Dust and Shadows

9 years old and it is simply amazing what she can accomplish. I know that little girl inside and out, her strengths and limits, how she ticks, and what she can accommomplish. 

Summer days are our contradictions. Each day can be the extreme opposite of another. In order to defend myself in what I am about to tell you, I will first say that we just returned from a week’s vacation at the beach. There was nothing except play, family memories, and fun to be had the entire day. 

And then there was yesterday. Yesterday, my girl woke up to a list. Beside her list was my list. The two of us worked pushing out speed, racing the clock, accomplishing task after task after task. She is 9 years old and what she accomplished is impressive!  Get herself ready for the day, make bed, read two chapters of honors reading book, feed fish, give water to gecko, walk around the house and clean up any mess that belongs to Madison, practice piano, pass 1 level of rocket math division, read one more chapter, make a birthday card for Nana, a Father’s Day card for Grandaddy, vacuum, mop, set the table for dinner, and read another chapter from her book. 

And why do I make her do it?  Don’t I love her?  Am I not older?  Could I not accomplish these tasks with greater speed?

She is quickly catching up to me, but there have been nine previous years where I took double, triple, 25 times the time to involve and teach Madison in the daily chores that need to be done and the lessons that need to be learned. And why?!  Why would I have a three year old help me carry her laundry to the washing machine?

And you all know the answer. Because it is good for her. Because it is my job to teach her to be an independent adult. And that baby girl is going to make one amazing grown woman one day!  Because as she works, she learns to love work. And this is what Madison’s typical day looks like. But then sometimes, as happened yesterday, she puts a cherry on top and she goes above and beyond. Lastnight, Madison made a homemade apple pie for the family. (Not on her list) and then she picked up another book and asked her Daddy if she could read a chapter to him. (She did.)

And my day to day can be such a struggle. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. But sometimes, at the end of the day, I get a little glimpse of the woman that all her hard work is raising her up to be. And in these moments, I get a little “ohhhhh, I get it.”

Why does God make me work so hard every day?  Why do I hurt and suffer?  Why can this life be so tiring and painful?

Because he is making a list for nine year old Caroline and look at all the things I can accomplish because he is teaching me how to help this world. Once I was three years old and my tasks were so little as I did them with my Father. Now he expects more. And now I want to bake an apple pie for my family. I want to share the gospel wherever I go. I want that to be my priority and the center of my life. I want it to dictate where I live, what I say, and how I spend my time. 

My little girl is starting to dream. God has big huge plans for her. If you asked her today, she says when she grows up she wants to train dolphins. Give her time and she starts throwing in other animals that she wants to train as well. Point is, she has some big dreams. And if you ask me, she is firmly on track. 

What do I want to accomplish?  Is it to have lots of influential friends that like me?  Is it a newly remodeled wow inspiring home?  Is it finances of extreme comfort in the bank?  

Is it to welcome homeless people into my home?  Is it to be put in harm’s way so that I can help when emergency strikes?  Is it to tell other hurting people, no matter what the cost, about the amazing love of God their Father?

Oh Holy Spirit, I long so much for your presence. Give me hurting people in my path so that I can show them your love. Guide my steps so that I can serve the church. And then I will be a mature Christian, finally maturing into who you made me to be and then I will have intimacy with you as you accomplish the impossible in me. 

Everything else is dust and shadows. I will not settle. I will grow up one to do list at a time. 

I Just Want to be With Him

Separated by 12 hours, my entire mind and body ached for James. Newly engaged, I felt only half of a person waiting for my wedding day to be complete. My life was one thing:  waiting. 

I sat in premarital counseling all alone, trying my very best to answer questions the way I thought a Christian bride should. Then, the most obvious question, shook me:

“Why do you want to marry James?”

It was the most openly raw and truthful I’ve ever been in my life, “I just want to be with him.”

I haven’t written in a while. Writing is something that flows throw my body without ceasing. I don’t think about what I am going to write about. I sit down and, at any given time, I put my thoughts into words. But lately…lately, I didn’t want to say it. I wanted to DO IT. 

I didn’t want to write about loving Jesus with my whole heart, I wanted to show it. I didn’t want to inspire to adopt a child longing to be loved. I wanted to snuggle up with that love hungry child and promise a home. I didn’t want to poetically describe nature, I wanted to explore it and praise the God who so effortlessly assembled the mountains. 

And I couldn’t. I couldn’t write another word. 

And here I am. Did I adopt?  Was I not writing because I was living in a mud hut in an internetless village?  Did I downsize my home so I could give away my possessions?

No. Although I am inspired to do so. 

But I actually thought for a bit. Listened for a while. Kept my mouth shut and thought through my answer:

“Caroline, why are you a Christian?”

Hey, I want to go to Heaven. And I don’t want to go to Hell. I long to be kind and make a difference in this world to those that need it. I want to love, to really love my neighbor as myself. But, if I’m being honest, if my heart is open and raw and truthful, I will say that none of those are the reason I am a Christian. The real answer is:

“I JUST WANT TO BE WITH HIM!  I am tired of the separation. I am aching soul and body because of this long distance relationship. I want to hug and embrace and be with my Savior. I am a Christian, not because I am good, not because I have it all together, or because I have accomplished being a great humanitarian, or because I follow perfectly the Ten Commandments. I am a Christian because I am so madly in love with Jesus and I just want to be with Him!”

Verge of Tears

College sophomore Caroline Hite pulled my thin jacket around and zipped it up to my chin. I wasn’t quite prepared for the cold this Tennessee Fall was threatening. It was dark and I could not see the green circular lawn as I walked the diameter from the library to my dorm room. 

With a dreary attitude, I slumped up the steps to the third floor. With dramatic disappointment, I flopped down on my simple twin bed and gave a large exhale. 

“What’s the matter?” My roommate and best friend inquired. 

“I miss him!”  I was seriously on the verge of tears. 

“Who?” She asked with a tinge of girly excitement, yet knowing that I told her everything and she knew I did not even have a current crush. 

“One day I am going to love someone so much. One day it will hurt to be separated from him…I don’t know who he is…but I miss him now.”

Obviously, I am a hopeless romantic to the core. Randomly, that vivid memory crosses my mind and I smile. I still feel the cold breeze blow against my cheek and I remember that longing that I had in my heart that has now been filled.  James. James is that man that I was missing. 

And today that longing grabbed my beating heart in a whole new way. Bleeding and still pumping, the Holy Spirit grabbed my heart and tenderly yet firmly looked me square in the eyes and said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Did God long for me?!  Like that!  In a perfect, complete way know that he had created me and I was yet to be born?  Does he look at me now, at every detail of my little life and know that he made me to love coffee, know that he made me to crave the words of CS Lewis and while I read “Surprised By Joy” it was an event created to be at the beginning of the world?  Did he long for the day when I would have my own daughter and cry tears of love and joy at the realization that this is just a glimpse of the love the Father has for me?

And I am humbled. How?  HOW!  How can GOD love me?!  Want me?!  Wait for me?!  And I realize, he made me for Him. He has a purpose for me!  Oh God!  Grab me!  Kicking and screaming, wholly addicted to myself, and lazy out of selfishness and begin your work in me.

My toes are wading in the water, but I want to dive in!  

And I walk the diameter of this world. It is dark with arrogance. My heart is not in the right place. But I miss someone. Someone I will be with for eternity. One day I will sing HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. And one day I will be complete and whole and all my questions will be answered and all my hurts will be undone. Dear Jesus, my heart aches for that day I will be with YOU!  And the Good News is that You want to be with me too!

Talitha Koum

Trees walking around. Her ears seemed to protrude and I noticed them like I had not before. I lost the focus of her beauty and despite my efforts to concentrate, her whole body seemed a jumble of pieces that no longer fit.

The spectacles of which through I saw this world had been removed, or I put on the spectacles, I’m not sure which, but I no longer saw people as I had before.

I had gone through my days with a need to impress others around me. I chose the finest clothes my money could buy, hours upon hours seeking not to be healthy but to have a thin appearance (I know this for sure because I cheated in such an unhealthy way), more hours of application to make my cheeks pink, my eyes colorful, and my lips protrude. My conversation was centered around the appraisal of me. Entertainment, career, family, even my place of religion was centered around my god:  me.

I did not see him coming, there was no reason to even notice that man. I was blindly rushing about my stress. I do not know why, but he ran after me. He grabbed me by the collar, I fought and I struggled and I yelled at him to release me. He did. And I fell upon the ground. Cursing, I complained and was insulted at his presence. There was complete hate in my heart and pulsing throughout my body.

Then two words he said to me, “Talitha koum.” (“Little girl, I say to you, get up”)

I don’t know how it happened, but I was upon my feet. The makeup was removed, I was bare naked but more fully clothed than I had ever been.

For I saw that I was just born. I had walked from death to life. He was all that pursued me and I turned and saw him everywhere. No longer was I a mere body, I had been born a soul.

The lostness of the human race struck me. The beauty of symmetrical bodies, youth, and wealth, all but filthy rags. Useless.

Then I saw her approaching. Her soul a glowing spirit. She smiled of joy and she loved with service. Her humility found herself when she gave herself away. I blinked and rubbed my eyes. I saw but an elderly woman. Poor. Aged. Sick. And at the end of her life on this earth. A mortal useless tragedy. But I saw, as I had never seen before:  the soul is where we find beauty.

I Spoke and I Speak

I wrote and I write and sometimes it is because I do not like to speak, but I spoke. I wanted to shake his freakin shoulders and cry, “YOU MORON!”  But it was my college professor and it would probably not reflect well on my grade. 

This was a long time ago, well, only twelve years ago, but it seems much longer than that…a long time ago, “Things” did not happen as much then, as they do today. And “things” did surprise me then, they don’t much anymore. 

But we are told that we are intolerable, hateful, and racist if we stand up and voice our opinions. Once I was even told that I still believe the world is flat. I am not sure where that came from. (I don’t.) But I am quite sure it was meant to be an insult. 

But here I am talking about the then. And I sat in a large classroom of a credit that was required. Cultural Diversity. The class should have been renamed, “I Hate Christians” because that more closely followed the topic. 

And me, being a Christian, found that rather uncomfortable. I wish I could go back and say what I would want to say now. …But perhaps it is best that I don’t because I do believe that God said what he wanted to say then. 

The professor told us how awful missionaries are and how wonderful every religion is except christianity and how great and good all people are except for christians and how there is no sin and nothing is wrong it is just perspective and the only thing that is wrong is saying something is wrong. And there are no commas because that is how he spoke it. 

And then he thought he had delivered the message and hammered the nail into the coffin of Christianity and he thought we were all indoctrinated and would share in his love of evil, or people that had misconstrued reputations, “Let’s discuss some of the great qualities of Hitler. What are some of the good things he did?”  

My hand shot up because I couldn’t take this bs anymore and I spoke what little truth was ever spoken between those four walls:

“Oh, yes, you…what is something good that Hitler did?”

“HE KILLED HIMSELF!”

And I do believe that in public schools, in colleges and universities, in government buildings, lobbying groups, media, television, and voices shouting out everywhere are yelling, “There is no wrong, except to be a Christian.”

But my hand is shooting up and I do not care anymore if it is uncool to speak up (because I do not care about my cool status anymore) and I do not care if you label me as racist for my thoughts (because Ben Carson has my vote. And I think the whole meaning of that word has been lost.) and I do not care if you shout that I hate science (because I heart it and I have a personal relationship with the Crestor of it all) and say what you want, but this voice, be it one, will stand up in the sea of sitting students and glaring stares and the professor may laugh and scoff at me, but there is God that I answer to, he flows through my veins and he is the beat of my heart. This body is a follower of Jesus. My mouth still speaks and my body still writes and I have a message to share. 

I spoke. I write. 

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

The Always Broken Heart

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.  

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.

Nothing You Can Do

I write.  I blog, I publish, I read, I journal, I write.  It is me.  Naturally, I write to my daughter.  On May 15, 2007, I began a journal, written to my girl.  Today, I cracked open those pages and read:

The good man brings good out of the good stored in his heart.  – Luke 6:45

My sweet Madison, above all, I pray that you will know God.  I pray that He will claim your heart and that you will passionately love and serve Him.  I pray that you will bring God glory and that you will enjoy Him.  I pray that Christ will store up good in your heart and that it will overflow to all those around you.  I want to use this journal to keep a record of my prayers and my memories of you.  I pray that you will realize how much Christ loves you and how much I love you!  ….I LOVE YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MINE!  AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!  There is NOTHING you can do to keep me from loving you!  I never want you to sin, but you will.  And even if it hurts me, I will always love you!  I always want you to talk to me.  There is NOTHING you can’t tell me.  I LOVE YOU!

As I read these pages and as I read these words, the emotions and memories of love could not be contained.  As I wrote these words, I barely knew my Madison!  I did not know that her little head fuzz would grow to be beautiful blonde hair.  I did not know that she would spend her piggy bank money on Labor Day weekend, as an eight year old, and proudly purchase a snail for her aquatic collection.  I did not know that on a hike she would beg her Daddy to pick up a snake and “swing it above his head.”  I did not know that she would adore and strive to be like her older cousin Conner.  I did not know the creature of habit that I held in my arms that would struggle without knowing the day’s schedule.  How could I know she would crave mac and cheese or that she would fill her journal with drawings of animals?  I basically knew one thing about that little baby, SHE WAS MINE!  And I adored her!  I loved, and still love her so much that it is even hard for this writer to put it into words.

But something happened from the time she was an infant to the time my daughter grew to be a third grader hopping out of my car and running off to her classroom:  I got to know her a little more!  And something happens when you get to know someone a little more.

It would be the epic fail of a mother if I did not correct my daughter as she grew and learned and tested the limits.  We have all been around the little brats that complain and whine and get their little ways absolutely all the time.  They have never heard that little word that will eventually rock their world:  “no.”  These are the cute little babies that grow up to be useless to our society because, as Momma did, they think everyone is out to serve them.

Therefore, when I look at my journal of my declaration of love to my daughter and then when I have a morning when I had to discipline her for being sassy, has my love altered?  Have things changed since I have seen her quarrel with her friends?  Is it different now that she had an all out tantrum in the middle of Pet Smart because I would not allow her to adopt ANOTHER dog?  Have things changed now that I know the frustrations and the sacrifices of being a mother?  YES!

Absolutely things have changed since the day I wrote that journal page to my almost three month old little baby girl!  I LOVE HER MORE!  Love is an action.  Love is when I sacrifice my career to give my daughter what I think is best.  Love is when I do not get the house I want so that we can afford the school that is the best option for her.  Love is when I do not have what I want so that I can give her swim team and school supplies and allergy medicine and all the million other things that kids require.  Every loving parent has a particular sacrifice that fits completely to the specific needs and desires of our particular children.  Love is when I am patient while she is figuring out who she is.  Love is when I react to what is best for her, not best for my reputation.  And perhaps the greatest of all, love is forgiving.  Love is when she messes up, when she really is rude and selfish, and I forgive and I continue to love, loving more and bigger because my love has done something and grown over an obstacle it had never been over before.  Love is working out who she is, what she does, and who she is to become.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Madison is!

Why oh why God, why do you love me like you do?!  BECAUSE I AM HIS!  His love has done the ultimate!  FOR ME, he hung on the cross, was separated from the perfect relationship that he had known for all of eternity, and suffered an excruciating death because there was an obstacle to overcome to be with me and he did it.  I rejected him, I chose my own way, I was rude and selfish and I threw an outright tantrum because I did not get what I wanted.  And he forgave me.  And then he loved me still!  And I see that when I came to him as a little bitty baby Christian and he held me in his arms and he loved me, he proclaimed, “I have a plan for you.  It is going to hurt sometimes.  You are going to mess up.  But we are going to work out this salvation thing together.”  GRACE!  Oh, the grace of Jesus!

And I pick up my journal that he wrote to me and I love it and I soak up those words of the Bible, but he gave me even more than those holy words.  I have a daily relationship, living with a God that doesn’t just write about his love for me, I am living in that love each and every day.  And one day I will be completed and he will present me, completely holy, righteous, and redeemed and I will be forever who I am made to be.  And I can’t wait to see who grown up Caroline is!

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!”