The Culture of Negative Comments

Some of my greatest insights into her day come when I snuggle up beside her right before bedtime.  This is where she gained her nickname, “Chatty Maddie.”  Last night, as I cuddled up beside her, she taught me a great lesson, as goes much of parenting.

My eight year old daughter is training in a group of six girls (3rd and 4th graders) for a 5K race.  Madison begins to tell me about a new 4th grade friend she has in this group of girls and then she tells me something that stuck with me.  (I hope it will forever.)

“Mom, yesterday, we ran so much!  I was getting so tired and I said to my friend, ‘This is so hard.  I don’t think I can do it.’  And she said to me, ‘You can do this Madison!  You’ve got this!’  And know what?  It made me run faster when she said that.”

Drop the mic and walk away.  What more do we need to know?!  What a precious gem that my grown up culture needs to learn from that precious fourth grader!

Living in the year that I do, I get much of my news from the internet.  Call it positive or negative, one of our modern features is that the general public can comment on ANYTHING…and they do.  Aaaaaand I have pretty much stopped reading the comments.  Know why?  Because comment after comment, down to the one thousandth comment, they are mostly all negative.  And here is the thing, here is what gets me.  It is people that agree with the article (usually that is why they read it in the first place) but they feel the need to give negative feedback.  It usually goes something like this:

I agree with this but you should have also said this…

There was a mistake in your fourth paragraph.

I agree with what you wrote, but your outfit looks horrible in your profile pic.

If this insane impossibility happened, this would cause me to disagree with this whole thing.

“I could have written it better.”  And everything inside me screams, “THEN DO IT!  Stop talking and do it!”  We have become the culture of tearing each other apart!  When someone is tired, we just push them out of the way thinking it will make us look all the better when someone else fails.  Our culture is tearing itself apart from the inside out.

I adore the quote from Ben Carson that, “When the jihadists get here, they’re not going to ask you if you’re a Republican or Democrat before they cut your head off.”

Are we so worried with proving ourselves right that we tear each other down, weakening our world for the true enemy to invade?!  AND THEY WILL!  We need to learn to get along sooner than later before it is too late!

Speaking to myself first, I want to be more like my daughter’s fourth grade friend that sees people that are tired, that sees people that are about to drop out of the race and I want to encourage them, “YOU’VE GOT THIS!  COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT!”  I want to be someone that builds people up, rather than tearing them down!  I want to be part of the solution, rather than adding to the problem.

Let’s all remember the lessons of our childhood.  Stop tattling!  When is the time to speak up? When someone else is getting hurt.  Are babies being murdered?  This is the time to yell at the top of our lungs and do everything we can to stop it.  “Disagree comment” away!  And then there is a time to say:  Is this just a mistake the person made?  Keep my mouth shut.  Is this something that I should address with only the person and not all of public?  Go to them privately.

Or is this a time that I need to help this person?  Do I need to run alongside of them and encourage them, YOU’VE GOT THIS!  YOU CAN DO IT!

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Hell of Heart

The charming prince took his princess in his arms and kissed her soft lips and they lived happily ever after.  The End.

IT IS WHAT WE ALL WANT!  Give your nays and your excuses and your no I don’ts, but this is the desire of all of humanity.  We are all a unique version of our own princes and princesses, but we all want to be loved and we want it FOREVER!

Philosophies come along and slice this, dissect it, and study it under a microscope:

Find your own happy.

Why not two princesses?

My lips can never be soft.

The crown doesn’t fit.

And the water gets so dirty, that we toss it all out, baby and all.  Well, the baby is the whole point of the bath, so bring him back in, chubby rolls and all, let’s get him dressed for bed and snuggle up.

America.  Those damn forefathers screwed it all up for us, look at all their mistakes.  We have the unforgiving sins of slavery, the Trail of Tears, and we were much too late to enter WWII.  YES!  I agree.  AWFUL!  But look at our history and look at YOU AND ME!  We make mistakes.  What matters is if we learn from it.  Have we?  I think so.  What matters is if we have character.  What a miraculous story, the history of America!  How did that baby nation become the strongest superpower in the world?  It is a fairytale!  I am in complete admiration when I study the men and women that established this nation that I now call home.  But we look at the mistakes in this fairytale and throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The Bible.  Most “christians” are labeled as judgmental hypocrites, and for good reason.  But look at the men and women of the Bible.  They are not what modern people think about when they hear the word, “christian.”  David was a murderer and adulterer and he wrote a big huge chunk of the Bible.  Moses was a murderer and he led God’s people out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  David was the young shepherd of his family, designated to watching sheep, and he defeated the giant, sending the enemies of Israel fleeing.  Jesus uses tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, and on and on and on.  Your past does not matter, Jesus knows what he intends for you to be!  Do not toss out the greatest message ever preached:  GRACE.  But we look at who we judge as judgmental and we toss out the Bible, baby and all.

God uses the weak, the ugly, the sick, and the poor.  Are you Joshua that has given up on the whole sha-bang because those walls of Jericho are just too tall?  Are you David too afraid to meet the giant on the playing field?  Perhaps you are about to accomplish the impossible!  Maybe you are Ben Carson that was abandoned by his father and everything about you says you are just another statistic to end up dead or in jail.  Just show up because you are not called to accomplish the work, that is God’s part!  Do not look at your mistakes and your failures and toss out that baby in the dirty water, there is a part to keep and a lesson to learn.  Hell wins when we hold back!  We already know how it all works out, and it is a happy ending! We are LOVED and it is intended to last FOREVER!

A Link to My Longest Writing Ever

I have entered my novel into a contest.  If you like what you read here, please visit the link below and download my book FOR FREE!  Each download gives me a vote.  THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoy what you read.

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

The Always Broken Heart

Age creased the hands of the surgeon.  A large build, tall, athletic, a picture of health.  Without even the knowledge of his resume, his deep voice accompanied with a warm smile, he demanded the upmost of attention.  But in this moment, weakness consumed him.

His knees, clothed in scrubs, bent on the surgical floor of the hospital.  The bright lights produced a spotlight, the beep of the monitors was the soundtrack.  His healthy body held all the weakness of the world in his hands.  

Place your two fists together and you see the size of your heart.  Held in his large hands were two small fists placed together.  In his hands he held a red bleeding muscle.  In his hands he held a heart, the human heart of a four year old little girl.  

Little heart, beat.  Little heart, live.  Grow and smile and meet new people.  Sound out words, graduate from kindergarten, and draw a flower for your Momma.  Little heart, hold hands with your BFF, kiss your aunt when she comes to visit.  Little heart, open Christmas presents, play with neighbors, and learn to ride a bike.  Little heart, hug your Daddy’s neck and throw a tennis ball to your puppy.  Little heart, beat, please beat.

No one wants to speak of the gone wrong.

“Be positive.  Focus on the good.”  Hide in humor, watch TV, focus on number one, purchase therapy and live.  COEXIST.

My favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables.  I hate the setting of the dirty streets during the French Revolution, therefore setting the perfect scene for “The Miserable.”  Oh Fantine!  Oh miserable Fantine, brokenhearted, abandoned by your love, never able to mother your child, raped, and dying in starving agony.  What do positive thoughts have to offer to Fantine.  Fantine is real!  She is the modern day Syrian refugee running for her life, she is the Father held captive awaiting his execution in the hands of ISIS, Fantine is the broken hearted wife uncovering her husband’s Ashley Madison account, Fantine is the child leaving his overdosed mother behind in the dirty government housing as he walks on the bus to face the daily cruelty of his peers, Fantine surrounds us!  Oh, I have been Fantine!

Oh cruel world!  What is our weapon to face you?  How do we survive our dreams that can not be and the storms we can not weather?  Life has killed the dream.

Oh Allah, where is your extended Jean Valjean hand?  Your scales condemn the downtrodden.  Hollywood, have your riches given you peace that is beyond understanding?  Tell me atheist, what is your hope for the bleeding heart?  Is your own heart so wise that you have become your own god?  Are you the answer to the broken heart?  Or maybe your heart is callused and you just don’t care at all.

My Jesus stepped down from perfection and walked the streets of the rejected, he touched the sick, and he accepted the outcast.  He is the only God that steps down from his power and serves the hurting.  He is the only God that pursues me!  He is the only God that does not ask me to earn my salvation, he offers me a world beyond this hurt and the price is paid.

A man, unscrubbed and unapproved, entered the room.  He took the unbeating heart from the hands of this world and it began to beat.  There was nothing worldly wisdom could do, in all our riches and all our knowledge, the heart was dead.  Jesus took the heart of the child and she was alive.  But even more than her, MY heart was unbroken.  

Naked People in Heaven

Instant bad mood.  I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed.  The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs.  Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm.  The pain of waking up.  In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep.  (That is if we sleep in heaven.)

My world runs about me in fast forward.  Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home.  Why do I join the insanity of the crowd?  I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here.  We are all consumed with what does not matter.

Now.  What we want is now.  The admiring stares of those we don’t know.  Now.  The praise of what drives us around.  Now.  Winners of the race.  Packed pantries to overflowing.  Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet.  Fancy modern restaurants.  Everything that our neighbors have.  Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.

But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.

Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind.  Hey, I can respect that.  He likes to chose his words so that other people listen.  He doesn’t just fit into the crowd.  I respect that also.  But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train.  When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell.  Heaven has got to be boring.”  I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”

Heaven is better than being a billionaire.  There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold.  Heaven is better than pornography!  THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED!  And it will be a good thing!  No one will be embarrassed!  (There will be no sin in heaven.  Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin.  The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.)  Heaven is better than Hawaii.  All the food will be paid in full!  Heaven is better than Christmas!  That baby Jesus, he will be with us!  It doesn’t sound boring to me!

And what will not be in heaven?  Babies without mommies.  Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals.  There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken.  What have you been through?  What hurts?  What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!”  God will end it.  He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.

“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.”  Tim Keller.

So, look at this world.  Read the Bible.  Take a look at what is good in this world.  LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES!  SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL!  Get ready.  It is going to be the best party of all of eternity.  Don’t throw away your invitation.

Nothing You Can Do

I write.  I blog, I publish, I read, I journal, I write.  It is me.  Naturally, I write to my daughter.  On May 15, 2007, I began a journal, written to my girl.  Today, I cracked open those pages and read:

The good man brings good out of the good stored in his heart.  – Luke 6:45

My sweet Madison, above all, I pray that you will know God.  I pray that He will claim your heart and that you will passionately love and serve Him.  I pray that you will bring God glory and that you will enjoy Him.  I pray that Christ will store up good in your heart and that it will overflow to all those around you.  I want to use this journal to keep a record of my prayers and my memories of you.  I pray that you will realize how much Christ loves you and how much I love you!  ….I LOVE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MINE!  AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!  There is NOTHING you can do to keep me from loving you!  I never want you to sin, but you will.  And even if it hurts me, I will always love you!  I always want you to talk to me.  There is NOTHING you can’t tell me.  I LOVE YOU!

As I read these pages and as I read these words, the emotions and memories of love could not be contained.  As I wrote these words, I barely knew my Madison!  I did not know that her little head fuzz would grow to be beautiful blonde hair.  I did not know that she would spend her piggy bank money on Labor Day weekend, as an eight year old, and proudly purchase a snail for her aquatic collection.  I did not know that on a hike she would beg her Daddy to pick up a snake and “swing it above his head.”  I did not know that she would adore and strive to be like her older cousin Conner.  I did not know the creature of habit that I held in my arms that would struggle without knowing the day’s schedule.  How could I know she would crave mac and cheese or that she would fill her journal with drawings of animals?  I basically knew one thing about that little baby, SHE WAS MINE!  And I adored her!  I loved, and still love her so much that it is even hard for this writer to put it into words.

But something happened from the time she was an infant to the time my daughter grew to be a third grader hopping out of my car and running off to her classroom:  I got to know her a little more!  And something happens when you get to know someone a little more.

It would be the epic fail of a mother if I did not correct my daughter as she grew and learned and tested the limits.  We have all been around the little brats that complain and whine and get their little ways absolutely all the time.  They have never heard that little word that will eventually rock their world:  “no.”  These are the cute little babies that grow up to be useless to our society because, as Momma did, they think everyone is out to serve them.

Therefore, when I look at my journal of my declaration of love to my daughter and then when I have a morning when I had to discipline her for being sassy, has my love altered?  Have things changed since I have seen her quarrel with her friends?  Is it different now that she had an all out tantrum in the middle of Pet Smart because I would not allow her to adopt ANOTHER dog?  Have things changed now that I know the frustrations and the sacrifices of being a mother?  YES!

Absolutely things have changed since the day I wrote that journal page to my almost three month old little baby girl!  I LOVE HER MORE!  Love is an action.  Love is when I sacrifice my career to give my daughter what I think is best.  Love is when I do not get the house I want so that we can afford the school that is the best option for her.  Love is when I do not have what I want so that I can give her swim team and school supplies and allergy medicine and all the million other things that kids require.  Every loving parent has a particular sacrifice that fits completely to the specific needs and desires of our particular children.  Love is when I am patient while she is figuring out who she is.  Love is when I react to what is best for her, not best for my reputation.  And perhaps the greatest of all, love is forgiving.  Love is when she messes up, when she really is rude and selfish, and I forgive and I continue to love, loving more and bigger because my love has done something and grown over an obstacle it had never been over before.  Love is working out who she is, what she does, and who she is to become.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Madison is!

Why oh why God, why do you love me like you do?!  BECAUSE I AM HIS!  His love has done the ultimate!  FOR ME, he hung on the cross, was separated from the perfect relationship that he had known for all of eternity, and suffered an excruciating death because there was an obstacle to overcome to be with me and he did it.  I rejected him, I chose my own way, I was rude and selfish and I threw an outright tantrum because I did not get what I wanted.  And he forgave me.  And then he loved me still!  And I see that when I came to him as a little bitty baby Christian and he held me in his arms and he loved me, he proclaimed, “I have a plan for you.  It is going to hurt sometimes.  You are going to mess up.  But we are going to work out this salvation thing together.”  GRACE!  Oh, the grace of Jesus!

And I pick up my journal that he wrote to me and I love it and I soak up those words of the Bible, but he gave me even more than those holy words.  I have a daily relationship, living with a God that doesn’t just write about his love for me, I am living in that love each and every day.  And one day I will be completed and he will present me, completely holy, righteous, and redeemed and I will be forever who I am made to be.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Caroline is!

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!”