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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.
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!
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!
All readers gather here. To the Momma late at night, propped up on her pillow and promising herself just one more page. To the college student that is cramming for class because she could not peel away the romance novel. I am writing this to the man sitting in his car flipping the pages that needs to go into work.
I hate to give away my personal love life details, but here it is. James and I fight sometimes. I know, I know, but it is true. And maybe, just possibly, we had a little bit of one yesterday. But do you see that I said yesterday? As the day ended, I was at his side holding his hand and I thought, “If I would have known this morning, this is how it ended…”
Well, I think that a lot. HOW DOES IT ALL END? Does he get the girl? Does the army invade? Is there a baby in the future? Who wins the election? What’s she going to grow up to be? Do they ever find out? What does she decide?
Well, I’m not giving any spoiler alerts here. Click on the link below. Chose your method of reading and enjoy a free, yes free, book on me. Then get back to me and let me know what you think of the ending! http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood
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?!
I believe in goals. I believe in knowing what race you are in and running toward that finish line. I believe in knowing what road you are on and what the destination is.
Love. I want my love to be sticky.
Newlywed James and Caroline were magnificently in love with love. We promised and we dreamed but we were only tying on our tennis shoes and the gun had not even yet been shot. Counseled, researched, planned, and eager, we set out in the race of marriage and a life together. But we had not yet gotten shin splints, holes in our tennis shoes, and the weather was a perfect sixty-five degree sunny day.
Newlywed James and Caroline sat in the food court of the shopping mall, planning where the day and our life would take us. And then we got some of the best advice new love can be given.
Their age was old. The kind of old that can barely move and the movements are slow and thought through. She sat with white hair and a shriveled body in a wheelchair pushed by a white haired man, leaning over using her wheelchair as a cane. Her hand was held across her body and her fingers were gnarled. Their short walk from the door was an exercise in and of itself.
They sat. Sat at the table right beside us. He slowly and patiently moved the chair at the table and replaced it with her wheelchair. There was no talking, just slow movements. And then, she was left, left waiting. He, the more mobile one, departed and began a slow shuffle just a few feet away but each step was a goal accomplished. He achieved what he had set out for and slowly returned to her side.
He dipped the spoon into the cold, creamy vanilla. Their eyes met and they lovingly smiled at each other. He lifted the spoon to her lips, his hands were shaking with a tremor and uncontrolled movements. She opened her mouth as the spoon fluttered forward.
Love. Love fed her ice cream. Love was sticky all over her face. Their painstaking and exhausting mission was to set out and share an ice cream. After a couple of bites, she had it all over her face, sitting smiling, smiling at her love.
The cup was emptied. With great labor, he threw away the cup. With great pains, he returned the chair to the table. And they began their slow march to the exit.
James took my hand in his. We smiled at each other. We each had the same goal.
Now, the gun has been shot. We have gone through a few pairs of tennis shoes. We have helped each other up a few times. We run and run. Quitting is not an option. One day we will sit and have our celebratory ice cream and then we will pick ourselves up and soar one last time right through the finish line.
We never talked to them, but their actions spoke louder: Love can be sticky.
Who is this God I serve? Oh the debates, the complications, and the theories. Is he a God that changes? How can he be the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old? A God of Works, of Silence, of Wrath, of live and let live?
What is this label? Christian. Those that judge, hate, and do what they condemn? Who are these christians? Those that have it figured out? They know the right from wrong, live in nice houses, don’t curse and don’t hang around those that do?
Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak built a wooden “drop box” on the outer wall of his home. The box was designed to be a surrender location for unwanted babies. Babies with deformities, babies with special needs, babies that would have otherwise been abandoned to die alone find themselves in the arms of a loving father and mother. This is my Jesus, come broken hearted, come with your addictions and your demons, come with your deformed soul and find yourself in the arms of a loving Father.
But how can this loving father also be the God of Justice? Let me put it this way, how can he not? Would he be a God of love if he did not protect his children? When my daughter was two years old, she was taking a nap in her crib. I was rushing about the house getting things accomplished in my precious minutes of alone time. I was startled by the sound of someone in my daughter’s room. Undoubtedly, I heard the sound of her closet door close. With a vengeance and determination, I rushed into her room ready to defeat, protect, and destroy with my own two hands. When I discovered that my baby had crawled out of her bed for the first time, I melted back into her loving mother.
So, why all the hateful Christians? Because they are really messed up. So, why all the judgement? Because the grace of God is not understood. Why all the self righteous, white on the outside and dirty as hell on the inside? Because Pharisees are Satan’s great tool. Remember, they crucified Jesus.
So, I reword and repeat a question. What is the difference between a christian and a nonchristian? What is the difference between a believer and a nonbeliever? I am a christian. I am a believer. It means one thing. I am so screwed up that I know that I need Jesus. And that is the answer, a believer recognizes their nasty, dirty shortcomings and falls at the feet of Jesus. The christian is the tax collector refusing to lift his face to heaven and crying out to God to save him. The world sees the righteous man standing thanking God that he is not like this other man, but Jesus tells us that it is the sinner crying out to Jesus that will be saved.
Lead me to these people, I want to worship with them. I want to sing praises with those that know we have been saved from death and suffering. I want to join with survivors of cancer, survivors of addiction, survivors of sin and praise the God that healed us. I want to hunger for righteousness with those that long for it as I do. Lead me to the place where people know they are hopelessly screwed up and in need of a savior. It does not have to be a building. In fact, I suggest to you that most of the buildings labeled as churches are filled with those that think they have it all together. Jesus roamed without a home, he gathered under trees, on boats, and on mountain tops, not in a building.
Believers gather. Our deliver is coming in the clouds. Knock down the doors that stop us. Armies gather and take up your weapon. This world is not our home, do not find comfort here. Our sins do not stop us, they are a voice from which we have been saved. Build your drop boxes, label it for those in need. Grab a hand and lead someone hurting on the way. Sing a new song. Stand firm.
Take me to church. Take me to the feet of Jesus. Meet me there.
Years and years ago when Passion of the Christ was released, I did not want to see it. I am a christian. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he died upon the cross for my sins. I believed it, but I did not want to see it. I hide my eyes during violent scenes in movies. I think about it for days. I avoid the whole thing. So, when I heard that the movie was intensely, above and beyond violent, I checked that off my “to do” list.
And then people kept talking about it, they wouldn’t shut up about it. And I heard a man being interviewed on the radio. He said that he did not like torturous, violent scenes. Thank you. My thoughts exactly.
He said that he had heard from friends how bloody the movie was and they could not get the scenes out of his head. Thank you. I don’t want to see it either.
And then the final blow. He said that he realized that he needed that stuck in his head. I tilt my head, confused. Ummmm…say what?
He said that he needed to think every minute of every day of what Jesus did to save him from his sins.
And so, I saw the movie.
It was everything I expected. It is not the kind of movie you watch while eating popcorn. I wanted to hide my eyes for the, well, the whole entire movie, but the man’s words kept resonating in my ears. I needed to see this. I needed these pictures stuck in my head.
And so I watched. With a sick stomach, I watched as Jesus was repeatedly whipped. I watched with tears rolling down my cheeks as the nail pierced his body. I watched as he hung in agony.
And I watched as he died.
And then I thought to myself, “OK. I made it. I got through the movie.” And I wanted to get out of there. But it kept going.
“He’s dead. That was the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. I get the point, he’s dead. Let’s get out of here.”
And then the screen showed something that I was not expecting, it showed the empty tomb. The empty tomb!
HE IS ALIVE! I wanted to stand up and shout! HE IS NOT DEAD! HE IS ALIVE! JESUS IS ALIVE!
All the hurt was washed away. He was not bloody. My stomach did not hurt anymore. My sins are forgiven. Jesus conquered death and he has the victory. The movie is real. It is a true story. The debt is paid. The slave is set free, the blind can see, the sick are healed, all the pains of childbirth are gone. JESUS IS ALIVE!
All is quiet, quieter than reality. Sleeping, sleeping, nature sleeping. Sleeping in longer than ought. The grass, trees, the walkways, stones, and flowers, all are wrapped in a blanket, a blanket of snow. Sleeping, sleeping, nestled into bed. Sleeping, sleeping in like a Saturday morning.
Daddy gives a little nudge and a kiss on the cheek, “Wake up Mommy, Mother Nature, time to wake.”
She is no morning person. She grabs the snowy blanket and rolls over.
After a little more time, Daddy nudges again, “The children are getting antsy. Wake up dear.”
She turns and yawns, the sun rises in the sky.
The blanket is thrown back, melting, melting snow.
Arms lifted high, stretch, stretched high. Rising, rising plants that have been hidden.
Fingers spread in a last final stretch. Pop, buds pop and shake and jingle.
Step, step out of bed. The temperature rises.
Final stand. Animals invited, tweet, run, and play.
Mommy Nature is awake. All the human children dance and sing, it is finally, finally spring!