caroline holzberger

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

Archive for the category “Finding God in the Bathroom”

I Am Diarrhea

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that it took absolutely everything in me to type that title. I cannot stand the word diarrhea. I can’t ever spell it right, they way it sounds out loud is completely awful; I just don’t like it at all. I am, however, typing, so that makes it a little better. Please don’t read this out loud; or, at least, not in front of me.

In fact, whenever someone gets a stomach bug, I try to avoid the word all together. I simply ask if they were throwing up or throwing down. J

Recently, my family passed around a little stomach bug. This was, thankfully, not near as bad as last time. But, we did have a few kids and a grown up throwing down for a few days in the Holzberger house. Not fun.

It is so hard to explain to a 2 ½ year old why you can’t kiss her on the mouth. Why she can’t “cuggle” with her “brudas” and watch a movie. Why Mama screams “Noooooo!!!” and dives, as if in slow-motion, as she takes a sip from her brother’s thermos. It just does not compute in her sweet little brain.

So, inevitably, when someone is throwing up or down in our home, that is when Abigail loses her thermos. Without fail, every single time. We only do water in thermoses around our house. I was a nanny in college and found a sippy cup with milk under the backseat of my car once, after an entire hot weekend. That’s all it took. We only drink milk at the table. Period.

So, here is my sweet middle son, Benjamin, throwing down like a champ. Poor baby. He is so precious and tender-hearted. He kept apologizing for being sick. Sweet boy. He is five years old, so he’s fairly competent in his potty-ing skills. But, something about being sick always makes them revert back to being three. He whines about how his hiney hurts, he needs help wiping, wants “a little cream like when I was a baby, Mama” to make it feel better. Poor thing.

Then, Abigail got it. She has only been potty trained for about five months, two weeks and a day or so. Trust me, when your house is diaper free for the first time in seven years, you remember! In fact, you celebrate! There are streamers and confetti, all paid for out of the raise your family just got from not spending heaps of money on diapers each month! But, the road to get here wasn’t easy. We’ve made it though. She rarely has an accident. She still isn’t totally self-sufficient but overall, things are pretty easy.

Until a stomach bug. Poor thing, she just can’t seem to get to the potty fast enough. I get it. It is hard when grown-ups have to get up quick and make like a cheetah to the potty. Little ones aren’t that refined with all of that yet.

So, we did a lot of extra laundry. We used a lot of extra Spray’N Wash. We threw away a lot of panties. Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.

But, my extremely precocious and verbal daughter, she is a mini-me! who is always listening to everyone, then repeating and reusing phrases correctly, had overheard a lot of talk about the “d’ word lately. I can’t seem to get my boys to say throwing down. They’re boys. They like the “d” word. In fact, they like every version of that word, and any other word that involves bodily functions, for that matter. I don’t get boys ever sometimes!  So, sister friend knew that Benjamin had been sick. And now she knew she was sick. So, in true Abigail fashion, she put two and two together.

She was sitting on the potty for about the ninth time that day it was 10am and she was, well, throwing down. And, I said,

“Oh baby, I’m so sorry your belly doesn’t feel good. I bet it will feel better tomorrow, sweet girl!”

She sighed. Looked at me with such a grown up face that showed almost a disappointment with herself, slunked her shoulders, scrunched up her brow, and said “Mama…I am diarrhea??”

It was cute, in a sort of sad kind of way.

“No baby, you’re Abigail. You have diarrhea, you aren’t diarrhea.”

She kind of nodded her head and we took care of the rest of the business. Then, we washed hands for the hundredth time that day and went back to her quarantined area “special chair” to sit in and watch a show. Shortly after, Daddy and “the brudas” came home. She was fairly happy and smiley, but then it dawned on her that she had bad news to tell. And sure enough, she scowled her little face, sunk her sweet baby shoulders, almost as if she was about to admit to stealing their candy, and announced to the room, “Hey brudas, hey Dada…I am diarrhea.”

“No baby girl, remember what Mama said, you’re Abigail. You aren’t diarrhea, you have diarrhea.”

Clearly, I had already said the “d” word way more times than I’d wanted to in such a short time. But, in true God fashion, He still found a way to hit me

Oh man, that is exactly what I do.

I sin. Like, all the time. And then I choose to attach it to myself. I bear it. I wear it. And, I sometimes even name myself after it.

Friend, this is not God’s plan for me, or for you!

Psalm 103: 10-11 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is his love for those who fear him;”

We do not “deserve” a happy, wealthy, skinny, popular life. The darkness of our sinful hearts deserves death. Period. (Rom. 6:23) So, the fact that God gives us the opportunity to have an abundant life on earth and eternity with Him is flat out remarkable. The fact that we can be His kid and belong to Him, to be covered by Jesus’ blood, is cause for some serious praise!

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

You get that? We were and are still sinners and He died for us. He knew how often we would blow it, just today, not to mention our entire lives here. Ok, some of you are totally sitting there thinking…

But I am not that bad. I don’t cheat on my spouse. I don’t beat my kids.  I don’t break the law. I’m a good person. I’ve got it together, Caroline.

Well, then maybe, like me, pride is your thing. I’m just sayin’. We are all in this sin-boat together. Friend, you will stop sinning when you stop breathing.

But, I love the last part of the Psalm I started to quote above: (v.12) “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

I heard it said once that the direction of this verse is crucial. He chose to tell us that our sins were as far as the east is from the west. Not north and south, but east and west. Ever think about that? I think it’s because north and south aren’t “far” apart enough for Him. Picture a globe.  If you travel around our world going directly north, you will, at some point, get to the other side, and at some point, start going south. It’s inevitable. They aren’t that “far” apart. But, if you think about traveling east…you keep going…and going…you won’t ever be going west, unless you turn around. You won’t hit a point at the other side of the globe where you will then be going west. It doesn’t happen.  That’s far apart. That’s powerful stuff.

Especially, if you are, like me, and have a zillion moments where you totally blow it. It stinks. It is a tough weight to bear. But, that doesn’t keep us from trying to bear it, does it? I recently blew it in a big way, a couple times. Like, completely, wholeheartedly, 110%, no excuses, flat out, just blew it. I had the opportunity to say and do things that were unselfish, loving, and Christ-like. However, I chose to be selfish, whiney, and satan-like (prideful!). I responded to my husband and my best friend, two of the people who know me best and for some reason still love me most, with an ugly heart. And, this didn’t even happen at one time. I know, I’m awful. This was two completely different instances on two completely different days. That makes it even worse, of course, because I didn’t learn from the first one. Please still be my friend. I chose to have a selfish, “woe is me” attitude, instead of an “I love you” attitude. Once the words were out of my mouth; that was it. You can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube, friend. Ever.

I feel like, even now, telling it all of you people, that I have a weight sitting on my chest. The weight of sin is great, friend.  It’s no wonder it weighs us down, makes us forlorn and depressed; our bodies weren’t designed for it. We. Can’t. Handle. It.

And that’s the beauty of it, God doesn’t WANT us to.

2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

God chose His One and only Son to die a humiliating and excruciating death and bear the weight of all our sin. You think you feel a “heavy” burden sometimes? Jesus, the Son of God, was separated from His Father for the first time EVER, when He chose to put on our sin. What a long afternoon that must have been for Him!! He even cried out during His excruciating crucifixion “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) God could not look at His Son, because of our sin. Every moment of envy. Every jealous word we’ve spoken. Every lustful thought. Every juicy gossip we’ve spread. Every judgmental thought. Every selfish deed. All of it. God made Jesus become sin for you and for me.

Why? Read the last half of the verse, friend! “So that we might become the righteousness of God.” Not that we will. Not that we are guaranteed to. But, that we may. God didn’t make robots. We have choice. We have to choose Christ and to love Him with our thoughts, our motives, our actions, our lives, our entire hearts! Clearly put, God gave us the exchange of a lifetime: He put our sins on Jesus, and He put Jesus’ righteousness on us.  Righteousness is a big word. The definition is not perfection. It is closer to the idea of being “made right” in integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. And trust me, this is not something we are born with. “As Christ was not made sin by any sin inherent in him, so neither are we made righteous by any righteousness inherent in us, but by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.” (Poole)

And now, for some great news!!

1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Treat God truthfully, and he will treat you truthfully. Make no pretensions before God, but lay bare your soul, let him see it as it is, and then he will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” (Spurgeon)

He forgives us.

He purifies us.

But, purifying is a process. My wonderful pastor describes this concept here as that of what a refiner does to purify metals. Malachi 3:3 “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.”  So, in order for this to take place, first the minerals must be placed under extreme heat. Been there, done that! Once under this heat, the impurities would rise to the top. The patient refiner, God, would ‘sit over’ the precious minerals as they boiled over the fire, and skim off the top, all the impurities. It me! must be placed under this heat so that all of the impurities may be taken away. Don’t you know, friend, that when I am in the hottest places of life, is when I sin the most! Is that true for you? I will spare you some stories here.  Then…hear me, friend…the refiner, our Great God, knew the mineral  was pure once he could see His reflection on the surface. Wow. I want people to look at me and see Jesus. But, even more so, I want Jesus to look at me and see Jesus.

Be encouraged, friend, that if you have a heart to serve Him, love Him and act like Him, then His process will continue. He will stick by you. He will faithfully allow heat to come into your life to refine you. To make your sin rise to the top, so it can be removed.

Righteousness seems, to me, to sometimes be a daunting goal. Be encouraged by this…

Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter (finisher) of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus is not only the author of our faith; He is the finisher of it also. The idea of “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6) is comforting indeed to  discouraged Christians, like me. And maybe like you.

He endured the cross not because it was joyful. That is not the joy this verse talks about. He endured the cross, for the joy set before him, meaning what would happen because of his endurance on the cross = the chance for us to be with Him in heaven someday. That is joy.

So, join me. Let’s accept that fact that we are not our sin. We are not diarrhea. We are His creation. And, if you are a Christian, then you are His kid. He will be faithful to forgive you, just as He was faithful to provide a way for you to have eternal forgiveness.

“I AM NOT DIARRHEA!”

I am Caroline.

And, I am His.

Thank God!

Don’t Blow Kisses To Your Poopy

Ok, perhaps I may have repeatedly mentioned lately that we are done potty training. Like, for real done! Ok, so maybe I wrote an entire blog about it – “The Girl Who Cried Poopy”, but hey, this is a big deal. When you’ve been clipping Huggies coupons and lugging multiple kids up on top of a changing table two, or three, or ten times a day for seven years, and then all of a sudden you aren’t anymore, it’s a big deal! But, let me be clear that our potty drama isn’t over.
Kids still have accidents.
A couple of mine haven’t been, how shall I say, the most proficient wipers. God bless Spray “N Wash.
My sons get to pee in the grass outside (in our own huge, treed, private backyard, calm down people, it’s not like I let them do it in the Target parking lot), therefore my daughter is convinced she should get to as well. So, she tries. Often.
Our drama will continue, I am convinced, until the potty drama is replaced with puberty drama. God help me.
So here I was barely sitting on the seven inch by seven inch plastic Dora stool in the kids bathroom (where I belong, apparently) as my darling baby girl was going potty. Sort of. She still hasn’t fully recovered from the “crying potty” tendencies mentioned above, but she has gotten a lot better. Sometimes she still insists she’s gotta go – but we go, we sit, and she’d don’t go.
This was one of those times.
So, I am sitting there balancing on one hiney cheek watching her flail her arms around like a symphony conductor as she sings her own little mixture of “Jingle Bells” and “You’re a Grand Ol’ Flag” at the top of her lungs. Sometimes you can’t help but just look at her and laugh.
This was not one of those times.
I was ready to get back to the Rangers playoff game that the three men in my life were not pausing for me. For the record, they had paused it the other hundred times she “had” to go. They were done.
So was I.
So, I am trying to lovingly encourage her to speed this potty train up, but she was happy to just sit and sing. Once I was convinced she wasn’t going to go, I told her Mama was going to go watch the game and I’d come back and check on her in a minute. Right then, she pooped. I swear the girl can do it on command any hour of the day, when she wants to – and not a second before.
I cheered, made silly faces and generally made a spectacle of myself praising her for her “accomplishment”. Then, I was ready to wipe and go. Not Abigail.
Abigail: “Mama, look at all that poopy! WOW!”
Me: “I know big girl, you did a great job! C’mon, let’s go…”
Abigail: “It’s gigantic!”
Me: (Ok, how do I answer this one?) “Um, yes it is darling, it sure is. Ok, let’s wipe and be all done.”
Abigail: “Can I just touch it first?”
Me: “The poopy?!? NO! Absolutely not! It’s yucky! C’mon we are all done.”
Abigail: “Ok. (sad face)”
Me: “Abigail, its poopy darling, we are supposed to flush it.”
Abigail: “Ok. (sad face)”
Then, my sometimes sweet 2 ½ year old baby girl leans waaaay over with her face toward the potty and waves her sweet chubby hand,
Abigail: “Bye poopy!! BYYYYYEEEE!!!” As she waves and blows kisses to the poopy.
Me: “Abigail, don’t blow kisses to your poopy. It’s gross. Just let it go, and let’s go wash our hands.”
This is where God hit me. I totally blow kisses to my poopy.
I mean, obviously, I don’t literally blow kisses to the toilet; that would be weird. But I sometimes act like I miss the sin in my life – same thing, different name.
Philippians 3:8 tells us “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (NIV)
Do you know that the Greek word for “rubbish” in that verse is skybalon, meaning “any refuse, as the excrement of animals, rubbish, dregs, all things worthless and detestable” and further research found that “this word is often used to describe the remnants of menstrual rags”.
I could not possibly make that up.
Friend, we are to count it all as rubbish, except for knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord.
And while, I personally feel tempted to stop a bloke at the diner and request a scone and a spot o’ tea after typing that, let’s try to focus.
Hebrews 12:1 helps us Ok, me to focus – “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”
It, too, tells us to get rid of our sin. But, take note, it also tells us to get rid of every encumbrance as well. An encumbrance for those of you Ok, me who don’t know exactly what that means, is defined as “something burdensome, useless, or superfluous” (Fyi, I got tickled at the fact that this word can also mean “a dependant person, especially a child”, but no, for the record, you may not throw them out!)
And in case you got stuck like I did at what exactly  the word superfluous means –  it is “being more than is sufficient or required, excessive, unnecessary or needless”
Wow. I would say there are quite a few things out there that fall into these categories that aren’t really sin. I mean, I doubt you and I are robbing banks, smoking crack, or cheating on our spouses – or I sure hope not! But, there are plenty of sins that are entangling – envy, pride, worry, jealousy, self-righteousness, just to name a few. So, here we are being asked to throw aside every sin and ALSO every other thing that is excessive, useless, or that hinders us. Hinders us from what, you may ask? From following hard and fast after Jesus, friend, that is what.
I have to be honest and say that I am getting pretty tired of how muddled it all is getting. Christians are starting to look a lot more like the world – and I’m over it.
I am in NO way saying that I am perfect. Trust me. In fact, don’t trust me. Just sit with me for two minutes a little while and you will absolutely realize that for yourself. But, I am saying that the One I serve is perfect, and He does want us to be like Him. Right now, uh, oh confession time, I am struggling with my childish behavior I display in the carpool line. I will not even get started about the entitlement so many luxury SUVs, and crazy minivans have in my kid’s school parking lot. They cut you off, won’t let you in, break the traffic laws, and the completely ignore the school’s pick-up procedures. It irks me to no end. And I don’t deal with it well most of the time. I make snarky remarks to my friends about them. I judge. I get upset at these people I don’t even know. But, I admit, I’m feeling convicted about it. So, this is an announcement to my two buddies who share this struggle with me. For me, it stops here.
So, how does this apply to you, friend? Well, that is between you and God.
You know the TV shows you watch. So does God. In fact, He watches them with you!
You know the thoughts you have. So does God. In fact, He knew you’d have them before you did.
You know the music you listen to. So does God. Once again, He hears it with ya.
You know the motives you have. So does God. You can’t fool Him, friend.
“But that is my guilty pleasure!” I hear so many people say. Ok fine, it’s your choice to feel pleasure, as long as you accept the guilty verdict as well.
Aw, c’mon Caroline, say something funny, would ya? Don’t get all up in my business about this stuff. Friend, if you are feeling convicted, it sure ain’t me. I promise. I’m just writing a blog. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict. (John 16:7-8) You can ignore me and click off this page. I wouldn’t ignore Him, though. Trust me, I’ve tried.
I had a friend once tell me that God told her to give up Diet Coke. I giggled, as I sipped my Route 44 Diet Coke. Then I looked at her. She was serious. “Why would God care if you drank Diet Coke?” I asked her. “He wants me to put Him first and be willing to give up anything. That includes my caffeine I think I need to get through a day.” Hmmm….I guess, for her, this was something of excess, something unnecessary. And God had made it clear to her.
Now, friend, before you go start a picket-line at Starbucks, please hear me, that aside from sin laid out in the Bible, the other stuff, the ‘grey stuff” (meaning, neither black or white) is between you and God. He flat told me to give up my favorite TV show. Did I obey immediately? Nope. But, eventually I couldn’t shake the feeling that every time I was watching it, I was hurting God because I was choosing my happiness over His holiness. I haven’t seen an episode in over a year. I’ve missed it. I’ve blown kisses to that poopy, for sure. I hear others talk about it and I remember how funny it was and how much I enjoyed quoting all the re-runs. Then I remember how it felt to know I was honoring God. That’s all I needed.
Friend, I hope that’s all you need too.
Flush that junk down. Be done with it. Don’t be sad to see it go. Wash your hands and move on.

The Girl Who Cried Poopy

Do you have childhood memories of your parents giving you “friendly reminders” of how you should behave?  I sure do. Some of them were biblical – “Adam and Eve thought they could hide from God, but they couldn’t, and neither can you. He knows everything.” Some of them were not biblical – “Don’t you forget about the boy who cried wolf, he lied so much that people just stopped believing him!” Well, I have spent my fair share of time trying to hide things from God and crying out to people over and over for un-needed attention. And now, years later, I am, as my Dad says it, absolutely getting “paying for your raisin”, that’s for sure.
This summer we decided to potty train our lovely baby girl. “We” I didn’t give my man a choice decided this would be a good time because my darling husband would be off from work and I would have some help. Let’s put it this way: we knew this particular child wouldn’t be, how shall I say, easy to train. To do anything.
As we had with our two previous children, we talked it up big time before it was go-time. “Oh no, you’re not a big girl yet, but next week, you get to wear big girl panties!” “Only babies go in the potty” “Potty training is going to be so much fun, you’ll get stickers and M&M’s – it’s going to be great!”
You know how they say you should never lie to your children (or anyone, really)? Obey that one. It pretty much always backfires. That darling husband of mine, that I mentioned earlier, was now reminding me daily more like hourly of how my daughter reminded him so much of me. Gee thanks, babe. Apparently, it is true that out of our three children, it is amazing that they inherited every single negative trait from their mother, and not a single one from dear ol’ Dad. Team Holzberger has defied genetics. Remarkable.
Anyway, Miss Abigail was all excited about this new adventure, mainly due to the mention of “N&M’s” (as she calls them) and stickers. Isn’t it amazing what we can get our kids to do with a sheet of stickers from the dollar store? That is, for a day or two. After two weeks of talking up “potty train-ing and only two days of actually doing it, Ms. Independent informed us that “I all done ride the potty train, Mama.”
Ya girl, Mama’s all done too. I vaguely remember only because I’ve tried to block these months out completely debating with myself how important this whole potty training thing really is. I mean, let’s be honest, you don’t see too many eight-year-olds out there in diapers. At some point, she would become socially embarrassed and figure it out for herself, right? Sounded like a plan to me.
I regained my brainpower and we pushed on towards the goal. No. More. Diapers. But I’ll be darned if those diapers didn’t hold in the nastiness for us. What ignorant bliss we lived in during the diaper time. I think it is similar to childbirth – if women truly remembered how painful it was, each family would only have one kid. The same is true with potty training, somehow you are able to forget the seven thousand trips to the potty each day…the smell of fresh pee in the carpet and the uncertainty of where it is…the loads and loads of laundry that is done in such a short amount of time because you refuse to spend fifty bucks buying the kid thirty pairs of panties.  Somehow you block it all out. That is, until it is time to ride the potty train again.
The worst part of this precious baby girl’s potty training experience was that she turned into an attention addict. I have absolutely no idea where she gets that from. She quickly figured this whole deal out. Hmmm…if I say “I gotta go poopy!”, every grown up in the room immediately stops what they’re doing, jumps up, and rushes me away from what I’m doing. That’s right, it didn’t take long. Anytime she would be close to getting in trouble, I’d be walking toward her to spank her hiney discipline her and she’d cry out, “I gotta go poopy!” If there was something on her plate at dinner that she didn’t care to eat, she’d eat all the rest and then amazingly she’d say,“I gotta go poopy!” If we were at a store and she was tired of being in the cart, despite the fact that it was F-U-L-L of perishables…that’s right, “I gotta go poopy!” at the end of every stinkin’ aisle.  I kid you not, we probably jumped up and rushed her in there forty times a day – at least! All for nothing. She flat out wouldn’t go.  Oh no, she would always wait until we had gotten about six feet away from the bathroom before just pooping in her panties. “Mama, I poop on Dora” she’d tell us.  She absolutely knew what she was doing. She just wanted the attention.  The girl is smart, I’ll give her that. But, what she hasn’t yet figured out during her brief two-and-a-half years on planet earth, is that her Mama invented stubborn. She wasn’t winning this one.
After a day or two, Ryan and I had some time to reconvene and discuss our new plan of attack. There was no going back, we had to make this thing work. Both of our boys were fully potty trained, even at bedtime, within 2 weeks. Oh man I love those boys for that – I think I’ll go buy them a toy. But not sister friend. We were pretty convinced that she was perfectly content to “poop on Dora” until she was in middle school. Our strategy had to change. And it did. No more stickers for pee-pee, she had that down. If she did have an accident, she didn’t get to pick out her next pair of panties. I swear half the time she just felt like a wardrobe change. She’d be barely done pooping and shed smile and say “I want Princess panties now, Mama!” And most importantly, if she said she had to go, she went – and stayed forever, whether it meant missing dessert, or a TV show, or finishing a game. We had to make sure she knew how important it was to “say what she means and mean what she says”. Now, before you report us to CPS, please know how bright this little girl is. She has two big brothers who adore her, she talks like a four-year-old, and can flat out manipulate just about anyone with her charm. This had to stop.
And it did. Within a couple days of us really cracking down on her, she stopped “crying wolf” on us and started really telling us when she had to go. Don’t worry – there were still accidents, and we were fine with that. She is only two-and-a-half, after all. But she was actually being honest and not manipulating the situation every stinkin’ chance she got. It was great! She was proud of herself. We praised her like crazy. And, I got to retract my thoughts of dipping into her college fund to buy stock in Spray n’ Wash. All was well.
But, in the midst of it…when I and when I say “I”, I mean Ryan was cleaning out bath tubs of poop, it wasn’t fun. Not one bit. I remember telling a friend, “I know she’s only two, but why can’t she just say something and mean it! We’re her parents for goodness sake!” This wise friend said “Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t always say what I mean and I’m a grown up.”
Dangit.
She had me. Immediately I knew what God was telling me through all of this. And it stung to even think about it.
How many times have I cried out to Him, “God, if you will please just make me well, or get Ryan this new job, or keep us safe, or fill-in-the-stinkin’-blank…then, Lord, then I will follow you wholeheartedly.” Or maybe when things are tough, I cry out “Lord, I promise I’ll change, I promise!” But, do I? Do you?
I cannot count the number of times I have cried out to God from this stinkin’ couch. Honestly, modern mathematics cannot display a number that high. I’ve begged God. I’ve bargained with God. I’ve tried so hard to please God. I’ve vented anger at God. I’ve ignored God. That’s right, friend, God and I have been through a lot on this piece of furniture. But, still, He is with me. He doesn’t give up on me and He will not give up on you.
We all have a warped sense of who God really is. All of us. I’m pretty sure that even Billy Graham, or Beth Moore, or your own pastor will admit to the fact they can’t fully understand God. He is perfect and we haven’t ever seen anything close to that in our lives. We all come with baggage. Some of our baggage might be designer and others of us may have hand-me-downs, it doesn’t matter. It all affects how we see our God.
For me, I tend to think that I haven’t done something right. When this most recent spinal fluid leak happened, it was very easy for me to slip into the thinking that I hadn’t “appreciated” the health that I had this summer enough. I hadn’t served God enough with my time. I hadn’t been thankful and humble enough. And you know what, it’s probably  true. I am grateful for the amazing gift of perspective God has given me through all of this, but I would be lying if I said that once I was feeling better, that I didn’t rely much more on myself than on God, like I had from the couch.
I’ve had way beyond a freakish amount of a lot of time to think about this. And I have come to this conclusion: I think God cares more about our hearts that our actions. What I mean is…if I “cry wolf” a hundred times, I know He’ll be there for me and never leave me, but I think He cares more about why I’m crying to Him in the first place. For me, is it just that I want to be well? Once that happens, I won’t need Him anymore? For you it may be something else? Maybe you just want to get married…or have a better job…or lose weight…or have a baby? I don’t know. But He does. He knows the desire of your heart and He knows your motive of crying out to Him.
It boils down to the answer that the very wise Kay Arthur said when confronted with a difficult question of God’s sovereignty. She was asked how do you handle the extremely tough situations like a mother burying her child? How can that God be a good God? What she said was both simple and profound. “You either trust God, or you don’t.” Period.
So true.
I either trust Him or I don’t. Whether I get well or get worse. Whether you get a job or food stamps. Whether you get married or get left at the altar. You either trust God or you don’t.
I heard it said once that “God wants for you what you would want for you if you knew what He knows.” Please take a minute and read that again, friend. It is profound.  He knows the end from the beginning. He knows the names of your great-grandparents and your great-great grandchildren. He can be trusted.
But please hear me when I say this: that doesn’t make this thing easy. Trust me, it aint. In fact, sometimes it is pretty unbearably hard. I often feel like the world is passing me and my couch by. It is going around in circles just fine without me, thank you very much. Not true. I am still breathing in and out, friend and if you are reading this, I assume you are to. God is not done with us yet.
So, when you cry out to Him, mean it. Have the right heart about it. And if you don’t have the right heart about it, then pray for it. He is faithful to answer the prayers of his kids. Trust Him.
Now I want to leave you with some TRUTH to soak on. I have commented on what these verses mean to me. So many of them are crucial to trusting Him. Get to know His character and you will get to know His heart. It can only do you and me some good. Some wonderful, amazing, blessing kind-of-good. Not sure about you, but I could use a healthy dose of that, friend.
Ps. My daughter is amazing, by the way. Independent? Yes. Stubborn? Yes. Strong-willed? Yes and yes again. But, I thank God in advance for the numerous counts of joy she has already brought and will continue to bring us in years to come. I also thank Him for the even more numerous days we will fall to our knees talking to our God about her. Pray for us now. She will be a teenager in 10 ½ short years!! J And I am happy to announce that, for the first time in seven years, the Holzberger house is a diaper-free-zone, friend. Wahoo! The potty train ain’t stopping here no more. Thank you Lord!
Psalm 145:17 “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”
Whether we “feel” that or not, Scripture says it is true, so we believe it. He is not a mean-spirited God eagerly waiting to strike you down when you screw up. He is righteous (right, just, correct, lawful) and kind (faithful, godly, holy one). He is near to you. Please friend, call upon Him.
Psalm 145:8-9 “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all, He has compassion on all he has made.”
Ok, so far we have been told that our God is gracious. He’s full of compassion. He’s slow to anger. He’s of great mercy. He’s good to all. His tender mercies are over all of His works. And, He is righteous in all He does. I don’t know about you, friend, but that sounds like a pretty amazing God. One who is worthy of our praise and honor, whether things are going the way we would like for them or not.
(Basically you could read all of Psalm 145 for some great insight as to how wonderful our God is and how we should, in return, continually praise His Name.)
Deut. 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”
This foundation, our God, is the only foundation worth standing upon. All others will crumble. Including our flawed view of God, that will crumble too. What will stand is Him and Him alone. He is the Rock, the perfect place to put my trust.
Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you.”
This was a fascinating verse to study! I am ill-equipped to translate it all to you, but I will tell you this: Jeremiah was in a very difficult state of being here. He had prophesied something to the King of Judah that upset him and so he threw him in jail. Even there, God spoke to him about all that would happen regarding the attack that was imminent from the Babylonians. This was the real deal here. Jeremiah began this prayer to God in verse 17 that exalted who God was. It most assuredly reminded Jeremiah of who exactly was in control here: the God that never, not once, ever faced anything at all too difficult for Him. Like Jeremiah, may we be reminded of the sheer awesome power of our God. No matter what we face, it is NEVER too difficult for Him.
And this one is just perfect to end with:
Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him, who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!”
Oh friend, this is a good one. Please indulge me while I share a couple more translations of a portion of this verse. I often get a kick out of seeing what other adjectives and word choices these brilliant scholars decided upon when making these different translations.
Ephesians 3:20 (NKJV) “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…”
Ephesians 3:20 (NASB) “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…”
Ephesians 3:20 (AMP) “Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—
And although I believe The Message Bible to be more of a commentary that actual Biblically accurate Scripture, I often love how it words things for me.
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG) “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
Do you get it friend? He is able. He is more than able. And His desire is to bless us. But, be aware, that in his perfection, His righteousness, His sovereignty, His will – He knows what would bless us most. That is often hard for controlling, prideful people like myself to accept. But, it is a pill I’m wanting to swallow.
Believe in His goodness. Believe in his desire to want good for you. Far more than we can even dare to dream about. His desires for us are beyond that. For all my girls out there, I want to share a story that the wise Priscilla Shirer shared about how God wants to go above and beyond. This hit home to me and I hope it will for you too. She described a sweet friend of hers who was married to a wonderful man. And while wonderful, he wasn’t much of a romantic. He often forgot important dates, rarely brought flowers, and pretty much never planned romantic events for the two of them. So, as her birthday approached, she didn’t hold much hope of him going above and beyond. She honestly would have been happy if he just remembered. When she got home, she went into their bedroom and as she entered, she was shocked! Her footsteps were lined with rose petals and there was a card on her bed. Whoa. Do you see how he had already gone way beyond her expectations? Then, she opened the card and instead of him just signing his name, like usual, she read all about his love for her and how much she meant to him. My goodness, now he had absolutely gone way beyond her way beyond. And then it directed her to find a gift for her. A gift? She must be dreaming!? She went to open the gift and inside the beautifully wrapped box was…an umbrella. An umbrella!?! Ok, now this was much more like the practical man she married. But, then she opened the note taped to the umbrella and read “Thought you might need this. I hear it rains a lot in Paris.”
This, friend, is how God desires to go way beyond our way beyond. This woman just wanted her man to remember her birthday. But, she a card, roses, a love note, and a trip to Paris! That is just a glimpse of how beyond God wants to go.
So, please walk this road with me. I am talking to myself every bit as much as I am talking to you. Do not cry wolf anymore to our great God. Say what you mean to Him and mean what you say. Cry out to him with a pure heart, in praise and thankfulness and humility. He is there for you and for me.

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