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

Watch Your Mouth

In James 3, God repeats the classic parental command and makes it very clear that He’s serious. Yes, He says here that no one can tame the tongue, but the context of the chapter makes it clear that He expects us to try.

Luke 6:45 tells us that what comes out of our mouths reveals what is really in our hearts. We can say it isn’t so, but where else would the words come from?

If I’m truly walking in the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love that God desires from me, if that’s what fills my heart, then the words that come out of my mouth will be words of love. I won’t be calling another driver an idiot (or worse). I won’t be bad mouthing the mother who isn’t controlling her screaming child.

I won’t be, as James puts it, cursing a person who was made in God’s very image. And, whether we want to admit it or not, EVERY man was made in God’s very image, even the one whose views don’t correspond with our own.

If I do catch my mouth saying things it shouldn’t (or my fingers typing things they ought not) it’s time for a heart check.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Oh Lord

I come to you as a child of the church. Some of my earliest memories center around Sunday school and the sanctuary. We weren’t always in church over the years, but we were there enough that I accepted Jesus in the summer after sixth grade.

On that day, at summer camp, in a chapel by a lake, I accepted Him as my Savior. It was years before I accepted Him as my Lord.

You hear the question all the time: “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And you hear others answer, “Yes.” It seems you especially hear them answer affirmatively if they were raised in church like I was – because that’s the response you’re expected to give.

In actuality, though He was undeniably my Savior and I knew it in the depths of my soul, I had no clue what it even meant to accept Him as Lord. Worse, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I figured “Lord and Savior” was all the same thing. But…lordship?

I knew what it meant to follow the guidelines I was taught in church.

I knew what it meant to obey the rules laid down at home.

But Jesus as Lord? I didn’t even know what a lord was, or not until I started studying certain historical time periods.

Throughout history, the lord of the estate or region was the one who ruled – similar to a king, but on a much more personal level. If he were a good lord, he kept his eye on you, saw to it that you had what you needed to get your work done, knew if you were sick… He accepted a certain level, a high level, of responsibility for you.

And you? If you truly accepted him as your lord, you obeyed him and submitted completely to his authority. You made sure you knew what he expected of you and you did it. You learned what pleased him and tried to make him happy. You were his and he was yours, and you considered it an honor to serve him.

It was after gaining this understanding that I began to grow up as a Christian. Jesus’ question in Luke 6:46 is relevant, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” Here is reality; it’s one thing to say He is your Lord. It is another thing entirely to live with Him as your Lord. Honestly, it seems that most Christians today don’t even know what He says. How, then, can they let Him be Lord? So…

Number 1: We learn what He says. The very first thing we have to do, of course, is start listening to Him. Read the Word and truly pay attention to it. Pray and genuinely listen to what He has to say to you. Be in the church He calls you to and let the minister He has set there guide you as you learn.

Number 2: Act on what He says. Always do what He says, and put forth every effort to please Him. Remind yourself continually that He was never supposed to be only your Savior, but also your Lord.

Accepting Jesus as your Savior requires a heart change and a declaration. Accepting Jesus as your Lord requires action – continual, faithful, intentional action.

Salvation is free, but accepting His Lordship requires effort – an investment of time, heart, intentions, and actions.

But oh, the rewards on that investment!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Lessons from a Tree

Copyright Dale Brock All rights reserved

Have you ever seen a beautiful example of bonsai? All my life, I’ve been drawn to tiny pots holding miniature trees that have been trained to grow ever so gracefully into living art. They bring me joy and, having seen them so many times, I thought I knew bonsai.

But now I know a bonsai artist. He posts pictures of his ongoing projects on Facebook, and through him I have learned so much more – including just how much I don’t know about the art. First, bonsai comes in all shapes and sizes from the tiny trees I’ve seen to trees so tall he needs help to move them. Second, he doesn’t generally start with nursery-perfect trees, but rather goes out on his own to find truly interesting specimens that show promise of greatness…at least to his trained eye. Then comes the real work.

Focused on producing the ideal product, he begins by selecting just the right the pot. After settling the tree’s roots in its new home, he sets it aside, letting it sit there and grow. He does nothing but nurture it until he knows its roots are established and it is healthy. Then, and only then, does he begin the careful and entirely deliberate pruning process.

I don’t know what goes on inside his head, but I do know that each move he makes is deliberate. He removes branches that are unhealthy or don’t belong in the final design, pieces that get in the way of the special beauty he wants to reveal. Then, having done this, he pulls out his wire and wraps those branches with it so he can ever so gently train them to grow exactly as he sees them in his mind’s eye.

It was a revelation when I saw it. Bonsai isn’t those tiny trees I’ve always admired; it’s careful, thoughtful, pruning and training.

So is Christianity – our development as Christians. When we’re born again, God repots us, putting us in a place where our roots can settle and we can grow strong. Unlike the bonsai trees, we have it within our power to move from this place, but if we’re wise we choose to remain.

Having repotted us and given us time to grow, once He judges that we are settled in, strong, and health enough, He begins a very deliberate pruning process. This is when life gets challenging and exciting all at the same time. Some things we exult in. When He delivers us from addictions that have plagued us, we feel suddenly free. When He gently removes things that have been blinding us, freeing us to truly see Him, we rejoice. Other changes He makes are more painful. We may not want to leave behind things like dangerous friends, bad habits, etc., but if we do…

If we trust His vision, that He sees clearly the promise within us and has a plan for making us beautiful, we submit to the pruning.

Then comes the next step. Having pruned away the deadwood and offensive branches, He pulls out His wire and begins to shape us. Patiently, gently, He nudges us to learn to show love, to be forgiving, to walk in integrity, to be faithful… He helps us learn to produce the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives and, in general, to grow to look like Him. I have this image in my mind of Him sometimes sitting back, like my bonsai artist friend, and smiling softly in satisfaction as we begin to truly take shape.

Bonsai is a slow art, one that requires mind-blowing patience on the part of the artist as his pieces take years to develop. Our growth as Christians is the same. I thank God that His mercy, grace, and patience with me are new every morning.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Image copyright Dale Brock – All Rights Reserved