Apprentice God

My self-serving, instant gratification, arrogant, self-righteous humanity demands explanations.  What?  When?  Where?  And Why?  If I don’t understand it and put in my vote, ain’t gonna happen.

I have been well taught by the culture that surrounds me and when there is a God that I can not understand, uhhh….not really my thing.

What do I not understand?  I do not understand that babies die.  I do not understand that someone would devote their life to missionary work, pray over a dying father and God allows them to die.  I do not understand that mothers get cancer, I personally do not understand that.  I do not understand that children see their mothers raped.  I do not understand…A LOT!

And then God asks me to accept?  He asks me to trust?  He asks me to follow?  He asks me to worship him?!  I DO NOT LIKE THAT!

And that is the very answer.  I AM NOT GOD.  I have my plans of how I think the world should look.  I have my plans for my life, and trust me, it did not include cancer!  I have my plans for prayer being answered.  I have my plans for babies being rescued.  But God is not here to serve me.  He does not have to get my approval.  He is not my apprentice.  That is a god that I create.  Hard to swallow, but I am never asked to understand.

I can hear the insults now:  Dumb Christians!  That is a fairytale!

And I hear another response:  I only follow what I can understand.

Really?!  Do you get all the government inside scoop?  No?  Then you should live your life in fear.  Are you a specialist of every disease, do you understand all the parts of the body?  How could you ever trust a doctor?  Did you build your own home?  How can you trust it will not fall on your head while you sleep?

Then how can you understand the meaning of the universe?  How can you impart your morals on all around you?

Can you just accept that you do not, and you never will, know and understand everything?

Elisabeth Elliott, that saw the death of her murdered husband, she dedicated her life to missionary work to see her life’s work washed away in a flood and her only translator die at her hands puts it this way, “Those hands, that keep a million worlds from spinning into oblivion, were nailed motionless to a cross for us.  Can you trust him?

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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.

Claiming My Inheritance

Terror reigns in kingdoms. Insurgent kings conspire, they delay their differences to join together. They plot the destruction of peace. 
But my God laughs at them. Their reign is of this earth. Oh small earth in the galaxy. You are as proud ants that conquer a molehill. My God laughs and steps on them. 

And the God of the cells, God over all the earth, the God of the planets, the  King that can not be contained in the billions of the galaxies, he looks at me and proclaims:

You are my daughter. My eye is set on you like a Father admires their newborn babe. I will protect you as a Daddy with a dating daughter, I will spoil you as a proud grandparent.  All I have is your’s.  Just ask and I will give it.  I delight in you. 

Listen you evil doers, do no mess with this one. This child is mine. I have let the rain fall on you and the sun separate your days. I allow the food to grow in your path and keep the animals from devouring you, but if you want a demonstration on my power, go ahead, to Me, your destruction is child’s play. 

The Journey Begins

Christ is my author.  He wrote my life.  God makes no mistakes.  I was first diagnosed with cancer the summer of 1996.  My cancer story does not begin here.  I graduated from high school.  I received my degree in Elementary Education.  I married the man of my dreams.  I had a baby.  Not just any baby.  A miracle baby.  The most amazing little human being that I have ever laid my eyes on. The nurse laid her on my stomach and immediately all the pains of childbirth disappeared.  She was everything.  Michael Phelps on the starting block.  Chocolate chip cookies in the oven.  The sun rising.  Christmas Eve.  She was the possibility of everything.  I would give it to her.  I was raised in a family with eight children, I babysat, I nannied, I had a degree in Elementary Education and teaching experience behind me.  I thought I had this kid thing down pat.  But when my eyes first fell on her, my whole entire world got flipped upside down.  

From the moment she came into our lives, her Daddy and I worked harder, we researched with intensity, we read more, and we did everything to better ourselves and the world that surrounded her.  We were about to learn that we were completely out of control. 

Prior to Madison’s birth, we researched.  We had been given the green light to try to get pregnant. However, with my medical past, it would be incredibly hard to get pregnant and once I was pregnant, it would be incredibly hard to keep the baby.  God had different plans, I got pregnant right away with my little miracle baby.  

When Madison was three months old, we visited a genetic counselor.  We were not prepared for what we were about to hear.  We had been told that Madison had a 50% chance of inheriting my cancer gene.  We had been told that if she inherited cancer, she would have her thyroid removed and that would be the end of the story.  Well, on this day, we held our three month old miracle in our arms as the genetic counselor told us it was not that easy.  She had a 50% chance of inheriting my cancer gene.  If it was positive, she would have surgery to have her thyroid removed.  However, that would not be the end.  She would spend her life having routine scans, blood work, and the label of cancer hovering over her entire life. 

No.  I had given God my life.  I had accepted cancer in my life since the age of 15.  He could not have my daughter.  He could not have my baby.  No God.  This was too much.  He was asking too much of me. 

James (my husband, Madison’s Daddy) and I prayed.  We prayed every morning.  We prayed every night.  We prayed during the day.  We prayed together.  We prayed alone.  

I was angry.  I was angry at God.  This was my daughter.  She needed me.  I would protect her.  I would give her everything.  I had trusted God with my life.  I had defended my faith to the bitter end and now I questioned everything.  Was it all real?  Was there a God?  Did he hear my prayers?  Could he change anything?  Did he love Madison?  I wanted so much to claim control.  I wanted so much to be in charge.  I wanted so much to walk away from my faith and say, “I’ve got this.”  But I had nothing.  I could do nothing.  I was completely helpless.  I fell to my knees. James and I placed infant Madison on our bed.  She was laid upon the altar.  We literally fell to our knees.  We prayed.  We begged.  I cried out to God and I begged him for the health and for the life of my baby.  “God, I need you.  You are the only one who can save her.  I can do nothing.” I learned to pray. 

And this is where my cancer journey began.  It did not begin when I was fifteen and I was diagnosed with cancer.  I could have given that.  I could have given myself.  I could have given my life and never trusted God in this way.  It was here, when I had to lay my daughter on the altar and say, “God, she is yours.  She is not mine.  I trust you.  I trust you with my baby.  I trust you with my everything.” We did not get an answer.  We played with our precious baby.  We cared for her every need and every desire.  I placed her soft cheek to mine and sang softly of the love of Jesus.  I was singing more to myself than to her, reminding myself of God’s promises.  I began to realize that as much as I loved Madison, I was only getting a tiny glimpse of the love that God has for me.  

I am his daughter.  He held me in his arms and loved me just like I love Madison. Why then?  Why would he give me cancer?  If I am his daughter, and he loves me, why would God give me cancer? 

I looked at my life as a parent.  I took Madison to the pediatrician to get shots.  She cried.  It hurt.  She had no idea why I was letting this happen.  I allowed it to happen.  Why?  Because I love her.  I allowed this hurtful thing to happen because I love her.  Even though she did not understand it, it was the best thing for her. I learned just a little bit more of how much my Heavenly Father loves me.

Time passed, we continued to pray.  We were waiting on results from the genetic counselor to see if Madison had tested positive for the gene.  It was a simple blood test, but the results took time.  Two months had passed and we still had no result.

One night, as James and I crawled into bed, I turned to James, “She is going to be ok.  God told me she is going to be ok.”  I had not heard an audible voice, but he spoke directly to my heart.  As I started to pray, he said, “OK. I will answer your prayer.  Madison will be healthy.  Now, pray for something else.”  I had not gotten the results from the doctor, but I knew, my daughter was healthy. 

Two more weeks passed, then on July 31, 2007, I received the call, “Madison is healthy.  She tested negative for the gene.  She has no more chance of getting cancer than the general public.  You never need to see a doctor about this for her ever again.” 

Those were the hardest two and a  half months of my life.  But I learned Madison is not mine.  She belongs to God.  And he is a much better parent than I am.  Not only can he give her the world, he can give her a perfect heaven. And this is where my journey begins.  This is where I learned what real hurt is.  This is where I learned real fear.  This is where I learned to trust God.  I learned to pray.  I learned I am not in control. 

My name is Caroline.  I have cancer.  I have battled an extremely rare form of MEN2A cancer for the last 18 years.  I travel frequently from TN to Duke University Hospital in NC to see doctors and specialists.  I have scans.  I have blood work.  I have been left with Addison’s Disease.  I take lots of medicine.  I have a medical alert bracelet.  I get sick.  I crave salt.  I have scars covering my neck and my stomach.  I have a scar on my arm and on my leg.  My back itches.  I have a husband that loves me.  I have a daughter that needs me. My name is Caroline.  I have cancer.  I have God.  I have a beautiful life.

The Promises of Nature

I have a god, the God, that I trust and know and believe. But there is a god whispered in my ear, that I am told to believe. Who is this god?  It is ME. 

Builders, great architects of their time, the Egyptians built the temples that are still marveled today. The great wonders of the world. But where are these builders?  Where are they?  Buried within.  All the attempts to preserve their bodies and where are they to be found?  Buried in the sand. 

He stood and proclaimed, “God is dead!”  The world was awakened. Sexual revival, nonconformity, and selfishness praised. With pride and happiness they revolted. With openness and desires they grabbed and pulled in others to follow.  Where are these revivalists?  Where are these that insisted on the death of God?  They have aged, they have fallen. You find them in the grave.

People accomplish great things. They help and build and dance. Legs run faster than ever before. Great minds compose and soothe. Marriage and reproduction. Oil struck, land discovered, and new steel construction. Applause is given and the night is over. As the good and the bad all pass away. Nature promises one more day. 

The answer is not me. The answer is not you. The world that God created reminds us of that day after day. With this world we see and live and breathe, we are left with two options:  There is nothing and we die and are no more. OR There is everything, there is God, and a purpose to live for. 

Pass Me on the Street

Hello friend of this great blogosphere. Let’s both sip coffee and have a chat here. 

I love to read, the land of the possible. Here, in this world, we learn and grow and achieve the impossible. 

I’ll give you a hug, we will like and share and smile. But our spirits have secrets hidden all the while. 

My mind may not know, but my soul will stop and laugh and greet. As we both go about our business, as you pass me on the street. 

I Want to Drink Coffee

I want to write like Robert Frost, while I hold a mug. For all the world to admire and analyze my words.  Words born of moments. Moments of solitude, of cherishing love. Love reminds me of coffee. 

Sitting wrapped in the mountains, waking from the morning while I sip a fresh brew. I aspire to imagine like Beatrix Potter, sometimes I get a taste…a taste of coffee reminding me of an energizing spirit and happy clothed animals. 

I have made improvements on CS Lewis.  Oh yes, that is true.  Because when he said, “You can never get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me,” he must have meant coffee. I would never make a typo like that. 

I want to write like the great authors of old, to publish books, sign copies, change the world through my words. It is my dream, my passion, my love. Writing is the art of my mind, my breath, my heartbeat.  I love to put pen to paper….but even more, I love to drink coffee.