No Judge Coffee Season

Summer days are gone, with Fall days sneaking in the cooler weather. And now, I carry my coffee with pride. Coffee pride. 

Ya see, I am a year round, day long, coffee drinker. In the heat of the hottest summer days, I am pushing the big cup on my Keurig or running through the drive thru ordering a large black coffee like a true addict.

In the 100 degree summer sun, I try to hide my cup while sweat is beading up on my forehead and I pop some gum to hide my coffee breath. It is a problem. It is real. 

But with the cold wind blowing and long sleeves showing and boots popping up in the general public, I order my tall black with pride and sit and sip while hugging that mug and taking in the warmth of the steam escaping. 

I carry that mug with pride. Cheers to you coffee drinkers. And here is to the season where it is acceptable to be open with my coffee problem, I mean drinking. So, one more black coffee for me at any time of the day. Coffee pride. 

God’s Prayer

My Jesus, the King above all kings, even the mention of your name is to be worshiped. Your plans for this world will happen. I want you to rule in my life the same as you rule in heaven. I have what I need, thank you. Help me share, rather than being selfish. Forgive me for my past mistakes, I want to learn from them and change. Help me remember my mistakes and keep from judging other people. With your power in me, I choose not to give in to the temptations of this world that entice me. God Almighty is the Forever King. He will be praised forever!  Amen. 

  

I have entered my novel into a contest. If you like what you read here, please visit the link below and download my book FOR FREE! Each download gives me a vote. THANK YOU! I hope you enjoy what you read.

http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood

A Link to My Longest Writing Ever

I have entered my novel into a contest.  If you like what you read here, please visit the link below and download my book FOR FREE!  Each download gives me a vote.  THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoy what you read.

http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood

Naked People in Heaven

Instant bad mood.  I search around for my screaming phone on the floor under my bed.  The damn alarm clock continues to scream at the top of its lungs.  Slowly gaining control of my sleeping body, I step out of bed, pick up my phone and turn off the alarm.  The pain of waking up.  In heaven, I will roll over and enjoy the waking up process just as much as snuggling into bed and drifting off to sleep.  (That is if we sleep in heaven.)

My world runs about me in fast forward.  Honking impatiently at the slow moving car, spending what we don’t have for the newest item that hits the shelves, driving around our children to some place other than home.  Why do I join the insanity of the crowd?  I do believe in busying oneself with hard work, but that is not what is happening here.  We are all consumed with what does not matter.

Now.  What we want is now.  The admiring stares of those we don’t know.  Now.  The praise of what drives us around.  Now.  Winners of the race.  Packed pantries to overflowing.  Fashonable jewelry on our bodies and extra in the closet.  Fancy modern restaurants.  Everything that our neighbors have.  Our neighbors that we want to be like, not the ones outside of our neighborhood.

But all we think about is now and we laugh at anyone that suggests otherwise.

Ted Turner is famous for a lot of things, one of them is stating what is on his mind.  Hey, I can respect that.  He likes to chose his words so that other people listen.  He doesn’t just fit into the crowd.  I respect that also.  But I wish that someone would tell him, and a whole lot of the rest of the world, that they are on the wrong train.  When Turner quoted, “I’d rather go to hell.  Heaven has got to be boring.”  I wish someone would have asked him, “What do you want most in life?”….”It will be in heaven.”

Heaven is better than being a billionaire.  There is money to spare, Hey, let’s pave these streets with gold.  Heaven is better than pornography!  THERE WILL BE PERFECT BODIES WALKING AROUND NAKED!  And it will be a good thing!  No one will be embarrassed!  (There will be no sin in heaven.  Pornography is a destructive, cruel sin.  The point is, naked bodies will be good….and everywhere.)  Heaven is better than Hawaii.  All the food will be paid in full!  Heaven is better than Christmas!  That baby Jesus, he will be with us!  It doesn’t sound boring to me!

And what will not be in heaven?  Babies without mommies.  Wheelchairs won’t be needed in heaven, or medicine, or hospitals.  There will not be divorce, no one’s heart will be broken.  What have you been through?  What hurts?  What tugs at your heart and makes you cry out, “That is not right!”  God will end it.  He will make all the wrongs undone and he will wipe away that tear.

“Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we want is coming.”  Tim Keller.

So, look at this world.  Read the Bible.  Take a look at what is good in this world.  LORD, FIX MY PRIORITIES!  SET MY MIND ON THINGS ETERNAL!  Get ready.  It is going to be the best party of all of eternity.  Don’t throw away your invitation.

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!”

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

Celebrate!  I am getting OLD!

Happy birthday to me! I am 34 years old!  I am so thankful to be growing old with my family because the alternative is that I would not be, the other option is that I would not be having this birthday. 

Ya see, every year I count up from the age of 25.  I have lived 9 years longer than I was supposed to. I have lived to hear:  “You should live a normal life span.”  I have lived to “this is not life threatening.”  I BEAT CANCER!  I am a 19 year survivor of a Great War with a mighty opponent. 

Nine years longer than I was supposed to. What is 9 years?  I have an 8 year old daughter. An eight year old daughter that is going to impact the world with her love of animals, her joy of being surrounded with diverse people, her brain that never forgets anything that has left her with a wealth of knowledge that grows and grows, her sweet relationship with her Lord and Savior that is mature beyond her years, wisdom because she chooses right, beauty that attracts others to her, skills of hard work and determination, and enough love to circle this globe. 

I know. I know why I am alive today. Because my Jesus loves me beyond what I have ever loved myself and he gave me a gift that I did not deserve. He made me the mother of a miracle girl and let me watch his beautiful plan unfold. And why do I have to suffer so much?  Without a doubt, one of the reasons is so that I will appreciate so much!  If a doctor never told me that I would not live past 25, then I would never have been in amazing wonder at the irony of growing brand new life inside my body at the age of 25!  Not only, did I not meet death, I met new life, new precious life that would change me forever!

Happy birthday!  I have a life to celebrate!  A beautiful life that is more wonderful than I ever planned!  And my birthday gift?  PEACE!  Whatever this life holds, I can trust the one in control. He has never let me down and he never will. And this world is just a preview of the real thing. The breath taking sunset over Hawaii, the inspiring blue whale surfacing, family love, delicious fruit, my happiest day, it doesn’t begin to compare to the heaven I will live in for eternity!  Eternity!  I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!

Summer Promises

The gray has turned green and yellow.  The sun is so hot, I pulled out the sprinkler to water my newly planted flowers. Madison put on her bathing suit and ran over the grass with the water falling down on her. I love summer nature!

Being outside makes our bellies hungry and we slice open a fresh watermelon. Fire up the grill, pop open a drink, and slice up some summer veggies. My girl and I will hold a contest to see who is the fastest at shucking corn and we will have to shoo away Tucker (our doggie) who would like to participate and snatch an ear of corn. I love summer food!

Two more days of school!  Two more days of waking up at 6:15.  I will set the alarm for an hour later, or maybe a little more. I will roll out of bed and grab a throw and a fresh cup of coffee and sit and write. My sleepyhead will join me just a little later and we will sit and cuddle. When we chat a bit and begin to wake up and plan our day, we will make some pancakes. I will add bananas to mine.  She will take her’s plain.  I love summer mornings!

Pretty soon I will write about late nights watching fireworks, summer weddings and my crazy dance moves, the perfection of a fire pit and a backyard full of cousins, and Madison swimming with dolphins!  The dates are set, family awaits our travel, it’s going to be a celebration to write about!  I love summer promises!

Love Covers

In the preschool years, my second home was Chick-fil-A. Madison could spend hours exhausting herself on that little playground with the excitement of new friends joining her every few minutes and I could sit (when you are a parent, just sitting is such a beautiful idea!)…I could just sit and savor a cup of coffee and admire my sweet girl living life. 

One particular day, we were in the midst of this routine. In the booth beside me, an (assuming) father was going through this same schedule, only his was not going as smoothly. 

His toddler was standing in the booth beside him holding a reciently acquired helium balloon. He stood beside his father, who was eating a chicken sandwich, and continued to bop his father in the head with the balloon.  Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop.  In the same spot, right on top of his head. Bop. Bop. Take a bite. Bop. Bop. The dad had a blank stare into the abyss as he continued to bite and chew. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop. Bop…..

And I giggled a little to myself. I knew EXACTLY what that father was thinking. He was thinking:  “I know where my son is. He is not hurting himself. He is not making a mess. AND I get to eat my lunch.”  Bop. Bop. Bop. 

Ya see, PARENTS LOVE THEIR CHILDREN!  And we let SO MUCH go, just slide by unacknowledged or remembered because LOVE COVERS A MULTITUDE OF WRONGS!  

I am a mother!  THERE IS NOTHING, I really mean NOTHING that I would not do for my girl!  Now, I am the first to admit that being a mom is not easy!  The whole process starts out with pain, followed by lack of sleep, a continuation of public embarrassment, the most expensive cost I have, constant wiping of another’s nose, growing to whine when she doesn’t get her way, talk back WAY before I expected THAT, leave toys for me to step on, complain about a home cooked meal, and acquire pets that I must care for!!!!  Oh how the list goes on!  And then it goes on some more!

WHY, OH WHY?!  Why did I do this on purpose?!  Why do I consider her, alongside my husband, my greatest blessing?!  

There is one reason, and only one reason:  LOVE.

I love her!  Down in the depths of my heart!  More than I care what people think about me, more than new clothes, more than sleep, more than my freedom of being spontaneous without having to hire and pay a babysitter, more than my prebirth body, more than money, more than my career, more than anything I am or anything this world has to offer!

So, while I think my girl is pretty great (SHE IS AMAZING!) being a Mom can be downright HARD!  But the truth of the Bible that “Love covers a multitude of wrongs.”  I LOVE MY GIRL past the hardships of motherhood, clear past the burden of living with and raising a human being, clear up to the level of I AM THE MOST FORTUNATE PERSON IN THE WORLD TO BE ALLOWED THE PRIVILIDGE OF BEING MADISON’S MOMMA!  Thank you Jesus for blessing me with Madison!  

And being a Momma has helped to teach me one of the biggest lessons of my entire life:  how much my Heavenly Father loves me!  Take my analogy and multiply it by a hundred, then again by a thousand, then a million, then keep doing that all day and it is only a tiny picture of what Christ has done for me!!!  

My shortcommings are far past bopping him on the head with a balloon and waking him up in the middle of the night. My sins are the painful, ugly ones. And my Father, he is perfect, literally perfect!  Knows everything, can do anything, made everything perfect!  And for some reason, he chose to bring me into this world, raise me, and prepare for me a perfect heaven!  

His love, the only perfect love, paid the ultimate sacrifice to cover my multitude of wrongs!  THANK YOU FATHER!  I LOVE YOU!

My Cancer Fairytale

Life is a story.  The setting is loving parents and all the possibilities of the world, an ugly boy abandoned on the street tortured by all he encounters, or perhaps a past you would like to forget.  And we must have a conflict.  Cinderella is all the more beautiful for the cruelty she endured, Snow White can only be rescued by her prince because the witch seeks to kill her, and a story is not a fairytale unless there is a conflict.

Suffering does not always feel like a fairytale.  And that is why it is called “conflict.”  The world deals with suffering in numerous ways.  When confronted with pain, those that never acknowledged God before, then curse him.  Buddhism deals with pain by seeking stoicism.  Atheist run from pain, seeing that it serves no purpose.  Only in Christianity can pain and suffering be embraced.  What in the hell do I mean?

This:  Jesus Christ was a man of sorrows.  He wept bloody tears, he overturned tables in the temple, he cursed a tree that did not bear fruit, he cried upon the death of his friend, he welcomed little children, he forgave, and he loved.

The Bible says that this world is screwed up.  The Bible says that this is not the way things are supposed to be.  Is your life at peace?  Praise God!  Life is emotion!  Cry for sorrows, celebrate accomplishments, hate evil, and love abundantly!  We were made to FEEL life!

My conflict is cancer.  I can not tell you about my life without that word creeping into the story.  Why?  Because it has been the biggest struggle of my life.  And do you know what?  IT HAS MADE ME STRONGER!  Cancer came into my life at the age of 15 and guess what?  I am an 18 year survivor!

I have cried out, I have questioned, I have had my own little (ok big) pity party…AND I HAVE COME OUT STRONGER!  In this world we will have trouble, we may get thrown into that fiery furnace, but I can say without a doubt that Jesus has walked with me through that fire!

Hardships, Suffering, Conflict, IS THAT ALL YOU’VE GOT?!  When marriages fall apart, Mine is a rock!  There is absolutely nothing that no other man has to offer me!  The best a man can do is promise and James has fulfilled that promise!  He has loved me through sickness and health!  He has provided for me despite hardship.  Hard?  We have overcome impossible!  Together we have seen God walk us through a journey that we never chose and come out of it all amazingly blessed!  Love happens during hard times.  I am loved and I love James more than I love myself!

I have cried out to God in agony over my daughter that I would gladly give my life for and I have seen God answer my prayers.  Madison’s talents, love of people and love of life, imagination, curiosity, and brilliant mind overwhelm me with thanksgiving and love.

When trials come my way, I know I can do hard.  I can suffer and come out of it stronger than ever!

Conflict, cancer, it is all part of the fairytale.  I am living my happily ever after.  And one day, I will never cry again.  One day, Jesus will call me home to perfection in eternity.  I will eat whatever I want and my body will be perfect.  I will never worry for my daughter ever again.  There will be no panic of evil that may come our way.  My home will be a mansion and I may paint the walls with new colors only to be found in heaven.  Life will be perfect.  Eternal Life will be the very best HAPPILY EVER AFTER.