The Pursued Decision

My mind engaged in Buddism, clearing all the chaos. I released myself of riches and the hamster wheel of comfort. When suffering plagued my days, I sought to release their power. There was no purpose in their pains. But they stalked me, humoring in their disturbance, and I wasted away my life seeking relief from my fleeting days. My days of calm were no peaceful offering for the meaning of my passing life. 

I seek Allah, days full of ritual prayer. His commands tell me to be good, to follow his decrees.  But when the hammer of judgement falls, I find that I fail so miserably. I can not live up to his scale. Fear is all I know. 

I live for this world, pursuing pleasures. One after another, I drink in their delight. When this one fades, so very quickly, I seek the next craving, surely it will fill me. Unexpected and hurt,  it leaves me even more empty. 

Who is this God that pursues me?  The Creator of hydrangea blossoms and painter of beach sunsets. “My child, that longing and ache in your heart, it is my whisper. It is me, come and see what I have prepared for you. Your weakness will be my strength, for I will make you whole.”  My every hearts desire leads me to his purpose. The tears of my hopeless nights, undone in his presence. Mercy to erase my hate, my selfishness, and my quick to anger ways. Grace that abounds what my soul longed for always. 

“Why?!  I have searched the gods, I have traveled far and wide and longed for just happiness. All the gods demand that I meet their standards and they ask for all of me.  But you tell me that I am offered the gift of you. Why would you far exceed what I ask?  And why would you possibly approach me?!”

And when all the gods dismiss me, when I find myself failing, the only one that matters searched and he found me. 

Summer Promises

The gray has turned green and yellow.  The sun is so hot, I pulled out the sprinkler to water my newly planted flowers. Madison put on her bathing suit and ran over the grass with the water falling down on her. I love summer nature!

Being outside makes our bellies hungry and we slice open a fresh watermelon. Fire up the grill, pop open a drink, and slice up some summer veggies. My girl and I will hold a contest to see who is the fastest at shucking corn and we will have to shoo away Tucker (our doggie) who would like to participate and snatch an ear of corn. I love summer food!

Two more days of school!  Two more days of waking up at 6:15.  I will set the alarm for an hour later, or maybe a little more. I will roll out of bed and grab a throw and a fresh cup of coffee and sit and write. My sleepyhead will join me just a little later and we will sit and cuddle. When we chat a bit and begin to wake up and plan our day, we will make some pancakes. I will add bananas to mine.  She will take her’s plain.  I love summer mornings!

Pretty soon I will write about late nights watching fireworks, summer weddings and my crazy dance moves, the perfection of a fire pit and a backyard full of cousins, and Madison swimming with dolphins!  The dates are set, family awaits our travel, it’s going to be a celebration to write about!  I love summer promises!

Read a Book! (May I Suggest Mine?)

“We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis

Every time I read a book, I connect.  I may feel connected to the author, but the author never knows me.  I may feel connected to the characters, but they are not even real.  I can connect to others if I discuss the book, but they can not know my emotion during the time of reading.  I connect with God.  Together we experience an adventure.

https://www.createspace.com/5108444

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I Am Wrong

Somewhere around five years ago, James and I set our minds on buying a leather couch. I had a little bitty budget that I wanted to spend and unrealistic expectations on what I could get. Routinely, I scanned Craigslist and was discovering that I had set the bar a little too high.  Perhaps, our old couch would have to do for a while longer. 

And then it happened, like the ad was shining and glittery and playing angelic music, I found it. The couch. It was exactly what I wanted for exactly my budget. It had to be a typo or a scam, it was a little too good to be true.  But I am a sucker for these kind of things, so I gave the number a call.

Nope, it hadn’t sold yet. Yep, he was available that afternoon. So, a few hours later, I loaded up toddler Madison and dragged along husband James (poor guy with a logical brain that falls in love with a dreamer like me.)

On the short drive, Madison fell asleep, so we were the kind of dorks that do things like this:  James “went in” first to scope out the safety situation and returned to watch the baby. Next, I knocked on the door to give the fashion approval.  James would return to break the deal. That is pretty much how we operate. 

Well, approximately two minutes later, I return to the car decorated in a huge silly grin, “I bought it.”

“Huh?”  I had overstepped boundaries, James is the final deal maker.

So I explained the situation:  the couch was perfect. In fact, it was a practically brand new $1,500 couch and the guy was asking $400.  Yes, I was going to buy it. I was already thrilled about the situation. But just because I am American and good enough is never good enough, I just have to ask, “Will you take anything less?”  And I waited for the guy to tell me to leave for being rude, insulting, and ungrateful of a good deal when I see one.

But he pauses and smiles at me like I am his daughter that he can’t tell no, “Sure, I’ll take $300.”  If I had the strength, I would have grabbed the couch and ran at that point, but the man is not done yet, “No…” And damnit, I should have grabbed the thing and ran while I could, sure he was changing his mind, but he continues, “No…I’ll take $250.” (!!!)

At that point, I felt a little obligated to explain Math to him, “Dude, you just dealt in the wrong direction.”

I smiled, offered my many thanks and walked away with the furniture I wanted and a little extra cash. 

I love the story, but I am just like that man, almost every single day. There is something that comes with proclaiming the truth, people want to debate. But it goes a little like this with me:

Person:  You call yourself a Christian?  Well, You are a sinner!  Me: oh yes!  The very worst!

Person:  Well, Jesus said to give all your stuff to the poor!  Me:  I know.  I should do that. I really suck!

Person:  Yeah?  Well, the church is a bunch of hypocrites!  Me:  oh, much worse!  They are liars, cheats, murderers….much worse than hypocrites!

Person:  I am my own god. Nobody tells me what to do.  Me:  I suck as a god!  Glad you have it all figured out because I am really screwed up!

Ya see, being a Christian is not about winning the debate or having a clean house or a new car or well behaved children or going to a Wednesday morning Bible study. It looks more like the outcast guy scraping the bloody man up off the pavement and taking him to the hospital, it looks more like the Mommy sitting with her eight year old for the tenth time in one day and apologizing that Mommy is a sinner, it is more like the woman dragged into the streets and having her tongue cut out by her brother because she rejected the family faith and gave her life to Jesus. 

So, in this debate, before you even say it, I confess I AM WRONG but the only hope is JESUS IS RIGHT. 

He is Going With Me

I have a week off second grade!  SPRING BREAK!  Okay, it is my daughter who actually attends school, but HEY I get a break also. I can hit snooze a few more times, a week off making school lunches, no setting out uniforms, a break from carline, and I get to keep my girl with me from 8:00 – 2:30.  

Plans, parties, and promises are scheduled but there is something that has crept into our lives and it always has a way of peeking its head out when we would rather have another day to go on a picnic and we would rather spend our money on some more spring landscaping, but he nags and pries and won’t go away. 

Yep, headed to Duke. I really love my doctors but sometimes I kinda wish I never met them. I have two appointments.  One with an oncologist and one with an endocrinologist. And I also have a scan. Don’t forget the scan. Errr. I wish I could forget the scan. 

But I hope and I pray, we are in and we are out and this is the only post on the topic. I hope and I pray that I get a clean bill of health and there are no more appointments scheduled and no more concerns raised. But, however it goes, the God who made my body and knows me more inside and out, and loves me more than I love myself (and that is saying a lot) has gone before me and nothing will catch Him by surprise, so my mind is at peace. And He is going with me. 

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!

Satan’s Greatest Lie is That Sin Keeps Christians From God

What is the barrier between us and anything of value?  THE PRICE. I see an expensive, designer made, sparkley, super hot shirt hanging in the mall, what keeps it from being mine?  PAYING THE PRICE.  My girl drools over the newest Build A Bear addition, why can’t she just walk away with it?  THE PRICE MUST BE PAID. A brand new house stands on a ten acre lot, upgrades throughout, marble entry, fountain into the pool, detached five car garage. Sitting there waiting, just waiting for someone to move in and make it a home. Everyone wants it, everyone loves it. What will it take?  PAYING THE PRICE. 

One beautiful summer day, I changed my girl into her swim suit, packed some essentials and we headed to a local water spot. The city designed a long flight of stairs in the middle of the city with water flowing over them. On a hot day in July, hundreds of children gather and splash and play. Slip on sunglasses, lather sunscreen, playing commences. After the initial energy is used up, I spread a towel for Madison to sit beside me. I pull out two lunches and we have a little picnic. And then for the grand finale, a Tootsie Pop appears. Shouts of glee and happiness follow. This is her version of the perfect moment. The lollipop is popped into her mouth. But then, all of the sudden, from the throng of children, a face appears.  “I want a sucker.”  The voice demands.  I understand childhood plees and respond, “Oh sorry sweetheart. That is the only one.”  I am a bit shocked with the tantrum and stamped feet that march away complaining. Now, without going too far with my imperfect analogy, there are two things that I want to point out. One, the treat belonged to this certain child because she was my child. I did not scan the audience for the best behaved child. I did not look for the hungriest child. I handed it to MY child. I had prepared that surprise in advance for MY child. Secondly, the Bible tells us to be like children. CHILDREN ACCEPT. When Madison saw me pull out that tootsie pop, it was her’s. She did not say, “Mom, let me first earn this.  Watch me be kind to all the children here and then you can give it to me.”  She did not say, “Wait. I can pay for this. Let’s go home and get the money out of my piggy bank.”  NO!  She took it and enjoyed it as a gift.  

Now. I love my girl. I love my daughter no matter what. Why do I love her?  Because she is mine!  She can make perfect grades, be a sweet friend, give her all in sports, and sleep in on Saturdays and I will love her. She can struggle and flop out of school, be selfish, unkind, lack ambition, wake me up at 4 am, and spill my coffee and SHE WILL STILL BE MY DAUGHTER AND I WILL STILL LOVE HER!

THE PRICE IS PAID!  Christians, we are God’s children. If we sin, it hurts us in the here and now but as far as God is concerned, IT IS IRRELEVANT TO HIS LOVE FOR US AND HIS FATHERHOOD. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. NO SIN CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF OUR FATHER!

The world knows “Christians” by people who don’t cuss, don’t drink, does not wear certain clothes, and judges everyone else who does. 

NO!  Believers in Christ screw up just as much as everyone else!  THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD!  Can I say that again so the non-believers will say, “Say what?!” And so that the believers can breathe a sigh of relief, THE AMOUNT OF SINNING IS IRRELEVANT TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD. The only difference in a Christian is that they realize they sin and that they need Jesus. In fact, Christians can be the biggest sinners there are!  Look at the people that followed Jesus!  They were sinners, big ones, like prostitutes and swindlers!  

Christian, THE PRICE IS PAID!  YOU ARE FREE!  THE DEBT IS PAID!  THE TOOTSIE POP IS YOURS!  All you have to do is ENJOY it!

The Promises of Nature

I have a god, the God, that I trust and know and believe. But there is a god whispered in my ear, that I am told to believe. Who is this god?  It is ME. 

Builders, great architects of their time, the Egyptians built the temples that are still marveled today. The great wonders of the world. But where are these builders?  Where are they?  Buried within.  All the attempts to preserve their bodies and where are they to be found?  Buried in the sand. 

He stood and proclaimed, “God is dead!”  The world was awakened. Sexual revival, nonconformity, and selfishness praised. With pride and happiness they revolted. With openness and desires they grabbed and pulled in others to follow.  Where are these revivalists?  Where are these that insisted on the death of God?  They have aged, they have fallen. You find them in the grave.

People accomplish great things. They help and build and dance. Legs run faster than ever before. Great minds compose and soothe. Marriage and reproduction. Oil struck, land discovered, and new steel construction. Applause is given and the night is over. As the good and the bad all pass away. Nature promises one more day. 

The answer is not me. The answer is not you. The world that God created reminds us of that day after day. With this world we see and live and breathe, we are left with two options:  There is nothing and we die and are no more. OR There is everything, there is God, and a purpose to live for. 

Caroline’s Creed

I believe in the Son of God. I believe in forgiveness of sins. I believe I have been forgiven. That can never be taken from me. I believe what I believe. I believe I have a daughter. She is a miracle living before me every day. I believe in love. I love her in her strength. I love her in the impatience of a bad day. There is no one, no amount of money, no power, no spirit, no sin that can take that love away. I believe.

I believe Jesus lived. He walked among this earth. He had no questions of this earth. Only answers. And conversations with God. He was God. He is God. He will always be God. I believe in the Trinity. I believe this God lives in me.

I believe in Science. I believe the Bible and Science always compliment each other. I believe in asking questions. I believe in reading. I believe in right and wrong. I believe I do not have all the answers. But I know the one who does. I believe.

I believe in love. I was loved and now I return love. I was picked and chosen. There is a plan for my life. I believe in forgiving others because I was forgiven much more. I believe in serving. Because much is required. Love makes me who I am. That I believe.

I believe in holy matrimony. I believe this oneness points me to God. I was created in his image. Marriage reflects the Trinity. I have been loved in marriage. Loved more than any other way. My life is who we have become together. I believe in love. It has many complexities, many wonders, many joys.  I believe in the mystery of marriage.

I believe in a good fight. Standing up, holding firm, a power from above. I believe it is good to hate evil.  I believe in evil.  Helping the helpless, hugging the lonely, comforting the sad, learning with the curious. I believe in others. I believe we are all made different, unique, and with a beautiful purpose.

I believe in the beauty of the earth, the ugliness of sin, the hurt of a broken heart. I believe in blessings of this world, enjoying good food, gifts of love, friendships, and celebrations of holidays. I believe in life, it’s sanctity and purpose. I believe in believing. What do you believe?

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!