A Different Kind of New Year’s Post

I listen to the clock ticking, and it is a comforting sound. Why?

Silence.

For the first time in many years, the house is silent – no 24-7 TV, no…

Well, I had something else in mind when I wrote the first sentence. I wasn’t at all going to head in this direction, but it’s time. It’s the end of the year for the rest of the world, but the end of an era for me…and I’m ready to shed some things. Maybe, hopefully, my story will encourage others.

Long story a little shorter, I spent decades married to a narcissist. I was in denial most of the time, and though it never really felt right I accepted it as my inevitable normal.

Mind you, there were times in his life (definitely in the last few weeks) when he was right with God, or so I believe. It’s hard to tell because narcissists have a gift for looking like awesome people from the outside. Their spouses and children, though… they pay the price. All things – every, single, thing – revolve around the desires of the narcissist, and they are only “generous” and “thoughtful” when others are looking on and can be impressed. Pretty much nothing matters but them and their happiness. Oh, and anything that goes wrong is inevitably someone else’s fault.

So, if you know the story of my husband’s disabilities, you can imagine how hard the last several years have been. He lost the tight control he’d always held, so he worked even harder in other areas like emotional manipulation and what I’ll call “practical punishment” – such things as trashing the house any time I wasn’t at home. Because, well, his situation was my fault.

There have been good moments. I know there have been, but they are so overshadowed by years of…everything from emotional abuse and infidelity to threats of self-harm, yelling, and ridiculous accusations that those memories are not readily accessible – and I’m not inclined to go digging.

He passed away 3 months ago tomorrow, and every single day of those three months I’ve thanked God for giving me the chance to live the life man is supposed to live. The word for my life right now is “Freedom.”

I’ve survived…no, thanks to God I’ve thrived through over thirty years of pretty much every kind of abuse but physical abuse. With God’s promise of forever, I’ve been able to face each day knowing that “this too shall pass.” Speaking honestly here, it did not kill me; it made me stronger.

The joy of the Lord – both the joy He has given me as I’ve focused on seeking Him through the years and His joy in me – has been my strength. My faith is where it is not in spite of, but because of the battles I’ve fought.

And now?

Now my home is silent enough that I hear the ticking of the clock on the wall. Today, I know continual peace even in the midst of new-widowhood challenges. Today, I know happiness on a level I’ve not seen since I was a child. As one confused friend recently expressed it to my sister, I glow.

So I’m leaving 2022 with a great sense of gratitude, and looking to 2023 with a special kind of hope and expectation.

I’m listening to the clock on the wall with a smile on my face.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

To our friends who thought you knew Jack, I’m sorry you had to learn this. I’ve spent three months letting most people think I’m just relieved not to be the primary caregiver of a very ill person…and I’ve felt like a hypocrite. I’m tired of hiding behind the lies of our life together.

What Do You Have in the House?

In II Kings 4, a widow approached Elisha for help and he asked her an odd question, “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” All she had was a jar of oil, but God used that jar of oil to work a mighty miracle. We humans tend to overlook what God has already given us, considering it to be “not enough.” Her oil was definitely not enough – until God touched it.

If you read yesterday’s review of Priscilla Shirer’s devotional, Awaken, it shouldn’t surprise you that the following thoughts were triggered by Day 2. And of course I had to apply them to me.

Experiencing the Bible is my jar. The oil is the gift of words and my joy in them (especially my joy in THE Word).

I’d begun a much simpler version of the book years ago. I kept putting it down, and God kept bringing me back to it. This year, I finally finished and published it. I asked God about marketing, but He told me not to worry about it. The point, at that time, truly was obedience.

Then, on October 1st, my husband passed away, taking his income with him, and suddenly I was the widow going to God saying, “I can’t do this on my own. I have to have Your help!” He pointed to the “jar on the shelf” and told me to get started. He has truly been my ever-present help in recent months, supplying my needs in consistently miraculous ways, but He’s also kept me moving forward with a vision that has grown far beyond anything I’d imagined.

In the midst of this my son, who owns Pixel Drip Studio, offered to create a full website to replace this simple blog. That started a conversation, and plans, and ideas that triggered a lot of action. So here I am, pouring out the oil. To the print book, I added first an ebook and then a journal. I’m already looking to the next book…actually, the next two. I’m also studying marketing, newsletters, social media and more.

God gives us all gifts, talents, and abilities, providing us with “jars of oil.” Then it’s up to us to pour out the oil and sell it for a profit. It took the widow time, effort, and humility to go borrow all those vessels from her neighbors and then fill them. Too, it generally requires the help of others, both her neighbors and her son in her case, and my son…both of them actually…in mine.

It can also take walking in obedience in advance. Had I not finished Experiencing the Bible when God told me to, it wouldn’t have been sitting on the shelf when I needed it.

So I’ll repeat Priscilla’s question from Day 2. What are some of the “jars of oil” you might be overlooking right now that He’s already provided?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

I’ve done a few of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible studies through the years, so when I received this book as a gift I knew I’d been given gold. When I saw it was a 90-day devotional, I dug right in, and after only two days I knew I had to share.

Who is Priscilla Shirer? Well, the bit of information that caught my attention when we began that first Bible study was that she is Tony Evans’ daughter. She is much more, but having known of his ministry for years I felt confident I could trust her and was pretty sure I would enjoy her teaching. I was right.

As well as being a focused wife and mother, Shirer has been in full-time ministry for decades. She’s written books and Bible studies, speaks all over the place, and runs Going Beyond Ministries with her husband. She’s got the spiritual goods.

So… Awaken

The book starts with a two-page introduction. I realize most readers skip the introduction. Don’t. It’ll only take a few minutes to read, and will help prepare you for what’s coming. One of my favorite sentences in this section is, “The majority of what you’ll encounter here are personal whispers from God’s Spirit to my own over the last decade.” This is one of the things I value most about her in all of her works. She speaks to us what He has spoken to her. The adventure, the journey, is real.

After the introduction, you head straight into Day 1, which hits you right in the heart in a good way. She likens our need for God, for all He has to offer, to the Israelites’ need to gather manna first thing in the morning before the sun came along to burn it all off.

It took even less time to read this devotion than it did the intro, but I’m still thinking about it. This is a parallel I’d never considered, and there’s a lot to unpack. In other words, it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me think and keep thinking.

After each devotion, you’ll find two more pages set aside just for you. Entitled “He Speaks to Me,” this section gives you the chance to answer a question, to see how what she has shared applies to your life. I encourage you to really think about your answer and take the time to write it down in the journal space she’s provided. You may not be comfortable recording your thoughts in this way, but I’d like you to remember two things.

  1. This is your book. No one else needs to see it, so it’s a safe place.
  2. There are probably many times in the past that God has shown you exciting, even astounding, things but you forgot them. (Or is that only me?) Recording triggers remembering.

The book is a 90-day devotional. That’s only a 3-month commitment if you do it every day. And if you choose not to do it daily? Well, I certainly won’t judge you. I will say, however, that I’m sure you’ll gain something every time you choose to dive in. I have, and I’ve only just finished Day 2.

So why didn’t I wait until I’ve done more before writing this review? Two reasons. I “know” Priscilla Shirer, and am confident in her consistency. Also, it’s December 29th, which gives you time to grab a copy for yourself and start on January 1. I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year than to focus on getting ever closer to God.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

In the Between Time

I was asked, recently, what I do during the week between Christmas and New Years. My answer? I clean house.

I do mean this partially in the literal sense. The tree comes down, boxes get recycled, etc., but that’s just the beginning. For me, this is a time of transition. I don’t want to wait for January 1 to start making changes; I plan for those changes now.

Spiritually, it means spending a lot more time talking to God about how things have gone this year and how He wants me to change things for next year. It means assessing my habits, heart, and hindrances to my walk as well as my successes and all of the progress I’ve made. And it means thanking Him a LOT for all He’s brought me through and the promising vistas I see ahead of me. It means setting my spiritual goals and making plans for how I can accomplish them.

In the physical, it means getting my office in order so I’m better prepared to grow increasingly serious about my writing and the business of Tammy Cardwell Publishing. I’ve been organizing and spray painting (The easiest solution when expensive solutions aren’t an option.) and organizing some more. I’m also studying. Merciful heavens, but there is a LOT to learn right now!

And, with the help of my ever-creative, genius son (Pixel Drip Studio), I’m working on a whole new website that will include this blog and a lot more. He’s pushing me, and I love it. This morning he was tossing out words like “timeline” and “milestones.” I’m 60 years old now and #owning60. I’m proof that you’re never too old to launch into something new.

So… What does your between time look like?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

My Heart Hurts

Our church had an outreach this past Sunday. We took loaded stock trailers and trucks carrying hundreds of bikes and toys into 8 or 9 different neighborhoods so we could bless as many kids as we could reach. It was amazing. I saw so much gratitude, so many tears, and such excitement on kids’ faces. And, oh, how fun it was to watch dozens of blissfully excited children riding their brand new bikes!

And then there were the ones who weren’t raised like I was. I was taught that when you are given a gift you show gratitude. It didn’t matter if I absolutely hated the gift I was given. I wasn’t thanking the person for the gift itself; I was thanking the person because they cared enough to give it.

It shouldn’t have surprised me to hear the other stories, like the one about the mother who came back demanding that her son’s toy be exchanged because he didn’t like it. Her anger over the team’s inability to accede to her request shouldn’t bother me, but it does. No wonder the little boy insisted on an exchange; his mother thought he had every right to exactly what he wanted even if the gift was free (and, I might add, nice). While other parents were glowing with happiness over the fun their children were having, she was pitching a fit and couldn’t see any good.

My heart hurts for her, and for people like her, and even more for the kids she’s raising to think just like she does. There is very little joy in that kind of life.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Presale Starts NOW

I couldn’t wait to start the presale, and it’s truly a preSALE. Agree to sign up for my newsletter and instead of paying the regular price ($5.99) you’ll only pay $2.99! The sale ends when the book goes live, so time is already running out!

Experiencing the Bible Presale

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

I Did It! Who Wants In?

The Experiencing the Bible ebook is a THING! Well, officially I’m awaiting confirmation on the latest upload, because I tweaked some tech stuff, but it is set to release on Christmas Day! Even more awesome, it will be available pretty much anywhere you buy your ebooks. Not everywhere, mind, but pretty much everywhere.

I will make preorders available, and I’m actually going to offer a discount for presales. If you think you might want in on a discounted presale price, shoot me an email at tammymcardwell@gmail.com and ask to be put on my mailing list. When we’re ready to roll with the discounted presale, that’s how I’ll let everyone know.

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

What does your desk look like?

I just finished answering an author interview in preparation for my forthcoming ebook version of Experiencing the Bible. (It releases on Christmas Day! Be watching for a chance at a discounted pre-order!) One of the questions was, “What does your desk look like?”

My answer was, “Messy?” LOL!

I have been very grateful for this desk in the past few weeks. My son gave it to me to replace the tiny desk I’d been pretending to use and finally I have space to spread out everything I need for taking notes and studying details and looking up references. The blank spot you see in the photo is where my laptop was sitting until about an hour ago.

What does my desk look like? It looks like productivity happening!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

It Didn’t Give Up

This poor plant experienced some serious trauma before I brought it inside. At one time, I might have counted it beyond help and tossed it out, but I’ve seen too much survival to give up on it. And it didn’t give up on itself. It’s blooming.

This is a great illustration of what we are capable of. We can be chewed on by pests, frozen out by heartless people, flooded with challenges, and drained dry when our love isn’t returned. From the outside, we may look totally broken down, but that doesn’t have to mean we’re out of the race. We must never give up.

We can still bloom.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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