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!

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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

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.

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.

Take Me to Church

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.

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

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