Faith Doesn’t Matter

Pushing against the open wound of the nail stuck in his foot, his human body pressed against the shocking pain until his chest was able to gasp and then he released, feeling the choking pressure against his chest.  Beyond the worst day in history, his was the worst life.  No other suffering on earth could begin to even comprehend his bursting heart that bled water and blood at the rejection of his Father, the breaking of the Trinity, perfect holiness carrying the burden of complete sin.

Mary looked on, her mind overcome with what she beheld.  She is the only mother that, rightly, ascended her son to her personal God.  She remembered the miracle of the joy of a virgin birth announced by the Angel Gabriel.  Her marriage with Joseph had forever been bonded with the realization that they had been sent here to raise the God of the Universe.  Her life, her faith, her son, her everything hung in agonizing pain and she could do nothing to relieve him.  Everything was dying here.  Satan had won.

He, literally, stood in heaven in the very presence of God himself.  Lucifer was the director of the choir, spending his days in worship of God Almighty.  His voice, his body, his eternal life was beyond beauty, it was heaven.  He, literally, spent his days in the perfection of heaven.  Lucifer believed in God, as real as anything he had ever seen, touched, or experienced in any capacity.  If there was even this life that he lived, he knew it was created by God that sat upon his throne.  And yet Satan turned.  And he was flung into the fiery pit of Hell.  Even the demons believe, believe in the one true God of the Universe, and their belief does not save them.

My Western culture holds tight to few things, but remaining in the hearts of the vast majority of Western thinkers is the foundation of LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.  And I will take it!  I cling, with those that vary so much from me, to the belief that these ideals have made my home nation who we are today.  We are a people that stop whatever we are doing to fight for freedom, as well we should.  We believe that one life is important, we believe in holding debates and agreeing to disagree, we believe in differing opinions and a different perspective of personal happiness, and we believe in not taking away those rights from our neighbors.  But somewhere along the way, this belief was skewed into the belief of believing:

“Believe whatever you want to believe.”

“It does not matter what you believe, as long as you have enough faith.”

And this is why we see our culture beginning to crumble.  From inside the church, inside the educational system, inside government, and the very core of our foundation:  the family. We are falling apart because we no longer cling to right and wrong, we believe that as long as you believe in something, that is all that matters.  But what if BELIEF DOES NOT MATTER.  Faith is not what saves us.  Even the demons believe and shutter.

If you want a religion of faith, there is none greater than Islam.  Muslims believe so wholeheartedly in the afterlife that parents proudly offer up their children to jihad.  Wealthy husbands leave their life of comfort and their wives and children behind to strap bombs to their chests and die in the fight.  WHY?!  This blows our Western minds!  IT IS BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH!  It is because they believe more boldly than the majority of Christian believers believe in their God that Allah is going to send them straight to a world of bliss where there will be more pretty girls waiting for them than they can comprehend.  According to the words of the Qua-ran, girls that will never have to blow their nose or menstrate, girls with beautiful dark eyes, girls that can not take their eyes off of their martyr hero.  And these men will have supernatural ability to have sex over and over again.  This is why they want to leave this world as quickly as they possibly can!  Because they have so very much FAITH!

So, why are Westerners running out of the church as soon as they are off to college?  Why are Christian marriages just as likely to end in divorce as any?  Why does our culture now criticize and despise Christians?  Why are followers labeled as hateful as soon as they mention their God?  IT IS BECAUSE FAITH HAS BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WESTERN CHURCH!

Now, Am I splitting hairs here?  Don’t I, myself, speak of my faith and praise faith?  Yes!  An extremely important side note is that FAITH IS IMPORTANT, FAITH PERFORMS MIRACLES, FAITH IS NECESSARY AND GREAT!  So, what am I complaining about?  And it is this:  Faith is not the most important, LOVE is!

Love is why Jesus nailed himself to the cross.  Love is why Mary will be in heaven even when she lost all faith at the foot of the cross.  The absence of love is why Satan was thrown out of heaven and into eternal damnation.  The absence of love is the leader of jihad.  And the absence of love is why the American church is falling apart.

Love restores marriages.  Love rescues families.  Love gathers people to church (not rules!). Love saves lives!  The only answer is love.

AND THESE THREE REMAIN:  FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.  BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

I Need What He has to Offer

I find myself lacking. I look at all I am and the complete of it is inadequate. I know all too well my faults and my failures. 

Who is this man that knows my name?  He calls me beloved.  It can not be, he is the King!  

But I mess up all too much. My mistakes are a burden, drowning me in guilt. He takes my hand and leads me to the cross.  “Do you want to be free?”

I clutch my chains and hold them tight, I cling to my guilt, my shame, and my pain. It is my pride. 

I am nothing. He is everything. He chose me. Now I must choose, freedom from my chains or the pain of my pride. 

Fearing the Hopeful Future

I look back on the dream of me, those memories that are mine that seem as true as the movie I watched last weekend. People are so many people in one life. 

I have times that stick out to me in my fog of memories and I remember the emotion, the facts get blurred and I don’t remember the exact day, or even the exact month, sometimes not even the exact year. But I remember the emotion. 

I just remember being fearless. I remember taking it all in like instructions for a pickup game of basketball, I didn’t know what I was doing, wasn’t my sport, a little worried my lack of skills would not impress the others, but all in all it wasn’t that big of a deal. But it wasn’t basketball, and it was a big deal. It was cancer.

I was fifteen years old. I had absolutely no clue who I was, I just rolled with the punches and tried not to get in the way.  Doctor appointment, ok. Surgery, I’ll be there. Cancer. My job was to have a good attitude. 

The day. The first of those days arrived. Surgery. I remember nothing about getting ready. I remember no nervousness over the risks. There was no caution, no stress, no worries. I can’t even recall any of the presurgery details. But I remember something, something I wish I could forget. 

A pain too intense for words.  Immediately, as I began to claw my way out of my painkiller sleep, my body now understood the meaning of the word cancer.

Pain. And isn’t that what we are all scared of?  The fear of all people of all the world. We aren’t worried about the future, but we are afraid it will hurt. Maybe we aren’t scared to die, just don’t want there to be pain in the how. I don’t have trouble trusting Jesus with my life, I just want to make sure that his plan isn’t a painful one. 

And how do I come to terms with fear, that fear of pain, not just cancer, but any pain?  And the answer is:  IT WILL. 

It will hurt. In this life, you will have troubles. What is my priority?  Comfort?  Money?  Health?  Well, Jesus has bigger plans for me, bigger plans than just this world. 

How are we supposed to cope knowing that it is sure to hurt?  “In this world you will have trouble, BUT I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!”

Jesus knows pain!  The ultimate pain, more than any human will ever experience. And he chose it!  Why?  Because there is something greater than this world!

And I want that!  I trade this world for heaven!  I trade these earthly possessions that are out of fashion and fall apart much too quickly for eternal gold and glory. I choose serving over me. I choose love over selfishness. And I choose hope over fear. 

Do I Believe?

Believe what you want to believe and I will believe what I want to. 

Find what is truth for you. 

Do I believe?  What do I believe? IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER!  In a culture that is so wrapped up in being PC and where the absolute worst offense imaginable is hurting someone’s feelings, we let children go without parents because we celebrate happiness more than responsibility, we let our educational system fall apart while costing more money than ever, and we let the whole church be damned. Literally damned. A whole bunch of the Western church is headed straight to Hell. But don’t worry, they will be comfortable on the way!

This life is not easy!  It is not meant to be!  We are supposed to search for Truth, not give way to the easy what we wish to believe, and we are supposed to value hard work!  We are made to do what is right, not what we want to do. 

Instead of teaching our children that their happiness is our priority, let’s teach them doing what is right is the most important thing. Instead of telling our neighbors and friends to find their own truth, let’s tell them there is Truth and there is wrong. And let’s learn to say, “I don’t really care if that hurts your feelings, I want to do what is right.”

Now, there is a whole riot occurring. If you are still reading this, half of you hate me by now. I AM NOT ADVOCATING A BUNCH OF JUDGMENTAL PHARISEES STRUTTING AROUND TELLING THE WORLD WHAT THEY ARE DOING WRONG!  I condemn that, and so did Jesus. Remember, I believe those people make up a good group of those dancing their way to Hell. 

It does not matter what the judgemental snobs believe, it does not matter what the free thinkers believe, it does not matter what I believe!  Truth is the only relevance. The only way to heal our land and our very souls is if we search for Truth, prioritized over the search for temporary happiness. 

My Cancer Survival Kit

Jesus. When I open my survival kit, there is one item:  Jesus. He completely fills and overflows my medical emergency survival kit. 

I was a teenage college student when I first began this book, literally when I began writing this book.  But its contents were real, they were raw, and it was relevant. It was relevant to a world that hurt and that needed my story. 

As a typical young college student, I was battling the discovery of who I was, who I wanted to be, and what was safe to share. Cancer. It was my little secret to keep hidden at all costs. Who could possibly understand that?  I sure didn’t!  

My release was found in writing. The story of a struggling young girl was scribbled through the pages of my Cancer journal. I, appropriately, titled it My Survival Kit. 

I shared my fears of others discovering my disease, my love of Jesus for bringing me to college, my uncertainty of the future, even my ignorance of what lived inside my body. 

Those pages were destroyed, burned for fear of being discovered. Dashed upon the rocks by an ignorant professor. I revealed to him my little secret that I was writing a book. That was all I had told him, it was the first time I had trusted anyone with that tiniest bit of information. 

His smirking ignorant comment sent my writing up in flames, “Write about something people will want to read. You can not write about yourself.”

I am a nineteen year survivor of a rare form of MEN2A Cancer. I am a rare condition within a rare condition. The specialists at Duke University Hospital study my case and the interns rub their hands together and giggle in excitement when they meet their living textbook, sitting in the doctor’s office with my family by my side. 

It took years and years and more years for me to begin to grasp that my weakness made me strong. Just now can I thank God that I am able to comfort someone terrified of their medical future because, I too, have been told those dreaded words:  Cancer. 

Only now, can I see that CANCER IS IRRELEVANT!  I am Caroline. I am a wife. A mom. A child of the King.

Wait. It is not just a comfort for the sick. It is a truth for the husband that walked out on his family, the highschool girl that longs for attention, the orphan baby with no mommy to make her dinner and no daddy to protect her, a real comfort to those that have screwed up big time and need the ultimate forgiveness, love for the unlovable, healing for the sick, LIFE FOR THE DEAD, we are loved by the King of all Kings. What else matters?!

Jesus knows my body inside and out. He knows my body needs extra salt and that I need to drink more water. He knows I love reading CS Lewis while drinking black coffee, that I love hitting the town and drinking a draft beer with my dreamy husband, it is no surprise to Jesus that I dream of a swimming pool in my backyard. He wants me to have all that!  BUT HE WANTS MORE!

More than being comfortable and enjoying a book, he wants me to serve. More than being healthy, he wants me to depend fully in him. More than a pool in my backyard, he wants me patient. And more than this life, he wants me for eternity. 

ETERNITY!  Cancer is irrelevant. 

But Do I Know the Universe?

It is all an oxymoron. I believe, so wholeheartedly, in reading, learning, expanding our minds with a continuous process. Reaching our full potential?  Not possible!  We can always learn more!  Read my post from yesterday, I value reading and thought. 

But I wasn’t born yesterday. Just when I think I have something figured out, I am flipped upside down. It is humorous to think what I used to think I knew. I am who I never thought I’d be. One assurance of this world is to never say never. 

So, in this world of thought, what do we know?  We know we do NOT know. The scientists of the past believed the world to be flat. Men who believe they are above sin, are the first to fall. THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPENS!  

We live in such a tiny speck of the universe in such a tiny speck of time. Time travel is impossible?  Men smarter than me point us to a worm hole and say, “maybe not impossible.” In fact, it happens every day in space!  Just because I do not understand it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 

But remember the great oxymoron?  The only thing I can know is that I do not know.  So, how can I know?

This is a world of order!  Look at the heavens, so large my mind can not fathom. It all makes sense!  It travels in patterns, holds itself in check, composed and travels in a manner to support water, to form weather, to allow me to live. 

Science. It is not a dirty word. It does not contradict religion. Science is the study of this world. This is my Father’s world!  Science is the study of God’s Creation. I learn, study, and explore with the knowledge that I can not know it all!  Put my hope in science?  Put my hope in my own knowledge?  Nah!  Quite pathetic!  It changes so very quickly and I soon find my mind irrelevant. 

Evolution?  I am not against a theory. But claiming evolution as science is ignoring science in and of itself. Entropy. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that this world continues toward disorder.  Long ago, the theory of evolution should have been discarded. 

Recently, I was told God is for the weak, those that can not “do it on their own.”  Right!  God is for those that admit they do not have the answers. So is science!  Science is for explorers! Those seeking answers to more questions than can ever be answered. 

God is for people that have messed up, for those that need forgiveness, for those that want to be something bigger than themselves. 

But weak?  Oh no!  Is education for the weak?  Is seeking answers, knowledge, and wisdom for the weak?  No!  The strongest are those that admit they do not know it all, the strongest are those that continue to learn, the strongest are those that are a part of something bigger than themselves. The strongest are those that did not make the world, do not know it all, do not have the answers, but know the one is, was, and will forever be. 

The Best Things in Life are Free OR $6.99

  
The reward for completion is that her little eight year old fingers get to erase the completed chore off our dry erase To Do list. 

Laundry. Check. Make beds. Check. Grocery shopping. Check. We have gotten to the point in our summer day where the next item to be completed is reading. 

She reads the coming “chore” as…just that…a chore. But she curls up on the sofa pillow with a throw to one of both of our favorite books, Trumpet of the Swan. It is the first time SHE is reading the book to herself, but it has already been read to her two times. (I adore books that are so good that they must be read more than once. In the words of CS Lewis, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and only reading it once.”

I hear a deep roll of thunder in the distance promising relief from the drought. The moment could not be any more perfect. It is that time when all is at peace and my heart is happy. 

Madison looks up from her book giggling. When she gets excited, she gives two really deep breaths and then continues with something she is eager to share. Her chore has become a love and now she can’t put the book down. 

I am quite a long distance from being what I want to be as a mother. Sadly, it is not hard to find fault with my accomplishments. However, I swell with pride and thanksgiving that I have passed on a love of books to my daughter. 

READ. Learn. It is one of the greatest accomplishments this life has to offer. And once you have become an accomplished reader, pass it on. 

My Girls

Having one daughter, five sisters, six nieces, two sisters in laws, and a partridge in a pear tree, I often use the phrase, “my girls.”  I love my girls!

Well, August was a great month!  All in one month, I gained two girls!  My brother married a gorgeous bride and now I have a new sister. He made an amazing choice of a bride and now I claim the gorgeous, dark skinned (that I am so jealous of!), center of attention that has a magnetic personality that is kind, making best friends every where she goes kind of girl. She is now my SISTER!!!

There is a beautiful lady that I have known from a baby. It is hard to believe that her long, absolutely perfect, blonde hair was dark and curly as a chubby little baby. She, literally, has the kindest heart that I have ever met. Her heart and her hands are in constant service of others. While she is studying for a special needs degree in college, I am thrilled to have her living in my home!  What an amazing role model for my eight year old!  I have grand plans of turning her into a coffee drinker.  We are two peas in one pod – The girl color coordinated her hanging up clothes, I do believe we will get along just fine!

I LOVE MY GIRLS!

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.” – John A. Shedd

Lord, for all my girls, I want to be a light that guides them on the ocean. I want to be a lighthouse to bring them to safety. But Lord, never let me get in the way of your plan!  Never let me keep them in harbor when they are needed at sea. 

God has an amazing plan for my girls!  He built them strong and for a grand purpose. The waves are sure to grow rough, the sun will be blazing hot, and the hurricane winds will blow at their sails. But there will be gorgeous sunsets, they will meet others on the sea, and they will travel far distances. My girls are setting sail and they are sure to change this world!