caroline holzberger

Keepin' it real about motherhood, Jesus, life, and everything in between.

I Stank Up the Place

Ok, so I haven’t written in a while because I have all of these lots of so many kiddos and they have the gymnastics, and the baseball (oh! the baseball.) and the choir and the homework and the daily reading shoot me now and the vocabulary words now beat with a club and the birthday parties and the laundry, and the packing the lunches, and the expectation to be fed like three separate times every single stinkin’ day. Ok, I distinctly remember feeding you yesterday. Faker.

So, alas, my writing has shifted to the bottom of the totem pole. I’m cool with it. This is my season of life. Not too long ago I would have committed murder to be this busy. I am thankful.

But, today…sister friend got to play at my folks’ house. Nana and Grandpa are saints. Truly. These people cannot be inconvenienced. They help out more than they should and always with a smile. I hope to serve my kids this well someday.

So, tonight one brother had baseball and the other got to spend some one-on-one time with Daddy, so baby girl got to go to Nana and Grandpa’s house, aka “Disney world-Keller location”. She paints, she plays dress up, she bakes, she plays games, she does makeup, she makes crafts, she eats all manner of junk – and then she comes home. It’s literally heaven for this child. Tonight was no different.

But, tonight when I arrived to snatch her away from said theme park, as soon as I entered the house, something hit me. No, not my Dad, as a delayed reaction to my years of smart-talk and rebellion. Although, who would blame him? It wasn’t a physical thing that hit me. It was a smell. Not the kind of smell you wanna partake, like freshly baked cookies, a pumpkin spice candle, or the oven roasting honey ham to perfection. No, this smell stopped me dead in my tracks.

Pungent. Startling. Gag-relex-inducing.

What was it, my friend?

Perfume.

Nana has some nice things. Nothing too flaunty, of course. Often these things are purchased on QVC, which she single handledly keeps in business. But, her perfume, along with her jewels  has always been among her nicer stuff. And she, Godloveher must have had a brief aneurism because she said “Yes!” when my darling rascal asked her if she could spray her own ‘puhfume’. Jesus come save us now.

This girl child is mine. No doubt about it. Lest I forget, my man reminds me daily. Love you for that snookums. So, I really can’t fault her too much. She, too, lives by my motto of “anything worth doin’ is worth over-doin’. She proved herself yet again tonight.

Nana had assumed (you know what happens when yo do that!) since she simply let her have the ‘sample spritzers’ they give away for free, not much damage could be done. Ya. Notsomuch.

My poor father isn’t going to be able to sleep in his own bedroom for a solid week.

When she proudly ran up to me for big hugs, I almost fainted from exposure. Make that, over-exposure.

“Mama, don’t I smell so pwetty!”

Um, no. You smell like Calvin Klein and Brittany Spears just had a perfume baby. And then it threw up. Twice.

“You (gasp) sure do, (hold it in…), baby girl.” (whewwww) (run awaaaaaaay)

This little girl did not stink, my friend. She stank.

Then, as she grabbed her little bitty sample spritzer, now almost e.m.p.t.y. and began the motion to spray it again- I dove at her as if slow motion, yelling “Noooooo…”

“Baby, You cannot keep spraying it over and over and over. Yikes! That makes the smell waaay too strong. You just spray a little every day. Not all of it in one day. Otherwise you take something that’s supposed to smell pretty, and you make it smell ugly.”

Whack!!! God did it. He, as always, hit me with a 2×4 to the head.

Lately, for the first time in my adult life, I have found myself surrounded by numerous people who don’t really claim their faith as an important part of their life. They are good people. Kind people. Fun people to be around. But, as far as God, church, Jesus or faith – they are either indifferent or it’s just irrelevant.

This has been somewhat of a culture shock for me, as I’ve been constantly surrounded by my family, my church friends, and the hand-picked school friends’ parents who also attend church somewhere. Aka – “my bubble”. Yes, I go feed the homeless. Yes, I help the needy. Those people mayormaynot be saved. I could technically check that off the list of being around non-Christians, if there were a list. Ps. There’s not a list. But, I don’t do life with them day in and day out. Because of my kiddos and their growing schedules, I am seeing some of these new darlings two or three times a week. Whether is be at gymnastics, making small talk every week. Or at the three hundredth baseball game we’ve sat together through. These once strangers have become some of my peeps.

And, I have found myself somewhat-neurotically obsessing shocking, I know about how I ‘should’ act around them.

Ok, I’m not going to order a margarita. Oh wait, maybe I should order one, and try to show them I can do this in moderation. Or, maybe not?! 

Crap, I shouldn’t have said that joke! Crap, I shouldn’t even have said crap!

Am I fact-telling or gossiping right now? Crap, I can’t decide?!?! Ahh, I said crap again!!

Ugh. Epic fail.

Then, I realized, I shouldn’t be ‘acting’ any certain way around them. In fact, I shouldn’t be acting at all. I should be the same silly, energetic, random, mildly (ahem.) sarcastic nut I always am. I shouldn’t be freaking out about what I say or don’t say – what I do or don’t do – because it doesn’t matter if I’m with them or with my Bible study homeys, Jesus is present every time anyway. He is the one I aim to please. Aim and fail a lot of times, but aim indeed.

Spoiler alert. When done with our own strength, in our own timing, using our own gauge of righteousness – it will be an epic fail every. single. time.

But, hey – that’s one the jobs of the Holy Spirit. It’s His job to remind us, correct us, encourage us and guide us. (Rom. 8:26, John 16:13, John 14:26) It’s our job to follow His lead.

I’ve been studying a lot lately about Paul and his journey discipling with the people of Thessolonica and Rome and Philipi. How he came to them, met them, lived with them, loved them, and missed them when he left. He didn’t just enter the town, yell “You people need Jesus!” for an hour or so and leave. He did life with these sinners. He knew he was just another one of them. And, then, tonight, God in His constant way – reminded me of His desire for us, as believers.

He doesn’t want us to just spray on a ton of Jesus No. 5 and then walk up to these friends, making them want to puke with our over-indulgent smell.

He doesn’t want us to take something that is supposed to smell pretty and turn it into something ugly.

He wants us to do our very best to wake up each day and spray just enough Jesus No. 5 on ourselves so that the aroma of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control smell pleasant to others. We don’t want them gasping for air and running away from us, swearing off the Maker of that perfume forever!

Now, before you get  your pew-sittin’-panties in a wad – I am in no way encouraging us to blend in with the world so they can’t tell us apart. I’m not saying we go buy Worldly by Calvin Klein and douse ourselves with it so we can ‘fit in’. Don’t go there.

I’m all about the water in the boat mentality. Here’s what I mean – Boat in the water – that’s good. That’s by design. Water in the boat. That’s bad. That’s a sunken ship, actually. We, the boat, are called to be in the world, the water, but not of it. (Rom. 12:2) But, I truly and wholeheartedly feel like we, as Christians don’t wanna live ‘in’ the world anymore. We have our church, we have our tight-knit fellowship of believers who build us up, push us along and align themselves with all of our beliefs. My pastor calls that ‘us four, no more, shut the door’ kind of ministry. And I know one guy who hates that stuff – Jesus.

Read the New Testament and see what kind of people Jesus hung out with. Robbers. Theives. Prostitues. Liars. Those cast-out, judged and dismissed. And, yes, while I am VERY passionate about getting out of your church walls and serving those in need – mainly because JESUS TOLD US TO – I also think that if we are going to claim His Name, we better make sure we’re claiming it to some everyday people who don’t know it yet, too. Like, the guy across the street. The soccer Mom who always chats with you at practice. The divorced Dad who moved to your street and no one quite knows how to be-friend.

These are the people we can’t forget about.

And, these are the people who could be getting a pleasant sniff of Jesus each time we see them. Yes, each and every time.

Unless you’re me, and occasionally you choose to wear Pride by Gucci or Georgio Allaboutme. Sheesh – I really stank sometimes.

If this is going to be the life we say we’re going to live – let’s try to live it out to people all around us who really need to sample it. People who see us when we wear Selfish by Brittany Spears, but also who se us the next day wearing Grace for Women. WHat would happen if we let them smell us each and every day, knowing that some days, in our sin, we stank. And other days, because of Jesus, we smell a little better. Who knows? Maybe, God willing, after we’ve lived life with them for a while – they’ll ask – “Hey, where did you get that perfume? I love it.”

Lord, please make it so.

Amen and amen.

Ps. If you run into a older man at the store, probably wearing a Rangers shirt and camo pants – and he happens to smell like Chanel No. 5 – cut him some slack – it ain’t his fault. Poor Grandpa!

All You Who Are Weary

oh. em. gee.

Is it just me friend, or has the last two weeks run you over like a mack-truck on a mission?

Has it been fun? Yes.

Did you have tens of moments you enjoyed yourself? Sure.

Were you able to soak up every last drop of summer before that blessed school bell rang? You bet.

But, did it make you remember the days of feeding a newborn? Where you felt you were feeding that thing for all of the minutes of all of the hours for all of the nights you used to get to sleep through? Heck to the yes.

For some reason, after blissfully enjoying our summer together, filled with lazy afternoons at the pool, excited days at the baseball field, and sleepy mornings in our beds until the crazk of ten o’clock – summer bolted out the door on us. Like, he was here, chill in’ out with us by the pool, sippin’ some lemonade…and then summer went and just grabbed his towel and jumped over our fence, running for his hot little life. It hit me – Holy cow, we only have two weeks left. We haven’t gone to Hawaiaan Falls. We still want to go spent time with the grandparents. What about snow cones? And sleep overs? Summer!?! Come baaaaack.

So we did it. We shoved three months of summer excitement chaos into two weeks of time. All the while, trying to re-train the little bodies in our house to go to bed before 10pm.

Epic. Fail.

We had fun, though. And while today, Day Three of school, I feel like intravenous coffee wouldn’t even be enough, we will survive.

We made it through Day One with smiles and clean crisply clean soon to be stained new clothes.

(Bless the middle child and his freaking shoe laces. He be so blissfully unaware. Love him.)

IMG_8531

But, y’all. I am weary.

Not just I-ain’t-twenty-no-more physical body kind of weary. I’m weary in my heart too. For many of us, we had to say goodbye to our baby this year. Whether our baby went to kindergarten, like mine. Or our baby crept into the jungle of middle school or high school, or godforbid college – we had to say goodbye. And it. hurt. our. hearts.

Now, I am fully aware that someday I will be feeling much more like my friend, Jen Hatmaker on the first day of school. See pic below of her Facebook post with she and her friends. Then pee your pants.

photo

I am super excited for my little baby girl. She is gonna rock kindergarten. She isn’t intimidated or weepy or sad to leave me. One tear wouldn’t kill ya, kid. In fact…when getting ready for her kindergarten assessment last week, I asked “Sister friend, would you like to read your special books this morning to turn your brain on? Maybe it will help you have more confidence today?” Her reply. “Mom. (insert five-year-old-teenager face) It’s okay. It’s gonna be fine. I’m confidence…and I’m awesome.” She gets her humility from her mother.

As God would have it, I have been handed the best job ever this year. I get to nanny for the most perfect little baby. Not perfect like my kids. See…with the humility? But perfect in her behavior. This baby girl doesn’t cry hardly ever. She is filled with smiles and baby giggles. She loves diapers changes. Loves the car. Loves the swing. Loves bath. Loves life. She is so very mellow it ain’t even funny. Basically not preparing her folks for parenthood at all. Plus, she is barely four months old so I’m getting my crack cocaine fix in the form of baby snuggles. Life is good.

So, while I thank God daily for this role, I am weary for my own babies not being here in the day. I like my kids. I like to hang with them. Not enough to homeschool of course God, don’t you dare put that on my heart. Ps. I love you, thanks for Jesus. But, I really do enjoy having them around. And yes, I felt VERY MUCH like this blog describes many minutes of many of the hours of many of the days this summer – but still. I miss them. My heart is weary for this reason. And others…

It is weary for my friend who just suddenly and tragically lost her husband of four decades.

For another friend who lost her daughter this time last year and isn’t sending her off to school this week.

For another friend whose marriage is falling apart right in front of her.

For my friends downtown who live on the street, whom I haven’t gone to see regularly in months and months. Shame on me.

For the state of our world in so many areas with beheadings, murder, rape, trafficking, and so on.

For the state of my own city with so many complacent Christians who don’t care about the last two things I mentioned.

Sometimes, I am just weary.

Can you relate at all?

Thankfully Jesus has a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to say about that…

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Jeremiah 31:25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Jesus cares about our weariness. And you know what’s awesome? He cares even when the weariness is caused by our own prideful striving and works. Even when we are weary in not doing good, He still cares. And He is still the One to go to. So, while I originally looked at the kids’ school calendar and saw that we started on a Monday, only to have the very next Monday off for Labor Day, and thought Hmm..that’s dumb. Let’s just start the next week. Now, I kinda want to find the person who came up with that calendar and kiss them square on the mouth. Beautiful. Glorious. Amazing blessed person may God’s riches flow all up on you. This Labor Day weekend, though, will be a busy one for Team Holzberger. We have a baseball tournament, and a kid turning ten years old. Don’t get me started, he is my oldest and he is turning double digits. Hold me. 

I figured, the only way to truly help this weariness of mine is to serve. I know it sounds counterproductive to ‘do’ something when I just wanna rest…but God’s math doesn’t always add up. When we labor IN HIM, He blesses it.

1 Corinthians 3:8 “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Timothy 4:10 “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

So…join me!?!??

I posted about a new service group I am starting at my church called Off The Pew. (short description: the rounding up of fellow believers and encouraging them to get their honeys off the pew and out in the world to serve those who are hungry, needy, homeless, imprisoned, orphaned…and BE the hands of feet of Jesus. Let’s stop simply dropping off unwanted times and calling it good. Let’s…I don’t know…actually BE like Jesus. Yes, that was the short description. Read more here.) Well, we are having our first big corporate event THIS WEEKEND. That’s right, it’s Labor Day, we have an extra day off from work!! And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaaaaaaaa. Monty Python sends me to my happy place. But, ya know what, LOTS of people don’t have an extra day off. LOTS of people don’t have a day off ever, because they work two jobs, or three jobs. So…perhaps we shall go and bless them?? Yes ma’am, don’t mind if I do.

I live in Texas God’s country and so it is roughly 114 degrees in the shade here, y’all. Bless us. So…the Off The Pew folks and I are going to drive around town and deliver ice cold water and Gatorade to all of those many men, working hard, building houses and mowing lawns. This is one of my all-time favorite things to do with my kids!! My precious middle child, Benjamin, put it perfectly last year when we did this once -

Me: (to my three kiddos) “Hey guys…thank you for contributing money from your piggy banks for this Gatorade. I know these men will be go thankful for it. Anybody know why we are doing this!?”

General response: “‘Cause it’s HOT, Mama!”

Me: ” Yes it is! Our pool felt so good today in this hot, hot sun! Do you think these men get to swim during the day to cool off?”

General response: “Nope.”

Me: Well, why should we even care if these men are hot? We don’t even know them?!”

(crickets)

Benjamin: “Well, cause God knows them and He loves them. So, we should love them too.”

Bless you, middle child. Bless you.

So, friends, let’s do this thing. Let’s take our weariness and turn it into faithfulness, shall we? Grab some friends of yours and make an event of it. Heck, throw a party if you want to! Can I come? If you live near me, Tom Thumb has 32 oz. Gatorade for $0.69 (when you buy 5) and Kroger has 24 packs of water TWO for $5.00. So…realistically, you could spend about $15 and bless TWO DOZEN different men with a Gatorade and two waters EACH. Do you have $15? Do you have thirty minutes of extra time this weekend? Ps. If you are reading this in an air conditioned house, on a computer, or on a $100 iPhone, chances are you have both. Just sayin’. Love, love.

I hope you’ll join me this weekend, Labor Day, and bless those who do labor so much. So hard. With such dignity.

Let’s give Him our weary hearts. Hand it over. Lay it at His feet. And let’s watch Him turn into blessing after blessing after blessing…

In Jesus’ Name.

Amen and amen.

**If you join Off The Pew in this awesome thirst quenching event for Jesus, comment on this post and let me know how it went! I can’t wait to hear…

If it Ain’t Broke…

Don’t fix it.

We’ve all heard the phrase many times before, especially in my neck of the woods – the South.

We aren’t known for our ‘deep thoughts’ to be grammatically sound. Quick disclaimer: I was raised by an English teaching Mom, and therefore she constantly lovingly corrected my poor grammar.

Me: “Can me and Lindsay go to the mall?”

Mom: “Can Lindsay and I?” shoot me now.

I bear the mark of a grammar nut. Notsomuch a scarlet letter…more like the red ink letter of a Bic grading pen. My former-writer big brother inherited a much keener sense for the world of grammar, especially when it comes to writing, whereas I feel punctuation rules are mere suggestions, we are a product of our environment. So, nevertheless, I have been known to correct people, yes adults, when they speak poorly. And, those of you who know me well, know that ‘broke’ is my all-time biggest pet peeve. It literally give me the chills to hear “My car’s broke.” Shudder. No, your car is brokeN. N-N-N-N – it’s only ONE more freaking, letter for goodness sake. So, in case there not their or they’re is a chance you say something is ‘broke’ and subsequently your I.Q. drops twenty points please know the correct way to announce such news is, “My car is brokeN.” Please, for the love of everything grammatically pure and holy – say the ‘n’ too not to or two. Thank you. I’m done.

So…”If something isn’t broken, it doesn’t need to be fixed.” – that’s the gist. And it sounds logical, I guess. Sort of. Although, I think it truly depends on what the ‘thing’ is we’re talking about.

For instance – if we are speaking of a favorite recipe, perhaps the saying holds true. If you know the delicate affair between the sweet and the tangy offers up a perfect meal that tables of people have swooned over – then sure. If it ain’t broke(n), don’t fix it.

But, maybe the line drawn in the sand between ‘broken’ and ‘not-broken’ isn’t quite as clear?  Maybe you’re talking about the way you’ve done your hair? At different times in our lives, both my big brother and I have been plagued with the decade old hair style. Dun, dun, duuuun. His was far less fortunate than mine (sorry big bro- you know I’m right) but it always worked for us in the past. And hey, if it ain’t broke(n)…right?!? Besides, it’s quite a commitment to up and change your hair style out of nowhere. As a wise friend says, “your hair style is like an outfit you have to wear every day” Preach. After all, it’s one thing to have a bad hair day, but an entire bad hair decade?!? That’s tragic. But…is it really ‘broken’ per say? Not really…who’s to say? So…I guess don’t fix it? Or fix it? Sheesh – who knows? Find a cute hat and call it done.

But, sometimes the broken thing is far more serious. Unfortunately, over the last two weeks, I have both seen tears and shed tears over one broken thing that can’t be ignored – a broken heart.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have literally been in contact with people who have shed real live tears in my presence over a heart that is truly broken. Not kinda broken. Not almost broken. But, bro.ken. And, every one of these people’s hearts were broken over a love that was equally as broken. Each of these people cried over a marriage – not what it used to be – not where it should be – not what they dreamt it would be. And here’s the notsofunny thing – it doesn’t matter a flying flip how long you’ve been married, either. One couple had been married three months. Another, over ten years. Another, more than four decades.

All broken.

All in desperate need of fixing.

And all with one common theme – sin.

Whether that sin was indifference or infidelity. Isolation or aggravation. Each tear cried was over how sin had broken their hearts.

And now, as I type this, I’ve cried my own tears over a broken heart. Not my own, this time, although I’ve cried many tears over my broken heart - but this time, on behalf of a treasured friend of mine. Her heart was broken Saturday as she got the news. You know the dreadful scene I’m referring to. She came face to face with the sudden and tragic reality of death. Not only of her husband of over forty years, but of the very life that she knew.

Like each of the tears I’ve seen these past two weeks, this damage was done by sin.

No, her precious husband didn’t die in sin or from sin – he died because of sin. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) The grief she is trying to not suffocate from, was never God’s intention. Ever. He wanted to be united with us for eternity. He didn’t desire death. Or separation. Or broken hearts. Or sin. But, that is what happened. That is our world now. Engulfed in sin so deep, we can’t often see out from under it.

Dear friend, may I make a humble suggestion?

If it IS broke(n) – let Him fix it.

In fact, if isn’t technically ‘broke’ yet – let Him fix it anyway. God truly is the only One who can heal a broken heart. He can mend wounds, revive love, and fulfill the longing of every one of our hearts.

Will we still cry? Yes.

Will we still hurt? Yes.

Will we still grieve? Unfrtunately, yes.

As long as we are on this earth, we will be faced with broken thing after broken thing. Whether it is a broken heart. A broken relationship. A broken home.

We will face it. But, the great news is, so will He.

I don’t say this contritely. I don’t say it with shallow words and fleeting emotions. I say it from experience.

My heart has been broken time and time again. But, even more than that, my heart has been almost broken time and time again. One sliver shy of completely shattered. By sin. By divorce. By hate. By death. By revenge. By insecurity. By fear. By abuse. By illness. By neglect. By insecurity. By infidelity. By almost each and every thing this world can throw at a person. I’ve seen it. And I’ve survived it. But, not with a nonchalant mentality of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

To allow God to really ‘fix’ a thing – you have to invite Him into that thing.

You have to give Him your thoughts, trust Him with your fears, acknowledge your insecurities and your worst nightmares. Give it all to Him. Let it go.

Let Him do the fixing. Because one moment before something is broken, He is already there. You may not even know it is about to break, but He does. And He’s ready. He is able to keep any and every thing from breaking, but He is sovereign enough to allow a break to occur. He is with us either way. And every way.

So, on behalf of me, my heart, and my dear ones around me whose hearts are broken into two…go to Him. Reveal what He already knows. Shine light on what is about to break within you. Don’t wait one more moment. Because, as my friend learned this weekend, in a moment, everything can change.

I publish this blog today, on my thirteenth wedding anniversary.

That’s right, friend, thirteen years ago today, I said “Yes” and so did he. We vowed to take the two broken hearts we each had, and unite them as one, before God and hundreds of loved ones. We knew that two broken hearts added together did not equal one whole heart. That’s not how this math works, dear friend. And, we’ve come to realize with all we’ve been through, that we are far more broken than we ever thought. But, I can say, with joy, that although we are very broken people, our love is not broken. Our marriage is far less broken than is used to be. In fact, it’s in the best place it’s been since this date became something to celebrate.

All thanks to God.

All because we didn’t wait for the thing to be broken before offering it up to Him. We didn’t nonchalantly push it aside, assuming it would all just work out fine in the end. I’m sorry, but that’s crap. That’s not how this life works, dear friend. If you haven’t figured that out, you someday will. Living among this sinful world, and sometimes leading that pack myself – I can’t sit back and wait for something in my life to break before I take note of it. I can’t just hope I get my fairy tale ending. Marriage takes a lot of freaking hard work. So does parenting. So does working. So do friendships, and illnesses, and finances and all of it. We, as believers, need to show this dark and dreary world WHO is the Only one who can truly do the fixing. WHO can we turn to? WHO can we rely on? WHO will be there when everything around us shatters into a million pieces?

GOD.

That is the one and only answer to the question.

And for you, I don’t even know what your question is about? Maybe your marriage is broken? Maybe it’s your career, your reputation, your self-image, your hope. Please, dear one, don’t wait until your thing is broken. Go to Him now. He is waiting…

And now, I give Him thanks that heaven is now the new home to an amazing man of God. A husband, a father, a friend, and a servant. He was here with us Saturday morning and He was in the presence of our Lord that afternoon. And while I know my precious friend is grieving today, and her grief will continue for only heaven knows how long…I also know where her hope lies. I know Who her help will come from. And I know that she knows they will be united again someday. Because they both gave up their broken lives, their broken wills, and their broken hearts to the only One who can mend them not only on this earth, but for eternity. Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus – heal our wounds. Be our refuge. Flood us with your peace. We need you. All of us. Desperately. We cannot do this life without you, nor do we want to try. Use our brokenness to point others toward You. If nothing else, be glorified. Amen.

Off the Pew

So, in case you don’t know my story, I was the ‘church kid’ growing up. I had the testimony that was never, and I do mean, never asked to be shared from the microphone. After all, it was bo-ring. I was raised by church going parents, and even though divorce broke up my home at the age of five, that was pretty much the major drama in my early life. My parents both happily re-married…my mom, to a pastor, nonetheless, so bonus points there! Now, it was official – I was not only the ‘good kid’, but now I carried the Preacher’s Kid title of “PK” as well. I was golden.

Never mind the pride. Or the judgmental heart that would have knocked Judge Judy and her gavel flat to the ground. Forget the hate and dishonoring heart I had toward my parents. Never mind the selfish heart, the lying tongue, or the deceitful intentions I slugged around with me each day. Yes, even Sunday.

I was a good kid. I didn’t do any of the things those kids with ‘good testimonies’ did.

No drinking. Check.

No drugs. Check.

No sex until marriage. Check.

Congratulations! You’ve been promoted to the Gold Star Bible Club Member. Now, just make sure you put ten percent of your allowance in the offering plate each week and you are good to go. The pastoral staff doesn’t have to worry about you…in fact, shoot, let’s make this girl a leader!

Throwing up a little in my mouth right now.

Don’t worry, I could spend plenty of time no really, like “Let’s order dinner in” kind of time telling you about the years of 1997-2000 when I decided morality was relative, God was absent, and my identity was, well…I had no idea what my identity was.

Don’t worry though, thankfully God gave me the second 2×4 to my head that I distinctly remember. He got a hold of me. And thankfully, I didn’t have to fall too far gone. That time.

Fast forward a few hundred years and here we are. I’ve had plenty of ups and downs in my Christian walk. But, I was a Christian camp counselor, a church staff member, and now who’d have thunk…a Christian writer and speaker now.

So, do I still feel like I’m one of those kids with not that ‘good’ of a testimony. Heck. to. the. no. In fact, I’ve come to know that we all have pretty amazing testimonies. If we are Christians, it doesn’t matter whether we were saved from a life of destructive choices on the outside, or a life of deceitful choices on the inside – we were all saved. We all held a one-way ticket on the non-stop train directly to hell. But, God derailed our lives somehow and paid our ticket to ride with Him. Any work He has done is worth talking about. No life saved from eternity in hell can be considered boring. And for those of us who still believe we haven’t been saved from much, I’m fairly sure God will get a hold of that pride and give us a little bit more to share from the microphone in the future. He’s pretty good at that.

God has allowed my entire life to be stripped. I mean, all of it. Marriage. Parenting. Finances. Health. (Don’t get me started.) Security. Safety. Identity. Family. Friendships. Work. Name it. All of it has been stripped at one time or another. To the glory of God.

But, I’m not here right now to talk about me. In fact, I’m kinda over talking about me.

I’m here to talk about everyone else but me.

Like…let’s start with you. Shall we?

Do you, my friend, know Jesus?

Do you actually have a relationship with Him?

Do you attend church?

Do you love, give, tithe?

Do you serve those less fortunate that you?

Are you consumed with worldly things? Driven by them? Controlled by them?

If so…let’s chat.

This life…the one you and I are living right this moment…it’s short. Like, crazy short. We’ve got maybe a hundred years on this earth- tops. Houses, buildings, roads, bridges – all of them can outlast a hundred years.Trees laugh at a hundred years. But, not you and I. A few of us may get a bonus five to ten years on top of that, in which case we get our face slapped onto a Smucker’s jar on The Today Show. But…then we die.

Gosh Caroline, you sure know how to lift a person up, don’t you? Oh drop it, I’m getting somewhere.

My point is this, friend -

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then – get this -

IT IS NO LONGER ABOUT YOU.

It’s just not.

Yes, go to church.

Yes, read the Bible daily!

Yes, fellowship with other believers and build each other up, as we live these lives.

But, other than that – you really should be OUT THERE serving His people. You know, the ones who have nothing. Have no one to love. Have no where to go. Have no hope for the future. Those are the people Jesus would be hanging out with today. I’m not saying He wouldn’t ever dress in His Sunday best and drive His late model luxury SUV to yours or my church to sit by you on the pew. Oh wait, maybe I am.

Jesus was out there. He was meeting people. In fact, He met them where they were, and He loved them there. Then, He taught them. Then He healed them. Then He changed their lives. He didn’t build a fancy building adorned with ‘stuff’ and call it, oh I don’t know, a temple, and expect people to come to Him. He went to them. He got off the pew. Pretty sure He ever sat on a pew, really, but you get my point.

Hear me correctly, I am not saying that people’s lives aren’t being changed for eternity inside the walls of a church. They are. It happens every single day. God is neither bound by the walls of the church nor the streets of the inner city. What I’m saying is this – God has directly told me to directly tell you to -

GET OFF THE FREAKING PEW. (embellishment mine, not God’s per say)

Stop living this mythical Christian life you’re being fed. Where if you dress up, show up, and give some money up – you’re good to go. It’s really not all about JUST being saved. It’s also not just about going to church, experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and feeling so blessed about your life.  If you are saved – AWESOME!! (If you’re not sure – read here!) But, this Christian life is not about us anymore. Jesus tells us time and time and time again to get out there and serve.

Well, Caroline, I volunteer in our children’s music ministry every other weekend. I do get out there and serve. Technically that’s getting in there (church) not out there(world), but I won’t argue with you.

And, if you do that – AWESOME!! I’m all about that. So is Jesus! In fact, that used to be my actual job at my church is to find, mentor, and love on people like you. Without you, ministry would be impossible in a church.

But, sweet friend in Christ, I need you to hear that this Christian life isn’t an either-or, it’s a both-and.

Sing at church and with the orphaned.

Attend a Bible study and serve lunch to the homeless.

Help with the greeters ministry and spend time with a pregnant teen.

Do both-and. Don’t do either-or.

Caroline, seriously, I don’t have time.

Yes you do. You just don’t make time. Period.

I read a phrase recently in a blog that rocked my world -

Thinking about doing something and doing something aren’t the same thing. We need to do more tending and less intending.

Well, crap. Hello, conviction.

I am starting a group at our church called Off the Pew. The goal? It’s simple. You ready for it?? It’s goal is get Christ-followers off. the. pew. It ain’t rocket science, friend.

This ministry is in its infancy now, but God is growing it daily. The more I think about that statement, the more I realize, its not in its ‘infancy’, per say. I think maybe it’s sitting up, crawling around, and ready for a jar of squash & sweet potatoes at this point. This vision truly began back when I was lying flat on my couch every single day, only able to be upright long enough to go pee. I was desperate to be able to get up, get out, and be a part of His world again. Then, after four years, He healed me. I began to get better…and better…and better. The better I got, the more I cried out for God to use me in a big way now. I wanted not one more moment of my life to be wasted on myself. So, He somewhat smacked His Truth into my face. In fact, God took my life and doneflippeditupsidedown. Then it grew into the This One Thing Project. And now, it’s even more simple that that -

In my mind, I’m kinda like, “Hey you Christian person over there! I’m so thrilled that God spoke to you during the message! I love that your kids rocked it out in Praise and Worship time! And I am overjoyed that you and some fellow believers are gonna hit up the Mexican restaurant after church and get your fellowship on. That’s awesome! Get me some chips and queso to go!”

Truly, I am pumped about that. But, friends, please, I beg you, let’s not stop there.

I believe God is simultaneously whispering in peace and screaming from the top of His sovereign lungs just three simple words to His Church right now.

Off. The. Pew.

But, Caroline, I go to a contemporary church and we don’t even have pews anymore. Fantastic. That’s cool – but completely irrelevant. It sounds like y’all are trendy and cool like my church. Neato -let’s be friends! But, you can still get off the pew. Or, for you, Get Of The Interlocking Chairs – same song, different title here people. And, instead of meeting at Starbucks…let’s meet at the homeless church downtown and get our serve on. Instead of just doing life together in someone’s home once a month – let’s do that AND meet up to read to impoverished kiddos. Let’s have a massive home group playdate AND then have them draw pictures and deliver them to the elderly home filled with dying, lonely people.

Friend, IF you and I are going to start proving wrong the stereotypical judgmental, self-righteous Christian image that the world says we are – we need to start, like, yesterday. And, honestly, I don’t care near as much about proving them wrong, as I do about letting them experience the presence of God, the grace of Jesus, the love of our Savior. I care far less about what to say when I’m face to face with them than I care about what I will have to offer to Jesus when I am face to face with Him. The Bible clearly says NICV (New International Caroline’s Version) that ‘what we do for ourselves will be offered to him as hay and straw and will be burned up in the fire. But, what we have done with a pure heart, truly for Him, will be offered to Him as costly stones, gold and silver. (1 Cor. 3) Ever been to a birthday party and forgot a gift? Dude, this would be way worse. I don’t want to get to heaven by the skin of my teeth. I don’t want to be, as my precious pastor says, “saved but singed”. I want to offer a sacrifice to Jesus of all the things I did for Him on my brief time on earth. I want fall to my knees and thank Him for His sacrifice. I don’t want to be empty-handed. I don’t want this life to be about me.

Do you?

Can we please, for the love of God, just get off the pew? Out of the church walls, and more importantly, out of our comfort zones? Can we serve the hungry? Hug the orphaned? Spend quality time with the elderly? Aren’t we supposed to be doing that?? It seems I remember reading that somewhere? Where was it? Oh ya – The Bible.

Isaiah 58:6 ““Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Let’s go hang out with the people Jesus would have hung with. I guarantee you Jesus was off the pew…and I truly just wanna be like Him.

Don’t you?

 

I’d love to hear how this post affected you. Convicted you? Offended you? Questioned you? Inspired you? Be kind. But…I want to hear from you!!

Give Thanks

I can’t tell you how many times a day I say “Thank you!”

When sister friend obeys the first time. Ok maybe not so many times a day with this one.

When the grocery clerk ignores my children’s sassy behavior. “Thank you!”

When my husband says “Why don’t I take the kids for a few minutes.” “Thank you, thank you!”

When my friends texts me ‘just because’. “Aw, thank you!”

When my neighbor finds a new gluten free recipe she just has to share. “YUM! Thank you!!”

So many reasons to be thankful. But, I was thinking today – do I stop and thank God that many times a day?

It isn’t like I don’t have time. It takes mere seconds.

It isn’t like I don’t have anything to be thankful for.

Um, hello. I have tons.

And so do you, sweet friend.

One thing I love about God is that He takes us as we are. He doesn’t wait for us to get our act together and then seek Him. He sees our hearts. He knows our intentions. He made us. He loves us. And He delights in our grateful heart – even if it just a quick “Thanks, Lord!”

If your heart is true and your attitude is humble, we can actually honor Him by thanking Him.

Actually, come to think of it, isn’t that we do every day with everyone?

I honor the lady who helps me at the grocery store, simply by locking eyes with her and with a genuine smile, saying “Thank you, ma’am.”

I really want to honor my kids by modeling them a thankful heart in all circumstances.

And, yes, we honor God by thanking Him…for anything.

After all, every good and perfect gift is from above.

That perfect parking spot.

That promotion.

That extra thirty minutes of quiet time while they nap longer than expected.

Thank you, Lord!

So, I guess as I sit here in the quietness of my space. I am overcome with thankfulness. I confess that I don’t do this enough, God. But, you know I should. You know I could thank you all day long and it wouldn’t be enough. But, you take what I give. And somehow, Lord, you turn it into blessing.

Sweet friend, I wonder if you could start practicing this simple act of thankfulness.

You may be sitting there thinking “I don’t have one solid thing I am thankful for right now.”

I get that. I’ve been there. Done that.

I’ve been so deep in the darkest pit that thanking God was the last thing I wanted to do.

But, oh sweet friend, I do not say this lightly – when I did, if I did – I was always blessed by it. Thankfulness is a funny thing. You can’t do it at the same time as you worry. You can’t thank Him and whine at the same time. Even if all you can muster up is “Thank you God for this breath.” or “Thank you that the sun came up this morning.”

He will take it, friend.

Oh how He loves you. When you are thankful and we you are not.

Here’s hoping that you and I can remember all we have to be thankful for. And here’s praying that we give thanks to Whom it is truly due.

 

Replace the Space

We are in the middle of will forever be known as The Great Purge of 2014. Lord, help me. The toy room is done my kids have too. much. crap. Their bedrooms are done. Kitchen cabinets, done. Pantry, done. But, there’s still the garage, the attic, the shed. It’s all gotta go. Nothing is safe.

Oh, and we have our bedroom too. Ok, technically we have my side of our bedroom.

You see, my darling hubs and I have some things in common. We love God. We love each other. We’re crazy about our kids.  We like sports. We love the outdoors. Our core truths are lined up, our parenting styles are very similar – and most importantly, we both could eat Mexican food four times a week. Yep, I think that pretty much covers it.

Other than that, ladies and gents – we are completely opposite. Like black and white, or night and day – it’s Ryan and me. We read the Five Love Languages book early in our marriage. It is a great book! I loved how you rank your love styles in order from #1- #5. So, there we sat, giggly and in love meaning young and stupid…and I kid you not – in the order – my #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 were his exact #5, #4, #3, #2, #1. Awesome.

My step-dad does this type of stuff for a living, and used us a guinea pigs recently. He gave us a personality test that breaks your personality make-up into one or two of the four main groups. Either social, methodical, controlling, or melancholy. Most people have two dominant groups, the first being about 35% and the second being about 25%.

Not us.

No way, man, it’s go big or go home in the Holzberger house. Anything worth doin’ is worth over doin’ is my personal mantra. The results didn’t shock us. I tested as 55% social duh. and 5% methodical. My college roommate is nodding in agreement on that last one. And my dear love-bug tested 55% methodical and, you guessed it, 5% social.

Opp.o.site.

It was somewhat encouraging though, that when he combined our two results and averaged them together, we, as a unit, were almost perfectly split 25% in each area. (See, honey, there’s potential, here. Hug, hug. Kiss, kiss.)

There is one major area we have the most ‘spirited debates’ over – and that, my friend, in our house is considered the seven letter curse word.

C-L-U-T-T-E-R. Also known as my middle name, until my mom changed it to Amanda. Thanks, Mom.

Ryan hates clutter. I can create it in my sleep.

It gives Ryan genuine anxiety. I can look past it for days months at a time.

If Ryan picks up, and leaves space on shelves, desktops, counters – I fill the space. And I’ve even been known to do it within the hour. God bless that man.

Clearly, this is not my most desirable trait, (Hey, I’m fun at parties!) and it has truly been something that’s caused much stress in our marriage. He leaves space. I replace the space with stuff. In all fairness, it is my children’s fault. If they didn’t come home from school with seventy-three pieces of paper every flippin’  day and if they didn’t own 8.4 billion Legos, it wouldn’t even be an issue. See, honey, I say we kick them out. Not me. :)

So, in an effort to keep the peace, and learn to be a more organized grown up girl, I have made a conscious effort to not replace the space, but leave the space. Just let it be, man.

Except here.

photo 3

This, my friend, is My Own Little Concordance of Truth.

Really, it’s a journal a dear friend gave me in one of my many hospital visits. She knew I loved to write, but she also knew I couldn’t sit upright and type on a computer there in the hospital. So, she bought me the journal so I could still write. I have the best friends, ever.

But, during that time of my life, while uncertainty, fear and doubt consumed my world, I didn’t have it in me to write. All I could do was lie there in that all too familiar hospital bed and pray. I would read prayerful texts from my precious friends. Facebook posts of encouragement. And, friend, God used all of that to sustain me. I would ravishingly search His Word for promises I could cling to as my only life line.

So, I began to organize these verses into my own little concordance. (For my accurate and precise friends weirdos – I will say, it is more like a Topical Index than it is a concordance…but My Own Little Topical Index of Truth didn’t flow off of the tongue very well. :)

But, during that season, please note the first two categories I chose to seek Truth on.

photo(9)During that season of my life, fear and worry, along with healing, were the areas I so desperately needed Truth on. I needed to build a strong foundation if I was ever going to survive this madness.

So, I folded down the corner of page one and titled that section Fear/Worry. Then, I’ll never forget, I sat there (or really, lied there) and wondered how much space I would need for those verses. I looked ahead at the then-empty journal, and knew this section would need to be a big one.

Twenty-eight pages.

Front and back, I had the space on fifty-six pages to fill with His Truth.

I still wondered if this was enough.

photo 1

Fast forward a few months and I’d found a way to fill most of the journal.

Faith in God, Faithfulness of God, Peace, Love, Obedience, The Holy Spirit, Humility/Pride, Patience…

I would hear a verse in a sermon, or read it as encouragement from a friend, and immediately I would find a place for it in my journal. I realized I needed more and more Truth in all of these areas. Each of them requiring their own amount of space in my life. And this time, I wanted to replace the space. I needed to replace the space – with His Truth.

Fast forward a couple more years and I had run out of room. What!?! How can I not have any more room for more sub-categories!? How is this possible?

The next section I felt led to start was  Promises of God. How can I not have room for Promises of God? That ain’t right.

Wait a minute…that first section, the one on Fear and Worry. It’s awfully big. Much bigger than any of the rest. And while, yes, I have filled the first five or six pages with dozens of verses to remind me not to fear, and not to worry…I wondered…

Maybe I could fill the space I’d left for fear and worry with something else? Maybe I could fill that space with Promises From God.

That’s when it hit me.

God’s loving 2×4 to my head.

Of course, my child. That is exactly what I want you to do. Take the space in your life that you have left for fear and worry and replace it with Promises from Me.

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you that you can turn my ability to fill any and every space, and turn it into one of my life’s greatest blessings.

I kicked satan in the teeth that day. And, I loved it.

photo 2

I split that Fear and Worry section in less than half and folded me down another corner – a fresh start – Promises from My God. (Quickly followed by a section on knowing my enemy!)

Precious friend, I have watsed so. many. years. of my life living in fear. I have clinched so hard, with white knuckles, to hold everything in my world so tightly, all at the same time, hoping I could control it all. Needing to control it all.

And, it almost killed me.

Oh, how I pray you don’t do the same.

You cannot control life. You cannot really control much of anything. The weather. Your children. The ecomony. Your spouse’s fidelity. Your health.

None of it.

You, my dear, are not in control.

But, don’t let this be cause for fear.

God is in control. And He loves you. He made you. He is for you. He knows you better than you know yourself. And He wants for you what you would want for you, if you knew what He knows.

Don’t let fear and worry clutter up your thoughts, your decisions, your life.

Replace the space with Promises From God.

You will be blessed by it.

I know I was.

And, this time, my husband was blessed too.

The office desk, notsomuch.

 

Vacay Fake-ay

I, my friend, have officially just returned from vacation.

Ahhhh, vacation.

The word alone makes you want to find the nearest hammock, grab a book notsomuch and lose yourself in the soothing sound of waves crashing against the shoreline.

This, however, was not that type of vacay.

My darling hubs and I took the kids as in all three of the ones we made who are all still under ten years old and we went on our first annual Big Family Road Trip. (Dun, dun, duuuuuun!)

Since we spent most of our ‘extra’ ha! money the past five to seven years at the Hotel De Blue Cross Blue Shield, the concept of vacation hadn’t ever entered into our vocabulary. Until now. Because, friend, to God be the glory, I have been sealed and healed for two and a half years now! Wahoooo!!!

So. We’ve been planning this puppy for almost a year. We knew we wanted to see as many professional baseball stadiums (we are BIG baseball fans! Go Rangers!!) and National parks as we could, before these sweet non-babies leave our little nest. Thus, our planning commenced.

We chose one route, then another, finalizing a third time around- and we were done. The itinerary would be as follows:

Atlanta Braves game – Atlanta, GA

Myrtle Beach area – SC

Congaree National Park – SC

Great Smokies National Park – TN

Cincinnati Reds Game – Cincinnati, OH

(BEST impromptu side trip ever- Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville, KY)

Mammoth Cave National Park – KY

Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, AR

We allotted ourselves three hotel nights during our planned twelve day trip.

“Well, Caroline, where in the world will you be sleeping the other days?”

In a tent, people. In. a. tent.

And while I know some of my friends may begin to hyperventilate at the thought of sleeping in a tent, ever, much less for nine nights…on your vacation. But, with Team Holzberger…that’s how we roll.

Needless to say, the trip was amazing. Truly, it was. The kids were overall a blast to be around. They did well in the car, thanks to the strategic planning of their brilliant mother, who plotted our course with no day of travel ever exceeding 5 hours in the car. And, with her sneaky hiding of all new books, games, etc. for weeks prior to the trip, so that when the highway came and the Box o’ Fun was opened, I heard a plethora of “Oh WOW, I thought I lost that game!” and “Ohhh I always wanted to read this book!”

Well, played, Mom. Well played.

We saw beaches, mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, oceans, forests, waterfalls, natural springs, caves, swamps, and everything in between. My kids held baby crabs. Touched a live starfish. Caught lightning bugs. Hunted for millipedes. Hiked up mountains. Waded in frigid natural springs. Traveled to underground caves. Lept for home run balls. Touched pieces of baseball history. Played in the rain. Peed in the woods. And so much more.

So many memories I will treasure forever.

But, as you know, my sweet friend.

None of it was real.

I don’t mean it was a dream, of course. I mean, it wasn’t real life. It was vacation.

And, not to be Debbie Downer, but vacay is always fake-ay.

The events do occur. The memories are real. You aren’t dreaming. But, it isn’t real life.

There are no bills on vacation. No deadlines. No chores. No work. No diets. No budget. No competing schedules.

Only fun. Only dessert. Only “Yes!” said all the time.

And while vacations are enjoyable, and vacations are often deserved…at some point, you must go back to real life.

Mortgages are due. Kids deserve time-out. Although some kids find ways to get put in time out in all twelve states you travel through. Just sayin’. Traffic jams happen. Diets resume.

Real life hits us hard in the face and sometimes even knocks us flat on our back. The reality that our vacay was fake-ay and that real life has returned, is sometimes more that we can handle.

And, sadly, many of us go on ‘vacay’ every single day. As soon as our feet hit the floor, we enter vacation land. Not literally, but in some way or another. You are fake with your co-workers. Your spouse doesn’t really know you anymore. You put on your ‘smiley-happy people’ face when you pull into the church parking lot.

One day you wake up and realize, you’ve created an entire vacay life. All around you.

Friend, please don’t let that be your truth.

Jesus didn’t die so that you could wear a mask of perfection.

He didn’t suffer so that we could all act happy and peaceful all the time.

He knows we live in a sinful world. He knows every fiber of deceptive weaving the enemy is constantly doing all around us. He cares about our hearts cry, that often only He hears.

It’s time to come home from vacation, my sweet friend. Let your guard down. Be vulnerable. Let someone in. Show your scars, your flaws, your quirks. And let the chips fall where they may.

Ya know, it’s amazing how lying down on the carpet of a doctor’s waiting room will humble you. I still vividly remember the scratchy feeling under my arms as I stared at the all too familiar tile ceiling, silently begging for people to stop staring…to stop questioning…to stop judging.

I was stripped of so much pretense during the flat years on my couch. It’s tough to be prideful when you’re in your pajamas every day and can’t sit up and look people in the face. I was sort of always a ‘who cares’ kind of person when I thought about wanting to impress people or hoping they liked me. But, then, my couch time solidified it. God stripped me; and sweet friend, I wish you would allow God to strip you too. I pray it doesn’t take the medical drama I had to go through to get you there.  But…if that’s what it takes to get you home from vacation.

So be it.

You, beloved, are God’s workmanship - and as I’ve heard said many times -

“God don’t make no junk.”

You are valued. You are valuable. You are worthy. You are worth it. You are chosen. You are His.

I believe so strongly that it is way past time for people – especially those of us in the church – to STOP pretending. STOP clinging to our pride and our egocentricity. STOP acting like we have it all together. Brothers and sisters, can we please just be real? Be broken. Be authentic. Be true. This disgusted, dying, desolate world is desperate for something real. And, friend, it NEEDS to be us! Real doesn’t get more real than the love Jesus has for His people.

If we are His Church; if we are His followers; if we claim His Name – then we’d better be the real deal. With all our sins, with all our failures, with all our baggage, let’s just get out there and love people. Love their past. Love their story. Love them enough to not judge any of it.

It’s time to come home from vacation, church.

Welcome home.

And yes, I got your postcard in the mail.

Loved it.

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Sheep, Not Ducks

Six months. Two weeks. Two days.

That is how long it’s been, dear friend (if you are still out there??) since I have written a.darn.thing.

Well, technically I have written plenty of stuff in my head. Scary place, my head. Danger, Danger Will Robinson. I simply haven’t written on my computer. I have talked to you, cried with you, confessed to you, and terribly, terribly missed you.

I am back.

I had a bit of a Sovereign Pause on my life the last year. I got a job. Oh sweet baby Jesus. And I kept going. And going. Have you ever heard me say ‘shoveling snow in a blizzard’? Have you ever lived that out? Then you get it. Solidarity, sistas.

But, I feel a peace over my life now. A vivid covering of His Presence. It’s amazing how much closer you feel to Jesus when you actually freaking spend time with Him. Rocket science, it is not. Our relationship was much more superficial this last year. Clearly, my doing. I didn’t make time for it. I chose to be so busy with the job, and the kids, and all of the practices, and the homework, and the reading logs, and the carpool, and the meals I just fed you people yesterday, dangit and the parenting, and the time outs, and the sassy spray, and the sports, and the just doing all of the life. I need a nap just remembering it. But, first I need to return the phone call from The University of Complacency – they have asked me to be their poster child for 2013-2014. Crap.

But, that season of my life is over. Oh how I give Him thanks for it. I give Him thanks for giving me a wonderful job with wonderful people. I miss them already. I had forgotten what it felt like to be a part of a work family. I thank Him for the financial blessing it was. For the time of humility and conviction it was. But, I also now give Him thanks for ending it. I even more so give Him thanks for the door He swung open for a job this year. Oh the blessings!! (details later) And, now, I truly feel that He has pressed Play again on my writing. I know He has made me to do this. I feel blessed by it. Humbled by it. Scared of it. But, mostly just honored that He would ever let me say anything about Him that is of worth to others. How cool is that, friend? That we are His ambassadors? What. An. Honor.

So, welcome back. Thank you SO much for being here. I love you.

And, today, I want to leave you with a picture. You know I am so very visual. And He hit me yesterday, His loving, all to familar, Sovereign 2×4 to my head.

We sort of live in the cit-ountry. Part city. Part country. We are fifteen minutes from any and every and I do mean e.v.e.r.y. shopping luxury you could want. Traffic. Highways. People everywhere. City. But, then again, we live in a quiet part of town. Where you can see the stars more clearly at night and hear the symphony of cicadas lull you to sleep. We are surrounded by trees – thousands of them. Our neighbors are far enough away to feel like country. A place where something like this is normal –

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We had visitors yesterday. In our backyard. Poor little babies. We tried to herd them into our front yard so they would not be trapped by our fence. That was funny to watch. But, watching my children try to be nice, while still being crazy kiddos, that Mama duck was faithfully leading her babies. She wandered all over our yard trying to find solace. And those seven little ducklings followed faithfully. Lined up. In their place. Following their trusted leader.

God told me that’s His plan for me. He said it in my heart of hearts while I watched my babies frantically zip in every stinking direction – quite the opposite of those little ducklings who stayed true to their ‘all in a row’ reputation. I mean, it’s even a saying, people. Do you have all your ducks in a row? Big fat heck to the NO, is the answer by the way.

God doesn’t call us His ducklings in His Word, does He? Nope.

I wonder why?

Gee, give me a nanosecond to think that one over.

Hmm, I wonder if it’s because we do what ducklings do, except for the exact opposite.

We do not follow Him right in a row like we should, do we?

Am I alone here? I sure hope not. We venture off on our own. We trust in our plans. We fill our days. We look up, all of a sudden, and can’t see Him anywhere in sight? Where is that devotional book I have, anyway? Ugh.

He does, however call us His sheep quite often.

Like here. And here. Oh ya, AND HERE!

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I would love to remind you why He calls us that. I wrote a whole blog about it. It’s an old one. Very informal, just sort of the overflowings of my crappy convicted heart. But, I know I needed the reminder.

Boy have I been sheep-ing it up all year. So, I guess I just wanted you to know -

It’s duckling time now.

You with me??

Five Minute Friday(ish) – “Fly”

(Disclaimer to my readers – Today I link up with fellow writers. This is a challenge. A group to join. A prompting by another woman I like to just.sit.down. every Friday and write for only five minutes. That’s it. Which is roughly how long it takes for me to write my normal first sentence. Ahem. So, lest some of you start dancing joyfully with glee that my post is shorter – it is advised that thy shouldn’t get thyself used to it. In Jesus’ Name.) READ MORE HERE.

GO.

On a wall, I sometimes wish to be
A little fly, no one can see
Or perhaps their eyes do see me there
But I’m so small they wouldn’t care
And what about you my friend
If you were that fly, would you pretend
To like me still, you’re BFF
If you saw me when no joy was left
When spanx exploded what once was thin
Would you, my friend, still like me then?
Or when I yelled at a kid or two
Would you judge me then? Well, would you?
Or when I lied, or when I cried or when I barely even tried
Would you be friend; look up to me
When you saw how awful I could be
To my man and to my kid
Or worse, to Him whose blood was shed
A complacent heart and prideful life
A selfish un-submissive wife
If that is what you came and saw
As a fly upon my wall
Would u think I loved the Lord
Would my life be worth dying for
I thank my Jesus, night and day
He loves, forgives and will not stray
From my side, nor yours as well
And guards us from attacks of hell
So even if upon my wall
You did not care for what you saw
My Savior will be standing by
As so much more than
Just
A
Fly

Matthew 9:12-13 “On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ForI have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Genesis 28:15 “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and Iwill bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Duet. 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he willnever leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Matthew 7:11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Matthew 6:8 “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need beforeyou ask him.”

In the Deepest Pit

Oh my dear ones, this will be short. Mainly, because it is late, I am tired, and as I told you before…I got a job now. I gotta get my hiney up early in the morning. The days of staying up late to write and resting and recovering  the next day while the kids napped or were in school are nothing but a looooong-lost memory.

But, I come to you now because the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone about it. When that happens, I’ve learned to listen. And watch God receive the glory.

So, I come to you now, simply to share this – I seem, lately, to be surrounded by people in “a pit”.

I grew to respect and appreciate this term for it after reading a book that flat out changed my life. Beth Moore, who, for those of you who don’t know is one of the most well-respecrted, wise, insightful and in-love-with-Jesus Bible teachers/speakers/writers out there on our planet right now. She wrote a book called “Get Out Of That Pit” (see here!) that was a rope for me out of my very own pit. God threw me a rope, and it was in the form of that book.

But, those around me, as I said, vary in the type of pit they’ve found themselves in -

A friend in a loveless marriage.

A fellow writer whose cancer is back with a vengeance. (Read her stuff. You will love her. And then pray for her. And her two baby girls.)

A woman who buried her eight=year-old.

A friend who buried her mother.

Yet another whose mother’s mental health has everyone on their knees desperate for answers.

Another friend in a deep financial pit with not a ray of sunshine reaching the bottom.

As you can see – some people didn’t choose their pit. They were pushed in, slipped in, or sometimes dove in. Regardless, a pit is where they be.

I am, for the most part pit-free as of now. Don’t be deceived… I am unhappy sometimes. My marriage bites sometimes. My quiet time sucks stinks sometimes. Our finances make me cry sometimes. I feel myself slowly slipping back into the Complacent Christian Life sometimes. My head and back hurt all the times. But, really, that is no pit.

Trust me, I’ve been in a pit.

But, as God would have it, at least for this season, He has surrounded me with people in a pit. So, it is to all of you that I write tonight.

Please hear me -

God can be trusted. 

He just plain ol’ can.

As if He should have to, He proved it to me time after time after time. Out of the abundance of His grace and mercy He showed up and blessed my hospital socks off over and over.

Did it all end up as I had planned for? As I prayed for?

Heck to the no, it. did. not.

But, here I stand (Hallelujah! I stand!) out of my pit.

I stand here in the sunlight and I feel the warmth of the Son on my face.

The cold, dark, desolate pit is no longer my surroundings. The deafening silence of the loneliness I felt there has currently been replaced with cheers and rejoicing in songs of praise.

I say this not to brag. That would be absurd. I say this ONLY, and I do mean, only to encourage you. My pit lasted the better part of four years. Maybe yours has been four months. Perhaps even four decades. I don’t know.

But, this I do know.

God loves you.

He made you on purpose for a purpose.

He can be trusted through it all.

And most of all -

He is with you now.

And always.

Do not doubt.

Do not fear.

Our God is big enough.

All my love,

Caroline

Ps. The links provided have some of the best testimonies I have to His faithfulness, along with the best Truth from His Word to stand upon. If you have time, read them as well. Blessings…

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