Quiet Time

I’ve never cared for the phrase “quiet time” in reference to my time spent with God. It seemed, somehow, to cheapen that time, to make it less than it really is.

I’ve changed my mind. No real surprise there; it happens.

“Quiet Time” is, actually, the perfect phrase for what I need the most. When I come to meet with God, it is imperative that I shut out the world and, more importantly, shut out the intrusive thoughts that try to interfere with our meeting. This recent revelation is very much like the one I had before writing “Sacrifice of Praise.” God wants my complete attention, and for Him to have it I need quiet. Yes, literal quiet is bliss, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here.

I can’t simply snatch a few moments out of my day and say, “Here, God, these are yours!” True, He and I are talking all day long, but that’s not the same thing. Just like it’s unhealthy (emotionally as well as physically) to eat every meal on the run, it’s spiritually unhealthy to try to develop my relationship with God constantly on the run. We need to sit down together, really dig into the conversations He wants to have while my eyes and heart are focused totally on Him.

So I set aside time. I reserve time for Him and do my best to let nothing interfere with it. In my case, it really is best when I do this first thing in the morning because the “noise” gets so loud later in the day that it grows increasingly difficult to stop what I’m doing, drop all my cares to the floor, and meet Him with a quiet spirit. When I meet with Him first thing in the morning, it also sets the stage for a totally different day. I can literally feel the difference as I drive to work on those days I fail to truly sit down and spend time with Him.

What triggered these thoughts? It’s something Priscilla Shirer says in her devotional, Awaken (which I reviewed here). On Day 27, she shares about what she calls “Sabbath margin.”

“It is the Spirit-empowered choice to cease striving and enjoy our God. It is the margin that reminds us He is in full control. It is the peace that comes in the midst of all that whirlwind and flurry of activity. Sabbath is what beats our lives into submission, giving us the breathing room for getting our sanity back. We cannot afford to neglect the Sabbath principle.”

Priscilla Shirer, Awaken, 2017

Sabbath is about rest. It is about getting quiet and focusing on the eternally important rather than the temporarily pressing. So… Quiet spirit, quiet atmosphere (Thank God I actually have that now!), quiet thoughts… Quiet Time. I get it.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

My Salvation Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Forgiveness Isn’t an Option

Yes, you can forgive, and you must!

You’ve heard it preached over and over. I’ll even list a couple of scriptures at the end of this post.

You’ve probably even seen articles online that show the benefits of forgiveness. I’ll include some of those at the bottom of this post as well.

But…

Are you one of those who sit there convinced that it’s not possible? Your situation is too hard. The wounds go too deep. The betrayal affected too many people. That person has never asked for forgiveness, so you feel no need to give it.

Still…not optional. Yes, I said it. Forgiveness is not an option. For the Christian, it is a command. For everyone, it is a physical and psychological necessity. If you read the Bible, you can’t avoid it.

Remember what Jesus said on the cross? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There is a part of me that wants to correct Jesus. “Oh yes, they did! They knew exactly what they were doing!” Doesn’t matter. Even before His death, burial, and resurrection, He was asking forgiveness for the collective “us.” Jesus forgave. We received. (Well, I hope you’ve received!)

Consider the Apostle Paul when he was still Saul. He was hell-bent on destroying the new movement that became Christianity. Those followers of Christ, starting with Ananias, could have refused to forgive him after he met Jesus. If they had, if they had denied his right to minister on the Lord’s behalf, he may never have written what we know today as about 2/3 of the New Testament. But they did forgive, and he did write, and we received.

I could keep on with accounts from the Bible, but let’s bring it forward to today. Bear with me, if you will, as I share two examples from my own life.

I have a friend. I love her dearly, and I hurt for her often. She is a loving and generous person who used to serve God openly, freely, joyously, but something has changed her, caused her to withdraw in many ways.

There is one person, another Christian, against whom she holds implacable unforgiveness. Did the person genuinely do her wrong back in the day? Quite possibly; I don’t know their story. But that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the roots of unforgiveness and bitterness have grown so deep and strong that now pretty much every aspect of her life seems to have become choked by those weeds. Yes, she has a hard life, but so do a lot of others who haven’t chosen her path.

Others like me.

Let me pause here and say that I’m well aware I am far from perfect. I know this. What I am, however, is living proof that you can walk through hell and come out the other side victorious.

My story starts over forty years ago when I unknowingly married a narcissist. During those years, he abused me in pretty much every way but physically. I lived under his thumb without even realizing it for a very long time – without understanding that my life wasn’t normal. He had multiple affairs. He ignored everything that was important to me unless paying attention to it played into his plan and made him look good to others. He squandered his really good income so that I ended up having to earn money for the “unimportant” things like homeschool curriculum for the boys and clothes for myself.

Then, when it became hard for him to find a “position,” he stopped working; a regular job was beneath him. This left me doing all I could to pay the bills he easily ignored.

Eventually, we ended up living in a house that was literally falling down over our heads because he couldn’t be bothered to maintain much of anything, ever. Lest you think I exaggerate, first we lost gas because the line started leaking and he “couldn’t afford” to fix it. Then the water pipes started bursting and when his quick patches didn’t hold he gave up. We were left with only electricity for years, and I paid that bill. The walls had so many holes in them that I couldn’t stuff them all well enough to keep anything out. I once ended up in the ER with a bug in my ear as a result of that. And the roof? One room was off limits because half the roof was completely gone, and when it rained it rained inside our only bathroom. Years… Today, looking back, that blows my mind; I felt so trapped in that…place. (NOT just talking the house here.)

And then there were the women. The first affair I know about happened in the early 90s and either he thought I was a complete idiot or he was flaunting it in my face. (Him having the affair was my fault of course. He was an expert at gaslighting.) The last affair he tried to have was in 2014. Strange as it seems, it wasn’t until then that I actually stopped loving him. It was the point at which that tiny flame was at last doused completely.

My primary focus through most of the past forty years has been on staying right with God and growing closer to Him. As a result, I learned to forgive. See, if you’re actively watching your spiritual walk, when things stop feeling right, when you can tell that you’re “off,” you stop. You pause, take a good look at yourself, and ask God, “Where have I gone wrong?” In those early years, it was almost always unforgiveness towards Jack or someone else that nailed me. God had to school me over and over, but I eventually learned how to genuinely forgive and do it quickly. (Note to Self: As soon as you hit “publish” on this post the devil is going to see to it that you’re tested.)

So, my regular readers know that Jack passed away in October. I can honestly say that, regardless of all he had done, all he did until just a few weeks before his death, I forgave him. I chose not to walk in unforgiveness, but in forgiveness, which meant that when unforgiveness popped up I actively stomped it out.

I prayed for him often. I very much wanted to know he was right with God even if he were never right with me. He asked me to pray the sinners prayer with him days before he went into the hospital for the last time, and I rejoice that he did, that now, in Heaven, he is finally the man God always meant him to be.

Decades of abuse could have destroyed me. It did not. I did more than survive those years. In spite of dealing with anxiety and occasional bouts of depression, I thrived. I had to battle each and every day, but just as daily workouts strengthen muscles, those daily battles strengthened me. I came out stronger, and one of the reasons is my determination to deny the devil the option of using one of his greatest weapons – unforgiveness – to bring me down.

Forgiveness isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Forgiveness Verses (There are many more.)
Matthew 18:21
Mark 11:25
Luke 6:37
Ephesians 4:32

Benefits of Forgiveness (There are many more.)
Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
The Many Benefits of Forgiveness
The Power of Forgiveness
The Physical Benefits of Forgiveness

She Lived Love

This is Granny’s hens and chickens plant.

I mean that literally. Because of the way it propagates, it really is the very same plant my grandmother tended from the time I was little. I cannot express how happy I was the day those first starts came into my hands. No, she didn’t physically touch this specific part of the plant, but that doesn’t matter; her touch was there in the beginning. She’s part of it, and it represents the fact that, though I won’t see her again until Heaven, she’s still with me.

This isn’t the only way she’s still with me, of course. Much more importantly, her touch was there in the beginning for me too. Granny touched my life by living Jesus in the most everyday, practical ways. Did she preach? No. Was she constantly reading her Bible? Not that I recall. Did she make a point of sharing Jesus with me every time we were together? Uh uh. So what did she do?

She loved.

Yes, I knew that she belonged to God and had a relationship with Him, but rather than preach to me about Him, she dealt with me as gently as she did with this plant. She tended to my needs. She cared for me. She lived love for me. She never preached a sermon, but she lived a sermon every day of her life. The very fact that I’m where I am today is due in part to her prayers and her faithfulness to live love.

We need more of that.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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.

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer

I’ve done a few of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible studies through the years, so when I received this book as a gift I knew I’d been given gold. When I saw it was a 90-day devotional, I dug right in, and after only two days I knew I had to share.

Who is Priscilla Shirer? Well, the bit of information that caught my attention when we began that first Bible study was that she is Tony Evans’ daughter. She is much more, but having known of his ministry for years I felt confident I could trust her and was pretty sure I would enjoy her teaching. I was right.

As well as being a focused wife and mother, Shirer has been in full-time ministry for decades. She’s written books and Bible studies, speaks all over the place, and runs Going Beyond Ministries with her husband. She’s got the spiritual goods.

So… Awaken

The book starts with a two-page introduction. I realize most readers skip the introduction. Don’t. It’ll only take a few minutes to read, and will help prepare you for what’s coming. One of my favorite sentences in this section is, “The majority of what you’ll encounter here are personal whispers from God’s Spirit to my own over the last decade.” This is one of the things I value most about her in all of her works. She speaks to us what He has spoken to her. The adventure, the journey, is real.

After the introduction, you head straight into Day 1, which hits you right in the heart in a good way. She likens our need for God, for all He has to offer, to the Israelites’ need to gather manna first thing in the morning before the sun came along to burn it all off.

It took even less time to read this devotion than it did the intro, but I’m still thinking about it. This is a parallel I’d never considered, and there’s a lot to unpack. In other words, it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It made me think and keep thinking.

After each devotion, you’ll find two more pages set aside just for you. Entitled “He Speaks to Me,” this section gives you the chance to answer a question, to see how what she has shared applies to your life. I encourage you to really think about your answer and take the time to write it down in the journal space she’s provided. You may not be comfortable recording your thoughts in this way, but I’d like you to remember two things.

  1. This is your book. No one else needs to see it, so it’s a safe place.
  2. There are probably many times in the past that God has shown you exciting, even astounding, things but you forgot them. (Or is that only me?) Recording triggers remembering.

The book is a 90-day devotional. That’s only a 3-month commitment if you do it every day. And if you choose not to do it daily? Well, I certainly won’t judge you. I will say, however, that I’m sure you’ll gain something every time you choose to dive in. I have, and I’ve only just finished Day 2.

So why didn’t I wait until I’ve done more before writing this review? Two reasons. I “know” Priscilla Shirer, and am confident in her consistency. Also, it’s December 29th, which gives you time to grab a copy for yourself and start on January 1. I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year than to focus on getting ever closer to God.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Presale Starts NOW

I couldn’t wait to start the presale, and it’s truly a preSALE. Agree to sign up for my newsletter and instead of paying the regular price ($5.99) you’ll only pay $2.99! The sale ends when the book goes live, so time is already running out!

Experiencing the Bible Presale

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

I Did It! Who Wants In?

The Experiencing the Bible ebook is a THING! Well, officially I’m awaiting confirmation on the latest upload, because I tweaked some tech stuff, but it is set to release on Christmas Day! Even more awesome, it will be available pretty much anywhere you buy your ebooks. Not everywhere, mind, but pretty much everywhere.

I will make preorders available, and I’m actually going to offer a discount for presales. If you think you might want in on a discounted presale price, shoot me an email at tammymcardwell@gmail.com and ask to be put on my mailing list. When we’re ready to roll with the discounted presale, that’s how I’ll let everyone know.

Merry Christmas!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

The Holy Spirit

I’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit and do not know how people make it through their days without a close connection with Him. I’ve tended to think of this relationship as a New Testament thing but, when you think about it, it’s awesome how active the Holy Spirit was long before the Day of Pentecost. How many times, as you read the Old Testament, do you see words like, “and the Holy Spirit came upon him”? A lot! And it always results in something amazing happening.

Even in the New Testament, still under the Old Covenant, we see in Luke 2:25 that, “there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him.” We don’t know much about Simeon, only that he was “a man in Jerusalem,” which implies that he wasn’t a priest. Well, and we know he was someone who was particularly devout, anxiously waiting for the Messiah, and… oh yeah… the Holy Spirit hung out with him.

He was a normal man, but one who loved God so very much that the Holy Spirit stayed in contact with him, and precisely when Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus to present Him to the Lord, “the Spirit led him to the Temple.” And, oh my, what happens next!

Things always happen when the Holy Spirit gets involved.

Celebrating Jesus
Tammy C

What About the Shepherds?

It’s December 2nd, and I’m reading a chapter a day in Luke leading up to Christmas. It’s convenient how Luke “happens” to have 24 chapters.

So in chapter 2 we encounter the shepherds, and today I found myself asking, “What about them? What happened to them?” The story of Jesus’ birth is so exciting that it’s easy to gloss over the part of the shepherds even as awesome as it is. But these weren’t just characters in a story; they were living, breathing men whose lives were touched by the supernatural in a way that had never happened before. I mean, they were the first to see the long awaited Messiah, and they were sent to His birthplace by an angel!

So what became of them? What became of their children? Surely they told their kids about their experience! Did they or their children follow Jesus once He entered into His ministry? Were they among the 5,000 men (plus women and kids!) who were served by Jesus and His disciples? Did their children, and maybe grandchildren, lay palm branches on the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem? Were they among the first Christians?

Or did some of them, as time went on while they were waiting for Jesus to grow up, lose that heavenly vision? Unlike Mary, who “kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2:19), did they lose track of Him and His significance or, worse yet, figure that by the time He was old enough to do anything they would be too old to care? I hope not.

But I do wonder.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C