fascinating time warp tour with sights and sounds of the Gilded Age long gone by.  

We left reflecting on wealth and affluence with a sense of emptiness that still longs for more.

It was no accident that our last tourist stop was The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. Located a few miles from where Billy Graham grew up, the barn-shaped building displays the life of a humble farm boy who became an ambassador of God’s love to the world. As we entered the doorway, beautifully designed as a glass cross; we immediately felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit. With the help of multimedia presentations and memorabilia, we walked through 60 years of ministry that touched the lives of presidents, queens, celebrities and everyday people; through wars, the civil rights movement and the fall of communism. True to its purpose, The Billy Graham Library isn’t a memorial or a museum, but an ongoing crusade communicating the unchanging, life-giving message of Jesus Christ.  

We left reflecting on our own spiritual walk; where we have come from and where we are going; feeling some what clumsy but inspired to do better and be better. 

Q4U: What are your summer reflections?

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

Ministry Update…

Been a little hectic these last weeks… As Mimi, I’ve been helping my son get his wife and kids prepared and on the plane to Latvia for their Summer vacation with family and friends. Personally, I’ve been offline finishing my online seminary classes; final exam taken and ordination papers are now headed this way!

Tomorrow, Bill and I load up the car for a road trip to North Carolina for the Exodus Freedom Conference. This is a conference I’ve been wanting to attend for several years now but have been unable to make. Needless to say, I’m very excited! I hope to post a blog from the conference at some point.

When we return, I’ll get back to work writing. My goal is to have my autobiography completed by the end of Summer and ready to publish by December. Even though I’m about half finished with my book, it’s been over two years since I’ve worked on it because of our many moves.

In other ministry news, we will be setting up our 501c3 status in the next weeks and months and seeking God’s guidance for ministry board members.

I appreciate your prayers for all these concerns. Thanks for supporting this budding ministry. Blessings…

Confession – The Road to Freedom

Not long ago I heard a song called Between You and Me by DC Talk. The song sparked a blog in me and goes beautifully with my Twitter devotions for May focusing on Step 5…

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

All 12 Steps are important, but I believe this one to be critical. Those of us who’ve had obsessions, compulsions and addictions, understand the power held over us by our secrets; a power that can only be broken with confession.

Because the nature of our addictions can be very personal and sensitive, it’s essential to exercise care in choosing the person with whom we share. This person should be detached from our situation (not a family member) but a trustworthy, compassionate female friend, pastor or therapist.

In confession we’re able to be honest about our past and express deep seeded grief; our long carried shame is finally relieved and the barriers of isolation that we’ve had between God and others begins to break down. With the courage to acknowledge our wrongs comes a new energy that will motivate us to change our lives. 

Do you have a secret that’s holding power over you?

Don’t wait! Contact a trusted woman to share your burden and find freedom today!  

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. ~ James 5:16 MSG

Sometimes Ya Gotta Fake It Til Ya Make It!

 Are you struggling to make needed changes in your life?

Whether you’re an addict trying to stay sober, wanting to lose weight, repairing an unhealthy relationship, trying to get on a better schedule, or just making it through life difficulties; we all struggle with changes. 


You don’t feel like finding a 12 Step accountability partner. 

You don’t feel like starting the exercise program at the gym. 

You don’t feel like going through relationship counseling.

You don’t feel like turning off the TV so you’ll be rested tomorrow.

You don’t feel like reading the Bible for guidance today.

Usually we can’t trust our feelings. It’s certainly dangerous to allow ourselves to be led by them. Instead, we should discern what the next right thing is and do it.   
“Do the right thing even when it feels wrong!” ~ Joyce Meyer

It’s easy to sit back and say, “I’m gonna do this or that.” But unless we actually do something, it will just be a bunch of words that mean nothing. We can’t forget people are watching us; friends and family members, most especially our children. Our credibility may be on the line and we don’t even know it.

 “If we want what other people have, we must be willing to do what they did to get it.” ~Joyce Meyer

Sometimes we may need to go through the motions until our heart gets in sync with our actions…  

Act as if or Fake it til you make it. (Wikipedia’s definition) 
~ to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence. 

Whatever it takes!!

We long for things to be different, healthier, to live a transformed life.

But we are afraid to change.

When we realize we don’t have to walk the path of change alone, that fear is removed.

God can give us the needed courage, determination and peace to take the necessary steps that will bring the desired changes. But it’s up to us. We have to reach out for His hand before He will help us.

Let’s pull ourselves together with a good attitude; pick up our Bible and walk with the Lord.
In the strength of His promises, we can do the work to change for the better!

God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that He won’t stop before it is complete…~ Philippians 1:6 (Contemporary English Version)