Spiritual Flesh and Blood 4

Her death was an emptiness that would haunt my life and I did not know how to fill that void.  My father shut himself off inside his church.  He was a pastor who was closed off to his children.  We were now nothing but a reminder of the wife he lost.  We were nothing but a burden like predicted.

My father hid in his work, not knowing how to deal with his own hurt.  Loss of love hurts so badly.  When he was alone, he would think about us and how he wanted to love us and help us.  He thought about how much we must be hurting also.  That is because his heart was good.  He would promise himself that he would do things better.  He would be a better father.  But he did not pray concerning us.  He did not call on God to be our father.  He tried to do it in his own power.  And whenever he was in our presence, Demon Suffering squeezed his throat so that the right words would not come out and my father would run from our presence to seek relief from that pain that he always felt when he was around us.

And then a new demon joined my father:  Demon Regret.  Now he could never be a father again.  He had messed everything up in our family.  He quit trying.

To be continued…

Take Up Your Suffering and Follow Jesus

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 

Jesus sent him out with a strong warning, “See that you do not tell this to anyone.”

Why?!  Why not tell anyone?!  Hey!  Knowing from experience, if that was me, I’d tell the world!

Facebook update status:  JESUS HEALED ME!

Text message to the world:  are you sick?  Look what he did for me!

News report:  Let me share my story:  Sick. Healed. Jesus. 

WHY NOT TELL?

This is not the only verse where Jesus heals someone and then warns them to keep it a secret. It used to really get to me. And then I lived. I learned. I suffered. I matured. Sat under some good teaching. Had cancer and realized, “This life is so fleeting.”

HE IS BIGGER!  He is more than the here and now!  He heals more than this physical body!  Like a father, he looked on them and had compassion, he healed them but in their excitement they could not see that he was healing more than their bodies. 

To my live news broadcast, Jesus would respond, “I told you not to tell anyone because you don’t get it!  I did not come to heal bodies. I did not come to be king and ruler of this earth. I still had a lot to show you. I would suffer. I would die. Not what you were expecting?  Huh?  But watch. I’m going to do something even bigger than that!  I want to heal your soul. Not just the now, the eternity.”

Jesus is not the quick fix. “Take up your cross and follow me.”  And that is when the masses say, “oh never mind” and walk away. 

Then he performs a miracle, he tells the woman that had suffered for so many years, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  

Do you think she never suffered again on this earth?  She did. She was a human living on this earth. It happens daily. But she got it. When Jesus healed her body, he healed her soul. That is what matters!  You know she saw every single day that her suffering  actually led her to Jesus!  If she had not suffered all those years, she would not have been determined to just touch the hem of his garment.

I want to suffer and let it lead me to Jesus, to the greatest healing of all!

I want to learn from my mistakes and change. I want to suffer and learn, get the big picture, not live for the now. I want to have eternal healing, not just of my body, but of my soul. I have decided to follow Jesus, I will take up my cross and follow him. 

The Soul of My Body

The AC is blowing a little colder than I prefer to the preference of my family. The road curves, winding around the tall mountains.  I know these roads well. 

Madison did not take long to lay aside the iPad and ask, “Where’s my book?”  Even with the new apps, she isn’t much impressed by electronics. 

Our family photo books are splattered with pictures of our family exploring Duke Gardens and the college town restaurants. Madison handles these long drives and nights in “our hotel” like little family adventures. She doesn’t know life without them. 

But smack in the very center of the whole rondezvous is a very long visit that could turn into hours of waiting followed by a possible spontaneous scan, traveling on to bloodwork. It has happened that we plan another doctor appointment and then pre surgery scan, surgery, nights in the hospital, follow up, babysitter, missing school, makeup work, time off work, reconfiguring medication……

I just never know. And I stare out the window at the mountains passing by and I wonder what is ahead of me. Oh thank God that this world is temporary!

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  I used to think Paul’s words were morbid, but now I get it. They are more alive than ever. In fact, the more I love this life, the more I know, I know this is not life and I am just packing and getting ready for what really matters. This soul in my body is not made for this world. 

And the visit is fast. We are in and out of there and James and I take a deep sigh of relief and thank the Lord for a boring doctor visit and Madison doesn’t know there was the possibility of anything else. She is just smiling while I praise her manners and we start to anticipate the fun night on the town that awaits us. 

And I take Madison’s sweet little hand in one of mine and I hold the strength of my husband’s in the other and my heart knows the living meaning of a family that loves me. And I thank God for the answered prayers of a good checkup and for doing what it took for me to know that I have a body that is of this world but this soul will live forever. 

Momma’s Hot Date

Pull out the date night red lipstick, I have a hot date. It is the kind of date where I first drop the baby off at MiMi’s house. The kind of date where we already have a baby, and the baby is eight. 

I try my best to rush to meet him at home, but there is traffic. So, I sip my afternoon coffee. I’ll need one to stay up past “school night bedtime.”  I flip through the radio station, but I can’t find the LOVE songs!  

I hear songs about meeting for the first time, plenty rockin’ one night stands, and a having sex to say goodbye song (are we for real?!) I’m a girl, a sappy  girl headed on a date with my man, where are the love songs?

I want to hear a song about someone that has known each other more than a first hot glance, hey, what about someone that is…let’s say it, already married?  I want to hear about love, real love, love that has made it through the hard times, love that actually knows their date’s middle name and has met their momma. 

Surely we are not the only ones that have gone on more than a first date. Surely there could be a love song about more than a one night stand on the radio. 

Coming from someone that has been married for thirteen years, and plans to make it a whole lot more, LOVE IS MUCH MORE ROMANTIC THAN LUST!

The honeymoon isn’t over after having a baby. It grows. 

Love doesn’t leave. It stays. Love forgives. 

Love is like wine. It gets better with age. 

Real gentlemen do still exist and true love can be found. 

Singers, sing a song about my man working hard for a living for his family.  

Writers, write about that sexy man rocking his baby to sleep in the middle of the night. The man that loves that baby’s Momma, even when she has no makup on. And would chose her any day over the newer model. 

I wanna hear the song about:

Even now, I still chose you. Even that, can’t make me leave. Even he, has nothing to offer over you. ‘Cause you’re my man. Always have been, even before I met you. Always will be. ‘Cause God himself made us for each other. No one else shares these memories. No one else has been with me through that. No one else could ever be her Daddy. So, you may have seen these heels before and maybe this restaurant isn’t new. And we might have a hard week behind us.  

But you are my man, and tonight you are my date. And tomorrow, you will still be my man. And we are living a real love song. 

She’s Me

She’s more and greater and bigger than what I ever thought could possibly be mine. I am the proud parent of the cute little blonde petting the puppy over there. She is tall for her age, smart, and a stinker too. 

Something happened when I endured tremendous, excruciating pain to bring that little one into the world, and it was this:  IT IS NOT ABOUT ME ANYMORE!  

This is why my heart breaks when I personally know a little girl that her Momma said, “I’m done.” And walked out the door. This is why I am furious concerning abortion. All that have parented a child should refuse to be silent until the murder of newborns is ended. This is why my heart has a deep pain when I see a child, any child, in need or in pain. These are children JUST LIKE MY DAUGHTER. If my daughter was in need, I would do whatever necessary to provide for her. And I am spending my life proving that!

And then I realized, IT IS NOT ABOUT ME!  This means that Madison is not supposed to behave so that I will look good. This means that she is not to step out of a fashion magazine every morning so that our family looks like we have it all together. This means that I can not protect her from the world, I have to prepare her for it!

Woa!  Ouch!  Grab my heart!  This is my little girl!  Ummmm, nope…she belongs to Jesus and I want his plan for her, not mine!

Yes!  ABSOLUTELY!  It is my responsibility to age appropriately protect her. But here is what I mean, IT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO LOOSEN MY GRIP ONE FINGER AT A TIME UNTIL SHE CAN TAKE CARE OF HERSELF.  It is my responsibility to teach that little girl how to be a woman that not only takes care of herself but serves those around her. It is my responsibility to make her obey me so that she will grow to obey God. It is my responsibility to point her to Jesus Christ and tell her, HERE IS YOUR WEALTH, HERE IS YOUR POWER, HERE IS YOUR WISDOM!  

I love that little girl so much, so very much, I want so much more for her life than to just please me. She was made to love and enjoy God, and I am not he. 

I Want New Shoes and She Has Her Daddy’s Smile

As a mom, as a woman, as a human being, I always have a million billion, a hundred things running through my head at one time.

We are out of milk. Go to Publix. We also need turkey, apples, and new shoes.

My head is a constant check list. I check my calendar and add those events to my dry erase board. Make the beds. The laundry had babies. Triplets. Practice piano. Homework. That is not for me. It is for her. She has her Daddy’s smile.

My phone chirps and I don’t have time to check it. I still need to put on mascara and brush my teeth. I want another cup of coffee but brushing my teeth says no to another cup.

She is growing so quickly. Eight!  Eight is almost nine. Dear Lord, I pray for her husband. I pray for the father of a little boy that will one day be her husband. Dear Lord, make him a man that will be a godly model for the boy that will grow to be her husband.

I want new shoes. I saw a pair in the mall. Super cute, no cute is not the right word, hot. They were hot shoes! ¬†But I’m saving for piano lessons.

I’m a mom. It’s not about me. Yes, I want to be one sexy Momma for my husband. But he wants me to stay in budget. I’m on my way to the grocery store. I think I’ll bake a little treat for them. The hot man I call my husband and the little girl that I love more than new shoes.

may I suggest http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood

Just Like That, a Miracle

The wheelchair carried me to the front of the hospital, down the elevator, and out to the parking lot for my husband to pick US up. I was not injured.  I did not have surgery or any other procedure.  I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. I was holding my little miracle in my arms and about to take her home for the first time.  I snuggled her warm soft body closer to mine and I kissed the softest cheeks ever born.  Just like that, life was living and breathing and growing up in my little Florida home. 

The miracle of life. Scientifically explain it to me, and it makes me praise God. He knows and designed life from conception to the imbillical cord, the labor process, and into the arms of Mommy and Daddy. Science is the study of God’s Creation. 

We had been on summer break for two weeks. It was the first day of break that all the plans happened at home. Laundry was piled up, a lunch picnic would not go beyond our backyard, summer reading, mopping, a day to catch up and prepare. AND JUST LIKE THAT, A MIRACLE. I got a message. 

I got a message from my brother, followed by tons of pictures and family comments. Adeline was born and I love her. I can smell her newborn baby perfection and I adore her little fingers that she has not yet learned to control. And today is the day that we make the trip, that is much too far, but today I will see and I will praise God for a miracle that he has planned for since the beginning of time.

Being Selfish is King

Daily, hourly, minute by minute, a war rages within me. Heart speeding, mind demanding, body wanting, wanting what is best for me.

A “list person” does not begin to explain how I long for my day to be structured. Quiet coffee and writing, chores accomplished to the point of mopping and clean closets. Each day, my soul longs to close the afternoon relaxing and reading a book beside a burning candle, while a healthy dinner slowly grills and bakes, with the fruit salad already cut in the fridge. 

But two things happen daily that mess up MY plans and they are: 

 1.  HUSBAND & 2.  DAUGHTER

Ya see, they each have their own idea how the day should go and James is not so much worried about the clean house and Madison wants to see as many people as possible. 

And here is where my covenant kicks in. I have made a covenant to my husband and my daughter. Simply put, I vow to always love them.  Sound easy enough?  My heart says that I love them to the point of my heart exploding, however, there is ALWAYS room for love to improve!  

In the words of Bob Goff, “love does.”  Love is patient. Love is kind…IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING…  It is not enough to say to my husband and my daughter that I love them, I want to BE LOVE to them. 

Now, I love a lot of people. I want to show love to many in my life. HOWEVER, I have a covenat love with two people in my life. What does that mean?

I love my friends, but I have the freedom to move away. I love my daughter’s teacher, but if it is not working out for Madison, we are out of there. The covenant is to my husband and my daughter. I vow to always love them NO MATTER WHAT.

We can see that the covenantal love between a husband and a wife has eroded in our culture. With the divorce rate over half, and who knows how many more living in a miserable marriage, pop culture has responded with:  Be true only to yourself. Be happy at all costs. Love yourself more than anyone. 

This thinking has helped to erode marriage. And I am terrified that this is beginning to extend to our children. There was one bond that culture still encouraged and that was the bond between a parent and child. Your marriage is not working?  Let me encourage you to walk through that door, but you still have a responsibility to your children. 

Please allow me to suggest something:  you can not have it both ways. A person can not love themself above all else and keep a covenant to anyone. Dare I say, especially a child?!  When mommy is sleepy and the baby is crying, when Daddy wants to save for a boat and children cost SO FREAKIN MUCH, when I want to sit in silence and read and my daughter is a chatterbox, THAT DOES NOT MESH WELL WITH THE ME MENTALITY. 

With child trafficking on the rise, with children living among broken families, horrible stories of mothers and fathers murdering their own children, WHO IS GOING TO FIX THIS MESS?!

RETURN TO THE COVENANT!  Caroline has to chose to serve my husband and my daughter BEFORE myself!  Oh!  But who will look out for ME?!  And that is the beauty of a covenant, when I am serving James in love and he returns it to me, a vicious cycle of growing love begins. 

Yes!  I am called to love even when it is not returned. Yes!  I daily have to ask for forgiveness!  And even when I vow and long for this PERFECT covenant, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!  And maybe this is why the towel has been thrown in for most of pop culture and it trickles down to us, because only one thing makes us chose someone else over ourselves:  GOD IS LOVE

When God is removed from our lives, it is impossible to live in a covenant. 

I, Caroline, vow to love my husband and my daughter always. And in my day to day, when I chose my own happiness before their’s, Lord Jesus, return me to YOU, so that you can love them through me, because ONLY YOU ARE PERFECT LOVE. 

We Need More Judgemental People!

My daughter has a friend that does not have a father and her mother is mostly absent. When she is with our family, which is often, and I have to tell Madison “no,” her friend stares at me with a longing stare. SHE ACTUALLY LONGS FOR SOMEONE TO TELL HER NO!

My name is Caroline and I am far from the perfect parent, however, I am very sensitive to my daughter’s feelings. When we are around others, I err on the side of “letting things slide.”  She eats more sugar, stays up later, and gets her way more often when in the company of others. It is not that I want to be a different parent in front of others, I want consistency, it is this:

There is a time for MY actions to be questioned, but it is not in front of other people. To me, that hurts doubly to be second guessed in front of others. To me, that is a private matter. With my daughter, it is a private matter. 

However, there is a certain line, where I do not want to, but it is my responsibility as a mom to say “no.”  There is a line that I love my daughter too much to let her cross. Sometimes, I BELIEVE THE MOST LOVING THING SHE CAN HEAR IS NO.  No, I love you too much to let you be rude to your friend. No, I love you too much to let you have that. No, I love you too much to let you talk to me like that. 

This is such a touchy subject TO ME.  There are too many hypocritical people that believe it is their right to walk around telling everyone what they are doing wrong. Fingers down the chalkboard, I cringe just being around these people!  SO DID JESUS.  So many of us have that picture of that someone that springs into our head and we turn and sprint in the other direction as quickly as we can!  Hear me out, that is not what I am preaching!  

However, I do NOT want to want to swing the pendulum in the other direction!  I do not want to be afraid to stand up for what is right!  Call me judgmental, call me a hater…have at it.  I’m just getting started.  But I do not really care if I hurt feelings. I am more concerned with doing what is right. 

Would a wife be loving if she did not call her husband out on being an alcoholic? (mine is not. Just an example here)

Would a friend be right to keep quiet when her friend is chosing abusive behavior?

Would a parent be loving their child to never train them in what is good and right and healthy?  Eat what you want, say what you want, do what you want???!!  NO. 

I believe that true Christians, some true Christians, have become so scared of being the judgemental “mother” that we are too afraid to call “our children” out on their bad behavior. Well, the line has been crossed. 

I AM NOT THE JUDGE OF THE HEART!  But christians are called to righteous judgement. We are called to stand up for the helpless. We are called to fight for what is right. 

Oh!  Not judging the heart, always loving, while fighting for what is right and calling sin what it is: sin. It is a hard HARD HARD line!  In fact, it is impossible!  But the things that are impossible with men are possible with God. 

And that is why I believe the only answer for restoration in our personal lives and in our world is JESUS

He loves at all times. He knows the cells that make up our bodies. He knows our soul’s deepest desires. He can make the planets with his fingertips. And he loves us intimately!  

My God, I can trust you, only you with my everything!  Only you will never fail me!  And YOU are the answer to the hurt and void in the human heart. 

(Still pondering the title?  Yeah, me too. It was meant to be more of a grabber.)

Here Comes the Life

There was nothing except excitement and love swelling within me that could not be contained. The church was huge, ornate, and movie worthy gorgeous. My church from birth hid our lack of money and lack of decorating in its every day stunning beauty. Something borrowed was my white designer wedding dress. One of my very best friends was married two months before me and graciously offered for me to wear the dress I could not afford. But from the outside, I was the bride beaming for my groom. 

The opening of the huge sanctuary doors demanded the audience to their feet. The wedding march boomed from the organ pipes. 

One step. I was twenty one years young and ready to wear a bikini on our Bahamas honeymoon. 

Slow step.  My groom was rushing me to the ER, praying over my convulsing body. 

The bride stepped closer to my groom. And there was a toddler running around my feet. I am distracted and tired but I smile up at her Daddy. 

Slowly, my white heel takes another step toward my love. I am yelling and frustrated and angry. He knows my sin and I know his. But I chose him now and he takes all of me. 

My white dress follows behind. The crowd stares and admires. My body has new scars. My hair has gray streaks. Our daughter is about to take her own walk. Her Daddy has been the finest example and now he will walk her to her own groom. 

I smile as I near my groom, one intentional step down the isle. I am faded and gray now. My body wrinkled and old. But I take my husband’s hand and I know now the deep love of the wedding vows. 

My final step and I am face to face with my groom.  We smile into each other’s eyes. It goes beyond the perfection of our young bodies. It is deeper than the moment of young love and a honeymoon vacation. We vow to love when it hurts. We promise to chose each other when we don’t want to. We make a covenant to always protect and always serve. And with our wedding vows, we are now one. One life. One body. One love. 

In my life, I have walked halfway down that church isle. When I look back, I see a much different girl that started that walk. And when I look forward, a much different girl will finish it. While things have changed, for better and for worse. With each step I take, I love my groom even more. When those doors first boomed open, I thought I could never love more than this. However, lessons have been learned and promises have been lived and love is so much more than a wedding. Love is life. 

Each day, I take a slow step forward and each step our lives change. But each step I take toward my groom and my promise of only him. And I now believe this life is our wedding ceremony. Our home is our covenant. We are standing and proclaiming our vows to the world.  Our love is rings exchanged. 

But when we turn and face the crowd and when the pastor announceds Mr. and Mrs., we will run down that isle and the real honeymoon will be in heaven. 

Because that is what God calls us to. To help each other on that way. In sickness and in health, for better, and for worse, we present the lives we led and the one that we became together. Encourage. Strengthen. Forgive. Serve. And most importantly, love. 

And one day, I will turn to the perfect bride groom and the life before us will be perfect eternity. I will be stunningly gorgeous forever. All my vows will be of tears wiped away and life beyond comprehension. My last tear of joyous disbelief will be lovingly wiped away, as my perfect groom admires me, and before all the hosts of heaven, I will proudly proclaim, “I do.”