Tag Archive | church

Pennsylvania Adventure ~

Al and Katie (our youngest) and I spent the weekend at my in-laws in Lake Winola, PA (near Clark’s Summit).  It’s always an adventure to visit, and the ride down and back is always scenic.  And, of course, we always stop at Manning’s Dairy for the best ice cream on the whole planet!  And they’re ALWAYS open!

But I can’t go anywhere without my camera anymore.  So I thought I’d share some of my photos from the weekend with you….

A roadside waterfall.

A roadside waterfall.

If you know me well enough by now, you know that I’m a sucker for waterfalls.  We saw many alongside the various roads travelled, but it was hard to get Al to stop.  Of course, the SAFE places to stop and shoot were few and far between!  But I managed to get him to pull off a ways up the road from this one, and I walked back to the guard rail and took this shot.  There was no getting around those stupid trees!

Buckwheat's BBQ

Buckwheat’s BBQ

This was just a silly-looking sign for this REALLY really rural BBQ place.  Everytime we go by it I have to laugh and I think of Little Rascals.  Can’t help it. 

Tunkhannock Viaduct ~ or the Nicholson Bridge

Tunkhannock Viaduct ~ or the Nicholson Bridge

This is an amazing bridge for a train crossing over Tunkhannock Creek.  The bridge is 2,375 feet long and 240 high.  My father-in-law’s father helped to build it prior to 1915.  It’s very formidable-looking when you’re up close.

Tunkhannock Viaduct

Tunkhannock Viaduct

Big Bear!

Big Bear!

This is a carving of a rather large bear that can be seen about 10 miles south of Skaneateles, NY, on Route 41 on the way to Homer (or on the way back).  I’ve been wanting to catch this guy forever!  If you look closely in the background to the left, you can see the white head of a sculpted bald eagle.  There are others along this massive piece of property… along with an alpaca farm.  I don’t have anything in this photo to show the scale of this big fella, but he’s around 15 feet high.

One of the highlights of the weekend (besides seeing family), was going out to dinner Saturday night!  Al’s sister took us to a Catholic church in Tunkhannock for a turkey dinner, and it was the best I’ve ever had!  The church enlisted boy scouts, girl scouts and local school athletic teams to help serve and clean up after everyone.  It was jam-packed!  For only $9.00, you grab your dessert FIRST from several long tables filled to capacity with a myriad of choices, then you go to sit at your table as directed by church volunteers.  The tables are already filled with everything needed for table service etc.  As soon as you sit down, staff brings serving after serving of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravey, corn, rolls, cranberry sauce and it is served “family style”.  They literally wait on you hand and foot!  You want for nothing!  And the food was delicious!  One of the church’s clergy came to personally greet and welcome us.  Wow!   I think we’re going to go back again soon!

Anyway, it was a good time all weekend, and we’re home again.  Time to get unpacked and unwind.  I think there’s a bowl of ice cream with my name on it as I curl up to an episode of “The Good Wife”.

Thanks for looking!  See you again next time.  Till then, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

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Still Forgiven & Set Free ~

 

It’s been 6 months since I “graduated” from Forgiven and Set Free last September, 9 months since I began attending one of the most important, life-changing ministries of my life.  If you haven’t read my Forgiven and Set Free  Post-Abortion Blog posts, this would be a great time to do so (there are four posts, start from the bottom).

Today, the ministry coordinator(s) organized a breakfast get-together for those of us who have completed the sessions.  Eleven of my F&SF sisters joined together at 9:00 this morning for worship, minstry, fellowship, food and fun. Some of these kindred spirits I know from church, some I met for the first time and it was like we’d known each other forever!  How can I begin to describe the warm intimacy we sisters share as we talk about our experiences and join in prayer for each other and anyone else who needs prayer? 

After two previous attempts at post-abortion counseling, both failed attempts ~ one with an educated pastor and one with a secular psychologist with a ph.d, I can be assured that Forgiven & Set Free is still “working” within me.  Still holding me close, still consoling me in the loss of my child, and still reassuring me that I will see him some day.  Indeed, I have grown in this knowledge of God’s eternal forgiveness and love.  I’m praying for a time when I can share my experience(s) and newly -found knowledge with another sister who may have gone through, or is going through what I went through.  I know He has a plan for me, and I hope it’s to help someone else.

Until He reveals His plan to me, I’m happy knowing I’ve got sisters who have been through what I have been through, understand my pain and my joy.  I can also revel in the anticipation of my little red oak tree sprouting leaves again soon with the Spring, and I’ll be able to watch it grow and think about meeting my son some day down the road when the time is right.

Until then, I’m going to “Be still…”  Psalm 46:10.Red Oak Tree planted for a child lost.

 

Until next time, TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt

  

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Black & White or Sepia ~

Well, this week’s challenge was certainly a challenge for me!  I’ve never taken any photos in black and white, as this is all still very new to me.  I’ve spent the past few days really trying to get to know my camera, and what it can do for me… rather than just pointing it and shooting.  Here’s a few I came up with:

Stately looking building near downtown Syracuse, NY

Stately looking building near downtown Syracuse, NY

Front entrance of a Presbyterian church, downtown Syracuse, NY

Front entrance of a Presbyterian church, downtown Syracuse, NY

Same Presbyterian church in sepia, Syracuse, NY

Same Presbyterian church in sepia, Syracuse, NY

Mural on the side of a building, downtown Syracuse, NY

Mural on the side of a building, downtown Syracuse, NY

Closeup of the mural, downtown Syracuse, NY

Closeup of the mural, downtown Syracuse, NY

If you take a close look at the above two murals, they remind you of something, don’t they?  They’re painted in black and white on the side of a very non-descript building a few blocks from where I work.  Not the best part of town to be getting out in the middle of the street and taking photos, but I just found it so interesting.

What do you think?

Next week, red, white or red & white!

Until then… TTFN!    Tamara Eckstadt ~

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wood ~

This week Cee continue’s her challenge incorporating the 5 Elements of the Chinese.  The first week was Metal, the second week was Water, and this week’s challenge is Wood (Tree, Wind, Moisture, Air, Minerals, Ink, Mind, Rubber, Paper, Plants, Poison, Wax, Dissolve, Carbon, Clouds, Health, Space).  As with every week, Cee also challenges us to “have fun” with it.

Al sits in a big Adirondack Chair!

Al sits in a big Adirondack Chair!

My husband sits in the largest Adirondack chair on record at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

Canoeists in a spectacular original wooden canoe.

Canoeists in a spectacular original wooden canoe.

I caught this gorgeous wooden canoe at the boat races on Long Lake, NY, in the Adirondacks.

Lakeside Church in the Adirondacks

Lakeside Church in the Adirondacks

We took a dinner cruise on Raquette Lake and I caught a picture of this beautiful all wood church built on the shore of the lake.

Thanks, again, Cee for a fun and interesting challenge!  Looking forward to next week’s continuation of the 5 Chinese Elements (fire).

Revealed Chapter 11: Take Him at His Word

“Impossible is an opinion, not a fact”

In March 2001 I was baptized at Second Baptist Church in Auburn, NY.  A full water immersion baptism.  I sent written invitations to my family and friends, asking them to come to the beginning of my journey with my new life.  I gave my testimony in front of the entire congregation.  I rehearsed and quoted my favorite verse:  2nd Corinthians 5:17:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”   But my new life had begun long before this pivotal moment in my spiritual travels.  It began that very first night in 1997 when I was slumped on the floor of my bedroom and praying to someone/something I wasn’t even sure existed.  I just didn’t know it then, but my heart was ready.  So God sent someone to me, my husband, to help show me the way and help me understand and find my faith in a way that I could/would understand.  In the 14 years that Al and I have been married, we’ve grown together in faith, in love and in God’s love.  But especially in just this past year (2012).

2nd Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

That’s not to say it’s been an easy road.  Life, even with God’s unconditional love and guidance, is not such an easy road to travel.  There are always pitfalls, missteps, crises and challenges that you have to muddle through.  For me, it’s been that much easier knowing that God has my back at every turn.  Knowing that.  Again, not a simple or easy concept, like the “trust fall”.  And we have had our share of challenges and “trust falls” just this summer to get through.

 Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

My children are not believers, unfortunately.  I would love for nothing more than to have them find their way as I did, so their futures will be secure in the knowledge that they will go to Heaven when their lives here are complete.  They cannot deny with honesty that I have changed, and changed much for the better since I came to God in 1997.  I wonder if they think this happened by osmosis.  And others that knew the “before” me, do you think I just woke up and decided one day that I was going to stop swearing like a redneck trucker?  Or that I was going to suddenly stop beating on my kid’s behinds with a belt, or whatever else I could get my hands on that worked as well or better?  Perhaps I just suddenly ran out of FWB’s (see “Chapter 9:  Faith”) that I would go visit at all hours, leaving my children home alone and at risk for my own selfish reasons.  And then there was that weekend trip to Florida to be with a “friend” while I left my children with people I barely knew, let alone trusted.  But they were okay, really, they were what? 11 and 13 years old?  And Karrie was 17?

I’m not saying I’m a model of a good Christian woman.  I know I am far from that, but I’m trying.  The fact that a person can come from the chaos and irresponsibility that I have come from and turn a life around and begin living the right way ~ the way God intended us to live ~ is a testament to His existence.  For whatever reason, He came into my heart for the asking, and made me new.  My debts have been paid, my sins forgiven and forgotten ~ and what do I owe?  Only faithfulness, devotion and love.  What He asks for is not that hard!  And for those of you who do not choose to believe, that is your choice.  I’d rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong.  My way (which is His way) is a win/win situation, and I’m not wrong

Now?  My daughters and I have good relationships.  Don’t ask me how they found it in their hearts to forgive me, even when I could not yet forgive myself.  Blessing after blessing.  My son and I have been estranged for the most part and remain so, despite the fact that it’s very painful and I pray daily about it.  I’m sure, in His perfect time, it will be resolved.  Al and I are wonderful together.  As I’ve said, we’ve had our issues, what couples don’t?  But we’re getting through them with God’s help, and the help and guidance of many of our Christian friends.

I had a comment awhile back on one of my chapters from a man who was criticizing what I had written.  He seemed to think I was self-involved, self-pitying and that I should (basically) get over myself (not in those exact words).  I believe he used the word “whining” or “whiney” at one point.  That is the one and only negative feedback I’ve received, and I found it in my Spam box.  Go figure.  But I have not and will not dismiss the comment this person made because it’s negative, as it has value and merit as all of the positive ones I’ve received.  Although, I regret that I did hastily delete the comment before replying to this gentleman and thanking him for his opinion. 

So, why did I write all of these chapters and put myself “out there” for all to see?  Good question.  I was definitely not self-pitying, nor whining.  I guess I was trying to make a point by showing how something good can come from something so dreadful, if you just have faith.  There are so many women who have been or may still be in a situation(s) such as I have been, and I’m hoping they find their way to this blog and get something positive out of it.  If they’re led to a new life through spirituality, that would be my best blessing.  But if they simply get out of a domestically violent relationship, or stop taking their frustrations out on their children by abusing them, or just give their child an extra hug and “I love you” today, I would be deliriously happy.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t want pity, or praise or condolences or a pat on the back.  I want my words, my experiences to find someone and give them inspiration to better their life and those around them.  I was able to achieve this through finding my faith and spirituality, and you can too.  It only takes a moment and a simple prayer, and to believe that Jesus died for you on the cross.

If you’ve had an abortion, doesn’t matter how long ago, there is help for you.  If you drink or do drugs, abuse your kids, allow yourself to be abused in any way (and there are many ways) there is help for you.  If you’ve attempted or think you might attempt to end your life (yes, I have *twice*), think again and again!  Call someone, call anyone and talk it out ~ and pray, pray very hard.  There is help for you, too!  You are never alone, even if you don’t believe, God is there with you… for you, in you.  Take Him at His Word.

** Aftermath ~ Just a quick note ~ I have found out the BH has passed away, without ever having found me on the street and having to kill me (“Chapter 6:  Trading Faces”).  As told in Revealed Chapter 10:  May You Reach and Find God Before God Reaches and Finds You, BB committed suicide in 2003.  Do the math:  that’s two out of three “ex’s” who have left this world for the next.  That leaves MS, my first husband, alive and well.  Hmmmm.  Actually, he and I have since become good friends, and I have forgiven all three of my “ex’s” (2 posthumously) for their part(s) in my journey.  I guess maybe I should’ve thanked them!

~ Coming Up:  A first-hand look inside a 72-hour stay at Hutchings Psych Center after a suicide attempt.

                        Don’t miss it!