Back in the Saddle?

I wish I didn’t have to put a question mark on this title, but life is an odd thing. It can throw you.

In many ways, things have been intense since Jack passed away and I entered widowhood. I spent weeks working on the apartment, adapting it to me-only living, and then I spent weeks going through decades worth of records and papers and…stuff. Losing my husband made me acutely aware of what my kids would be dealing with if something were to happen to me, so I set about ensuring that transition would be as easy as possible. Just today I put the finish to the last piece of the puzzle: The Book. It contains pretty much every legal and informational paper they might need at my passing. Except all my passwords. I do need to work on that.

All that to say this. As of now, with that last task complete, I feel like my brain is my own again. (Happy Birthday to me!) Starting today, Son #2 (Owner of pixeldripstudio.com) has begun planning a new website for me, one that will help me do so much more than simply blog, and it’s got me excited and fired up all over again. We’ve been talking style and options and possibilities, and I’m thinking in terms of articles and blog posts and freebies…

I’m also working on converting Experiencing the Bible to ebook format. It’s a challenge for two reasons.
1. While I read ebooks all the time I’ve never learned about their formatting. (I am now!)
2. Part of the print book’s power is the built-in journal. I have to do a bit of rewriting and adjusting to compensate. It won’t be a huge deal for the reader; they’ll just want to invest in a journal to write in. Maybe I’ll even create a matching one myself? Maybe.

So, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I’m back in the saddle and back at work. And it feels GOOD.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

All Things Means ALL Things


I wrote the following on September 5th.

Here Again, But I’m OK

ER
Third time in a month.
This time he is being admitted.
It never ceases to amaze me what I end up being capable of. The me of thirty years ago… Could she have handled this life without completely falling apart?
In a word?
No.

But God knew what I would face today, and He spent years building me up, strengthening my faith and teaching me that I CAN. I can, truly, do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I posted on Facebook, recently, asking friends to comment if they had a list of life experiences they would not wish on their worst enemy, but they knew it was those experiences that had molded them into the strong people they are today. My hand was the first one up, and several others followed. It’s true.

It is being tempered in the fire that makes the steel strong.
It is the buffeting of the wind that makes a tree strong.
It is the trials I face that make me strong – if I let them.
So.

Here I sit with him in the ER, knowing he’s potentially facing an extended hospital stay.
And I’m ok.
I trust that, whatever tomorrow brings, I will be ok then too.


Which brings us to “tomorrow.”

Today I’m a Widow.

He passed away on October 1st, in the evening, less than an hour after a group of us left his nursing home room. They’d told me just a few hours earlier that they thought he was transitioning, but it was so out of the blue that I really couldn’t believe it. He’d told me many times in recent months that he wished he didn’t have to live, so personally I think he simply chose to quit. And I don’t blame him. Now he’s in Heaven, and he is FREE. He is free of the demons he fought. He is free of the illnesses in his body. He is free of the dementia that had begun to manifest. He is now the man God had always intended him to be.

And me? I’m still ok. In fact, I’m more than ok; I’m doing very well. I, too, am free. I am free of the increasing pressure of being a 24/7 caregiver who also worked a full-time job. I am free of the stresses of dealing with a man who was almost daily growing more angry and disoriented. I am also free of the guilt that tried to crawl all over me at first because of just how free I feel.

This has been an amazing time for me. God has been speaking to me so much, probably in part because I’ve been spending so much more time with Him, and I have such a peace that it’s mind blowing. No matter the challenges I face in coming months and years, I know He is with me and I am hid in Him.

And through Christ I can do ALL things!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

From Separation Springs Life

Photo: Tammy Cardwell

I raise succulents, and my favorite is a pot of hens and chickens that came from my grandmother. Occasionally, leaves will fall from that plant, and when they do something marvelous happens.

New life

Hidden within the leaf is the power to create a whole new plant. While on the mother plant, the leaf is beautiful, but when you take it away from the mother plant new life springs forth.

This can happen anywhere. These leaves in my garden will eventually take root and flourish right where they are, but the new growth happens even if the leaf falls on the sidewalk, and it will continue until all of the fallen leaf has been sucked dry by the new life.

This is much like the life of a new Christian. First, they must be taken out of their old life. Until that happens, they can’t grow. Pull them out of the world, however, and you’ll see new life spring forth. Even if they’re out there on their own, on the sidewalk so to speak, they’ll flourish on their own for a while.

But like these leaves, they must eventually be planted. They must put down roots and stay where God wants them so they can grow spiritually. If they don’t, if they fail to find and latch on to the spiritual nourishment they need to survive in this world, they’ll be like the leaf on the sidewalk, eventually shriveling up once the initial burst of life is over and the cares of this world leave them empty and dry.

Life, especially spiritual life, is a precious thing. We must care for it and encourage it in ourselves and others. I’ve made mistakes with leaves like these, moving tender new plants into the wrong place and forgetting to care for them, and they’ve died. The results are a good reminder of what not to do where my relationship with God is concerned.

Sometimes I need those reminders.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Holes in Your Soul?

These are probably my favorite shoes…at least today. I have literally worn them out so completely that the duct tape you see is only covering holes in my soles – not really doing much to protect my foot. But you can’t see this important detail when you’re just looking down at my shoes.

Today, when I admitted to myself that I really need to dumpster these beauties, it occurred to me just how much they resemble the way we are sometimes.

We can look all pretty on the outside, making everyone think we’re just fine, while our souls seem to be held together with duct tape. The wounds may be hidden, but they are very real. I encourage you, don’t let yourself stay in such a condition. God is there, and He doesn’t just patch us up; He makes us new.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Sister Adventures

walk laugh a 2017 06 crop

Photo Credit: Memories in Motion Photography (Candace Townsend)

Isn’t it special how the truly exciting things in life often involve our siblings? My sister Clarissa and I, even though we had our times of disliking each other growing up, have always played together. The last two years have been no different. First, after much prayer, we opened a clothing boutique. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, it would seem such a move would be obvious, but we’d never even considered going into business together before. We actually closed the business a couple of weeks ago, but that’s for later.

Then there was the day she dragged me to the gun range. She has a concealed carry license and had been telling me for months that I needed a break and shooting is therapy, so one day I caved and joined her to take my turns shooting both of her handguns (I preferred the .38, if anyone cares). I think I frustrated her when I refused to come out and say I’d had fun, but I did have to confess that it was very satisfying to try something completely new and do so well. In fact, it was a gift.

To understand my satisfaction, you have to know that I was always afraid of failure when I was young. I never learned to skate, for instance, because I feared making a fool of myself. Doing so well my first time at the range was extremely satisfying. Will I ever return to the range? I don’t know. It’s hard to excuse spending so much money on ammo when you’re only doing it for kicks.

Third, we went out of business with a bang. Sounds ridiculous, right? Going out of business is usually a terrible thing, but this was different. We prayed and considered carefully before concluding that it was the right move for us, and then we did something so exciting it still gives me goose bumps. We took all of our clothing and gave it away at a shelter for battered women. ALL of it. Many of these moms had taken their kids and run with only the clothes on their backs and what little they could carry. Seeing their joy at freely choosing several brand new outfits each was AMAZING, and it satisfied a long-held dream of mine.

I’ve always wanted to do something big – like give away a car or something. It wasn’t on my Bucket List, because I’ve always thought a Bucket List was for things that were at least somewhat within reach. If it had been on a list, I’d have called it my Dream Big list.

Because God led Clarissa and me into this particular adventure in the first place, my relatively small investment in our business was turned into something huge. When we calculated what we’d given to the shelter, we’d done the equivalent of giving away a car – a new car. You might think I’d regret investing money and time into a business that would close down after a year and a half, but I don’t; I consider it a huge blessing. Even if this final thing were the only reason we’d launched Cady’s Closet, I would say it was a grand adventure, and I haven’t stop smiling since we set up our pop-up boutique for the last time.

Now I’m looking forward to our next adventure. Sisterhood is an awesome thing.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

It’s Just Color

ruby-and-sapphire-gemstones-300x300

Sapphires and rubies: They’re two very popular stones, and have been through the ages. I may be mistaken, but as I recall the ruby has consistently been the more valuable of the two.

When people think of sapphires, they generally envision a rich blue, but in reality sapphires come in a wide range of colors. My personal favorite is the pink sapphire—the hotter the better. I’ve never bought one for myself, though, because jewelers generally label them as rubies so they can get higher prices for them. Deceptive, no?

Well, it depends on how you define deception…and which deception you’re talking about. You see, rubies and sapphires are both corundum. They’re the same stone. Red, yellow, blue, or white, the only differences are their color and their perceived value.

The same is true of people. We were all made from dirt and will return to dirt. Yes, there are different colors of dirt, but it’s all dirt. Other than our delightfully variegated cultures, the only differences between the so-called races are color and perceived value. Like a customer who walks into a jewelry store, many have bought into the idea that one color is more valuable than another.

But it’s just color.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

The Road Home

Copyright Tammy Cardwell
Copyright Tammy Cardwell

Only a short distance from this bridge, over which I’ve passed numerous times through the years, lies the entrance to New Hope Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with a fascinating collection of aged headstones. This is a rustic cemetery and it holds the earthly remains of some of my nearest and dearest.

Too many times, we’ve followed a hearse over this bridge, taking a loved one to their final resting place. Several times, we’ve crossed the bridge to visit the graves of those we’ve not seen in so very long. The last time I was there–the day I took this picture–we were “visiting” Mother.

You’d think this bridge would represent loss to me, would inspire pain, but it doesn’t. Why?

The answer lies in the cemetery’s name–New Hope. Yes, we’ve laid our loved ones to rest here, but I know that in each and every case they were born again and destined for Heaven. For them, and those of us who expectantly wait to see them again, this place offers hope indeed–hope of that new life, true LIFE that will never end–eternal life in the very presence of God, surrounded by those we love so much…HOME.

So this picture shows a path of hope, a man-made construct that bridges the past and that glorious future as we follow the road home.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Between the Jaws

Daisy n Me

On Monday evening, when I was finally recovering from a truly SICK weekend, my rest was interrupted by a girl’s screams and the sound of two dogs fighting. It is amazing what a good shot of adrenaline can do. I was out the back door, over the fence that was lying on the ground, and in the midst of a dog fight in seconds – and one of the dogs was mine.

We have yet to figure out what happened, exactly. The girl was walking her dog (Great Dane), who had never shown any sign of aggression that I know of, when said dog dashed across the yard, dragging her the whole way, and literally took down our fence. (T-post, so not QUITE what you’re thinking, though still!) As I said, no one knows exactly what happened, but when I ran outside I found my passive whippet/beagle mix locked in mortal combat with a horse-sized demon.

And here’s where this post takes a turn you’re probably not expecting.

I was actually able to separate the dogs, with one collar in each hand, and knelt there on the ground between two seemingly calm pooches while the girl went for her aunt. It was over.

Or so it seemed. When I told the whole story to my sister she said, “You know YOU weren’t the one holding those dogs!” Had the event ended right there, I might have disagreed with her, but the instant the aunt took the other dog, and I removed my hand from her collar, she was on my Daisy again as if the battle had never stopped. Needless to say, I let go of Daisy instantly so she could do her best to fight back while the other woman tried to get control of the Great Dane.

We did get control. Daisy did go to the vet and get care for four gaping wounds. (Yes, the dog owner paid and even provided transport for Jack and Daisy since I wasn’t able to take her myself.) Daisy is recovering well and everything is going to be fine.

The more I think, though, about how calmly I knelt on the ground between those two dogs, and how totally at peace they appeared to be while I was there, the more I am blown away. Frankly, though I’m pretty sure I would do it again, it was a pretty stupid move on my part.

You can’t tell me God wasn’t protecting me. You just can’t.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C