What Made the Difference? A Question About the Book of Daniel.

I’m currently reading Amir Tsarfati’s new book Discovering Daniel, which is of course about the book of Daniel. It is proving to be every bit as good as his earlier book, Revealing Revelation, and there will be a review posted when I finish it. In the meantime, it’s got me doing a lot of thinking, and one of the paths my brain went down is demanding extra attention.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book of Daniel, the brief setup is that, because of its continual sin against God, Jerusalem was sacked and its best and brightest youth (boys, not men) were packed up and shipped back to Babylon. Well, they may very well have been forced to march those hundreds of miles, but you know what I mean.

My thoughts.

All these Hebrew boys had been taken from their homes, dragged hundreds of miles to a totally new world, made eunuchs (something I can’t believe I’d never realized before), and indoctrinated into a radically different way of life. Every one of them had been completely stripped of his identity and, as far as we know, fallen into the trap that was Babylonian culture – except the four God ended up using in supernatural ways. 

What made the difference?

That’s been my question for a few days, and it’s one I’m still asking because I believe the answer is significant for us in our day and time. Why do some of our children stand strong when they get out into the new culture that is college or some other aspect of “the world” while so many others crumble? Why do people who have been attending church for years “suddenly” walk away, and not just away from church but away from God?

I see many factors at play. Clearly those we know as Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel had genuine convictions about what they had been taught all their lives, including the fact that theirs was a God they dare not fail. They had truly learned from their nation’s history, and surely understood why judgement had fallen on Jerusalem. I personally feel God had probably already done things to validate their faith, too, since that seems to be His habit with those whose hearts are true to Him. 

Regarding their steadfastness, I’ve thought of several potential contributing factors. All things considered, however, I really believe one of the biggest reasons they stayed so faithful to God was their group relationship. The Bible says a companion of fools suffers harm, and I have a feeling these four had guarded against such companionship, that for years they had been supporting each other in their faith and helping one another grow. It is clear from the book of Daniel that they continued to support each other, encouraging one another to stay strong in their faith in this new setting.

Some people like to say, “I can worship God as well on the lake as in church,” as an excuse not to be involved in church, but it can be very hard to continue serving God in a relationship vacuum. Like these four amazing boys, we need each other. That three-fold cord that can’t be broken? (Eccl. 4:9-12) You don’t find it among those who are out there floundering. You find it in companionship with other people who are “of like precious faith,” people who will build you up while you build them up. 

That is one of the big reasons these four held fast when their entire visible identity was ripped away from them and a carefully planned course of brainwashing implemented. I’m convinced of it. 

Today, we do have God living inside us, teaching us, strengthening us, guiding us, and in general making the difference, but we still need that strong connection to other believers. We must have those true relationships that help us stay strong no matter what the world throws at us. God designed us to need such fellowship, and He commanded us to seek it out regularly in Hebrews 10:25.

I’d say we don’t have a choice, but we do. We can do like the rest of those Hebrew boys did and let ourselves be molded by the world, becoming just like them and in essence unrecognizable to our God. As parents, we can let our kids do the same and watch them fall into the traps set in our universities and the other places young people hang out.

But why? Why would we?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

May I Please Get Back to “Normal”?

Actually, if I can just get back to what passes for normal… Yes, that sounds good!

Seriously, it was one month ago today that I posted Why Has Tammy Been Quiet?
It was eleven days ago that I posted, Sometimes You Just Keep Fighting.

It was THIS WEEK that I finally felt RIGHT again. I really was recovering when I made that post on May 6th, but one thing this whole event has taught me is that you don’t recover as quickly at 62 as you do at, say, 42.

I fought and made it through the work weeks, though exhaustion followed me home. Weekend before last my body shut down on me, demanding true recovery time. Last weekend was some better, though I felt like my brain was mush and still didn’t have it in me to think seriously about anything beyond the most basic household chores.

This Monday, while at work, I abruptly realized I was back to thinking totally clearly. I’ve still not been sleeping right, or not consistently, so I was ready to go to bed long before bedtime on Monday, but I was only sleepy rather than exhausted as I had been after work every week for weeks. Also, my brain proved itself to be back in order over the past two days when it let me take some very important training and pass the final exam. YAY!

In “Sometimes You Just Keep Fighting,” I said, “When God gives you an assignment, the devil is going to try to distract you, derail you, stop you.” At that point, I was talking about my calling in the church and the importance of the fundraiser I was working on. Today, however, I realized just how completely the devil managed to derail me where this blog is concerned. This, too, is my calling. I’m here for a reason, to serve a purpose, and for the past month the only word you’ve had from me came in the form of posts I scheduled weeks and, in some cases, months ago.

I’m so sorry.

Yesterday, as I left the office, I actually had a list of “catch up” errands I really need to take care of this weekend, but the Houston area was the recipient of some insane weather yesterday evening that left much of our area without power thanks to straight line winds that left a wide path of destruction. (Thank God our town, to my knowledge, didn’t see the threatened tornadoes!) Yes, we were part of the power outage and downed trees; the power came on at about 6:30 this morning. Praise God, the outside temp had dropped so dramatically that I actually slept ok. Well, as ok as I have been. After all those weeks of interrupted sleep, my body seriously needs to reset.

Anyway, I decided this morning that it doesn’t make sense to run any errands in this tree-and-trash ridden, many-areas-without-power town, so I’ve come to do some important catching up here instead.

I’ve already answered several more questions for my web developer today, so we’re making some progress there. This is your official, rambling update, so yay me…sort of. LOL! Now I have to decide what to do next, and I’m so far behind in all areas that I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number of options, but I’ll get it figured out. More to the point, I’ll look to God and ask for the next step.

THAT is one of the biggest bits of advice I can give you today. When you’re overwhelmed to the point of not even being able to face your To Do list, just ask God, “Sir? What do I do next?” If you let Him, The Holy Spirit will step in and lead you by the hand. If I didn’t already know this truth, I would after the last six weeks or so: As bad as I got mentally, God’s step-by-step leading was what got me through many of my days.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Do the Small Things

Do you remember those stories from the Bible where God asked people to do something relatively simple and then He all-out went supernatural on them?

He’s still in the same business today, and this blog is a great example of Him at work.

You are probably well aware that authors write not only because we are compelled to, but because we want to reach people, share our excitement about new things we’re learning, offer suggestions for life…whatever. In my case in particular, you get a true hodge podge of American History, living with a narcissist, aphantasia, my tiny house, a lot of Jesus, and we – even I – never know what randomness to expect.

But it’s not really totally random. I try to be led by God in all things. I have dreams, and for the most part they’re dreams He has given me. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” I firmly believe that He gives us those desires, meaning He plants them in our hearts, and then He fulfills them. He does that with me on a regular basis. Knowing this is how He operates, I really do consciously go to Him for direction, especially for this blog He has called me to maintain.

So, when he asks me to do the small things, I try to be faithful to do them, and in recent months He’s gone supernatural on – in a huge way.

First, He had me write Understanding Your Aphant. Then, right after I posted it, He had me share it in an aphantasia support group on Facebook to see if there were any ways in which I could improve it. There were some excellent suggestions, and I implemented a few.

I was unaware that someone in that group had contact with Aphantasia.com, and that person brought my blog post to their attention. The result was that they published it as an article on the website and started pushing traffic toward tammycardwell.com. I was blown away by the response. As I said, I write with a heart that desires to help people. And the more people you have reading what you write, the more people you can help!

But that was just a taste of what was to come. I still can’t get over this next one.

I recently joined a Small Spaces group on Facebook to get more ideas for my tiny house. After I’d been there a day or so, at His prompting, I shared about my home and what I’m doing in it. It was a simple post with a few photos, nothing great.

It was a small thing.

The simple post exploded with comments and questions. In answering, I shared the link to this blog, pointing out my Tiny House series, so that anyone who was interested could come read those posts and get far more details than I could offer up in post comments.

Again, I just shared a link. A small thing.

Within a very few minutes, I was getting notifications that I was experiencing “unprecedented traffic.” On that day this blog, which generally gets less than 100 views a day, got almost 9,000 views from nearly 4,000 visitors all over the world. That’s thousands of people seeing my website for the first time, visiting for one topic and hopefully getting some Jesus while they were here. (If you know me at all, you know where my true priorities lie.)

And, vitally important, because of one seemingly insignificant comment I made, I had the opportunity to encourage some women who are dealing with serious issues I’ve dealt with personally. This was a huge honor; one I cannot overemphasize. After all, the greatest thing about coming through trials is being able to help others see hope while they walk that same path.

So yes, I have recently had more reminders that God is our dream keeper, and have seen once again that all I have to do is what He tells me to. He didn’t tell me to do big things. He told me to do small things.

Do the small things.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Tiny House Part 22: Get Ready & Go

We’re nearing the end of the official tour with only this, the headboard wall, and then my bedroom area. I will continue to make occasional posts as I change things or implement new storage solutions I want to share. 

This area, my “get ready & go” space, is by the door. So, for perspective, here is a shot I took while standing in my open front door.

The teal blue curtain covers the closet, and the four hanging photos are on the closet’s end wall. This blue lingerie chest, which I’ve had for years, was kept firmly in mind when determining the size of the closet. There is just enough space between it and my open door. Truly, we made every inch count.

Every time someone sees a photo of it, I’m asked about this lingerie chest, which is obviously a great solution for small spaces. This lovely thing is a relic of the 70s. I picked it up at auction and had a talented friend repaint it from its original ivory and gold. The drawers seem small, but it holds an amazing amount of my clothing. An amazing amount! This is where I put sweaters and other knits I don’t want to hang, shirts that don’t have to be hung, shorts, pajamas, lingerie, socks…even my electric razor simply because it fits. This is one of the most important pieces in my little home; if you can find one, you’ll love it!

As you look at this picture, it becomes quickly obvious why I call it my get ready and go corner. Getting dressed, putting on makeup, and even tossing on what little jewelry I wear and a spritz of cologne all pretty much happens right here. There are three pegs under the yellow shelf. Two of them always hold these two bags; well, they’re there unless I’m using one, which happens a lot. The third, middle peg, generally holds my little crossbody purse so I can snatch it up on my way out the door.

The lighting, which is the same inset LED fixture you find throughout the apartment, is perfect for makeup application. This is such an “obvious” solution for my makeup that it seems ridiculous how long it took me to come up with it. If you remember the bathroom tour, you might recall that I started out doing my makeup in there.

Here you get a better understanding of my makeup storage, as well as a glimpse at the front door and wall. The little colored basket things you see are rubber. I picked them up on clearance at Hobby Lobby years ago, and they have served in a variety of ways ever since. They fit perfectly here, leaving just enough space for me to slip eye shadow palettes around the edges.

The mirror is a heavy brass piece that I picked up cheap at an auction and spray painted one of my favorite colors. The yellow shelf is yet another offering from my decorator friend. It is a wonderful thing, having friends with gifts like hers!

I only recently “finished” the top of this chest. In fact, it was knowing I would soon be writing this post that pushed me to get on the ball. (Motivation is a good thing!) It needed that final “something,” which ended up being this burned wood tray. I wanted unpainted wood, because one of the beautiful things about this apartment is that they finished it with a lovely variety of woods, and I felt this vignette lacked that touch.

I found the Phirkcraft 12″ Round Wooden Serving Tray with Handle on Amazon. Of course.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s important, especially in small spaces, to surround yourself with things that have meaning for you. This corner does that in spades. The large print on the wall is a photo I took (with my iPhone 5, believe it or not) of an old bridge right down from the family cemetery. It has meaning on so many levels!

First, I have a thing for pathways. To me, they represent the unanticipated adventures that lie ahead. You never know what’s around the corner. Even if you can safely guess, you don’t know for sure until you get there. I see pictures of pathways and I dream of what they’re not revealing.

But there’s a lot more going on with me and this particular photo. 

Two of the greatest people I ever knew were my mother’s parents. Their home, on their 76-acre farm/ranch, was my absolute favorite place in the whole world. Over the years of visiting and staying with them in the summer, and even one year spent living right up the road from them, we traveled a lot of country backroads and went over many of these scary bridges. Yes, I said scary. I was a cautious child, and driving over those one-car bridges without safety rails made me nervous every time.

But the memories are still good, because any time I expressed concern Grandaddy would lovingly reassure me that we were perfectly safe, and he was always proven right. (He was proven right when he assured us the dogs would keep the howling wolves away from the house too.) So, in a kind of twisted way, this bridge also represents security and a grandfather’s love.

And then, there is the fact that this exact bridge was right down from where he and so many other members of my family are buried; it should be no surprise I have it on my wall. That old wooden bridge is gone now. I found out from relatives in the area that it was replaced with a modern construct shortly after I took this photo. I’m so glad I didn’t miss that opportunity!

The four photos on the other wall (Surprise surprise…2 are pathways) are from the El Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico. These are from one of the trips I took with my sister, and I have to say that, in all the places we’ve stopped on cruises, Puerto Rico is by far my favorite. I would really like to go back and stay there a while, preferably exploring it with locals, as opposed to only having a few hours while on a cruise. I cannot express the beauty, on all levels, of Puerto Rico!

Finally, we have a bucket list item represented in the shadow box that sits on the chest.

I’m not a huge exercise fan, but I do enjoy walking, and for years I told myself that I was going to one day walk a 5K. That day came when wanting to support a friend who ran our local half marathon/5K, combined with the knowledge that both my nephew and son were going to be involved, pushed me into making the commitment. I didn’t get to train as much as I wanted to, but I was in pretty good shape and knew I could do it, if slowly.

My son competed in the half marathon with my granddaughter, who had trained a bit with him, but who also had to be carried part of the way. Consequently, their time wasn’t what he would have liked, but it was a great daddy/daughter experience, and I was proud of them both. (Random note, she now runs cross country in school.) My nephew walked with me, and since he had been training more than I had, it was he who set the pace. Where I might have lagged, he kept pushing, and we made it through the course in under an hour. Great time? No. But I was extremely glad I’d done it and am still proud of myself for following through on something I’d always wanted to do.

Having a bucket list or just dreams is a good thing.
Following through and doing the thing; that’s the best.
So if you do, keep reminders of your accomplishment.

Be blessed, my friends!

Celebrating Jesus,
Tammy C

It’s OK to be an Introvert

The Internet abounds with jokes about introverts – usually jokes that introverts came up with in the first place. We know who and what we are, after all, and we know you extraverts really have a hard time understanding us. You know what’s funny? We have a hard time understanding you, too.

Interestingly, a session in one marriage conference I attended shocked a lot of us. Most of the couples in the meeting were made up of one introvert and one extravert. It really made me wonder if most successful, well-balanced couples do comprise both.

What shocked me even more than that, though, was how many of the others in the group didn’t even know which they were, or they thought they or their partner was one when in fact they were the other! I’ve known about the two for so long that to me it seemed like common knowledge, something most people have a pretty good grasp of. Based on a recent conversation, however, I’m really not so sure anymore.

In this conversation, I was gently corrected for calling myself an introvert. The person urged me to not talk about myself that way, that I’m not an introvert anymore – as if being an introvert is a bad thing.

It’s not! In fact, you can’t really switch from being an introvert to an extravert (or vice versa) without something very unusual happening to trigger it. Here’s the thing…

The primary difference between introverts and extraverts
is in how we recharge our batteries.

That’s it! It’s not that introverts are shy or afraid of people or have a phobia about crowds. In fact, those who know me in person generally assume I’m an extravert because my lifestyle has led me to learn how to adapt and act like everyone expects me to. We introverts, while we do generally prefer quiet and value our alone time, are usually quite able to be involved in society.

We’re not “sick” or “weak” or lacking in any way. Once I’ve talked myself into it, I can go to your big, loud party and have a good time as much as the extravert next to me can. The difference is that your big, loud party energizes the extraverts, leaving them charged up and ready to take on the world, while everything about it is draining my batteries.

It’s ok, my batteries can handle the drain. I can also arrange to minimize it. For instance, rather than moving constantly around the room, working the crowd so to speak, I may park myself off to the side and enjoy visiting with a few, select people for a while.

I simply have to know myself, and ensure I have a chance to recharge. Depending on the situation, I may not do a thing different than anyone else. On the other hand, you may see me disappear into the bathroom or onto the back porch for a bit of alone time. It doesn’t usually take all that long; just finding someplace away from all the activity and noise for a few minutes is generally sufficient to enable me to get back out there and have more fun.

And then I go home and bask in the peace and quiet that I need to fully recharge.

And that’s good too.

So, introverts, don’t let anyone make anyone make you feel “less than.” We’re ok!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

I Am A…

Recently, in conversation, I said the words, “I’m a blogger.”

I understand that what you’re about to read seems ridiculous. Stay with me.

My own words caught me off guard. I mean, I AM a blogger; I’ve been blogging for years here and on my previous site. Regardless, after saying those words out loud, I had the same epiphany I did when I realized that I not only wrote but was, in fact, an author. It was a bit of a delightful shock.

“And you are sharing this today because…?” you ask? I will answer happily!

Frankly, this is the perfect opportunity to remind you to own what you are. Do you write? Then you are a writer! True, you may not be a published author yet, but that has no bearing on the fact that you are a genuine, bona fide writer.

Do you create art? You are an artist! Whether or not you’ve ever sold anything means nothing. Even if you’ve never shown a single piece of your art to another human being, you are an artist. Own that you are an artist! Delight in it! Enjoy being what you are.

Yes, I realize skill is a measurable thing and many judge “what we are” by the skills we currently possess. Many believe that unless you’ve been published, you’re not a writer. Many are convinced that if your creations aren’t art by their definition, you are not an artist. I get it. I’ve said myself that I’m not an artist even though many have tried to call me one. I have the skills required to copy a picture, but not to create one; by my definition, that makes me a copyist, not an artist.

But I’ve been a blogger since I published my very first blog post. It wouldn’t matter if no one read what I wrote, I would still be a blogger. I just had to be reminded of this fact, because I’d fallen into judging myself as a blogger by the number of people my blog reaches. My blog community is growing, so I’ve felt more like a blogger lately than I have in a while…which is absurd.

God has planted within each of us the potential to be many things, and we get to choose which of those things we will be. Do some have more innate talent than others in certain areas? Of course, I’m not belittling this fact. I’m just saying that we all have potential. As believers, we should be actively drawing out that potential and using it to His glory, and we should believe in ourselves as we do.

But even if you don’t believe in God, those gifts, those desires, those drives to BE, are still there waiting for you to act on and own them. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t allow doubt, either your own or someone else’s, to drag you down.

I’ve noticed it’s become a thing to ask people what advice you would give your younger self. Often you hear such things as, “Don’t give up on your dreams,” and “Never stop believing in yourself.” I think it’s time to flip the script and let your younger self talk to you. If blogging were a thing when I was young, as soon as child Tammy hit publish on her first blog post, no matter how good or bad anyone else thought it was, she would have grinned and said, “I’m a blogger!” And, though she had only just taken her very first step, she would have been right.

So, with this in mind, I urge you to invite your inner child, that preschooler who knew without a doubt he or she could accomplish anything they wanted, to come out and have a chat. Let that younger you give today’s you the courage to own what you already are, to declare with confidence, “I am a…!”

Once you convince yourself, there’s no telling what you can do.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Word is Soar

Photo Credit: Barry Hatch

It is common among Christians to have a word or a verse for the year. I have had either or both many times, but I don’t generally pick them out myself. At least, I can’t remember ever having chosen one. If I have a word for the year, it’s because God says, “It’s _____.” In 2023 the word was FREEDOM, and if you know my story you understand why.

My word for 2024, according to God, is SOAR.

Believe me, had I been doing the choosing I would specifically have NOT chosen this word because of the cliche sound of “Soar in ’24.” I know God, though, and I understand full well that He has a plan in everything he does, a purpose for even the smallest moves He makes. So, I accepted the word as my own and started talking to Him about it.

He will likely reveal more as we move along through the year, but recently He drew me up short with a question. I don’t remember the exact way He phrased it, but His point was that I need to pay attention to what an eagle is doing when it soars. I started really thinking about it, and my jaw dropped open. Seriously, while driving down the road a fly could have flown in before I snapped my mouth shut.

What does an eagle do when it soars?

Not much.

Seriously! Eagles, airplanes, whatever… Getting off the ground takes work. Reaching the right altitude requires energy. But when they get up there? Once an eagle is at the right altitude and in that mode, once they’re soaring, the heavy lifting is done. To oversimplify it, all they need to do at that point is set their wings and ride the wind.

Am I saying God is promising to make 2024 easy for me? Not even. I do believe, however, that He is saying I’ve worked hard in some areas, and in those areas I’m about to hit the right altitude and soar, only having to put out the effort required to stay in the air while I glide and enjoy the view.

I’m seeing hints of such in the stats for this blog. They’re more promising than they have been in years and let me tell you, if you pour yourself into something like this it makes a huge difference when you start seeing certain signs. In this case, I’ve had a definite uptick in search engines bringing new readers my way. If you know you know!

Anyway, that’s my word, and I look forward to learning more about it, about what God intends it to mean for me. I’d love to hear about your word, or verse, or quote, and how you anticipate it affecting your walk in 2024.

In meantime, I’m preparing to set my wings and ride the wind.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

To Not Try is to Fail

No, it’s not art. It’s self-care.

I had a follow-up with my primary care this week and was reminded about what he told me several months back: “It’s time to do something just for Tammy.” My mental health was his concern for so many years that, while he loves the changes he sees, he wants me to make a point to keep moving forward.

I’ve been wanting to learn watercolor for a while, so I decided to have that be the Tammy thing; I even bought supplies before Christmas. I’ve mentioned my plan before. I think I’ve also shared that I have an issue; I tend to not try things because I expect myself to do everything right the first time even though I know I won’t.

Yes, that’s ridiculous. I’m being transparent here. Okay? I do understand the saying, “Nothing ventured nothing gained,” and I’m officially working on it this time.

So… today I pulled out the paints and other supplies and decided to just play. What you see above is actually my second play sheet. Here, you can see the first.

Today was all about learning how everything worked – the paper, the brushes, the watercolors, and even the water itself. I gave myself permission to do the ridiculous, to create ugly, to fail. In doing so, I learned a lot, and have a solid plan for the next time I pull out my supplies. knowing what I learned today, next time will be better.

We live in a world that demands the appearance of perfection. Your TikTok must be just right for people to hit the follow button and the algorithm to make you visible. Your Instagram posts show only the best side of life. Your Facebook feed is filled with what appears to be perfect families.

And we know perfect families don’t really exist!

So I’m here to challenge you to rebel. Try something new, and give yourself permission to fail. Not fail permanently of course; that’s no fun. Just allow yourself time to learn without giving in to frustration at your own lack of experience. Don’t stop at the first hurdle; keep running the race.

It can be very relaxing, freeing even, to just sit there, mutter, “What if…?” and then try. It might fascinate you to find out.

If you’ve read about my tiny house life, no. None of this will be going into the frames on my kitchen wall. But some day I’ll share a post with those frames filled. After all, I’ve taken the first step in that direction.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

But This Will Never Change

When we were young, my sister and my favorite Christmas tradition was loading up on Christmas morning and heading to our grandparents’ house where the whole clan had gathered. But my grandparents eventually had to stop hosting, and that tradition changed.

As young kids, Christmas was a magical time and the gifts were great. Then came the year when, as a single mom, Mother could only give us each a skirt and a piece of candy. Through the decades, changing financial situations have had major effects on my Christmases.

Christmas, like everything else, is subject to change. We have to be able to shift and flex whether we like it or not, whether our kids like it or not. Even we change, in the ways we perceive the holiday and interact with those we spend time with, even just those who cross our paths.

But one thing remains constant; one thing will never change.

No matter what we think about Him, how we relate to Him or refuse to relate to Him, Jesus will always be there for us. We celebrate His birthday at Christmas for that reason.

And as long as we keep our focus on Him and the real reason for the season, we can handle all of those other changes. If we don’t get a single gift from man, we who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord have already received the greatest gift of all – forever with Him.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Merry Christmas to Me!

Here I sit, thinking about Christmas, and my heart is so full it could almost be Thanksgiving. I decided to come share, and find myself oddly short on words. So this may be a “scribble scrabble letter,” as Jo March would say. (I don’t have a copy of Little Women, so feel free to correct the quote in the comments.)

Although Jack passed on October 1st last year, it feels like it’s Christmas that marks the true end of my first year of freedom. I was still finding my way in those first few months, navigating “new widowhood” waters. So much has changed.

Things are still changing, as I’m recognizing ingrained “training” and countering it. Like the day, only a few months ago, when I realized I was rushing through a store and stopped in the middle of an aisle, frozen by the realization that I was still acting as if he were at home growing progressively angrier at my absence. There was NO ONE, other than me, who cared where I was or what I was doing. Yes, I intentionally slowed down and chose to enjoy the process.

So, side note: When you’re coming out of an abusive relationship, realize that it will take time to deal with all your baggage. That was a heavy backpack I’d not even realized I was wearing.

So many wonderful things have happened in the past year. Relationships that had been strained (because of him) have been growing increasingly stronger. My emotional health has improved unimaginably. And my physical health, TIA aside, has been great too.

Where my body is concerned, I’ve had more money and mental real estate to invest in taking care of me. I’d tried before, because I knew I had to stay healthy to keep him healthy, but his care had always been the priority. Now I am at a place where I know what works for me and I’m able to plan to maintain. For instance, knowing I’ll go months without widows’ benefits, I’ve been buying my key supplements in advance. Part of them anyway. I could never have done that before.

The biggest change is peace. I always tried to stay focused on God, and had His gift of peace, but the peace that comes from no constant strife and no 24/7 television? That is something I still delight over. My home is so quiet most of the time that…it’s bliss.

And it’s true. I really don’t own a television and it’s by choice. Many people think I’m nuts, but on those rare occasions when I’m in the mood, like during this season of The Voice, I watch with my sister on the couch that’s only steps away. (And yes, I’m glad Huntley won, though I felt the last four all could have.)

I’ve been asked if I plan to stay in my tiny home until Jesus comes back. Yes, unless God has a different plan, I do. I am happier here than I have been anywhere. I hate housework, and this requires almost none. I love silence and this gives me much. I have family right here, and love the casual time I spend with them.

Yeah, that’s a big part of why I’m so thankful this Christmas season. Casual fellowship with family is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t have to be planned; it just happens. Even my grandson pops in on occasion, sometimes with his fiancé, and that sort of thing never would have happened before. Frankly, it would have made me uncomfortable on many levels back when Jack ruled the house.

As I celebrate Jesus this season and look to 2024 with anticipation, my heart is full. There were so many years when… Nah, not even going to think about those years. They’re over. God has brought me into a new season.

“Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.”
‭‭Song of Songs‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C