Do NOT Become a Christian

Are looking for something to fulfill your life?  Need a list of laws to follow?  Are you a good person?  Are you rich?  Is your life put together and you want a church?  

Let me be the first to assure you, Christianity is NOT for you. 

Are you outcast because your sins are much too many?  Do you want to be dead of this life you live?  Sick?  Find this world meaningless?  You don’t fit in?

Then, for you, I may have the answer. But I will be the last to try to persuade you. In fact, I will do the opposite. Consider the cost carefully. 

Jesus himself turned away the crowd. To the rich young ruler that he loved, he looked straight to his heart and saw the one thing he could not give up, “Go and sell all you have and give it to the poor.”  There was no hug and welcome and let me lead you to the sinner’s prayer. No!  To follow Jesus, to be like him, he will have no competition!  The Lord must be loved with ALL your heart. 

This is no plan of your own. You do not approach your Maker and ask him to bless your plans. Oh!  How many curse God because He does not answer their requests!  

First, you must die. All your comfort, your identity, riches, and beauty are dead and buried. Meaningless. Rags to be offered. But you will walk in danger and not be afraid. And it will be so very dangerous. You will be mocked and count it as blessings. Monies only purpose is to be given away. Prayers are to be reserved for miracles. The miracle to accomplish a part of God’s big huge plan. 

And ladies and gentlemen, the very miracle is that God himself reaches out his hand and extends an invitation. And the church of religion kindly declines, “No thank you.  I’m doing just fine on my own.”

I know God’s Calling for My Life

“God did not call me to do that.”

“Not everyone is called to be missionaries, so give some money and help these people tell the world about God.”

The only problem?  Jesus did not make distinctions when He said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel.”  It’s not just for a certain group of people. 

He never said, “If you feel called” He said “Go.”  That applies to everyone. 

Don’t feel the calling?  I bet Shadrach didn’t feel like being thrown into a fire. I bet Corrie Ten Boom didn’t feel like spreading the love of Jesus in a concentration camp. I bet martyrs didn’t feel like being tortured. JESUS DIDNT FEEL LIKE DYING ON THE CROSS!

Are you a Mom?  Be so wildly in love with Jesus that your children see Him as the very air you breathe!  Be so beyond patient that others notice something different about you and have to comment. And then answer!  

Are you a husband?  Love you wife like Christ loves the church. Daily die to her!

Do you drive?  Forget about road rage. Do you buy coffee?  Grab a cup for someone else. Invite a homeless person to church. Stop and chat with a lonely person. 

Be so crazy in love with the King of kings that you are a fool in love. Live like this is not your home!

And when you screw up, BECAUSE YOU WILL, the absolute biggest way that you can stand out among the crowd is to ASK FOR FORGIVENESS!  

Ask for forgiveness and FORGIVE, that is what I am called to do. What better way to preach the gospel?

Open Journal

“My sweet little bitty, teeny tiny baby,” You have never been one to really like the many nicknames that I have thrown out your way, “Mom! Don’t call me that!” And then I pulled out this exaggerated pet name and you didn’t mind. It is the first that you smile and let it be.

As I like to do, I was having coffee with a friend, who happens to be a mom of one of your friends. She asked, “how do I keep improving my life to show my daughter that she can be anything?”  She, and I, realize our immense responsibility to be the role model of our daughters. We chatted and I loved our chat so that the words have stuck with me, bringing a new realization a few days later:

Madison, you are so enthusiastically curious, so calmly friendly, ever achieving new abilities, lover of learning without the stress of perfection, independent, and SO PERFECTLY YOURSELF, that I believe others expect more out of me! This is what I mean:

Madison plays piano. Oh! I never played any instrument.

Madison excels at an exemplary private school with whatever you can throw her way as a model student. I struggled through public school.

Madison plays volleyball. I never did. 

M rides horses. I never. 

Madison stands up for others (at such a young age)!  I didn’t know how to.

Madison loves sharks! Me: scary!

On and on the list goes so that I have realized:  Caroline, your job is to get out of the way!  God is her parent, He is her Father. I have prayed for this child since I was pregnant and when she was three months old, God said in the most audible way, “She is not yours!  This baby is MINE!”  So hard for me to open my hands!

But there are NO WORDS that I can write to fully illustrate the overwhelming JOY and PRIVILEGE to see God Himself take my nine year old daughter by the hand and whisper softly,

“Little bitty, teeny tiny baby, I have one big huge, God sized plan for your life!

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 6

He was raised by a nanny and then sent off to boarding school at the age of ten.  He had one older half-sister, Sarah.  She was ten years older and not a part of his childhood at all. She was his father’s child from a past marriage and lived with her mother in another state on the other side of the country.  He also had seven other half-siblings, but he never knew of their existence and his father never claimed them.  They lived with their mothers in poverty, children of prostitutes.  

His childhood contained a workaholic father who traveled more than he was at home and a needy mother who succumbed to the cravings of this world.  He had no rules. He was told to follow his desires and he was given the resources to do so.  His name was Wayne.  

Deep, deep evil and the purest goodness fought for these two lives.  They battled for my life and for the life of Wayne.  Our lives were connected from birth but we did not know it.  We were meant to be and we were prepared for each other.  Not by our parents, not by our teachers, not by ourselves, but by God.  He always has a bigger plan than we see.  He has a plan of love for each of us.  Satan does not believe in love and he does not understand but he is terrorized by its power.  He shrieks and wriggles at the very mention of the word.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 5

There was another life that affected my own as much as anything that happened during my childhood.  He was formed out of the dust of the ground and I was made from the ribs of his body.  I was completely oblivious to the life of a little boy who was as much me as I was myself.

He was not loved by his parents, but he was provided for.  Concurrent to the day of my mother’s funeral, his father called him into his office.  The little boy wore a designer baby blue suit tailored to fit him, made of shorts at the bottom to show his knee socks and leather two toned shoes.  His bowl haircut and chubby cheeks showed his youth more than his dress or his serious expression. He walked with fear, wishing he had not carried his airplane into his father’s presence.  His father leaned forward from behind his large desk.  The sun shone in from the large window behind him so that the little boy could only see his large silhouette.

Invisible demons stroked his father, “Yes.  Yes.  You are powerful.  What is this thing that lingers in your presence.  Make him leave.”  His father listened to this inner conversation as he stared down at him.  He thought about his personal power and accomplishments.  Who was this person that was not respectful of what he had accomplished?

The little boy paused, not knowing that the silence was awkward, knowing only that it was fearful.  His heart was beating quickly.

A beautiful woman wearing a dress suit and her hair tied up in a bun walked over and leaned down and whispered into his father’s ear.  His father did not change his expression or even seem to notice, except that he gave her a single nod.

Then his father addressed him.  He spoke for the first time since the boy had entered the room.  It was two words but it turned all the mystery and awe the little boy had concerning this man into one thing:  hate.

Go away.” These two words his father coldly addressed toward him.  He gave no reason for having called him there.  What he felt now was what he had always felt about his son.  His father felt he had never wanted him.

To be continued…

Spiritual Flesh and Blood 4

Her death was an emptiness that would haunt my life and I did not know how to fill that void.  My father shut himself off inside his church.  He was a pastor who was closed off to his children.  We were now nothing but a reminder of the wife he lost.  We were nothing but a burden like predicted.

My father hid in his work, not knowing how to deal with his own hurt.  Loss of love hurts so badly.  When he was alone, he would think about us and how he wanted to love us and help us.  He thought about how much we must be hurting also.  That is because his heart was good.  He would promise himself that he would do things better.  He would be a better father.  But he did not pray concerning us.  He did not call on God to be our father.  He tried to do it in his own power.  And whenever he was in our presence, Demon Suffering squeezed his throat so that the right words would not come out and my father would run from our presence to seek relief from that pain that he always felt when he was around us.

And then a new demon joined my father:  Demon Regret.  Now he could never be a father again.  He had messed everything up in our family.  He quit trying.

To be continued…

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. 

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?

World Domination

With the mighty roar of the lion, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

ISIS will fall on their face and tremble and they will worship the King of all Kings. The UN will bow to the Almighty. The comfortable and rich and those on welfare, Africans, Europeans, the famous in Beverly Hills, all the world will know the Truth and all the Lies will be thought no more. And we will worship. 

And then we will be separated. Saved by grace and damned. 

And then there will be an account. The saved will stand before God and he will ask, “What did you do with what I gave you?”

We die tomorrow. Live that way. 

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.”