A Different Kind of New Year’s Post

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

Silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now?

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

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

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

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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

Focus on Forever

Art by Amanda Kelly

At my request, a friend created this custom artwork for my new office. I’d been thinking about how I wanted the office decorated and the ONLY thing I knew was that I wanted one constant reminder.

“Forever” is my absolute favorite word in the whole world because it reflects God’s amazing promise: His children get to spend forever with Him! It is also a reminder that everything I face today is temporary. No matter how challenging life gets, and oh my Lord but it does get challenging, I know that a thousand years from now today’s troubles will be meaningless in almost every way.

I say almost, because how we respond to today’s challenges will definitely matter a thousand years from now; our actions today work together to determine who we will be tomorrow. When I stay focused on forever, focused on Him instead of the trials and tribulations that sometimes seem to pile on top of each other, I’m much more likely to get it right.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Focus on Forever

Photograph by Tammy Cardwell

What makes a person love their job?

Admittedly, there are myriad answers to that question, but for me, at least in recent decades, the answer is motivation.

I loved writing for homeschool magazines, editing the Eclectic Homeschool & the Eclectic Homeschool Online, writing books, speaking at conferences and smaller meetings…and I currently very much value my position as full-time church staff.

So many facets of those various “jobs” brought and bring me joy that I could write yet another book. The biggest thing, though, is that all of these have given me the opportunity to help people understand what’s really important, the one thing that matters most in all of our lives.

Eternity

In the homeschool world, I helped parents find curriculum, figure out creative ways to teach history, and more, but the common thread that wove through everything I said and did was one question. “How important will this issue be a thousand years from now?” I rejoiced every time I made a personal connection that allowed me to ask it.

In the church world, I get to help with almost every facet of ministry. Much of my work is entirely practical, like ensuring we have donuts for Sunday morning fellowship, that flyers are grammatically correct, and that the membership database is doing its job, but these practical tasks give me opportunity to build relationships that enable me to ask the most important question. “Are you so focused on today that you’re forgetting that what really matters is eternity?”

Putting our lives into their proper perspective, realizing that everything we choose to do, say, or even think today will have an effect on not only our own, but others’ eternity is vital. Eternity is always pertinent to today. Always, because we’re already living in it whether we realize it or not.

So I’ll say again what I’ve been saying for decades. Turn your focus on forever. Look way down the road to your ultimate destination so that temporal distractions can’t turn you aside. Base today’s decisions on how the results will impact things a thousand years from now.

Focus on forever, because forever is too long to be wrong.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C