Love Surpassing Knowledge

“Madison, You can grow up to be anything you want!”  My girl has natural ability that follows her everywhere. No one will be surprised if she owns a zoo, casually becomes a best selling author, joins the crew at NASA…her possibilities are endless!  

But at the age of 8, when I ask Madison to dream, it includes filling her future home with millions of stuffies and more puppies than she can count. Her mind does not consider paying the electric bill or vet bills for endless puppies or any of the other concerns that follow an adult. And that is the way it should be!

I do not sit and explain to her mortgages and the price of college and that she will lose interest in her childhood toys. I intentionally parent one more day, guiding her toward her successful future, and I let her dream. 

I pray that you may be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be the glory. Ephesians 3

And when I hear that my Father loves me that much and that, with him, I can do anything, I start dreaming about big houses and nice parties and dream  vacations. 

God takes my hand, he loves to let me dream, and he guides me one more day in this plan that is even better than I can possibly imagine. He smiles and he hugs me and he loves me. 

Grace was Everything

Dad stared out at the snow and talked. He seemed more to be talking to himself.  “Grace was everything.”  There was a little bit of a pause and then he continued. He never looked at me and the story rolled out like it played itself constantly through his head every day. “I wanted to be rich. I was on my way to being a successful pastor and writer. I didn’t want to get married. Then I saw your mother. I was at a business meeting with a television agent. There was a live band playing in the restaurant where we were meeting. She was singing. She was in a band. She was from a wealthy family, but she was wild and crazy. Heaven knows what she saw in me, but I could not refuse her. Somehow, all my plans went out the window. She wanted nothing more than a big family. You, David, Fern, you made her the happiest woman in the world.”

When he mentioned me, that was the first time that he looked at me.

I smiled. Where was this coming from and why had I never heard this story before?  I could not imagine my Father in this way. I was intrigued, “Go on.”

Dad continued, “We had the perfect life. I never knew how good I had it.”  A tear rolled down his cheek. Usually, my Father was very stoic, I could not recall a time I had ever seen him cry. He was a tall man, standing 6’4″. He was rather slender. He kept his hair short and the only way I ever saw emotion in my Father before this was that he would put both his hands on his head and rub the top of it with one hand.

He was rubbing his head now and he continued, “We went on vacation.  We were driving to Texas.  We were going to stay with my sister, Benny.  We had been traveling since early morning and it was late afternoon.  We stopped at a restaurant to grab some lunch.  We never ate out during those days.  It was something special.  You were five years old.  Fern was a baby.  David was nine years old.  We were in the parking lot.  Your mom was singing.  She was always singing.  You were buckled in the middle and your sister was on one side and your brother was on the other.”

Dad stopped and looked at me.  He did not look at me like my father would but he looked at me as a man that wanted help.

I had never heard this story.  I saw the desperation in his eyes.  I did not know what to say.  “Dad, you can stop.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”  I wanted him to stop.  What good did it do for him to relive this pain?

He continued, “Fern’s bottle fell out of the car and went rolling across the parking lot.  David jumped out of the car to grab it.”  He paused for just a couple of seconds.  I felt relieved because I thought he was going to end the story there.

But then he continued, “Your mother saw David running across the parking lot, she yelled, ‘David, Come back here.’ And she took off after him.  She ran without looking.  A car had seen David and stopped.  But when David stopped on the other side, it continued.  The driver had not looked and seen your mother there.  Then.”  His lip was quivering.  He was so desperate, “Suddenly, she was laying on the pavement.  David dropped the bottle.  It broke and splattered milk all over her body.  He started yelling, ‘Mommy!  I’m sorry!  I was trying to help!  Mommy!  Mommy!'”  My dad continued to stare into my eyes.  I had never experienced this intimacy with my father before.  Then he continued, “Where was I?”  At this point he was sobbing and it was more than I could bear to see him like this.

“Where was I?”  He continued again.  “For the life of me, I can’t remember what I was doing.  One minute we were all getting in the car and the next minute she was laying on the ground.  There was blood everywhere.  There was so much blood.  I ran and I grabbed her.  She was already gone.  I cried to her, “Sing to me.  Keep singing!”  Then he pleaded with me, “How was I supposed to be happy after that?  I was not fit to be a father.”

“Dad, it’s ok.”  I tried my best to console him.

“No.  No, it’s not ok.  I am so sorry.  I failed you.  I let your mother down.  I see that now.  I don’t know why I couldn’t see it before.  I was so drowned in my own sorrow.  But I still had you.  I had her children to take care of and I did not do it.  I was not the father that she would have wanted me to be.  I’m sorry Claire.  I’m so sorry.”

He tilted his head to the side and he tried his best to hold back more tears.  Then he reached our his finger and affectionately touched my nose.  “You have her nose.  When you were a child.  I looked at you and saw her nose.  I am sorry I never told you.”

This is a selection from my novel.  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase Spiritual Flesh and Blood

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

BookCoverImage     IMG_0050

The Man I Murdered

My hands. They were my hands. Elbows bent at a ninety degree angle, hands turned palms up and fingers spread. Staring, staring, I could not return them to my body, it would be admitting they were mine. These hands, these blood soaked hands, I wanted no part of them.

How? I did not mean to, but I did. I felt dizzy. My head swirled.

I fell upon my knees, staring at my bloody hands.

I AM A MURDERER!

“Murderer, murderer,” repeated in my mind.

There was no lack of proof. There was a body, there were witnesses, there was a motive, and blood upon my hands.

Remembering the act, I yelled out in agony, I did it. Murderer. I murdered a man.

His eyes. I can not get his eyes out of my head. There was something about them I could not stand. They tortured me. I murdered him.

The last thing I remember is taking a spear and pushing it into his side. A mixture of blood and water poured out, flowing down the spear to my hands. Blood and water, that was even worse than pure blood. I had broken his heart.

Then it all rushed back, I remembered the act, I remembered the gruesome details. I whipped him, his back tearing and ripping, splattering blood upon my face. But he still looked at me, he looked at me with his eyes. I wanted him to curse me, but he just seemed to stare right through me, which enraged me all the more. I took the hammer and I took the spikes.

I placed the nail upon his wrist, and then I did it. I hammered through his skin. He never looked away. He gazed at me with his eyes. And I continued, with rage, I hammered a spike through his ankles.

I nailed him. I nailed him to a cross. He hung there, his eyes fixed on me. His eyes.

He called out to God. But did God answer him?

I mocked him as he hung in agony and torture and torment. I had never seen a man suffer so much. There was something more than the nails that held him there and there was something more painful than his gasps for breath. His eyes, I wanted him to hate, to yell, to give into the pain.

And when darkness rolled in, his eyes fixed one last time on me. What was it about his eyes? Why did they torture me so.

With his dying breath, his eyes pierced my heart. It was LOVE. As I whipped him, as I nailed him, as I mocked him, he loved me.

I grabbed the spear in one last hateful attempt, even after I knew he was dead, I stabbed him.

Then the blood and the water flowed. Then I saw his broken heart and then I stared at my hands and fell upon my knees.

“JESUS!” I called out, with something louder than words, I called with my heart.

“I am a murderer. Sorry! I am so sorry!”

I murdered the one I love. I murdered the only one that had ever loved me.

Hell. I would go to hell. I took my bloody hands, I accepted my deserved fate and I covered my shamed face with my bloody hands.

Two warm hands touched my bloody hands.

In a demonic voice, I yelled out, “Do not touch me! I am a murderer!”

I looked up and I saw, I saw those eyes. He is alive! I saw the scars on his hands! I saw the scar on his side! I saw his forgiving eyes!

His touch on my hands removed the blood, he cleansed me, he made me clean.

The man I murdered has forgiven me.

Ba Ba Birthday Girl Woof!

Yesterday, while I was sweeping the floor, Tucker snuck outside. That goofy dog ran up the hill, he ran across the street, he ran alongside the river, and he ran to the very top of the mountain!

It is a very good thing he was wearing his red sweater because it was a very chilly day!

He ran and he barked, “WOOF! WOOF!”

He galloped and he yelled, “ARF! ARF! ARF!”

It might just sound like a silly doggie to us, but the the bunnies raised their long ears and knew what he was saying, the birds chirped back, “cheep cheep,” kitties responded with many meows, the guinea pigs whistled and danced, and the geckos raised their curious heads and nodded in agreement and celebration.

Tucker spent the day barking and woofing and arfing.

Now, they have to keep quiet about it. They don’t want to let the world in on their little secret. But they have a favorite girl. She was born with a great love of animals. No kitty or birdie is afraid of Madison. She cares for and protects them all.

So her goofy doggie ran along the river and up the mountain. He let all the animals know. “It is the birthday of their favorite human! Bark! Tweet! Oink!  Party! Celebrate!”

So, today if you listen, if you observe the animals, they will all be chattering and meowing, and growling, oinking, and neighing,

“HAPPY arf chirp BIRTHDAY meow neigh! WE roar baa MADISON!”

Happy (sniffle sniffle) Birthday

It is time to celebrate! My baby girl is turning eight! EIGHT!

Ever get bored with the begats in the Bible? Skip right over that part? You wouldn’t if your name was in it! Not the most entertaining piece of writing, but it serves a great purpose. Through the begats, we learn that the Bible teaches that the world is just a few thousand years old. Of course, we are reading the family tree of Jesus, which fulfills prophecy, and we learn something else.

Here are these great men and women of the Bible (Christians were the first to fight for women’s rights. They were the first to include women in a family lineage. And a prostitute at that!) Here are great men and women of the Bible and history and for some of them, all we know is their name and the names of their children. The names of their children. One big generational hug!

I love life, I am so incredibly thankful for this life I have! But anywhere my name is typed out, I want something said of me, “James and Caroline begat Madison.”

World, I love to hear of famous people before they were that, what they grew up to be. Abraham Lincoln building a log cabin, Johnny Cash roaming the streets looking for a job, Ben Carson getting into a fight at school, how?! How were they ever just people?!

Well, let me make an announcement: my girl is turning EIGHT! How? How do I get to sit on the couch and read Rabbit Hill with her? How do I get to make her school lunch? How do I get to witness her polite “good morning”s as she get out at carline? How do I get to watch her at swim practice? Why did God chose me to see her beautiful growing life? It is my biggest responsibility in this whole life!

I am watching her. She is brilliant! She is kind! That little girl knows how to make me laugh! I am watching her “before.” God has big big plans for this girl!

I give a sly little snicker and a I have a big swelling heart! Madison, I am so proud of you! I love you! Happy Birthday!

Such big things await this girl! And I get to hug her and snuggle her and celebrate her birthdays with her “before.”

A Very Unpopular Article

This article will not be liked, it will not be shared, there will be nothing but negative comments.  Politically correct is the name of the game, the only rules of society are:

1.  Do not dare to label right vs. wrong.

2.  Do not hurt anyone’s feelings.

3.  The greatest purpose in life is to love yourself.  No matter what.

4.  Anything goes.

5.  The only god is comfort.

And here is what it has led to.  The romantic movie of the year (and the top selling novel of 2012 and 2013) is Fifty Shades of F#!@ed Up.  “That is so romantic.  I wish I had a man that would chain my arms and tell me that if I moved, he would chain my legs, and if I screamed, he would gag me.”  ISIS is burning and beheading people and capturing children and the president of the United States wants to point out the crusades of centuries ago.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to get political on you.  Don’t talk about politics.  We can complain about the price of gas and groceries and EVERYTHING but don’t dare to tie that to the root of the cause:  politics.

And now everyone thinks I am a fanatic and I’ve lost followers and I’ve gone off the deep end.  I hope so!  Because if that is what is accepted in our society, I want no part of it!

I have long ago left the popularity club.  I could care less what in the hell anyone thinks about me!  Caroline, pick a side!  If you are going to argue conservative politics and morals, then don’t cuss, you won’t please anyone.  I am not here to fit into any club.

The blame falls on Christians!  Yes!  I blame Christians!  Since when did we give into the five rules of our culture?  When we wanted them for ourselves?  We don’t care to hear about ISIS, we stand in line to purchase our Fifty Shades of Grey Tickets, we send out kids to schools that teach them to do whatever the hell they want, we buy them iPads and anything they want to shut them up, we get an extra job to buy a nicer car instead of raising nicer children, who knows when the last time is we’ve actually read the Bible?  Oh, I guess I am getting labeled legalistic now.  Well, I’m not here to make friends, especially not Pharisees!

Why?  Why do I have to rant and rave and call out the sins of this world?  I have a daughter.  Period.  No longer can I raise her to serve and enjoy this world she is growing up in.  No.  Wake up parents!  Is this a world that we want our children to be comfortable in?  I don’t!  Quite unfortunately, I am preparing my daughter to be a Noah.  I am teaching her to stand firm in her faith when the world laughs at her for following her God.  I am teaching her to be a David and stand against Goliath when the world is a bunch of wimps.

Parents, want something more for your children than comfort in this sinning world that is racing toward Hell!  Teach them to love right and hate wrong.  Show them how to do what is right, when all the world is doing something else.  Be that example!  Want something more than happiness for your sons and daughters!  Happiness!  It has become the end goal of our entire culture!  But I want my daughter to be kind, I want her to serve others at her own sacrifice.  I want her to be healthy.  I want her to chose food that is good for her body and exercising, when sitting on the couch and eating candy would make her happy.  I want her to chose to read, and study, and help, and smile rather than looking out for her own comfort.

Why do I write this article?  Because I love my daughter too much to let her settle for the current offer!

I am published!  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

BookCoverImage     IMG_0050

Warmer Snow

The weatherman was always wrong. Why couldn’t he have been wrong this time? The woman did her best to snuggle her knees to her chest and pull her body back under the overhang. The concrete stair she laid upon was frozen. Paused for eternity, this frozen night lingered for all of eternity. Her layers of thin clothes did not begin to warm her body. She rested her head on a cardboard box taken from beside the dumpster. She sought the refuge of sleep but her toes and hands and cheeks kept protesting the cold.

She remembered it. Focusing on it’s memory, hoping it would bring her some warmth. She must have been eleven years old. Her body in the warm house in clean but hand me down jammies. A little too old to sleep in her parent’s bed, still she tiptoed into her parents’ room…the door squeaked as she cracked it, “I can’t sleep.”

“Come and join me in my dreams. I was just about to leave.” Her mother was always one with a great imagination.

She climbed over her father and slid into the covers between them. “Let us pray. Heavenly Father. Thank you so much for my family. We thank you for our warm home. I pray that we will love and serve you. Amen.”

Those words played over and over in her head, “Thank you for our warm home. Thank you for our warm home.” She closed her eyes and could feel the soft mattress under her. Her mother’s arm lay across her snuggling them together. “Thank you for our warm home.”

Maybe she should just go inside? Was this a cold protest or did she really hate that man inside that much? Perhaps she should have grabbed a coat and some boots before she stormed outside. She stood up, walked up the steps and walked inside.

He still sat there at the living room table, sipping a bourbon and reading stocks on his phone. He did not look up. He perhaps did not know that she had spent the last two hours on their freezing back steps. Had he been sitting there for two hours?

“Will you be coming up to bed?” No answer.

“Did you know I was outside in the snow?” No answer

“I love you.” No answer. Did she? Did she love him? She had given him the last twenty two years of her life. She raised two of his children, oversaw his home, and attended his fancy parties. But he had given her money in response. Lots of money. Perhaps it was just a business deal? Was she ever loved?

Yes. She turned around and walked outside. She lay back down on the frozen concrete floor. She remembered her father’s words, “Thank you so much for our warm home.”

The maid found her frozen to death on the stair the next morning.

There was no question why she did it. No wonder why she did not walk into the heated, unlocked house. Her husband gave funeral arrangement orders and then returned to work that same day.

Someone somewhere left a note upon her grave, “The snow is warmer than a house with no love.”

I Hate You. Give Me a Hug!

Allow me to say something extremely controversial, men and women are completely different. Not going into that debate right now, but because this is my article and I get to, I’m just going to state that as a fact. They are.

Pre-marriage, James and I were having this conversation and trying to help each other out. We were trying our best to understand the planet that the other came from.

James, a grown man still appreciated monster trucks. I found that just embarrassing. He understood economics, knew how to clean guns and change the oil in the car, and laughed at farting jokes that I thought were highly inappropriate.

I, his extreme opposite, could gain control of a group of children and teach them something educational, could cut a pomegranate the right way, could change a diaper, and could write all day long on any topic.

(I know we fall into extremely traditional gender roles. I’m not saying this is the way it has to be. (It is just who we are.)

But as we sat discussing each other, oblivious in young love that it would ever be possible for us to ever get mad at the other person, I said something to James that was perhaps my best premarital advice, “When I get mad at you and say ‘Go away’ what I really mean is ‘Come here and give me a hug and make this better.'”

I can hear the married women shouting at me now, “Not me! That’s not what I mean!”

Sometimes, yes, we need space. But here is what I do disagree with.

I once heard a middle aged man bragging that he and his wife of several years had never ever gotten into an argument. Meant to be a bragging point, I immediately thought, “They must have a horrible marriage!”

Ya see, when two people blend their lives, someone is bound at some point to disagree with the other person. Did they not know how to face conflict? Was one of them afraid of the other’s controlling temper? Or maybe he was just lying?

I admit, I can get more upset with James than with anyone else in this whole world but during those times I still want to know that he loves me. I might be really really pissed about something but I want to hear, “I still want you. I still chose you. I still think you are beautiful. And we will work this out.”

So, discussing differences, James is logical and I am emotional. So, in the beginning when I was discussing gender roles. The responsibility of remembering this falls on my man.

When things get heated and I start yelling, what I really want to hear is, “Honey, I love you.”

Not fair, I know. Give me a hug.

Time Travels First Class on a Jet Plane

You could say I’m never satisfied. Maybe that is a good thing? Perhaps that is how things improve?

I love my home. I really really do, but there is always something that I want to change. The playroom should be painted yellow, not tan. I wish there was more overhead lighting in the living room. This spring, I plan to plant a small vegetable garden in a raised bed. I would like a new coffee table. The list continues and it never ends.

It takes time. It takes a certain number of birthdays and Christmases and time gone by.

But that’s the thing, time gone by.

I look back at 20 year old Caroline. Single. Not a mother. Did not have a clue about hosting a family for dinner, did not yet appreciate American History, or even coffee. Who in the hell was that girl?! Not me!

A wise man once said, “My wife has been married to several different men. And they were all me.”

I am a different person than I was just a couple of years ago. I now take my coffee black, I am inspired by Ben Carson, I love a seven year old’s chapter book as much as one intended for an adult, my daughter is at a new school, and I am a published writer!

I hope, I dream that in just a couple of years I can write a new list of improvements. I have dreams and aspirations for my life.

But I realize something. It hit me smack in the face exactly eight years ago: Time has a first class ticket. He hopped a jet plane and he is flying out of town. He never looks back and he just keeps on going.

It will be great, I hope, to finally live in the home of my dreams. It will be great, I really hope, to one day have a pool in my backyard. I want to see Belize. I want my daughter to find her place and serve the Lord through her many talents, I want to hold back tears while she stands stunningly gorgeous marrying a man that passed her Daddy’s approval and shotgun, and I want to see my friendships last a lifetime while meeting new ones along the way.

However, on that glorious day, my eyes will be a little weaker. My skin will be wrinkley. I will not have a little girl sleeping in a teal bedroom equipped with stuffies. There will be no guinea pig whistling in the front bedroom, and my days will be less.

It will be great to one day get a new coffee table, but for now, I’ll just sit and read a book with my little passenger that I’ve got beside me on this plane.

If I Did Not Know Jesus

He was there. Welcoming me in the Tennessee hospital, the cold Christmas when we had no power, and playing with my sister Katie and my friend Lacey in our backyard. But I stepped out of the crowd, held up my four year old hand, looked him in the eyes and smiled, “It’s nice to meet you Jesus” at such a young age.

He was always there: in my school days, sleepovers, bad haircuts, and writing sentences for talking in class. I welcomed him to come along with me and I did my very best to make him feel welcomed. I was pretty good at being good.

And then I grew up.

I married a handsome, kind man. And then all our dreams came true. It was all surreal, I felt so silly telling people I was pregnant. I was sure I would wake up from that wonderful dream. But my tummy got bigger and people praised my big belly on my then smaller than ever body.

I was nervous my whole entire life since the day I was educated on giving birth to a baby. But the day my daughter came into this world was nothing short of a miracle in so many ways. That day was one of the best days of my life! That is only possible because of the amount of love that flooded my heart the first time the nurse laid that tiny life in my arms. Perfect beauty. Praise Jesus! Oh, how we praised him and gave thanks!

The following three and a half months were the best of my life. I spent my entire day holding her tiny soft cheek to mine and singing, singing every song I could think of.

“There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven and I’m gonna be there…”

“This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice…”

“Rise and shine and give God the glory glory…” And she lit up. My baby laughed and laughed. Over and over and again and again, I sang, as we soaked up her first true giggle.

We wanted her to know the Jesus that we loved and followed.

Then, it all changed.

I sat holding three and a half month old Madison, doing my best to comprehend what my mind refused to let in and trying my best to keep from falling apart then and there, “This may not be as easy as we had thought. Madison needs to be tested for your cancer gene. If she is negative, she will never have to see a doctor about this again. But…if she is positive…she will have surgery around the age of four and then we will follow and monitor her for the rest of her life…There is a genetic test. We will take some blood work but the results will take some time.”

For the first time in my life, I turned to Jesus and yelled at him, “No! Why would you do this to me?! I thought you loved me?! I hate you! Go away!”

There is a deep deep pain. It can not be explained. Words have never been found that explain the hurt and the agony when a parent fears for their child. I could not face the possibility of my daughter having cancer.

At the time, I was a ten year survivor of cancer. I had given. I had hurt. I had trusted. But nothing compared to this.

This is the first time in my life that I doubted God. I looked at this thing called faith and wondered if Jesus had ever been there. But when I turned away from Jesus, I faced nothing. There was a darkness and a void. I wanted to lay in his loving arms and sob.

And I did.

Without Jesus, I had nothing to offer my daughter. No other religion gave me hope. No other god cared. Myself as god? I was utterly useless and helpless.

James and I literally got on our knees. I can explain it no other way than to say that we sobbed and begged God for the health of our baby.

I turned to Jesus and fell into his arms. He was nothing but understanding and loving. He had always loved me. Even then. He was there. He had never left me. He never scolded me for yelling at him. He understood. He knew pain like no other. And he loved me. And he loved my honest questions and my honest tears.

And I realized, he loved Madison. He loved my daughter, even more than me.

I will never forget the day, July 30, 2007. After almost three months of waiting, I received the call, “Madison tested negative. She never needs to see a doctor about this ever again.”

I turned to my Jesus and I gave him a hug.

He is mine and I am his.

My miracle is about to turn eight. Her Daddy and I are bound to each other with a love only believed to exist in fairy tales, and I daily live life beyond what I ever dreamed of or hoped for.

I am a sinner. I am addicted to sin. I love this world and beautiful things. I get sick. I am not so good at being good anymore. I love a fresh craft beer. I curse. I drink more coffee than I should. I have learned the hard way not to judge others. I never say the right thing.

What if I never knew Jesus? What if I never turned and faced him and said “Nice to meet you.” What if I never invited him on my life journey? What if I never had a fight with him and wrestled with my faith? What if I did not love my husband through him? What if I did not teach my daughter of him?

Some say that religion is just to give me hope. If so, if you are right, what have I lost? Because I do, I do have hope. But what if you are wrong? The proof of burden falls on the unbeliever.

Some say there is no God, but I have met him! I know him! He has been there with me, always! He is the only one that has never failed me.

Allow me to introduce my best friend. I have known him since I was four. We have been close for so long. He saved my life. His name is Jesus.