At Last It All Makes Sense

What follows is adapted from my journal, specifically from my journal on January 14th, 2023.

I’ve never doubted that God had me marry Jack. The night I said, “Yes” to Jack’s proposal, God and I had a conversation as I was walking back into my house; it is still clear in my mind. But I did ask Him, just now, “Why did you have me marry him? Was it so You could get Thomas and Terry?” I thought about it a microsecond and went on, “Because if so, it’s a price well paid.” Before I could think another thought, He said, “And so I could get you.”

I literally jumped. I’m not sure I would have been more startled if I’d heard God’s audible voice. I knew instantly what He meant. He meant that I am who I am today because of all that Jack put me through. God knew going in what would happen, what fruit would be produced in me – and He wanted that person.

I had to put the pen down for a few minutes. The revelation was truly overwhelming, tear inducing. God wants the me of today AND has specifically been working to get me here all along.

Everything I went through, every decision I made – even the decisions not to leave when offered escape, and to let him force himself back into my life after I had left the one time – have all worked together to make me who I am today.

From 2010 to last October, living with and serving a man who was growing increasingly ill and would have died without me served to further mold me into the person I am right now.

Who is she? (Here God started talking, fast, and I began taking dictation.)

  • Someone who has learned compassion
  • Someone who has learned forgiveness
  • Someone who has learned faithfulness
  • Someone who has learned faith
  • Someone who has learned how to stand under attack
  • Someone who has learned who the real enemy is and that men are only the enemy’s tools
  • Someone who has learned how to fight
  • Someone who has learned how to love
  • Someone who has learned how to bear with the weak
  • Someone who has learned patience
  • Someone who has learned generosity
  • Someone who has learned to live with nothing
  • Someone who has learned to be content no matter her state
  • Someone who has learned that stuff is only stuff
  • Someone who has learned how not to be afraid
  • Someone who has learned to let God lead
  • Someone who has learned to give up the right to self
  • Someone who has learned to trust herself
  • Someone who has learned to speak up
  • Someone who has learned she can
  • Someone who has learned she has much to offer
  • Someone who has learned “forever”
  • Someone who has learned she still has a future here
  • Someone who has learned it’s never too late
  • Someone who has learned that nothing is impossible with God
  • Someone who has learned true freedom
  • Someone who has learned how to live
  • Someone who has learned not to fear death
  • Someone who has learned not to fear man
  • Someone who has learned not to fear the future
  • Someone who has learned not to run away
  • Someone who has learned how to stand strong
  • Someone who has learned to own up to her mistakes
  • Someone who has learned to let God lead (Interesting that He had me write this twice. LOL!)
  • Someone who has learned to step out
  • Someone who has learned to move into the unknown
  • Someone who has learned that dreams can become reality
  • Someone who has learned to truly care about others
  • Someone who has learned how to care for others
  • Someone who has learned to stand up for what she believes in
  • Someone who has learned courage
  • Someone who has learned when not to fight
  • Someone who has learned that confrontation can be profitable
  • Someone who has learned that comfort isn’t necessary
  • Someone who has learned that she doesn’t have to have all she wants – and wants can change
  • Someone who has learned her Father wants to give her desires and fulfill those desires
  • Someone who has learned to dream big
  • Someone who has learned to plan for Eternity
  • Someone who has learned to learn
  • Someone who has learned to take correction – to be discipled
  • Someone who has learned to press through
  • Someone who has learned how to draw lines
  • Someone who has learned how to set boundaries
  • Someone who has learned to be open to new experiences
  • Someone who has learned how to take praise
  • Someone who has learned how to take criticism
  • Someone who has learned to “blow off the blowhards”
  • Someone who has learned to expect the unexpected – and not fear it
  • Someone who has learned how to share her heart
  • Someone who has learned how to let others get credit for her work
  • Someone who has learned to turn the other cheek
  • Someone who has learned to walk the extra mile
  • Someone who has learned to give her shirt
  • Someone who has learned to meet her obligations
  • Someone who has learned how to say, “No”
  • Someone who has learned when to say, “No”
  • Someone who has learned to trust
  • Someone who has learned to teach
  • Someone who has learned what to teach
  • Someone who has learned share the word of the Lord (Sharing a word from God in specific situations)
  • Someone who has learned when not to share the word of the Lord
  • Someone who has learned when to keep her mouth shut
  • Someone who has learned to worship
  • Someone who has learned to prepare for visions from God
  • Someone who has learned how to get into His presence
  • Someone who has learned how to walk in His presense
  • Someone who has learned she never walks alone
  • Someone who has learned to lean into His Word
  • Someone who has learned that if she were physically able to keep recording (taking dictation) God would keep telling her all the things she’s learned that are important to Him – that He can use

It used to be common to hear someone say that they got their Masters from The School of Hard Knocks. I did, and God knew I would. He knew I would graduate with flying colors, coming out uniquely prepared for what He has in mind for me. That’s why He led me to that school, told me to marry Jack.

Sitting here, thinking about it, it’s definitely a fair trade. Other people come out of universities every day with advanced degrees that won’t do them any good in Eternity, and debt that may potentially follow them for the rest of their lives. I’ve come out of the School of Hard Knocks (Jack Cardwell University LOL!) owing no man, prepared for Eternity, and uniquely able to help so many others.

Yes, at long last, after the decades of questions and spending much of October fighting the urge to beat myself up for not leaving him long ago, for letting him treat me and the kids as he did, I finally understand. At long last, the past 40 years make sense and I can see that they have served a purpose.

I feel like someone who’s just been handed that final diploma, whose been told she’s earned the right to put those treasured letters after her name. I’ve been a new person since Jack died. Like that recent graduate, I’m ready for the next adventure, to do the next thing, to take on the world. I’m free to be the me God’s had in mind all along.

And I’m celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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

The Seed in Your Hands

This sculpture is one of my prized possessions, both because of the ones who gave it to me and the truth it speaks.

The seed in these hands represents the seed in my hands; it represents all I have to offer. The truth is, I don’t even know the limits of what I have to give to others. As a Christian, of course when people talk about planting seeds, one of the first things you think about is financial seeds, but that is only part of what we are to be sowing. And the fact is, know it or not, we’re sowing seeds on a pretty constant basis.

This blog is a seed. My book is a seed. My Facebook group is a seed. But so are those times I spend watching a friend’s toddlers so she can have a minute in the bathroom alone. So is the trash I pick up so someone doesn’t have to, and the cart I return to its place for the same reason…and to potentially protect other cars. So is the grace I give the person who realizes at the last minute that they meant to go right instead of left. So is the smile I give the tired fast food worker. They’re all seeds.

And then there are those other seeds. There is that flash anger at the person who cuts me off, and impatience when the checkout line is too slow. There is the sharp word spoken in a burst of momentary frustration, and the intentional avoiding of someone I’m not in the mood to deal with. There is the seed of being slow to respond when someone asks for help, and saying, “No” when I could easily say, “Yes.” Not that I’m admitting to any of these, of course; they’re just examples…right?

Seeds are seeds, and it is in the nature of the seed to reproduce itself. Were I to plant one of the corn seeds that this statue holds, all things being equal it would grow into a corn stalk and produce a lot more corn seeds that I would then harvest. If I wanted corn, that would be an awesome thing.

But what if corn was something I specifically didn’t want? What then? Well, I’d make sure I didn’t plant that seed!

Galatians 6:7 (NLT) says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

Which returns me to the point of the seed-holding statue. My hands are full of seeds that, if I plant them, will definitely come back to me in far greater measure than what I planted. Remember the 30, 60, 100-fold return? Yeah, if I’m mean and ugly, I will get mean and ugly back – probably at the 100-fold level. (Note to Self: Not the seeds I want to sow!) If I’m patient and loving, I will definitely get patient and loving back – hopefully at the 100-fold level.

The seed is already there, in your hands. Sort through it, determine what you do and do not want to harvest, and make sure you only plant the good stuff.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

My Salvation Story

It was a warm summer afternoon at Camp Tomahawk (somewhere in Texas) and our bunch of teen girls was gathered in the open-air chapel for service. I’d been in my share of church services and Acteens meetings, so plenty of seeds had been planted, but on this day a man of God presented the Gospel and plan of salvation in a way that made everything come together for me.

Before that day, I’d known about Jesus and all He’d done for me, but on that day, in that moment, I came to the realization that HE did it all for ME, and something was required of me – a simple something. I had to choose to accept what He’d done, to accept Him, so I went to the altar where I prayed a prayer. Walking back to my seat, I could tell something incomprehensibly huge had happened, because my counselor was ugly crying. It was beautiful.

This flashback came to me today as I was reading Mark 10. Jesus says in verse 15 that we have to receive the Kingdom of God like a child, and that’s exactly what I did. The offer was made. I could see it was a good offer. I accepted the offer. (God said it. I did it. That settled it.)

I’ve heard many beautiful salvation stories, and I love them, but I love ones like mine too. There are many types of “children” in the world. Some are boisterous and excitable, some break into tears, some can’t stop talking about this amazing thing that has happened, and some of us walk calmly back to our seats simply knowing in our inmost being that everything has changed whether we feel it or not.

God had a plan from the beginning – from before the Beginning. He knew ahead of time that man would blow it, sin would take over, and a blood sacrifice would be required to redeem the very man He was preparing to create. So, before Day 1, He and Jesus planned for Jesus to sacrifice Himself. (Rev. 13:8)

To this day, I cannot comprehend God asking His only Son to do it. I can’t even grasp His Son loving the coming world of sinners enough that He would agree. Yet He did.

They waited ages until the timing was just right. Jesus came as a child, grew, entered the ministry, taught thousands of people who wanted to listen without having to hear (among others who definitely heard, of course, but still…), and then intentionally let Himself be crucified even though He dreaded it so much that He begged God, in those last moments, to find another way. His emotional turmoil was so great that He shed blood in the garden before ever being taken prisoner. (Luke 22:44)

But when all was said and done, death and the devil lost as Jesus entered into Hell, set those captives free, then rose again to lead us all into freedom as well.

I say us. I hope it’s us. If you’re not one of us, please come! It’s so simple a child can do it. Just accept Him and what He did for you! Tell Him you get it. You know He came to earth so that He could live the perfect, sinless life and, as that sinless sacrifice, pay for the sins you could never pay for on your own. With His own blood, He paid the price to buy you back from the devil. Acknowledge that, and willingly give yourself to Him.

I guarantee that, if you truly give your life to Him, life will never be the same. Will it be easy? Not a chance. Not only do bad things happen to everyone, but there is also the reality that once you leave the devil’s camp and enter God’s camp you’ll have a target on your back. Fact, the devil already hates you because you are made in God’s image; this will make him hate you more than ever. The key, though, is that from the day you accept Jesus and start walking with God, you will never walk alone.

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

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

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

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

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