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!

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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

This is How it Ends

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

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.

This is OUR FAULT, Not Theirs

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This article is written to Conservative Christians.  It is written for people that oppose homosexual marriage. All others, come back tomorrow, or read on if you wish, but I am addressing those that are in opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision to make gay marriage the law of the land. If you stop here, I hope to see you tomorrow and I love you.

To: Caroline and Conservative Christians,

If you have a problem with the Supreme Court’s decision to applaud gay marriage, if you disagree with gay flags bombarding Facebook and all other social media, if you see gay marches and shake your head, THIS IS YOUR FAULT!

Do not quote Bible verses, do not shout at them that they are sinning, do not cry that it is their fault that our morals are headed for destruction, do not yell that every TV show has its symbolic gay couple. This is our world! This is our Ninevah, our platform for the Gospel, our people in need.  These people do not believe the Bible, ofcourse they do not follow it!

It is US to hold accountable!  It is the fault of the church for not leading the world in love. Why don’t these people look at us and say that they can not disagree with how we give to the poor and open our homes to prostitutes and widows and orphans and the rejected of society?  Why are we flipping on sitcoms and valuing entertainment above morals?  Why are our children undisciplined, untrained, and just as bratty as everyone else’s?  Why are our marriages crumbling and falling apart?  Why don’t these people look at us and see something different?  Why don’t they say that our marriages last and we work hard and we give and we love?  Why don’t they want to be like us?  Because we are just like them!  Why don’t they know us by our love?

No!  They know us for being hypocritical, and we are!  They know us for judging, instead of leaving that to Jesus. They know us for buying a house and closing our doors and hiding in groups of those like us and yelling and hating anyone that is not like us.

But “they” are wrong?  But you are not afraid to speak the truth?  But what do I expect christians to do?  I expect them to be like Christ.

What did Jesus do?  He lived and breathed and ate and hung out with the sinners. When he said it, when he condemned, it was to the people of the church. Ouch!  He loved. That is what he did!

He called Christians to be different. Are we?  Do we believe that marriage should be one man and one woman?  Then live it!  How is your marriage?  Is it a model for the world?  Is it something that others want?

Not me?  Not us?  Not my church?  Look at what these Christians did?  GREAT!  Prove me wrong!  Yes, I know the world hates Christians and I know the Truth will be despised.  But guess what friends?  That is not what is happening here.  Here we have failed.  Here we have been hypocritical, we have been lazy, we have been hateful, we have NOT been a light, we have NOT been love.

So, what do we do?  And that is the beauty of the gospel:  GRACE!  We start now, new and forgiven and we LOVE.  We love these people that Jesus loved.  We love the world that God called us to go into and we spread his Good News.  We love the people Jesus died for and we change what we have been and we change who we are.  And how do we do that?  Ahh, beautiful, perfect, holy, and righteous Jesus, come now and LOVE through me!  Make me your hands and feet and reach this world in need!

The answer is the cross.

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