He Let Everyone Hear

In Luke 23:34 NLT, you read, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.‘“ This line always makes me pause, because it shows His tremendous love for the people, His mercy, and His grace, but there is another verse in this chapter that also makes me sit up and take notice.

Think about every crucifixion scene you’ve ever watched. Almost always, you hear Jesus gasp out words just before he dies.

But that’s not what happened.

“Then Jesus shouted, ‘Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!’ And with those words he breathed his last.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:46‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Did you see it?


At the end, He left no room for doubt. With a voice that could be heard by everyone present, this man for whom shouting should have been a physical impossibility (google crucifixion) let everyone know that God was His father and that He was still the one in control. By all rights, it should have taken several more hours for Him to die, but He very publicly died when HE chose.

Everyone present had to recognize the significance, so it’s really no surprise that the soldier made his declaration in verse 47.

They were all there either to mourn or to mock and jeer. They were also there, whether they liked it or not, to hear.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Carry Your Own Cross

“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me,
you cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:27 NLT

I’m reading through the book of Luke in preparation for Christmas, and after much thought decided I needed to back up to this verse for a bit.

We celebrate Christmas in honor of Jesus, who is the greatest gift. He came, by His own choice, to die so that we could live. It’s important to note that He didn’t come to bring salvation as it is sometimes casually viewed – essentially a get out of jail free card. He came so that we can LIVE. We aren’t only looking forward to eternity in His presence, but to a full and abundant life right here, a life that counts where His Kingdom is concerned.

Foundational to living, truly living, is being His disciple. Those who heard Him that day, in Luke 14, knew exactly what He was saying when He used the word “disciple.” To be someone’s disciple is to follow their example in all things. It is also to accept and act on their instruction and guidance as they strive to help you mature. Jesus was actually making the offer to all who heard Him, but few would accept the invitation. Why?

In verse 28 He commanded them, “But don’t begin until you count the cost.”

This is wisdom, as He warned in Luke 9:62 NLT: “But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.'”

Jesus had already let them know in verse 26 that, if they wanted to be His disciples, they had to count Him as more important than everyone else in their lives, including themselves. And then came verse 27: “And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

This verse is quoted so often than I’m not sure we really see it anymore, that we’re not paying full attention to what He’s saying here. I even remember thinking, during one of the really bad times with my husband, “If he is my cross to bear, then I will bear it,” but this verse means so much more!

“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse of our wrong doing. For it is written in the Scriptures, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.‘”

Galatians 3:13 NLT

As Christians, we look at this verse and we love it. And why not?! This amazing act of mercy, Christ taking all of our sins on Himself, washing them away with His own blood, changed our lives forever!

But let’s go back to the gathering in Luke 14 and think about where their heads were, where their thoughts must have gone. They couldn’t see what was coming. They were limited by their own knowledge and experience. In their world a cross served one purpose, and Jesus had just told them they would have to take up a cross that would be particularly their own. They wouldn’t be helping Him carry His cross as Simon the Cyrene was forced to do. He was asking each of them to take up their own cross.

This had to set them back, throw them for the proverbial loop. Because they knew.

They knew…
The cross was a sign of being cursed.
The cross was a very public tool of death.
The cross was a clear mark that you were a criminal.
The cross was intentionally demoralizing.
The cross was a cause of shame for the criminal’s family.
The cross was physically backbreaking before you were even put on it.
The cross was an incredibly slow and agonizing death.

If anyone wanted to be His disciple, they had to accept the reality that the cross, at least figuratively, could very well be in their future. Far from offering them the life of comfort many were currently enjoying, the life His abundant miracles might have implied, the life of sunshine and roses that Christians sometimes foolishly promise to potential converts today, He was laying out a heavy truth.

And here it is.

As Christians, genuine disciples of Jesus, while we look forward to the mountaintop experiences, it’s best to be prepared for the hard seasons that will inevitably come, to consider the cost ahead of time and be ready so that we won’t be tempted to look back. Like Jesus, we can expect to be hated, vilified, attacked unmercifully, laughed at, and more.

So… are you ready?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Get Experiencing the Bible Anywhere

I’m excited to announce that the ebook version of Experiencing the Bible is now available pretty much anywhere you buy ebooks. This JUST happened, so if you’ve looked for it before on Kobo or any of the other sources, go do a search. You should find me!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Submit or Be Burned

No, this is not a “turn or burn” post. I’m straight up talking to Christians today.

A few months ago, God told me that the Church, meaning the individuals who make up the Body of Christ, has two choices: Submit to the fire of the Holy Ghost or be burned up by the fires of tribulation.

Not surprisingly, I was in no hurry to share these words publicly. They could be taken in several different ways, and I’ve been talking to God about what He meant by them. I do think there is an element of us having to submit to the Holy Spirit if we don’t want to miss the Rapture and be burned by The Tribulation, but I believe this warning is more immediate in nature.

I’ve been doing some intense Bible study lately, working my way through several Old and New Testament books, and see more clearly than ever the truth Jesus spoke when, in John 16:33, He said, “In the world you will have tribulation.” That’s the New King James. In the New Living Translation (NLT) it’s, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.”

We like to think that when you accept Jesus as your Savior life becomes a walk in the park. Consequently, we’re sometimes surprised when things don’t go the way we want them to, when we pray and our prayers aren’t answered like we would choose to have them to be answered, or when others in the body of Christ hurt us whether intentionally or on accident. We don’t want tribulation, trials, or sorrows. But you know what? 1 Peter 1:6-7a (NLT) says, “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” (emphasis mine) So your godly reaction to the trials is the proof of your faith.

I know there is also the stance that says if things are going badly for you it’s because you’ve sinned. Now, before I go any further let me say we can, through our sin, open doors that invite the devil in. I did that very thing once while driving. My husband and I were arguing, and I was so angry with him that I couldn’t have heard the voice of God if He’d been sitting beside me yelling out a warning. As a result, we were in a potentially deadly accident. My sinful anger opened the door but thank God His grace brought us all through it alive. Having said that, no, the fact that you’re going through “It” does not necessarily mean you’ve sinned. As I quoted above, Jesus said we WILL have tribulation in this world.

Yes, it’s clear in the Old Testament that Israel’s sin brought on God’s judgement repeatedly. But here’s the thing, it’s also clear that the judgement was to serve a purpose: It was to draw God’s people back to HIm. In Ezekiel alone we see the phrase, “Then they will know that I Am the Lord,” 54 times!

Throughout Scripture we see that it is the fire, the trials and tribulations, that purifies us. Walking through the fires of tribulation with our focus on God, actively choosing to submit to Him and His Spirit, burns off the things that don’t belong. For illustration, the bonds that held Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego burned off when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. They were in the fire, but they were in the very best company (Jesus) and were walking around freely. And to top it all off, they didn’t even smell of smoke when they walked out.

It is going through the fire that strengthens us, building our faith and enlarging our testimony. That sounds counterintuitive but think about a metalsmith forging a sword. The heat and the pounding of the hammer are both necessary to turn a simple length of metal into a warrior’s blade. If the metal could talk, would it choose to be treated so? Maybe, if it had a vision of what it was destined to become.

So, understanding that fire is necessary for spiritual growth, there are a few things we need to consider. First, just like Israel had the choice to move on into the Promised Land or spend forty years walking in circles in the desert, we have a choice. When going through trials we can either actively submit to the Holy Spirit in the midst of those trials, doing what God tells us when God tells us to do it, so that we can learn, grow, and be purified and strengthened by them, or we can lean on our own strength and not only be burned up but face having to go through the same fire again. We’ve all seen this happen. That’s why there’s the saying that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting to get a different result.

And then there’s this, which is the point I believe God was getting to: Although trials are a natural part of this life, they don’t have to be a necessary part of our growth. Yes, I mean some trials can be avoided, IF.

“Submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

Do you remember from when you were a child, or if you have children, how some things are learned the hard way and others by paying attention? One child learns not to touch the hot stove because he ignores his father’s warning and gets burned. Another child doesn’t need to touch the stove to grasp the concept because he pays attention to what Dad says. For him, the physical fire isn’t necessary for growth because he understands and submits to His father’s instruction. He avoids the fire because he obeys.

The Holy Spirit, if we submit to His will, can bring us through the fires of our lives uninjured just as surely as those three Hebrew boys were brought through their fire, but that’s not all. If we submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit, obeying God’s will and doing what He tells us instead of having to learn through hard experiences, we can grow without trials and troubles. I would much rather grow this way!

Also, do you remember what I said about the blade being willing to go through the “torture” if it had a vision of what it was destined to become? The Holy Spirit can give us that vision. My pastor says often that it’s not what you are today that has the devil attacking you; it’s what he knows you have the potential to become. It is a sad thing when the devil has a more powerful vision for your life than you do! Ask for that vision; it will carry you through anything!

Not so sure about that? Jesus dreaded the Cross. In the garden, He begged God to find another way to save us from our sin. Nonetheless, He submitted, and in Hebrews 12:2 we see the vision He had, how He focused on what really mattered. “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.”

And I think I’m going to leave it right here: Submit to the fire of the Holy Spirit or be burned up by the fires of tribulation.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Check me if you still doubt. Here are a few verses to get you started.
Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, John 16:33, Romans 5:3-4, Romans 8:28, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Hebrews 12:11, James 1:2-4, James 1:12, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 5:10

Sometimes You Just Need a Do Over

Back to the Beginning

Years ago, my aunt gave me starts from my grandmother’s hen and chicks plant. That plant, which grew quite large, was my favorite of everything I had. It was the only plant I brought with me to my new place.

But on the day of the move I was tired and stupid. I parked a plant that had been inside for nearly a year outside in full sun while we were in a drought with hundred degree days. I cooked Granny’s plant.

Once things calmed down and I’d regained a few brain cells, I went outside to check it out and discovered a few (exactly 7) pieces that were still hanging on. In hopes of salvaging something, I cut them off and put them in water to hopefully root.

They did root, and today I was able to put them in this cute little planter on my window shelf. And I felt better. Granny, or the plant she nurtured, is with me again just as I’d hoped. Even better than I’d hoped, actually, because while this little planter works on my window shelf the larger plant could only be outside.

Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we blow it so completely that we destroy something we love. But then there is grace. God cares about even the little things in my life, and though I’d personally signed that plant’s death warrant He saved part of it for me.

So…I start over. I’ll care for this new pot and get to watch my plant grow all over again, see the crazy ways it spreads out, and start new plants off fallen leaves. Grace gave me back what I’d thought completely lost and now I’m totally prepared to move on forward without feeling quite so bad about that particular mistake.

Sometimes going back to the beginning is a blessing.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

I Need These Nights

I just got home from our church’s monthly worship night. It’s one hour of nothing but worship-me and God. I need these nights. I need them for a variety of reasons.

One is that it’s a service for which I have no staff responsibilities. If you are on staff at your church, you know this is huge. For regular services, although I am definitely taking part, I am also sensitive to anything I might need to deal with as a staff member. In services, for instance, my phone is by me at all times in case another staff member texts with a question or needing help. At WILD Worship, we all put our phones away so they can’t distract us.

Two, I’m a worshipper. Yes, I worship in service. Yes, I worship at home. The atmosphere on these nights, though, is distinctly different. There is no substitute for groups of people coming together for the express purpose of worshipping God. This is true unity and it is a blessing.

Three, there are no distractions. It’s more than just putting away cell phones. It’s low lighting that helps minimize visual distractions. It’s going in knowing people are free to get up and move around, which means you don’t even think about them. You can more easily focus on God and God alone.

Four, and this is the point of the night: God. This hour is ALL about my personal relationship with God. It’s not just me singing awesome words to a song I know or being uncomfortable with a song I’ve never heard. I would get into these nights if the songs were sung in a language I don’t even understand.

Why? It’s WORSHIP. It’s getting face to face with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Part of the time that means me singing the songs with an engaged heart. Part of the time it’s me singing or praying in tongues. Part of the time it’s just us, God and me, talking. A lot of the time it’s me listening while He talks.

And He does talk to me on these nights. While He has my undivided attention, He reveals things to me, gives me visions, explains things I’ve been wondering about, and more. I go into these nights knowing we will talk, expecting Him to be right there with me, and He has never failed to come.

Five, when He’s there with me, I have no choice but to self-check. I live an active God-focused life — praying, studying His Word, and in general spending time with Him every day, pretty much keeping up an ongoing conversation. Even so, knowing that I will sense Him there beside me during that hour, I start these evenings with my focus on me, checking my heart, seeing if I’ve let my attention shift in the past month, and repenting as needed. This is my monthly reality check, and I value it in part for that reason.

I value these nights. I treasure them. I need them. I dare say we all do.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Only in the Night

Eleven years ago, a friend and neighbor called me late at night, telling me that I absolutely had to head over to witness something she was sure I had never seen. She was right.

Night Blooming Cereus, at least the particular plant you see in this admittedly not-great photo, only blooms at night, and only blooms once a year. I’d seen it many times during the day and it was a remarkable plant – remarkable in that it wasn’t all that attractive. She cared for it tenderly though, and nurtured it, because of how glorious it is on that one night a year.

I spent a lot of time over there that night, chatting with my friends and admiring a thing of beauty that was entirely new to me. What if I’d not been home? What if I’d refused to respond to the invitation? I would have missed out, and I would’ve had no idea what I was missing.

The fact is, there are a lot of beautiful things we can only see in the dark. Plants like this one, fireworks, the stars…

The same applies to dark times in our lives. Frankly, there are many truly wonderful things that can only be seen and understood when we let God lead us through the night.

Do we want to walk in the dark? Not really, no. But just like I would have missed that one-night-only flower if I’d refused to accept the invitation and step out, we miss many nighttime-only lessons when we refuse to let God lead us through those dark days of our lives.

Uncomfortable? Undeniably.

Potentially fear inducing? Yep.

Profitable? Beyond our wildest imaginations.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Experiencing the Bible with Children

I was asked, recently, if I would consider writing Experiencing the Bible for Children. I’d really have to pray about that one because, though I spent years homeschooling and working with homeschoolers, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually dealt with curriculum for children, and in a sense this book is a Bible curriculum of sorts.

However, as a parent, I strongly encourage you to work through Experiencing the Bible with your kids. Whether you realize it or not, you are continually translating the truths of the world around you into a language your children can understand, and you can do the same thing with my book.

You may not be homeschooling, but if you know any homeschoolers you might want to talk to them about the power of studying as a family. Family discussions, with everyone having the opportunity to both listen and give input, can be truly power-packed.

They do much more than merely offer a rich setting for learning the material being discussed. They also let children of all ages witness their parents actively pursuing knowledge and understanding. This is huge, since much of what any child learns is from what he sees adults do. Yes, that old adage, “More is caught than is taught”? True!

Such discussions also help children, people of all ages, learn how to have true conversations and even debates without arguing and getting into fights. In today’s culture, where it seems we’ve reached a point of “fight first and maybe agree later” this is a vital skill.

Open family discussions can also head off potential misunderstandings. I have a personal story that is a classic example of what happens when a child hears something and fails to understand it, but doesn’t feel comfortable asking questions. The preacher was reading Psalm 23 and for the life of me I could not figure out why I wouldn’t want the shepherd to lead me beside still waters.

This is only a short list of benefits, but you get my point. I encourage you to get a copy of Experiencing the Bible, whether in paperback, ebook, or audiobook, and work through it as a family or in a small group.

You can get the book in all three formats at Amazon by clicking HERE.

You can also get the ebook, and name your own price, at Smashwords by clicking HERE.

Get into the Word and be blessed!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

America Women: The Wife of John Adams


The mother in her office holds the key
Of the soul; and she it is who stamps the coin
Of character, and makes the being who would be a savage,
But for her gentle cares, a Christian man.
                                                            OLD PLAY

————— O we will walk this world,
Yoked in all exercise of noble aim.

Abigail Smith was a daughter of the Rev. William Smith, a Congregational minister of Weymouth, Massachusetts, where she was born on the eleventh of November, 1744, O. S. “It was fashionable to ridicule female learning,” in her day; and she says of herself in one of her letters, “I was never sent to any school.” She adds, “I was always sick. Female education, in the best families, went no further than writing and arithmetic.” But notwithstanding her educational disadvantages, she read and studied in private, and kept up a brisk correspondence with relatives, and by these means expanded and fed her mind, and cultivated an easy and graceful style of writing.

On the twenty-fifth of October, 1764, Miss Smith became the wife of John Adams, a lawyer of Braintree.* Her grandson, Charles Francis Adams, to whose Memoir of her we are indebted for these statistics, says, that “the ten years immediately following, present little that is worth recording.”

Prior to 1778, Mr. and Mrs. Adams had been separated at sundry times, in all, more than three years, which was a severe trial to her fortitude. The strength of her conjugal affection may be gathered from an extract from one of her letters: “I very well remember,” she writes, “when the eastern circuits of the courts, which lasted a month, were thought an age, and an absence of three months, intolerable; but we are carried from step to step, and from one degree to another, to endure that which at first we think impossible.” Thus she was schooled for separation from her husband, when, in 1778, he went to France as a joint commissioner. While he was absent from his country on that occasion, faithful to the calls of duty, she remained at home, and managed, as she had done before, the affairs of the household and farm. And there let the reader look at her and see a picture of a true mother of the Revolution. “She is a farmer cultivating the land, and discussing the weather and crops; a merchant reporting prices-current and the rates of exchange, and directing the making up of invoices; a politician, speculating upon the probabilities of peace or war; and a mother, writing the most exalted sentiments to her son.”

What nobler deed could the mother, thus situated, do with her son, John Quincy Adams, in a foreign land, than to write to him in a tone like that of the extracts which follow, and which are taken from letters dated 1778-8O:

“‘Tis almost four months since you left your native land, and embarked upon the mighty waters, in quest of a foreign country. Although I have not particularly written to you since, yet you may be assured you have constantly been upon my heart and mind.

“It is a very difficult task, my dear son, for a tender parent to bring her mind to part with a child of your years going to a distant land; nor could I have acquiesced in such a separation under any other care than that of the most excellent parent and guardian who accompanied you. You have arrived at years capable of improving under the advantages you will be likely to have, if you do but properly attend to them.

They are talents put into your hands, of which an account will be required of you hereafter; and being possessed of one, two, or four, see to it that you double your numbers.

“The most amiable and most useful disposition in a young mind is diffidence of itself; and this should lead you to seek advice and instruction from him, who is your natural guardian, and will always counsel and direct you in the best manner, both for your present and future happiness. You are in possession of a natural good understanding, and of spirits unbroken by adversity and untamed with care. Improve your understanding by aquiring useful knowledge and virtue, such as will render you an ornament to society, an honor to your country, and a blessing to your parents.

Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which were early instilled into your mind, and remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.

“Let me enjoin it upon you to attend constantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your father, as you value the happiness of your mother and your own welfare. His care and attention to you render many things unnecessary for me to write, which I might otherwise do; but the inadvertency and heedlessness of youth require line upon line and precept upon precept, and, when enforced by the joint efforts of both parents, will, I hope, have a due influence upon your conduct; for, dear as you are to me, I would much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or that any untimely death crop you in your infant years, than see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child.

“You have entered early in life upon the great theatre of the world, which is full of temptations and vice of every kind. You are not wholly unacquainted with history, in which you have read of crimes which your inexperienced mind could scarcely believe credible. You have been taught to think of them with horror, and to view vice as

‘a monster of so frightful mien,
That, to be hated, needs but to be seen.’

“Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the odious monster will soon lose its terror by becoming familiar to you. The modern history of our own times, furnishes as black a list of crimes, as can be paralleled in ancient times, even if we go back to Nero, Caligula, or Caesar Borgia. Young as you are, the cruel war into which we have been compelled by the haughty tyrant of Britain and the bloody emissaries of his vengeance, may stamp upon your mind this certain truth, that the welfare and prosperity of all countries, communities, and, I may add, individuals, depend upon their morals. That nation to which we were once united, as it has departed from justice, eluded and subverted the wise laws which formerly governed it, and suffered the worst of crimes to go unpunished, has lost its valor, wisdom and humanity, and, from being the dread and terror of Europe, has sunk into derision and infamy. …

“Some author, that I have met with, compares a judicious traveler to a river, that increases its stream the further it flows from its source; or to certain springs, which, running through rich veins of minerals, improve their qualities as they pass along. It will be expected of you, my son, that, as you are favored with superior advantages under the instructive eye of a tender parent, your improvement should bear some proportion to your advantages. Nothing is wanting with you but attention, diligence, and steady application. Nature has not been deficient.

“These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orator if he had not been roused, kindled, and inflamed by the tyranny of Catiline, Verres, and Mark Anthony? The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman. War, tyranny, and desolation are the scourges of the Almighty, and ought no doubt to be deprecated. Yet it is your lot, my son, to be an eye witness of these calamities in your own native land, and, at the same time, to owe your existence among a people who have made a glorious defence of their invaded liberties, and who, aided by a generous and powerful ally, with the blessing of Heaven, will transmit this inheritance to ages yet unborn.

“Nor ought it to be one of the least of your incitements towards exerting every power and faculty of your mind, that you have a parent who has taken so large and active a share in this contest, and discharged the trust reposed in him with so much satisfaction as to be honored with the important embassy which at present calls him abroad.

“The strict and inviolable regard you have ever paid to truth, gives me pleasing hopes that you will not swerve from her dictates, but add justice. fortitude, and every manly virtue which can adorn a good citizen, do honor to your country, and render your parents supremely happy, particularly your ever affectionate mother.

… “The only sure and permanent foundation of virtue is religion. Let this important truth be engraven upon your heart. And also, that the foundation of religion is the belief of the one only God, and a just sense of his attributes, as a being infinitely wise, just, and good, to whom you owe the highest reverence, gratitude, and adoration; who superintends and governs all nature, even to clothing the lilies of the field, and hearing the young ravens when they cry; but more particularly regards man, whom he created after his own image, and breathed into him an immortal spirit, capable of a happiness beyond the grave; for the attainment of which he is bound to the performance of certain duties, which all tend to the happiness and welfare of society, and are comprised in one short sentence, expressive of universal benevolence, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ .  .

…. .

” Justice, humanity, and benevolence, are the duties you owe to society in general. To your country the same duties are incumbent upon you, with the additional obligation of sacrificing ease, pleasure, wealth, and life itself for its defence and security. To your parents you owe love, reverence, and obedience to all just and equitable commands. To yourself, — here, indeed, is a wide field to expatiate upon. To become what you ought to be, and what a fond mother wishes to see you, attend to some precepts and instructions from the pen of one, who can have no motive but your welfare and happiness, and who wishes in this way to supply to you the personal watchfulness and care, which a separation from you deprived you of at a period of life, when habits are easiest acquired and fixed; and though the advice may not be new, yet suffer it to obtain a place in your memory, for occasions may offer, and perhaps some concurring circumstances unite, to give it weight and force.

“Suffer me to recommend to you one of the most useful lessons of life, the knowledge and study of yourself. There you run the greatest hazard of being deceived. Self-love and partiality cast a mist before the eyes, and there is no knowledge so hard to be acquired, nor of more benefit when once thoroughly understood. Ungoverned passions have aptly been compared to the boisterous ocean, which is known to produce the most terrible effects. ‘Passions are the elements of life,’ but elements which are subject to the control of reason. Whoever will candidly examine themselves, will find some degree of passion, peevishness, or obstinacy in their natural tempers. You will seldom find these disagreeable ingredients all united in one; but the uncontrolled indulgence of either is sufficient to render the possessor unhappy in himself, and disagreeable to all who are so unhappy as to be witnesses of it, or suffer from its effects.

“You, my dear son, are formed with a constitution feelingly alive; your passions are strong and impetuous; and, though I have sometimes seen them hurry you into excesses, yet with pleasure I have observed a frankness and generosity accompany your efforts to govern and subdue them. Few persons are so subject to passion, but that they can command themselves, when they have a motive sufficiently strong; and those who are most apt to transgress will restrain themselves through respect and reverence to superiors, and even, where they wish to recommend themselves, to their equals. The due government of the passions, has been considered in all ages as a most valuable acquisition. Hence an inspired writer observes, ‘He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.’ This passion, cooperating with power, and unrestrained by reason, has produced the subversion of cities, the desolation of countries, the massacre of nations, and filled the world with injustice and oppression. Behold your own country, your native land, suffering from the effects of lawless power and malignant passions, and learn betimes, from your own observation and experience, to govern and control yourself. Having once obtained this self-government, you will find a foundation laid for happiness to yourself and usefulness to mankind. ‘Virtue alone is happiness below;’ and consists in cultivating and improving every good inclination, and in checking and subduing every propensity to evil. I have been particular upon the passion of anger, as it is generally the most predominant passion at your age, the soonest excited, and the least pains are taken to subdue it

‘what composes man, can man destroy.?'”

With such a mother to counsel him, one is led to ask, how could John Quincy Adams help becoming a noble-minded and great man? Who wonders that, with good natural endowments and his excellent privileges, coupled with maternal training, he fitted himself to fill the highest office in the gift of a free people?

In June, 1784, Mrs. Adams sailed for London to join her husband, who was then our Minister at the Court of St. James. While absent, she visited France and Netherlands; resided for a time in the former country; and returned with her knowledge of human nature, of men, manners, &c., enlarged; disgusted with the splendor and sophistications of royalty, and well prepared to appreciate the republican simplicity and frankness of which she was herself a model. While Mr. Adams was Vice-President and President, she never laid aside her singleness of heart, and that sincerity and unaffected dignity which had won for her many friends before her elevation, and which, in spite of national animosity, conquered the prejudices and gained the hearts of the aristocracy of Great Britain. But her crowning virtue was her Christian humility, which is beautifully exemplified in a letter which she wrote to Mr. Adams, on the 8th of February, 1797, “the day on which the votes for President were counted, and Mr. Adams, as Vice-President, was required by law to announce himself the President elect for the ensuing term:”

“‘The sun is dressed in brightest beams.
To give thy honors to the day.’

“And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season. You have this day to declare yourself head of a nation. ‘And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this thy so great a people?’ were the words of a royal sovereign; and not less applicable to him who is invested with the chief magistracy of a nation, though he wear not a crown, nor the robes of royalty.

“My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my petitions to Heaven are, that ‘the things which make for peace may not be hidden from your eyes.’ My feelings are not those of pride or ostentation, upon the occasion. They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important trusts, and numerous duties connected with it. That you may be enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your “A. A.”

From her husband’s retirement from the Presidency, in 1801, to the close of her life, in 1818, Mrs. Adams remained constantly at Quiney. Cheerful, contented, and happy, she devoted her last years, in that rural seclusion, to the reciprocities of friendship and love, to offices of kindness and charity, and, in short, to all those duties which tend to ripen the Christian for an exchange of worlds.

But it would be doing injustice to her character and leaving one of her noblest deeds unrecorded, to close without mentioning the influence for good which she exerted over Mr. Adams, and her part in the work of making him what he was. That he was sensible of the benignant influence of wives, may be gathered from the following letter which was addressed to Mrs. Adams from Philadelphia, on the eleventh of August, 1777:

“I think I have some times observed to you in conversation, that upon examining the biography of illustrious men, you will generally find some female about them, in the relation of mother, or wife, or sister, to whose instigation a great part of their merit is to be ascribed. You will find a curious example of this in the case of Aspasia, the wife of Pericles. She was a woman of the greatest beauty, and the first genius. She taught him, it is said, his refined maxims of policy, his lofty imperial eloquence, nay, even composed the speeches on which so great a share of his reputation was founded.

“I wish some of our great men had such wives. By the account in your last letter, it seems the women in Boston begin to think themselves able to serve their country. What a pity it is that our generals in the northern districts had not Aspasias to their wives.

“I believe the two Howes have not very great women to their wives. If they had, we should suffer more from their exertions than we do. This is our good fortune. A smart wife would have put Howe in possession of Philadelphia a long time ago.”

While Mr. Adams was wishing that some of our great men had such wives as Aspasia, he had such a wife, was himself such a man, and owed half his greatness to his Aspasia. The exalted patriotism and the cheerful piety infused into the letters she addressed to him during the long night of political uncertainty that hung over these Colonies, strengthened his courage, fired his nobler feelings, nerved his higher purposes and, doubtless, greatly contributed to make him the right hand man of Washington.

The diligent and faithful Andromaches, the gifted and patriotic Aspasias of the Revolution, did their portion of the great work silently and unseen. Secretly they urged their husbands and sons to the battlefield, secretly spoke to them by letter in the camp or convention, and secretly prayed for wisdom to guide our statesmen and victory to crown our arms. Thus privately acting, how little of their labor or their worth is known. How few of their names are treasured in our annals. With rare exceptions, like the builders of the pyramids, their initials are lost. Then, while we have the name and the noble example of Mrs. Adams, with a few of her patriotic compeers, let us pledge our unswerving devotion to Freedom over the unknown names of the wives and mothers who secretly assisted in nerving the arm that broke the sceptre of British dominion on these shores, and gave the eagle of Liberty a safe and abiding home on our mountain tops. 

*The part of the town in which he lived was afterwards called Quincy in honor of Mrs. Adams’s maternal grandfather.


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York

American Women: The Wife of Washington


A woman’s noblest station is retreat:
Her fairest virtues fly from public sight
Domestic worth – that shuns too strong a light.
                                                            Lord Lyttleton

The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore.

Woman may possess an equal share of the elements of greatness with man, but she has not an equal opportunity to display them in such a manner as to call forth the admiration and applause of the world. She was not made to pour the tide of eloquence in the Senate chamber, or lead on to victory the brave and heroic spirits of the land. Her course leads mainly through the quiet valley of domestic retirement, where the stream can rarely leap from dizzy heights with a thundering plunge, whose echoes shall go booming on to fill the ear of coming generations: her movements and influence are more like those of springs, which, flowing noiselessly and unseen, are widely scattered, and every where diffuse incalculable blessings.

The wife of Washington could not be the hero of a seven-years’ war, or the chief magistrate of a republic; but, as the companion of such a man, she could shine, in her own proper sphere, with a lustre as mild, as steady, as serene, as his. And thus she did. Prompt to obey the calls of duty, when the voice of humanity beckoned her to the camp, she hastened away, at the sacrifice of ease and comfort, to relieve the wants of the suffering; and when forced to leave her “paradise” at Mount Vernon, to preside, as the matron of the nation, at the President’s house, she did it with a dignity and propriety perhaps never equalled, certainly never excelled. But let us not anticipate.

Martha Dandridge was born in New Kent county, Virginia, in May, 1732. She was endowed with good sense, a strong mind, sound ideas of feminine proprieties, and correct views of woman’s practical duties: and these had to answer measurably as a substitute for the discipline of female seminaries, which were rare in the ” Old Dominion,” and in the Colonies generally, in her younger days. The advantages to be derived from domestic instruction, she enjoyed, and those only. They, however, were cut off at the age of seventeen, by her union in marriage with Colonel Daniel P. Custis, a gentleman of many excellent parts. They settled on his plantation in her native county. Beautiful, lovely in disposition, and fascinating in manners, the young wife was warmly admired by her neighbors and all with whom she came in contact; and her residence, known as the “White house,” was the centre of strong attractions, and the scene of much genuine or – which is the same thing – Virginian, hospitality. Colonel Custis became the father of three children, and then died. Previous to this solemn event, however, the White House had been veiled in weeds for the loss of his oldest child.

With two small children, a son and daughter, Mrs. Custis early found herself a widow, with the disposition and management of all pecuniary interests left by her confiding husband, at her control. As sole executrix, it is said that she “managed the extensive landed and pecuniary concerns of the estate with surprising ability, making loans on mortgages, of money, and through her stewards and agents, conducting the sales or exportation of the crops, to the best possible advantage.”

But from the cares of an extensive estate she was shortly relieved. On the sixth of January, 1759, she gave her hand, with upwards of a hundred thousand dollars, to Colonel George Washington, another planter of her native Colony. At the same time, she relinquished into his hands the guardianship of her children -the son six, and the daughter four years old – together with the care of their property. From the White House, Mrs. Washington now removed to Mount Vernon, which remained her home till her death, and became the final resting place of her remains.

In her new home, as in the White House, she superintended the affairs of the household, exercising continual control over all culinary matters; carefully educating her offspring, and aiming to rear them up for usefulness. These duties she discharged with the utmost assiduity and faithfulness, in spite of the many social obligations which a woman in her position must necessarily encounter.* Nor did the demands of courtesy and of her family debar her from habitual and systematic charities, dispensed in her neighborhood, or from those most important of all daily duties, the calls of the “closet.” In the language of Miss Conkling, in her Memoir: “It is recorded of this devout Christian, that never during her life, whether in prosperity or in adversity, did she omit that daily self-communion and self-examination, and those private devotional exercises, which would best prepare her for the self-control and self-denial by which she was, for more than half a century, so eminently distinguished. It was her habit to retire to her own apartment every morning after breakfast, there to devote an hour to solitary prayer and meditation.”

In 1770, she lost a child of many prayers, of bright hopes, and of much promise, her blooming daughter. She looked upon this affliction as a visitation from Him who doeth all things well, and bore it with becoming resignation, which the Christian only is prepared to do.

During the Revolution, Mrs. Washington was accustomed to pass the winters with her husband at the head quarters of the army and the summers at Mount Vernon; and it was in the camp that she shone with the lustre of the true woman. “She was at Valley Forge in that dreadful winter of 1777-8, her presence and submission to privation strengthening the fortitude of those who might have complained, and giving hope and confidence to the desponding. She soothed the distresses of many sufferers, seeking out the poor and afflicted with benevolent kindness, extending relief wherever it was in her power, and with graceful deportment presiding in the Chief’s humble dwelling.”**

In 1781, she lost her last surviving child, John Custis, aged twenty seven. Her widowed daughter-in-law and the four children, she took to her own home, and thenceforward they were the objects of her untiring solicitude.

The life of Mrs. Washington, after her husband took the Presidential chair, was marked by no striking incidents, and affords scanty material of the nature marked out for this work. During the eight years that he was Chief Magistrate, she presided in his mansion with the same unaffected ease, equanimity and dignified simplicity that had marked her previous course in more retired circles. Visitors were received on all days except the Sabbath, and, irrespective of rank, shared in her courtesies and hospitalities. A portion of each summer, at that period, was passed in the quiet and seclusion of Mount Vernon, she rarely, if ever, accompanying her husband on his tours through the land. She expressed regret when he was chosen President, because she preferred “to grow old” with him “in solitude and tranquillity;” hence it is not surprising that she found a luxury in retiring for a season from the scenes of public life, and in attending to the education of her grand-children and to other self-imposed tasks and important duties, in the performance of which she could bless her friends and honor God.

After the death of her illustrious companion, which occurred in December, 1799, she remained at Mount Vernon; where she spent seventeen months mourning her loss; receiving the visits of the great from all parts of our land, and from various parts of the earth; attending, as heretofore, to her domestic concerns; perfecting in the Christian graces, and ripening for the joys of a holier state of being. On the twenty-second of May, 1801, she who, while on earth, could be placed in no station which she did not dignify and honor, was welcomed to the glories of another world.

* We have the authority of Mr. Sparks for asserting that while Washington’s pursuits were those of a retired planter, he seldom passed a day when at home without the company of friends or strangers, frequently persons of great celebrity, and demanding much attention from the lady of the house.

** Mrs. Washington, in writing to Mrs. Warren, says, “The General’s apartment is very small; he has had a log cabin built to dine in, which has made our quarters more tolerable than at first.”


Excerpted from Noble Deeds of American Women
(Patriotic Series for Boys and Girls)
Edited by J. Clement
With an Introduction by Mrs. L. H. Sigourney
BOSTON: Lee and Shepard, Publishers
Entered by Act of Congress, in the year of 1851,
by E. H. Derby and Co., in the Clerk’s Office of the Northern District of New York