Thoughts on faith and life and life in faith

Author: Tamara Belanger (Page 2 of 72)

Mama of six grown kids, Nana to a magical little girl and a lilttle boy destined to climb mountains, divorced and broken for a purpose. An unabashed follower of Jesus. A social introvert, lover of all things travel and photography and cultures different than mine. I thrive on pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I love chocolate and wildflowers. I enjoy cooking and hiking and would live outdoors if I could have a claw foot bathtub with hot soapy water at the end of the day

Why NowMe?

When the dream of going to Korea first poked it’s head up in the soil of our hearts we talked about wanting to create a diary that would become a gift to others and a treasured collection of memories for ourselves. For me, living is a constant process of writing about it in my head. I “record” it as movies in mind and will frequently get lost in my head with my words when I’m experiencing something I want to keep alive.

Naomi means beautiful music. We had her name painted on a banner in Chinese characters by a craftsman when we went to China to gather her up into our family those 21 years ago. She’s no singer, which she would readily tell you….:D….but her life sings a song of miracles. To be found on a street in her country, brought to an orphanage and adopted into a family in another country thousands of miles away, healthy and curious is itself no small thing. She has always seized learning new things with a self motivation that left me startled. As a child, she taught herself how to knit on the computer, read books well beyond her age level, joined in with little fear to new groups, new situations. She had a quiet, determined confidence.

After graduating high school with honors, she went on to college with a full scholarship. She has continually set her sites, lined her arrow up and shot with unbreakable focus. So came the evening when she first said “internship abroad” and what did I think….my head snapped up immediately. I could hear my father’s voice to me when I was young. “Travel is the best education. Always say yes to it.” I stepped on Naomi’s words…..”Apply. But before you do, know that you will get a green light. They will want you. Are you ready to say yes?” Within a week she had her interview. 6 a.m…..all make up and blown dry….sitting before a screen talking to someone across the globe. I paced outside her door trying to hear what across the globe sounded like. Two days later; “Congratulations! We would like to welcome you into Beyond Academy!” We grabbed hold of one another and jumped up and down like school girls on the playground! My miracle girl had hit her target again!

A few days later, she had a “match”. A company in Seoul, Korea wanted to talk to her about an internship. Another early morning, more make up, just the right lighting, she sat in front of her screen and wowed them. By the end of the 30 minutes they already told her they would like to have her on board. It was a Korean beauty product company seeking to expand globally. The girl was going to Seoul!

And then, it dawned on us. My beautiful son is from Seoul. Unlike China, when you adopt from Korea they allow for a “courier” to bring your child to you. Without having a resource to watch our other children at the time, we were not able to go to Korea. In my mind, then, Naomi came from China; Solomon came from the airport. I had always longed to see Korea. And that’s when the girl said the magic words….why don’t you come with me and settle me in. I all but packed right then, except money. I had more extra socks than extra money.

God? Is this a dream bud growing? Should I water this or let it die? “Ask and you will receive. Knock….” And so I started wondering how to knock. I love to serve. I would come over and gladly do your laundry for a cup of coffee; drop your cat at the vet, take your kids to the park. When I can find my place in the room to serve, I am “home”. So, I set out to serve and hung up my banner…..and people came calling. Within the week the answer was delivered to my heart. “Water your dream.”

And then Russia. What does this mean, God? Should we go? Can we go? “David and Goliath is a true story. Keep watering.” And so we water, we forge friendships with those in Korea that have become people we care about, check on, learn from. We search flights and air b and b’s and make lists and check dates. And I am reminded of my favorite verse; one that continues to make itself known in my life.

“Sit still, my daughter, that you may learn how the matter turns out.” – Book of Ruth 3:18. So, we proceed with our hands while we “sit still” in our hearts. Naomi created a title for our blog/instagram by spelling out how her name will be pronounced in Korea. Seoul, we love you already.

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Check…Check…First attempt :D

The Amazon bunny delivered our selfie sticks so…..Naomi’s masterclass commenced. This took three takes on a cold side street in Covington, KY…and an abundance of patience from Naomi. Ya’ll, this world is moving way too fast for Miss Tam Tam. Consider this to be the maiden post on the voyage of a lifetime! Thank you from the top of my head to the tip of my toes for making this possible!

Travel itinerary updates for Korea will follow shortly after Miss Naomi returns from a class trip to the Netherlands! If you aren’t friends with her on Facebook, now would be the time to do that!

“So you just click that button to take a selfie and…” <3

A special thank you to my website wizard of a son, Caleb, for his time and effort in helping me because he loves me. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. <3

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342 Miles to a Friend

Thirty-six days ago we sat in a church in the countryside of Columbia, TN. We’d been there before a few times in summers past and knew we wanted to go back. When the word came we’d be in the area for much of the summer, we let them know we were coming and they made room for us in their lives and in their homes. So this particular Sunday? We were already “home” as far as our hearts were concerned. I glanced up from where we sat, a moment’s gap between people allowing me to see across the room as a woman and her teenage daughter flashed by and made their way to seats on the other side.

Afterward, the girl and I took a friend come to visit from out of town to a diner nearby. It’s the sort of place that you’d be tempted to pass up from the looks of it outside but are mighty glad you stopped when you step inside. The locals and travelers line up before it opens to get a spot saved. There’s coca-cola chocolate sheet cake, a three stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes and country fried steak with gravy. You’re more than willing set aside gluten-free bread and vegan ice cream and pay the price later. As we waited for our turn to sit down on a busy Sunday lunch hour the red and white screen door, just like grandmother’s old house, pushed open behind us and we all shifted to make room for more. “You were at church today, weren’t you?” I recognized her immediately. She and her girl had taken a mother/daughter trip out of town, she told me, time between them much needed and longed for. She wasn’t sure why she’d chosen this area, save for the music concert offered nearby that same weekend. Something pulled her and she stopped at the diner to savor the last few minutes before heading back home.

Where are you from? I asked the usual out of town question. Northern Kentucky. “No, you can’t be. We’re from Northern Kentucky!” A long table opened up in the middle of the restaurant, room for a gaggle, and would we mind sharing space, the server asked. We eagerly agreed and gathered our chairs closer around each other and started sharing our stories.

As the meal ended I looked around the table for the check, eager to pay it forward for all of us. The girl and our check were missing. She’d already had the same thought, two beats ahead of me and standing at the cash register. As she made her way back and sat down, we all looked at each other. Something important was happening, Someone bigger than us had woven our paths together. None of us wanted to leave. I would contact her when our summer was over. I promised.

And so today, five weeks later, our bags unpacked and laundry hung back in the closet, we make good on our word and sit across another table, this time in our home state, just a few miles from where each of us lives. She loves to paint and had paid attention to the rest of my trip as I’d shared online. She brought me a picture she’d painted of the bison I’d met in Montana. “I think,” she said, “I think what I learned from this summer is to take back what I saw in how they loved and cared for one another in Tennessee and do the same here.” I looked at her, this person that had appeared unexpected in my path. It was exactly the words that had taken shape in my own heart.

One evening in Tennessee, I told my new friend, we were staying with people we’d only just met two days before. They got a text. “Come have supper.” I was incredulous. But….it’s supper time now….and there’s five of us. Do they know that?? No one hesitated….except the girl and I. We hoped they were sure about this. When we pulled up into their driveway, she’d just come back from the store bringing a pie to complete the meal. We followed her into the kitchen where we helped pull food to share from the fridge and warmed it up together. We finished up and carried our coffee out to the porch and put the sun to rest as we laughed and talked and sang. No one dusted the furniture first, no one changed clothes, no one set out the good china or scripted their stories. And no one had ever shown us what friendship like that could look like.

We made a pact, this new friend and I. We would pay attention and move toward the whisper in our souls. Tonight the small picture of the bison she painted has a new home over my kitchen sink. I traveled 342 miles and back again to get that painting, to keep it as reminder of all those who taught us what love looks like.

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