Make God Your Refuge

I apologize.
This has been sitting in my drafts since we were working on the site move.

I greatly regret the delay!

Although the red flags, which had begun waving before our marriage, started becoming more obvious when we moved in with his parents after six months of marriage, things didn’t blow up for me until he had his first affair (that I knew of) some years later. The experience crushed me.

And that, being crushed, drove me deep into God’s arms.

It’s sad that it so often takes truly horrific experiences to send us to the one place we most need to be! As a pretty typical American Christian, I thought I was doing well. I attended church regularly, served, tithed, read my Bible (some), prayed (fairly often)… All of that was good, and it was a start, but we were created for exactly what Adam had in the garden – an intimate relationship with God, one where we spend regular, quality time with Him as our sole focus.

I had young children, so I was able to keep myself distracted from what my husband was doing during the day, but once the boys went to bed and he was with the other woman, ignoring my repeated calls (which he’d explain away as bad cell signal the next day), it was just me and a waiting God.

I don’t remember how long it took me to wake up and turn completely to Him, but at some point I did. I changed my own actions, choosing to spend those endless hours in prayer, worship, and His Word.

Psalm 91 is fantastic, containing powerful instructions and promises that I and many others pray and declare regularly. It was in this season that I learned the reality of verses 1 and 2.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2 (NKJV)

In turning my focus entirely on God during those long nights, I opened a door to a whole new relationship with Him. In getting to know Him better and better, developing a truly intimate relationship and learning to more clearly hear and understand His voice, I came to that precious place.

In the midst of the worst days of my life to that point, I was living in God’s secret place, hidden under the shadow of His wings. I had run to Him as my refuge, found myself safe in the fortress that was my God, and I was confident that if everyone else failed me I would always be able to trust Him.

I kept prayer journals at the time and I clearly remember telling Him in both prayer and my prayer journal that I didn’t want to lose what I had found in Him, what we had developed in the middle of the fire I was walking through. I straight up said that, while I wanted out of the fire, I was afraid that I would lose my focus when I left, that I would lose that closeness that was so radically changing me.

In point of fact, I had a group of online friends who knew what was going on and were genuinely worried about me. I emailed them at one point, and shared what would later become a blog post entitled “The View from Inside the Furnace.” I had discovered I had much in common with Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego who, while they obviously hadn’t wanted to be thrown into the fire, abruptly found themselves having private time with Jesus.

Like me, they suddenly were in no hurry to leave. Like me, they probably learned things in that time that changed their lives forever. Like me, they were perfectly safe while in the very midst of the flames. They didn’t leave the furnace until they were commanded to.

Like them, I walked out of that particular fire changed forever, freer than I had been when I was thrown in, and not smelling of smoke.

Admittedly, in years since this hellish season, I’ve had times of being more intentional and less intentional where my relationship with God is concerned, but I have never let myself walk away from my Refuge. It has always been God who has brought me through, and to this day I am grateful that I was driven so deeply into His arms during that time.

Understand that I could just as easily have run in a different direction. I could have stayed buried in the books I loved to read. I could have turned to drink or drugs as so many do. I could have let the fear and pain eat away at me until I landed in a hospital’s psychiatric ward. I didn’t.

I didn’t because I chose
to make God my refuge.

God is not only the only refuge you need, He is the only real refuge. We can try to do it on our own, but we aren’t meant to carry those kinds of burdens. His plan has always been for us to run to Him.

Make God your Refuge.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

One Thing About Technology

A few days ago, I had a conversation with someone I highly respect. He’s a fantastic husband and father, an astute businessman, and is actively involved in ministry. As we talked, we somehow got on the topic of technology and how, thanks to him essentially having a computer in his hand, he can work all the time.

More to the point, he explained that he has to fight the tendency to work all the time. It’s too easy to be answering a text message and then flip over for just a minute to respond to a work email…that turns into dealing with more work emails. He said he reaches a point where he has to literally put the phone down and walk away.

There are many studies out there showing how dangerous too much screen time is for young children and how hard it can be for many preteens and teens to interact in the real world because they’ve spent years primarily communicating via their phones. However, as our conversation revealed, the problem isn’t just with them.

I’m writing a book. I’ve been talking about it for a while, but after months of struggling I’m finally back to actively writing instead of just thinking about it. How? I put the laptop away and pulled out pen and paper.

As he shared his story with me, my own experience was running through my head, because I’d found myself with the same problem. I’d sit down to write, pull up Word, and get a notification from one of my apps. Or I’d want to clarify something I was referring to, google for information, and fall down a rabbit hole. I finally realized that, if I wanted to actually get the book written, I needed to take a few steps backwards.

Years ago, I was a regular writer for a homeschool magazine, and at one point I drafted an article while on a flight to meet with my editor. When she expressed interest in seeing the draft, I said, “Let me get my notebook.” She thought I was referring to a laptop, but I literally meant an old-fashioned, spiral-bound notebook. THAT is what I’ve gone back to: Paper and pen.

That one change is making all the difference. I don’t even write most of my blog posts on the computer anymore because paper and pen are so much more powerful. And for me to even type those words is ridiculous, because I’ve been endorsing the power of pen-and-paper journaling for years. I was just a little slow applying the same principles to my regular writing. There are so many benefits!

The biggest benefit for me is that putting ink on paper slows me down. I’ve mentioned before that my thoughts tend to run at warp speed sometimes, and writing them down instead of typing them out forces me to take the time to truly consider what I’m trying to say and how best to say it. Yes, I often need to confirm references, verify quotes, or whatever, but I try to wait until I’m finished to handle anything that might get me caught in the technology trap. In the meantime, I make margin notes or highlights or have a scratch pad beside me for notes about things I need to tweak later.

Obviously, I’ll eventually head back to the computer and get it all typed up, but the tradeoff of having to do what others might consider double the work is more than fair – because now the work is actually getting done instead of being set aside in favor of technology’s snare.

That’s one thing about technology that reminds me of my years of helping homeschoolers. I would tell them, “Curriculum is a tool for you to use. Don’t let it use you.” Likewise, today, I remind myself, “Technology is a tool for you to use.”

And I’m telling us both, “Don’t let it use you.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

THE MOTHER’S EFFECTUAL PETITION

            What rhetoric didst thou use
To gain this mighty boon?
                                                            Addison.

James M. Wilson was one of the unfortunate young men who engaged in the Cuban invasion, in 1851; and he was taken prisoner and sent to Spain. His mother petitioned for his release through President Fillmore, and so earnest, so full of the beauty of maternal love, and so touching was her appeal, that her request was granted, and the erring son was permitted to return to his mother’s embrace. The following is a copy of the letter which she addressed to the President. It is said to have called forth flattering commendation from the heads of State and the highest encomiums from the Majesty of Spain.

New Orleans, Sept. 25, 1851.

Dear Father of our Country: -To you I look for help. My dear son is one of the unfortunate prisoners to Spain. He is all the child I have; is only nineteen years old, not twenty-two, as stated. He was innocent and unsuspecting, and the more easily duped. He saw no means of making a support for himself and me, we being poor: he could get no employment; my health was bad; he therefore hoped to do something by going to Cuba. But, alas! I am worse than poor! Death would have been more welcome. His father died, when he was very young, in Texas, which makes him more dear to me. Oh! cruel fate, why have I lived to see this? Perhaps to suit some wise design. God’s will be done, not mine! I have prayed for his life from the time he left; it was spared. Dear President, will it be possible for you to do any thing? Can you comfort me? I am wearing away. Methinks I cannot bear up under the idea of ten years; perhaps executed, or detained for life, or the climate cause his death. I feel for all of them, and pray for all. It was not my will that he should go; he was seduced into it by others. Dear father of the land of my birth, can you do any thing? Will you ask for their release? Methinks you will, and it would be granted. Will you feel offended with me for appealing to you for comfort? If so, I beg pardon. My distress has stimulated me to venture to dare to address the President. To whom else could I look for comfort? If you could but see me, I know you would pity me. If any one knew I had approached you, they might think I presumed much. Perhaps I do. Yet methinks you will view it in charity.

With all due respect to your Excellency.

OPHELIA P. TALBOT

______

Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
——
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
Illustrated
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York
______

Young Me’s Library

Have you ever seen such a lame post title? Yeah, me neither.

I was just thinking, though, about reading during my childhood and early teen years. I was an avid reader from the start. There were never enough library visits and I resorted to reading anything I could get my hands on, much of which was theoretically beyond me. Reading wasn’t just a passion; it was an addiction, one that actually got me in trouble more than once.

So my greatest treasures were in my little library. My mom was a single mother for much of our childhood so, even though she and Daddy remarried before I went into 6th grade, actually owning books wasn’t a high budget priority. I had aunts, though, who knew just what I liked and occasionally slipped me books they believed I would enjoy. And I did – all of them. They were so good that I was still rereading some of them as an adult… until they were lost to mold.

I’m kind of sad my granddaughters will likely never read any of them. The books kids enjoy today are so very different. They’re not bad, or what I’ve seen aren’t. It’s just that genres and topics and tastes change.

For instance, one of my absolute favorites was my copy of Heidi, by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. It was originally written in German; I, of course, read an English translation. I loved reading about Heidi and her life with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. I loved it so much that I eventually bought Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children, by Charles Tritten, and I loved and reread them too. The lifestyle represented in these books was very different from what I knew, but that was part of the charm. Regarding my oldest granddaughter… Although I’d love to give her a copy, I just don’t know, especially since she just turned fourteen.

And then there was Eight Cousins, by Louisa May Alcott. I am definitely an Alcott fan, though I’ve not read everything she wrote. I probably read Eight Cousins fifty times, and when I found out there was a sequel (Rose in Bloom) and that I could learn more about Rose Campbell, I immediately headed to the only bookstore in town and then waited because it was a special order.

Being an Alcott fan, Little Women is a no brainer. I actually have a copy of it on my Kindle and at one point I had a goal of owning every Little Women movie that was ever made. The movie goal fell through (I’d much rather read than watch), but I almost know Little Women by heart. And then, of course, when I learned about Little Men I had to have it too.

And then there is Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss, another Swiss author. I am well aware of the scientific impossibilities the book represents and to this day I don’t care. I absolutely loved that book! What I do care about is that there are different versions of the book out there. The original copy I had is long gone, and although I’ve read a couple of others the translations seemed…off. And that’s not even addressing the issue of abridged books (which I don’t like, of course).

Finally, or last for this list anyway, one of my summer traditions was to read my grandmother’s set of Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For years, they really were a once-a-year read, but I did eventually get a set of my own and I read them so many times. In fact, I should really get them for my kindle too. And yes, I do know her works have come under fire because of Ma’s attitude towards Native Americans, but the fact is her attitude was not uncommon at the time, and I always knew instinctively that Ma was wrong. To eliminate her prejudice would be to incorrectly present an ugly reality of the past.

And, honestly, that’s one of the reasons I like these classic books. In reading them, I learned much about what to do and what not to do. I had high standards set that I instinctively strove to reach and, yes, what I read definitely affected the growth of my character without me knowing it.

Which is another reason they were treasures I wish I could share with my grandkids.

So much has changed in the past 50 years.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Like a Bride

A friend’s recent Facebook post reminded me of a conversation I had with God some time back. She had been talking to God about the Rapture, and what He told her was so close to what He said to me that I had to come share, or share again if by some chance I’ve posted on the topic before.

I am excitedly looking forward to the Rapture! I watch as evil and deception grow more prevalent in the world, natural disasters become mind-numbingly common, and we seem to be nearing World War III and, though it pains me on the one hand, on the other hand I know it’s just more indication that Jesus is coming back very soon.

So why was I talking to God about this particular topic? Well, yet another person had said something to imply my focus was on the wrong thing. (Yes, I’m referring to the old slam about being “so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good.”) Keeping my focus on God and doing all He asks me to do is vitally important to me, so I went to Him with the question just to make sure I’m still on track. And do you know what He told me?

It would be unnatural
for a bride not
to look forward excitedly
to being united with her groom.

Needless to say, I stopped being worried about what others thought. I am excited, and I am excited for good reason, but my excitement doesn’t distract me from one of my primary purposes on this earth – telling people about Jesus and helping them grow closer to God. Rather, it drives me forward, especially as I see so many in the church, so many pastors even, completely ignoring the import of the book of Revelation.

Of course, you know my stance on the importance of reading and studying the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. At least you do if you’ve read much of my work. I wrote Experiencing the Bible: A Guide and Journal specifically to help Christians who don’t know how to “get into the Word” come to a greater understanding of the Scriptures and a closer relationship with God. It’s obviously great for more mature Christians too, but the bottom line is that my focus is on expanding the Kingdom of God, which is right where it belongs.

And since I am not unnatural,
my excitement is right in line.

The Bride of Christ, the Church, is destined to be united with Jesus Himself and be with Him forever. This is HUGE! Yet it seems to me that the vast majority of Christians don’t even think about Eternity, much less the glaring neon signs all around us that indicate the church will be taken out of here very soon!

Ok, maybe you don’t know what I’m talking about. A quick web search will probably give you more information on the Rapture (including criticism) than you could imagine, but here’s a super condensed synopsis. In these Last Days, a day will come when those who are in Christ will be taken off the earth. We call it the Rapture. Rapture isn’t a word you’ll find in the Bible, but if you go back to original texts you’ll find the word “harpazo,” which means…

  1. to seize, carry off by force
  2. to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly
  3. to snatch out or away

It has also been translated as “to rapture.”

If you do know this, then you probably also know Matthew 24:36 (NET): “But as for that day and hour no one knows it–not even the angels in heaven–except the Father alone.” This verse is another reason people like to avoid thinking about The Rapture. After all, if you can’t know the day or the hour, what’s the use?

The thing is, you CAN know the season, and we are in it.

In Matthew 24 and Luke 21, Jesus tells His disciples the parable of the fig tree. Throughout the Old Testament, the fig tree represents Israel as a nation, so we know this parable is about the nation of Israel. Jerusalem was devastated in 70AD and Israel was ripped apart by invaders, ceasing to be the nation the Jews had always known. The Jews were then scattered throughout the world (which had been prophesied) and Israel became a wasteland that no one wanted because she had nothing to offer.

It wasn’t until May of 1948 that Israel was, in essence, recreated as a nation/state by countries that determined reparation had to be made for the Holocaust, that the Jews must have a home. Last year, Israel celebrated 75 years as a nation. So let’s go back to Matthew 24.

“Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Matthew 24:32-35

No, no man can know the day or the hour; God hadn’t even told Jesus at that point. We can know this, however. My father’s generation saw the budding of the fig tree, the rebirth of the nation of Israel, and right here Jesus says that generation will not pass away. There are various opinions on just how long a generation is. I believe it’s 70 to 80 years, because that’s pretty much the average life span, but at the outside it could only be 70 to 100 years. Go out 100 years from 1948 and you have 2048, which is only 24 years away.

No matter how you look at it that’s not long, and every pre-rapture prophecy has been fulfilled, so the only thing holding Jesus back is The Father. God has a specific plan in mind and will fulfill it in His time. While we wait, we need to be getting ready for the wedding. It’s past time to get excited!

If you want an inexpensive and quick read
that will help you better understand what
I’ve shared today, grab a copy of
Amir Tsarfati’s little book, Any Day Now.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

ELIZABETH MARTIN.

The mothers of our Forest-land !
Their bosoms pillowed men.
                                                W. D. Gallagher

-A fine family is a fine thing.
                                                Byron

The mother-in-law of the two patriotic women spoken of in the preceding article, was a native of Caroline county, Virginia. Her maiden name was Marshall. On marrying Mr. Abram Martin, she removed to South Carolina.

When the Revolutionary war broke out, she had seven sons old enough to enlist in their country’s service; and as soon as the call to arms was heard, she said to them, “Go, boys, and fight for your country! fight till death, if you must, but never let your country be dishonored. Were I a man I would go with you.”

Several British officers once called at her house, and while receiving some refreshments, one of them asked her how many sons she had. She told him, eight; and when asked where they were, she boldly replied, “Seven of them are engaged in the service of their country.” The officer sneeringly observed that she had enough of them. “No, sir, I wish I had fifty!” was her prompt and proud reply.

Only one of those seven sons was killed during the war. He was a captain of artillery, served in the sieges of Savannah and Charleston, and was slain at the siege of Augusta. Soon after his death a British officer called on the mother, and in speaking of this son, inhumanly told her that he saw his brains blown out on the battle field. The reply she made to the monster’s observation was: “He could not have died in a nobler cause.”

When Charleston was besieged, she had three sons in the place. She heard the report of cannon on the occasion, though nearly a hundred miles west of the besieged city. The wives of the sons were with her, and manifested great uneasiness while listening to the reports; nor could the mother control her feelings any better. While they were indulging in silent and, as we may suppose, painful reflections, the mother suddenly broke the silence by exclaming, as she raised her hands: “Thank God! they are the children of the republic!”*

•Vide Women of the Revolution, vol. 1 p. 278.

______

Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
——
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
Illustrated
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York
______

Give Me More Options!

I recently set up a poll in a Facebook group. I had a specific reason for asking what I did, and intentionally only offered two options. It was an either/or poll, a this/or that question, which I thought I made clear in the post text. Within minutes, two more options had been added by other group members, options that had zero connection to my actual question, and people were choosing them. 

I’m pretty laid back, but this bugged me. By adding those other two options, the participants completely negated the whole purpose of the post where I was concerned. I even stopped going back to look at it because, honestly, there was nothing I felt I could do to redeem it. Their messing up my plan irked me and, yes, I dwelt on my frustration for a bit. But then, as I calmed myself down, I heard God whispering, and saw something that had never really been clear to me before.

The fact is this refusal to admit that some situations offer limited choices is a huge part of our problem in society today. We now live in a world where it is virtually unacceptable to ask either/or questions, to give only two options.

Male or female?
   No, I want to be something else. 

Married or single?
   No, I want a committed relationship without a marriage covenant. 

One spouse?
   Are you crazy? I want more. 

Good or evil?
   No, I make my own rules and I serve neither good nor evil. 

Saved or lost?
   Nah uh, there is no Heaven or Hell and I’m going to be reincarnated. 

We live in a world where it would seem
that black and white are disappearing,
leaving us with nothing but gray.

But it’s not true. Bearing eternity in mind, there is no gray. There is no fence that we can be on. No matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that we can live by our own rules instead of God’s, His rules still apply. He is still the One on the throne. He still has final say.

Those people who botched my poll by adding their own answers that had nothing to do with my question frustrated me, but they didn’t really hurt anyone. The people who try to add more options to God’s list, however? They are creating eternal problems, and not just for themselves.

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”
Joshua 24:15


Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Watercolor, Quilting, & Summer Projects

Note: Yes, I know the light reflecting on the frames isn’t helpful.

If you followed my Tiny House series, you know I decided to learn watercolor and intentionally left three frames empty in my kitchen so I would have a constant reminder that I had a goal. As you can see, those frames are no longer empty.

Yes, they are clearly technical exercises rather than true art, but I’m happy with them. I’m particularly happy with the top and bottom ones and plan to eventually use that technique to try monochrome landscapes. As my skills progress, I’ll probably replace these paintings with others, but for the moment I’m satisfied and proud of myself for following through on the plan. Because, full disclosure, I am really good at failing to follow through on plans like this one.

The truly sad thing, to me, is that I actually hesitated to share this today because it’s Pride month and I didn’t want anyone to incorrectly assume the seemingly obvious. Then I realized how ridiculous I was being. The rainbow which, truly, isn’t accurately represented here since I’ve yet to figure out how to properly mix indigo, was God’s promise long before it was claimed by a special interest group. I actually chuckle every time I hear someone complain about cultural appropriation, because as I see it that’s exactly what that group did when they appropriated God’s rainbow.

But they did leave one color out, so I guess that gets around the rules?

Anyway, I’m sharing this today in part because I want my readers to know I did follow through and at least learn some watercolor basics, and…

I’m excited to share that I’m getting ready to do something else. Most of my life, I’ve wanted to learn to quilt. Ever since our church started a group specifically to make quilts for cancer patients, my desire to learn has grown even stronger. My friendship with the group’s leader has led to her becoming my enabler. I’ve begun collecting fabrics, and she’s helping me seek out the right pattern for a queen sized quilt. I have a lot to learn, I know, but I’m excited to think that one day my bed will be covered with fabric art of my own making.

My love of color is no secret around here, so this is also another way for me to indulge it and, hopefully, be able to make some awesome gifts for those I love at some point in the future. That’s what I did with my crocheting passion that picked back up during COVID. I gave crocheted blankets to just about everyone in my family. Ouch: I just remembered that one, last, blanket that has so far to go before it’s finished. Here, have another reminder of how totally imperfect I am.

My sister is an Alabama fan (Roll Tide!) and this is the closest I’ve been able to get to a true houndstooth pattern. It’s easy, but super slow and tedious, and she’s already been warned that it may end up being a rug instead of a blanket. (Where’s that laughing/crying emoji?!)

Anyway, in the midst of working on my website, trying to keep up this blog, writing my next book, reorganizing areas of my apartment, and dealing with piled papers, I’m also putting together wishlists for my soon-to-come quilting venture. I’ve picked out the sewing machine I want to use, and my quilting enabler friend has confirmed I’ve made a good choice, so it’s already on my Amazon wishlist awaiting its turn.

Yes, I still live in 220 square feet. Yes, I know this is going to take some creative use of space. That’s part of the rearranging I’ve been doing; I want to know where the sewing machine will live before I get it. But yes, although I have no dining table to work on I do have my large desk, so I’m convinced I can make it work. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even blog the learning process. I guess we’ll have to see about that.

The summer solstice may not be until later this month, but we are firmly in summer 1 here in Southeast Texas and yes, it has me in “that” mode. There’s just something about summer that restarts my creative desires. So here I am, ready once again to try new things. I hope summer is offering you several fun options too!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

To My Younger Self

I was at a meeting, recently, where four more mature ladies were each asked to speak for ten minutes on what they would tell their younger selves. Every one of them shared things I could benefit from, and I took mental notes. Some of their thoughts were so valuable that I found myself asking, “Tammy, what would you tell younger Tammy?”

Whether I was addressing 36, 26, or 16-year-old Tammy, my answer would be the same.

The most important thing you can do in life
is develop an intimate relationship with God.

My 16-year-old self would have accepted the advice, I hope, but she would have been puzzled. She had enough of a Christian background that she understood the value of having God in her life, or thought she did, but she did not have enough training to know exactly what that entailed. She’d not yet received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost and was only just learning that there were people around her who were actively seeking God on a personal level.

My 26-year old self had a four year old and a one year old. She was filled with the Holy Ghost, growing spiritually, active in church, and definitely seeking God, but she was also tired. Her marriage still appeared to be good (Yes, she was pretty naive), so she had that, but the responsibilities of raising two young men were beginning to dawn on her. She was looking to the future and wondering…a lot of things.

My 36-year old self was facing a marriage in serious trouble, the challenges of teen hormones, and the sure knowledge that God was her only answer. She knew He was the only One who could help her not only make it through days and nights of wondering what was up with her husband, but wondering if everything she was trying to invest in her children was enough.

I’ve written about this season of my life before. You can read pieces of my testimony in
A Different Kind of New Year’s Post,
At Last It All Makes Sense,
And all of my Surviving Narcissism posts.

By this point in my life, I was growing spiritually specifically because my personal battles kept me on my knees. With my husband spending many nights supposedly doing innocent things while I knew for a fact he was in another woman’s arms, I spent hours seeking God’s face. If you’ve read The View from Inside the Furnace, you have some idea what I’m talking about. This season was the one in which I learned what I would tell my younger self.

Younger Self, you will save yourself a lot of struggles and agony down the road if you will do one thing: Seek a personal, intimate relationship with God. I’m not talking about just praying when you need His help. I’m not talking about just going to church every Sunday, or even every time the doors are open. I’m not talking about just reading your Bible on occasion. Those are all great, but they’re not enough. Religion, in and of itself, is not enough.

I’m talking about relationship.

Sixteen-year-old Tammy, you really don’t understand relationships yet. You think the friends you have right now will be there forever. But the me of today, over forty years later, can tell you that exactly one of them is. And actually, she’s the one who will help lead you closer to God. Everyone else? You may talk to them on social media every once in a while, but they’re not the friends you knew back then. People will come and go throughout your life. You’ll lose your parents far too early. You will eventually get married and one day he’ll be gone. You will have children. As they grow they’ll move out and live their own lives. You will have grandchildren, who have their own lives to live too. In the end, only God remains.

God, if you let Him, will be your closest companion not only in this life but in Eternity as well. But…

Relationships don’t just happen. They require time spent in one another’s presence, conversation (which is both speaking and listening), and actively paying attention to what brings the other joy. If you want the intimate relationship with God that I’m urging you to develop starting right now, you need to begin actively reading, studying, devouring His Word, the Bible. As you do, you’ll get to know The Word, who is Jesus Christ. (No, you don’t understand that yet either, but you will.) You also need to set aside time, the more the better, to talk to Him and to listen to what He has to say. He really will talk to you, and it’s wonderful! You also need the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, which will empower you like nothing you’ve ever experienced. You can’t even begin to imagine the impact it will make on your life!

I promise you, if you do this, your life will turn out very different from the one I’ve lived. God has used the hard times in my life to make me the strong woman I am today, but if I’d prepared myself ahead of time, if I’d gone into those battles already a strong woman of God, things would have been very different. They can be for you.

Yes, that’s pretty much it, what I’d say to my younger self.
Sadly, I’m not sure she would have taken me seriously. She really thought she knew what she was doing.

Today? I’m…

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

When God Speaks

I’m popping in quickly. I have to share.

I’ve been going through some papers and just now stumbled across this. I vaguely remember writing it down a very long time ago. It says…

This is what life should have been all along,
the relationship I desire to have with everyone.
You are no more special than anyone else.
You have merely developed the art of listening
and learned to trust your ability to hear.
–God to me

Apparently I was talking to God about how much I valued our relationship, and He let me know that what we have, and even more than what we had then (Since He draws me closer every day), is exactly what He wants to have with everyone. I mean, think about it. Why did He create Adam? I totally believe it was for fellowship. He longs for us to reach out to Him and accept Him not just as a supplier of our needs, but as the best Friend, best Father, best Brother, best Teacher we could ever have.

A friend texted me today asking for three tips for someone who wants to grow their relationship with God. Here’s my response.

  • Consistently and comprehensively study the Bible – all of it, not just what makes you comfortable.
  • Consistently and intentionally spend time in conversation with God – with listening being a priority.
  • Consistently be watching for ways to make Him happy.

If you think about it, this is essentially the same things you do to develop a strong relationship with anyone. Get to know everything you can about them, spend quality and quantity time with them, and strive to make them happy.

Anyone can have the relationship I have with God, one that is constantly growing as I grow. You just have to decide it’s important to you and do your part to make it happen. As He said to me, develop the art of listening and learn to trust your ability to hear.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C