Marry Jesus

Deep, but soft spoken voice, sturdy, the theologian type.

I responded with “Yes sir” and taking advice, I was there to learn.

Premarital counseling. Ironically, by myself. James was eleven hours away. We were a long distance relationship for six months.

“Caroline, Why do you want to marry James?” He read the question from his notes and then stared deeply at me, awaiting the answer to the important question.

I did not know. Sitting in these counseling sessions, I always wanted to say the right thing and here was a fundamental question that I did not know the answer to. It was off the cuff, and it was from my heart. It didn’t sound right, I was wishing I had thought it through more and knew how to better word this. I didn’t. I didn’t have that time but I knew my answer. At least, I knew the real reason, but I didn’t think it was the “right” answer. I sat there a minute thinking what I “should” say.

He continued to stare at me, waiting for an answer.

“I do not think this is the right answer….I am sure that you are looking for something else…” I looked down, avoiding his gaze.

And then I stared right back into his eyes with complete honesty, straight from my heart, “I just want to be with him.”

James and I were eleven hours away from each other for six months of our dating relationship. I have been through a lot of pain in my life and that tops the chart. I ached. My entire body, heart, and soul longed for James every part of every day. It was the pain of starvation and only being able to think of one thing: food.

I look back on my sessions of premarital counseling and I can not remember any of the “right” answers that I gave. When I think of that time, I think of that question and that answer. And now I know it may be the only answer that I gave correctly and honestly.

That is still my answer. I want to be married to James because I want to be with him. I want him standing beside me at elementary open houses. I want him sleeping on the pillow beside me. I want him walking through the door after a hard day at work. When I get upset and fight, I want it to be with him. I want him to hug me when I am grumpy. I want to go on a summer vacation with him. I want him to sit with me in the doctor’s office. I want him to read the Bible to our child. I want to figure out this thing called life with James. I just want to be with him.

I know what it is like to be without James and it is awful! I never want to go back to that!

Why am I a Christian? The question is asked and I search my mind for the right answer. I try to think of a verse or something theological to say, but the answer is there and I know I have to say it.

I look up and stare the world straight in the eyes. “Because I just want to be with him.”

There is a lot of really great stuff in the Bible, stories of strength and stories of love and forgiveness, lessons for life, and events in history. Praying is great, going to church is uplifting, serving others is amazing. But at the end of the day, it is personal. Why are you a Christian?

I just want to be with him! This life, this time apart from God is so painful! My body and my heart and my soul cry out for him. He calls me on the phone and we talk. He sends me gifts. (I know he is God and he is always with me.) BUT I WANT TO SEE HIM FACE TO FACE! I want to hug his body and never leave his side. I want to spend eternity with Jesus!

I know what it is like to be without Jesus and it is awful! Why would I ever go back?

Tomorrow is Valentines Day, the day of LOVE! Celebrate romantic love, it is wonderful and a true reason to celebrate! But celebrate love of family, celebrate love and friends and celebrate the greatest love of all! The God that made this whole entire universe, the God that knows everything, the God that controls everything, he is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and HE LOVES YOU!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What the World Needs Now

Love sweet love, where are you love? Our culture is one chubby toddler standing in their crib crying out to Mommy. We demand one thing: LOVE.

But we have lost our innocence. Pop culture has become one raging hormone. Two fifteen year old kids sneaking out of the house together. They met in Math class. In an abandoned parking lot, he holds her hand for the first time, kisses her strawberry lipstick, and he can’t stop. She doesn’t want to, but this is the first time anyone has ever wanted her. Is this love? She wonders. She gives and gives. She gives it all. It doesn’t take long to realize she is pregnant. He is only fifteen. He is not ready to be a father. And the pop culture that lured us in, abandons us. What do we do now?

MTV, Victoria’s Secret, pop music, the majority of anything on the screen, it is the fifteen year old boy luring us into the parking lot. And we just want to be loved.

How dare I tell anyone premarital sex is wrong! How dare I set standards! How dare I even use the words right and wrong! Who am I to judge the contents of music and TV?

Yeah, you are right. I have a new term to describe myself, raging sinner. It is true. The only good news in my phrase is that I know it. I know I have messed up and I know I continue to struggle and I know the one who forgives and washes me clean and I know the one who is, who he himself is love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13, 4-7

Look at the stark contrast! This is the love the world needs!

I am the Biggest Feminist of Them All

The 6:15 alarm is painful. I am NOT a morning person. Hair sticking up, eyes still closed, and promising myself that “Tonight, I WILL get to bed early!” I drag myself into the bathroom. A few minutes later, my husband arrives with a hot mug of coffee. I’ve been waiting on it. I expect it.

Rick Johnson writes to dads in his book, “That’s My Girl,” telling them to teach their daughters how to expect to be treated. He tells a story of his then high school daughter stopping at the door outside of her high school waiting, waiting…most of the boys not knowing what was happening. Eventually, one of them would get a clue and open the door for her.

I recently wrote a post about James taking Madison to a Father – Daughter Dance. It included car doors opened for her, it included flowers, being guided through the dance floor and showing her that she is loved and protected.

I am one of the extremely small minority that has the immense blessing of being a stay at home mom. I have been supported in spending my days taking care of our family and teaching our daughter, while James works hard to financially provide for our family. This has allowed me the immense pleasure of pursuing my dream of writing. When my GPS acts up, I call my husband expecting him to guide me through directions, and he does. If the TV is turned on, I am getting a back massage. I expect to be protected, provided for, and just plain pampered.

“Oh, that is just you. You have no idea what most other women have to endure!” Yes. You are right.

“Women should be allowed to pursue a career.” Yes. I agree with you.

“You think women are weak.” No. I do not believe that at all. I do believe men and women, boys and girls, are different. But they are both strong in their own way.

Women’s Rights. Yeah, I believe in them! But sometimes I am just not sure what the Feminist Movement is fighting for. Those women look at someone like me and say, “You don’t need a man. Stand up for yourself.” So, my response: NEED? No. I could do this life on my own, but why in the hell would I want to when THIS is an option?!

So, you have decided you want this also? But there are not many men out there like James? Trust me, I know. There are a lot, a LOT, of jerks out there that think that women are only good for one thing. Do not accept that! Do not accept all men are like that, because they are NOT! Be a feminist and demand a man that respects you. Demand a man that will love, protect, provide, and pamper you. Women, realize just how strong you are. If this is what women demanded of men, trust me, they would change. Because, after all, we are women.

I am published!  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

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The Biggest Date of the Year

Last night, I found myself curling hair and giving advice to my seven year old daughter. “Madison, make sure you have good manners. Please take lots of pictures so I can see everything. And make sure you say thank you.” Madison had her first dance. Her date was Daddy.

James purchased the tickets. I ordered a pink dress that Madison kept a secret and kept hidden until the unveiling. Day of, James purchased a bouquet of fresh and gorgeous flowers.

Madison was counting down the days. She couldn’t wait until her date with Daddy. The fancy smancy YMCA father Daughter Dance. It was a big event. Madison was ecstatic to learn that so many of her friends would attend. It was the event of the year, after all. But she promised to keep her focus on Daddy and she promised to do lots of dancing.

An hour before they were to leave, Madison and I gathered in my bathroom. Her new dress looked beautiful! Then we stood giggling and taking selfies while I spent a good amount of time curling and fixing her hair. A little of Mommy’s lipstick was the finishing touch. With an announcement, she ran to present herself to her Daddy. He was waiting with flowers.

After lots of pictures, I sent them on their way. Fighting tears, I knew this was so much more than a fun night for the two of them!

Fast forward, for my sake, let’s just say many many years. For my sake, let’s emphasize many. Madison is dating. Or about to go on her first date. Or starting to “notice boys.” Let me tell you, THAT BAR IS SET HIGH! First of all, why would Madison ever date a jerk?! “My Daddy dates better than that!” She will expect flowers. She will expect her door to be opened. She will expect to be treated with respect, to be honored, and adored!

Madison is loved. She knows so, she is told every morning when she is woken. She is told every afternoon she is picked up from school. Her cheek is kissed as she is read to and tucked into bed. A dress is ordered and flowers are delivered in her honor. Madison will not go looking for love, it has been lavished on her since we knew she was in my belly!

No. James and I are not perfect parents. Far from it! No, we do not have a perfect daughter. Yes, she will make mistakes in life.

But my little girl, my Madison, she is amazing! She is beautiful! Good grief, she has a smile that will melt any heart! She is smart, I’m not just saying that, that seven year old has me on my toes! She is strong, athletic, kind, outgoing, serving, my girl is amazing!

Daddies! Date your daughters! Their husbands will thank you one day! (And they will be amazing men to achieve that status!)

A Resounding Gong Clanging Cymbals

Ouch! I love LOVE love my family, but I write this post with my tail between my legs. How many times am I the clanging cymbal?!

“Dirty clothes in the basket. Shoes in your closet. Feed the geckos….clang. Clang. Clang. Why do you always have to leave your shoes out?!”

I so badly want to be a loving wife and mother but I so often, so very often, fall so very short! I need Jesus!

Love is patient. Errr. I am not a patient person. It doesn’t take much for me to get irritated.

It is not self seeking. “Can I just have 5 minutes to myself?!” Head down, ears back, tail tucked as I think about how self seeking I am.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. “You always…” How often do I pull that list out on my husband?!

It is not easily angered. OK! I give up!

AND YES! That is where I need to be! I can not be a patient Mommy without Jesus! I can not be a wife that does not keep a record of wrongs without Jesus!

And that is what matters to me! To be the wife and mother that Christ calls me to be, to daily show my family how much I love them by letting Jesus be perfect love through me. Because I can’t! I fall so short of the
1 Corinthians 13 love!

Love is more than a feeling! Love is action. Love is changing for someone, love is choosing their needs above your own, love is being patient with my daughter in the morning before I’ve had coffee, love is staying in budget for my husband instead of demanding what I want, love is surrendering to Jesus because He is perfect love!

And these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

LOVE NEVER FAILS!

I Corinthians 13

I Love You. I Told You So.

My baby girl, that pouty face is going to get you into trouble one day. Daddy is wrapped around your pinkie, grumpy face. And I don’t want to have to tell you again: that dainty, pretty you holds the key to his big heart.

You want Momma here. My little baby won’t go to sleep. Your pudgy hand is wrapped around my neck and playing with my hair. The clock is ticking away, you should have been asleep hours ago. If you keep this up, I will not get impatient at all.

Hey little sassafras, watch that little attitude, I might laugh when I see that side of you, that you got from me.

You want this and you want that and you demand. Don’t make me tell you again, because I am just content to hold your little hand.

Don’t make me count to three. One. Two. Please sit here with me. It is my love, I lavish on you. The days go too quickly, you grow up too fast. You learn and you struggle. I am thankful even that you do things wrong, because I get to be the one to teach you. And when you come running to sit on my lap and cry on my shoulder, I cherish the moments because there won’t be many more.

I’m not sure who needs who more. As I read to you, I learn. Giving you advice, has instilled those morals in me. I fight bad and love good so much more fervently. Christmas is more delightful, animals ever more insightful, and this whole world has a different meaning to me. And as I love you my daughter, my dreams have come true. Thank you Jesus that I get to be the mom to you.

Because you are the most amazing thing that I’ve ever seen grow. You are going to do big, world changing things. I know. Because you’ve asked every question, you never stop! You are going to climb this life, right to the top. And as you are succeeding, know that others admire you. Help those that are less fortunate. Lead in the fight of good and pure and true. Because you are smarter, and stronger, and prettier. You are the blessed, incredible, amazing YOU!

I am published!  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

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The Hope of LOVE

Cold rain hit the windshield of the 1982 Honda Accord. Headlights shone through the early morning darkness. Layered in a sweater and a cheap coat and clothes that she tried to make look professional. She could see her breath, even inside the car, even after an amount of time that should have allowed the car to warm up. The heat had gone, along with many of the other functions of the old car.

“Damn it!” A wiper flew off to the left, barely hanging on. She tried to see through the pouring freezing rain as she manually rolled down the window, stuck her arm into the weather and pushed the wiper back into place, “brrrr,” rolling the window up quickly and shivering.

Date night. Focus. The monotony, the routine of the day, Focus on the reward. She straightened up in her chair and tried to pull herself out of the pit of the “Woe is me”s.

“Old car?” At least she had one.

“Cold?” Snow was in the forecast and she loved snow!

“Early morning?” She was on her way to tutor children. And on her way to becoming a teacher.

And she had a date that night. It was Friday. He was so handsome. He was tall and had broad shoulders. His smile made her blush and her heart beat wildly. They would sit and talk and talk and smile and laugh and talk and talk. Could this be the beginning of what she had dreamed of since she was a little girl? Could this be, did she dare even think that sacred word, love?

On that rainy, cold morning, traveling down the road in an old beat up Honda, she was suddenly the happiest girl in the world. A smile began on her face and warmed her whole body.

What had changed?

The hope of LOVE.

THAT IS LOVE!

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LOVE. The meaning of life. Love is the reason we leave our family of origin and begin a life with someone new. Crowds line up, women scream, and billions are made on love songs. It sells. It forgives. Love brings us to our knees, makes us crazy, makes us whole. Is there anything that love can not do?!

A young teenager, he had a simple appearance, smiling, and nervous. I don’t turn on the evening news very much, but there it was on the wall of my living room, and there he was in my home. A local boy, an orphan. “I will help with the chores. I always make my bed. I listen in class. I am a really good basketball player. I always play in the Special Olympics.” The anchor asked him if he liked school, “Yes ma’am.” He smiled and did his very best to please and have good manners. There was one thing he wanted. He was willing to go on TV and plead to anyone that would give it to him. Love. Begging to be loved.

Who can tell us what love is? Why do we sell our souls to be loved? Why do our hearts ache for the unloved? Why do we connect? Why does the world search and spend and sacrifice all in the name of love?

Culture wants so badly to be loved and culture has no clue what love even is!

I hate chick flicks! Here is the setting for any modern day chick flick: Two people living separate lives. Almost always she is rude and self serving. This is supposed to be seen as successful and independent but she is concerned with no one other than herself. He is attracted to her. She is pretty. We get that. But they “fall in love” and have sex. “Happy ever after.” That is love. Or so we are told time and time again. It leaves us believing that the meaning of love is two attractive people having sex and being happy.

Love is about me. It is about a relationship that makes me happy, a person that has something to offer me, being turned on and giving into the heat of the moment. OR IS THERE SOMETHING MORE?

When James and I met, it was love at first sight. I wanted to be with him ALL THE TIME! Had I sacrificed, had I given anything? No, I was in love with the idea that someone would love me. I liked the qualities that I found in James. And I wanted to be with him. That is why I married James! I WANTED TO BE WITH HIM! I wanted to figure out this thing called life with James. I wanted to spend Christmases with James, wanted to wake up beside him, wanted to cry on his shoulder, to go on dates, and count up the anniversaries by his side. THAT WAS THE EASY PART! That worked for me!

What did not work for me? Spending money on what he wanted instead of what I had my heart set on. Spending hour after hour, time after time going through the forever decision making process that he always goes through every single time he makes a purchase. It didn’t work for me to get mad as hell at someone and have to lay down beside him at the end of the day. It did not work for me to discover that men and women are from two different planets and I did not understand what in the hell he was thinking most of the time. It did/does not work for me to discover that he is a messy person, while I am a perfectionist concerning our home. It did not work for me to have to work through something when it hurt deep in my heart and all I wanted to do was throw in the towel.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t work for James either! It didn’t work for him to spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on medical bills. It didn’t work for him to wait months to see if his daughter inherited cancer from his wife. It didn’t work for him to work day after stressful day to use the money to buy canvases to hang on the wall and throw a birthday party for a bunch of little girls. It didn’t work for him for his wife to have to work through the emotions when he had already moved on from a disagreement. It didn’t work for him to spend Saturdays making repairs on a home when he would rather be at the shooting range. It did not work for him to paint the living room, just for a color change. And it most definitely did not work for him to sign someone else on to his checking account.

And THAT IS LOVE! It is awesome to hold hands with your husband of 12 years, while he whispers sweet secrets in your ear. It is great to get what I’ve been hoping for for my birthday. But I have felt the most loved when I have been a real bitch and James makes me coffee in the morning. I know I am loved when I am forgiven. I know love when it is not deserved and James choses to stay with me when he has better options.

Love is when it doesn’t work for me. Love is when it does not make me happy. Love is doing something for the one you love when you don’t want to, but it is the best for them. Love is time after time, choosing someone else above me. Love is when my heart does not feel it, making my actions do what is right when I do not want to.

God is love. What does that mean? Jesus had perfection. He was spending eternity in a place that is above and beyond anything we can ever begin to imagine. King of paradise island surrounded by servants and being a famous billionaire? Better than that! He was perfect. Never said anything mean, never did anything selfish. He had never messed up. And he chose to come to this screwed up, sinful world. He chose to let his accusers whip him and torture him and spit in his face. He chose to let them nail him on a cross, when just thinking a single thought, he could have released himself from all the agony and pain. He chose to die, to SAVE US!

THAT IS LOVE! He received no benefit, none of that worked for him! But it was the best for us.

And what did I do in return to thank Jesus? I complained. I wanted a bigger house and a newer car and a healthier body. I wanted more!

Why does he love me?! I do not know! And yet time after time, he forgives me and he loves me again and again!

THAT IS LOVE!

I am published!  Please click on the link below for more information and to purchase

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+hendry&sprefix=caroline+hendry%2Caps%2C186

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A Little Obvious Love Tradition

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January is a month for new beginnings. It is a time to begin again. The last day of the first month of the year. The new has sunk in and we are in full force of a new year.

Sitting in the warmth of my home. Cuddled up watching a movie in my comfy clothes. Sick day.

No, I’m not sick. My baby has caught a bug. Honestly, she hardly ever gets sick and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. After only half a day of sickness, she doesn’t know why this thing is sticking around.

Her biggest disappointment is that today was going to include taking her guinea pig, Mocha, to school. And the day was to be followed up with a play date after school. Dang it! All canceled and rescheduled.

One of the best parts of love is being loved on a sick day. Madison has watched more TV than is usually allowed in a week, heck, a month. Her Daddy ran out to purchase some Sprite and Gatorade, not usually found in our home. And the cabinet is stocked with Frozen Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. We are here for her in her hard time. To pamper her and try to make it easier.

I sit here on our hard day, the last day of the month of new beginnings, and look to February. The month to celebrate love.

We have this little tradition. The searching has already begun to take place. We search high and low and we each find a card for the other two members of our family. Six cards sit upon our mantle.

It is the hardest/cutest thing to stand on the card isle with a little girl that insists on reading and looking at every single card, trying to keep your eye on her, while she is shouting out all the while, “Don’t look! Don’t look!” And then paying for something without seeing it!

I don’t usually give away little secrets like this, or even write a series like this, but I am going to spend a while writing, on making this world go round. Because it is love sweet love, it drives us crazy, saves the world, inspires my favorite novel, Les Miserables, and led me to my God! LOVE , my friends, is the greatest thing to write about!

(Written Friday)