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.

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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!

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!

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.

Why God?! Tell me why!

Suffering rocks our world!  “Why, oh why God?  How can you be a loving God and let people hurt like this?!”

We live our lives with the belief that God is here to serve us.  We believe we deserve to be healthy and wealthy and happy.  We envy and despise those that appear to have “it all made” and we blame God for not giving us more, for not giving us more money, a bigger house, a skinnier body, a smarter brain, a healthier body, a nicer spouse, a faster car, and more obedient children.  We live for the big ME.

Then, absolutely, of course suffering does not fit into that plan!  Scars are not ideal when seeking out the hottest body.  Medical bills are not the plan when seeking to get rich.  Serving a spouse in the early morning is out of the question when I am looking out for my own comfort.  Without a doubt parents yell at children because this isn’t really the way we thought parenthood would go.  It is no shock that divorce is the norm when forgiveness can only come from God.

While in the midst of blaming God for pain in suffering, while in the throws of hating God for ruining our plans, perhaps the only answer is:  IT IS NOT ABOUT ME!

If I can begin to fathom who God is and who I am, the question changes from “Why do I suffer?” to “God, why do you love me?”

Those that do not believe in God do not have to answer the question of “why?”  It is just the way nature is.  Deal with it.  But they also do not get the comfort of God.  While I may not always understand “why,” I do know that one day I will.

One day, not only will there be no more pain and suffering for those that love Christ, one day all the wrongs of this life will be undone.  One day parents will be reunited with babies they lost, one day God will not only heal cancer, he will will make my body perfect, God’s plan is that all children will be loved, in heaven there will be so much richness that even the streets are made with gold.  What is the best life you can think of?  Heaven is better than that!  One day I will live forever with a perfect body in a huge mansion, and I will live with and praise forever the King of Kings.  Why, oh why God, do you love me so much?!

Flying Nuggets

James is a logical mind and Madison’s Momma is a creative soul.  When God put that miracle baby in my belly, he made her special in more ways than one.  She is one of the very few people in this life that I have met that is both logical and creative.

James and I are the same in personality.  We like to be around people, but we are not extremely outgoing.  We like to go and do, with a premeditated plan.  We like time to do the things we do, laid back and low key.  And in our own way, we are each perfectionists.

Aside from personality, we are complete opposites.  James pays the bills, gets the oil changed, mows the lawn, solves Math problems, opens jars,  keeps everything, runs really fast, understands the engine in a car, can follow directions, manages people well, and reads manuals.

I, on the other hand, cook, vacuum, decorate, write poetry, change diapers, plant flowers, simplify closets, enjoy Yoga, wrap presents, host parties, journal, straighten my hair, write for sheer pleasure, shop for family Christmas presents, and cry during sweet commercials.

Bless the logical man that is madly in love with the artsy woman.  I love to decorate.  I love our home, but I am constantly making small little changes and discovering little (medium, or big) projects that I want to be done.  Example:  This last weekend, I decided that our brown wood table should really be chalky white.  The floors are a dark wood and the white would be a great popping contrast.  James concludes that the table functions just as it should, despite the color.  But, I know he loves me, because we loaded up the car and drove to an artsy little store that I adore.  (Yes, he hates.)  I picked out the color I wanted and James plops it down on the counter.  Being who he is, as he is handing over his payment, he adds to the cashier, I believe owner, “I am about to ruin a perfectly good table.”  I am sure that wasn’t the first time she heard that.

My amazing husband painted the table.  And it looks incredible!  Thank you babe!

So, what happens when us two folks have a baby?  We spend more money than we should on two Leopard Geckos, one fat guinea pig, a wandering kitty cat, and a fat lazy rescued dog.  We explain things to her using Science books.  She loves to go to work with her Daddy.  And she needs to understand things to accept them.  Like her Daddy.  But, when she is supposed to be asleep at 10:30 and her parents go to check on her, she has a flashlight and can’t put down “Little Princess.”  And when she is supposed to be brushing her teeth, I find her laboring away, scratching her pencil against page four of her new story she was suddenly inspired to write.  I can’t stop her because I know the feeling, being inspired with a story is not something you chose.  So, I let her scribble away and then proudly read her new story to me.  And the title, you got it, “Flying Nuggets.”

Conveying and sharing life, for the same reason that I read novels and biographies, we all love a story and we all know that other type:  Logical or Creative.  And as I want to know and love my family, so do you, and we are in this thing called LIFE together, however we approach it.

Grace was Everything

Dad stared out at the snow and talked. He seemed more to be talking to himself.  “Grace was everything.”  There was a little bit of a pause and then he continued. He never looked at me and the story rolled out like it played itself constantly through his head every day. “I wanted to be rich. I was on my way to being a successful pastor and writer. I didn’t want to get married. Then I saw your mother. I was at a business meeting with a television agent. There was a live band playing in the restaurant where we were meeting. She was singing. She was in a band. She was from a wealthy family, but she was wild and crazy. Heaven knows what she saw in me, but I could not refuse her. Somehow, all my plans went out the window. She wanted nothing more than a big family. You, David, Fern, you made her the happiest woman in the world.”

When he mentioned me, that was the first time that he looked at me.

I smiled. Where was this coming from and why had I never heard this story before?  I could not imagine my Father in this way. I was intrigued, “Go on.”

Dad continued, “We had the perfect life. I never knew how good I had it.”  A tear rolled down his cheek. Usually, my Father was very stoic, I could not recall a time I had ever seen him cry. He was a tall man, standing 6’4″. He was rather slender. He kept his hair short and the only way I ever saw emotion in my Father before this was that he would put both his hands on his head and rub the top of it with one hand.

He was rubbing his head now and he continued, “We went on vacation.  We were driving to Texas.  We were going to stay with my sister, Benny.  We had been traveling since early morning and it was late afternoon.  We stopped at a restaurant to grab some lunch.  We never ate out during those days.  It was something special.  You were five years old.  Fern was a baby.  David was nine years old.  We were in the parking lot.  Your mom was singing.  She was always singing.  You were buckled in the middle and your sister was on one side and your brother was on the other.”

Dad stopped and looked at me.  He did not look at me like my father would but he looked at me as a man that wanted help.

I had never heard this story.  I saw the desperation in his eyes.  I did not know what to say.  “Dad, you can stop.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”  I wanted him to stop.  What good did it do for him to relive this pain?

He continued, “Fern’s bottle fell out of the car and went rolling across the parking lot.  David jumped out of the car to grab it.”  He paused for just a couple of seconds.  I felt relieved because I thought he was going to end the story there.

But then he continued, “Your mother saw David running across the parking lot, she yelled, ‘David, Come back here.’ And she took off after him.  She ran without looking.  A car had seen David and stopped.  But when David stopped on the other side, it continued.  The driver had not looked and seen your mother there.  Then.”  His lip was quivering.  He was so desperate, “Suddenly, she was laying on the pavement.  David dropped the bottle.  It broke and splattered milk all over her body.  He started yelling, ‘Mommy!  I’m sorry!  I was trying to help!  Mommy!  Mommy!'”  My dad continued to stare into my eyes.  I had never experienced this intimacy with my father before.  Then he continued, “Where was I?”  At this point he was sobbing and it was more than I could bear to see him like this.

“Where was I?”  He continued again.  “For the life of me, I can’t remember what I was doing.  One minute we were all getting in the car and the next minute she was laying on the ground.  There was blood everywhere.  There was so much blood.  I ran and I grabbed her.  She was already gone.  I cried to her, “Sing to me.  Keep singing!”  Then he pleaded with me, “How was I supposed to be happy after that?  I was not fit to be a father.”

“Dad, it’s ok.”  I tried my best to console him.

“No.  No, it’s not ok.  I am so sorry.  I failed you.  I let your mother down.  I see that now.  I don’t know why I couldn’t see it before.  I was so drowned in my own sorrow.  But I still had you.  I had her children to take care of and I did not do it.  I was not the father that she would have wanted me to be.  I’m sorry Claire.  I’m so sorry.”

He tilted his head to the side and he tried his best to hold back more tears.  Then he reached our his finger and affectionately touched my nose.  “You have her nose.  When you were a child.  I looked at you and saw her nose.  I am sorry I never told you.”

This is a selection from my novel.  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase Spiritual Flesh and Blood

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

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