To Not Try is to Fail

No, it’s not art. It’s self-care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we know perfect families don’t really exist!

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

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

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

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

I Repeat: Get Into the Bible!

I’ve leaned a lot, lately, on getting into the Word of God, making the Bible a vital part of your daily walk. And I’m not just talking about reading a chapter a day so you can mark it off some checklist. James 1:22 (NLT) hands out a warning: “But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

Most people who call themselves Christians think the Bible is optional. They’re wrong. It’s not. Period. It is no more optional than food is. Without food, our bodies aren’t healthy. Without the Word, our spirits aren’t healthy.

And don’t think you get enough Word while sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. You don’t. I don’t care how good your pastor is, he cannot “feed” you enough to make you grow into a mature, healthy Christian. That requires you digging into the Word for yourself on a regular basis, just like you eat meals regularly. If you doubt me, I challenge to you read – truly read – Hebrews or James and see what those ministers had to say about the importance of actively making God’s Word part of you.

Fact: It’s easy to assume you don’t need something you don’t have. I can testify to that on a physical level. For years, I’ve been dealing with some issues that I finally took to my NP friend who put me on a supplement that not only dealt with those issues but others as well. I had no idea I needed this stuff, but I did. The same holds true for the Word of God in our lives.

Am I hitting hard on this today? Yes. I try to be kind and loving and all of that, but I see great unrest in the church, many who are giving up because they don’t know how to fight, others who… Not going there. I’ll just say this: In all the falling away that I see happening, one thing that seems consistent is a lack of grounding in the Bible. Our faith must be rooted in the Word of God. Jesus, in the Parable of the Sower, in Mark 4:17, says, “But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.” As I see it, one of the largest failures in the church today is the failure to develop a relationship with The Word. 

In case you don’t realize it… John 1:1-2 (NLT)
“In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.”

The Word is Jesus. Jesus is the Word. Do you want to know Jesus? Well, then…

So yes, if you are a member of the majority that hasn’t made the Bible a priority in your life, I challenge you to adjust your priorities right now. With the challenge, I’ll also suggest two tools that can help you start and maintain a Bible habit.

First, because it goes into a lot about Bibles and how to study as well as offering reviews and a whole section that gives you the chance to apply my personal Bible study method, I encourage you to snag a copy of my book, Experiencing the Bible. It comes in three formats.

Experiencing the Bible: A Guide and Journal

In Experiencing the Bible, I not only explain various study methods, including my own, but also give you the chance to try my method out for yourself. Part two of the print version is literally passages from the Bible accompanied by my personal reactions to them, all running parallel with journaling lines that allow you to respond to the passages I’m focusing on.

Experiencing the Bible is also available for ebook lovers. You can get it at Amazon. You can also find it in a variety of formats at Smashwords. (Hint: At Smashwords you set the price. Honestly, you can pay whatever you want, including nothing!)

If you prefer to listen to your books, Experiencing the Bible is also available on Amazon in audiobook format, recorded by Nancy Higgins.

Experiencing the Bible Journal
Obviously, the ebook and audiobook versions don’t offer the journaling option, but you can still read or listen to my notes and then pause to journal your own. Any paper will do, of course, but I went ahead and created a matching journal as well. 

Through the Word Bible App
(Excerpted from Experiencing the Bible)

I’ve used the Through the Word app pretty much every day since I first discovered it. The concept is simple. They’ve put together teachings on every chapter in the Bible and then offered up a variety of ways in which to listen to them. 

To start, download the Through the Word app, register, and then take time to complete their introductory session. While you might want to dive right in (and you can, by heading straight to Browse), it really is best to start here. I know because I didn’t and wish I had. 

Once you’re ready, you can walk through the Bible one book at a time in any order, or you can browse their topical options under “Bible Journeys” or “Bible Topics.” My first foray was into their End Times collection, which uses chapters from Daniel, Thessalonians, Jude, Revelation, Proverbs, Joel, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter, and I could not limit myself to one session a day. The things I found myself learning were fascinating and valuable! 

Since my current course is to read through the whole Bible, I’m working through the books in order, and I’ve fallen into a rhythm with its chapter-by-chapter audio guides. I begin by reading the current chapter in my Bible, making notes as I read, then I listen to the audio guide, usually making more notes as I do. I learn so much in these short messages! And when I say short, I’m talking less than 10 minutes per chapter. At the completion of each chapter’s audio guide, I’ll then listen to a reading of that chapter in whatever translation I’ve chosen. 

The app offers options. Hit browse and you’ll see that you can follow various Bible Journeys. (i.e., The Big Picture [Overview of the Bible in 25 key chapters], Foundations [Genesis, Daniel, Romans], Glory & Grace [Isaiah, Galatians, 1 Corinthians]) You can also select specific chapters, Study by topic (i.e., Faith, Peace, Marriage, Anxiety, Prayer), or choose selections from your preferred teacher. 

The commentaries are done by a variety of teachers: Kris Langham, Peyton Jones, Jonathan Ferguson, Sandy Adams, and Skip Heitzig. Each has his own personality and presentation style, and I appreciate them all. 

One thing you’ll want to do right away is hit Settings and choose your preferred Bible translation so that you’re listening to the passages in the version that best serves you. Your options as of this writing are CSB, ESV, NIV, and NLT. 

All of this is FREE. You will have the opportunity to make donations to the ministry to help keep it free, but you’re never asked for money; you’ll hardly ever hear money mentioned at all. 

CURRENT NOTE: There have been updates, including the introduction of some new instructors, since I wrote that review. They’ve also recently released a major app update that, among other things, introduces the option of inviting others to join you in your studies. I am looking forward to trying this option!

Please, understand that I only hit hard on things like this because I care. The Christian walk isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be easy. We’re caught up in a war with the devil whether we like it or not, and babies don’t fight battles.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Aphantasia Revelations

If you’ve not already read it, you may want to pop over to I Can’t Imagine, which is the post I made the day I discovered that I have aphantasia. Finally understanding why I didn’t recognize my own grandchild as a baby was… wow.

The past few days have been filled with revelations!

For those who don’t know, people with aphantasia have little to no ability to visualize. You know how, when you’re told to close your eyes and imagine you’re at the beach, you can see it and describe it? Yeah, I can’t. I got nothin’. I’ve always thought the “close your eyes and imagine” thing was figurative; learning that it’s literally possible for most of the world was a serious shock.

Mind you, I’m not upset that I’m mentally blind. I mean, I’ve never known life any other way. I’ve actually been having some of the most fascinating conversations in recent days, both with those who learned from my experience that they have it too, and with others who had no idea that “we” existed! Those of you who see a movie when you read a book? Mind blowing! And I’ve had more than one of “you” ask how I can possibly enjoy reading when I can’t see a movie of what I read. Believe me, I love to read!

The biggest thing is realizing that I’m not unobservant or, depending on context, downright stupid. Ask me to describe a person I was just talking to and, unless I’ve taken out my mental notebook and recorded details, I’ll not be likely to tell you much more than whether they’re male or female, adult or child…and maybe height based on how I tilted my head to look at them. Yes, I can literally turn away and lose them, mentally speaking. Friends who get haircuts or color your hair? I’m sorry if I offend you by not noticing, but the odds are really good that I’ll not even know you’ve done it, because although I know you when I see you I can’t remember the details of what you look like when you’re not there.

And I mean that literally. I tried to describe my husband earlier today. I didn’t get very far.

It’s just that visual thing! I can’t remember how many times I’ve had someone get disgusted when they would tell me to look for a certain person’s car. Nope. If I knew the make, model, and color that might help me…maybe, but I couldn’t even find my own sister’s car in a crowded parking lot if I didn’t have certain cues keyed into my memory. I learned long ago that when I get a new car I have to put on a bumper sticker and hang something from the rearview mirror before I ever venture into a parking lot. No. Not kidding.

This morning, I shared my discoveries with two of my co-workers. Later on in our conversation, once we’d changed topics, I almost busted out laughing. I was about to say, “I can’t imagine…” and abruptly realized that I literally can’t imagine what I was going to refer to. I’m still getting used to the idea that those words aren’t just a figure of speech for most people.

Learning that I’m not stupid has been such a blessing! Today was a red letter day where this is concerned. Graphic design, anything beyond extremely basic stuff, has always been out of my reach. I cannot express how frustrated I and people I’ve answered to have been with my inability to grasp and implement design concepts. Today it dawned on me; it’s because I literally can’t see it!

If you give me a picture and ask me to copy it, I can probably do so as long as the techniques required are things I’ve mastered. This is why I was able to do photorealistic pencil portraits back when that was my thing. I could sit there and look back and forth between the original and my drawing and do ok. What I could not do, at all, was create something from memory or imagination. You have to have visual memory and imagination to do that.

So where graphic design is concerned, I have no memory. I can “study” examples, but I can’t hold them in my head. Again, I have to have something in front of me and, going back and forth, I will possibly be able to recreate it in a graphics program. Take that example away and I’m done.

Frustrating? Absolutely, but at least now I understand! I. Am. Not. Stupid.

I’m almost in tears thinking about all the times I was driven to tears while trying to create graphics. Knowing the truth is so freeing!

So, if you have suddenly realized you have aphantasia on whatever level (There’s a scale, with some people having more mental vision than I do.), consider the blessings that come from knowing. Think about things that have made you feel “less than,” and give yourself permission to sigh in relief. You are not an idiot. You are not flawed. No one can blame a blind person for being blind.

And if you’re dealing with someone who is clearly intelligent, but has issues that are related to visual things, maybe you should ask some questions. Because, let me tell you, until a few days ago I literally had no idea – zero – that normal people see anything other than black when they close their eyes.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

For more information on this fascinating condition, you may want to check out You can even become a member for $7 a month or $70 a year and network with others who deal with this interesting issue.

Drop it!

Have you ever seen a dog chewing on something that would potentially harm it, and watched the owner give the sharp command, “Drop it!”?

Twice this week I’ve heard God say, “Drop it!”

The first time was when worry was trying to set in. Having dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, worry is a dangerous thing for me to be chewing on. Nevertheless, I was letting myself dwell on a certain mistake I’d made, and all of its possible repercussions, when I heard God’s voice. “Drop it!”

After I paused and intentionally dropped it, taking control of my thought processes, I had the vision of the owner and his dog. I laughed, and realized this particular lesson is one I’ll remember.

Then, today, I was mulling over how someone had misrepresented me. I know it sounds shallow, but that’s something I really don’t appreciate. The thing is, when you continue to dwell on something like that, chewing on thoughts of how offensive someone’s actions are, you venture into the realm of unforgiveness, which is seriously dangerous territory. I was headed in that direction when, once again, I heard the command, “Drop it!”

Dropping those thoughts took a little more effort, and some help from God, but I got me under control and I thank Him for it. I cannot afford to get into the sin of unforgiveness. I can’t afford to let anything at all hinder my walk with God.

So yeah…

When He says those words, I’m gonna make like the dog and drop it!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

My Fear

It’s strange…the places you can stumble across revelation. I was registering on a website when the security question asked me, “What is your greatest fear?” Without hesitation, I typed my answer.


Then I sat staring at it, wondering where THAT had come from. It wasn’t long before I admitted to myself, for perhaps the first time, that this has been the truest answer to that question from the time I was a small child. While others went out and did things that looked fun, I sat on the sidelines.

I never tried because I was afraid to fail.

As an adult, I’ve learned better. I understand that failure is part of the learning process. At least…I understand it on a superficial level. My instant answer to the question, though, shows that I still have some very real issues.

So it’s time to self-assess. I’ve conquered this fear in so many areas, but I’ve got to move forward and eliminate it in more. I mean, really, at this point in my life how bad can failure be?

I’ve already raised my kids; any failures I had there are over and the damage done. That’s one of the biggest potential problem areas I can think of in this life. Well, other than failing where your relationship with God is concerned, and I work in building that all the time.

It’s time to kick my fear to the curb, to realize that it’s STUPID. Yes, I said stupid. Me failing at something might lead to my embarrassment, but it won’t result in WW3. Besides, how many times did Jesus issue the encouragement, “Fear not!”?

What about you?

What is your biggest fear?

And what are you going to do about it?

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C


Copyright Tammy Cardwell 2014
Copyright Tammy Cardwell 2014

The portrait you’re looking at took me so long to complete that the one who commissioned it could have had a baby while she waited. Why did it take me so ridiculously long to finish such a simple piece? Was I so overbooked with commissions that my pencil couldn’t fly fast enough?


This commission came in while I was working on a special piece for an auction. The image, which happened to be of Jesus, had been in my head for years and I was excited to draw it. The auction supports great ministries, and I was thrilled to be able to contribute. Everything was going perfectly. The wood of the cross looked awesome. The clothing draped just right. The hands were amazing. and then I got to the head and face; these were my undoing. No matter how hard I worked, how much I reworked, I simply could not get it right. And then I ran out of time.

I “finished” the drawing, but even as I took it to the framer I was ashamed of it. It wasn’t just bad; it was humiliatingly, publicly bad. That it sold for less than I’d paid to have it framed was no surprise; I was glad it brought anything at all – and hoped that everyone would forget I’d produced anything so regrettable.

I have no idea how many pencil portraits I’ve done through the years, but I’ve drawn enough that I feel confident in saying I’m good at what I do. Even so, this whole experience shattered my self-confidence. the wise thing would have been to pick my pencils right back up and start on something else – anything else – but I didn’t. It was many months before I could bring myself to even pull out my supplies. Admittedly, laziness and procrastination were factors in the delay, but they were fed by fear of failure.

Strange as it may seem, I share this story to encourage you. How many singers have had their confidence hammered after blowing the National Anthem on the Little League field? How many young dancers have been ready to quit after going left while everyone else danced gracefully to the right? How many aspiring thespians have considered switching to Botany after mangling a monologue? It happens to the best of us.

Sometimes, hopefully most of the time, we’re able to stand back up, brush ourselves off, and get back to it. Then there are the times when we lie there, paralyzed for a while before something gives us the strength to rise again.

Swiftly or slowly (Swiftly is so much better!), the key is to DO IT. When hit with such a blow, we need to be like David who, after discovering the destruction at Ai, encouraged himself (1 Sam 30:6) and managed to get up and do the next thing – and he recovered all that had been lost. Fear is a terrible enemy, but we can conquer it. YOU can!

I’m not proud of how long it took me to complete this portrait. I am, however, proud of the work; it is every bit as good as I knew (somewhere inside) it could be. I am also grateful for the amazing patience of the friend who commissioned it, and for the vitally important lesson I’ve learned once again.

“Down” is not someplace anyone wants to be, especially over something so absurd. I’ve decided that, should such a thing happen again, I will take a page from David’s book and encourage myself (or read myself the Riot Act). I have to; there’s another picture waiting to be drawn!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C