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Age creased the hands of the surgeon. A large build, tall, athletic, a picture of health. Without even the knowledge of his resume, his deep voice accompanied with a warm smile, he demanded the upmost of attention. But in this moment, weakness consumed him.
His knees, clothed in scrubs, bent on the surgical floor of the hospital. The bright lights produced a spotlight, the beep of the monitors was the soundtrack. His healthy body held all the weakness of the world in his hands.
Place your two fists together and you see the size of your heart. Held in his large hands were two small fists placed together. In his hands he held a red bleeding muscle. In his hands he held a heart, the human heart of a four year old little girl.
Little heart, beat. Little heart, live. Grow and smile and meet new people. Sound out words, graduate from kindergarten, and draw a flower for your Momma. Little heart, hold hands with your BFF, kiss your aunt when she comes to visit. Little heart, open Christmas presents, play with neighbors, and learn to ride a bike. Little heart, hug your Daddy’s neck and throw a tennis ball to your puppy. Little heart, beat, please beat.
No one wants to speak of the gone wrong.
“Be positive. Focus on the good.” Hide in humor, watch TV, focus on number one, purchase therapy and live. COEXIST.
My favorite novel of all time is Les Miserables. I hate the setting of the dirty streets during the French Revolution, therefore setting the perfect scene for “The Miserable.” Oh Fantine! Oh miserable Fantine, brokenhearted, abandoned by your love, never able to mother your child, raped, and dying in starving agony. What do positive thoughts have to offer to Fantine. Fantine is real! She is the modern day Syrian refugee running for her life, she is the Father held captive awaiting his execution in the hands of ISIS, Fantine is the broken hearted wife uncovering her husband’s Ashley Madison account, Fantine is the child leaving his overdosed mother behind in the dirty government housing as he walks on the bus to face the daily cruelty of his peers, Fantine surrounds us! Oh, I have been Fantine!
Oh cruel world! What is our weapon to face you? How do we survive our dreams that can not be and the storms we can not weather? Life has killed the dream.
Oh Allah, where is your extended Jean Valjean hand? Your scales condemn the downtrodden. Hollywood, have your riches given you peace that is beyond understanding? Tell me atheist, what is your hope for the bleeding heart? Is your own heart so wise that you have become your own god? Are you the answer to the broken heart? Or maybe your heart is callused and you just don’t care at all.
My Jesus stepped down from perfection and walked the streets of the rejected, he touched the sick, and he accepted the outcast. He is the only God that steps down from his power and serves the hurting. He is the only God that pursues me! He is the only God that does not ask me to earn my salvation, he offers me a world beyond this hurt and the price is paid.
A man, unscrubbed and unapproved, entered the room. He took the unbeating heart from the hands of this world and it began to beat. There was nothing worldly wisdom could do, in all our riches and all our knowledge, the heart was dead. Jesus took the heart of the child and she was alive. But even more than her, MY heart was unbroken.
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.
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!
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!”
This article was published in my book, Beautiful Life with Cancer, Hope During the Hard Times in December 2014.
As I lay down in my bed, I am out. I almost always hit the pillow and it takes me about three minutes and I am asleep. Often times, parents of little babies and young children teach them bedtime by setting a routine. Baby gets a bath, read to them, sing one song, and hugs and kisses. Well, (you can call me weird but I already know that) but I believe I have done this with myself. Ofcourse I have the getting ready process. I will spare you that. It is not as simple and soothing as the baby’s routine. But I hit the pillow and I start running a list through my head. My two most popular lists: 1. What are the decoration changes that I want to make to my house? 2. What would I change about myself? Fifteen. No fourteen. There are fourteen things I would change.
1. I wish my hair was a little thicker. 2. No contacts. Perfect vision would be nice. 3. No scars around my neck. 4. No itchy back. That is right. No itchy back. See…I am the lucky one million billion that has a rare condition within a rare condition of MEN2A in which my body deposits protein on the top of my back. It drives me insane! It itches all the time. All the time! Almost daily, I scratch it until it bleeds. I have done this since I was a baby. I wish I did not have that. 5. Stronger arms. I work on it. I do. I go to the gym when I can and lift weights or as of now, or recently, I have been trying Yoga. But I’ve been a little weak lately so I don’t push it by going to the gym. So, I wish I wash’t sick. Wish I could go to the gym. And wish I had stronger arms. 6. No scars on my stomach. 7. No stretch marks. Nah. I look at those and wish they weren’t there and then I remember why I have them. Actually, call me crazy, I’ll keep those. Worth the memory. So, 7. Thinner legs. (Reinsert gym explanation here and add to it that I do not eat sugar. Ok. Yes, I do eat fruit. And yes, I know that carbs turn to sugar in my body. Restate that. I do not eat desserts. Why? There is one reason to eat desserts: They taste good. There are four reasons not to: sugar makes me gain weight, not good for my teeth, makes me, and everyone, sick more often by weakening my immune system, and lowers my energy. Yes, that was absolutely too much to say within parenthesis.) 8. Perfect teeth. I hope you think my teeth look perfect, but the front two have crowns from chipping them on the swimming pool. 9. No veins on my legs. 10. Better singing voice. (If I could insert a clip of me singing here, you would agree.) 11. No scar on the back of my leg. 13. No Addison’s Disease. 14. No cancer.
There is my list. Sure. Everybody has a list. But I do try to be really content with my body, but these are the things that I hate. I really do hate. And about 12 out of 14, at least, are here for life. Nothing I can do about it. About half of these nobody sees. And the other half, I try to hide most of the time. Prime example: You will not find me in any singing group or trying out for American Idol. But, I go to buy life insurance, and I can’t. I go to the doctor for allergies and I have to continue my medication list on the back because it won’t all fit in the lines provided, and then the doctor wants to send me for scans and tests and chat extra long because of my history, but excuse me doctor, I have a sinus infection. But they don’t want to give me anything for that. And then I go to pick up Prednisone at the pharmacy for the one hundredth time in a row and the pharmacist feels the need to tell me that I shouldn’t take so much because of the side effects. Thank you, I know them well. But the alternative isn’t so good. It’s death. And then I read an article in the newspaper in the medical section from a doctor that says no one can survive with both their adrenal glands removed. Well, he should do some research, or I should introduce myself because I am going on ten years now.
I try to find light in my rare condition. It is a little neat when the student intern at Duke is so excited over meeting me and reviewing my case that he can not hide his excited giddiness. It is kinda cool to be able to carry on a medical conversation, using all the right jargon, with friends that are doctors and surgeons, but If I got to pick, I would choose a different claim to fame. What can I really do with, “a really extremely rare form of MEN2A” and always being the exception even within the rules of the disease? Pretty cool to be the exception in the medical handbook or the specialists’ conference? Ehh.
Well, I am asleep by now and I never go through the explanations with myself while I am laying in bed. But if I didn’t have that, I’d be pretty pleased with myself. If I didn’t have all of that, it’d be great to sit up in the morning and be able to see what’s going on without popping in those contacts. And I’d probably join some band, just for the fun of it. And I’d sing to more people than just my seven year old. And my husband. And my sisters. And anyone else I get comfortable with. And anyone else who is around after I’ve had a drink or two. And I’d wear skirts, not just in the summer time when I’m outside, but also when it is a little chilly outside in the Fall to show off my legs. And I would be in and out of the doctor’s office with my sinus infection medicine. And I wouldn’t always scratch my damn back. And who knows? Maybe I would be a whole lot less content. And maybe I would have less joy. And maybe I wouldn’t appreciate my family and the days that I’ve got. Because it isn’t really myself that makes me happy anyway. So, ehh, I’ll just keep it all. So, I am oh so sorry. Please exude my oh so messed up body. That’s just me.
Caroline is published! I have entered my novel into a contest and for a short time you can download it for the low cost of FREE! Please click on the link below to read the book Spiritual Flesh and Blood for free, which also gives me one vote when you download. THANK YOU!
All readers gather here. To the Momma late at night, propped up on her pillow and promising herself just one more page. To the college student that is cramming for class because she could not peel away the romance novel. I am writing this to the man sitting in his car flipping the pages that needs to go into work.
I hate to give away my personal love life details, but here it is. James and I fight sometimes. I know, I know, but it is true. And maybe, just possibly, we had a little bit of one yesterday. But do you see that I said yesterday? As the day ended, I was at his side holding his hand and I thought, “If I would have known this morning, this is how it ended…”
Well, I think that a lot. HOW DOES IT ALL END? Does he get the girl? Does the army invade? Is there a baby in the future? Who wins the election? What’s she going to grow up to be? Do they ever find out? What does she decide?
Well, I’m not giving any spoiler alerts here. Click on the link below. Chose your method of reading and enjoy a free, yes free, book on me. Then get back to me and let me know what you think of the ending! http://freeditorial.com/en/books/spiritual-flesh-and-blood