Spiritual Flesh and Blood 9

(A continuation of a story. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll to Spiritual Flesh and Blood 1)

In high school, Wayne got the highest grades.  His teachers praised him and his peers idolized him.  But Wayne wanted more.

People are told we are animals.  In school across America, kids are taught they are evolved from a monkey.  In many ways this is true.  Wayne was highly educated, highly talented, and dressed and equipped with the finest of what money could buy, but he was just like a more evolved animal.  He was like a pure breed at a dog show that would obediently perform for treats, but he was still an animal.  He did not think for himself; his world was cause and effect.

But something was torturing him.  Something, somewhere was beginning to cause him to think bigger.  What was his purpose?  What was beyond this dog and pony show?  He was at the top of society and his future was bright but there was a nagging hole inside him.

At his high school graduation, Wayne was valedictorian and received honor after honor.  Why was this not enough to satisfy him?  Maybe, although it was expected, he was disappointed after his father was not there.

Wayne did not know what he wanted out of life but he did know one thing:  he did not want to be like his father.  But what did that even mean?  That fact was that he did not know his father at all.  His father was just not there.

Not attending his graduation was one of many times he was absent from big events in Wayne’s life.  He had come to expect it.  He was disappointed at five when he was not there to see him get a baseball trophy.  He was disappointed when he was the only ten year old without a father at the school father-son camping trip.  He was disappointed when his best friend asked if his parents were divorced and even when one friend asked if his dad had died, simply because after years of being friends, they had never met him.

To be continued…

 

 

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 7

(A continuation of a story. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll to Spiritual Flesh and Blood 1)

Satan’s greatest mission is to conceal the mystery and greatness of love from the human race.  He seeks to pollute it in many forms.  Love leads to marriage.  He slowly demolishes that definition.  Love leads to family.  He plans its ruin.  Love gives to sacrifice.  He leads the heart toward selfishness.  Love leads to forgiveness.  He whispers the offense again and again into the ear of the offended.  The power of love reaches far and wide.  It is the greatest weapon that the demonic army must battle.  The greatest opponent to the God of Love is the god of lies.
Satan has been whispering lies into the ears of humans for all of history.  He whispered that same thing into my ear.  He told me, “Ha!  God does not love you!  Insignificant little Claire.  God is ashamed of you, little motherless child, if there even is a God at all.  He does not want you.  He does not love you.”  But like many, even though I struggled, God had a bigger plan for me.  God showed me what a deep, personal love he has for me.

When I was seven years old, Angel Life won the greatest battle of my life.  I was young and innocent by the world’s standards.  I had not been so polluted by sin and the world as much as someone that has lived more of their life.  It is easier for the angelic army to win the battle in a young child.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 6

He was raised by a nanny and then sent off to boarding school at the age of ten.  He had one older half-sister, Sarah.  She was ten years older and not a part of his childhood at all. She was his father’s child from a past marriage and lived with her mother in another state on the other side of the country.  He also had seven other half-siblings, but he never knew of their existence and his father never claimed them.  They lived with their mothers in poverty, children of prostitutes.  

His childhood contained a workaholic father who traveled more than he was at home and a needy mother who succumbed to the cravings of this world.  He had no rules. He was told to follow his desires and he was given the resources to do so.  His name was Wayne.  

Deep, deep evil and the purest goodness fought for these two lives.  They battled for my life and for the life of Wayne.  Our lives were connected from birth but we did not know it.  We were meant to be and we were prepared for each other.  Not by our parents, not by our teachers, not by ourselves, but by God.  He always has a bigger plan than we see.  He has a plan of love for each of us.  Satan does not believe in love and he does not understand but he is terrorized by its power.  He shrieks and wriggles at the very mention of the word.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 3

The funeral of my mother at the age of five altered my life forever.  We had been a happy family.  I was not only provided for, but I had been invested in.  I had been the child of my parents’ happy marriage which had spilled over into a happy home.  My father, a manly man, had been so pleased to work hard to provide for his wife and children.  He felt he was good and he felt God was repaying him with this happy life.  With the death of my mother, I also lost my father.  He could not be father and mother, so he decided to be neither.  I lost my childhood.  I lost my innocent happiness.  I stood at her funeral, holding the hand of an aunt that I did not know, and so unsure of the new emotion that I felt:  fear.  I was a motherless child.  

After the ceremony, the few people my family knew in our little town gathered at our house.  It was a small simple farmhouse but my mother had made it a home.  With her death, even our home died.  Now it was just a house.  It suddenly lacked the charm that comes when there is happiness in the air.  I stood in the corner near the staircase.  I was blocked by a wall, but around the opening I could hear relatives whispering, “What will Matthew do with these children now?  What a burden for him.”

No, I was not the only child of Matthew and Grace Parker.  I was one of three children.  I had a brother, David, who was four years older and a sister, Fern, who was two years younger.

The whispers continued, “She always spoiled them and now he is going to have to pay the price.”

“Well, I think he deserves it.  He should have taken better care of her.  It is his fault this happened.”

“All I know is that children are expensive.  He doesn’t have any money.”

“Well, I happen to know where he can find a new wife.  That is the only solution I know of.”

“You are exactly right.  I mean it.  I agree with you.  And he’d better come to terms with that sooner than later.”

This was followed by small snickers.  They were not possessed by demons.  These people had been saved by God.  But they had been stopped in their footsteps.  They refused to fight.  They stood in their comforts of life and did not want to be burdened by the troubles of this world.  When they were tempted, they quietly gave in and kept it hidden.  When demons told them to judge, they gladly obliged.  They were modern day Pharisees.  The demons could not enter their bodies, but they could sit on their shoulders and whisper into their ears and influence their thoughts and actions.  The demons promised comfort in this world in exchange for their cooperation.

This is how the community felt about their responsibility to fill in the motherly gap that we now inherited.  There was never a solution or an attempt at one.  Our happy home was never happy again.  We had lost Eden.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 2

And with that the angel army charged and the two armies collided for the beginning of a fierce battle in the war of a precious life.  That life was me.  This story is my unseen life, more real than this tangible world we feel and breathe and taste.  This is my story, lasting for eternity.

There is Heaven and there is Hell.  There is a spiritual world that we cannot see.  And there is earth.  It is controlled by the spirits but humans give too much regard to sight.

On the earth, mankind heard the first cries of a new baby.  I was born.  Claire Louisa Parker.  Fully human and claimed by God.  He had sent an angelic army to protect me and to claim me for his own.

But I was blemished I was born with sin.  I was in need of a savior.  There was still a war to be fought.

My parents loved me.  The love of my parents was the first victory Angel Life won.  My mother and father were innocent and they were ignorant.  They loved me and they loved each other.  But they built a weak foundation that could not stand the test of the war that surrounded them.  Their base, their family, was soon to collapse.

Demon Death swung his sword and struck the left shoulder of Angel Life, leaving a great injury.  From this world, my mother collapsed.  Her love and her guidance left me.  Her love had been the stronghold of our family.  Human love and human goodness was not enough.  Our family lacked a firm foundation.  My mother died when I was five and my life would always feel the wound.  Mourning and suffering plagued my childhood home.  Overnight, dark forces settled over our house that was no longer a home.

To be continued…

Goals in Life

I am a thinker, a dreamer, see things as they could be/should be’er. Idealist. 

I am not who I want to be. But I never want to be who I want to be. My plans always changing, and the better me always evolving. 

My goals in this life are not popular. They are laughable and do not make sense. They are not sensible. 

Caroline’s goals for her future self:

1. I want some people not to come to my house because of some other people that are already there. The people at my house are not people that most people want to be around. They are stinky on the outside and/or stinky on the inside. 

2.  I want to be persecuted. I want my life so crazy for Jesus that this world laughs at me. I want the truth in me to rub some people the wrong way. I want a spiritual battle to surround me where Satan knows I am powerful and I am 100% against him. 

3.  I want to give away so much that I am hurting. 

4.  I want to invite so many people to church that we run out of places to sit. And I forget even where I met them, because everywhere I go I am inviting people to church. 

5.  I want my daughter to make me uncomfortable because she invited someone to dinner and I didn’t even know until we are sitting down.  Because, why wouldn’t she?!

6.  I want to remember who I was before I changed and feel the glory and power of the riches of Jesus and truly understand the poverty of all the worldly riches. 

7.  I want to cry ugly tears, needing a tissue, with big red eyes as I surrender to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

8.  I want it to be a natural part of my day to pray salvation’s prayer with a complete stranger. 

9.  I long to have someone approach me, ask if I am “Caroline Hendry” that they heard about. And tell me they want to follow my God. Because they have heard that my God does miracles and they have heard that my God saves marriages and they have heard that my God adopts orphans and heals cancer. 

10.  I want to wrap my arms around my Jesus Christ and I want to hear the words, 

“Caroline, welcome home, my good and faithful servant. You have preached my gospel, you have confessed me before man and now, I claim you before God Almighty.  You are mine. You will never hurt again. I have prepared a mansion for you for all of eternity where it never gets dirty and there is a massive pool half inside/half outside. And you are mine and you will be with me for all of eternity.  Well done daughter.”

Trading Manure for Priceless Jewels

Menstrual rags are what I have to offer! Nasty!  We wrap it up and do not even want to see it in the trash!  

My unsalty crystals are not even good enough to add to manure!  It ruins poop so it can not even be used for fertilizer!  

He creates the sunsets like it is child’s play. The wings of the eagle are his artwork. He knew the thoughts of Johnny Cash before he was even born!  Gold’s only use is concrete!  The talent of Monet and the voice of Botticelli, his creation. 

And HE PURSUED ME!  It is insanity!  I ran away. I wanted nothing to do with the free gifts he offers to me!

JESUS!  For eternity I will praise you!  A worm like me you transformed into a princess!  Mercies of Jesus!  

My inheritance is that of the King of Kings!  My body will soar past the Olympian and a gold medal will mean nothing for the ease!  My voice will be of beauty that can join with the angels!  

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel!”

Go to school. Rush to your neighbors. The world is scared. Children are hungry. Your cashier at Publix. Your partner in business. Go to the gym and preach the gospel!  

Verge of Tears

College sophomore Caroline Hite pulled my thin jacket around and zipped it up to my chin. I wasn’t quite prepared for the cold this Tennessee Fall was threatening. It was dark and I could not see the green circular lawn as I walked the diameter from the library to my dorm room. 

With a dreary attitude, I slumped up the steps to the third floor. With dramatic disappointment, I flopped down on my simple twin bed and gave a large exhale. 

“What’s the matter?” My roommate and best friend inquired. 

“I miss him!”  I was seriously on the verge of tears. 

“Who?” She asked with a tinge of girly excitement, yet knowing that I told her everything and she knew I did not even have a current crush. 

“One day I am going to love someone so much. One day it will hurt to be separated from him…I don’t know who he is…but I miss him now.”

Obviously, I am a hopeless romantic to the core. Randomly, that vivid memory crosses my mind and I smile. I still feel the cold breeze blow against my cheek and I remember that longing that I had in my heart that has now been filled.  James. James is that man that I was missing. 

And today that longing grabbed my beating heart in a whole new way. Bleeding and still pumping, the Holy Spirit grabbed my heart and tenderly yet firmly looked me square in the eyes and said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Did God long for me?!  Like that!  In a perfect, complete way know that he had created me and I was yet to be born?  Does he look at me now, at every detail of my little life and know that he made me to love coffee, know that he made me to crave the words of CS Lewis and while I read “Surprised By Joy” it was an event created to be at the beginning of the world?  Did he long for the day when I would have my own daughter and cry tears of love and joy at the realization that this is just a glimpse of the love the Father has for me?

And I am humbled. How?  HOW!  How can GOD love me?!  Want me?!  Wait for me?!  And I realize, he made me for Him. He has a purpose for me!  Oh God!  Grab me!  Kicking and screaming, wholly addicted to myself, and lazy out of selfishness and begin your work in me.

My toes are wading in the water, but I want to dive in!  

And I walk the diameter of this world. It is dark with arrogance. My heart is not in the right place. But I miss someone. Someone I will be with for eternity. One day I will sing HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. And one day I will be complete and whole and all my questions will be answered and all my hurts will be undone. Dear Jesus, my heart aches for that day I will be with YOU!  And the Good News is that You want to be with me too!

Momma is Packing

“There are three types of people in this world:  sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.  

Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep. 

Then you’ve got predators, who use violence to prey on the weak.   They’re the wolves. 

And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.”  

-quote from Chris Kyle’s father in the movie, American Sniper 

Oh gracious we have come a long way!  From the pilgrims that died of starvation and sickness while seeking religious freedom to the PC police that call out every single damn little word that hurt their tender little feelings. (As a little side note, these wolves sometimes disguise themselves as “Christians.”)

And I have this baby, this girl that has been running ahead of me since she was born. A tough little cookie that is growing up a Noah in this world of sheep and wolves and where does she fit?

Well, if I may, this woman I am is a natural sheep. I like to graze in my little pasture and lay in the sun and drink from the clear flowing creek and not worry about what is beyond the fence and get along with all the other sheep. 

But then something happened. She is blonde and loves every single animal (even the ugly scary ones) and reads every single written word put before her. 

And I took one look at her and fell so deeply in love and then I stared that big bad wolf in the eyes and said, “Ohhhhh HELL NO!”  

And while I do not always write to one particular group, I realize that I am writing to parents here, and educators, and leaders, and those that care to voice their opinions to influence others. We have two jobs in this life as mom and dad and those caring for children:  protect and prepare. 

Protect.  I have been accused, the finger is pointed and they think they are laying the final blow, “Your daughter is in a bubble.”  My response?  “Hell yeah!”

Do you know what this world is like?!  In big ways, my daughter is protected that she has no clue what it means to be hungry. My daughter is among the few children that still lives with her mom and dad. She does not know what it means to wonder where we will sleep at night or how are we going to pay for medicine or any of the other luxuries that so many of us in our protected culture take for granted every single day!  

But do not think for one second that while I am protecting her, that I am not preparing her!  While we are laying the Biblical foundation at home, we are preparing her faith to be attacked. While we are strengthening her confidence, we challenge her to stand up for the weak. 

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed!  I am just a little sheep!  But you are not only a sheepdog, YOU ARE THE SHEPHERD!  You love your sheep!  You are not afraid of the wolves. And you have sent your sheepdogs into this world to protect. 

So, while I bring my little sheepdog every day to the Shepherd for lessons and while I know that my power and protection come from the Shepherd, when I am just a sheep hanging out with my sheep friends in this world of PC sheep that do not even believe that wolves exist, I have been pushed to the limit where I do not have the luxury to be silent anymore. I am stepping out where I know I am going to get shoved back and I know not everyone agrees with me. (AND THAT’S OK!  I am perfectly content to agree to disagree!) 

But when civilians are being massacred in GUN FREE ZONES, it is ignorance to claim that we need more gun control!  When ISIS is thinking up new cruel ways to murder Christian children, we can no longer tolerate leaders that will not identify radical Islam as our enemy because they are afraid of hurting feelings!  We have moved past that!  

And I will close my, what I hope is seen as a thoughtful opinion backed up with facts and not a rant, with something I believe so firmly in that has been lost in our modern comforts:  The Second Ammendment. 

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So, while everyone likes to talk about “my rights,” what really is my right?  Well, one of them is to carry a gun. Go ahead. Label me. 

Spread the Secret

There are many me, there are lots of me’s that enjoy a big pot roast, me’s walking the isles at Publix, I see me picking up my kid at school, or even the multitude of me’s sitting in churches across this Western World. 

I have lived my life following the crowd of the must have. The media has influenced what I say. Oh!  Don’t get me wrong!  I have spoken out enough to make enemies with those I don’t like anyway, but never enough to get a label. I have lived my life in search of bigger and better, prettier and stronger, richer and more powerful. 

But last week, I took a trip that I didn’t want to take. Remember the day I had to write?  Remember me holding in the tears in Target?  Well, my levels were up where they shouldn’t be up and my oncologist ordered lots of scans. It sounded just like the previous six times that led to surgery. And not all surgeries are created equal. Add the C word for a dramatic effect and as the surgeries multiply, the risks and recovery are harder. Well, that time I wrote about what I couldn’t write about, it was that. Last week, Nana stayed with my girl and James and I took that oh so routine trip to Duke Medical Center. It is worth the drive. It is the difference between life and death. 

A sick feeling rises in my stomach while I try to prepare myself, thinking about things I had not let myself think about before. But my husband slips his hand into mine and then it can’t all be wrong. What I care most about is right. And I get an email from my mentor sent around the 5 o’clock hour and she has prayed in the presence of the Holy One on my behalf. And I get a text and another text and more that dear friends are praying and what more can I ask?

It all begins with an ultra sound, I grab James’s hand and I am prepared for the worst, “Completely normal. Nothing to worry about.”  Followed by a CT Scan and a bone scan:  My oncologist sent in his PA. (Pause here. I absolutely adore my doctor but when he sends in his PA, that is the news I want!)  All normal. 

But, ya see, this is the third time in 2015 that I have lived a similar situation. It never gets easier, maybe even harder, but each and every time I learn something. And they will continue. I am a 19 year cancer survivor. Since 19 long years ago, my blood levels are off. My doctors continue to search and scan to locate that microscopic cancer that they know is somewhere. But their hope, and my prayer, is that I live my life being poked and prodded and that it never grows to a size where they can find it. It has before. Six surgeries. But I live my life with routine medical bills and visiting the best doctors in the world and this cancer is slow growing therefore I proclaim that my life is a beautiful life with cancer. 

And living my life from this perspective teaches me enough to write about it. The thorn in my side can also become the blessing. Although I would have never picked this road on my own, and I would switch lanes at any point that I could, the suffering is never wasted. And what did I learn this time?  

I learned MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Yesterday, I accompanied my eight year old and her classmates to an assisted living home to spread some holiday cheer. My daughter, her friend, and I sat across from an elderly man coloring a picture.  As Madison chatted, like Madison does, the man must have told her a hundred times how smart she is. I smiled and introduced myself. He followed suit with his whole name. I then introduced my daughter and her friend. The sweet man we just met, smiled and told me he had two children, he pronounced the full name of one of his children and then paused with great pain on his face, “I am not smart like her. I forget.”

Not able to fathom the pain of forgetting the name of my own child, we moved on with the conversation. Because my God is awesome, he moved my daughter and her friend to share their recent memory work. They memorized all of Luke 2. (All 20 verses!)  As they recited the story, this precious man beamed. It was spiritual. 

When I do not have the option to take this life for granted, THANK YOU JESUS FOR SHOWING ME WHAT I LIVE FOR!  There was this tiny little baby, he was God Almighty coming to earth to save me!  There is no other religion where god loves me like that!  No other faith that says that I am good enough. No other spiritual life where I measure up to the God of the universe pursuing me! 

There are so many me’s walking around this world. We know God but we don’t want to get too weird about it. Ladies and gentlemen, ISIS is cutting off the heads of the infidel, mass shootings are the new norm, our president does not even recognize our enemy…this world is headed straight to hell!  I will strive to be more like my eight year old daughter:  “Here is the story of Jesus.  And when life hurts more than possible to endure, there is hope!  The story starts with a virgin birth, announced by angels. Hosanna in the highest!  I have good news of great joy for all the people!”  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!