Writers are Readers

  
 I turn in my bed, open my eyes, and lay on my pillow for another minute. There is no beeping alarm and I smile at the thought. (I do not usually smile in the morning). I grab my phone off my night stand and take a quick look at the clock. Just after 8. Fall break is great for sleeping in. 

I stretch open my eyes and pop in my contacts, fill a glass with water and quickly swallow my morning medication. I head straight to one of the most important things in life:  coffee. I grab my extra large homemade coffee mug and sort of smile when I remember that I paid ridiculously too much to paint this mug one day on a play date with my girl and some friends. But the mug says, “Caroline’s Coffee” and I like that.  Fall breaks are the best for drinking coffee. 

The house is quiet. James has already left for work. (He does not get to observe Fall break with us). Conner has already left for college. (My niece lives with us and I love her to pieces!  Her college break is not even as long as my third grader’s). And Madison is still asleep. I will let her sleep just a little bit longer and give myself a little time to read. Fall break is made to have a little extra time to read. 

Over Fall Break, I completed Ben Carson’s “One Nation” (AMAZINGLY INSPIRATIONAL), started “Teresa of Calcutta” by D. Jeanene Watson (wow!  I want to be this woman!), and read a few more chapters of “12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid” by Tim Elmore.

I am a parent. I make mistakes. I want to avoid mistakes. This is the book for me. My daughter is eight years old. This is a great time to read this book. He says things like “let your kids fail” and my heart has this little battle with Tim and I say, “WHAT?!” And he says “yes” and I scream “no” and he says “It is the best thing for Madison” and I say “ouch!” And grab my heart and I don’t want my little girl to hurt but he walks through the benefits of letting our children fail and learn from their mistakes and what unbeneficial adults our kids will grow up to be if Momma is always coming to the rescue. And I want my daughter to be an aide to society, so I read on. 

I do want what is best for my girl, even if it is hard for me to loosen my grip and let go of one, maybe two fingers.  But as I do this, something absolutely spiritual happens.  Every finger that I release is replaced by one of God’s fingers!

Ya see, I am not throwing my eight year old into the hands of this world. Hell no!  I am releasing her into the hands of loving God, that believe it or not, loves her even more than I do!  He has plans for her, plans to prosper her!

So, this book has helped me with some very practical ways of knowing how to appropriately give an eight year old independence and what are some ways that I can let an eight year old take responsibility and feel some natural consequences and some natural benefits!  

And do you know what, she amazes me!  And when that girl works hard and gets things accomplished and when she is not entitled to sweets and playing and when she earns a trip out to get frozen yogurt with her cousin and a family night of Uno, she loves me all the more for it and I see that, as Tim Elmore says it, that “I am not raising a child. I am raising an adult.”  And Fall Break is the best time to raise my future adult. 

God’s Prayer

My Jesus, the King above all kings, even the mention of your name is to be worshiped. Your plans for this world will happen. I want you to rule in my life the same as you rule in heaven. I have what I need, thank you. Help me share, rather than being selfish. Forgive me for my past mistakes, I want to learn from them and change. Help me remember my mistakes and keep from judging other people. With your power in me, I choose not to give in to the temptations of this world that entice me. God Almighty is the Forever King. He will be praised forever!  Amen. 

  

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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.

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Do I Believe?

Believe what you want to believe and I will believe what I want to. 

Find what is truth for you. 

Do I believe?  What do I believe? IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER!  In a culture that is so wrapped up in being PC and where the absolute worst offense imaginable is hurting someone’s feelings, we let children go without parents because we celebrate happiness more than responsibility, we let our educational system fall apart while costing more money than ever, and we let the whole church be damned. Literally damned. A whole bunch of the Western church is headed straight to Hell. But don’t worry, they will be comfortable on the way!

This life is not easy!  It is not meant to be!  We are supposed to search for Truth, not give way to the easy what we wish to believe, and we are supposed to value hard work!  We are made to do what is right, not what we want to do. 

Instead of teaching our children that their happiness is our priority, let’s teach them doing what is right is the most important thing. Instead of telling our neighbors and friends to find their own truth, let’s tell them there is Truth and there is wrong. And let’s learn to say, “I don’t really care if that hurts your feelings, I want to do what is right.”

Now, there is a whole riot occurring. If you are still reading this, half of you hate me by now. I AM NOT ADVOCATING A BUNCH OF JUDGMENTAL PHARISEES STRUTTING AROUND TELLING THE WORLD WHAT THEY ARE DOING WRONG!  I condemn that, and so did Jesus. Remember, I believe those people make up a good group of those dancing their way to Hell. 

It does not matter what the judgemental snobs believe, it does not matter what the free thinkers believe, it does not matter what I believe!  Truth is the only relevance. The only way to heal our land and our very souls is if we search for Truth, prioritized over the search for temporary happiness. 

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. 

Celebrate!  I am getting OLD!

Happy birthday to me! I am 34 years old!  I am so thankful to be growing old with my family because the alternative is that I would not be, the other option is that I would not be having this birthday. 

Ya see, every year I count up from the age of 25.  I have lived 9 years longer than I was supposed to. I have lived to hear:  “You should live a normal life span.”  I have lived to “this is not life threatening.”  I BEAT CANCER!  I am a 19 year survivor of a Great War with a mighty opponent. 

Nine years longer than I was supposed to. What is 9 years?  I have an 8 year old daughter. An eight year old daughter that is going to impact the world with her love of animals, her joy of being surrounded with diverse people, her brain that never forgets anything that has left her with a wealth of knowledge that grows and grows, her sweet relationship with her Lord and Savior that is mature beyond her years, wisdom because she chooses right, beauty that attracts others to her, skills of hard work and determination, and enough love to circle this globe. 

I know. I know why I am alive today. Because my Jesus loves me beyond what I have ever loved myself and he gave me a gift that I did not deserve. He made me the mother of a miracle girl and let me watch his beautiful plan unfold. And why do I have to suffer so much?  Without a doubt, one of the reasons is so that I will appreciate so much!  If a doctor never told me that I would not live past 25, then I would never have been in amazing wonder at the irony of growing brand new life inside my body at the age of 25!  Not only, did I not meet death, I met new life, new precious life that would change me forever!

Happy birthday!  I have a life to celebrate!  A beautiful life that is more wonderful than I ever planned!  And my birthday gift?  PEACE!  Whatever this life holds, I can trust the one in control. He has never let me down and he never will. And this world is just a preview of the real thing. The breath taking sunset over Hawaii, the inspiring blue whale surfacing, family love, delicious fruit, my happiest day, it doesn’t begin to compare to the heaven I will live in for eternity!  Eternity!  I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!

Get Impatient

We, as christians, as humans, should be extremely irritated with this world!  Even things that are not sin, are messed up. It has all been impacted by the curse. 

I can not stroke a lion’s man because that got messed up for me. My apple tree has no apples and has some fungal speckles all over the leaves. Picnics can get all together ruined by mosquitoes. 

And then it gets even more personal than my backyard. Cancer. No one sinned that I should have Cancer, but I live in a fallen world. A world that is not how it should be. And sometimes it is just quite irritating. And irritated, impatient, upset, even angry is as I should be. 

I used to struggle with the story about Jesus cursing the fig tree. Why couldn’t he be more patient?  Hmmm…let’s just skip over that story. 

And then I realize, Jesus never sinned. He always did what he was supposed to do. And we are supposed to be like him. He was supposed to be irritated. That fig tree was not as it should be. He made fig trees with figs and sin messed that up. 

Sin should make us impatient for heaven. We should hunger and thirst and be able to concentrate on nothing apart from Jesus. We should be angry at the bitter cold, we should cry out at the sight of death, we should hurl curses at the devil when we see his work on this earth. Because this is not the way it is supposed to be. 

And one day it won’t be. And there will be no more anger. And no more need to be patient because fig trees will have figs in heaven. 

A Relationship That Will Still Be Here Tomorrow

She threw the magazine across the room and yelled, “It doesn’t work!”  She had tried it. She had tried it all. She had read every parenting magazine and tried every method and she still did not have the intimate relationship with her son that she longed for. What was the problem?  

While she was shopping, she wandered over to the boy’s department and purchased him a new pair of tennis shoes and a new water gun. She got her nails done and then headed to dinner with her girlfriends. She discussed her frustration with them, but they did not seem to understand. 

She drove home, entered her home, and climbed the steps to his bedroom pondering the lack in their relationship. 

He turned his head on his pillow and smiled slightly at her entrance to his bedroom. 

“Hey sweetheart. I bought you a new water gun today.”

“Thanks Mommy. Will you play with it with me tomorrow?”

“Well, I have work tomorrow but I bet Sarah will play with you.”

“Ok. Can we have breakfast together in the morning?”

“You know you will get breakfast at your Day Camp.”

He seemed suddenly excited and she wondered what he had to say, “Oh!  I have an assignment to fill a bag with things from nature. Will you do my homework with me?”

That was not what she was hoping for. She wasn’t really the type to explore nature. “I will make sure your tutor knows you have that assignment…Goodnight. I love you.”

And he rolled over. 

She felt lacking, “Do you love me sweet boy?”

He did not answer. 

She left his room wondering why they did not have a deeper relationship. She paid his Nanny and she went to bed. 

Toy purchases, birthday parties, “I love you Mommy”s, and sweet cuddles are amazing!  HOWEVER the relationship happens in the day to day. Battles getting dressed, potty training, sounding out words, working through tough times at school, waiting together at the doctor’s office are the times that mean we have a relationship. It means we are doing life together. 

It is GREAT to be in love with Jesus, it is great to be overwhelmed with his creation and thankful for his blessings. But unless the mom is pouring cereal and doing homework with her son, the relationship is lacking. If we are not reading our Bibles and serving others in need and living out what we say we believe, our relationship with God is lacking. We can not get frustrated with our lack of intimacy if we are not doing the day to day work that builds our relationship. 

Somewhere else, tapping on the steering wheel, with a stoic glare on his face.  It ended with a firm grip and then slapping the seat beside him in frustration. What could he possibly have done wrong and why were they the way they were. After three years of marriage, they should not have drifted apart. He loved her. He really did. Ofcourse he did. He had married her, hadn’t he?  He had chosen her among all the other women that he had ever known. When asked if he was married, he answered that she was his wife. He worked hard at the office.  What else could he possibly do?  

With frustrated determination, he scrolled through the recents and called her. A date was set and he was excited. He needed some romance and excitement. He needed this flicker to grow into a wildfire. 

Pulling into the driveway, he laid on the horn. What was taking her so long?  They were going to be late for call ahead seating. 

Twenty minutes late, they almost lost their table. He took a deep breath and refocused. He stared across the booth at his wife. She was beautiful. She was stunningly gorgeous. He slid out of the booth and reseated himself beside her, squishing her in tight. 

“What are you doing sweety?”  Her confused question was an insult. 

He tried again, using his fingers to gently push her long hair behind her ear and then he leaned forward and whispered something intimate. 

Her reaction was not exactly what he had been going for, “Hey. Back up. Let’s just talk.”

And then he lost it. “What in the hell is your problem?  Why don’t you act like you did when we first got married?  Why don’t you make me feel like that? Why don’t you excite me anymore?  You are boring!  Do you know other women come on to me at work?  I need you to give me something more. I need you to give me the mountaintop experience!”

In his anger, he was surprised by her calm answer, “Marriage is not always about a feeling. Marriage does not happen here, on dates. These are great but they are few and far between. Marriage is life together. Marriage includes the hard times. I need a relationship in those every day moments. I need more than rare dates. You can not be absent in my daily life and show up every two weeks and expect hot emotion on a date like when we first met.”

WHY oh why do we expect Jesus to date us and keep the tingly feelings flowing when we do not do life with him?  Mountaintop experiences are great. Church is great, new conversions are great, tingles are great, but they are not life. We can not live our lives our own way and then expect a hot date on a random Friday. 

My Dog and I

Today, our home underwent a little renovation. The screened in porch was knocked down, opening up a patio to the backyard. I am pleased with the change. James and I sat rocking on the patio and complementing the recent change, Madison and a friend giggled while they jumped on the trampoline, and Tucker ran around the trampoline barking, believing he is one of the children. 

Suddenly from the bright blue sky, an intense boom of thunder shook our world. The girls screamed and began their sprint to the safety of the house. But with a look that he had just been spanked with a bolt of lightning, Tucker took off with the fastest hot lap that I have seen performed, running for his life. 

The hilarity was in watching his determined face as he passed the open patio…open patio…open patio, where he could have entered with ease, as he high tailed it to the spot where the old screened in door used to hang and he entered where that creature of habit has entered since he was a wee puppy and he first became house trained. 

And I realize that doggie and I have something in common. WE ARE CREATURES OF HABIT. I like a BBQ sandwich with cole slaw on top, because that’s the way I’ve always eaten it. Don’t try to keep me from my Sunday afternoon nap. Christmas decorations are hung the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Don’t even think about straying from the traditional turkey and dressing on that day of ️thanks. And if my side of the bed gets switched, I am bound to wake up on the wrong side, if you know what I mean. There is a certain way that our culture talks and acts and does life and if you get too weird on us…well, we don’t like it. Why?  WE ARE CREATURES OF HABIT. That’s not how we do it. 

And then there is the part I like to keep a secret. Shhh, don’t tell anyone. When my house is messy, I am grumpy. When I get mad at my husband, I get quiet. When I mess up, it is hard for me to let go and move on. I value comfort much too much. And I judge people that judge people. (Hmmm)  I am a creature of habit even when it comes to my sins. 

I AM FREE FROM SIN!  Jesus paid the debt. The chain is broken. Satan is defeated. I do not have to worry about this world and comfort and what others think of me!  I am a blink away from eternity. The movers are called and I’m packing for my mansion in glory!

I am like a prisoner with the prison door open and I still sit upon my cot. I am holding the shackles that have been cut off my arms. I am eating the crumbs under the table when the feast was prepared for me. And I am dressing in old rags when a designer dress was ordered and the party was planned for me!

Sinner of habit, the whole patio is open!  Stop running from the storm and chasing my old habits!  The race is won!  The price is paid!  Jesus loves me. NOW LIVE!

In Honor of the American Soldier

Ehhhh….do I have any right?….I shy away from writing the Memorial Day post. I have no right.  Return to my business of the family cookout and let someone else write that post. 

And I realize, I can return to the family cookout. I have my family. I have my freedom. I have the right to write this post…and that is why I have the obligation to write it. 

We are not a military family. I do have two grandaddys, that are now in heaven, that fought for their country during WWII. Their stories, although few that they could share, were awe inspiring. I have seen American Sniper and other movies that cause my soul to take a deep breath. But that is as far as my experience goes. 

Unless you have been there you can not understand!  I can not begin to fathom what it is like to see your best friend shot before your eyes. I can not begin to imagine the agony of a tortured POW. It is beyond my comprehension the sacrifice of leaving one’s family behind because it must be done. 

But I can begin to fathom freedom. I know what it is to practice the religion of my choice. Here I practice freedom of speech. I raise my daughter in a nation that I can chose her school, her church, and her doctor. 

This is not a post of the scares of losing those freedoms or of politics. But this is an article because today, and my whole past life, I live in America. I live in a land where Fathers died so their children could have those freedoms. I live in a nation where much sacrifice was given. 

And I want to say thank you. Thank you to the American soldier that knows the pain and suffering of battle so that I did not have to. Thank you American soldier and Happy Memorial Day.