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. 

Advertisements

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?

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.”

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!