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

In the Between Time

I was asked, recently, what I do during the week between Christmas and New Years. My answer? I clean house.

I do mean this partially in the literal sense. The tree comes down, boxes get recycled, etc., but that’s just the beginning. For me, this is a time of transition. I don’t want to wait for January 1 to start making changes; I plan for those changes now.

Spiritually, it means spending a lot more time talking to God about how things have gone this year and how He wants me to change things for next year. It means assessing my habits, heart, and hindrances to my walk as well as my successes and all of the progress I’ve made. And it means thanking Him a LOT for all He’s brought me through and the promising vistas I see ahead of me. It means setting my spiritual goals and making plans for how I can accomplish them.

In the physical, it means getting my office in order so I’m better prepared to grow increasingly serious about my writing and the business of Tammy Cardwell Publishing. I’ve been organizing and spray painting (The easiest solution when expensive solutions aren’t an option.) and organizing some more. I’m also studying. Merciful heavens, but there is a LOT to learn right now!

And, with the help of my ever-creative, genius son (Pixel Drip Studio), I’m working on a whole new website that will include this blog and a lot more. He’s pushing me, and I love it. This morning he was tossing out words like “timeline” and “milestones.” I’m 60 years old now and #owning60. I’m proof that you’re never too old to launch into something new.

So… What does your between time look like?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

If You See Me Coloring in Church

Copyright: Happy Color

Don’t freak out.

It seems I’m always learning new things about myself. Or perhaps, more accurately, I’m gaining more understanding about what I’ve known for years. In school I couldn’t just listen to lectures; I had to take notes. I may never look at them again, but they made all the difference between getting nearly nothing from the lecture and getting…well, maybe not everything, but certainly a whole lot more. Taking the notes, handwritten notes, helped my sometimes overactive brain focus on what I was hearing rather than running off in a hundred different directions.

So let’s head to church. Like most, I used to sit in a pew with my Bible in hand. I had to take notes, of course, but I eventually realized that I also had a secondary problem. Way too often, my eye would be caught by a verse near the one the minister had us reading and my self-propelled brain would dash off into thoughts about that verse, sometimes never to return to the ministry going on in front of me.

I tried all sorts of things through the years, eventually settling on restricting myself to a Bible app on my phone, thus limiting the rabbit trail options, but that only helped with part of the problem. Hand writing the notes wasn’t helping as much anymore, so I switched to taking notes on my phone. Switching between apps slowed me down and helped, but I still had trouble concentrating and retaining.

And then I had some fascinating conversations with a friend who has dealt with similar issues. She explained that she needed to be doodling or sketching while listening if she wanted to retain, that it helped her stay focused. I don’t sketch, but I do have a color-by-number app on my phone, so I dared to disobey tradition and open it during a sermon.

Oh

My

Word

It made all the difference! Being color by number, it’s a virtually mindless activity. It’s not enough to distract me from the message, but is enough to keep my eyes and hands occupied so that THEY don’t distract me from the message. It gives my antsy brain that one little bit of extra work required to make it settle down and actually concentrate on what’s being said.

Since I started doing this, I am more connected with Pastor’s messages than ever, take better sermon notes now than I have in a very long time, and leave service without the frustration that used to stalk me when I knew I’d missed too much. It is an absolutely amazing solution that works for me, and I’m so glad my friend helped me head in the right direction.

So if you see me coloring in church, don’t freak out; it’s a good thing.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

From Separation Springs Life

Photo: Tammy Cardwell

I raise succulents, and my favorite is a pot of hens and chickens that came from my grandmother. Occasionally, leaves will fall from that plant, and when they do something marvelous happens.

New life

Hidden within the leaf is the power to create a whole new plant. While on the mother plant, the leaf is beautiful, but when you take it away from the mother plant new life springs forth.

This can happen anywhere. These leaves in my garden will eventually take root and flourish right where they are, but the new growth happens even if the leaf falls on the sidewalk, and it will continue until all of the fallen leaf has been sucked dry by the new life.

This is much like the life of a new Christian. First, they must be taken out of their old life. Until that happens, they can’t grow. Pull them out of the world, however, and you’ll see new life spring forth. Even if they’re out there on their own, on the sidewalk so to speak, they’ll flourish on their own for a while.

But like these leaves, they must eventually be planted. They must put down roots and stay where God wants them so they can grow spiritually. If they don’t, if they fail to find and latch on to the spiritual nourishment they need to survive in this world, they’ll be like the leaf on the sidewalk, eventually shriveling up once the initial burst of life is over and the cares of this world leave them empty and dry.

Life, especially spiritual life, is a precious thing. We must care for it and encourage it in ourselves and others. I’ve made mistakes with leaves like these, moving tender new plants into the wrong place and forgetting to care for them, and they’ve died. The results are a good reminder of what not to do where my relationship with God is concerned.

Sometimes I need those reminders.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Suck It Up

Photo: Tammy Cardwell

I love succulents! They are amazing in so many ways; one of my favorites is their ability to suck up water when it rains and store it for use during dry seasons.

I want to be like that! I want to stay full of the Holy Spirit, full of the Word of God, and full of love so that dry seasons, times of trials and troubles, don’t catch me unprepared. Yes, I may take a beating and look less than my best in the midst of the battle, but when it’s over I’ll still be standing!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Hindsight and the Future

How many adults, with twenty twenty hindsight, wish they had given more while in high school…or in college..had put more effort into preparing themselves for their unknown future? Hindsight serves one important purpose; it helps us learn which mistakes to not make next time.

And there is a next time. We were put on this earth just as we were put in school – to prepare ourselves so that we will be ready to live the future that waits for us in Eternity. It is our responsibility, while we are here, to develop the closest possible relationship with God and to learn His Word, which we will live by forever.

My memories of school, and all the things the adult me would have done differently, help keep me aware of this truth. While I do forget and deviate from my preferred path on occasion, I try to continually be growing in the things of God, learning all I can about His Word and His will for my life, and getting just as close to Him as I can. I don’t want to just make it through the ultimate graduation; I want to excel now so that God can use me exactly the way He wants to in the next phase of my life.

Life is the childhood of our immortality. -Goethe

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Consistency

Every December, I assess the year I’ve just lived – not what’s happened to me, but how I’ve lived it. This year was a mixed bag. In some areas I’ve grown, thank God. In others, not so much.

So now I look to 2020, and what needs to change. The big word is consistency. I need to be more consistent in so many areas of my life that it’s daunting, but as I recently learned from a YouTuber I watch, “Consistency is what stands between you and success.”

So here goes. I’m stepping out into consistency with determination and hope. 2020, let’s do this.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Sister Adventures

walk laugh a 2017 06 crop

Photo Credit: Memories in Motion Photography (Candace Townsend)

Isn’t it special how the truly exciting things in life often involve our siblings? My sister Clarissa and I, even though we had our times of disliking each other growing up, have always played together. The last two years have been no different. First, after much prayer, we opened a clothing boutique. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, it would seem such a move would be obvious, but we’d never even considered going into business together before. We actually closed the business a couple of weeks ago, but that’s for later.

Then there was the day she dragged me to the gun range. She has a concealed carry license and had been telling me for months that I needed a break and shooting is therapy, so one day I caved and joined her to take my turns shooting both of her handguns (I preferred the .38, if anyone cares). I think I frustrated her when I refused to come out and say I’d had fun, but I did have to confess that it was very satisfying to try something completely new and do so well. In fact, it was a gift.

To understand my satisfaction, you have to know that I was always afraid of failure when I was young. I never learned to skate, for instance, because I feared making a fool of myself. Doing so well my first time at the range was extremely satisfying. Will I ever return to the range? I don’t know. It’s hard to excuse spending so much money on ammo when you’re only doing it for kicks.

Third, we went out of business with a bang. Sounds ridiculous, right? Going out of business is usually a terrible thing, but this was different. We prayed and considered carefully before concluding that it was the right move for us, and then we did something so exciting it still gives me goose bumps. We took all of our clothing and gave it away at a shelter for battered women. ALL of it. Many of these moms had taken their kids and run with only the clothes on their backs and what little they could carry. Seeing their joy at freely choosing several brand new outfits each was AMAZING, and it satisfied a long-held dream of mine.

I’ve always wanted to do something big – like give away a car or something. It wasn’t on my Bucket List, because I’ve always thought a Bucket List was for things that were at least somewhat within reach. If it had been on a list, I’d have called it my Dream Big list.

Because God led Clarissa and me into this particular adventure in the first place, my relatively small investment in our business was turned into something huge. When we calculated what we’d given to the shelter, we’d done the equivalent of giving away a car – a new car. You might think I’d regret investing money and time into a business that would close down after a year and a half, but I don’t; I consider it a huge blessing. Even if this final thing were the only reason we’d launched Cady’s Closet, I would say it was a grand adventure, and I haven’t stop smiling since we set up our pop-up boutique for the last time.

Now I’m looking forward to our next adventure. Sisterhood is an awesome thing.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

God Doesn’t Want Volunteers Part 3

Copyright Jennifer Jones Manley
Copyright Jennifer Jones Manley

What DOES God Want?

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

We have been created anew in Christ Jesus to do good things. Other translations say “good works.”

When being encouraged to do good works, some people answer by quoting Ephesians 2:8-9. (KJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.) Yes, we are saved by grace, through faith and not by our works; salvation is a gift. Now, if those who quote verses 8 and 9 would only continue to verse 10, they would see why God gave us the gift— “to do the good things he planned for us long ago”. God doesn’t give useless gifts; He gives gifts with a purpose. Knowing this, we realize we are responsible to find out what His plans for us are and to follow through and do what He expects us to do. As Ephesians 5:17 puts it, “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

God prepared these works in advance, expecting us to do them. How much clearer can it get? God had a plan in mind, works lined out for each one of us, even before we accepted His gift of salvation. Now it’s our turn. Now it’s time for us to learn what those works are, pull ourselves together, and go get them done.

This is not merely something we can do; it is something we must do if we are to be pleasing to Him. After all, His Word says repeatedly that faith without works is dead. (James 2:17, 20, 26; KJV; Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.) Too, without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6, KJV, But without faith it is impossible to please Him…)

God Doesn’t Want Volunteers Part 1

God Doesn’t Want Volunteers Part 2

God Doesn’t Want Volunteers Part 4

God Doesn’t Want Volunteers Part 5

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Meditations: Psalm 106:24

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Psalm 106:24
NLT

The people refused to enter the pleasant land, for they wouldn’t believe his promise to care for them.

 

Okay, this is beyond my ability to understand. They were standing on sand – in the desert – looking at Canaan. It was bad enough that they didn’t just believe and obey God, following where He led. Even worse, they could not accept the beauty and bounty of the place He had called them to and chose to stay in the desert instead.

The desert! They chose to stay in the barren, dry places where there was only enough food and water for their massive numbers because God took care of them! They chose a life of wandering with no home, trekking through the desert (where God had to take care of them) instead of trusting Him and moving on over into the lush bounty of Canaan – which He had already told them would be theirs. Why?

I think the bottom line is that we humans tend to prefer the challenges we know. The challenges Israel faced in the desert were so familiar, and God’s care through those challenges so consistent, that they were (and I use the word in a skewed fashion) comfortable. In truth, I think they took God’s care in the desert so for granted that they hardly recognized it anymore. Stepping over into Canaan, though, would have meant trusting God to care for them in new areas and…oh…

Until then, God had done everything for them, or had Moses or specific others do it. They knew, though, that in Canaan they would be called upon to do something – to take up arms and fight for the ground God had promised them. They were like baby Christians who don’t want to grow up! Or, I suppose, it is rather the other way around – today’s perpetually babyish Christians are very much like these children of God.

When someone first turns his life over to God, He takes total care of them as if they were literal babies – answering every prayer instantly (like a parent responding to a baby’s cry) and often in astoundingly miraculous ways, but then God requires them to grow up – to start using and exercising their faith – to DO something…to take up arms and fight for the ground He has promised them. The funny thing is that God usually ends up fighting the battles for us after we take up arms to fight (just as He did for Israel once they actually crossed on over into Canaan); He just wants us to get up off our blessed assurance and move. But too many refuse. They aren’t willing to take up arms and step forward into His promises, trusting Him to take care of them through everything. No, they would rather stay in babyhood where they don’t have to do anything (but also can’t own or be anything); they would rather stay in the desert.

I’ve seen myself in Israel before, but until meditating on this passage I had never really seen their walk as a parallel to my spiritual walk; yet it is. What they did as a nation I may (or may not) do as a Christian – gaining or losing ground accordingly. Help me, Lord, to keep moving forward!

Reading on into verses 34-39 you see the consequences of Israel’s refusal to grow up. They thought they would be just fine if they stayed in babyhood, in the desert, but because they first disobeyed God’s call to move forward and then, when they did move, moved on their own terms…

When we disobey God in any way we are in sin, and unconfessed sin always has consequences. In their case, it became greater sin. (v. 34-39) “Israel failed to destroy the nations in the land, as the lord had told them to. Instead, they mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs. They worshipped their idols, and this led to their downfall. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters. By sacrificing them to the idols of Canaan, they polluted the land with murder. They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the lord’s sight.”

It’s true; there is no such thing as standing still with God. We must continually move forward. It is also true that genuine obedience is doing what God says, when God says, how God says and all God says. Israel did finally cross over into Canaan, but even then they failed to do all God said – destroy the nations of the land. They let some remain and, because they did, they “fell” into horrible sin and later paid an unimagined price for that sin. God has great mercy, but (v. 43) “Again and again he delivered them, but they continued to rebel against him, and they were finally destroyed by their sin.”

God was still merciful, and did deliver them in the end, but how different would it have been if they had obeyed Him, and fully, the first time? Where, for instance, would Israel be today? Where would I be today if I had always obeyed Him, and fully, the first time?

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C