It’s Not About Me, It’s Not About Her

I could not have been happier to be the newly wed, trying to squeeze all our wedding gifts into our teeny tiny little one bedroom apartment.  I was in total bliss, as I would have been anywhere, because we were finally TOGETHER!

Not only was I anxiously awaiting being married, I just wanted to be with my man!  James and I had agonizingly endured six months in a long distance relationship, separated by a fourteen hour drive.  Ahhhh!  My body and my heart longed to have him with me!

When wedding bells finally rang and our honeymoon cruise ship had set sail and then returned home, we began our life together.  James drove off to his first real job to support our family of two and I finished college (tail between my legs, I am that girl!  but hey, I did finish in the end.)  Part of my more flexible schedule included the responsibility of building our new home for us to enjoy together.  OK, well home keeping is still my job and he can’t have it (I love it!)

So, I am going about new dishes stacked neatly in the cabinets, putting approximately eleven holes in the wall to hang one new picture, even enjoying doing laundry for two (that much has changed.  More of it and I can’t say I enjoy that anymore.)….and then I pull out the new bathroom rugs, the very ones I had registered for, but umm, yikes.  I had two rugs for this absolutely, ridiculously small master bathroom and neither one of them would fit without having to be folded completely in half!

So, let’s make a long story short:  I returned them.  For a new lamp.

Hey, I was liking my new exchange.  The living room looked brighter and more decorated than when James left for work.  And I thought he would be pleased with my exchange, my home cooked meal, and ME forever.  And life would forever be bliss.

I do believe it was the first time he spoke to me that his voice wasn’t complete admiration and adoration, “Caaaaaroooooline…..” I hear him yelling from the bathroom later that evening, “Where is the bathroom rug?!!!”

I thought my explanation of the return for the lamp was quite enough but he stared at me dumbfounded, “Where am I supposed to stand when I brush my teeth?!”

And although a small incident, I learned that my marriage would not be perfect.  We are two humans that think differently (oh how little did I know!), we act and shop and interact with family and spend money and joke and reason and even brush our teeth differently.  Which, let me be honest, took a while to iron out…and we still ain’t perfect.  Perhaps, it is just that knowledge that has been an aide to our marriage and a relief to my idealist mind.

So, wrap it all up, marriage taught me that life is not just about me.  There is an us.

James and I were strolling about a happy marriage that we were starting to get figured out.  I had, FINALLY, graduated from college and was working in an amazing school.  We were happy DINKS.  Double Income No Kids.  And then our happy life got even better:  Madison!

I had already grown in maturity through this marriage thing.  I was raised in a family with eight children, I nannied a family for four years with four children ages five and under, I was an elementary teacher with a freakin degree in Kids, I WAS GOING TO ROCK THIS MOMMY THING!

And then something happened:  MADISON!

She could care less what my background was!  She was not impressed with our happy marriage.  She didn’t care to be “polite” when there was company around.  Madison was not concerned with the fact that I had not eaten all day or that it was the VERY MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, or that I was in public with spit up covering my shirt and pants and arms!  Madison was concerned with one thing and one thing only:  Madison!

But even though she was selfish (let’s face it, newborns are selfish) and even though I took great pains to bring her into this world (and she has yet to thank me) and even though she is the most expensive thing that James and I ever invested in and even though she required more out of me than anything, I LOVE THAT LITTLE GIRL MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF!  There is absolutely nothing in this world that I would not do for her!  There is absolutely nothing she could do to lose my love AND NOTHING SHE COULD DO TO EARN IT!

Wow!  Is that how Jesus loves me?!  NO!  HE LOVES ME MORE THAN THAT!

So, if marriage taught me there is an “us.”  Being a mom taught me there is something even bigger than us!  James and I have a purpose that exceeds our great marriage.  We have a baby to raise!  We had to “grow up.”  Less dates, less sleep, less money…there is someone else to think about FIRST.

And life went on.  I wanted the best for Madison!  She must have squeaky shoes to teach her to walk, she must have healthy food to nourish her body, and swim lessons for my little fish, and friends to teach her to share, and this and that and more.

But then something happened, Jesus took my firm grip on my daughter and loosened one little finger.  Madison wanted to do things that were mean.  She didn’t want to speak kindly to her cousin when she was upset.  Shocker to me!  My daughter is a sinner!  And then even good things, “Mom, I want to swim in one of those cages with sharks in the water!”

“NO! NO! NO!”  That was not the plan that I had!  She wanted geckos for pets and to wear Nike shorts when I wanted her to wear a dress, and her plan for the day was not exactly my plan.  And Jesus loosened one more finger!

And bit by bit by little bit, I learned something:  It is not about me, it is not about my husband, and it is not EVEN about my daughter!  I love them both so much, so very much!  But it is not good for me and not good for them for me to make them an idol and give them the responsibility of being my god!

IT IS ABOUT JESUS!

So, my darling husband, I long so very much to be a wife after God’s own heart.  I desire to be a 1 Corinthians 13 wife, whose love is full of patience, kindness, humility, and all the qualities that can only be from God and not myself.  My baby girl, I want God’s plan for you, not my own!  He made you so absolutely amazing and he has a plan for you that is so much greater than my plan!  IF HE makes you a marine biologist that swims with sharks, I want to support that!  (OUCH!)

My family, I surrender you to God.  Lord, never let me be a stumbling block to those that I love the most!  I want to be a servant that seeks ways to be helpful, not demanding my own way.  I want to be wisdom that is godly advice.  I want to be an example to my daughter of God’s grace, forgiveness, and power that can come from no one other than him!

Lord, be a miracle in me so that those that know my weaknesses more than anyone would look at me and claim, “Wow!  That is God himself at work, because Caroline could never do that!”

I Question the Lacking

For the most part, heaven is ignored from the very pulpits of our churches and when it is spoken of, there is a respectful (or not so respectful) thanks to something that must be pretty great (but who really knows?), and the words spoken still leaves you with the angels on clouds kind of picture in your mind.

What in the hell is heaven?!  Well, I’ve got an idea.  Was it spoken to me in a dream, do I believe I have a prophecy, do I have a special message to pass on?  Sort of….but so do you.  What is heaven?  It is woven into my very core, it is in and of my being, everything that was ever lacking is found in the perfection of joy completed.

There are things in this world I want and long for and desire from the shouting of my alarm clock until I curl back up in my bed.  I want rest.  I don’t want to be tired anymore!  I want peace.  Peace from mistakes I’ve made, peace from hurt and trouble in this world, peace from fear of evil.  I want LUXURY!  I want a huge freakin swimming pool in my backyard, in the backyard of my mansion.  The kind that is half inside and half outside, flowing under a glass wall.  I want a brand new car, that is always a brand new car.  I want to sing with the voice of Lauren Daigle and my lungs never tire.  I want to swim and bike and run in the Hawaiian Ironman and then get a red IM tattooed on my muscular arm.  I want to sit at a piano, violin, tuba and then play and just have fun but sound really awesome.  I want my daughter to always obey and I never want to worry about her because there is no possibility of anything bad ever happening.  I don’t want my husband to go to work because we are beyond billionaires and money will never run out.  And I don’t want to be the only one!  I don’t want there to be beggars on the side of the road.  I don’t want to read about murdered grandparents and aborted babies and hungry children, because I don’t want hate and hunger to exist!

I want all the answers!  I don’t want to have a debate, I want to listen to truth, ultimate truth, and nod my head in agreement.  I want all my questions, all my worries, all my doubts to be laid at rest.  I want to know WHY!

And I want MORE!  I want God!  God himself!  The everything that makes it all complete, the perfection in my dream, the one who has loved my soul from the formation of my infant body in my mother’s womb, to the scary days in middle school, the one who was there, was always there for better and worse.  I want to see him!  I want to know him!  I want to fall into the arms of my Father God that loves me and that I love so much and I have longed for my whole life long.  And I want to fall on my knees out of praise of my soul and worship the King that is above all earthy kings.

I want to see the fulfillment of my favorite verse ever!

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!

I want HEAVEN!  I was not made to be complete in this world.  Things are not as they should be!

I have a great idea of what heaven will be like.  And I’m ready!  Hey, I get it!  “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”  NO!  I don’t want to die, but I am ready to LIVE FOREVER!

Oh, I Am So Sorry. Please Excuse My Oh So Messed Up Body

This article was published in my book, Beautiful Life with Cancer, Hope During the Hard Times in December 2014.

As I lay down in my bed, I am out.  I almost always hit the pillow and it takes me about three minutes and I am asleep.  Often times, parents of little babies and young children teach them bedtime by setting a routine.  Baby gets a bath, read to them, sing one song, and hugs and kisses.  Well, (you can call me weird but I already know that) but I believe I have done this with myself.  Ofcourse I have the getting ready process.  I will spare you that.  It is not as simple and soothing as the baby’s routine.  But I hit the pillow and I start running a list through my head.  My two most popular lists:  1.  What are the decoration changes that I want to make to my house?  2.  What would I change about myself?  Fifteen.  No fourteen.  There are fourteen things I would change.

1. I wish my hair was a little thicker.  2.  No contacts.  Perfect vision would be nice.  3.  No scars around my neck.  4.  No itchy back.  That is right.  No itchy back.  See…I am the lucky one million billion that has a rare condition within a rare condition of MEN2A in which my body deposits protein on the top of my back.  It drives me insane!  It itches all the time.  All the time!  Almost daily, I scratch it until it bleeds.  I have done this since I was a baby.  I wish I did not have that.  5.  Stronger arms.  I work on it.  I do.  I go to the gym when I can and lift weights or as of now, or recently, I have been trying Yoga.  But I’ve been a little weak lately so I don’t push it by going to the gym.  So, I wish I wash’t sick. Wish I could go to the gym.  And wish I had stronger arms.  6.  No scars on my stomach.  7.  No stretch marks.  Nah.  I look at those and wish they weren’t there and then I remember why I have them.  Actually, call me crazy, I’ll keep those.  Worth the memory.  So, 7.  Thinner legs.  (Reinsert gym explanation here and add to it that I do not eat sugar.  Ok.  Yes, I do eat fruit.  And yes, I know that carbs turn to sugar in my body.  Restate that.  I do not eat desserts.  Why?  There is one reason to eat desserts:  They taste good.  There are four reasons not to:  sugar makes me gain weight, not good for my teeth, makes me, and everyone, sick more often by weakening my immune system, and lowers my energy.  Yes, that was absolutely too much to say within parenthesis.)  8.  Perfect teeth.  I hope you think my teeth look perfect, but the front two have crowns from chipping them on the swimming pool.  9.  No veins on my legs.  10.  Better singing voice.  (If I could insert a clip of me singing here, you would agree.)  11.  No scar on the back of my leg.  13.  No Addison’s Disease.  14.  No cancer.

There is my list.  Sure.  Everybody has a list.  But I do try to be really content with my body, but these are the things that I hate.  I really do hate.  And about 12 out of 14, at least, are here for life.  Nothing I can do about it.  About half of these nobody sees.  And the other half, I try to hide most of the time.  Prime example:  You will not find me in any singing group or trying out for American Idol.  But, I go to buy life insurance, and I can’t.  I go to the doctor for allergies and I have to continue my medication list on the back because it won’t all fit in the lines provided, and then the doctor wants to send me for scans and tests and chat extra long because of my history, but excuse me doctor, I have a sinus infection.  But they don’t want to give me anything for that.  And then I go to pick up Prednisone at the pharmacy for the one hundredth time in a row and the pharmacist feels the need to tell me that I shouldn’t take so much because of the side effects.  Thank you, I know them well.  But the alternative isn’t so good.  It’s death.  And then I read an article in the newspaper in the medical section from a doctor that says no one can survive with both their adrenal glands removed.  Well, he should do some research, or I should introduce myself because I am going on ten years now.

I try to find light in my rare condition.  It is a little neat when the student intern at Duke is so excited over meeting me and reviewing my case that he can not hide his excited giddiness.  It is kinda cool to be able to carry on a medical conversation, using all the right jargon, with friends that are doctors and surgeons, but If I got to pick, I would choose a different claim to fame.  What can I really do with, “a really extremely rare form of MEN2A” and always being the exception even within the rules of the disease?  Pretty cool to be the exception in the medical handbook or the specialists’ conference?  Ehh.

Well, I am asleep by now and I never go through the explanations with myself while I am laying in bed.  But if I didn’t have that, I’d be pretty pleased with myself.  If I didn’t have all of that, it’d be great to sit up in the morning and be able to see what’s going on without popping in those contacts.  And I’d probably join some band, just for the fun of it.  And I’d sing to more people than just my seven year old.  And my husband.  And my sisters.  And anyone else I get comfortable with.  And anyone else who is around after I’ve had a drink or two.  And I’d wear skirts, not just in the summer time when I’m outside, but also when it is a little chilly outside in the Fall to show off my legs.  And I would be in and out of the doctor’s office with my sinus infection medicine.  And I wouldn’t always scratch my damn back.  And who knows?  Maybe I would be a whole lot less content.  And maybe I would have less joy.  And maybe I wouldn’t appreciate my family and the days that I’ve got.  Because it isn’t really myself that makes me happy anyway.  So, ehh, I’ll just keep it all.  So, I am oh so sorry.  Please exude my oh so messed up body.  That’s just me.

Caroline is published!  I have entered my novel into a contest and for a short time you can download it for the low cost of FREE!  Please click on the link below to read the book Spiritual Flesh and Blood for free, which also gives me one vote when you download.  THANK YOU!

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

Terminally Healed

“Gabriel, you have been to earth.  Explain the humans to me.” 

They could see, the angels could always see us.  Our limitation to one dimension is an earthly boundary.  Before them, around them, were people (of course, the people could not see the angels) and the people were driving here and there, busily going about their business.

“These little contraptions are called cars.  They carry the humans from home to work or a place to eat or to visit with another humans or to a variety of places.  They can not fly or transport as we do.  They take great pride in their contraption.  If it is big, like that one, they like it better.  Shiny, like this one, gives them more points.  This one has smudges and this is not the preferred shape.  This makes the other humans not like the person inside it as much.”

“These little flat devices, they hold to their ears and talk to someone that is not with them….someone with this shape is avoided….if you have less of this paper…..a smaller home to sleep in…”

Gabriel was interrupted by the inquiring angel, “But that is not their home, none of those things matter!  Their time on earth is so quickly lived, why do they waste their resources that were given to them to help others enter heaven for such measly things that do not matter?!”

Sometimes I sit and watch this world and I find such humor in ourselves.  I find humor in myself! Why do I care so much about these possessions that are outdated, broken, and useless tomorrow?  Why do I care so much what other people think about me?

The big C word is a brand on my forehead that demotes me to a lower status.  Oh, many use it for “pity me points” but I do not want your pity.  I have seen some use my own brand and their association with me to be the one up story or the gossipy prayer request.  I want to be free, I want to be low maintenance, take care of myself, independent, strong, and healthy.

And that is one of the very reasons that I believe that God gave me this thorn in my side,  “Caroline, depend on me.  You CAN NOT do this life on your own.”

So, for nineteen years I have lived having to explain my condition, lived with the secret and knowing when to share, just now being able to tell my story over Beautiful Life with Cancer, realizing that all these little habits that I fall into with the rest of the world, DO NOT MATTER!  It is absolutely ridiculous when I take a minute to separate from this silly culture and this human life to see the sacrifices I make to “fit in” while I am walking right by someone in need or being selfish for the sake of things when I am called to serve and give.

I AM HEALED.  Nineteen years of this thorn in my side means that I beat it!  I have survived.  If this story trails behind me and part of my purpose in life is to share it, and that is how I can help others, then I thank God and I beg of him to be the strength inside of this human that sometimes makes no sense at all.

Faith Doesn’t Matter

Pushing against the open wound of the nail stuck in his foot, his human body pressed against the shocking pain until his chest was able to gasp and then he released, feeling the choking pressure against his chest.  Beyond the worst day in history, his was the worst life.  No other suffering on earth could begin to even comprehend his bursting heart that bled water and blood at the rejection of his Father, the breaking of the Trinity, perfect holiness carrying the burden of complete sin.

Mary looked on, her mind overcome with what she beheld.  She is the only mother that, rightly, ascended her son to her personal God.  She remembered the miracle of the joy of a virgin birth announced by the Angel Gabriel.  Her marriage with Joseph had forever been bonded with the realization that they had been sent here to raise the God of the Universe.  Her life, her faith, her son, her everything hung in agonizing pain and she could do nothing to relieve him.  Everything was dying here.  Satan had won.

He, literally, stood in heaven in the very presence of God himself.  Lucifer was the director of the choir, spending his days in worship of God Almighty.  His voice, his body, his eternal life was beyond beauty, it was heaven.  He, literally, spent his days in the perfection of heaven.  Lucifer believed in God, as real as anything he had ever seen, touched, or experienced in any capacity.  If there was even this life that he lived, he knew it was created by God that sat upon his throne.  And yet Satan turned.  And he was flung into the fiery pit of Hell.  Even the demons believe, believe in the one true God of the Universe, and their belief does not save them.

My Western culture holds tight to few things, but remaining in the hearts of the vast majority of Western thinkers is the foundation of LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.  And I will take it!  I cling, with those that vary so much from me, to the belief that these ideals have made my home nation who we are today.  We are a people that stop whatever we are doing to fight for freedom, as well we should.  We believe that one life is important, we believe in holding debates and agreeing to disagree, we believe in differing opinions and a different perspective of personal happiness, and we believe in not taking away those rights from our neighbors.  But somewhere along the way, this belief was skewed into the belief of believing:

“Believe whatever you want to believe.”

“It does not matter what you believe, as long as you have enough faith.”

And this is why we see our culture beginning to crumble.  From inside the church, inside the educational system, inside government, and the very core of our foundation:  the family. We are falling apart because we no longer cling to right and wrong, we believe that as long as you believe in something, that is all that matters.  But what if BELIEF DOES NOT MATTER.  Faith is not what saves us.  Even the demons believe and shutter.

If you want a religion of faith, there is none greater than Islam.  Muslims believe so wholeheartedly in the afterlife that parents proudly offer up their children to jihad.  Wealthy husbands leave their life of comfort and their wives and children behind to strap bombs to their chests and die in the fight.  WHY?!  This blows our Western minds!  IT IS BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH!  It is because they believe more boldly than the majority of Christian believers believe in their God that Allah is going to send them straight to a world of bliss where there will be more pretty girls waiting for them than they can comprehend.  According to the words of the Qua-ran, girls that will never have to blow their nose or menstrate, girls with beautiful dark eyes, girls that can not take their eyes off of their martyr hero.  And these men will have supernatural ability to have sex over and over again.  This is why they want to leave this world as quickly as they possibly can!  Because they have so very much FAITH!

So, why are Westerners running out of the church as soon as they are off to college?  Why are Christian marriages just as likely to end in divorce as any?  Why does our culture now criticize and despise Christians?  Why are followers labeled as hateful as soon as they mention their God?  IT IS BECAUSE FAITH HAS BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WESTERN CHURCH!

Now, Am I splitting hairs here?  Don’t I, myself, speak of my faith and praise faith?  Yes!  An extremely important side note is that FAITH IS IMPORTANT, FAITH PERFORMS MIRACLES, FAITH IS NECESSARY AND GREAT!  So, what am I complaining about?  And it is this:  Faith is not the most important, LOVE is!

Love is why Jesus nailed himself to the cross.  Love is why Mary will be in heaven even when she lost all faith at the foot of the cross.  The absence of love is why Satan was thrown out of heaven and into eternal damnation.  The absence of love is the leader of jihad.  And the absence of love is why the American church is falling apart.

Love restores marriages.  Love rescues families.  Love gathers people to church (not rules!). Love saves lives!  The only answer is love.

AND THESE THREE REMAIN:  FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.  BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

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!

In Honor of the American Soldier

Ehhhh….do I have any right?….I shy away from writing the Memorial Day post. I have no right.  Return to my business of the family cookout and let someone else write that post. 

And I realize, I can return to the family cookout. I have my family. I have my freedom. I have the right to write this post…and that is why I have the obligation to write it. 

We are not a military family. I do have two grandaddys, that are now in heaven, that fought for their country during WWII. Their stories, although few that they could share, were awe inspiring. I have seen American Sniper and other movies that cause my soul to take a deep breath. But that is as far as my experience goes. 

Unless you have been there you can not understand!  I can not begin to fathom what it is like to see your best friend shot before your eyes. I can not begin to imagine the agony of a tortured POW. It is beyond my comprehension the sacrifice of leaving one’s family behind because it must be done. 

But I can begin to fathom freedom. I know what it is to practice the religion of my choice. Here I practice freedom of speech. I raise my daughter in a nation that I can chose her school, her church, and her doctor. 

This is not a post of the scares of losing those freedoms or of politics. But this is an article because today, and my whole past life, I live in America. I live in a land where Fathers died so their children could have those freedoms. I live in a nation where much sacrifice was given. 

And I want to say thank you. Thank you to the American soldier that knows the pain and suffering of battle so that I did not have to. Thank you American soldier and Happy Memorial Day. 

Miracles are not Enough

My feet are sore, so much walking and I have no shoes. Walking on the desert sand with blistered feet, I can think of nothing more painful. At least in Egypt I had shoes. 

I scan my setting, three children lay napping before me. I am glad they are sleeping. I try so hard to stay cheerful for them, but they have long ago given up also. Who could blame us?  No shelter from this blazing heat and so much, so much walking. 

We had been slaves. In those days, one thing was talked about: freedom. But was this what we had long desired?  

When the plagues cursed Egypt, we praised God for his mighty deliverance, for fighting and persevering for us. Miriam led us in a song of thanksgiving. But I have quit singing and the tune is no longer heard. A new voice rises, a song of complaint. A song of entitlement. The voice of ME. 

We were hungry. Did we not think of food as we marched away from Egypt?  God had provided manna. Sweet manna from Heaven. The clouds were raining food. But I have grown tired of manna. I want meat. 

And when we were hungry, God provided fresh water from a rock.  I have seen miracles with my own eyes. But that was yesterday. God, do you care about me today?  Here is what I want today. Today. 

We look back and we condemn them, the Israelites. They had seen the mighty hand of God. They walked on dry land through the Red Sea as the waters raised high above them but did not obey gravity. They had been delivered from bondage, provided food, and they still wanted more. But the tale lives on. 

Just a few hundred years ago, America won an impossible war. We gained independence from the most powerful country in the world. Our forefathers gaining the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the pursuit of happiness, the American Dream. Miracles all around us, delivering and providing. But they are miracles of yesterday. It is not enough. 

We want riches at no cost. We sin demanding no consequence. Comfort is supreme God. How dare anyone speak truth!  There is no God that provides or loves or cares but He is to be blamed for any hurt or destruction. 

We mock them and we condemn them as we live luxurious lives, crying out once again to see a miracle from the God we doubt.