I Need What He has to Offer

I find myself lacking. I look at all I am and the complete of it is inadequate. I know all too well my faults and my failures. 

Who is this man that knows my name?  He calls me beloved.  It can not be, he is the King!  

But I mess up all too much. My mistakes are a burden, drowning me in guilt. He takes my hand and leads me to the cross.  “Do you want to be free?”

I clutch my chains and hold them tight, I cling to my guilt, my shame, and my pain. It is my pride. 

I am nothing. He is everything. He chose me. Now I must choose, freedom from my chains or the pain of my pride. 

Fearing the Hopeful Future

I look back on the dream of me, those memories that are mine that seem as true as the movie I watched last weekend. People are so many people in one life. 

I have times that stick out to me in my fog of memories and I remember the emotion, the facts get blurred and I don’t remember the exact day, or even the exact month, sometimes not even the exact year. But I remember the emotion. 

I just remember being fearless. I remember taking it all in like instructions for a pickup game of basketball, I didn’t know what I was doing, wasn’t my sport, a little worried my lack of skills would not impress the others, but all in all it wasn’t that big of a deal. But it wasn’t basketball, and it was a big deal. It was cancer.

I was fifteen years old. I had absolutely no clue who I was, I just rolled with the punches and tried not to get in the way.  Doctor appointment, ok. Surgery, I’ll be there. Cancer. My job was to have a good attitude. 

The day. The first of those days arrived. Surgery. I remember nothing about getting ready. I remember no nervousness over the risks. There was no caution, no stress, no worries. I can’t even recall any of the presurgery details. But I remember something, something I wish I could forget. 

A pain too intense for words.  Immediately, as I began to claw my way out of my painkiller sleep, my body now understood the meaning of the word cancer.

Pain. And isn’t that what we are all scared of?  The fear of all people of all the world. We aren’t worried about the future, but we are afraid it will hurt. Maybe we aren’t scared to die, just don’t want there to be pain in the how. I don’t have trouble trusting Jesus with my life, I just want to make sure that his plan isn’t a painful one. 

And how do I come to terms with fear, that fear of pain, not just cancer, but any pain?  And the answer is:  IT WILL. 

It will hurt. In this life, you will have troubles. What is my priority?  Comfort?  Money?  Health?  Well, Jesus has bigger plans for me, bigger plans than just this world. 

How are we supposed to cope knowing that it is sure to hurt?  “In this world you will have trouble, BUT I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!”

Jesus knows pain!  The ultimate pain, more than any human will ever experience. And he chose it!  Why?  Because there is something greater than this world!

And I want that!  I trade this world for heaven!  I trade these earthly possessions that are out of fashion and fall apart much too quickly for eternal gold and glory. I choose serving over me. I choose love over selfishness. And I choose hope over fear. 

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. 

Invitation to START OVER

Ever wish you had been born into a family of privilidge?  Wish you had more connections?  Is there a huge mistake you wish you hadn’t made?  The kind no one else can understand.  Do you regret your career choice?  Or the very personality that you live with every single day?

Only here. This is the only place you are offered a second chance. An offer to be born again. To chose a father that is a king, that decorates his streets with gold. He has the connections to chose the weather, to set the stars in motion, and to do….ANYTHING!  He knows everything you wish you knew, gives the best advice to be offered, has all the answers, offers protection and peace beyond comprehension. 

Do you feel too weak for change?  He is all powerful.  Are you much too poor?  Oh, he has that covered. Scared?  Yeah. It is scary. It is a give all, hold nothing back kind of choice. 

But give it. Surrender. Start over. Raise your white flag. Be born again. And receive it all. 

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. 

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. 

Hugging Jesus

His fist pounded down upon the desk, “Wake up!” And he yelled my name. As he demanded respect, all in the same moment of fear, hIs arms wrapped lovingly around me and I cried. I sobbed with convulsions in my chest. He held me and rubbed my back. It was the perfect safe place. The he took me by the shoulders, looked me in the face and gave me a reassuring smile. 

No More Hurt

Darkness could not conceal the majesty of the sanctuary. Several shades of ornate gold, centuries old. There was a romantic battle story of angels and demons and suffering saints, all within the walls. And now, gathered here in this place, just me and my LORD. 

I was not singing, but the music overtook the atmosphere. Her voice rang out, pouring from my soul. It was not her lips that moved and not mine. Overcome with two emotions that only mix in the presence of God:  power and humility, my body naturally longed to lift my hands in worship, but my soul knew all too well that it was no proper offering. 

Down. Down to my knees I found my appropriate posture, hands covering my face. Heart and body, mind and soul, calling to my Deliverer. “Hosanna!”  Interpreted, “Save me!”

He lifted my eyes and drew me to the cross. There I lay my sinner’s burden. There I am washed to a radiant righteousness with the sprinkling of blood, I am completely redeemed. 

I stood in my humility. I was strong in his power. And then the room was transformed, a modern setting. Stage lights searched the room and a band sang out. Voices cried out to God in great numbers. Diversity of the followers was unity in heart. 

And then I was all alone. Petified by the things people said, astonished at their deeds. “I want to go home!”  I cried out in my soul’s deepest place of fear. But I saw hungry hearts and empty souls and people longing for a Savior. “Tell them,”  my simple command. “Lead them.” Was his answer, “lead them to the cross.” 

So, walk with me and I will show you. Hold my hand and we can sing. I’ll tell you a story of the one who saved me, I was so very hungry, starving for a purpose and a joy, he filled me to overflowing, now come, come and see what my Savior has done. There will be no more hurt. He saved us, Hosanna.

I Love My Strength

I call to the one that is worthy of praise, “I am tangled in death.  I need a deliverer.”  

My sweet intimacy when he is all I need, the one I seek in my troubled time. It can not be replaced. I can not be talked out of my stronghold. Love can not be debated.  

I raise my voice to the one who knows me most. He knows the hurt of my silent tears, the joy of my singing heart, my numbered days on this earth, and he knows more. He knows what I am meant to be. In this world, with no sin, how he intended me to be.  How I will be when I meet him face to face and forever sing his praise. 

He hears my voice. He parts the heavens and comes down, riding on the wings of the wind, with lightning in his hands. He reached down from on high for me. Because he delights in me. I love you LORD, my strength.