I Want New Shoes and She Has Her Daddy’s Smile

As a mom, as a woman, as a human being, I always have a million billion, a hundred things running through my head at one time.

We are out of milk. Go to Publix. We also need turkey, apples, and new shoes.

My head is a constant check list. I check my calendar and add those events to my dry erase board. Make the beds. The laundry had babies. Triplets. Practice piano. Homework. That is not for me. It is for her. She has her Daddy’s smile.

My phone chirps and I don’t have time to check it. I still need to put on mascara and brush my teeth. I want another cup of coffee but brushing my teeth says no to another cup.

She is growing so quickly. Eight!  Eight is almost nine. Dear Lord, I pray for her husband. I pray for the father of a little boy that will one day be her husband. Dear Lord, make him a man that will be a godly model for the boy that will grow to be her husband.

I want new shoes. I saw a pair in the mall. Super cute, no cute is not the right word, hot. They were hot shoes!  But I’m saving for piano lessons.

I’m a mom. It’s not about me. Yes, I want to be one sexy Momma for my husband. But he wants me to stay in budget. I’m on my way to the grocery store. I think I’ll bake a little treat for them. The hot man I call my husband and the little girl that I love more than new shoes.

may I suggest http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood

We are Us

I am you. I am thirteen years together, which is basically forever. I am the one that claims you by holding your hand, the one who forgets to turn off the lights, and your yearly Valentine Date. 

You are my security, who I call when the GPS leads me astray, the payer of the bills, the Daddy of my daughter, a nightly back rub, the answer to my prayers, and the only one who kisses my lips.

We are a lot more moving than either of us ever intended, the parents of a living breathing miracle, the adopters of a rescued lazy pup, the fight worth getting through, the Biblical command to love and respect, and black coffee lovers. 

Love is. It lives and breathes, does, sacrificially gives, fights and gets over it. Love is you. It is a life of hard, a time of thanksgiving, and a huge celebration. It just is. It is there. Forever and always. Right this minute and at any time. Love is and I love you. 

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. 

The Best Things in Life are Free OR $6.99

  
The reward for completion is that her little eight year old fingers get to erase the completed chore off our dry erase To Do list. 

Laundry. Check. Make beds. Check. Grocery shopping. Check. We have gotten to the point in our summer day where the next item to be completed is reading. 

She reads the coming “chore” as…just that…a chore. But she curls up on the sofa pillow with a throw to one of both of our favorite books, Trumpet of the Swan. It is the first time SHE is reading the book to herself, but it has already been read to her two times. (I adore books that are so good that they must be read more than once. In the words of CS Lewis, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and only reading it once.”

I hear a deep roll of thunder in the distance promising relief from the drought. The moment could not be any more perfect. It is that time when all is at peace and my heart is happy. 

Madison looks up from her book giggling. When she gets excited, she gives two really deep breaths and then continues with something she is eager to share. Her chore has become a love and now she can’t put the book down. 

I am quite a long distance from being what I want to be as a mother. Sadly, it is not hard to find fault with my accomplishments. However, I swell with pride and thanksgiving that I have passed on a love of books to my daughter. 

READ. Learn. It is one of the greatest accomplishments this life has to offer. And once you have become an accomplished reader, pass it on. 

My Girls

Having one daughter, five sisters, six nieces, two sisters in laws, and a partridge in a pear tree, I often use the phrase, “my girls.”  I love my girls!

Well, August was a great month!  All in one month, I gained two girls!  My brother married a gorgeous bride and now I have a new sister. He made an amazing choice of a bride and now I claim the gorgeous, dark skinned (that I am so jealous of!), center of attention that has a magnetic personality that is kind, making best friends every where she goes kind of girl. She is now my SISTER!!!

There is a beautiful lady that I have known from a baby. It is hard to believe that her long, absolutely perfect, blonde hair was dark and curly as a chubby little baby. She, literally, has the kindest heart that I have ever met. Her heart and her hands are in constant service of others. While she is studying for a special needs degree in college, I am thrilled to have her living in my home!  What an amazing role model for my eight year old!  I have grand plans of turning her into a coffee drinker.  We are two peas in one pod – The girl color coordinated her hanging up clothes, I do believe we will get along just fine!

I LOVE MY GIRLS!

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.” – John A. Shedd

Lord, for all my girls, I want to be a light that guides them on the ocean. I want to be a lighthouse to bring them to safety. But Lord, never let me get in the way of your plan!  Never let me keep them in harbor when they are needed at sea. 

God has an amazing plan for my girls!  He built them strong and for a grand purpose. The waves are sure to grow rough, the sun will be blazing hot, and the hurricane winds will blow at their sails. But there will be gorgeous sunsets, they will meet others on the sea, and they will travel far distances. My girls are setting sail and they are sure to change this world!  

I am in Love with Another Man and My Husband Knows It. 

I am in love with another man and my husband knows it. Not only does he know it, it is the best thing for our relationship. It is the best thing for my daughter. It is the best thing for my soul. 

I am in love with an outlaw. His name is hated, he is shut out, abandoned, left to himself. Governments set out to hide him, to lock him away, to keep his influence from taking over their people. 

He is dangerous but he is to be trusted. He roams, but he is safety. Outlawed, but can not be hidden. Despised and rejected, but gives his all. He can not be understood, but he is the answer. 

I am in love with another man, I can’t keep my mind off of him. When my heart aches, when all this world has to offer is not enough, he is my soul’s satisfaction. 

If I did not have Jesus, my marriage would have fallen apart long ago. If I was not totally enthralled with my Lord, then I would have nothing of benefit to teach my daughter. If my God was not all consuming, then there is no need for me here in this earth. 

Oh Jesus, I am wholly, completely in love with you!

Sittin’ in a Tree

Love, sweet love, how I love you!  Two days ago I celebrated being married to my best friend and love of my life for the last thirteen years. No, I’m not going to write all the mushy details. But they were good and mushy. (Insert silly grin and wink here.)

But also, fastly approaching, are two weddings of family members, one of which is my brother. I got a kind email from a friend of the bride asking if we could put together a book of advice from married women. Here is what I had to say:

A godly bride, who can find her? I am fortunate to be the sister of the man that God has been preparing for you since he was a little boy. 

Tall Ben and beautiful Megan squeezed into the love seat in the corner of my living room, “What things do we need to know about marriage that we are not expecting?” Wise Ben shocked me with his question. 
After thirteen years of marriage, I have learned a few things and I still have a few things to learn. Marriage is fun to explore new adventures with my best friend, it is comforting to always have someone to cry to, it is supporting to have someone cheering for me, it is inspiring to start a new family, it is humbling to worship and grow together over the years….it is AMAZING!  

However, that is not all. Marriage is work. And sometimes it is plain HARD! Only in a Christian relationship, can two sinners know each other inside and out, know their weaknesses and struggles and still choose to love when it is of no benefit to themselves. And THAT IS LOVE!  

The “better” is great! But the “worse” is included in our marriage. 

“Richer” is fun but the stressful “poorer” days will bind you together. 

“Health” is a daily goal, but it has been my days in “sickness” that I have seen how much James loves me!

Until death do you part, you are one with Ben until you figure out this life and the plans that God has for you as a new family. 

Love. That is the best advice that I have. When you get into the biggest fight that you have had and you think perhaps you have made one huge mistake, when Ben drives you absolutely insane for the millionth time (in one day), and when HE fails miserably, LOVE HIM! Because we are loved by the perfect one! Forgive because we have been forgiven more, submit to each other because it is the Biblical command of marriage, serve, give, work, and live this life together. But above all, LOVE! The greatest of these is LOVE!

A Psalm 31 woman is not any of these qualities on her own. SHE IS SOMEONE THAT INTIMATELY KNOWS JESUS. she works hard to serve her family. “She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard.” She knows what her family needs and she does it. She seeks out wisdom and she acts on it. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And she acts on that wisdom. Love does. We are saved by faith, not works. But faith without works is dead. She is a woman of faith with works to serve her family and her community. She is an inspiration to us all. 

Love, LOVE EXTRAVAGANTLY! That is my prayer, I will be praying that your marriage will be full of love. What could be better?!

Great News!  I have a sore muscle!

A sore and swollen lymph node, shown by an ultra sound, under my arm means that I will have to have surgery to remove it and it is the possibility that it is a symptom of Breast Cancer. 

Being a 19 year survivor of Cancer, having been through the diagnosis and surgery routine six times in my life, I began to prepare myself for the worst. 

Yesterday, we made a road trip to Duke to begin the testing and make plans. I was sure this couldn’t end well. 

As I sat in the waiting room, my husband shared this verse with me:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

If I spend the rest of my life in the hospital, he will be with me. 

If I am rich and famous, he will be with me. 

If I sin, if I cry out in misery, if I am afraid, he will be with me. Forever. 

If I got good news or bad news, he is with me. 

During the ultrasound, the doctor giggled a little and told me, “There is nothing wrong with your arm. Sometimes this particular muscle is mistaken for an infected lymph node. I’ve done this for 25 years. You simply have a sore muscle.”

Thank you Jesus!  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. I will also praise him in the hard times, but I am pleased that at this moment to be praising him in a very great time!

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. 

Baby America

  
Happy 239th birthday to the United States of America!  On this day in 1776, America adopted the Declaration of Independence. 

Not so very long ago, husbands and fathers from the poorest, weakest land on earth took up their crude weapons to declare, “Give me liberty or give me death!”  Mothers raised their children in a wild new country and pressed on to survive in a bare and empty place because they believed. They believed in something bigger than themselves. They believed in doing what was right at all costs. They believed that God Almighty had called them to worship, serve, and fight for the right to worship his holy name. They had hope. They had hope that this hard life was not all they were made for.

Today, I look at my nation and I am sad that I see these rights that they fought for slipping away. I look at my country and take a deep breath and sigh. America bites the hand of God Almighty that has fed her. She turns from the God that has protected her and stomps away like a spoiled little brat. She whines and throws a tantrum and pouts, “but I want my own way!”

And I realize, great men and women that built our country were surrounded by the same crowd. They wondered if their new country would ever survive. So, I stand and proclaim, this world is not my home!  I have hope!  I have a meaning and a purpose. When those around me turn from God, I claim his name!  

Use me Lord!  Use me for your purpose, use me for your people!  When comforts deminish, you are my hope. When my earthly rights fail, you are my freedom.  You are my freedom that can never be taken. No government can outlaw that freedom!

I am proud to be an American!  I love my country!  Today, I celebrate that I am living the American Dream. Today, I celebrate that I worship in an amazing church that preaches the Word of God. Today, I celebrate the freedom to raise my daughter with a Biblical worldview. Today, I celebrate a history of men and women that fought to give me that freedom. But beyond all that, today I worship and praise my God that is in control of it all. 

Happy Independence Day!