Faith of Cancer

We should have named her Ariel.  Madison is a fish.  Born in Florida, raised in the pool, she is at home in the water.  At the age of 3, I removed her floating aid and decided that I was going to teach her to swim.  She pushed away from me and took off kicking through the water.  No one ever told her that was something she was supposed to learn.  It goes to reason that she is now on the swim team.  An amazing swim program with amazing facilities.

Last night, I sat with her Daddy at swim practice.  At the far end of the olympic pool, there is a high dive.  Occasionally, the coaches let the younger kids wander over to the massive giant and take the leap.  First timers take the ladder with shaking knees, climb to the top, take a look over the edge, and then almost always climb back down to safety.  After a few times of this march, they eventually push their nerve over the end, screaming the whole way down.

Last night, a lone girl stood with her coach beside the skyscraper high dive.  She climbed the ladder with confidence.  She grabbed our attention.  We fixed our gaze as she walked to the end and stopped.  Time paused. Slowly, she bent at a 90 degree angle.  Arms stretched out straight to her side.  Balance gained, she lifted her toes.  Paused.  Fixed.  If there had been a slight breeze from behind, she would have tipped over the side, but she stood.  She stood in strength and she stood in confidence.

The leap of faith.  The lighting of the torch.  The bullet ignited.  It was so graceful, I wanted to stand.  She slowly tipped over the side, soaring through the air with the most captivating beauty and grace.  A perfect swan dive.  The beauty was in the falling, not in the safety of returning to the pool.

Life is scary.  We climb life hurdles with our knees knocking, scared to death.  The diving boards are such huge scary monsters that we do our best to avoid.  And then we have no option, we kick and scream and we don’t want to, but we are forced over the edge.  Jesus is the Diving Team.  He is the best facility available.  He is the coach that never takes his eyes away.  Once you have done it, there is nothing to fear.  Fall into his mercy.  Fall into his grace.  Fall in to his loving arms with resolute confidence.  Cancer is one graceful swan dive.

Once you have taken the plunge, the standard diving board, Nothing.  I jump right off that thing like it never existed.  Once I have, literally, fallen on my knees and prayed for the health of my three month old, financial problems don’t make me blink.  Once I have been covered with scars and swelling, the popularity club doesn’t seem worth my time.  Loss of a job.  Transfer of schools.  Social drama.  Political upheaval.  Dreams crushed.  Swan dive in to the arms of my Jesus.

I have the faith of cancer.


Inner Dance Party

Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Rock.  Rock.

Arms up.  Clap.  Clap.  Clap.  Clap.

Guitar solo.  Head swing.

Sexy pose.

Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Rock out.

Hips shake.  Bump.  Bump.  Bump.  Bump.

Dance party.  Let it go.

Lookin good.

Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Bass.  Be rock.

Muted inner drum.  Drum.

Bass.  Loud.  Up.  Go.  Go.  Go.

Head party.

I Am That Boy

Mountains spread before me.  The river cuts them apart.  The morning sun yawns and slowly rises.  I lift my coffee.  My two hands cusp its warmth.  Deep breath and peace in my heart.  I pray.  I seek.  Early in the morning, in my life, in the conversation, I seek God.

His word says give.  His command is to love.  The law says purity.  I obey him and I am happy.  All my heart searches for him.  I study in the library, feasting on knowledge.  Listening in class, Science is his creation.  Attentive in speeches, charity is his work.  I want to know his good.  I want no compromise in my life.  When I eat, it is of the fruit he provided.  When I speak, it is an outpouring of the knowledge he provided.  When I clean, it is of his blessings.  And when I laugh, it is joy that can not be contained.  I want others to look at me and see you.  I want your principles to radiate from my life’s obsessions.

I am young.  My body is healthy.  My body is fit and handsome.  Young women notice me.  Pretty girls flirt.  How can I stay pure?  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  I think about you when I am tempted.  I have disciplined my eyes to look away.  I have trained my mind to look for goodness, to call it out, and to praise it.  Even though I am sought, I have already been won.  I am untouchable.

A crowd forms around me.  They follow my example.  They have wandered away like sheep and you find them.  I rebuke evil that preys on others.  I listen, I feel, and I cry.  A beggar lacks the training so easily given away.  A nagging child needs the discipline her bratty spirit craves.  A neglected life begging, begging for love, one soul alone can give.  I want to see.  I want to give.  I want to heal.

A conspiracy forms against me.  I will not wander.  I meditate on your principles.  I am overwhelmed by the power that swells within me.  Disgrace is among the people that lie about me.  So short is their conniving plan.

I have determined to follow you.  Teach me, O Lord.  Give me understanding.  I will put it into practice.  I walk in your path.  I ponder my direction.  My eagerness is for you, not for money!  Blessings are poured out on me.  All this world is lavished upon me but it is not my fulfillment.  It all is at my fingertips, it all, I give away.

Forever you stand firm.  My lips burst in worship.  I live to sing your praise.

I, Caroline, long to be that Psalm 119 boy.  So easily, Lord, you provide that life for me.

Don’t Tell Anyone. Everybody Already Knows.

Florida. One word pops into your head: SUN. Yes, Sunny Florida. Well, I had the privilege of living in Sunny Florida for five years. I had a little ranch style home and a little tropical yard. I was young and loved our little place I made into home.

I vacuumed every day. The laundry basket was always empty (almost always. That stuff breeds!) Eggs were displayed in a bowl in the fridge. You could always find fresh baked goods. I couldn’t be happier to be my own little version of Martha Stewart.

Like a good wife, one day I headed to the grocery store to stock our home with tempting, yet healthy foods. I had a grocery budget but I loved to squeeze it in the food area and have a little extra money left over to buy something extra for our home. I was on a gardening kick so: a new flower pot for in front of my front door. The decision was made and I had in my head what I wanted.

I made my grocery run. Kept tabs on my total, I had a full cart and a little left over to indulge myself. I strutted to the other side of the store and to the outside garden section. You know the garden centers that have the mesh covering so the rain can reach the plants? Yes, I was in that kind of area.

My eyes scanned the pots. No. No. No. Ummmm. No. No. YES! I found it. It was huge. That was what I wanted. Only one problem, it was on the top shelf. The tip top shelf. But, no worries, I am tall. I stretched up. I could barely reach the pot with my finger tips. Sweet. Here was my plan: Inch the pot forward so that it falls off, then I catch it.

I started inching. It was going according to plan. It slowly inched forward. Then it tipped forward. I reached my arms out, ready to catch my prize.

It was like a rude prank! The pot was full of water! Remember the mesh ceiling? I was soaked with rain water! I mean, down my hair and face and clothes! And remember Sunny Florida? Well, it was about 100 degrees outside and I didn’t remember when it had rained last, but it wasn’t now!

Well, remember my cart full of groceries? I needed those! So, I squeaked and sloshed back through the store, all eyes on me.

Oh bless me. I would like to say there was a lesson to my story. But all you get out of some things is a good laugh.

He Spoke to Me

I hit the pillow and I am out. I sleep peacefully in a deep sleep until the rude alarm clock taps my shoulder and tells me to wake up. This girl loves her sleep.

One dark, routine night I was in this slumber. I dreamed. I dreamed I heard a voice. I did not see anything but I heard a voice say, “Do you want to wake up?”

It was a stupid question, and I replied, “Of course I want to wake up!”

“It is going to hurt.”

My response was immediate and without question, “They need me.”

I jolted out of my sleep and woke falling into Adrenal Crisis. I was barely able to wake my husband in my weakness. He called 911 and I was rushed to the emergency room. It hurt.

I am not scared to die. One day I will claim Paul’s words adapted as my own, “Living was Christ, dying now is gain.” But not now. “They need me.” My husband and my seven year old. And Christ has not quite yet carried on to completion his work in me.

I Want Everything

I give you my health.
I give you my future.
Here is my self righteousness.
My plans are yours.
I give you my family.
Take my strength.
Have my heart.

I need your peace.
My souls longs for heaven.
My prayer is for grace.
Your completion in me I crave.
Make me a servant of those I love.
I beg for your power.
I desire your love.

All of me in exchange for all of you.
I give you nothing.
I want everything.

My (lots) younger days

A few weeks until my wedding, you can guess I was a little distracted. I had invaded my sister’s home and I had been living with her and her precious girls for a few months already. I remember that time and I smile. Chubby cheeked five year old Conner and her one year old blanket carrying sister, Kate, had (and still do have) a deep part of my heart.

The girls were with me all the time. I was often told how beautiful and sweet my girls were and I just smiled. They were my girls.

I had also invaded my brother’s car. A hand me down little red Dodge, Neon. He was not quite old enough to drive and I had sold my car.

One sunny June day, sweet voiced Kate and I were traveling around town enjoying life. I turned up the radio and thought about how great it was to be me. We sang and giggled and continued our errands like the happy girls that we were.

Work at nursery (with my Kate by my side.) Check.
Pick up wedding shoes. Check.
Fill up car with gas. Check.
Run through carwash. In progress.

The radio still up and my happiness still overflowing, I was enjoying even the carwash.

“Ehh.” It was a sweet, polite, one year old, “I don’t think this is supposed to be happening.”

Attentive aunt turns around to see soap suds and water and car wash brushes swishing through my OPEN back windows!

I wish I had a video of me turned around in that little car trying to roll up those manual windows as fast as my arms would wind!

Have I told you I’m blonde?

A Hot Date with Cancer

I hit the town with my man. He is hot. I mean, he is that guy that turns heads and he is mine. How did I get him?! Not only is he hot but he is the whole package!

Babysitter for the night, we freshened up in our hotel room for the night then headed to Maggianos. Yum and fun. We took a “seat yourself booth” beside the bar and we ordered drinks. I needed a drink. Then we ordered some comfort food. We laughed and we looked …normal. We looked like a couple with a babysitter having a date. Well, my man knows how to treat me and we were not done after dinner. We hit up the Kroger for some dark chocolate for me, gelato for him, and we mixed and matched a six pack for us to share. We laughed and held on to each other. “This would not be fun with anyone but you.” His simple compliments mean the world to me.

Seeing us here, someone would almost think we were normal. I feel better than that. I feel like I have conquered the world. And so I owe the world to my husband. Because I am not wearing this scarf to make a fashion statement. When we return to the room and I pull it off, I am hiding a fresh scar and a swollen incision. And we have not traveled seven hours for our fun night on the town. I have a post op. appt. tomorrow at Duke.

But I strut through this town like I own it. And I walk through the doors of Duke University Hospital like I have an honors degree here. And I chat with the leading surgeon in MEN2A Cancer like we are BFFs. Because I can do anything. I can have cancer. And the very best husband in the whole entire world just makes it feel like one hot date.

Things I Teach My Daughter That I Have Not Learned Yet

“Those that can not do, teach.”  That has been the cop out of my life.  I have a degree in elementary education and teaching experience in a million different ways under my belt, but I have most been a teacher as a mom.  Why, oh why, like the Apostle Paul, can I teach without doing it myself?  I am the biggest of hypocrites!  Here is a list of the things that I teach my young daughter that I have not yet learned myself:

1.  Be YOURSELF!  This is such an old, feel good saying but it is so true!  I look at my daughter and she is so amazingly beautiful inside and out and she is trying to figure out who she is and she struggles with learning her own identity and I want so much for her to just be herself!  She loves animals.  She knows so much about them.  There is not a single animal in this whole world that she does not find interesting, and yet, she has learned that some people find many of them gross.  I have seen her pretend to be scared of a spider and I want to say to her, “BE YOURSELF!” but it is something that she has to learn.  I can not learn this for her.  But as I guide her in the journey of discovering herself, I see that just now, in my thirties I am learning who I am.  Who am I?  I am a child of God.  This is the most important thing about me.  I do not really care if that offends you because it is me and it is right.  I am a writer.  Oh, how I love to write.  How many writings I tossed because I did not think they amounted to anything.  I love coffee.  Lots of it.  Black.  I love chocolate.  Dark chocolate.  90% cocoa.  Where have you been my whole life?  I am a wife.  I love my husband.  So much.  I do not deserve him.  He is amazing.  We are one.  I am a mother.  Thank God.  I am a mother.  It is a miracle.  I am an introvert.  This is ok.  Sometimes, ok, a lot of times, I just want to be by myself.

2.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone makes mistakes.  What matters is if you learn from it.  My adorable little girl will trip in public and the first thing she does is look around to see who saw her.  IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS!  I tell her this over and over.  You will make mistakes.  It is ok.  It really is ok.  Admit it.  Say sorry, if needed.  Then move on and forget it.  Why can I not do this myself?  Why do I dwell on it for so long?  I wonder what people think about me all the time.  Why can I not learn from it and move on?

3.  Do NOT do something to make yourself happy.  Do what is right and it will give you JOY.  That is so much better!  “Sweetie, pick a healthy snack.”  “Let’s get some exercise.”  “Introduce yourself.”  “Say sorry.”  Sometimes, oh so often, things are hard.  Life can just be hard.  But do not approach any situation to make yourself happy, approach the situation doing what is right.

4.  Jesus has never failed me.  The church has.  Christians have.  Family has.  Security has.  Money has.  People have.  But Jesus has never failed me.  Ever.  

5.  A million billion other things.  I am still learning every day.  It is an incredible, immense blessing to be a mother.  I am thankful for my daughter every single day.  I always knew I would love her.  I always knew I would take care of her.  I never ever knew how much I would learn from her!  Thank you Jesus!