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…

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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 1

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12

My life is a meaningful story.  The author is God.

On the night I was born, in response to the miracle of life, an army of angels gathered in the heavenly realms.  They were great in number and they were fitted for battle, covered from head to foot with thick gold armor.  They resemble men of great strength but they are fairer with a heavenly translucency that shines from within.  They march with organized strength and determination toward the spiritual forces of evil awaiting them.

Opposing them is an army of demons.  In form, demons are terrifying creatures.  They were not protected by armor but they stood in height much taller than the angels even though they stand hunched over at the shoulders, a mix of human and beast.  Most of them are mangled and injured in some form.  They have bite marks or bleeding open wounds.  This is from the many times they have turned on one another.  They are a noisy and uncontrolled army.  Sometimes it appears that there is a dark cloud that moves with them, but upon closer inspection, it is their constant transformation from spiritual to physical.  They outnumber their opposition in mass so large that their number can not be counted.

At my birth, the demons hissed and shrieked and cried out.  Dark powers know the potential of a small baby.  A seed grows into an oak tree.  Tidal waves are made of small drops of water. Revolutions begin with a single being.  The dark world seeks to destroy the human race one life at a time.

In response, the angels began a beautiful song that started in a soft whisper but grew in volume.  It was a message, a statement of power.  The angels were not opening their mouths but they were glowing, and the light around them and through them grew brighter and brighter.  The demons held their ears and shielded their eyes.

With a great crescendo, there was complete silence.  An angel named “Life” stepped forth.  He spoke with a deep booming voice that commanded attention, “Turn to me.  Give me your regard!”

The demon crowd continued to shield their eyes.  Among the howls and expressions of pain, an authority among them hissed with a painful scream, “We loath your light.

The light dimmed until the demons slowly turned their heads and gave their notice.

Life continued, “Show me an opponent.  Give me an equal.  I will crush you.  I fight for the Lord, the God of Heaven and Earth.  This child has been claimed since the foundation of the earth.  You fight in vain.  Dare to stand against me and let me remind you of when my God crushed your god and flung him into Hell.  And let me foretell of macerating you for eternity.  My Lord God will reign forever.”  He paused a moment and then his voice boomed again with an intensity of authority and frustration, “Is there no one?”

A demon stepped forward, leaving the cloud, and assuming a more stable form.  Demons alter between many appearances.  A dark cloud is their appearance when they stand in a group in the heavenly realms but while roaming the earth, they inhabit beautiful human forms.  They prefer the company of other demons.  When they stand alone and the spiritual eye sees them for what they are, they are seen as individual tangible grotesque beings.  This outspoken demon was smoky in color.  He looked like a mangled and deformed tall brown bear fused with a man.  He had patches of missing fur and scars and mutilations covering his body that did not make him look weak, they only added to his hideousness.  He moved as a creature of strength.  His presence commanded respect and fright.  He spoke with a low guttural sound of hostility and a dark vapor escaped from his mouth and nostrils when he talked.  “My names is Death.  I was there with Cain while he slew his brother Abel.  I drank the blood when infants were sacrificed in Peru.  I shriek with delight while families are slaughtered during present day genocides in Africa.  I stand as a proud parent while followers rape young women in the Middle East.  I find glorious excitement while politicians waver under personal glories to the downfall of a great country in the fragile United States of America.”

“America,” he hissed, “bites the hand of God who has blessed her.  Oh so soon will be her downfall.”

“I am your equal opponent.  Me!”  He snarled.  “Me!  I will fight you.  I will find pleasure in her suffering.  I will add her to my trophies.  I will slaughter those she loves.  I will abort her children.  I will begin by killing her mother!”

The army behind him joined him in taunts and shouts of approval.  Encouraged by them, he shouted, “I will tear her husband from her!  I will spit in her face!”

He turned back toward the host of angels, “I will claim her to suffer for eternity by my side.  I will drink plentifully of her pain and it will satisfy my lustful desires of human sin and suffering.”  Excited with the satisfaction he thought was soon to come, he cried out, “I am hungry!  Hungry!  I will bring agony and torment and I will…”

“Enough!”  Angel Life interrupted, “Enough!  You speak with pride but you lack authority. This child will be protected by me.  I was there when God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils.  I was there when the human baby, Jesus Christ, came into the world in a small stable to conquer you and your army and your god forever.  But you only speak of the past and soon to be because you fear the future and you know what is to come.  In the future, I will be there at the side of this baby when she crosses over from that world into eternal life.  And in the future, I will be there when my God conquers Death and Pain and Suffering once and for all and claims the victory over this war.  And I will be there for all eternity praising Jesus Christ as God and Savior over all humanity.  This is already certain.  Her pain will be temporary and I will guide her in life.  You forget that you cannot persuade me with your empty lies.  Another has been chosen to be joined with her in life.  He is guarded by Angel Victory.  You can hurl on them physical pain and suffering and even death but you can only battle for a short period.  How pathetic you are when you stand against Life and Victory!  These words are trustworthy and true.”

Unlike the distracted demon, unable to concentrate because his mind was preoccupied by his own lustful cravings, the angel stood fixed and tall and peered straight toward the demonic murky cloud, with resolute confidence never turning to the left or right or looking for support from the military force that stood organized behind him.  With confidence in God he served, Life raised his sword and cried out, “Defend this child of God!”

The multitude of angels raised their swords and spears in unison and cried out, “Amen!

To be continued…

 

Dust and Shadows

9 years old and it is simply amazing what she can accomplish. I know that little girl inside and out, her strengths and limits, how she ticks, and what she can accommomplish. 

Summer days are our contradictions. Each day can be the extreme opposite of another. In order to defend myself in what I am about to tell you, I will first say that we just returned from a week’s vacation at the beach. There was nothing except play, family memories, and fun to be had the entire day. 

And then there was yesterday. Yesterday, my girl woke up to a list. Beside her list was my list. The two of us worked pushing out speed, racing the clock, accomplishing task after task after task. She is 9 years old and what she accomplished is impressive!  Get herself ready for the day, make bed, read two chapters of honors reading book, feed fish, give water to gecko, walk around the house and clean up any mess that belongs to Madison, practice piano, pass 1 level of rocket math division, read one more chapter, make a birthday card for Nana, a Father’s Day card for Grandaddy, vacuum, mop, set the table for dinner, and read another chapter from her book. 

And why do I make her do it?  Don’t I love her?  Am I not older?  Could I not accomplish these tasks with greater speed?

She is quickly catching up to me, but there have been nine previous years where I took double, triple, 25 times the time to involve and teach Madison in the daily chores that need to be done and the lessons that need to be learned. And why?!  Why would I have a three year old help me carry her laundry to the washing machine?

And you all know the answer. Because it is good for her. Because it is my job to teach her to be an independent adult. And that baby girl is going to make one amazing grown woman one day!  Because as she works, she learns to love work. And this is what Madison’s typical day looks like. But then sometimes, as happened yesterday, she puts a cherry on top and she goes above and beyond. Lastnight, Madison made a homemade apple pie for the family. (Not on her list) and then she picked up another book and asked her Daddy if she could read a chapter to him. (She did.)

And my day to day can be such a struggle. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I get a little glimpse of the woman that all her hard work is raising her up to be. And in these moments, I get a little “ohhhhh, I get it.”

Why does God make me work so hard every day?  Why do I hurt and suffer?  Why can this life be so tiring and painful?

Because he is making a list for nine year old Caroline and look at all the things I can accomplish because he is teaching me how to help this world. Once I was three years old and my tasks were so little as I did them with my Father. Now he expects more. And now I want to bake an apple pie for my family. I want to share the gospel wherever I go. I want that to be my priority and the center of my life. I want it to dictate where I live, what I say, and how I spend my time. 

My little girl is starting to dream. God has big huge plans for her. If you asked her today, she says when she grows up she wants to train dolphins. Give her time and she starts throwing in other animals that she wants to train as well. Point is, she has some big dreams. And if you ask me, she is firmly on track. 

What do I want to accomplish?  Is it to have lots of influential friends that like me?  Is it a newly remodeled wow inspiring home?  Is it finances of extreme comfort in the bank?  

Is it to welcome homeless people into my home?  Is it to be put in harm’s way so that I can help when emergency strikes?  Is it to tell other hurting people, no matter what the cost, about the amazing love of God their Father?

Oh Holy Spirit, I long so much for your presence. Give me hurting people in my path so that I can show them your love. Guide my steps so that I can serve the church. And then I will be a mature Christian, finally maturing into who you made me to be and then I will have intimacy with you as you accomplish the impossible in me. 

Everything else is dust and shadows. I will not settle. I will grow up one to do list at a time. 

My Unanswered Prayer

Oh Holy Spirit!  Spirit!  I called. I called in my desperation.  I called in my need. I called in my fear. Spirit!  I called with belief, with the faith of a child. My heart cried out and believed. Believed in the power of God on my knees, my knees in prayer. 

Silence. 

The world cries “There is no God.”  Christians settle for less, ignoring their questions, tucking away their fears. God was called upon and He did not answer. 

God does not answer to anyone!  

The prayer to ease suffering. Not Biblical. Jesus promised, “In this world you WILL have suffering.”  This whole Christian thing, give it a second thought. God quite often, maybe even most often, on this world uses pain and suffering for our growth, for change in this world. The prayer to ease suffering went unanswered by Jesus Christ himself in the garden of Gethsemane. Do you believe your faith surpasses that of the Son?!

Fill me Holy Spirit!  You, I want!  I want to feel your presence. Take control of my heart and soul. Spirit of God, I long to love you!  

And there is silence. 

How do you argue with that?!  Because God is not a God of feelings!!!  He is not here to accomplish our own goals of feeling Him!  

The Holy Spirit moves in this world. He calls to dry bones “come alive.”  He calls to mountains, “move.”  He burns the wetted sacrifice with fire from Heaven. The Holy Spirit works to bring glory to God in Heaven. He moves to further the Gospel. He works in the church of His children. 

Do you have unanswered prayers?  Oh little child, your Father never promised you would get everything you asked for. 

The Holy Spirit longs for a relationship with you!  Do not grieve him!  Share the Good News!  Serve people in need!  And you will see him fill you!  His presence will work miracles. We will be in awe and we will feel what can not be put into words. But the whole point is that it is not about us. It is to bring praise and glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

“No matter the cost, work in me to bring glory to You!”

Do you want that?

This Being a Mom Thing 

Mother’s Day is beginning to decorate my home with homemade gifts stacked in a chair and fresh flowers from my husband. It weighs heavily on my heart to be celebrated. Should I be?  Should my motherhood be celebrated?

With the greatest of intentions, I have seen articles running around Facebook on the topic that are as empty, shallow, and impersonal as a Halmark card. One article stated for the low feeling mother, You are a great Mom because:  and it stated things like: You got out of bed this morning and you are trying.  On such, I hold back from adding to the comments, “Sometimes the first step to good change is realizing that you suck as a mom.”  

It is no secret that there are some really awful moms out there. And hey, I do NOT want to be one of them. 

Allow me to tell you a little story:

Third day of school, my newly third grader climbs into the back of my car on the third day of after school car line. I have learned not to ask her about her day, but give her a little time and then she will begin to spill. After a few minutes of silence, she began to speak in complete seriousness, “Mom, Mr. Parker said we are not going to have any more fun in school. It is all hard work from here on out.”  And then a sly smile began to creep upon her face, “…But guess what!  I still had fun today.”

And that, I believe, pretty much sums up being a Mom. If you are getting into this whole business for fun and happy days, you are in for a rude awakening.  To sum up motherhood by saying it is hard work is an understatement!  

It is more like always being in labor!  The day I birthed my little miracle was the most painful and the most wonderful day of my life!  But it wasn’t because I was trying to have fun. I was trying to survive!  And then all of the sudden, I was so incredibly madly in love with someone that I was meeting for the very first time that had brought me more physical pain than anyone else I had ever known. That is what motherhood is like. 

This being a Mom thing is hard work!  It can’t be explained!  But I think we should stop trying to enjoy it so much!  I think we should stop trying to make everything so pretty, stop bribing our children, stop handing out so much candy, stop trying to have it all together, and be ok with our kids crying and embarrassing the shit out of us!

Hey, I do not like to discipline. I would much rather make her bed than take longer to teach her how. I think our kids need to learn how to behave at a restaurant rather than watch the iPad.  I think we need to be on our knees begging God for our children to love the Lord with all their heart and mind and soul because we care more about that than what other people think about us. I think as a Mom I should not be able to spend a day at the spa or get the house I want because I am doing without (whatever that thing is for you) so that my child can learn a new skill I never knew or go to the school that is the best for her or whatever. It is about sacrifice. 

I want to hear the truth!  

“THIS LIFE IS NOT ABOUT YOU!  It never was!  If you do not put Jesus before yourself, how do you ever expect to be of any worth to your child?!  Be the person you want to be your child’s role model!  This little life is your responsibility!  It is hard work!  Understatement!”

And then after an absolutely exhausting day, I want to lay down in my bed. I want a little sly smile to cross my face and I want to proclaim, “Know what?  I still had fun!”

So…should we be celebrated?  Should I be celebrated?  For me, it is a day to hug and kiss my little baby. To thank her for all my homemade gifts. To appreciate my husband for all his plans. And to say, “THANK YOU JESUS for seeing fit to make me a Mom!  I give myself to you. Please use me to direct this amazing blessing to you and to your amazing plan for her. It sure is crazy hard work!  …and I am enjoying it.”

She Praised God

“I can play it?”  Her eyes lit up with curious excitement. 

“Sure you can.  Let me get my bloodwork done and then we will go down there.”

She turned and gazed at the shiny black grand piano with great admiration. Then she looked up at all the floors it would reach through the open halls and the massive waiting rooms that would all hear her music. With a nervous second thought, she changed her mind, “No, I don’t want to.”

She had already ridden with her Daddy and I the good time of seven hours from home to our hotel. She had missed school this very day, which believe it or not, is a huge negative to her. She had woken up early to sit and wait during my neck ultra sound. She sat again and waited through, not one but two doctor appointments. She now sat waiting again for me to have bloodwork accomplished. After that, it was promised we were done for the day and we could hit the road again. Late night travels would ensure she could go on the field trip with her class the following day. She didn’t really want to make that linger. 

“I’ll let you change clothes into your new dress before we leave like you wanted to.” I offered up as a bribe. 

“Ok.”  She gave in, a bit happy to be persuaded, because she wanted to play that beautiful piano anyway. 

After being poked and prodded, the day of appointments were done. But there was one more thing we had to do at Duke.

Standing in the basement is a grand piano. It is surrounded by cancer patients and their families waiting on the Doctor. The ceiling opens up to four more floors of more cancer patients, families, and waiting rooms. 

She shyly sat down at the grand piano, much finer than her usual instrument and she laid her small nine year old fingers across the keys. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. 

The tunes of the Doxology rang throughout the hospital. It was melodic, soothing, and cheerful for its surroundings. It was even more impressive at the hands of a child. 

But, for her story, it was more. Heaven above raised their voices in song. The angels sang praises to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Time stands still in heaven and Madison’s entire life played out. 

The specialist told her parents that they probably could not get pregnant. They said that even if her Momma did get pregnant, she probably could not keep the baby. And then after no problems and a beautiful pregnancy, a little miracle is born. And then the doctors say that she has 50% chance of having cancer. But where there is no time and they did not have to wait three months to know that she tests negative for the gene. This little miracle girl grows up taking her Momma to doctor appointments at Duke. 

She did not think, as her fingers struck the keys, of the beauty of her little life joining with the angels in song, as she sat in the hospital where science said she would never be. 

Praise God from who all blessings flow!  My little girl was born to praise God. Amen. 

And how many times will she do something so very simple and not even know the impact it has on eternity?