Do Not Get Comfortable

Kicking and screaming, I had my own idea of what I wanted to do. I had my own plans to seek out to accomplish. God’s will was getting in my way.

I was blind, sick, hungry, and poor.  He did everything, it was not of me. I can not turn on a light when I do not even know that I am in darkness. My mind was awakened to my depravity. He is everything, everything to me. 

I gave him my plans for his. This is not a relationship to fit into pop-culture.  This is not a religion to make myself look good. I give him that, my acceptance and my image.

“A civil war.  A rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel. Enemy occupied territory, that is what this world is.  Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed…and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Do I want to move in and make myself at home?  Do I want to be a rogue soldier that has defected from my country?  Heaven is my home and I am getting ready. My God has more than supplied my needs. I show up and he does the work. I am present and he is the power. This is a rescue mission. There is family to save.  

Do not seek comfort  in this world that can not give it. Do not be surprised when the enemy attacks. He lies in secret and waits for me.  Do not try to fit in. Do not fear this evil that has already been defeated. The outcome is victory.  I am a soldier in a battle. I am here on a mission. This world is not my home. It is enemy territory. 

It All Changes Not At All

I’m not THAT old. This summer, I will celebrate my 34th birthday. 

My daughter popped up from her summer reading book and questioned, “What is a long distance phone call?”  It just wasn’t that long ago that all phones were attached to houses and there wasn’t the problem of my cell phone battery is about to die.  

I watched a documentary about the Hoover Dam. The men drove trucks into the cave (leaving them on) and then several men died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Just like I am shouting, “I’m not that old.”  I am shouting, “It was not THAT long ago!  How did they not know?!”  Such a simple way, with the knowledge of that poisonous gas, our world has changed. 

Fashion changes so swiftly that now I ask advice from my eight year old, because sometimes I just don’t know “what the kids are doing these days.”

The world is spinning, spinning, changing in so many ways. 

But then I read about the struggles of parenting in the seventies, and love affairs in the twenties, and people greedy for money during Biblical times, and I realize that people have really not changed at all. 

We love our families, struggle with other people, desire riches and comfort, ask questions, eat food, learn just a little bit, and come to terms with God in one way or another. 

For years and centuries and millenniums, human nature remains the same. We laugh about the details around us that change, but they are just that:  details. And it all comes and goes so quickly. So, while I do love me some details, Lord, please help me focus on the big picture. I want kindness more that I want the popular opinion, I want to give more than I want to have, inner peace more than temporary happiness, wisdom more than entertainment, education more than possessions, love more than greed, and Jesus more than this quickly fading world. 

Creatures of What Comes Easy

I am an overall healthy eater. When I first read about the military diet, I was a sceptic. “Lose up to ten pounds in three days,” was translated, to me, that if you are a hundred pounds overweight and live off cheeseburgers and coke, then you could possibly lose ten pounds. Living my life sugar-free and limiting the grease, I figured I had already made those changes. 

For some reason, I kept reading the article and I confirmed, “no way!” One slice of toast and a boiled egg for lunch?  Not the diet for me!  That sounds….HUNGRY!

But I have this problem, it is called a human body. I want to be healthy and I want to look my best in summer clothes, and as the days get warmer and warmer, I wanted to make some improvements. I needed something extreme. What is more extreme than the military?

So, I gave the diet a second glance and considered it. (I preface diets by saying that I believe in a lifestyle not a diet, per say, but sometimes I do believe in a cleansing to boost to the next level. So, from now on, read the word “diet” as “cleansing.”) I gave the diet a second glance and I took it to the expert….my sister. 

So, Ellie and I decided:  Three days?  We can do anything for three days!  

Here we are, two days down and on the last day of the military diet. And I have already lost FIVE POUNDS!  Five pounds in two days ain’t too shabby!  I am spending the last day crying and starving with my sister…I mean laughing and talking about how easy this diet is. 

When those extra five pounds poke through my outfit and torture me day after day and month after month, WHY IS A THREE DAY DIET SO HARD?!  Because I LIKE EASY! 

I like the easy road, the life of comfort, the all you can eat buffet and the fat wallet!

But the older I get (and I’m not THAT old yet) or the more mature I get or the more God graciously gives me a little more wisdom, I see that that Easy Path ain’t going where I want to go. And when I look at what I want my finished product to be, I’m talking of the physical and spiritual, it is a little bit of an upward climb.

So, here is to one more day of not eating what I WANT to, and just a little bit of that, and here’s to thinking of something other than what I WANT, because honestly the here and now desires most often lead astray. 

I want to be healthy more than I want comfort. I want to give more than I want to receive. Give me eternity vs. the here and now.  And I value a challenge more than fading pleasures. 

How Badly Do I Want to be a Writer?

Writing is number three. Writing is me. 

I LOVE, swoon and draw it out, LOOOOOOVE, fall over, clasp my hands, dance around, throw my hands in the air, spin around with my arms out by my side, LOOOOOOVE to write. Writing is me. 

But I am number three. 

What do I want the most?  1.  To be a godly wife.  2.  To raise my daughter to love and serve Jesus. 3.  And number three is me. I want to be me. I want to write. Writing is what I do, who I am, what I feel, and love, and need. 

I can do it, it is just being me. But I am number three. 

I have an amazing family.  How wonderful to be me. And now I am seeing the unraveling of number three. 

I Saw an Angel

Spring Break with a second grader is AMAZING!  Spring Break with an eight year old and extra time to do all the extras is fulfilling. Shopping on Spring Break with my eight year old daughter can be quite entertaining. 

I am a list maker. I haven’t determined yet if it is a good or a bad thing, but I have passed this trait down to my daughter, be it my genes or daily example. She wakes up, reads my to do list, and then makes her own. So, here we are running through one of our crazier days of spring break, checking off my list and checking off her list. 

We had a little catastrophe in the “sew new stuffy” department and had to start over so we were running behind schedule. Now, we had four quick errands to run:

1.  Two oversized chair cushions from Target. All means:  Stand in the restroom balancing two just purchased oversized chair cushions, the bag containing the prize egg for the egg hunt that we added to our purchase, and my girl’s new large bunny stuffy that was finally a success. 

2.  White flowers from Lowes. None here. White flowers from Home Depot. 

3.  Return to Hobby Lobby. Run to the back of the store to show the lady in Fabrics the new stuffy my girl made. 

4.  Pick up makeup at the mall. Meet angel. 

Okay, James has called and is headed home early. So, our errands turn to a marathon, as much as they can with an eight year old and her own agenda, as I am trying to be successful and get home. 

Makeup. Check. Our errands list is accomplished. “AND HOME WE GO!” I proudly announce in the car as I am trying to maneuver through the packed mall parking lot. And here it comes, I am about to meet an angel. 

I back out of my spot to notice someone else two spots down, backing up. I stop waiting for the go. Cue angel sighting. 

A lady is sitting waiting on this other car’s spot. “Momma, what is she saying?”

Oh!  She looks angry. She looks very angry. This lady is yelling, arm motions and all AT ME!

Oh, she appears concerned that I want her parking spot. I don’t. “Don’t you dare take my spot!  That is my beepin spot!  Beep!  Beep!  You beep!”

Oh, I wonder how I can convey to her that I am not interested in taking her parking spot?  I smile. This seems to make her even madder. BEEP!  BEEP!

Eventually time tells the truth as the car backs out and I let her have what was always her parking spot. As she was pulling in, she was still beeping. 

And now I will always think of this woman as an angel. 

Say what?  Because my daughter was with me. Hmmm?  Because my daughter was with me and I was able to keep my cool. 

Here’s the thing, if I have learned anything, I have learned: 1.  I make mistakes. 2.  Other people make mistakes. 3.  My daughter mimics me. 

What matters is how I deal with it. Few and far between are the times that I can see a woman cursing and raging mad at me and keep my cool. Few and far are the times my daughter can witness me wrongly accused and I can respond, “Madison, there will always be angry, rude people in the world.  You can give in and let them change you for the worse.  Or you can chose to respond with kindness and chose to do what is right despite everyone else.”

Madison sat wide eyed in disbelief of the woman’s misdirected anger. And the lesson sunk in. 

Therefore, Angel of a lady, THANK YOU. Thank you for helping me teach my daughter a lesson. And as you passed by, I noticed you are very beautiful. 

An Important Reminder

Do. Do. Do. 

Do not ever, to the negative, the opposite of positive. 

Do not for the month of showers, the month before the flowers. 

Dunce. Idiot. Clown. Twit. Sucker. Fool. Stooge. 

Do

Not

Forget

To

Not

Be 

The 

Twit

Do not forget to play April Fools jokes. 

Hosanna!  An Emotional Entry

I know it is Easter time, but I am painting a picture of CHRISTMAS.  The season took it’s time, but the night air was whispering winter time. It was time to build a fire and cuddle indoors. The weekend after Thanksgiving holds the tradition of the Hendrys picking out a Christmas tree and decorating. The day was perfect. Picture perfect memories. The tree was chosen, the lights glowed, and we sat and gave a sigh of adoration of the tree and the promise of Christmas before us. Madison’s eyes had sparkled with joy and excitement the entire day and now was the great cresendo. And then she did something her Daddy and I did not expect.

Madison plopped down on the couch, crossed her arms, puckered out her bottom lip and complained, “Humph!  It is all going to go away!”

Her Daddy looked at me with terrified, shocked eyes, “What is the matter?”

I, surprisingly, smiled with understanding and replied, “She’s a girl.”

Madison understood, maybe for the first time, that nothing of this earth is forever.  Madison was conflicted with emotions of wonder and excitement, and celebration, and a realization of something sad. 

Although girls can sometimes be labeled as emotional roller coasters, emotions are to be shared by both genders. The human race is fickle, easily given to extremes in emotion. 

A few thousand years ago, a man walked into Jerusalem. The word had spread about his arrival. Some of them had recently seen him raise a man from the dead and they thought, “This is our King! He has come to be our ruler!”  

As was fitting, they rolled out the red carpet, spreading their coats and palm branches for the triumphant entry. They yelled out, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

They praised and worshiped Jesus!  As should be done!  As he is deserved!  

But just a few days later, they let their emotions get the best of them. They were the same crowd yelling out, “Crucify him!”

Why?  They saw he was not going to lead an army. He was not going to be their earthly king.  They got mad. Jesus was not who they thought he was. 

HE WAS MORE!  He was not going to be a great King to rule Jesusalem, grow old and die. He came to set them, and us, free forever!  He had come to crush Satan and deliver us from the grips of Hell!  He was MORE than they could have possibly imagined!  

As mirrored by my daughter, sometimes my emotions get the better of me. But next time I am pouting about some earthly condition, I want to think on a grander scale. Today, while I worship Jesus on Palm Sunday, I want to look ahead to the purpose Jesus came to accomplish. 

Jesus is King not just of earth, but also of Heaven!  He is not only King now, but he is King of eternity.  

And, like the emotional crowd, sometimes when things take a bitter turn and it looks like defeat (the cross had to apper to be a crushing defeat!) I want to get ready and learn from experience that SOMETHING EVEN BETTER THAN I THOUGHT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!

What is Your Power?

I wake up with a lot of things running through my head:  Don’t forget it is picture day for Madison. There is a ton of laundry after the weekend and make sure, in particular, that M’s new green shirt gets washed. Call blah blah. Wipe down the bathrooms, make beds, empty the dishwasher. Go to Publix. We need more this and that. Swim team day. La la blah blah. I have to organize it.

I pull out a sheet of paper and a pen, write it down in an order that makes sense and then jot down the guesstimated amount of time it will take by writing beside that chore or event what time I should finish. Done. Check. This is my day. The list is made. I’ve got this.

Several hours later, I wrap up the vacuum cleaner cord, light a candle, and plop down on the couch with my girl to read Pollyanna. 

Strength. Power. Check. Those are my good days. And I’m pretty good at having good days.

I screw the top on my travel mug, sit down on the floor, leaning on the club chair, pull out my iPad and type away. My fingers can’t keep up with my mind:  repeat that. Emphasize here. Build up momentum. Bam. Ending punch.

Write. Repeat and emphasize here. Write. It is part of who I am. I find identity in my love of writing. I include it on my list of accomplishments. There is power in my ability to write. Hey, I struggle with enough that I claim my strengths when I have them. I am a writer.

Lover. Looking looking looking for love. Caroline is a lover. When I found love, we melted. It is not so hard to serve James because I love him. Ahh!  Chill runs up my back, shake my shoulders, I love him. There are so many fingers raised and point this out and mentions to be made but I am just going to stop there. No clarifications will be made. I am a lover!  I claim that man, he is mine and I am proud of it!  He is part of my completion and my identity. I am a lover.

What is your power?  What is your identity?

Are you rolling in cash?  Do you have a singing voice to make me and the rest of the world jealous?  Are your legs fast?  Do you demand attention and get respect when you walk into a room?  Do your hands obey your eyes with surgical precision?  Can you listen and retain every spoken word?

This man, he can command the cells in human bodies. This man, the spirits obey him. This man can tell the stars to stay or fly. He knows thoughts, he makes animals, and he walks and talks with God.

Power?  No power is denied him.

He is laughed at. He is whipped. He is accused, rejected, denied, and abused.

Power, where is your power?

This man, He is found among the weak. He uses his power to heal the sick. His fingers make the blind man see his family for the first time. His words hang the shining sun over the white sandy beaches. His strength parts the sea so the running slave can taste freedom. He comforts the lonely standing at her husband’s grave.

That man, where is his strength?  How does he use his power?

He denied himself, hung on the cross, and declared his love for me. Rejected, he lifted me up. Condemned, he set me free.  Dying, I am forgiven. Loved, he used his power for me.

All I have is because of him. How will I use my gifts he gave to me?

Do it ALL and Let it ALL Go

There is so much I want to do and so much to be done. There is a philosophy of “how to be perfect” and a religion of “let it go.”  The judgemental wars commence, if your home is clean then you must not have played with your children and if you don’t pack a Pinterest lunch then you must not care about their little body’s health. 

LETTING IT GO TURNS INTO ONE MORE THING THAT I HAVE TO GET DONE!

Do I make the bed or have breakfast with the fam?  Do we go for a lazy walk around the pond or cut a fruit salad?  Will the ironing stack disappear or will the new puzzle be opened?  Is it more important to linger at bedtime and cuddle with my daughter or just sit on the couch and be with my husband that has been at work all day?  Will the floor get mopped or Shepherding a Child’s Heart be reread?

And I believe the answer is this: YES. Hmmm, rephrased:  Do it all, every bit of it. Clarified:  Don’t do any of it. Meaning:  none of it is important. Spelled out:  this is what life is all about. 

OK. OK. funny, funny. How do we know what to do and what not to do?  

Yes!  Spending time with our children playing SORRY  or Legos is crucially important but so is having dishes clean for dinner and clothes to put on in the morning. 

There are lots of little practical tips: Do it together. Invent cleaning games. Take double the time washing sudsy dishes with your two year old playing in the soap and “helping.” Be together. Do together. Include them in the things you have to do vs the games they want to play. Then they are learning and will soon be able to take over some of the chores. 

And there are the facts of life:  Work hard!  Life is not easy!

But still, HOW, WHY, and WHEN?  

And here is what I myself am still trying to learn and apply, the real answer is:  LOVE.  Make a perfect cookie cutter shaped sandwich and homemade cookies for a school lunch if it is showing love, scrub the floor and wash and iron the clothes to welcome your husband into a restful home, turn off the TV and play Monopoly, learn together, do together, DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY AND WHEN YOU GET JUDGEMENTAL EYES FROM THAT FREAKIN PHARISEE, LET IT ALL GO!

No. I think you absolutely definitely shouldn’t. Go for it, not yet. 

I want answers. I want to know what to do to be healthy, make money, raise a successful citizen, be a stellar friend, and how clean my house should be!  

When I said, “I do.”  I really meant I did.  But sometimes, more often than I want you to know, I looked more like I didn’t. I was, am, grumpy, rude, self serving, and just plain done. But I loved him. I still do.  

And when the nurse laid that 7lb 9oz miracle on my instantly smaller tummy, I cried and smiled and instantly changed, because she was everything, and meaningful, and poetic, and beautiful, and soft as beautiful. But sometimes, more than I want you to know, I get frustrated with a messy room, and stepping on pink Legos, and a sassy attitude. But I love her. I always will, even through the teenage years. 

When should I scrub and when should I play?  How many cups of milk should I drink in a day?  Should I sit on the couch and watch a show with James or read “Bringing Up Girls,” that should have been checked off my reading list six years ago?  Should I call up a friend or spend the day at home?  Is this the year to save or enjoy?  A bush or a floral beside the house?  When and how and where? Why?

Daddy, Father God, will you please tell me?  

Because it matters completely. I want to do and accomplish. But I have made mistakes. And I hear you whisper that yesterday does not matter. Right here. Right now. This very. 

One thing is the objective:  accomplish, do, succeed, but the greatest of these is love. Love.