The Always Broken Heart

Age creased the hands of the surgeon.  A large build, tall, athletic, a picture of health.  Without even the knowledge of his resume, his deep voice accompanied with a warm smile, he demanded the upmost of attention.  But in this moment, weakness consumed him.

His knees, clothed in scrubs, bent on the surgical floor of the hospital.  The bright lights produced a spotlight, the beep of the monitors was the soundtrack.  His healthy body held all the weakness of the world in his hands.  

Place your two fists together and you see the size of your heart.  Held in his large hands were two small fists placed together.  In his hands he held a red bleeding muscle.  In his hands he held a heart, the human heart of a four year old little girl.  

Little heart, beat.  Little heart, live.  Grow and smile and meet new people.  Sound out words, graduate from kindergarten, and draw a flower for your Momma.  Little heart, hold hands with your BFF, kiss your aunt when she comes to visit.  Little heart, open Christmas presents, play with neighbors, and learn to ride a bike.  Little heart, hug your Daddy’s neck and throw a tennis ball to your puppy.  Little heart, beat, please beat.

No one wants to speak of the gone wrong.

“Be positive.  Focus on the good.”  Hide in humor, watch TV, focus on number one, purchase therapy and live.  COEXIST.

My favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables.  I hate the setting of the dirty streets during the French Revolution, therefore setting the perfect scene for “The Miserable.”  Oh Fantine!  Oh miserable Fantine, brokenhearted, abandoned by your love, never able to mother your child, raped, and dying in starving agony.  What do positive thoughts have to offer to Fantine.  Fantine is real!  She is the modern day Syrian refugee running for her life, she is the Father held captive awaiting his execution in the hands of ISIS, Fantine is the broken hearted wife uncovering her husband’s Ashley Madison account, Fantine is the child leaving his overdosed mother behind in the dirty government housing as he walks on the bus to face the daily cruelty of his peers, Fantine surrounds us!  Oh, I have been Fantine!

Oh cruel world!  What is our weapon to face you?  How do we survive our dreams that can not be and the storms we can not weather?  Life has killed the dream.

Oh Allah, where is your extended Jean Valjean hand?  Your scales condemn the downtrodden.  Hollywood, have your riches given you peace that is beyond understanding?  Tell me atheist, what is your hope for the bleeding heart?  Is your own heart so wise that you have become your own god?  Are you the answer to the broken heart?  Or maybe your heart is callused and you just don’t care at all.

My Jesus stepped down from perfection and walked the streets of the rejected, he touched the sick, and he accepted the outcast.  He is the only God that steps down from his power and serves the hurting.  He is the only God that pursues me!  He is the only God that does not ask me to earn my salvation, he offers me a world beyond this hurt and the price is paid.

A man, unscrubbed and unapproved, entered the room.  He took the unbeating heart from the hands of this world and it began to beat.  There was nothing worldly wisdom could do, in all our riches and all our knowledge, the heart was dead.  Jesus took the heart of the child and she was alive.  But even more than her, MY heart was unbroken.  

It is Personal

Sinking into that place of my very soul, his words caressed my heart. Her picture could not be made right in my world where I did not want people to hurt like this. I passed him in a quick stroll, yet the image of his obvious suffering is implanted in my brain. The stories where we connect, where our lives look upon someone and we stop and we do something:  we FEEL. 

This is my God. He is not a list of rules. He is not a scale that measures our good and our bad. He is a man, God in human flesh, come to place his hand on the leper that is outcast of society. He is the only religion that turns his eyes away from the rich man that follows the law to the broken sinner at his feet and declares, “I love you.”

I am the sick man!  I am the sinner! I need THAT GOD!  Religion of the Western world has become a debate, a contest, a free for all to decide your own way. 

As for me and my house, we will chose the Lord!  I do not chose myself, I fail!  I do not chose a God of rules, I can not. I can not do it on own, of my own effort, my own will, my own record. My past is too unforgiving!  I need a Savior!  I need the forgiver of sins and the healer of diseases and the giver of peace. 

His words speak to me. His story is mine. He chose me and I accept. This is my God, hear me proclaim. Let there be not doubt, no blurr in my words. No question on my face. So that when she, with her sin and her suffering quickly pass by, let her see and never forget something that can change her life forever:  my God!

Here is my story, my life. I share my details and my hopes here daily. What is your story?  Your thorn in your side and your hope of all the wrongs undone?  Please comment. 

I Question the Lacking

For the most part, heaven is ignored from the very pulpits of our churches and when it is spoken of, there is a respectful (or not so respectful) thanks to something that must be pretty great (but who really knows?), and the words spoken still leaves you with the angels on clouds kind of picture in your mind.

What in the hell is heaven?!  Well, I’ve got an idea.  Was it spoken to me in a dream, do I believe I have a prophecy, do I have a special message to pass on?  Sort of….but so do you.  What is heaven?  It is woven into my very core, it is in and of my being, everything that was ever lacking is found in the perfection of joy completed.

There are things in this world I want and long for and desire from the shouting of my alarm clock until I curl back up in my bed.  I want rest.  I don’t want to be tired anymore!  I want peace.  Peace from mistakes I’ve made, peace from hurt and trouble in this world, peace from fear of evil.  I want LUXURY!  I want a huge freakin swimming pool in my backyard, in the backyard of my mansion.  The kind that is half inside and half outside, flowing under a glass wall.  I want a brand new car, that is always a brand new car.  I want to sing with the voice of Lauren Daigle and my lungs never tire.  I want to swim and bike and run in the Hawaiian Ironman and then get a red IM tattooed on my muscular arm.  I want to sit at a piano, violin, tuba and then play and just have fun but sound really awesome.  I want my daughter to always obey and I never want to worry about her because there is no possibility of anything bad ever happening.  I don’t want my husband to go to work because we are beyond billionaires and money will never run out.  And I don’t want to be the only one!  I don’t want there to be beggars on the side of the road.  I don’t want to read about murdered grandparents and aborted babies and hungry children, because I don’t want hate and hunger to exist!

I want all the answers!  I don’t want to have a debate, I want to listen to truth, ultimate truth, and nod my head in agreement.  I want all my questions, all my worries, all my doubts to be laid at rest.  I want to know WHY!

And I want MORE!  I want God!  God himself!  The everything that makes it all complete, the perfection in my dream, the one who has loved my soul from the formation of my infant body in my mother’s womb, to the scary days in middle school, the one who was there, was always there for better and worse.  I want to see him!  I want to know him!  I want to fall into the arms of my Father God that loves me and that I love so much and I have longed for my whole life long.  And I want to fall on my knees out of praise of my soul and worship the King that is above all earthy kings.

I want to see the fulfillment of my favorite verse ever!

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!

I want HEAVEN!  I was not made to be complete in this world.  Things are not as they should be!

I have a great idea of what heaven will be like.  And I’m ready!  Hey, I get it!  “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  NO!  I don’t want to die, but I am ready to LIVE FOREVER!

Nazi America

There are so many precursors that I want to write here about loving America and, yes there are still good people in America, and blah blah blah…but know what?  I am not going to.

Recently, videos have been leaked concerning the leaders of Planned Parenthood giving absolutely disgusting details of how they brutally murder babies. One woman casually talks about cutting open the face of a newborn baby that was still moving in order to remove the brain to sell it.  Wait.  I said that she sliced open the precious face of a baby!  A little, tiny, breathing BABY!

The reaction to this?  Pretty much nothing.  Too many turn their backs in disbelief, surely this is conservative propaganda.  The majority shrug their shoulders and claim, “Well, I’m not doing it.”  So, most of us are not out there performing abortions every day. But guess what? It happens every single day in America. And nobody cares! The videos were barely covered over the media. Know why? Because everyone cares more about gossip and celebrities than babies being ripped limb from limb.

Well, maybe most Germans were not murdering people in concentration camps but if they did not stand up and fight for the rights of those people they were just as guilty. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that if we do not stand up and fight then we are guilty of the same crimes, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.”

There should be certain issues that enrage us, there should be crimes that we can not get over, evil should terrify us and keep us up at night.  THIS IS THAT EVIL!  There is no way to reason away that it is acceptable to brutally murder an innocent baby!  

Open the casket, look at the pictures, do the research.  It happened.  It happens every day.  Do you care?

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. 

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. 

Sittin’ in a Tree

Love, sweet love, how I love you!  Two days ago I celebrated being married to my best friend and love of my life for the last thirteen years. No, I’m not going to write all the mushy details. But they were good and mushy. (Insert silly grin and wink here.)

But also, fastly approaching, are two weddings of family members, one of which is my brother. I got a kind email from a friend of the bride asking if we could put together a book of advice from married women. Here is what I had to say:

A godly bride, who can find her? I am fortunate to be the sister of the man that God has been preparing for you since he was a little boy. 

Tall Ben and beautiful Megan squeezed into the love seat in the corner of my living room, “What things do we need to know about marriage that we are not expecting?” Wise Ben shocked me with his question. 
After thirteen years of marriage, I have learned a few things and I still have a few things to learn. Marriage is fun to explore new adventures with my best friend, it is comforting to always have someone to cry to, it is supporting to have someone cheering for me, it is inspiring to start a new family, it is humbling to worship and grow together over the years….it is AMAZING!  

However, that is not all. Marriage is work. And sometimes it is plain HARD! Only in a Christian relationship, can two sinners know each other inside and out, know their weaknesses and struggles and still choose to love when it is of no benefit to themselves. And THAT IS LOVE!  

The “better” is great! But the “worse” is included in our marriage. 

“Richer” is fun but the stressful “poorer” days will bind you together. 

“Health” is a daily goal, but it has been my days in “sickness” that I have seen how much James loves me!

Until death do you part, you are one with Ben until you figure out this life and the plans that God has for you as a new family. 

Love. That is the best advice that I have. When you get into the biggest fight that you have had and you think perhaps you have made one huge mistake, when Ben drives you absolutely insane for the millionth time (in one day), and when HE fails miserably, LOVE HIM! Because we are loved by the perfect one! Forgive because we have been forgiven more, submit to each other because it is the Biblical command of marriage, serve, give, work, and live this life together. But above all, LOVE! The greatest of these is LOVE!

A Psalm 31 woman is not any of these qualities on her own. SHE IS SOMEONE THAT INTIMATELY KNOWS JESUS. she works hard to serve her family. “She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard.” She knows what her family needs and she does it. She seeks out wisdom and she acts on it. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And she acts on that wisdom. Love does. We are saved by faith, not works. But faith without works is dead. She is a woman of faith with works to serve her family and her community. She is an inspiration to us all. 

Love, LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY! That is my prayer, I will be praying that your marriage will be full of love. What could be better?!

Invitation to START OVER

Ever wish you had been born into a family of privilidge?  Wish you had more connections?  Is there a huge mistake you wish you hadn’t made?  The kind no one else can understand.  Do you regret your career choice?  Or the very personality that you live with every single day?

Only here. This is the only place you are offered a second chance. An offer to be born again. To chose a father that is a king, that decorates his streets with gold. He has the connections to chose the weather, to set the stars in motion, and to do….ANYTHING!  He knows everything you wish you knew, gives the best advice to be offered, has all the answers, offers protection and peace beyond comprehension. 

Do you feel too weak for change?  He is all powerful.  Are you much too poor?  Oh, he has that covered. Scared?  Yeah. It is scary. It is a give all, hold nothing back kind of choice. 

But give it. Surrender. Start over. Raise your white flag. Be born again. And receive it all.