When I Suffer

When I am tired, I want to be exhausted because I have completed the work you have for me. 

When I laugh, fill me with joy to share.  Surround me with the Good News of your goodness. 

When I am rich, let it be in your mercies.  And when I am poor, may it be because I gave it all away. 

Speak the truth in me. When I open my mouth, let it be your words. 

And when I suffer, let it be because this world mocks me, let me count it joy that I am crucified with Christ and let it fill my heart with peace and assurance because I have stood strong when my body was weak and I shouted your grace when they told me to shut my mouth and when I suffer, may my suffering be worked together for good because I suffered loving Jesus!

When I die, let it be because your plan is done in me. And when I open my eyes in death let it be because I will forever have eternity by the side of my Jesus that I have longed for my entire life. 

Momma’s Hot Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is like wine. It gets better with age. 

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

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

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

I wanna hear the song about:

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

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

Nothing You Can Do

I write.  I blog, I publish, I read, I journal, I write.  It is me.  Naturally, I write to my daughter.  On May 15, 2007, I began a journal, written to my girl.  Today, I cracked open those pages and read:

The good man brings good out of the good stored in his heart.  – Luke 6:45

My sweet Madison, above all, I pray that you will know God.  I pray that He will claim your heart and that you will passionately love and serve Him.  I pray that you will bring God glory and that you will enjoy Him.  I pray that Christ will store up good in your heart and that it will overflow to all those around you.  I want to use this journal to keep a record of my prayers and my memories of you.  I pray that you will realize how much Christ loves you and how much I love you!  ….I LOVE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MINE!  AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!  There is NOTHING you can do to keep me from loving you!  I never want you to sin, but you will.  And even if it hurts me, I will always love you!  I always want you to talk to me.  There is NOTHING you can’t tell me.  I LOVE YOU!

As I read these pages and as I read these words, the emotions and memories of love could not be contained.  As I wrote these words, I barely knew my Madison!  I did not know that her little head fuzz would grow to be beautiful blonde hair.  I did not know that she would spend her piggy bank money on Labor Day weekend, as an eight year old, and proudly purchase a snail for her aquatic collection.  I did not know that on a hike she would beg her Daddy to pick up a snake and “swing it above his head.”  I did not know that she would adore and strive to be like her older cousin Conner.  I did not know the creature of habit that I held in my arms that would struggle without knowing the day’s schedule.  How could I know she would crave mac and cheese or that she would fill her journal with drawings of animals?  I basically knew one thing about that little baby, SHE WAS MINE!  And I adored her!  I loved, and still love her so much that it is even hard for this writer to put it into words.

But something happened from the time she was an infant to the time my daughter grew to be a third grader hopping out of my car and running off to her classroom:  I got to know her a little more!  And something happens when you get to know someone a little more.

It would be the epic fail of a mother if I did not correct my daughter as she grew and learned and tested the limits.  We have all been around the little brats that complain and whine and get their little ways absolutely all the time.  They have never heard that little word that will eventually rock their world:  “no.”  These are the cute little babies that grow up to be useless to our society because, as Momma did, they think everyone is out to serve them.

Therefore, when I look at my journal of my declaration of love to my daughter and then when I have a morning when I had to discipline her for being sassy, has my love altered?  Have things changed since I have seen her quarrel with her friends?  Is it different now that she had an all out tantrum in the middle of Pet Smart because I would not allow her to adopt ANOTHER dog?  Have things changed now that I know the frustrations and the sacrifices of being a mother?  YES!

Absolutely things have changed since the day I wrote that journal page to my almost three month old little baby girl!  I LOVE HER MORE!  Love is an action.  Love is when I sacrifice my career to give my daughter what I think is best.  Love is when I do not get the house I want so that we can afford the school that is the best option for her.  Love is when I do not have what I want so that I can give her swim team and school supplies and allergy medicine and all the million other things that kids require.  Every loving parent has a particular sacrifice that fits completely to the specific needs and desires of our particular children.  Love is when I am patient while she is figuring out who she is.  Love is when I react to what is best for her, not best for my reputation.  And perhaps the greatest of all, love is forgiving.  Love is when she messes up, when she really is rude and selfish, and I forgive and I continue to love, loving more and bigger because my love has done something and grown over an obstacle it had never been over before.  Love is working out who she is, what she does, and who she is to become.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Madison is!

Why oh why God, why do you love me like you do?!  BECAUSE I AM HIS!  His love has done the ultimate!  FOR ME, he hung on the cross, was separated from the perfect relationship that he had known for all of eternity, and suffered an excruciating death because there was an obstacle to overcome to be with me and he did it.  I rejected him, I chose my own way, I was rude and selfish and I threw an outright tantrum because I did not get what I wanted.  And he forgave me.  And then he loved me still!  And I see that when I came to him as a little bitty baby Christian and he held me in his arms and he loved me, he proclaimed, “I have a plan for you.  It is going to hurt sometimes.  You are going to mess up.  But we are going to work out this salvation thing together.”  GRACE!  Oh, the grace of Jesus!

And I pick up my journal that he wrote to me and I love it and I soak up those words of the Bible, but he gave me even more than those holy words.  I have a daily relationship, living with a God that doesn’t just write about his love for me, I am living in that love each and every day.  And one day I will be completed and he will present me, completely holy, righteous, and redeemed and I will be forever who I am made to be.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Caroline is!

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. 

We are Us

I am you. I am thirteen years together, which is basically forever. I am the one that claims you by holding your hand, the one who forgets to turn off the lights, and your yearly Valentine Date. 

You are my security, who I call when the GPS leads me astray, the payer of the bills, the Daddy of my daughter, a nightly back rub, the answer to my prayers, and the only one who kisses my lips.

We are a lot more moving than either of us ever intended, the parents of a living breathing miracle, the adopters of a rescued lazy pup, the fight worth getting through, the Biblical command to love and respect, and black coffee lovers. 

Love is. It lives and breathes, does, sacrificially gives, fights and gets over it. Love is you. It is a life of hard, a time of thanksgiving, and a huge celebration. It just is. It is there. Forever and always. Right this minute and at any time. Love is and I love you. 

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.