I Just Want to be With Him

Separated by 12 hours, my entire mind and body ached for James. Newly engaged, I felt only half of a person waiting for my wedding day to be complete. My life was one thing:  waiting. 

I sat in premarital counseling all alone, trying my very best to answer questions the way I thought a Christian bride should. Then, the most obvious question, shook me:

“Why do you want to marry James?”

It was the most openly raw and truthful I’ve ever been in my life, “I just want to be with him.”

I haven’t written in a while. Writing is something that flows throw my body without ceasing. I don’t think about what I am going to write about. I sit down and, at any given time, I put my thoughts into words. But lately…lately, I didn’t want to say it. I wanted to DO IT. 

I didn’t want to write about loving Jesus with my whole heart, I wanted to show it. I didn’t want to inspire to adopt a child longing to be loved. I wanted to snuggle up with that love hungry child and promise a home. I didn’t want to poetically describe nature, I wanted to explore it and praise the God who so effortlessly assembled the mountains. 

And I couldn’t. I couldn’t write another word. 

And here I am. Did I adopt?  Was I not writing because I was living in a mud hut in an internetless village?  Did I downsize my home so I could give away my possessions?

No. Although I am inspired to do so. 

But I actually thought for a bit. Listened for a while. Kept my mouth shut and thought through my answer:

“Caroline, why are you a Christian?”

Hey, I want to go to Heaven. And I don’t want to go to Hell. I long to be kind and make a difference in this world to those that need it. I want to love, to really love my neighbor as myself. But, if I’m being honest, if my heart is open and raw and truthful, I will say that none of those are the reason I am a Christian. The real answer is:

“I JUST WANT TO BE WITH HIM!  I am tired of the separation. I am aching soul and body because of this long distance relationship. I want to hug and embrace and be with my Savior. I am a Christian, not because I am good, not because I have it all together, or because I have accomplished being a great humanitarian, or because I follow perfectly the Ten Commandments. I am a Christian because I am so madly in love with Jesus and I just want to be with Him!”

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. 

Screw Up and Move On

Roast and potatoes were simmering at a low temperature in the crockpot, a fire burning and sending a glow through the room set off the cold weather outside in a perfect comfort of a home that was my dream come true. The floors glow freshly mopped and the last load of laundry has been put away. Madison’s homework is completed to perfection and a little ahead of schedule. We slide into the newly refinished chairs with an afternoon snack and time to spare for a game of Chess. This is my perfection. More so than the winter ice that quickly melts with the change of season, I wish I could freeze and live in this moment forever and ever. An eight year old daughter that still needs me to style her hair in the morning, a husband that will walk in the door after a hard day of work at any moment, and the general good mood that I let determine way too much of my world. 

Literally, the only difference was laying down for a night’s rest. I slept hard and my dream wasn’t over when the alarm clock yelled at me, rudely interrupting my comfort.  As soon as I get started, I am running late. Madison is grumpy and complains about the uniform that she has to wear every day. I am grumpy that James has not brought me a coffee yet. My clothes are not complementing me like I want them to and my hair looks hideous. I stumble past the unmade bed to the kitchen with a sink full of dishes and an overflowing trash can. Where in the hell did this mess come from?!  My good mood is gone. 

To fault, I am an idealist and a perfectionist. My realist husband lives in this same morning as me and he sees (or doesn’t even see) the mess and interprets, “This needs to be cleaned up.”  I see:

I am a failure. My life is awful. I am a horrible wife and mom. Why can’t I wake up early and make eggs and bacon for my family?  Why does this world have to start so early?  It is my fault Madison is grumpy. Where is my coffee?  It is James’s fault. He must not love me. 

It take two cups of coffee for me to move on. But as this same scenario plays in my world almost EVERY SINGLE DAY, I am starting to learn that failures are what matter. Weird, huh?  Here is what I mean:

When I am grumpy, am I a yeller?  When Caroline doesn’t get her way, that determines if I am a selfish or giving person. When Madison’s homework is stressing us to the limit, am I patient?  When James tells me “no” to something I want to purchase, how do I take it?  It is the hard times, not the “my perfect world” times that determine who Caroline really is. 

How can I make a mistake and learn from it?  When I sin, how can I ask for forgiveness?  How can I give my life, all of my life, the good and the ugly to serve my family and others?

When my schedule is packed full, Lord, send me someone for me to help.  When my budget is tight, Lord, show me someone that has less than me that I can strengthen. Oh God, I want those in dire need right in my obvious path!  Because this is the meaning of giving.  That is service. When it hurts, when I am grumpy, when I lack energy, that is when it is not me because I can not do it. That will be God in me. 

My Panic is Healed

I turned the corner of the isle in Target, panic struck my face. Panic struck in an instant to the center of my core. 

“MAADISOOON!”  I yelled at the top of my lungs. 

From just the next row, in the other direction, a very young Madison stepped from the end of an isle. She had slipped away for the eternity of just a few seconds. 

I hugged her tight with real love and continued with our day. 

My daily life consists on spending time making my hair look the best, using my very best manners, correct posture, and choosing my words correctly. I care what people think about me. But there is a time that it all goes by the wayside. 

He had one thought on his mind. Sight. His life was a dark one, full of handicaps and inabilities. He was consumed with one idea, something that the crowd never gives a second thought. 

Bartimaeus cried at the top of his lungs, “Son of David!”

The streets were busy with religious people. It was the beginning of Passover and many were setting out on the holy journey and beginning their religious preparations. But they were even more blind than this man with no sight as they urged him to hush and be quiet. 

What is that thing?  The one you dream about?  It consumes your mind. You would not care to be made a fool if it meant that you could possess it?

As Bartimeus sought his miracle, he did not listen to the advice of the crowd. When he was summoned by Jesus, he did not stop to fix his appearance.  He did not have all the theological answers. He looked away from the religion of the synagogue and the Pharisees to the man, to a relationship with Jesus. 

And Jesus did summon him. He is not safe. Jesus is not the feminine, PC Sunday School story. He was on the road to torture and the most extreme suffering ever endured by a human. But he has a heart for the hurting. He is here for those that do no have it all together. 

While I am the first to know my shortcomings, I also know my strength:  “Son of David, have mercy on 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!

Pause the Rushing Moment

Despite the fact that I want to soak up each and every second, the clock ticks on. “Enjoy these moments. She will grow up in the blink of an eye.”  I know!  I really do know because yesterday I held a tiny baby in my arms and now she is knocking on nine. And my coffee grows cold and I am not ready to move on. 

The morning was rushed with so many chores but they all got accomplished so I should count it a success. But I don’t. I don’t appreciate the rush. There is hard work to be done and I understand that, but could you keep the day from passing while I hurry about my chores?  I sat in the car and stared out the window. I am not one that can hold in my emotion. 

A bit surprised by my sadness at this joyous occasion, “What is the matter?”  He asked. 

“It is going by in fast forward!”  

And it did!  It was Thanksgiving Day yesterday and NOW IT IS NOT!

I sit in the morning. My mug of coffee is cold before I am ready for my morning alone to be over.  I want to sit in my jammies for hours without the day passing by, just pause the moment I am in. It is officially Christmas season, the best time of the year. These are the moments, the times that are memories, this is when I make who I am. And I want it to be good!  

But the company arrives and they are gone before I am ready. He is off work and returns before I am ready for him to go. She grows and she is one more step to grown and I want to snuggle just a bit longer. The Christmas song and the warm glow of the fire are a perfect moment that taunt me as they rush so quickly away. Cherishing the moment is not enough. I want to pause.  I want to have forever and eternity. 

Your Children

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.” Ronald Reagan

For such a time as the this. I no longer have the benefit of raising my daughter to value her freedom. I do not teach her the history of her founding fathers and tell her to appreciate this great nation that she was born in to. No. I am raising a fighter, a Noah in this land that is handing over her freedom one entitlement at a time. I am raising her to stand against the tyrants that would come and abolish any signs of free America. 

Our nation is looking upon an upcoming election. It used to be that when people were called socialists, it was meant to be an insult. Now we see two candidates step up to the podium. They are two of the frontrunners of the election:  

Bernie Sanders, who claims with his own words to be a Democratic Socialist. Let me remind you that our country is NOT a democracy. We live in a democratic republic. Our founding fathers knew too well not to leave the country to the whims of a mob, therefore setting up a democratic republic, where our representatives were held responsible to the people but the people could not control with their emotional whims of the masses. 

The opposition to Bernie Sanders (one of them. The one I am writing about) is Dr. Benjamin Carson. This man is the epitome of the American Dream. Raised in poverty, he embraced education and hard work, becoming the leading pediatric neurosurgeon in the world. Dr. Carson has a testimony that is held against him. He claims the name of the Lord Jesus Christ boldly, despite the media attacks and attacks from fellow candidates for his past. (That is his message!  That is the power of grace!  Look how God can change a man!). Dr. Carson published a book, A More Perfect Union, in which he prints the Constitution in its entirety. He states its history and he challenges us to hold our representatives, including himself, to the supreme law of the land in the words that gave America her freedom and prosperity for so many years.

I do not hold our government accountable. I do not even hold the Obama administration accountable. I hold families, I hold parents accountable. 

In the last few decades, we have seen a trend of entitlement in our parenting styles. Children are raised being told they are perfect little angels that are entitled to whatever their little hearts desire. NO!

Coming from a mother that adores her daughter, I love her much too much to raise her to be an entitled spoiled brat. I love her much too much to neglect to tell her that powerful word: no.  Though she is still young, I am proud that she is such a hard worker. That is because she is required to do chores around the house she is required to do her best at the sports she chooses to play. She is required to practice piano. She has no option but to read at least 20 minutes every single day.  Never neglecting GRACE!  In this family, we all make mistakes. We forgive. We learn. 

Do you know what has happened?  SHE LOVES WORK!  My girl is the one that always has her nose in a book, she stays up late reading until I force her to turn off her light. Because she does not have the option to turn on the tv. She chooses veggies on her own at a restraunt because she is taught to make wise decisions and given limits where she lacks maturity. My girl complains that her Scienec lab is so short because she loves to learn about Creation. 

I get it!  Parenting is hard!  It is hard every day!  But I love my girl too much not to train her to be the intelligent, strong, kind girl that Christ intends her to be. I love her too much to take the easy route!

Do you feel lost?  Trust me, if you are a parent that is a daily experience.  (For me at least)  Can I recommend two books that have helped me immensely:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

And 

12 Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore 

READ!  Read to your child. Put down the phone. Turn off the tv. Daily, open the Bible and read. Let your children see you read. Require them to read. And learn. Why do you believe what you believe? 

Honestly, I believe this is not the fault of government. Government does what the people want. It is the fault of parents not teaching their children to work, teaching children that they are perfect little angels entitled to whatever they want, neglecting to teach them the word of God. Change occurs in the family, in the home, and sadly we have seen the erosion of the American Christian family. Dare not to fit in. Dare to be the change. Be the answer. 

Again I quote Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.”   

And I will stand and proclaim, “It will not be lost on my watch.”