A Little Obvious Love Tradition


January is a month for new beginnings. It is a time to begin again. The last day of the first month of the year. The new has sunk in and we are in full force of a new year.

Sitting in the warmth of my home. Cuddled up watching a movie in my comfy clothes. Sick day.

No, I’m not sick. My baby has caught a bug. Honestly, she hardly ever gets sick and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. After only half a day of sickness, she doesn’t know why this thing is sticking around.

Her biggest disappointment is that today was going to include taking her guinea pig, Mocha, to school. And the day was to be followed up with a play date after school. Dang it! All canceled and rescheduled.

One of the best parts of love is being loved on a sick day. Madison has watched more TV than is usually allowed in a week, heck, a month. Her Daddy ran out to purchase some Sprite and Gatorade, not usually found in our home. And the cabinet is stocked with Frozen Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. We are here for her in her hard time. To pamper her and try to make it easier.

I sit here on our hard day, the last day of the month of new beginnings, and look to February. The month to celebrate love.

We have this little tradition. The searching has already begun to take place. We search high and low and we each find a card for the other two members of our family. Six cards sit upon our mantle.

It is the hardest/cutest thing to stand on the card isle with a little girl that insists on reading and looking at every single card, trying to keep your eye on her, while she is shouting out all the while, “Don’t look! Don’t look!” And then paying for something without seeing it!

I don’t usually give away little secrets like this, or even write a series like this, but I am going to spend a while writing, on making this world go round. Because it is love sweet love, it drives us crazy, saves the world, inspires my favorite novel, Les Miserables, and led me to my God! LOVE , my friends, is the greatest thing to write about!

(Written Friday)


The Greatest of These is LOVE

My family of three is riding in the car on a random day, James smiles at me and takes my hand, “I love you.”

A little voice pipes up from the back seat, “I love you too.”

Dinner time and James catches my eye, I blow him a kiss. Madison puckers up and smooches me back.

At the age of two, my little girl often referred to me as “Babe.” She had heard her Daddy get my attention with that name and she followed suit.

Valentine’s Day rolled around and the stores began to decorate and advertise. Love was in the air. SHE CLAIMED IT! She puckered up and declared, “I love you.”

As Madison has grown, she has claimed Valentine’s Day for herself. The Valentine’s traditions in our home have grown and I have learned something from the mouth of my little girl. Valentine’s Day has become something so much bigger than it ever was!

VALENTINES DAY IS FOR CHILDREN! It is for single people, old people, teachers, cousins, husbands, families, friends, neighbors, and dare I say even enemies!

This Valentine’s Day will see the release of a movie that portrays the modern idea of love. “Fifty Shades of Gray.” Love has been reduced to pornographic, only for the hot and sexy, sex.


Sex is beautiful. That is a whole separate post/book. But sex does not equal love!

Valentine’s Day is dreaded by those that do not live up to these standards. Valentine’s Day is dreaded by the single.

Well let me tell you, culture got it wrong! The King of Kings loves you so much he died for you! That is love! That is love for everyone!

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it has a new meaning for me.

Yes! Romantic love is amazing! I LOVE a HOT DATE with my HOT HUSBAND! I love flowers and nice restaurants and kisses. But after twelve years of marriage, I love my husband even more than our wedding day. Losing wedding day bliss is incredible when it is replaced with a deeper, more intimate love! James has loved me through things that are not so sexy. And that is a reason to celebrate the love of my husband!

There is also someone else that I love. Someone that I brought into this world. Someone that has me daily on my knees for her heart and soul. I love my daughter with a love that is so much bigger than the love our culture flashes at Valentine’s Day. I do have a daughter that is beautiful, smart, and talented. But let it be known, that does not make me love her. I love her because she is mine! I would love that little girl if she was covered in green warts, couldn’t learn a thing, and the meanest girl alive. There is nothing she can do to make me love her or to make me not love her! She is my daughter, loved and cherished, and that is a reason to celebrate!

And I see that I am loved. Someone died for me. Someone saw the ugliness of my sin and did not turn his head, but he washed me clean. Someone has never left my side. Someone is preparing a perfect home and a perfect eternity to satisfy my every desire. He did not love me for anything I have to offer, but he loved me because I am his! There is nothing I can do to earn his love, but he pours it over me daily. The God of the Universe loves me! Celebrate!

Do not buy into the lie that Valentine’s Day is a pornographic film. You are loved. Pucker up those lips, pipe up from the backseat, and CLAIM IT!

A little early because I am already getting excited, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

How Far Do I Want to Take This?

Hmmm. Christian. What does that mean? What does that mean in my life?

Church Sunday? Check that box on religious preference? Tell god what I want for Christmas?

Does being a follower of Jesus change what I eat? Does it mean that I care for my body as a temple? Am I supposed to change who my friends are? Am I looking for beneficial connections or people I can help? If I call myself a Christian, do I get angry at the sin around me? Yes angry! Do you care about human trafficking? Are you tired of hearing about babies being ripped apart in their mom’s bellies? If I am a follower of Jesus do I love people like he did? Stinky, rude, ignorant people.

I claim to follow Jesus. But am I anything like him?

Don’t Tell Anyone


Response: “Oh you poor thing!” And then turn and run in the other direction as quickly as they could.

OR SO I THOUGHT! I was scared of my weakness. Scared people wouldn’t like me. Scared I would lose friends. Scared it would make my life meaningless.

I did my very best to keep it hidden. Did my best to avoid any topic that would bring up that “C” word. Did my best to make people like me. Did my best to make friends. Did my best to give my life purpose and meaning.


Then, sometimes slowly, Jesus would take my firm grip on my life and slowly rub my back and speak kindly to me and loosen one finger at a time. Then, sometimes, it was boot camp and it was hard and it was extreme, but he changed my life in a huge way.

18 years. 18 years after I was diagnosed. It took 18 years for me to peek from behind “Momma’s legs” and step into this big scary world. It took 18 years for me to take the hand of Jesus and say, “OK my Lord, what do you have for me?”

“Share my story? …ummm, no thanks. People may not like me.” But slowly, obediently, I sat down to the computer and typed out the words Beautiful Life with Cancer.

It was a rush of emotion. Words of truth. A release of a secret.

The Journey Begins. My fingers typed out a story. I read it, like I was reading it for the first time. But it was my story. I opened my gripped palms and I let that little bird fly.

I looked Satan in the face and yelled, “Take that! You will not control me any longer!”

And in my weakness, the God that made me, made me strong. Because it is not about me, it is about Him!

And something crazy happened! People connected. People opened up and shared. I heard other stories. I made friends. I opened up and the weakness in my life that I was so terrified of became a strength.

Sharing the weaknesses in my life connected me to people like I never thought possible. Everyone has something. Everyone has a struggle.

Do you want to connect? Do you want to make a difference in the life of someone that is struggling? Open up and share your own weaknesses.

The God of everything, the only one who knows everything, the all powerful, the King of Kings did not consider equality with God something to keep him from loving me! And He became weak for me, and became human, and died on a cross for me!

Thank you Jesus for taking weak Caroline and loving me and using me in your almighty plan!

I no longer have a secret. Tell anyone you want.




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I’m a Big Girl Now

From a little girl, my eyes were peeled, scanning the room for opinions of others.

Does she like what I am wearing?
Did my words impress them?
How does my hair look today?
Does everyone approve?

And on and on the list goes! I was looking, looking, looking to impress.

Fast forward. I am in my thirties. Caroline is on a treadmill beside her husband, surrounded by supermodels, and I am center stage at the gym. Since this time, we have joined the YMCA. Love the Y. This other particular gym held our membership for about two months. I think every member of the gym was a pro-athlete, model, billionaire …everyone except me.

But here I am, these are my surroundings. I have my ears plugged, listening to music, and running. My husband (who does fit the hottie stereotype that I am surrounded by 😍) is running (much faster) beside me. I see his lips move. Oh, I pull out my earbuds. I turn to hear what he is saying to me. Running. Running. Turning my head. …I am not that coordinated.

SMACK! Caroline is trying to do too much at one time. I’ve lost it all. Desperately gripping the two bars beside me, it is all that keeps my face from smacking the moving treadmill. However, my legs are not so fortunate. They continue to drag on the still running treadmill.

It seems like eternity passes. This is what I hear as I go down: Deep, sympathetic oohs and ahhs as everyone watches me wipe out. Completely wipe out.

After eternity, James pushes the off button. Every single eye in the gym is on me. Waiting for tears. Waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Waiting for me to run and hide and never be seen again.

What do I do? I stand up. I return to my treadmill. I look at James and I make a realization, I say, “I am not embarrassed.” I step up and I continue running.

This was a point in my life. Lots of moments have led up to this point, but here I realize, “I could absolutely care less what other people think.” Not in a rude mean way, but in a I don’t get embarrassed anymore way.

What happened? So very much!

After showing “all” to bring a baby into this world, after being infinitely loved by the most perfect man alive, after walking through life with the badge of Cancer, after picking my nauseously sick body up off the floor and giving all I’ve got to face another day, after the God of the universe shows me his glory and realizing that I am a princess of the king of kings, after wearing five year old homemade jewelry in public, yelling in Target at the top of my lungs because my toddler disappeared around the corner…after surviving this life and this story that I’ve got, I have learned what really does and does not matter in this life.

I guess I am a big girl now.


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Momma Bear Stands Up for Real Beauty

It literally disgusts me. Going about my business and then that creepy, skin crawling feeling of “that.” Turning my head and seeing some pervert eyeing me like I am something not human to be drooled over.

Men that see women, treat women, as nothing more than their looks, as objects. Pornography. A side note does not do justice to the evil of reducing women to an online or magazine or movie sexual object to be used and discarded. Scientifically, there is a direct relationship between pornography and sexual addiction, destruction of the family, sex trafficking, rape, and even murder.

But this article is not to address pornography and men.

Momma Bear sees the world through a new lens.

Memories of girl time. I was teaching my (then 6 year old) daughter to do what girls do best. Shop. Madison and I are strolling through the mall and enjoying our time together. Proudly holding her hand as we wander from store to store. Browsing through the animal books in Barnes and Noble. Oohing and ahhing over the puppy and kitty pictures. Picking out 3 new hair bows and letting her choose two. Waiting in line for an apple juice and a coffee and then sitting a while. Giggling and making plans for the rest of the day. I treasure moments with my little girl.

Shopping accomplished, we head through the department store to the exit to continue on our winter adventures. Giggling, talkative Madison turns silent. I follow her stare to a perfume advertisement of a woman dressed in a ribbon. Yes, only a ribbon loosely and barely covers her naked perfect body.

She has seen it. For the first time, part of her innocence is stolen. My six year old has seen PORNOGRAPHY!

I see her mind spinning. I see her thinking this woman is beautiful. I see her thinking, “perhaps this is how I am supposed to look.” I see her question her own self image.

Hell no! Momma Bear kicks in!

“Madison, look at that picture,” I point out what she is already looking at, “that ribbon would fall.”

“Follow me.” I take her little hand and guide her to another picture, not hard to find in the perfume/makeup section of the department store. “Look at that.” I point out a woman, dressed in a dress that barely covered her more than the woman dressed in a ribbon. This woman was smiling as she carried a large stack of presents with snow falling all around her. “What is she doing Madison?”

She studied the picture, “Walking in snow.”

“Where is her coat? Where are her mittens? Why is she wearing a short dress with no leggings? What do you think she would feel like?”


“Madison, this picture is not real life. This picture was taken so that we look at it and think, ‘She is pretty. I want to be like her. I will buy this.’ Madison, I think she looks ridiculous. I think it is sad that she is using her body to sell things.”

And then I looked her pudgy little six year old body in the eyes and promised, “Madison, You are beautiful! These pictures are not real! I never ever want you to try to look like this!”

I saw the relief in her little six year old eyes as she proclaimed, “No one can wear a ribbon!”

She got it! Thank you Jesus!

My daughter plays sports, she eats healthy, she has a brilliant curious mind, she loves people, she loves animals. She was made beautiful inside and out and she is treasured by the God of the universe! How dare anyone try to tell her that she is not good enough!


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Hearts Everywhere

On his knees by a bedside, tears streaming down her face as she hides, sitting alone in a crowd. Hearts cry out, “God, show me you are there.”

Theologians think they are thinking. Artists proudly offer up. Doctors believing they are healing. Parents satisfied that they are protecting.

Each day there is a sunrise. Once again birds fly in the sky. The ocean splashes upon the shore. Gravity holds a truth for one more day.

Observe the beating of a heart, genetic makeup of the simplest animal to the developed pets in our homes. Flowers blooming and cut for pleasure. Trees number the forest. And mountains unexplored. Rain forests alive with animals yet to be discovered.

We think we do so much, crying out that God is not there.

One more day He answers, responding with the beauty of nature and the miracle of life.

We are NOT Morning People

We are not sugar people. Oh yes, about half the teeth in our bodies are sweet teeth, but in the name of healthy living I have opted to never eat sugar ever again. I’ve seriously lost track, but I believe I am around two years. It just isn’t a temptation anymore. I never eat (processed) sugar. Ever.

Being a Momma, I watch sugar directly entice and then punish my daughter. Prior to Christmas, she was “off sugar.” Healthy 7 yr old girl. Holiday: Cookies, candy, cupcakes, candy, hot chocolate, candy. Everywhere. And I see it. I see her little nose begin to run and turn red from being wiped and wiped and wiped. After Christmas resolutions: Back to limited sugar. Runny nose disappears. Fact: Bodies are weakened by sugar.

All that to say, this morning: Donuts. “Donuts For Dads.” A school sponsored event for the kids and dads of the school to join together and eat donuts.

When a sweet toothed girl, with a mom that limits sugar, found out that she and her Daddy would be attending the sugar feast, she proclaimed, “Tomorrow is going to be the BEST DAY EVER!” Singing and dancing and unable to hold in her excitement.

All in fast forward: Bedtime. Snoring. Alarm breaks the morning. Momma wakes up Madison.

“This is the WORST DAY EVER!” Madison proclaims as she stands in my bathroom, getting her hair brushed, tears streaming down her face.

How did we get here? What changed?

Simply the time of day, my friend, simply the time of day. Us, Hendrys are not morning people.

I am trying to teach our daughter that in the mornings she needs to learn to just stay quiet for a while. But until she learns that, she will walk around crying and shouting out “worst day evers,” and everything else that her Daddy and I are thinking, but we’ve learned to keep out mouths shut….by inserting coffee anytime we think about saying something before 8:00.

Coffee, ahhhhhh, the fuel of us not morning people. I wake up and my first thought is “Coffee.”

So, as James and Madison are driving to school (this was written yesterday, Friday) …..so, as James and Madison are driving to school, I am sitting here with my first cup of hot coffee in my hands, with one profound thought in my head: Hendrys are NOT morning people.


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Saving Souls

A blink in a day is so much longer than this life in eternity. A decade, not even a measurable second on the clock of forever.

To lose my life, I gain it. Giving now, inherits all that is to come.

The things I adore so quickly fade. Worshiping this temporary body and this depreciating earth. Fashions steal my attention and treasures own my heart.

How long will I meditate on this life that blows away with the breeze?

A short exercise, a quick giving of the now, a temporary self sacrifice, shifting my glance from me to the Majesty of Heaven, I relinquish a moment to gain eternity.


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Old Friends…That are Not Old

I’m growing old. Not claiming old yet, but getting there. Let’s just put it out there, I’m 33. I think? 34? …32? …33? Yeah, I’m 33.

I’m picturing the reactions. “Yep. You are old. Really old.”

And at the same time, “No. No. Sweetie, you are still just a baby.”

I like the second reaction better.

There are many negatives about growing old. One is sitting on the swing with your students, pumping your legs back and forth, and soaring through the sky…just to discover that now that just makes you want to throw up.

Another is jumping on the trampoline with your daughter just to discover…well, all the moms know what I am talking about.

But one of the many, yes many, blessings to growing old is having old friends. Danielle and I first met fifteen years ago in college. Memories of dancing the nights away at the Fall Ball, late night runs to Sonic when we were supposed to be studying, summer beach trips …the memories that I have with Danielle are many. From the beginning, she is always someone that I had lots of fun with and, more importantly, someone that encouraged me in my faith.

But, when I think of Danielle, one thing stands out: funny stories always follow Danielle. Some of the craziest, most absurd happenings occur when she is around. Times when you think funny can’t happen, if she is around, just wait for it.

Yeah, example needed. Here is our setting. 2004. I just discovered that I had two tennis ball size tumors in my adrenal glands. Being a newly wed, my faithful new husband is by my side as we embark on this Cancer Journey together. (Oh, you are not laughing yet?)

We have traveled 14 hours from the heart of Florida to Duke University for my first surgery at Duke. I have been fasting for 48 hours (misery), I have been scrubbed down, I have on a surgery gown, I have said my goodbyes and kissed my husband, and I am about to be administered my first dose of anesthesia. (Oh wait!)

The nurse tells me that my pastor is here. Oh, not my pastor, my friend’s pastor. Since Danielle is here with her pastor, they allow her and him to come see me and say a prayer. Danielle and I hug. A new nurse walks in. Demands goodbyes and prepares to take me away for surgery. (Not laughing? Oh…just wait.)

The nurse turns to me, “Sweetheart, Did you take off your panties?”


She takes them and says she will give them to my husband.



All better.

Danielle and her husband come to visit James and I. And now:

Danielle tells me that, as I am wheeled into surgery, the nurse comes running after her and her pastor, “Stop! Wait!” She turns to him, “Sir, let me give you these.” And proceeds to hand THE PASTOR, that I JUST MET FOR THE FIRST TIME, my panties!!! Please! I never want to see the guy…ever again!

So, even surgery, with Danielle, can be a humorous event!

We don’t get to see each other that often. But God has it that she lives close to where we travel to visit my doctor. And fifteen years ago, when we were laying in her dorm room daydreaming about the future, we never would have guessed that we would be bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. We never would have guessed that we would have pictures of Madison and Bennett together when they were just babies. We never would have guessed that year after year that group would grow to include Madison surrounded by three friends, adding Eden and Mercy. We never would have guessed that our daughters could say they’ve been friends their entire lives. And I never would have guessed I would owe so much to Danielle and her family.

Friends that open their door to you at any time. Friends that after a year or two of seeing them, and we hang out, and never miss a beat. Old friends that will be friends …until we are friends that are also old. Friends that challenge me to be what a friend really is.