Quiet Time

I’ve never cared for the phrase “quiet time” in reference to my time spent with God. It seemed, somehow, to cheapen that time, to make it less than it really is.

I’ve changed my mind. No real surprise there; it happens.

“Quiet Time” is, actually, the perfect phrase for what I need the most. When I come to meet with God, it is imperative that I shut out the world and, more importantly, shut out the intrusive thoughts that try to interfere with our meeting. This recent revelation is very much like the one I had before writing “Sacrifice of Praise.” God wants my complete attention, and for Him to have it I need quiet. Yes, literal quiet is bliss, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here.

I can’t simply snatch a few moments out of my day and say, “Here, God, these are yours!” True, He and I are talking all day long, but that’s not the same thing. Just like it’s unhealthy (emotionally as well as physically) to eat every meal on the run, it’s spiritually unhealthy to try to develop my relationship with God constantly on the run. We need to sit down together, really dig into the conversations He wants to have while my eyes and heart are focused totally on Him.

So I set aside time. I reserve time for Him and do my best to let nothing interfere with it. In my case, it really is best when I do this first thing in the morning because the “noise” gets so loud later in the day that it grows increasingly difficult to stop what I’m doing, drop all my cares to the floor, and meet Him with a quiet spirit. When I meet with Him first thing in the morning, it also sets the stage for a totally different day. I can literally feel the difference as I drive to work on those days I fail to truly sit down and spend time with Him.

What triggered these thoughts? It’s something Priscilla Shirer says in her devotional, Awaken (which I reviewed here). On Day 27, she shares about what she calls “Sabbath margin.”

“It is the Spirit-empowered choice to cease striving and enjoy our God. It is the margin that reminds us He is in full control. It is the peace that comes in the midst of all that whirlwind and flurry of activity. Sabbath is what beats our lives into submission, giving us the breathing room for getting our sanity back. We cannot afford to neglect the Sabbath principle.”

Priscilla Shirer, Awaken, 2017

Sabbath is about rest. It is about getting quiet and focusing on the eternally important rather than the temporarily pressing. So… Quiet spirit, quiet atmosphere (Thank God I actually have that now!), quiet thoughts… Quiet Time. I get it.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Forgiveness Isn’t an Option

Yes, you can forgive, and you must!

You’ve heard it preached over and over. I’ll even list a couple of scriptures at the end of this post.

You’ve probably even seen articles online that show the benefits of forgiveness. I’ll include some of those at the bottom of this post as well.

But…

Are you one of those who sit there convinced that it’s not possible? Your situation is too hard. The wounds go too deep. The betrayal affected too many people. That person has never asked for forgiveness, so you feel no need to give it.

Still…not optional. Yes, I said it. Forgiveness is not an option. For the Christian, it is a command. For everyone, it is a physical and psychological necessity. If you read the Bible, you can’t avoid it.

Remember what Jesus said on the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There is a part of me that wants to correct Jesus. “Oh yes, they did! They knew exactly what they were doing!” Doesn’t matter. Even before His death, burial, and resurrection, He was asking forgiveness for the collective “us.” Jesus forgave. We received. (Well, I hope you’ve received!)

Consider the Apostle Paul when he was still Saul. He was hell-bent on destroying the new movement that became Christianity. Those followers of Christ, starting with Ananias, could have refused to forgive him after he met Jesus. If they had, if they had denied his right to minister on the Lord’s behalf, he may never have written what we know today as about 2/3 of the New Testament. But they did forgive, and he did write, and we received.

I could keep on with accounts from the Bible, but let’s bring it forward to today. Bear with me, if you will, as I share two examples from my own life.

I have a friend. I love her dearly, and I hurt for her often. She is a loving and generous person who used to serve God openly, freely, joyously, but something has changed her, caused her to withdraw in many ways.

There is one person, another Christian, against whom she holds implacable unforgiveness. Did the person genuinely do her wrong back in the day? Quite possibly; I don’t know their story. But that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the roots of unforgiveness and bitterness have grown so deep and strong that now pretty much every aspect of her life seems to have become choked by those weeds. Yes, she has a hard life, but so do a lot of others who haven’t chosen her path.

Others like me.

Let me pause here and say that I’m well aware I am far from perfect. I know this. What I am, however, is living proof that you can walk through hell and come out the other side victorious.

My story starts over forty years ago when I unknowingly married a narcissist. During those years, he abused me in pretty much every way but physically. I lived under his thumb without even realizing it for a very long time – without understanding that my life wasn’t normal. He had multiple affairs. He ignored everything that was important to me unless paying attention to it played into his plan and made him look good to others. He squandered his really good income so that I ended up having to earn money for the “unimportant” things like homeschool curriculum for the boys and clothes for myself.

Then, when it became hard for him to find a “position,” he stopped working; a regular job was beneath him. This left me doing all I could to pay the bills he easily ignored.

Eventually, we ended up living in a house that was literally falling down over our heads because he couldn’t be bothered to maintain much of anything, ever. Lest you think I exaggerate, first we lost gas because the line started leaking and he “couldn’t afford” to fix it. Then the water pipes started bursting and when his quick patches didn’t hold he gave up. We were left with only electricity for years, and I paid that bill. The walls had so many holes in them that I couldn’t stuff them all well enough to keep anything out. I once ended up in the ER with a bug in my ear as a result of that. And the roof? One room was off limits because half the roof was completely gone, and when it rained it rained inside our only bathroom. Years… Today, looking back, that blows my mind; I felt so trapped in that…place. (NOT just talking the house here.)

And then there were the women. The first affair I know about happened in the early 90s and either he thought I was a complete idiot or he was flaunting it in my face. (Him having the affair was my fault of course. He was an expert at gaslighting.) The last affair he tried to have was in 2014. Strange as it seems, it wasn’t until then that I actually stopped loving him. It was the point at which that tiny flame was at last doused completely.

My primary focus through most of the past forty years has been on staying right with God and growing closer to Him. As a result, I learned to forgive. See, if you’re actively watching your spiritual walk, when things stop feeling right, when you can tell that you’re “off,” you stop. You pause, take a good look at yourself, and ask God, “Where have I gone wrong?” In those early years, it was almost always unforgiveness towards Jack or someone else that nailed me. God had to school me over and over, but I eventually learned how to genuinely forgive and do it quickly. (Note to Self: As soon as you hit “publish” on this post the devil is going to see to it that you’re tested.)

So, my regular readers know that Jack passed away in October. I can honestly say that, regardless of all he had done, all he did until just a few weeks before his death, I forgave him. I chose not to walk in unforgiveness, but in forgiveness, which meant that when unforgiveness popped up I actively stomped it out.

I prayed for him often. I very much wanted to know he was right with God even if he were never right with me. He asked me to pray the sinners prayer with him days before he went into the hospital for the last time, and I rejoice that he did, that now, in Heaven, he is finally the man God always meant him to be.

Decades of abuse could have destroyed me. It did not. I did more than survive those years. In spite of dealing with anxiety and occasional bouts of depression, I thrived. I had to battle each and every day, but just as daily workouts strengthen muscles, those daily battles strengthened me. I came out stronger, and one of the reasons is my determination to deny the devil the option of using one of his greatest weapons – unforgiveness – to bring me down.

Forgiveness isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Forgiveness Verses (There are many more.)
Matthew 18:21
Mark 11:25
Luke 6:37
Ephesians 4:32

Benefits of Forgiveness (There are many more.)
Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
The Many Benefits of Forgiveness
The Power of Forgiveness
The Physical Benefits of Forgiveness

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

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

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

Need a Hand?

Do you need a hand with your Christmas list?
Do you want to start 2023 off right, or help someone else do the same?

Getting into the Bible can feel intimidating, but it shouldn’t! The Bible is literally the most awesome book on the planet, and for the Christian’s growth it’s as much a necessity as food is to the body.

So if you want to give a truly amazing gift this Christmas, give a Bible and, if you want to lend the recipient a hand, I suggest pairing it with my book. It’s both a guide and journal, and in it I strive to take out the intimidation and turn on the fascination.

You can purchase Experiencing the Bible right HERE!

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Experiencing the Bible Available Now

Experiencing the Bible is now available in paperback at Amazon. If you’re looking for a new way to explore the Bible, a fresh way of looking at the Word of God, or just curious about what it means to “get into the Word,” you can check it out now!

I’ve been asked about an ebook option, and I am looking into that possibility, but the power of this book is its introduction to journaling and the fact that you can journal on these pages. So we’ll see.

It’s been a long road to walk, a big project, and I’m very happy with it. I hope you will be too!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Exploring the Bible: A Guide & Journal

From “Houston we have a problem” to…

We have a cover!

The cover files are complete and in my hands.

The manuscript issues have been repaired and the final copy is in my hands.

I now begin that one, last (I certainly hope) fine-toothed-comb edit.

Almost there!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C