Posted by: donnatallman | October 3, 2019

Perilous Times

Perilous Times

We heard the end of a man’s life today. We didn’t know that’s what we heard, but we did; the roar of guns said so. No one anticipated this outcome earlier in the afternoon when an angry young man destroyed his grandmother’s apartment. Even later, as people came to the front of our church with injuries and car damage, no one anticipated that this young man would enter eternity today ending an afternoon of terror for the community and a lifetime of troubled rage for him.

I work at the church next door to the apartment complex where the man lived. During Sunday school this morning, our teacher taught from 2 Timothy 3:1, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” Perilous. Unsafe. Fierce. Terrifying. We had no idea that this morning as we sat just yards from the young man’s window, how perilous our day would actually become.

Church was finished and I was sorting and cleaning the clutter left over from a morning of meaningful ministry. As I settled in to listen to the Broncos play this afternoon, an army veteran’s truck was suddenly shot by a pellet gun from the apartment complex next door. He screeched his truck to a stop in front of our church. Bolting from his car to confront the catastrophe in progress, the veteran ran by my office. Not knowing exactly what was unfolding outside, I ran down the hall to tell my husband, a retired police officer, that he needed to get outside to help. Within minutes, police and first responders began arriving to shepherd people to safety.

A young girl of eight entered our church lobby with her mother and siblings. They were on their way for a family afternoon at Monument Lake, but would never make it. Their car had been hit with a pellet, breaking the back window and hitting the young girl in the shoulder. One of our teens who was at the church this afternoon, stepped in to pray for the girl and her family immediately following the shooting while they still reeled from the shock of it all. In that moment, it was hard for any of us to comprehend what we were looking at or really dealing with.

“This is Monument, Colorado,” I thought to myself. “This doesn’t happen here!”

But it is Monument, and it did happen here.

As more and more police officers and emergency personnel arrived on the scene, a small cadre of victims, bystanders, and other displaced neighbors wandered in and out of the church lobby during the next few hours. The first responders were amazing! They did all they could to protect us, inform us, and meet what needs they could in spite of the very active violent scene they were managing. We all became instant foxhole friends determined to get each other through the perilous and unknown of this afternoon.

When two officers carrying assault rifles walked by the church, we suddenly realized the crisis next door was escalating to life-threatening proportions. A sheriff’s officer directed us to take refuge in the basement, which we did. What has always bothered me about the church’s basement (that it has no windows) suddenly became an asset. We gathered downstairs to await the “all clear” from the officers.

Had everyone made it downstairs? Was there anyone else in the lobby that didn’t know where to go? I ran upstairs to be sure no one else was left. Everything looked secure as I raced through the main floor. On my way to the upper floor, a roar from outside the building filled the empty spaces of my anxiety.

The unmistakable roar of finality.

I heard the end of a man’s life today as I stood in the stairwell. My heart stopped. Time stopped. In the chaos and confusion of this afternoon, suspended between the temporary and the eternal, John 3:16 wafted through my spirit. I began to pray for this man, his family, the victims downstairs, our neighbors, the police teams outside, and our entire community of Monument.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Yes, these are perilous times; dangerous times, but even in the midst of these times, we have hope. God has pointed the way through the unsafe, the fierce, and the terrifying. He’s pointed us to His Son who gave His life for us so that when we cross into eternity, we can step into the arms of the Father who sacrificed everything because He loves us.

None of us knows when we could be confronted with our last day on earth. Never has that been more evident as when I looked into the precious face of the eight-year-old girl who had been shot. Despite her minor injury, her day could have ended so differently.

As a Christian, my hope and joy is that I never face difficult times alone. Jesus promised to never leave me nor forsake me, and today, in a sleepy little mountain town, during an especially perilous time, He proved His faithfulness once again.

Copyright, 2019 by Donna A. Tallman

Posted by: donnatallman | November 7, 2015

A Life Well Lived

Don Shotts Navigator 5 x 7 sepiaHe wasn’t supposed to die.

Not that way.

Not that day.

But he did.

My father died and still, it hardly seems possible that he’s gone.

But he is.

He went to the hospital just needing a blood transfusion. Well not just, but it wasn’t supposed to careen out of control into a life-threatening situation. My father was being treated for severe anemia, and the doctor assured us he would feel much better after getting two units of blood. They scheduled it for the next day, which was Sunday. Since it would take most of the day to receive the new blood, I dropped my mom and dad at the hospital and then went on to church for the morning service.

I brought them home around five that evening, but Dad didn’t seem right. He was agitated and uncomfortable. He said things that didn’t make sense and complained of being cold. He shivered even after we turned the heat way up and covered him with a pile of blankets. While I got him into bed to keep him warm, Mom called the hospital just to be sure this was normal after a blood transfusion. It wasn’t. She hung up and dialed 911 immediately.

The paramedics were inside the house within four minutes ~ one of the advantages of living down the street from a firehouse. Like the most bizarre of Picasso portraits, I can only recall the ensuing 24 hours in mangled distorted images. There are pieces of identifiable reality here and there, but mostly there are fragments I stare at without fully comprehending.

Blue and red emergency lights dancing in the hallway through the sheer drapes, a “Heaven Can Wait” DVD I gave to Dad just days earlier sitting by the TV. The click of a gurney, My brother, Randy, helping me make sure we hadn’t left anything turned on in the house, Mom hurrying to get in the ambulance. Dad cracking hilarious jokes in ER, his heart monitor displaying 163, texting updates to Bob and the boys, the doctor saying, “Pneumonia.”

Pneumonia? We can do pneumonia. Pneumonia’s totally treatable. What a relief!

After two or three hours of IV medication in the ER, Dad was placed in ICU and getting better by the minute. Randy went home around midnight, but Mom and I hung around until the nurse dismissed us to go home and get some sleep. Crisis averted.

By 1:30am Mom and I had settled in for some desperately needed sleep. Two hours later we were summoned back to the hospital by one of those early morning phone calls that rattles your nerves and shakes your soul. My mind darted off in every direction at once as I fought to stay focused while driving down the freeway.

More fragments of distortion.

Photo by Donna Tallman


A full moon over the hospital, a clock in the lobby reading 5:40am, and a Christmas cross hiding in the reflection of the cafeteria window at daybreak. “Do you have an advanced directive?” “Fight for him,” my mother saying emphatically. A nurse starting to resist got a second, “Fight for him,” from me. Dad’s heart still racing at 172, organizing the tea bag drawer in the waiting room, doctor consults, my sister, Sandi, and brother-in-law arriving, feet running through the ICU corridor when Dad’s heart stopped, updates every 10 minutes as they worked on him, texting my family. Saying goodbye.

Only Mom, Sandi, Randy, and I were in the room with Dad when he died (and a hospital chaplain). Each of us got to say goodbye and then we stood. We waited. We watched. Mom watched Dad; Sandi watched me, Randy and I watched the monitor.


Quiet descended.

Slipping out of Dad’s room, I returned to the empty ICU waiting room. I wanted to pause; I needed to pause, and I just wanted to be. A doctor I had not seen before came into the waiting area and sat up on the back of the couch. His scrubs were soaked with sweat and he looked as drained of life as Dad had been when I left his room. I sensed he was angry.

“You worked on my dad?” I asked quietly.

He nodded.

“Thank you,” I said, stopping short of what I really wanted to say. Advanced directives limiting medical intervention on the elderly is a pretty standard practice anymore, but not in my family; we’re fighters. Until we’ve exhausted all physical intervention and prayer intervention, we will always contend for life.

The doctor looked at me through his exhaustion and began to speak.

Stepping out of character, I cut him off.

“Please know that my family is so very grateful for all you and your team tried to do for my father.” I paused to bury my timidity, gather my strength, and speak directly to his anger.

“I can see it was difficult, but it’s important that you know why we asked it of you. You might not be aware of it, but you tried to save a hero today. You did. My father was a hero. You see he served his country during both Korea and Vietnam. He was honorable and noble. My father protected this country and defended our freedom, which allowed you to pursue the life you are living and enter the field of medicine that you love. For twenty-one years my father sacrificed for you, so thank you, Sir, for sacrificing for him today. It means more to us than you can ever know.”

Anger melted away as the doctor cried.

Last Ride

Losing my father last year was a life-altering moment as it is for many people. It is important you know that despite the shock of losing him unexpectedly, we were held. We were held by the unshakable power of God like never before. We were not suspended in time, confusion, or anxiety, but we were really held by the sovereign power of a loving God. So much so that we heard ourselves saying, this was one of the best moments we have ever lived.

How can that be? How can it be that the day we said goodbye to the man who has always believed in us, supported us, defended us, and fought for us was one of the best days we’ve ever lived? Because we stood in the middle of grief’s fire and experienced the tangible sense of the joy of the Lord. Dad was our family’s greatest warrior. When we grew tired or our faith grew weary, His faith held ours intact. As a family unit we walked through one of the most difficult days of our lives deeply blessed.

Dad's Funeral

Escorting a Hero

My father was buried with full military honors befitting the finest of Air Force officers and heroes, despite the fact he would have objected to our plans. Actually, he wouldn’t have allowed them. Several times during his Air Force career he was dispatched to other military families to bring them the news that their loved one was killed in battle. These were the sacrifices my father understood, these were the heroes he compared himself to.

He never even considered his own sacrifices deserving of notice, but we did. We experienced the cost of his service and understood the danger of his duty. My father absolutely did not believe himself worthy of receiving any military honors at his burial and plainly told us so many times.

We ignored him. We had to; he is a hero to us.

Mom and Sandi

Thank You

It’s been almost a year since my father passed away and we’ve made it through almost all of the “firsts” without him. I think it fitting that Veteran’s Day will draw our year of grief near its end and the last holiday we will celebrate for the first time without Dad will be Thanksgiving. My family is, indeed, thankful for all Dad was and all he gave to us. His was a life well lived and ours was a life most blessed because of it.

© Copyright, 2015 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | August 17, 2014

Who Will Help Humpty?

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman



          Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

          Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

          All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

          Couldn’t put Humpty together again…




“Innocents Blown Out of the Sky Over Ukraine”

“Tunnels of Terror Threaten Gaza and Israel”

“Ebola Outbreak Kills 1,000 in West Africa”

“ISIS Terrorizes Iraq and Syria”

“State of Emergency Declared in Ferguson, Missouri”

“Robin Williams’ Death Stuns a Nation”

News headlines during July and August 2014, have showcased some of the worst evil mankind can perpetrate against itself. As if the violence wasn’t enough, these shattering headlines have also included the incredibly sad result of the most despairing of human emotions ~ depression leading to suicide. I can’t remember a news cycle filled with as much violence, tragedy, and sadness as the past few weeks.

These daily briefings of the world’s woes have rendered my soul and my spirit totally exhausted. I’d love to opt out of the world’s despair, but I can’t. As much as I have wanted to look away from the anguish, my soul connects deeply with the profound suffering humanity is enduring and my spirit cries out in agonizing prayer for people I have never met.

Violence, murder, revenge, and rape. The drumbeat grows ever louder.

Who will help us? Who will put Humpty together again once he has fallen?

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again, so even poor Humpty was destroyed by his fall. Humpty had access to all the king’s resources and still it wasn’t enough to repair all the damage done. Humpty was still fallen. He was still shattered, and he was still broken.

We have all fallen off that wall. We are all shattered. We are all broken…

…But God.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

We are a broken people shattered by broken people, but because of God, we are also a broken people restored and redeemed by a broken person:  “And when Jesus had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat. This is My body, which is broken for you. Do this to call Me to remembrance.” (AMP) 1 Corinthians 11:24

Jesus’ willingness to be broken for me has restored and redeemed the profound brokenness that fragmented my own life. I’ve seen him do that in me. I’ve seen him do that in others. I’ve seen him do that in some of you.

One day the despairing headlines will cease. Atrocities will stop. We won’t march armies at one another, or incite terror in the hearts of one another any more. Our children will play freely unhindered by evil, and our women will walk the streets without fear. The darkness of depression will be dissolved by a brilliant sunrise of hope and healing. One day this will all be over and peace will reign.

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

But that day is not this day.

On this day I hear weeping; I hear crying. I sense the sorrow and despair of a world without hope. Our world is spiraling out of control. Lawlessness feeds violence, violence begets terror, and terror produces tyranny.

This is our world. This is our reality. This is our sorrow.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

So, on this day, while I await that day, I will not quit. I will not opt out of the world’s pain. I will fight instead. I will fight on my knees for restoration. I will fight on my knees for redemption and peace. I will contend for unity. I will guard the oppressed. I will champion justice. I will help the orphan and remember the widow. I will touch the sick and believe in resurrection.

I will not lose hope.

Instead, I will believe that he who is faithful and true has called me to this, and I will believe he will bring it to pass. I cannot afford to lose hope. We cannot afford to lose hope. The world awaits rescue.

The world awaits you.

Only restored people can restore people.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | June 25, 2014

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This…

“Momma said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this my momma said.”

Momma said.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Yesterday Bob and I drove hundreds of miles through farmland and cattle country as we made yet another trek across this beautiful country. (I think this is our third trip in the last year and a half) We are on our way to North Carolina at the moment, but that’s a subject for a different blog entry.

Having only eight hours on our driving schedule yesterday, we flew by city after city all the while serenaded by Glen Campbell, Alan Jackson, and John Denver on some country Oldies station out of Newton, Iowa.

There’s something so great about tuning into local radio stations driving cross-country ~ they give us an instant connection to the people of the area. Local stations also give us any emergency weather updates should we ever need them.

Well, they are supposed to anyway…

Photo by Steven Tallman

Photo by Steven Tallman

Yesterday we (unknowingly) got caught in the backwash of a tornado that touched down causing considerable damage but no injuries. Bob was driving and I was bopping along to “Amarillo By Morning,” when all of the sudden we entered a deluge of pounding rain. Midwest rain is not at all like Oregon rain; it’s ferocious. The rain falls in huge drops pummeling everything in its path, like a T-Rex stomping through a cornfield.

Being a closet weather geek, I absolutely love to study storms and meteorology patterns. Tornado Week on “The Weather Channel” is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Yesterday I learned that it’s one thing to watch a dangerous tornado on TV, but an altogether different experience to drive through one.

It unraveled me.

About the time we made it to the middle of the storm cell, the radio started blaring emergency weather advisory upates. “Tornado on the ground, seek immediate shelter! Tornado on the ground…” the official bulletin exclaimed.

Too late for us, we were already being hammered by the howl and I was about to enter panic mode. Do you stop and try to get out, or do you keep driving hoping it’s not in front of you? I texted my sister to pray and my sons to see if they could go online to tell us where the storm was headed. After a barrage of texts back and forth, Philip let us know the tornado was going north. Thankfully we were going east.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

For the next few minutes Bob and I rehashed the crisis/excitement we’d just been through when all of a sudden a semi truck on my side of the car blew one of its rear tires at 70 miles per hour. We thought something had hit the car. Bob swerved and I screamed. Not helpful. When we realized the semi had blown a tire, we followed him to a stopping place to check our own car. The car was fine. I was not. The concussion of the explosion altered the cabin pressure in our car and my ears throbbed for the next two hours.

By the time we stopped for the night, my nerves were shot. All I wanted to do was go out to dinner and eat away the danger of the day. Not only was I rattled ~ I was starving. Danger does that to me! Back in the car. As we drove to the main road, the sky opened up again and dumped sheets of rain faster than the city drains could carry them away. Instant flood.

Somebody was trying to kill us and I’d had enough.

“Momma said there’d be days like this.”

Somewhere between hopping out of the car and puddle-jumping my way into the restaurant, I heard the Lord say, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

I was four years old the first time I ever heard those verses. My mom quoted them to me while removing a hunk of tree branch that had flown up under my eyelid. I could have lost my eyesight.

Yeah, Momma said there’d be days like this, but despite any difficulties life might send our way, my own momma reminded me so many years ago that, as long as I walked with Jesus, I’d never face any of them alone.

Good thing.

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.



Posted by: donnatallman | April 23, 2014

Telling Myself the Truth

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.” Psalm 51:6

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

I don’t need any help.
I’m not angry; I’m justifiably indignant.
I’m not worried; I’m concerned.
That _________ (person, food, drink, drug, etc.) doesn’t tempt me at all.
I’m not depressed, just tired.
I’m fine…fine.
I didn’t do it!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have trouble telling myself the truth. Snagged by my conscience or arrested by the Spirit of God, I dodge, twist, and turn to avoid the spotlight of God’s detection. King David was more honorable than that. Confronted by Nathan the prophet for his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, David immediately agreed with God that he was in the wrong and repented. Then David invited God in to purify his heart and clean up the mess he’d made of his life. I’m not always so eager. 

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Psalm 51 is the tangible record of God’s redemptive inner work in a heart gone astray. It is a highly significant passage of the Bible to me. It ranks up there with Isaiah 55, John 14, and the entire book of Philippians as the most well traveled of sections in my Bible. I’ve underlined several verses, scratched notes around the margins, and written several dates when God intersected me there. While others might see only the mess I’ve made of Psalm 51 in my Bible, I see a written record of the many times I’ve been desperate for its encouragement.

Hollywood has made a fortune over the years making films about characters that go back in time to redo their lives and reverse the decisions they made. I have to admit that many of my favorite films fall into this genre. Psalm 51 is the Psalm of the “do over.” This Psalm is about returning; it’s about restoration and redemption. David has given us an example of true humility playing out in real time, and he’s also given us the privilege of journeying with him through his darkest hours.

Re-turn. Re-store. Re-deem.

Redux. I want a rewrite. Actually, I’d rather have an “unwrite” of the horrible decisions I’ve made throughout my life and the things that have caused me pain. I’d also love to unwrite the things in your life that have hurt you too, but that’s not how God works. God doesn’t erase; he doesn’t remove. Instead, God redeems. He takes what is and transforms it. God takes the marred and damaged parts of us and reforms us into new creations. Our flaws become the foundation for his ultimate masterpiece. In our darkest hours, God does his deepest and most spectacular work!

Donna Tallman

Donna Tallman

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

How does God re-create us in real time? He does it by connecting with our innermost beings. When we are transparent with God and permit him access to the innermost place of our hearts, he will enter and begin his work in our lives.

In order for God to connect with my innermost being he needs:

~ My fully cooperative mind
~ My surrendered will
~ My wide open heart (emotions)
~ My sincere and humble spirit

Photo by Donna Tallman

Donna Tallman

Father, thank you for calling me into relationship with you. Thank you for pursuing me in the morning and walking alongside me in the cool of the day. Thank you for persisting even when I try to elude you. Jesus, I need courage today. I need the courage to be honest with you about my life. Help me not to cower in fear or shame when your truth shines on my shortcomings. Your truth is my protection; teach me to love it and welcome it into the innermost place of my heart.

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.



Posted by: donnatallman | March 7, 2014

An Undivided Heart

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” Psalm 86:11

David asked the God who created the universe to be his teacher.

His teacher ~ such a humble designation for a king to use.

Did “the king” really need a tutor? Apparently David thought so. David realized there were missing pieces in his understanding, so he called out to God for assistance. His voluntary submission to God as teacher reveals that David clearly understood his own limitations. It also reveals that David was a man of profound humility.

“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth…”

Inherent in David’s request for help is the surrender of his own will. David has yielded his “right of way” in pursuit of something greater: the truth. David has committed to cooperating with and obeying the Master Teacher. This makes him an eager and enthusiastic learner. Happy is the teacher who has a classroom full of “Davids” who are excited to learn new things and put them into practice.

Miserable is the teacher whose classroom is a daily battleground of antagonism and resistance.

What kind of learner am I?

Do I look forward to incorporating God’s instruction into my life, or do I seek ways to circumvent it? Am I eager with him or apathetic? Flexible or rigid? Do I follow the Lord’s voice or usurp control from him? Do I listen or antagonize? Cooperate or resist? Grow or stagnate?

As important as it is to have a teacher, David asks for one more thing; he asks God to unite his heart. David wants unity because he knows that a divided heart will make him unstable. In this Psalm, David, the man after God’s heart, care-takes his own heart by asking God for assistance. David guards his heart by uniting it to his Teacher’s for protection.

What separates your heart from God?


Heavenly Father, teach me your truth. I want to be an eager learner like David, so help me lay aside my pride and enter into the joy of this journey with you. You are the God who made the heavens and the earth. You ordered the stars to march across the night sky giving each one a name. You created the seas to roar and the butterfly to float gently by in the breeze. Lord, unite my heart to fear your name so that I can walk with an undivided heart all the days of my life.

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | February 24, 2014

Writing on the Wall

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Okay, so I know I’ve made a big deal out of defining “home” as wherever I happen to be and wherever God is, and I still believe that. However, today I decided to fill you in on the “if I could I would” part of my desire for home. When all is said and done, this is what I really want:

Home is where I can scribble ideas for new writing projects on the wall if I want.

Home is where my pictures hang on the wall long enough to become dusty.

Home is where I can paint a wall any color I want.

Home is where the issues of life are worked out because they have to be.

Home is where I can have a puppy.

Home is where I get to order return address labels.

Home is where I am cared for when I get sick.

Home is where I go after I get lost.

Home is where I know my neighbor’s last name.

Home is where the barista at my favorite coffee shop doesn’t have to ask for my name when he writes it on my cup.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Home is where I can plant tulip bulbs in the fall knowing I will be there to applaud them when they come up in the spring.

Home is the place that gives me more than I will ever be able to give it.

Home is where others know to find me.

Home is where life conquers any death I will ever experience.

Home is where failure becomes the first step toward success.

Home is where an image doesn’t exist.

Home is where others offer their strength for my weakness.

Home is where I celebrate Christmas all year long.

Home is where support is guaranteed although disagreement can be profound.

Home is where faith is free to express its doubts and becomes stronger for it.

Home is where the fire of scrutiny discerns the depth of integrity.

Home is the place where all those who enter find rest.

Home is where I talk with God in the cool of the day.

Home is where I worship with abandon.

Cookies and Photo by Donna Tallman :)

Cookies and Photo by Donna Tallman 🙂

Home is where my cookie jar never gets empty.

Home is where history is written on the heart.

Home is where God’s still small voice can be heard above the dishwasher.

Home is where love drives out all fear.

Home is where an old book and an old friend are one and the same.

Home is where grace abounds.

Home is where there are no secrets and no unopened boxes.

Home is where hope never wanes and love never fails.

And for all my Oregon buddies, home is:

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

What’s home to you?

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | February 20, 2014

Jesus Was a Turtle

David Wagner

David Wagner

After two years of traveling across the country with no place to call “home,” many of you have been imploring us to settle down and get a house so we wouldn’t be homeless anymore. In my last entry,  “Circuit Riders,” I made a statement that engaged many of you to the point of deluging me with e-mails. Good for you! Here’s what I said:

“We are houseless, but we are not homeless. Much like turtles, our ‘home’ travels with us in our relationships and in our backpacks!”

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about your reactions since then, and wondering if I have been missing something. There’s no doubt that I long to get off the road; I’m a terrible traveler. Just ask my teammates (and pray for them if you think of it!) I would LOVE to live in a place with an attic room where I could look out at the mountains and write. It doesn’t have to be much. Having a bedroom and kitchen would be a bonus, but an attic room to write ~ that would be heaven!

Andrea Schafthuizen

Andrea Schafthuizen

No one would love to live in a house more than me, but would that really give me a home? To find out, I went to the place in Scripture where I’m promised a house to see what God said about it; I went to John, chapter 14.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

The original King James Version of the Bible uses the word, “mansions,” for dwelling places. In my Father’s house are many mansions.

I read the verse over and over and over.

Okay, so God promised me a mansion. Where is it? Where’s my mansion?

Well, it didn’t take more than 2 minutes of meditation to realize I’d have to be dead in order to move into one of God’s houses. They’re in heaven; I’m on earth. The only way across that divide is…

Well, doesn’t that just beat all?

About the time I ramped up to pitch a full-blown hissy fit with the Lord because I’ll never have a house this side of eternity, I stopped myself and started reading the passage again – this time from the beginning. S-l-o-w-l-y like my pastor taught me.

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you…”

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

In order to come to earth, Jesus had to leave behind his home in heaven and take up temporary residence here. When Jesus spoke to his disciples in John 14, he was just hours away from his arrest and crucifixion. His time on earth had come to an end and he was preparing those he loved for his departure; Jesus was going home to his Father’s house. His reunion with his Father was imminent, and it was all he thought about. His Father was the focus of his heart, mind, soul, and spirit.

When Jesus was here, he lived like Bob, Steven and I are now; he was itinerant. He didn’t own a house, but moved from place to place, town to town, and city to city telling other people about the kingdom of God.

So, if Jesus lived like us…

And we’re turtles…

Ergo, Jesus was a turtle?

Pretty much.

Jesus carried everything he needed with him. Walking through the Galilean countryside exposed Jesus to the elements and made him vulnerable to the wind, rain, and oppressive summer heat. He had no place to lay his head at night and no place to call home. Instead, Jesus suffered constant physical challenge, demonic interference, religious persecution, and eventual crucifixion by those who hated him.

The exact same violent opposition awaited Jesus’ disciples after his death, so he wanted to reach out with some strategic encouragement to the men he had grown to love. He pointed the way through the pain that was coming:

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you…”

The focus of this passage is not on the mansion; it’s on believing in God. Jesus is telling his disciples that to get through the coming trauma, they need to believe in his Father. Look at how many times Jesus refers to his Father in verses 1-13 of John, chapter 14:

  1. You believe in God
  2. In My Father’s house
  3. No one comes to the Father but through Me
  4. You would have known My Father also
  5. You know Him (the Father)
  6. Because you have seen Him (the Father)
  7. Show us the Father
  8. He who has seen Me has seen the Father
  9. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father”?
  10. I am in the Father
  11. The Father is in me
  12. The Father abiding in me does His works
  13. I am in the Father
  14. The Father is in Me
  15. I go to the Father
  16. That the Father may be glorified in the Son.

There are sixteen references to his Father in just the opening verses of chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, sixteen. That doesn’t even include chapters 15, 16, and 17 that are all about the Father! Jesus’ life wasn’t about making a home on earth; it was all about his Father. Completely. Totally. 100% of Jesus’ heart was consumed with honoring his Father.

Don’t believe me? Look the bookends of Jesus’ life as he lived it.

Luke 2:49 records the very first words of Jesus when he was twelve years old:

“And He said to them (Mary and Joseph), ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”

After Jesus had been arrested, tried and convicted, he was crucified. Luke 23:46 records the very last words Jesus uttered before he breathed his last breath:

Father, into your hands I commit My spirit.”

From the very beginning to the very end, Jesus’ life was about his Father’s business. Our purpose is no different; it’s found in John 14:13:

“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God is supposed to be glorified in us.

Don’t think you’re a “son of God”?

Galatians 3:26 says otherwise: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Our purpose in walking through this world as sons and daughters of God is to glorify God in all that we do.

Photo by Donna tallman

My Mansion
by Donna Tallman

So what was Jesus’ purpose of bringing up the “mansion” in the first place? I believe the answer is found in John 14, verse 3:

“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Jesus was confirming his commitment to his disciples who he would be leaving shortly. “Where I am, there you may be also.” He was reassuring them that their relationship would continue on; it was eternal. He wanted them to know he still loved them and that his plan for them was not yet complete.

Beloved, it’s not about the mansion; it’s about the Father. It’s not about the possessions we acquire in this life; it’s about the relationships we develop.

I may not have a house, but I know my way home.

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | February 4, 2014

Circuit Riders

Charles Rondeau

Photo by Charles Rondeau

According to Google, an “itinerant” is a person who travels from place to place…also called a traveler, wanderer, roamer, rover, nomad, gypsy, migrant, transient, drifter, vagabond, hobo, vagrant, tramp…”

Stop! These are getting progressively more depressing!

They don’t have to.

We are “itinerants” and for the last two years we’ve been traveling across the country. We’ve spent time in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee. We’ve made the same loop twice now stopping to visit friends, encourage strangers, and help change the atmosphere for people held in the grips of disappointment.

We are houseless, but we are not homeless. Much like turtles, our “home” travels with us in our relationships and in our backpacks! All the rest of our belongings are in storage in Colorado so we have no official place to live and no identifiable address. We have only a Post Office box in Colorado we call our own, but even that’s rented.

We are itinerant. I preferred to think of myself as a “Circuit Rider” until I looked up a description of them…How does this sound to you?

“Circuit riders had to be young, in good health, and single…”

Houston…we have a problem…

“Life was not easy for a circuit rider, partly because living conditions on the frontier were harsh. Circuit riders rarely served longer than one year in a circuit. Each year, they were appointed to a new area. This kept them from growing too familiar with the local people and wanting to settle down.” (by N. Fred Jordan, Jr.)

I get that; I would love to settle down. Oh yeah, circuit riders were supposed to be single.

No wonder.

It’s outrageous to do what we’re doing! Some of you pray for a place to park when you go shopping; I pray for a place to sleep at night. Daily facing the adventure of the unknown stretches us way beyond ourselves. It forces us to depend on God for His strength, direction, and power in a minute-by-minute pursuit of God’s heartbeat.

But being itinerant also has upsides ~ a lot of them. Truly. We’ve met some amazing people along the way and seen the power of God obliterate despair and hopelessness right before our eyes. Any sacrifice we’ve had to make pales in comparison to the joy of journeying a few miles alongside people desperate to know God and experience His love for themselves. It’s been such a privilege.

So, where are we now? Well, at the moment, we’re in Ohio where we’ve spent the last three months celebrating the hundred-year-deep freeze with all the other Buckeyes this winter. 35 degrees below zero with the wind chill! I wonder what the circuit riders would have done with that? They were the original men of steel; they would have endured.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Here’s a picture of a “snow roller” we got to enjoy during the deep freeze. These rare weather wonders happen when the temperature, humidity, and other conditions are just perfect. The snow rolls up into spirals dotting the landscape with what looks like white cotton candy. They are amazing to look at, but if you touch them or try to preserve them, they instantly collapse to powder. Somehow the snow rollers of Ohio seem like a perfect metaphor for our adventures!

Having completed what we feel God wanted us to do for the moment in Ohio, we are preparing to hit the road again and make another loop across the country. This time, however, we hope to travel south through Savannah, Georgia, across the southern states where it should be warmer (!), up through Texas and Oklahoma, and then back to Colorado.

Ohio Sunset

Photo by Donna Tallman

Yes, the adventure is great. The people are wonderful and the experience of living by faith is tremendous out on the road, but there really is an awful side of circuit riding. Every time you pull up stakes and leave, bits and pieces of your heart stay behind. My heart is strewn across 3,000 miles of this country and that never gets any easier. Leaving Ohio will be heart-rending for sure!

My prayer for all of you that I’ve met in Ohio comes from Philippians 1:9-11: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

For now, we pack and clean and get ready to go in two weeks. I’m hoping between now and then that I’ll find a new road song to keep us company. Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” worked two years ago, but I need a new song for motivation.

Suggestions anyone?

For now, here’s a music video I’ve been watching from Sawyer Brown called, “The Dirt Road”  (you can skip the ad in about 3 seconds):


© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.


Posted by: donnatallman | January 24, 2014

Doors of Dialogue

At 4 years old she hid under the covers when she heard angry words coming from her parents’ bedroom. At 5 she noticed empty beer bottles piled up in the den right before her father hit her across the face with an ashtray. By 6 she was strong enough to move her dresser against the bedroom door to keep her father from coming in during the night. That was also the same year she learned to sneak out of the house at night in search of safety from him. By 14 she had been physically abused so many times by her drunken father, she had lost count; by 16 she’d had enough.

University Archway

Photo by Donna Tallman

She sought shelter at a friend’s house, and that friend took her to a safe refuge; she took her to church. There she found protection from her pain and wide open doors to a new life of freedom. Eventually, she met a man at her church; a man with a great heart who said he loved her. A few months into their new marriage, however, she discovered he was a closet alcoholic. When she returned home from shopping one afternoon, she found him drunk in front of a football game in the den. He was angry because she hadn’t made dinner for him. When he began to hit her, she fled.

Again, the little six year-old girl now grown, ran for her life.

Desperate for support and comfort for the catastrophe that was her life, she returned to the people who had first drawn her close to God. She returned to her refuge. This time, however, she found no safe haven. Instead, she was greeted with angry stares, belligerent doctrinal exhortations, and hostile condemnation. A sinner condemned for leaving her marriage, she was no longer welcome. She was a pariah.

Photo by Kasey Lix

Photo by Kasey Lix

Alone in the center of the rabid accusations, she hung her head in shame. Her very life hung in the balance of the religious zealots around her. They brought charges. They appointed a judge, and then they positioned themselves to kill her when her sentence was pronounced.

She stood.

She waited. She listened.


An exit.

“Did no one condemn you?”

Latitude. Space. Grace. Understanding.

She breathed.

A question; not an accusation. An opening; not a sermon, pronouncement, criticism, or condemnation.

Jesus simply asked a question, “Did no one condemn you?”

“No one, Lord.”

Jesus’ discerning question to the adulterous woman in John, chapter 8, breathed latitude into an extremely tense situation. She knew she was guilty of adultery, but Jesus also knew there was more to her story. Jesus knew she wanted a way out of the life she was living, so he offered her one. A well-placed question gives the “guilty” a way through and provides a point of entry into an entirely new way of living.

Listen to Abimelech, king of Gerar, question Abraham after Abraham deceived him and gave his wife to Abimelech saying she was simply his sister. Abimelech says to Abraham, “What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?” Genesis 20:10

“What have you encountered?”

Abimelech is blameless in this situation and certainly within his right to condemn Abraham’s behavior here, but he doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve condemned Abraham over the years for giving his wife away! It is one of those Bible stories that irks me no end, but before this week, I never noticed Abimelech’s response. It truly has convicted me. I realized that I am quick to jump to conclusions about other people’s behavior, and really slow about extending latitude to them.

Abraham’s deceit needs to be dealt with, and Abimelech confronts it; he never ignores it. Abimelech truthfully recounts what Abraham has done to him, but then he does the unexpected, the gracious. Instead of pronouncing judgment on Abraham, Abimelech provides a door for dialogue.

“What have you encountered?” he asked.

I don’t know your story, and you don’t know mine. When we encounter one another, all we know is what we present in the moment. We meet each other in snapshots. You may be 20, 40, or 80 years old, but unless you tell me, I won’t know your backstory. I don’t know why you do what you do, and you don’t know why I react the way I do either.

Photo by Donna Tallman

Photo by Donna Tallman

Yes, we sometimes make decisions we’d like to have back. I’ve made plenty in my lifetime that were just plain foolish. How I wish I hadn’t! Sometimes we entertain the tempting, and sometimes we even walk away from our faith altogether. Who will be there when we dash our lives on the rocks of disappointment? What will they say? Will they offer a 3-point sermon on our failure, or will they be there to open a door of dialogue?

“What have you encountered?”

Such a simple question Abimelech asked the man who had deceived him and jeopardized his entire family. Because Abimelech wisely offered Abraham a door of dialogue, everything was protected and restored. The two men became allies and supporters of each other in the years to come, and God’s plan for Abraham’s descendants was preserved.

What have you encountered in your life’s journey?

Do you need a door of dialogue?

© Copyright, 2014 by Donna Tallman.

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