Open Journal

“My sweet little bitty, teeny tiny baby,” You have never been one to really like the many nicknames that I have thrown out your way, “Mom! Don’t call me that!” And then I pulled out this exaggerated pet name and you didn’t mind. It is the first that you smile and let it be.

As I like to do, I was having coffee with a friend, who happens to be a mom of one of your friends. She asked, “how do I keep improving my life to show my daughter that she can be anything?”  She, and I, realize our immense responsibility to be the role model of our daughters. We chatted and I loved our chat so that the words have stuck with me, bringing a new realization a few days later:

Madison, you are so enthusiastically curious, so calmly friendly, ever achieving new abilities, lover of learning without the stress of perfection, independent, and SO PERFECTLY YOURSELF, that I believe others expect more out of me! This is what I mean:

Madison plays piano. Oh! I never played any instrument.

Madison excels at an exemplary private school with whatever you can throw her way as a model student. I struggled through public school.

Madison plays volleyball. I never did. 

M rides horses. I never. 

Madison stands up for others (at such a young age)!  I didn’t know how to.

Madison loves sharks! Me: scary!

On and on the list goes so that I have realized:  Caroline, your job is to get out of the way!  God is her parent, He is her Father. I have prayed for this child since I was pregnant and when she was three months old, God said in the most audible way, “She is not yours!  This baby is MINE!”  So hard for me to open my hands!

But there are NO WORDS that I can write to fully illustrate the overwhelming JOY and PRIVILEGE to see God Himself take my nine year old daughter by the hand and whisper softly,

“Little bitty, teeny tiny baby, I have one big huge, God sized plan for your life!

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Spiritual Flesh and Blood 9

(A continuation of a story. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll to Spiritual Flesh and Blood 1)

In high school, Wayne got the highest grades.  His teachers praised him and his peers idolized him.  But Wayne wanted more.

People are told we are animals.  In school across America, kids are taught they are evolved from a monkey.  In many ways this is true.  Wayne was highly educated, highly talented, and dressed and equipped with the finest of what money could buy, but he was just like a more evolved animal.  He was like a pure breed at a dog show that would obediently perform for treats, but he was still an animal.  He did not think for himself; his world was cause and effect.

But something was torturing him.  Something, somewhere was beginning to cause him to think bigger.  What was his purpose?  What was beyond this dog and pony show?  He was at the top of society and his future was bright but there was a nagging hole inside him.

At his high school graduation, Wayne was valedictorian and received honor after honor.  Why was this not enough to satisfy him?  Maybe, although it was expected, he was disappointed after his father was not there.

Wayne did not know what he wanted out of life but he did know one thing:  he did not want to be like his father.  But what did that even mean?  That fact was that he did not know his father at all.  His father was just not there.

Not attending his graduation was one of many times he was absent from big events in Wayne’s life.  He had come to expect it.  He was disappointed at five when he was not there to see him get a baseball trophy.  He was disappointed when he was the only ten year old without a father at the school father-son camping trip.  He was disappointed when his best friend asked if his parents were divorced and even when one friend asked if his dad had died, simply because after years of being friends, they had never met him.

To be continued…

 

 

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. 

Momma is Packing

“There are three types of people in this world:  sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.  

Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep. 

Then you’ve got predators, who use violence to prey on the weak.   They’re the wolves. 

And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.”  

-quote from Chris Kyle’s father in the movie, American Sniper 

Oh gracious we have come a long way!  From the pilgrims that died of starvation and sickness while seeking religious freedom to the PC police that call out every single damn little word that hurt their tender little feelings. (As a little side note, these wolves sometimes disguise themselves as “Christians.”)

And I have this baby, this girl that has been running ahead of me since she was born. A tough little cookie that is growing up a Noah in this world of sheep and wolves and where does she fit?

Well, if I may, this woman I am is a natural sheep. I like to graze in my little pasture and lay in the sun and drink from the clear flowing creek and not worry about what is beyond the fence and get along with all the other sheep. 

But then something happened. She is blonde and loves every single animal (even the ugly scary ones) and reads every single written word put before her. 

And I took one look at her and fell so deeply in love and then I stared that big bad wolf in the eyes and said, “Ohhhhh HELL NO!”  

And while I do not always write to one particular group, I realize that I am writing to parents here, and educators, and leaders, and those that care to voice their opinions to influence others. We have two jobs in this life as mom and dad and those caring for children:  protect and prepare. 

Protect.  I have been accused, the finger is pointed and they think they are laying the final blow, “Your daughter is in a bubble.”  My response?  “Hell yeah!”

Do you know what this world is like?!  In big ways, my daughter is protected that she has no clue what it means to be hungry. My daughter is among the few children that still lives with her mom and dad. She does not know what it means to wonder where we will sleep at night or how are we going to pay for medicine or any of the other luxuries that so many of us in our protected culture take for granted every single day!  

But do not think for one second that while I am protecting her, that I am not preparing her!  While we are laying the Biblical foundation at home, we are preparing her faith to be attacked. While we are strengthening her confidence, we challenge her to stand up for the weak. 

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed!  I am just a little sheep!  But you are not only a sheepdog, YOU ARE THE SHEPHERD!  You love your sheep!  You are not afraid of the wolves. And you have sent your sheepdogs into this world to protect. 

So, while I bring my little sheepdog every day to the Shepherd for lessons and while I know that my power and protection come from the Shepherd, when I am just a sheep hanging out with my sheep friends in this world of PC sheep that do not even believe that wolves exist, I have been pushed to the limit where I do not have the luxury to be silent anymore. I am stepping out where I know I am going to get shoved back and I know not everyone agrees with me. (AND THAT’S OK!  I am perfectly content to agree to disagree!) 

But when civilians are being massacred in GUN FREE ZONES, it is ignorance to claim that we need more gun control!  When ISIS is thinking up new cruel ways to murder Christian children, we can no longer tolerate leaders that will not identify radical Islam as our enemy because they are afraid of hurting feelings!  We have moved past that!  

And I will close my, what I hope is seen as a thoughtful opinion backed up with facts and not a rant, with something I believe so firmly in that has been lost in our modern comforts:  The Second Ammendment. 

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So, while everyone likes to talk about “my rights,” what really is my right?  Well, one of them is to carry a gun. Go ahead. Label me. 

Spread the Secret

There are many me, there are lots of me’s that enjoy a big pot roast, me’s walking the isles at Publix, I see me picking up my kid at school, or even the multitude of me’s sitting in churches across this Western World. 

I have lived my life following the crowd of the must have. The media has influenced what I say. Oh!  Don’t get me wrong!  I have spoken out enough to make enemies with those I don’t like anyway, but never enough to get a label. I have lived my life in search of bigger and better, prettier and stronger, richer and more powerful. 

But last week, I took a trip that I didn’t want to take. Remember the day I had to write?  Remember me holding in the tears in Target?  Well, my levels were up where they shouldn’t be up and my oncologist ordered lots of scans. It sounded just like the previous six times that led to surgery. And not all surgeries are created equal. Add the C word for a dramatic effect and as the surgeries multiply, the risks and recovery are harder. Well, that time I wrote about what I couldn’t write about, it was that. Last week, Nana stayed with my girl and James and I took that oh so routine trip to Duke Medical Center. It is worth the drive. It is the difference between life and death. 

A sick feeling rises in my stomach while I try to prepare myself, thinking about things I had not let myself think about before. But my husband slips his hand into mine and then it can’t all be wrong. What I care most about is right. And I get an email from my mentor sent around the 5 o’clock hour and she has prayed in the presence of the Holy One on my behalf. And I get a text and another text and more that dear friends are praying and what more can I ask?

It all begins with an ultra sound, I grab James’s hand and I am prepared for the worst, “Completely normal. Nothing to worry about.”  Followed by a CT Scan and a bone scan:  My oncologist sent in his PA. (Pause here. I absolutely adore my doctor but when he sends in his PA, that is the news I want!)  All normal. 

But, ya see, this is the third time in 2015 that I have lived a similar situation. It never gets easier, maybe even harder, but each and every time I learn something. And they will continue. I am a 19 year cancer survivor. Since 19 long years ago, my blood levels are off. My doctors continue to search and scan to locate that microscopic cancer that they know is somewhere. But their hope, and my prayer, is that I live my life being poked and prodded and that it never grows to a size where they can find it. It has before. Six surgeries. But I live my life with routine medical bills and visiting the best doctors in the world and this cancer is slow growing therefore I proclaim that my life is a beautiful life with cancer. 

And living my life from this perspective teaches me enough to write about it. The thorn in my side can also become the blessing. Although I would have never picked this road on my own, and I would switch lanes at any point that I could, the suffering is never wasted. And what did I learn this time?  

I learned MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Yesterday, I accompanied my eight year old and her classmates to an assisted living home to spread some holiday cheer. My daughter, her friend, and I sat across from an elderly man coloring a picture.  As Madison chatted, like Madison does, the man must have told her a hundred times how smart she is. I smiled and introduced myself. He followed suit with his whole name. I then introduced my daughter and her friend. The sweet man we just met, smiled and told me he had two children, he pronounced the full name of one of his children and then paused with great pain on his face, “I am not smart like her. I forget.”

Not able to fathom the pain of forgetting the name of my own child, we moved on with the conversation. Because my God is awesome, he moved my daughter and her friend to share their recent memory work. They memorized all of Luke 2. (All 20 verses!)  As they recited the story, this precious man beamed. It was spiritual. 

When I do not have the option to take this life for granted, THANK YOU JESUS FOR SHOWING ME WHAT I LIVE FOR!  There was this tiny little baby, he was God Almighty coming to earth to save me!  There is no other religion where god loves me like that!  No other faith that says that I am good enough. No other spiritual life where I measure up to the God of the universe pursuing me! 

There are so many me’s walking around this world. We know God but we don’t want to get too weird about it. Ladies and gentlemen, ISIS is cutting off the heads of the infidel, mass shootings are the new norm, our president does not even recognize our enemy…this world is headed straight to hell!  I will strive to be more like my eight year old daughter:  “Here is the story of Jesus.  And when life hurts more than possible to endure, there is hope!  The story starts with a virgin birth, announced by angels. Hosanna in the highest!  I have good news of great joy for all the people!”  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Your Children

“Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.” Ronald Reagan

For such a time as the this. I no longer have the benefit of raising my daughter to value her freedom. I do not teach her the history of her founding fathers and tell her to appreciate this great nation that she was born in to. No. I am raising a fighter, a Noah in this land that is handing over her freedom one entitlement at a time. I am raising her to stand against the tyrants that would come and abolish any signs of free America. 

Our nation is looking upon an upcoming election. It used to be that when people were called socialists, it was meant to be an insult. Now we see two candidates step up to the podium. They are two of the frontrunners of the election:  

Bernie Sanders, who claims with his own words to be a Democratic Socialist. Let me remind you that our country is NOT a democracy. We live in a democratic republic. Our founding fathers knew too well not to leave the country to the whims of a mob, therefore setting up a democratic republic, where our representatives were held responsible to the people but the people could not control with their emotional whims of the masses. 

The opposition to Bernie Sanders (one of them. The one I am writing about) is Dr. Benjamin Carson. This man is the epitome of the American Dream. Raised in poverty, he embraced education and hard work, becoming the leading pediatric neurosurgeon in the world. Dr. Carson has a testimony that is held against him. He claims the name of the Lord Jesus Christ boldly, despite the media attacks and attacks from fellow candidates for his past. (That is his message!  That is the power of grace!  Look how God can change a man!). Dr. Carson published a book, A More Perfect Union, in which he prints the Constitution in its entirety. He states its history and he challenges us to hold our representatives, including himself, to the supreme law of the land in the words that gave America her freedom and prosperity for so many years.

I do not hold our government accountable. I do not even hold the Obama administration accountable. I hold families, I hold parents accountable. 

In the last few decades, we have seen a trend of entitlement in our parenting styles. Children are raised being told they are perfect little angels that are entitled to whatever their little hearts desire. NO!

Coming from a mother that adores her daughter, I love her much too much to raise her to be an entitled spoiled brat. I love her much too much to neglect to tell her that powerful word: no.  Though she is still young, I am proud that she is such a hard worker. That is because she is required to do chores around the house she is required to do her best at the sports she chooses to play. She is required to practice piano. She has no option but to read at least 20 minutes every single day.  Never neglecting GRACE!  In this family, we all make mistakes. We forgive. We learn. 

Do you know what has happened?  SHE LOVES WORK!  My girl is the one that always has her nose in a book, she stays up late reading until I force her to turn off her light. Because she does not have the option to turn on the tv. She chooses veggies on her own at a restraunt because she is taught to make wise decisions and given limits where she lacks maturity. My girl complains that her Scienec lab is so short because she loves to learn about Creation. 

I get it!  Parenting is hard!  It is hard every day!  But I love my girl too much not to train her to be the intelligent, strong, kind girl that Christ intends her to be. I love her too much to take the easy route!

Do you feel lost?  Trust me, if you are a parent that is a daily experience.  (For me at least)  Can I recommend two books that have helped me immensely:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

And 

12 Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore 

READ!  Read to your child. Put down the phone. Turn off the tv. Daily, open the Bible and read. Let your children see you read. Require them to read. And learn. Why do you believe what you believe? 

Honestly, I believe this is not the fault of government. Government does what the people want. It is the fault of parents not teaching their children to work, teaching children that they are perfect little angels entitled to whatever they want, neglecting to teach them the word of God. Change occurs in the family, in the home, and sadly we have seen the erosion of the American Christian family. Dare not to fit in. Dare to be the change. Be the answer. 

Again I quote Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction.”   

And I will stand and proclaim, “It will not be lost on my watch.”

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.