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

flag for post

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.

cross

Apprentice God

My self-serving, instant gratification, arrogant, self-righteous humanity demands explanations.  What?  When?  Where?  And Why?  If I don’t understand it and put in my vote, ain’t gonna happen.

I have been well taught by the culture that surrounds me and when there is a God that I can not understand, uhhh….not really my thing.

What do I not understand?  I do not understand that babies die.  I do not understand that someone would devote their life to missionary work, pray over a dying father and God allows them to die.  I do not understand that mothers get cancer, I personally do not understand that.  I do not understand that children see their mothers raped.  I do not understand…A LOT!

And then God asks me to accept?  He asks me to trust?  He asks me to follow?  He asks me to worship him?!  I DO NOT LIKE THAT!

And that is the very answer.  I AM NOT GOD.  I have my plans of how I think the world should look.  I have my plans for my life, and trust me, it did not include cancer!  I have my plans for prayer being answered.  I have my plans for babies being rescued.  But God is not here to serve me.  He does not have to get my approval.  He is not my apprentice.  That is a god that I create.  Hard to swallow, but I am never asked to understand.

I can hear the insults now:  Dumb Christians!  That is a fairytale!

And I hear another response:  I only follow what I can understand.

Really?!  Do you get all the government inside scoop?  No?  Then you should live your life in fear.  Are you a specialist of every disease, do you understand all the parts of the body?  How could you ever trust a doctor?  Did you build your own home?  How can you trust it will not fall on your head while you sleep?

Then how can you understand the meaning of the universe?  How can you impart your morals on all around you?

Can you just accept that you do not, and you never will, know and understand everything?

Elisabeth Elliott, that saw the death of her murdered husband, she dedicated her life to missionary work to see her life’s work washed away in a flood and her only translator die at her hands puts it this way, “Those hands, that keep a million worlds from spinning into oblivion, were nailed motionless to a cross for us.  Can you trust him?

Self Righteous Arrogance

It was pride that led an angel to turn against the God that HE KNEW formed the Universe, that HE KNEW was all powerful, and that HE KNEW deserved all praise.  Satan got so full of himself that he turned from God and LOOK WHAT IT LED TO!

Perhaps that is why the greatest trick up Satan’s sleeve is pride.  Just look at this world!  We are/I am a bunch of self righteous pride.  Oh, Don’t you dare say that ABOUT ME!  Oh, Don’t you dare try to correct me!  Oh no you did not just cut ME off in traffic!  You did not just say that to ME, do you know who I am?!  Why do you expect ME to help?  We/I are so full of ourselves!

Father, take me down a notch!  Ouch!  That prayer hurts!  And I don’t like to hurt!  BUT I WOULD RATHER HELP!  I want to stop focusing on ME!  Lord, open my eyes to other’s around me!

“They will know we are Christians by our love.”  DOES ANYONE KNOW I AM A CHRISTIAN?!

Lord, bring others in need to me and give me no other option but to help them!  Let’s start a revolution!  Let the world say, “Who are these people?!”  Make it obvious that we are different!  We think of other people before ourselves, we wait patiently, speak kindly, are not quick to anger, help those in need, WE ARE CHRISTIANS.

The Patience of Jesus

It is rarely said of me that I am patient.  When I decide I want something, I want it now!

When I look at pop culture, I see I am in good company.  Everyone longs to be thin and fit and yet the number one health problem in America is obesity.  Why?  Because thin and fit takes time and we choose instant gratification of fast food and TV.  We spend money instead of save, yell at our children for petty offenses, curse traffic, check our phones a dozen times in the grocery line, and blow our top on complete strangers.

When 1 Corinthians 13 states that “love is patient,” I bow my head in humility.

When Jesus asks me to be patient, does he even know what he is talking about?!  Does he know how hard that is?!

Oh, he does.  Jesus lived his life knowing the cross was coming.  He was a man of sorrows that suffered every day of his life and HE IS GOD!  He could have, rightfully, thrown in the towel at any point and gone home to heaven.  He stood in the desert just before the point of starvation (that is waaay past hangry) and was patient even with Satan while he was tempted.  He could have blown him to smithereens with just a thought and yet he was patient enough to stand before him and endure the arrogance of Satan himself, patiently awaiting a victory that isn’t really what I would have had in mind – the cross.  Jesus sat at the Passover meal with his disciples explaining to them that he was about to die a torturous death and they quarreled over who would be the greatest among them in the kingdom of heaven.

Yes!  I guess when the Bible commands me to be patient, Jesus knows what that means.  God, I need you!  I love.  I want to love better.  Please give me patient love that comes only from you!

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?!

I am Not Me

Fashion waxes and wanes, the memories of trends captured in pictures.  Pictures taken from a camera, not a phone.  The comfort of childhood clothes, a closet full of my profession, maternity pants, weight gained and weight lost.  My dress is admired or my outfit is sloppy.  The daily additions and cancelations, I take them off and I put them on.  The differences because of a choice of clothes that people see in me.

The mirror tells the truth of lines that once were not there.  My grandmother in heaven is remembered by her voice calling out my young pudgy tummy.  Baby fat now carries a new meaning.  My tattoos are scars, they each have a story.  Some written and shared, others written on my heart.  This body grows and this body changes.  Memories of who I used to be.  Simple things accomplished that now can not be repeated.  I just tell of them, of the body that was attached to me.

To the man that looks approvingly or the lady that judges me.  I speak to people that are my friends and that are my enemies.  What you see is not.  It is not me.  It changes daily.  Slowly growing and fading, the debt of humanity.  Your dirty smile or your nose turned up goes unnoticed to me because in simple changes that mean nothing at all, your expression would change toward me.

I take off the years like a sweater and my hair will fade to gray like the taking off and putting on of earrings.  Shoes changed is my health fading.  A belt applied is the years passing by.  My body changes like my wardrobe.  But, what you see is not.  It is not me.

Judge me by my character.  The ease of the first glance does not do justice to the soul’s stance.  Let’s be friends and chat and smile and cry. Let’s live before we die.  Because living is forever but this body is and never will be me.  My soul will live for eternity.

The Great Damned One

The peak of the mountain, tallest in the world.  At the point, the tip, he holds me over the edge.  Held by his claw, in his grip, I wriggle and squirm.  Terror seizes my mind, my heart beats like a drum.  The beating of the drum, the battle call.  There is a whisper in the wind.  A cold north wind blows my hair and chills my body.

He screams a high pitched scream, grabbing my dangling body that he is holding over the ledge, cupping his two hands over my ears.  But the north wind blows and the whisper can not be shut out.  And I know.

My closed eyes open.  He knows that I know.  I know that my one hands controls him.  I know fear is his manipulating tool.  But now I know, I know fear is a bluff.  If I fall, I fall into the arms of Jesus.

I know.  I know that if I mourn, I will be comforted.  My tears will be wiped away.  My failing body will be healed, my poor spirit will be lifted up and I will be given power.  I will inherit.  I will reign.

Satan holds the greatest bluff of all time.  The ending is known, God almighty holds the victory over the war.  Great powerful one, Christian, claim your power.  Call the bluff.