caroline holzberger

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

Calling It a Spade

I am so fl-ipp-ing tired of hearing story after story after story of people living in fear.

I mean it, y’all. I’m eff-ing over it.

Not because I am a jerk and have no ephathy for people struggling with this issue. Beause, trust me, I do. And then some.

But, wow, you sound pissed!

I am!!

I am sooooo over it because I am tired of the power that fear gives to the enemy. It genuinely pisses. me. off.

So much so, that I have left my completely comfortable, snuggly bed at almost midnight to tell you about it. I have to get all this out of my brain and heart and soul. I need you to know this.

I lived a great deal of my life gripped by fear. And, I don’t just mean an over-protective mother or cautious driver. I mean g-r-i-p-p-e-d by fear.

Terrified someone was about to break into my house.

Imagining, with more details than I’d like to admit, the phone call I’d receive saying Ryan has another wife and family somewhere.

My infant dying from SIDS in their sleep.

A car wreck taking my entire family at once.

And of course, the coup de gras is the infamous — me dropping dead from a sudden heart attack – oh ya, in front of my kids, too.

My friend, those aren’t examples I read from a book. Those are real live, personal moments of my life I’ve handed over to fear. I’ve hand tied the bow and gifted them to my enemy. Well, that party’s over, satan. No more gifts for you.

I’ve done this time after time after time.

Have you?

For the past decade or so, I’ve been dealing with this off and on. I have roots of mistrust, the need for control, desire for approval, fear of sudden change, etc. that have led me to this. And for years, I tried so many methods of getting rid of it, masking it, and pushing it down deeper into my soul.

Tip for the day: the harder you push something down, the more fiercely it springs back up to the surface. Can I get an witness!?

If I sound a bit more upset than you’re used to, it’s because I am.

I am currently walking through this with someone dear to me. Someone more dear to me than most people. Someone I love and thank God for often. This person is so deeply gripped, they can’t get out from under it. It has affected their family, their job, their health, their everything. Um, been there, done that.

So, my darlings, I just wanted to shed some light into this very dark world. This isn’t a world most Christians like talking about, because clearly if they are afraid, they aren’t faithful. The Bible says that, right? (THey are talking about 1 John 4:18 – Read them. Then read this commentary. You will understand.) But, I believe the Bible is chock full of people who were afriad and still faithful. With one breath they say “I believe’ and in the next breath, they say “Help me in my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

I feel, with 100% certaintly, that fear is one of the most powerful weapons the enemy uses to wage war against us. Why? Because it packs quite a punch.

So, let me go ahead and clear a few things up I’ve learned in my years of fighting this battle.

Ahem.

1. You will die. As my pastor says, “Ain’t none of us getting out of this thing alive.”

2. You neither make the earth spin nor keep it from spinning.

3. Your life is a vapor. (James 4:14)

4. Those around you, whom you love, will die too. (see #1)

5. Planes crash. People get robbed. Guns kill people. Storms come. Hearts stop. It’s just the truth.

Sheesh Caroline, you should really be a motivational speaker.

We live in a completely screwed up world governed by sin and death, and ruled by the prince of this world, not worthy of the title at all. (John 14)

We, as humans, by nature have an insatiable need for control. We must be boss. We need to have it all planned out. We have to have proof. Stats. Verification. Answers. NOW.

And, when that doesn’t come…when we get thrown a wicked curve ball before we realize we’ve even stepped up to the plate – we. freak. out.

We’re pretty good at it, actually.

I know I am, at least. This crap can literally cause physical symtoms in my body that ‘feel’ exactly like, and I do mean exactly like, a heart attack.

You may think this is for people who are mental. You know cuckoo birds? (And my confessions may have just confirmed that to you.) But, it really isn’t just that. I agree that people have chemical imbalances. Actual mental diseases. I believe that science and medicine can understand and help this issue in so many people. And for that, I praise GOD…you know, the One who like invented the concept of our DNA. I thank Him that we know so much about this body or ours. This brain of ours. This heart of ours. But, aside from that – I want to call a spade a spade.

Fear. Is. From. Satan.

Period.

Mental disease isn’t what I’m talking about. I can’t stress enough the importance of seeking professional help for those of you dear ones in this category. But, tonight, I’m talking about the millions of us who suffer – and I mean suffer – from the little fears of life. The ones that, when added up throughout our day, equal a life governed (as in ruled by) by fear.

We know so much about all of those physical parts of us, but we need not forget to focus on knowing SO MUCH MORE about who we are fighting against and why he keeps attacking us.

Here’s the deal. Satan sucks. But, he ain’t dumb. In fact, he is crafty, cunning and persistent. If he kept going after the actual Son of God, then what makes you think you get a Get Out Of Fear Free card?

Satan has nothing else to do with us Christians but make us useless on this earth. He can’t have us for eternity – he knows that. But, he can use all his power to make us completely ineffectual for Christ while we are here. He can keep us quiet, alone, hungry, scared, intimidated, and embarrassed. I know, because he did this to me – for far too long.

So, tonight, I simply want to reassure you that FEAR is not from God. Fear is from our enemy. Every single time. No exceptions. (Romans 8:13, 2 Timothy 1:7)

Prayer is a powerful weapon against this attack…and there is NO better way to pray, than using the Word of God. After all, my friend, it is our only offensive weapon in this spiritual battle. (Eph. 6) And, I’d love to quote my BFF even though she doesn’t know who I am Priscilla Shirer, from the Gideon bible study I’m currently doing (check it out!) – and tell you, “We are not human beings having a brief spiritual experience. No. We are spirtual beings having a brief human experience.”

So here are some real-life valid tips to combat this assault. First, some practical-ish ones for your brain that helped me. Then, some powerful Scripture – without which, I’d be hopeless.

1. Keep your mrain occupied when you can. Down time is devil time when it comes to fear. A trick I used was to sit and do math problems. I would engage my left brain in difficult math problems that I actually had to sit down and figure out. My right brain (emotional side) was on stimulation overload due to fear/anxiety and so I had to wake up the other half. And with a Momof3 brain – math sure does the trick. I started with 2+2.

2. Serve someone. If you are sitting at home alone thinking about how not to think about being afriad. And then getting caught up in the fear that you can’t fight the fear of being afraid, then you lose. If your health permits (which mine did not for so long – half the battle) then please get up and serve someone. So much mental focus is spent on us, our fears, our problems, and it truly does help to get up and do something for someone else. You will be SHOCKED at how engaged your mind can become when you let it. It won’t cure this – but it’ll help fill a fearful afternoon.

3. Tell people. Now, I don’t necessarily mean you have to mention it to the guy at 7/11 when you’re getting a coffee, but if you feel led, go for it. You never know who you might meet at a 7/11. But, truly, tell your loved ones. Confess to a few close friends. Have someone to call in one of ‘those’ moments. Make up a code word (the sillier the better!) which means “My mind if racing with fear! Talk to me about something. Anything but this. Movies. Bra shopping. Royal baby. Anything. Go.” These people will create a special place in your heart like no one else ever will. Thank Jesus for them now.

4. Get help if needed. I did all of the above and then some. I had massages. I changed my diet. I was prayed over. I excersized. And so on and so forth. And then the time came for professional help. I tried meds. I had counseling. It wasn’t easy. Pride is a nasty second cousin of fear. The two are linked by their mutual famly member – control. We need it. We can’t get it. Our pride keeps trying. Our fears sink deeper each time we fail. Then rinse and repeat.

And lastly, BUT NOT AT ALL leastly – pray a lot. Somewhere. Anywhere. Everywhere. Here are some fantastic Scripture bricks to stand upon. I’d have been washed away otherwise. Memorize them. Write and re-write them. Post them all over your house. Tattoo them to your body. This IS my foundation. This IS your foundation. This IS absolutely where I believe you should start. Because even if you have valid reasons for your invalid fears (which most of us truly do!) and even if we have valid excuses for our behaviors – fear is from satan. We are of God. If you belong to him then that’s just it – you belong to Him. You are His. Let’s live like it. Let’s claim the victory Jesus died for. Let’s live our life NOW as Christ desires – free from the grip of fear. Not free from ever being afraid again – but free from it ruling our lives.

I leave you with a lovely quote from my BFF, Priscilla again – this was a perfect way to describe this – (read it twice!)

“Every physical reality contains a spiritual root. So if you deal with only the natural reality, using natural resources, you will never drill down to address the spiritual reality. You may be able to patch up the symptoms for a while, but the real problem will remain unsolved and simmering. That’s the enmy’s plan — to talk you into ignoring the divine reality occuring beneath the surface of your difficulties, leading you to downplay the significance of your spiritual weapons.”

Amen sister, Amen!

So I will leave you with a little conversation I am about to have out loud on your behalf. Ok, now she’s really lost it  I love you, friend. You can do this. Ok, lie. You can’t. But, HE CAN.

satan,

You suck. I hate you. You are a loser and you know it. May I be the first to remind you that you will never, and I mean never be in heaven. You will never have the power of God. You will be forever, for all eternity in hell, where you belong. As long as I have breath, I will tell people of your schemes. I will share every gory detail of my past with you and your stupid weapon of fear. Because, I know that with every breath of my praise of God and hatred of you, your power weakens. And I gotta tell ya, I love that!  You know I am sealed by the Holy Spirit and you. can’t. have. me. I’ve been bought. It’s a done deal. I belong to God. For all time. I can’t wait to see your worldy ways demoted and His lifted up. I can’t wait to see all the abundant and remarkable glory God receives because you have lost some of your pwoer over His people. I choose faith. Not your stupid fear. So take your demons and hit the road. In Jesus’ Name, be gone. In fact, GO TO HELL! It is where you belong and where you will forever be. Oh, and while you’re there, mention the Name of my Jesus – it’ll make your demons shudder. (James 2:19) Ha. Ha. Ha. Take that.

Forever His,

Me

[6] Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phl 4:6-7 NIV)
[6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. [7] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1Pe 5:6-7 NIV)
[5] We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2Cr 10:5 NIV)
[1] For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. [2] Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (Psa 46:1-2 NIV)
[6] Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deu 31:6 NIV)
[9] Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Jos 1:9 NIV)
[4] I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psa 34:4 NIV)
[4] Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psa 23:4 NIV)
[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (Jhn 14:27 NIV)
[13] For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13 NIV)
[7] For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (2Ti 1:7 NIV)
[7] They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psa 112:7 NIV)
[8] In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psa 4:8 NIV)
[3] When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. [4] In God, whose word I praise– in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psa 56:3-4 NIV)
[23] Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. [24] See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa 139:23-24 NIV)

Sovereign Pause

Ok, so I don’t know about you, but I’m certain kids these days are spoiled.

Like, spoiled, y’all.

When I was a kid, we had one TV and whatever show was on, you can bet it was pre-approved by the adults in the home. As in, if they wanted to watch it, we watched it. If not, we didn’t. End of story. Even later in life, when we finally got two TV’s in our home, I still had to ask permission. Then, I had to scour the TV Guide to desperately seek a show I liked that happen to be on at that exact moment. I tried to ensure I didn’t miss one solid episode of Full House, or Beverly Hills 90210, but I often missed them both. Because, on the occasion I had a shin-dig to go to, and my show was on – then, get this – I missed it. Eleven year olds around the world are gasping in sheer disbelief.

It’s sort of logical, really. I’m not there when the show is on, I miss the show. It ain’t rocket science, people. Isn’t that sort of what we call a natural conqequence. Well, it used to be.

Now, my kids can request a show, even a certain episode of a show and I just flip through our DVR recordings and find it for them immediately. Don’t get me started about On Demand and the beloved Play All feature. That’s straight from Jesus, y’all.

But, am I the only one is amazed by this whole DVR thing. Like blown away kind of amazed? I remember when I first grasped it. So, like, I can pause live TV. What!? How is that even possible? You’re saying I don’t have to hold in pee ’til I burst? I don’t have to ignore the phone call in order to catch the last five minutes of the Friends series finale? I don’t have to wait, godforbid, to see if they happen to play the re-run of a show in order to see who dunnit?

No. way.

Aside from Jesus and perhaps my iphone, DVR has flat changed my life, people.

I mean, really. I can pause live TV. So. Stay with me here – not only do my kids get to pick their show (when the TV is available, that is. Yes, we only own one – on purpose) But, they get to record that show and retreieve it whenever they stinkin’ want. Not only that, but if we have to eat dinner, or run an errand, they can just press pause and come back to it whenever their sweet little spoiled hearts desire.

Spoiled brats. Lucky dogs.

Granted, I, too, get to do all of this spoiled brat stuff as well – hence the divine-ness of the entire DVR concept. If it only worked on kid’s shows, I’d be calling Party Foul! But, me too!?! Ok – totally fair. You mean I get to have my own instant replay when Texas Tech plays UT and I need to be able to recount every detail to my unfortunate Longhorn big brother. Score! I get go back and re-play the funny catch phrase I missed when I had to pee for the thirtieth time that day. Oh the joys of post-Mama bodies. I get to watch the same episode over and over if I so please? Well, then I say “Welcome, DVR. Glad you came. Change your name to Holzberger. You are our people now.”

Oh, that we welcomed this idea of Pause in our lives, as it is on TV.

Have you ever felt a Soverign pause on your life?

The Holy Spirit saying that awful little word we don’t want to hear – Wait.

Noooooo. Anything but wait, Lord. 

But, alas, our Sovereign and all-knowing God has shown you a glimpse of something. You’ve seen the first twenty minutes of gripping action – you’ve heard the plot, gotten caught up in the characters – and then just as you think it’s time to see how this all ends – God hits the Pause button.

Stink.

I guess the first question to ask ourselves in this case is this – have I ever felt this? If your answer is yes, then praise Him for His faithfulness to speak to you and lead you. If your answer is no, (as mine has surely ben at times) then you may wanna humbly ask yourself who holds the remote in your life.

I know in our house – ain’t no kid gonna come up and push pause when Mama is watching her show. If they do, they better have two reasons – blood or fire.

I have had many times like a freakish amount, y’all where I’ve not only held the remote in my life, but I’ve also hidden it under the couch cushions so as to ensure God didn’t try to sneak His way back into control of my show. Funny how we think we even know how to work that dang remote, huh? Ha. We’re in control. Good one.

Lately, I have been at a crossroads. Ryan and I have officially transitioned away from the ‘having babies’ stage. Oh that he would let me post the blog I wrote about how we sealed that deal. It’s entitled “He gave me Peace, I gave him Peas” I’ll leave it at that. Maybe someday.

So, here we are, done having babies, ready to raise children. Ready to do the next phase of life. I’ve been a stay at home Mom for almost nine years. I was in college for twice as long as I actually taught in the classroom. Sorry, Mom and Dad!:) We have been ‘broke’ but happy. Wouldn’t. Trade. A. Day. Except for every single one of those spent potty training.

But, here we are, ready for this next phase, ready to see what God has in store. My baby girl is home for only one more year. This is it. This time next year I will be  a basket case helping her pick out her first ‘big girl’ backpack for kindergarten. Oh Lord have mercy, I ain’t ready.

But, for now, I also feel a great calling to be faithful to His work in me. I know He has called me to write some words and speak some words. I know His message in me is dying to get out. To splash all over anyone and everyone I can find, like a huge and sometimes hilarious tidal wave of His grace and mercy. But, now? Is the time now, God?

I’ve been wondering this aloud to Him a lot lately. Here I am faced with the reality of my little baby girl who will be in the same Pre-K program her big brothers were in. She will be gone five days a week from 9am-1pm. Not as much time as big kid school. But, still – five days. I couldn’t stand the thoguht of it, but knew that’s where she should be.

So, here I would be with five days, a few hours each day to myself. What should I do?

Serve at my beloved homeless church I haven’t been to in far too long?

Clean and cook and become the homemaker of my husband’s dreams?

Perhaps, sleep in late and tan in my pool? Say Yes Jesus, please!?!

Or truly pursue this writing thing like a grown up? Format a website? Record some podcasts? Get an agent? Finish my book? Learn what the heck a platform is?

Lord, what do I do?

Then, it happened.

Pause.

That’s right, God went and pressed pause on my life.

He heard my cry. He knows my heart. He sees every penny we have and every penny we don’t have. He knows this school year and His plan for it.

It won’t be this. It will be that. yes to this. No to that. Or in my case -

I’m not saying No, my child, I’m staying wait. This is your last year with her. Make. It. Count.

How does one willingly put a hold on a calling they know in the marrow of their bones God has for their life?

Easy.

They honor the first calling He placed on their life nine years ago.

I am a Mom. By His grace, He has entrusted me with three precious souls. Three babies to raise, to love, to guide and to let go.

God willing, my life will have forty to fifty years of life of work and purpose after kiddos are under my roof. But, that is not now.

Now, I have messes on my floors and noise in my ears. I have three little ones. I have two in ‘big kid’ school and one left with me.

And then – just because He can – He handed me a blessed answer. I was given a chance to work at my baby girl’s preschool. I actually get to take her to school, eat lunch with her, watch her on the playground and see her grow and learn and play. Every. Day. From 9am-1pm. I get to see her more in this role than if I remained a ‘stayathome’ Mom. Crazy, isn’t it? And since there are now more babies at home to raise, I get to go with her! It’s just for this year. A unlikely increase in enrollment and a director who prayed for who could help accommodate this year. God knew and she knew who would want to be there five days a week with a certain baby girl. Pick Me! Pick me! And, oh by the way – I get paid for it. Glory.

He heard my cry. He knows our needs. He knows my heart. And precious friend, He knows yours.

I can’t wait to get to be a real grown up writer and speaker. Ok, lie. I’m actually totally freaked out by it. I humbly anticipate getting to share His story with others. But, now, dear friend. He has pushed pause.

His Soverign pause on my life.

Have you felt it?

Have you obeyed it?

It sometimes ain’t easy. Especially if your name rhymes with Baroline Sholzberger. It often ain’t glorious. It ain’t always fun.

But, oh that we would sit in the silence of His pause. Oh, that all the glory would be His. Oh that all the obedience would be ours.

May we each desire to obey Him fully. He will bless your obediecne. He blessed mine.

Maybe yours is a new job. Perhaps a new career all together? Marry this guy? Move to this city?

I don’t know, friend. But He does.

Pray. Listen. Humble yourself. And pray some more. Give. It. Up.

Let Him push Pause. Then let Him push Play again – in His time.

Because get this - I don’t have to miss my show. I don’t have to wonder what happened or what will happen, because I know Who holds my remote. I know Who will push Play at exactly the right moment. When He is ready for His show to resume. For now, I get to sit and play and soak up my baby girl.

To Him be the glory.

And to me be the sanity…cause y’all – she is her mother’s child. Help me, baby Jesus.

Five Minute Fridays – Belong

(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.

Five Minute Fridays – BELONG

GO.

How desperately we, especially as women, feel the need to belong.

To feel loved. To be affirmed. To know we are worthy.

Our enemy is the prince of this world. This world that screams at us from every direction. The noise is deafening at times. But, not tonight. Tonight, my friend, the noise of this world was silenced by the prayers of the faithful. Amen! Tonight, I did belong. Because, tonight, my heart, my soul, and my spirit were affirmed by the only One who can truly give me value.

This evening, I spent the better part of a solid hour in prayer for a dear friend.

A wife. A mom. A teacher. And now, a cancer patient.

In only a moment, a glimpse of the doctor’s mouth moving, words coming out, but no sound. No. Not cancer. Everything changed. Nothing will ever be as it was.

From my couch, all those years I remember desperately wanting to feel like I belonged to the outside world. The world I only saw from my window, or from the waiting room of a doctor’s office. The world that seemed to be spinning around just. fine. without. me.

But, tonight, not from my couch, but from my friend’s couch, she was reassured. She was affirmed. She knew her value. She belonged.

Because, on this night, His family of believers surrounded her. More than twenty ladies gathered at her house (and many others from their own homes around the country) to pray over her. I was one of the blessed ones who knocked down the doors of heaven tonight in her name.

We were strangers to each other, so many of these women. At once, united by our friend, we were now united by the presence of His Holy Spirit. We were one in our prayers. We were one in our cries to our Father. We were one in our tears. We were one in our desperate pleas for healing and peace. We were one is our desire for His will above our own. We were one in our demolition of the enemy and his plans – in Jesus’ Name.

We were one.

United.

Alltogether different, but each so wonderfully made. Each of us, a part of His family. Sisters in Christ. United in prayer.

Because of His blood, His sacrifice, His love – we do belong.

And, precious friend, if you have given your life to Jesus – then never doubt this - so do you

Whether you feel it in your emotions. Whether you understand it in your brain. Or whether you don’t know the difference between the two – you are His.

He made you.

He knows you.

He loves you.

He died for you.

You. Do. Belong.

Five Minute Friday – Present

(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.

This week’s word – Present

GO.

Dear Present,

Where have you been, dear friend? You seem like the firefly during the heat of summer sunsets – always just.out.of.reach.

I dwell on your 2nd cousin, Past, and often fear your wicked Step-mother, Present.

My Past haunts me, guilts me, condemns me and brings me further from you, Beloved.

Your wicked Step-mother, my Future, sets my mind on controlling things, planning things, predicting things – always pushing you out of the way and making me a slave to Her demands.

I want to be here with You now, dear friend, oh my dear Present.

Here. Where her big girl winks aimed at me, cause my breath to catch in my throat.

Here. Where his innocent heart still brings me such joy, with questions like “Why do my socks have to match?” No, baby, they don’t. I love you so. and “Do I really have to wear underwear, Mama?”

Here. Where his dance between indepedence and still needing Mommy keeps my heart close, ever so close.

Here. Where you have me serving my man, or at least desperately trying serving me kids, and serving the least of these. Tired, am I? Yes. But, help me not be so busy, so consumed that I miss the gifts You give me here – every.single.day.

Oh, dear Present, stay with me a while.

Cling to me now. Do not leave.

Do not tease me with the flicker of your ever-fleeting light, only to fly away with another summer sunset.

Keep me here with you, dear flirefly.

I love you. I thank My Creator for you. For the blessings He has for me here with You.

For now, for our Present together, and for always,

Bless you, dear Present.

Love, Me (Your New BFF)

STOP.

Pity Party

During all those weeks and months of couch time, a wise friend once told me, “It’s ok to throw yourself a pity party if you need one occasionally. Just don’t decorate and hire a band.” Well said.

So, dear friend. Welcome to my pity party, today. Sorry, no streamers or live band, but I’m here. And, as I’ve shown you in the past, I have no problem just.being.real.with.you.

I guess this has slowly creeped up on me. It could probably be traced to what has thus far been notsoaffectionately called The Summer of Suck.

Summer is sacrilege for Team Holzberger. And, for so many others, as well. This is because my husband is in public education. You know, the career also known as, the one you do not go into for the money. Sweet, well-meaning yet ignorant people in the business world often comment “Ya, but I’d give anything to get eight weeks off in the summer.” Oh ya, anything? Even your amazing health insurance and your six figure salary? No? Oh, ok then.

Needless to say, this summer was going to be awesome. I am healthy (praise GOD!), neither of us is teaching a full load of summer school. (praise GOD!) Not because of our grandious vacation plans..ya, good one. But, solely, because it will be eight weeks of Team Holzberger time. Camping. Swimming. Rangers games. Sleeping in late. Hawaiian Falls waterpark every few days. And deer frolicking in the forest with butterflies on the tips of their noses.

Or not.

Week One, I’ve lovingly entitled – Don’t Tap This

My eldest (and then subsequently, my youngest) child gets an awful virus. Like, bad. Poor Jacob had a fever of at least 104.7 for three nights straight. We finally were advised by our doctor to take him to Cooks Children’s Hospital (Oh how I sing your praises, you people are saints!) and have him checked over, blood taken, and possibly a spinal tap to verify he doesn’t have viral meningitis. You.Must.Be.Freak-ing.Kidding.Me.

Sola Deo Gloria – my precious boy did not have to be tested for that. His spine was not tapped. So truly thankful. But, we did spend six days with very sick children. One of whom, remarkably got better, and had his fever break the morning after the ER. What an expensive check-up that will turn out to be.

Week Two, we will affectionately call – Don’t Eat Mor Chikin

Food poisoning. That’s right, food posioning. If you have never experienced that, I give you leave to stop reading this blog to immediately get on your knees and thank our Jesus in heaven. I’ll wait…

We went to Chick-Fil-A with my Mom and Step-Dad after a two day fun-filled time with them. We went to their church, Hawaiian Falls, the new and amazing Perot Museum in Dallas, and just had good ol’ fun with Mimi and Papaw. But, then we concluded our little visit with a late night run through Chick-Fil-A before we headed home. Foul.

Fortunately I got it the worst. (words only a mother could say) Two out of three kids got it. Along with myself and my step-dad. I couldn’t stop throwing up, like dry-heaving. So badly, in fact, that I passed out and almost was rushed by my dear husband to the ER myself. I say with a sheer geniune heart , “Lord, thank you.” that didn’t happen. Two ER visits in one week would be too much.

Week Three, can be referred to as no less than Brokeback Mama

In what was supposed to be our first and fun casual Team Holzberger trip to Hawaiian Falls. Well, I ain’t Hawaiian, but I did fall. In an attempt to ride down a certain slide my husband said ‘was awesome’ dang that man I tried to grab the handle to shoot myself down like a twenty year old rocket, I lost grip, and as-if-in-slow-motion, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed directly on my hiney. And, no not on flat ground, but on the edge of a stair, right on the crease of the netherregions. This resulted in a broken tailbone. Not. Cool.

So, here we are. Week Four. As I live and breathe, I am sitting upright, for only the third day out of the last eight. I am typing to you, whilst sitting atop a Boppy, with an well-placed ice pack in the middle. Glory.

And there goes June.

So, when you compile the entirety of those four weeks, and a complete bathroom remodel (done com-plete-ly by yours truly and my man over the last flippin’ year) and the strain therein caused by said remodel…and throw in a little visit from Aunt Flo, (click here for hil-ar-ious if not mildly inappropriate (meaning three curse words) Aunt Flo reading) I am left to one conclusion -

Pfpppffffft. (That was my kazoo sound. No, I didn’t decorate the pity party, but c’mon, every party needs a kazoo.)

I’ve also allowed myself to briefly be brought down by the reality that is our current life. My dear husband works 60-70 hours a week all school year long. Summer is supposed to be fun, happy family time. I hate this for him too. Notsomuch when I was hugging the toilet, but now, yes.

Which leads me to the other great stressor the enemy uses to occassionally bring me down. My man is a very hard working man. He puts more time, effort and integrity into his work that almost anyone else I know. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Chemistry minor. He has a Masters degree in Education. Yet, after insurance is taken out, he makes a mere $500 a month above U.S. standard poverty level for a family of five. That’s right. We pay almost $1,000 a month for awful health insurance. After which it is barely fesible to have a family of five on an Asst. Principal’s salary. What is that about?

I run away with questions like that sometimes.

Why do we live in a country that pays educators, policemen, firemen and the military for crying out loud so very little, yet can afford to pay people who sell legal drugs, build custom homes, or hit the ball out of the park ten or twenty times that?

What truly breaks my heart is that Ryan misses the classroom. He misses loving on the kids, interacting with them, and building them up. But, if he wanted to go back to the classroom, we would choose to cut our income by yet another $700 a month, making that poverty level our reality.

“Well why don’t you just go to work?” so many would say. Well, friend, it looks like I may have to. I’ve been otherwise detained on my couch for the better part of the last five years. But, now, I am healthy. I could work. Of course, we were committed to me being a stay-at-home Mom, because we both strongly believe in the impact it has on our family. A luxury, I guess.

And before you get run away with judgement, as I do sometimes. Let me assure you, we are not spenders. Anyone who knows me knows how crazy frugal we are. I’d be happy to send you our monthly budget in case you do need encouragement on how we (He) make it work. We use cash envelopes. (Dave Ramsey rules!) We have no debt besides our home. Of course, we have no savings, either.

Now, I realize there are plenty of intrinsic benefits from being in education. I know, I taught too. And those are blessings, for sure. Ryan laps those up like water in a dry and parched land to get him through Monday through Friday. And, while treasures themselves, intrinsic rewards do not pay the bills. So, as you could imagine, when we do not benefit from other perks of the job, like others do; winning trips for vacation, and this other myth they call a “bonus” (For all my educator readers, a ‘bonus’ is when one periodically makes more money on top on one’s salary, based on good performance, tenure, or goals reached. Just didn’t want you to be confused.) Ryan will make $300 less this school year than he did last year.

But, honestly, it isn’t just about the money. Money WILL NOT buy us happiness. And, friend, it will not buy you happiness either. I do not want to mislead you. It is about the stress that comes from not having it. The feeling of always shoveling snow in a blizzard. The salt in the wound of living in the 4th wealthiest area of the country where most good friends around me spend more on vacations than Ryan makes in six months. And, also the sad but true fact that our first thought after the doctor says “your son needs to go to the hospital” is, “Oh, God, protect him!’ alltooquickly followed by “Oh Lord, we can’t afford that!”

So many people know exactly what this is like. Others don’t. We do.

God has showered His blessings on us in spades. How else can we explain the six figures of medical bills HE paid off in the last five years? The, not one, but two trips (in one month)to The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota paid for solely by friends and family. How else can we explain that we are still married and fairly happy when statistics of families dealing with severe chronic illness are dismal. How else can we explain how God handed us our dream home at $100K less than any of our neighbors, and enough savings to put 20% down, making our house payments barely above our brand new home we sold. And how else can I explain that despite the facts that our home is old, outdated, and yes, just funky in places, He has given us our yard as our home. Our trees, as His shelter around us. How else could I explain to you the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve heard that have prayed faithfully for us for all these years and been strengthened in their faith by His story lived out through me?

By no other way, but our God.

And, I guess that’s the point of this rambling and less-than-upbeat blog. I just so strongly desire to keep it real with you lovely folks. I have lways been perceived in my life as ‘happy’ and ‘chipper’. I am always fun at parties and have a great personality. But, not always, my friend. Sometimes me and God have some words. He loves me enough to put up with the rawness of my heart. And yours too, dear one.

So, in keeping with the desire of my heart and the hope of His calling on my life, I wanted to invite you to this pity party – just to make sure you know I have them too. Mine may be brought on by issues vastly different than yours. And lest you and I forget that if we are sitting in an air conditioned home, reading this on our computer on iDevice…then all of these problems are first world problems. We really have no.idea.

But, the enemy would love to shower guilt over us for even feeling them. After all, good Christians can always keep perspective. Good Christians don’t complain, and they definetly don’t admit to having actual problems.

Well, then I guess I am one crappy Christian.

But, I am real. And, friend, so is my Jesus.

The One who can lift me up out of this miry clay. The One who can set my feet upon a rock and give me a new song in my heart. A song, once heard, that can bring many to Him, to see His goodness and give Him due glory.

And, if you’ve ever read the Bible, you will meet people, who, like me, have moments of weakness where the pity party planner (i.e. – yourself) calls and schedules an event. So, be encouraged, friends. Pity parties aren’t permanent. Aunt Flo will leave the building. The sun will shine again.

Until then, do what I do. Surround yourself with praise and orship music. (I’ve been listening to it this whole time and I’m already in a better place than I was an hour ago)

Read the promises in His Word. There are so many. Find a few that speak to your heart and write them down, carry them with you. Commit them to memory and sing them out loud in times like this. See, who needs a live band, huh?

Last, but not least – GO SERVE SOMEONE. I mean it! It is virtually impossible to stay in your pity party mindset when you are handing cold gatorade to hard-working men who works fifteen hours a day outdoors, building homes bigger than they could ever dream of. Pity parties dimish at the hand of a tray of food to the homeless. At the smile of the elderly when you bring them a hand-drawn card from your babies, into their forgotten world. When you give a pregnant teen value and worth in the form of a smile and hug. When you speak to the man delivering the Pepsi at 7-11, you just never know how God will bless your life. He may not only bring you out of your pity party. Like me, He may just do so much more.

Sister friend has now waked up and wants to play babies with me. Done. (Also a known remedy.)

Pffffpfpfttttt. (one last time for good measure)

Love, love.

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

John 16:33 ” I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God. Know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength, and my shield. I trust in Him and I am helped.”

1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him – because He cares for you.”

Five Minute Friday – Beautiful

(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.

This week’s word – Beautiful

START:

Beautiful.

Such a foreign word. Not a word ever used to describe me, really.

I was, after all, the girl with the great personality. I was fun at parties. I was charming, funny, and athletic. I wasn’t pretty, per say, and certainly not beautiful.

But, on March 14, 2009, my entire world changed. The doctor who I may have just accidentally cursed out for three hours held up a tiny, perfect baby, I’d worked so hard to get out of my body…and said three little words that changed my everything – “It’s a girl.”

A girl child.

Whatintheworld would I do with a girl child? A tomboy since birth with two sons already, how does this fit with me?

I have so many friends, you know, girly friends, beautiful friends who desperately wanted a girl. But, Lord, you trust me with one? You trust me to raise a girl child?

Four years later, I joyfully embrace my role with this little darling one. My best girl. Our own little sister friend.

She adores sparkle and anything purple.

She is the best lizard catcher in the family.

She kicks and jumps like any good ninja would.

She rocks her babies with the gentle care of a seasoned mother of five.

She stains her clothes worse than both brothers combined.

She giggles and spins every time she wears a “twirly skirt”.

She loves baseball and can list most of the Rangers lineup.

She supports her team faithfully with a mouth full of Big League Chew and her purple sparkly hat.

She loves Legos.

She adores Hello Kitty.

She watches Sofia the First and Ninja Turtles, too.

She’s convinced she, too, will stand up to go pee-pee someday.

She loves that her bruddas have to hold the door open for her.

She is tough.

She is caring.

She is precocious.

She is fearless.

She is dirty.

She is girly.

She is defiant.

She is brilliant.

She is hilarious.

She is passionate.

She is not delicate, but she is darling.

She is not petite, but she is precious.

She is a girl child.

She is my girl child.

So, I will learn to french braid.

I will use glitter.

I will watch princess movies.

I will play with her doll house.

I will support dance, or cheerleading, or Godforbid drill team.

I will let her be whoever she wants to be.

Whoever God has made her to be.

Because she IS beautiful.

And I will tell her so.

Every. Single. Day.

(For-the-record – choosing pics took waaaay longer than five minutes. Sorry if this breaks the rules. But, I love this girl. I couldn’t stop myself. :)

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Five Minute Fridays – “In Between”

(Disclaimer to my readers – 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.

Here we go…

So, for the better part of 2007-2012 I was flat on my back. Like, all.the.time.

Spinal fluid leaks are the real deal. And, they aren’t a heckofalotta fun.

My life felt as if it was put on Pause. Then Play. Then Pause. Then Stop. The, Stop again. Then Play again. (Read more here.) It was a wild ride, a time to grow in Jesus and something I would never trade for all the money in the world. For, from this divine roller coaster I gained the best gift of a person could ask for — perspective.

Before this time, I was a teacher, then stay at home Mom, then worked part time at our church. I had all but given up writing. Like, seriously, who had the time?

Then, when Someone gave me the chance to lie flat on my back all day every day for weeks and months on end, I came to a divine conclusion — one can only watch so much HGTV, y’all.

I wrote out of desperation, out of desire, out of connection with the outside world, and often out of the pure need for sanity.

Praising God From My Couch was born.

Fast forward to today and I am off my couch. My life has, in the wise words of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire  “gotflippedturnedupsidedown” SOLA DEO GLORIA.

So, now what?

(crickets)

I have felt a true calling to write and speak and share HIS story though my story.

But, when, Lord? Now? Tomorrow? A week from Friday? Once the kids are in school?

I feel lost, happy, confused, alone, and beautiful in my present state of In-Between.

I see His future for me. I see a ministry built on a stripped-of-all-freaking-pretense active and authentic faith.

But, as for now, Oh glory how I missed this daily stuff. I missed dishes. I missed traffic. I missed, yes, even laundry. Clearly, I was on a lot of medication. And so, for now, I feel joyful, if not flat out blessed to be in this state of In Between.

Loving on my kids. Doing carpool. Making lunches. Refereeing karate matches. Playing with dollhouses. In two years, they will all be gone in school all day every day. All. three. of. them. Then what?!

Well, then I guess I won’t be In Between anymore.

But for now…I rest here. There is peace here.

Genesis 18:19 breathed fresh life into me in between this morning. “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Gen.18:19

Thank you Jesus for In Between. Thank you for the past, and my couch, and for meeting me there. Thank you for today and one kid in time-out and the other two doing ‘charachter building chores’. And precious Jesus, thank you for In Between today and tomorrow…wherever, whatever, whenever You have it for me.

He’s Just Not That Into Me

It’s official – my oldest kid doesn’t like me anymore.

Those of you with older kids are laughing at me and reminiscing of the time you first entered this phase of parenthood. Your kids began the dance of separation too – and maybe they broke your heart as well. They pull away, you pull them in…they need you so they push back toward you…but you know you must pull away sometimes. It’s delicate. It’s terrifying. And friend, it is now, my reality.

My pal, Thing One wrote about this same type of dance she recently began with her teenage daughter.

But, here’s the deal – my kid is not even NINE years old yet!

I know for little boys it is crucial and natural for them to begin to pull away from Mommy sooner. Ps. not. cool.

And, I do want this for Jacob. I do want him to begin the lean towards independence. I do want him to attach to Daddy and separate from Mommy. It sounds all well and good and natural on paper. But, then your kid does it. Your kid that you birthed from your own body after four freaking days of labor gives you that look. The one that proves he tolerates you but no longer likes you. Your heart catches in your throat. Then shatters at the bottom of your stomach.

Are we really there?

Is my ‘baby boy’ officially gone?

I didn’t want this. I want him to grow up but, this!?

His sullen attitude sometimes.

His quiet lack of response that fills the void of sound where details of his day used to linger.

His slight but noticeable pull away when I hug or kiss on him in public. And (sniff, sniff) sometimes even in private.

I guess there are times, he just isn’t feelin’ it.

But, I’m the MAMA!!!!! I want to shout from the top of my lungs.

I birthed you! I nursed you for a year because that’s what I was told was best for you – despite your fourteen teeth! I cared for you when you were sick. And, not from afar, either. I’ve had your throw up on my bare skin, kiddo. Take that! And, I supported you through sadness. And I helped you deal with hurt feelings. And, most of all – I didn’t sell for ten bucks you when you turned into a terrible three-yearold. (Whoever deemed the phrase ‘terrible twos’ clearly had not yet had a three year old!) I kissed your boo-boos, fanned your confidence, reassured your self-worth more times than I could count. And you can’t give me a freaking hug!?!

What the !?!

Clearly, this has hit me pretty hard, I guess because I wasn’t expecting it to begin so early. But, it has. It’s official. Like the trendy movie a few years back about daft girls who were unaware when dudes didn’t like them anymore – my firstborn “is just not that into me.”

We were sitting at the doctor’s office the other day because I (being the always-on-top-of-things type of Mom that I am. Ahem.), knew he had an ear infection. I re-ar-ranged my already nutso day to get him to an appointment that worked well for my day, and assured that he didn’t miss recess. (You’re welcome, son.)

We were sitting in the room, waiting on the doctor, and Jacob was reading his book. He does that a lot.

He loves to read. I can’t relate to it, at all. But, I support it. Apparently, it’s a good habit to have. But, I would rather sit and talk, and talk, and talk.

Jacob? Notsomuch. And, I get that.

1) He’s a boy.

2) He’s eight.

3) He’s a boy.

4) He’s a private kid, like his Dad. He likes to be quiet and still and read. Like, with no words. Weird.

I tried to love on him. I tried to engage him in conversation.

(crickets.)

Finally, I found myself checking facebook on my phone and checking out.

Then, I remembered Thing One’s post (read it here!) about disengaging with your kids and really knowing when they want you to dig into their lives more.

So, I decided to ask him some easy questions, like about how he was feeling.

“Hey buddy, do both ears hurt?”

No.

“Does the left one still hurt?”

No.

(Ok, Jacob. Nice talk.)

By the way, you better have a dang ear infection kid, or you own me $150 for this office visit.

“Well, does your head feel stuffy, or full?”

I’m thinking like congestion. Maybe sinus pressure.

And, then he floored me –

“Yah I guess.”

“Oh really? It feels full?” (still thinking, like congested)

“Yes, Mom. I just have a lot on my mind.”

BAM! (sound of my jaw hitting the floor)

First reaction (thank God I didn’t say it out loud!!) You’re eight. What could you possibly have on your mind!?! It don’t get easier than eight, kid.

Second reaction quick to follow: Oh my goodness gracious, my fleshandblood kid has a lot on his mind and I had NO idea!?! What the heck? I am a horrible Mom.

So, in the name of blessing all of you people, I proceeded to do all of the WRONG things in that moment so that I could compile a list of things NOT to do when talking to your eight-year-old son – (I am but a slave to my readers)

1. Do not call him a nickname like “Baby”, “Buggy”, “Boo-Boo” or anything similar. Eyes will roll.

2. Do not offer to ‘cuggle’ with him or have him sit in your lap. Especially when he weighs over sixty pounds, that’s what we call a lose-lose.

3. Do not insist over and over that he put the book down and talk about his ‘feelings’

4. Do not ask him question after question until he looks longingly at the exit, hoping someone will walk in the door and give him a vaccine or something to stop his Mom’s interrogation, er, I mean discussion.

5. Do not complain or whine about how he won’t talk to you and share his heart with you.

6. Do not, I repeat NOT lament about how your baby is all grown up and gone now.

Sheesh. Get a clue, Caroline.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

I know there are plenty of you right now with kids maybe in their teens or older who are trying not to spit your latte from your lips at the ignorance I’m describing. It would be like me listening to a Mom who is frantic about her baby not potty training by age two. Hahahaha! Been there done that. Got the t-shirt. But, then kid pooped on the t-shirt in Target. Threw away the t-shirt.

But, for me, this is an entirely new phase we are entering.

My kid doesn’t like me. Me!?! Um, in case you didn’t notice, Jacob, I’m like a super fun person! I’ve been told I’m Fun At Parties, have a heart of gold and am great with kids. Ahem. Listen up, kid, you are lucky you have such a cool Mom. I’m the funniest person you will ever meet – EVER. You got that, Mr. CoolMan??

My Jacob is a good kid, and he does love me. But he’s just not that into me anymore. And you know what, friend!? That needs to be ok with me.

I’ve heard people say “If your kids like you all the time, you must be doing something wrong.”

Ok, that’s encouraging. But, now what?

I am still hurt. I have the warped personality type that desires everyone to like me…and everyone to like everyone else too, for that matter.  I, being an emotional basketcase person – took this personally at first. I figured I had done something wrong. So, I reacted like a toddler – and I put my walls up. My instinct was to disengage. If you won’t love on me like you used to, Jacob, then I’ll just sit here. Take that. I’m sorry, who is the parent here? Glory.

But, I’ve learned a lot from that office visit.

Lesson One: I should have bought an otoscope eight years ago and googled how to tell if your kid has an ear infection. Then, maybe my kids would have a college fund.

Lesson Two: I will not disengage with my kids.

I can’t. You can’t. We honestly just can’t, friends.

That is how a generation is raised with no empathy. No people skills. With selfishness and self-centeredness. Never learning disappointment. Never learning from their own mistakes. Only hearing ‘Yes.” Because let’s be honest, sometimes it is SO much easier to just say “Yes.” and avoid the argument.

But, we can do this! We will resolve to be good parents.

I will learn from my mistakes and try to do better next time. I will remember that my value as a mother is NOT dependent on the way my kids “feel” toward me at the moment. They will not like me all the time. In fact, if one of them isn’t mad at me at any given moment, I may need to check the clouds for Jesus’ return.

Older kids need to separate. They need to grow up and move on. My job is to help them do that, while keeping them safe from others, and more importantly, themselves.

My job is to love, even when they’re ugly.

To support, even when they ‘say’ they don’t need it.

To affirm, even when I want to smack them over their head.

To value their feelings, even if I know they’re ridiculous.

To honor the person God made them to be, and not try to turn them into anyone else.

To teach them to obey me ONLY because it will help them learn to obey God.

To let them fail and suffer natural consequences, yes, even when it hurts me as much as it hurts them.

To let them learn from their own mistakes, not just mine.

But, dude, this job is hard.

I have to let go of this precious baby boy, who isn’t a baby boy, but will always be my baby boy – I raise him then I let him go. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in between, but that’s a fairly good summation.

I will cling to those moments when he still needs me and wants me.

I will desperately search for ways he does show his love for me – they are different now, but they are there.

I will soak up his smiles and hugs when he gives them freely.

I will tell other people of his kind and pure moments of goodness, so that when I feel like trading him in for an entirely different kid, they can remind me of those stories before I ship him to China, Third Class mail.

Moms, this deal is tough.

Each stage, tough in different ways – but all tough.

I will choose to embrace the good with the bad.

I will rely on God’s strength and guidance from His Word – without which, I’d fail even worse than I am.

I will pray for my kids.

I will love on my kids.

And, for now, I will still sneak into their rooms at night while they sleep, to steal just one. more. sweet. kiss.

I love you, Jacob. And I will always be into you.

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A Good Mom

I remember it like it was yesterday -

I was wearing my pregnancy jamis, with ice cream stains on the belly – and with the extra sixty eight pounds of baby pertruding out. I was pacing around my quiet, toy-free home. I held the phone close to me as I cried out “‘But, what if I don’t love my baby as much as I loved yours?”

I was on the phone with one of the pillars in my life, Cindy. She is the Mom of the precious boy I was a nanny for in college. For three years I loved on this darling baby boy most of my week. He was six-weeks old the first time I laid eyes on him. Not even six pounds of precious, beautiful, wrinkly blessing. I had never held a baby that small. But, when I picked him up, he captured my heart. I became a part of their family, and they became a part of mine. Cindy and I became fast friends and spent most of our time hanging out together with sweet baby JG. We were snarky, silly, irreverent, and fun. It was one of the most treasured times of my life.

At some point, I had to graduate college. I had to get a ‘real’ job. I had to get married and move on. It was tough to leave my Lubbock family. Sad, sad. But, we found fun ways to keep in touch and enjoyed every visit we could. Then, years later, poor, unsuspecting Cindy called me to see how I was feeling. She knew I was close to my due date. She knew me well enough to know I was getting nervous. I guess she should known I’d do this. Yup, I lost it.

Really, Cindy. What if I don’t love this baby as much as I loved yours? What if we don’t connect? What if I don’t know what to do? What if all these people, all these years were wrong? What if I’m not a good mom?!?!”

Looking back, I laugh out loud at myself. Oh, the innocence. Oh, the ignorance. Oh, the hormones.

Precious Cindy Lou soothed me, calmed me, reassured me, as she had done for so many years when I came to her for free therapy about college, about life, about men, er, I mean boys. She had seen me love on her baby boy. I guess she felt pretty confident I’d do ok with this baby boy.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Now, my baby boy is almost nine years old. Her baby boy is pushing fourteen. Gulp.

My baby boy has a baby brother and a baby sister. Neither of whom are babies anymore.

Yet, I still have my moments. Daily.

What if I am screwing these short people up for all time?

What if I only pass on all my worst traits to them?

What if they grow up to resent me and God together at the very same time?

What if the selfish heart that is growing in my son only gets worse and worse?

What if? What if? What if? Oh how the enemy loves to beat me over the head with those freaking two little words.

All the while, the Bible screams at me, “Don’t go there, sista!” My devo I read this morning -

Trust Me One Day At A Time.  Trust keeps you close to Me, responsive to My will.  Trust is not a natural response, especially for those who have been deeply wounded.  (Um, that would be me!) My Spirit within you is your resident Tutor, helping you in this supernatural endeavor.  Yield to His gentle touch; be sensitive to his prompting. Exert your will to trust Me in all circumstances.  Don’t let your need to understand distract you from My Presence.  I will equip you to get through this day victoriously, as you live in deep dependence on Me.  Tomorrow is busy worrying about itself, don’t get tangled up in its worry-webs.  Trust Me one day at a time. Psalm 84:12 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Matthew 6:34 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

So, on this precious Mother’s Day, my dear friend, I want to encourage you. Yes, YOU! The one sitting there with throw up stained on her shoulder, and also the one who has to take a deep breath before she checks her kid’s facebook page each night. Both phases are equally draining and equally scary.

Be encouraged.

Contrary to my own thoughts sometimes, I have been told I am a ‘good Mom’. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you what a “good Mom” really is. What I am. Maybe after you read, you’ll still be my friend.

A good Mom yells at her kids, but then apologizes. Uses the words, “Please forgive me! I was wrong! Mama is going to try and work on that!”

A good Mom puts her child in time-out and then forgets they are there. More than twenty times once.

A good Mom manipulates her kids’ emotions.

A good Mom forgets to pray for them by name each day.

A good Mom works on their batting stance more than their Scripture memory.

A good Mom takes them with her downtown to see what ‘poor’ really means. She hugs those poor kids, prays for those poor kids, and then looks her kids right in the eye and whispers “God loves that sweet baby. And God loves you.”

A good Mom then completely loses her temper exactly seven minutes later in the minivan on the way home from said downtown mission work. Sheesh.

A good Mom makes her kid wear a stained shirt into a store, even though he is terrified of everyone making fun of him.

A good Mom doesn’t let her kid invite twenty kids to their birthday party for the sheer fact – “You do. not. need. that many presents!”

A good Mom makes them donate one of their only six new birthday gifts to a kid in need anyway.

A good Mom raises her voice as she tries to make the point -”These kids having nothing! Don’t you understand that!?!”

A good Mom writes a note in the kids’ lunches every single day for as long as they will let her. Even when she honestly can’t think of anything to sweet to say because they have annoyed the fire out of her!!!!

A good Mom lets her kid fail.

Repeat- A good Mom lets her kid fail.

A good Mom lets her kid get picked last.

A good Mom lets her kid be disappointed. Daily.

A good Mom walks away when she is so mad and disappointed in her kid’s selfish heart that she just may shake him!

A good Mom smiles when their kid asks for yet another worldy good. She says No! She smiles, and then yells sometimes. But, she does smile.

A good Mom turns the praise and worship music up to a deafening decibel in order to not have to listen to another bickering word from the monsters in the backseat.

A good Mom ignores her children when they interrupt for the twentieth time that hour as she is trying to write about being a freaking good Mom. Yes, as in, flat out i-g-n-o-r-e-s them.

A good Mom chooses facebook over after-school chatting sometimes.

A good Mom even goes days without actually probing deep into their world for important details. Days.

A good Mom intends to spend time every morning in the Bible with their kids, but instead sleeps an extra fifteen minutes and then scrambles to make three lunches in four minutes.

A good Mom wants to spend Mother’s Day alone. As in, away from every single one of her children and the man who made them. Glory.

Dangit.

Now, who was it again that said I was a ‘good Mom’??!?! Where you at now? Were you smoking crack??

Oh my precious friend….I sure do try. By my own strength I fail mis-er-ably. And then often, by His strength, I try my very best to be a ‘good Mom’ – whatever the heck that is. I want to be a good Mom. I want my kids to think they have a good Mom. I want my God to see me as a good Mom. Oh how I do.

But I am selfish. I am prideful. I am judgemental. I am laaaazy. I am unorganized. I am impatient. I have a temper.

And, I don’t know if you have figured this out or not, friend, but let me let you in on a painful truth of motherhood. You ready for it???

It is waaaaay easier to be a bad Mom.

To say yes just to make them happy.

To let them continue with their wordly desires.

To let them go that friend’s house just to avoid a fight with them.

To let them have yet another expensive article of clothing to shove onto the floor of their overfowing closet.

To ignore their attitude.

To ignore the heart behind that attidue.

After all, we have bigger fish to fry. We are busy. We are stressed. We have more at stake that some of the ‘minor ‘stuff.

Bull honkey. (insert any other word you’d like there!)

That. is. bull.

As a Mom, we must care about everything. From their safety, to their character, to their heart-choices, to the attitude in their voice. Ev-ery-thing. It’s our job. It’s our high-calling.

So, if you, like me, feel like a ‘bad Mom’ sometimes, then join the club. I am Activities co-chair. But, don’t stay long. Come in, have a drink, slouch on the couch, but then get up and leave. Quit the club, friend! Don’t you the enemy keep you there.

There is always tomorrow.

God will be with you tomorrow. Through the sleepless nights. Through the throw up. Through the throw down. Through the girl drama. Through the boy fighting. Through mid-driffs, and tattoos, and break-ups. Through colic, and postpartum, and spit-ups. Through it all.

Do not give up. Stand strong. You can do this! I can do this! We really can do all things with HIS strength.

Don’t aim to be a ‘good Mom’. What does that even mean?

Sweet friend, just aim to be a servant of Jesus. Just stand there with your mouth stinking shut and point to Jesus.

Love others. Serve others. Make your kids do the same. Give freely. Take a deep breath before you speak. Pray often. Ask for forgiveness even more often. Be authentic. Give endless hugs. Give even more smiles and winks. Laugh with your kids. Laugh at your kids. Pray for your kids. Pray with your kids. Wake up anew every day with a thankful heart – a hopeful heart – a humble heart.

And, enjoy this day. Alone and quiet.

Happy Mother’s Day from one ‘good mom’ to another.

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Breaking Up With My Radio Station

Here’s the deal – and surely this is no shock to you… but, I am not completely a strict-o Christian chick. As long as God has not specifically told you otherwise, I do not believe there is any harm in rocking out to some old school Beastie Boys or No Doubt for old times sake. Baby Got Back makes me smile. I love The Beatles. I love The Steve Miller Band 1974-1978 album. I love looooots of random 1980′s goodness.

On the other hand of this weird chick named Me, I do firmly believe in the whole “good stuff in = good stuff out” principle. Maybe cause I’ve read it somewhere…like, um, The Bible. So, I am going to try my best to play Christian or at least wholesome music as much as possible in my Gracevan and when the kids get older and wanna hear some “of that pop music stuff”, I will perhaps let them. On a song by song basis, of course. I bought the van, I pick the station. Duh.

But, I must say that I have been disheartened, annoyed, disgusted, saddened, frustrated and pissed at my Channel #1 on my radio station lately. Here’s the deal – this is my blog and so I am allowed to have my own opinion. You have yours. We live in a free country and are spoiled by this freedom. But, I do not want to ‘badmouth’ a radio station or a person or a thing or a noun. So, I will be honest and as discreet as possible. Ahem.

The radio station I have been listening to for over a decade was sometimes cheesey, sometimes obnoxious, but often played the exact song at the exact time I needed to hear it. Yes, there have been times where the sheer volume of commercials made me wanna jab myself in the eye with a fork, but I forgave them, chalked it up to the ‘need to raise money and advertise so they can give me my Toby Mac when I needed it’ scenario and moved on. But, the last few months, enough has been freaking enough.

‘Tis no longer about the volume of commercials, but instead, the content of them. Maybe I’m getting to be an old fogey. Maybe I’m just realizing how deeply and rapidly the quicksand of the world sucks you down. Maybe I’m just waking up to what Jesus really is all about. Who knows!? Jesus does! Jesus does! But, I have literally had my stomach churn at the sound of the commercials my Christian radio station has been playing. Whether it is laser hair removal or teeth whitening or debt-causing leases for brand new cars or fillinthestinking blank, it is all about this world and very little about Jesus. The first time I noticed it, I shook off the Holy Spirit’s leading and chalked it up to, once again, the ‘need’ to advertise.

Then, my six-year-old sat and listened to this station, anxiously awaiting to see if he could hear his favorite Audio Adrenaline song, and heard an advertising for plastic surgery and asked “Hey, Mama, what is “Mommy Makeover?” Do you want to get one?” Sigh. Vomit in mouth. Cry.

Disclaimer: At the risk of being misquoted, let me be clear. I am not bashing people who have gotten plastic surgery. Or zoom whitening. Or have much-o debt-o for their luxury cars. I do not judge you. I personally may not agree with some of those choices, but I’m sure you don’t agree with some of mine. I AM NOT YOUR JUDGE. I know neither your heart nor your motive. I do know how sick and dark and selfish mine is and have a full-time job trying to continually surrender all that junk to Jesus. I ain’t got time to judge your junk as well. Nor should I. So, please don’t turn this into something it’s not. Please. Moving on.

I started paying more attention to the types of services, businesses, events I heard on this station. And, as they say, the truth is in the pudding. More than half of what I heard goes directly against what my family and I believe in. The Sovereign 2×4 to my head was the stark and immediate difference between one of their on-air personalities speaking of the severe famine and water crisis they were raising money for, until noon that day, and then breaking for commercial and hearing that same voice urging me I needed to “feel better about myself” and “I deserved’ to be hair-free in my bikini area just in time for summer.

What the heck!?!

It hit me – Jesus would not be listening to this station. Like, at all. 

The songs may be safe for my whole family. The commercials; notsomuch.

So, I broke up with them. I changed the dial on my radio and started to listen to a suuuuuper conservative Christian option in my area. The whiplash was pretty severe, since now all I heard was sermons and ‘less rock-style’ type Christian music – you know the kind that the non-Chrstian world hears and makes fun of us for.

Me: “God. (in my never far from my lips three-year-old whiney voice) Do I have to listen to this!?!”

God: “No. You have free will. But, I’ve told you what to do. You can choose to honor me or not.”

Me: Well, sheesh, when you put it that way…

Me: (pouting) “Ok, ok, I will obey.” (Visions of my daughter are happening at this moment which ticks me off, dangit.)

So, I did it. I listened to the straight laced station and heard quite a bit of good teaching. Heard a fun song or two. (three, tops) But, more importantly felt better about obeying God. Well, I felt better-ish.

I still stuck my lip out sometimes. Ok often.

Then, a friend told me about this awesome radio station called Air One. (Seriously, check it out, it’s all over the country and online!!) I was intrigued by her description “It’s better than fillintheblank radio station because there are no awful commercials. It’s also better than the other fillintheblank radio station because the deejays are a bit snarky like you, (gee, thanks) and genuine and real and honest and have a real heart for God. But (dangit, I knew there was a catch) they are currently in the middle of their pledge drive.”

Me: “Who cares!?! I’m trying it out!”

So, I did. And I fell in love. Minus the constant reminder of their pledge drive (man that sounds awful!) I loved their music, their heart for serving others, the genuine hearts of their deejays and their complete and utter LACK of commercials focused on my body image, my debt accruement, or my home improvements.

Score!

Day five – When will this pledge drive end, Lord!?!!? I am the worst person ever. 

Day seven – Maybe I could flip back and forth to the old station? (insert yet another laser skin treatment commercial) Nevermind.

Day ten – Ok, Lord, have they raised enough money yet?

Day twelve – Hmm…maybe I should pray about giving??

Day thirteen – Pledge drive over. And there was much rejoicing! Yaaaaaaa.

My heart was all wrong. (Shocker!) But, once I truly gave this up, He showed up big. He gave me a finefornow station. It wasn’t a good fit, but it helped in my first step of obedience. Then, He showed up again. He gave me this perfect fit radio station, but they had a pledge drive. He tested my motive. Challenged my heart. Tried my patience. And then changed – my- viewpoint. Then, He divinely ended the pledge drive. A whole day earlier than expected. Glory.

The last few days with my new BFF radio station have been lovely. The play rap. They play metal. They play jazzy stuff. They play Hanson-type-Umm-Bop teeny-bopperish stuff. They play it all. But, it ALL is about Jesus. Their radio people sound like they could be any one of my friends. They have ZERO commercials, muchless ones about this world and it’s snares. And, now that the pledge drive is over – Again, glory. God has provided them with a fully funded DFW experience and I can genuinely pray about supporting them. With the right heart.

So…what has God told you to do that seems nuts?

Break up with a Christian radio station, Lord? Really?

Yup.

Um, no thanks.

Umm…maybe?

Um, Ok, but I’m pitching a fit.

Ok, I’ll do it – for real. Then, viola!

Yes, Lord! Change my heart to be like YOURS! I want none of it. None.

Friend, I don’t know how much you know me at all. But, I know how well God knows me. He knows alltoowell how quickly I can slip and sometimes dive back into the world and not even realize I look more like them than I do like His Son. Poof! It takes one moment.

Maybe for you, it’s nothing about music. Maybe He told you to quit drinking Diet Coke? Or stop drinking any alcohol ever. (another talk for another time) Or maybe He has shown you a person He wants you to avoid? Or befriend?

Here’s the deal – take it from a stubborn chick who believeitornot truly does have a heart for Jesus. Like, the real Jesus – FROM THE BIBLE. Not, the upper class American version of Him we’ve painted to make ourselves feel good about our choices. I fail often. I flat blow it often too. But, often, I obey. Sometimes, even with a pure heart, which, btw, actually matters more. And when I do, I am blown away by His faithfulness to me. I am blown away by His love for me. I am humbled and flattened by His sacrifice for me.

So…that’s pretty much it. I am now happily dating Air One. We are happy. We hold hands. I don’t suck in my belly. They don’t pretend to be something they’re not. We love each other just the way we are. And we are crazy about our Jesus.

And, in case you already didn’t think I was a total dork – God told me I had to formally say goodbye to theotherradio station. Shoot! He knows how non-confrontational I am. I, personally, wanted to just ‘stop calling him and let him figure it out’ instead of calling and saying ‘it isn’t you, it’s me.’ Can you relate at all? So, after weeks of being 110% sure I was supposed to make it official. I did. I sent this letter, that isn’t quite as gentle as I had hoped, but much less harsh and full of hurt than I had originally drafted in my head. This letter will probably not matter to anyone except me and Jesus. But, that’s enough for me.

So – here it is -

It is with a heavy heart that I wrote this email to y’all. I have been a (fillintheblank) listener for over a decade. You have provided me with praise and worship time through some of my most joyous and most difficult times. And, while I am not certain my email will make an impact, I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to do it for months now. Your catch phrase of “Safe For the Whole Family” no longer applies, in my opinion. Your songs – yes. Your commercials – absolutely not. I know that your station got a lot of flack a few years ago for having too many commercials, but I stood by your side, knowing that the worship in between was worth the wait. But, now my extreme concern and disappointing reason for this email is regarding the quality (or lack thereof) of your commercials. It has gone from bad to worse. Whether you are encouraging your listeners to go into debt with a lease on a new car they ‘deserve’ or trying to use your on air personalities to convince me I need laser skin treatments or a “mommy makeover’ – it has literally made my stomach churn. We are called as believers to STAND OUT in this world. To be IN the world, not OF the world. Your songs do just that. But, your commercials sound like they could be played on any other station. What a gross shock to go from hearing your concern for clean water provided in other struggling countries, to your commercials urging me toward teeth whitening. Something is wrong. I refuse to subject my kids to it anymore, and I am done trying to explain to them why Christians would spend SO MUCH money on the services you advertise. Instead, I am joyfully changing the channel to Air One 101.7. They are listener supported, so I know that is a different set up that y’all, but I will happily listen to two weeks of their pledge drive that two minutes of the commercials you play. I STRONGLY urge your management to spend some serious time in prayer about this. I am heartbroken for the many Christians you are misleading as to what it means to live like Christ. I am one listener and may not matter much. My changing channels will not affect your ratings. But, I still felt led to bring this to your attention. I pray this changes in the future, because you, as the “largest Christian radio station in America” have a responsibility to Jesus. You will give account (as will we all) for how you used your time, money and business. And, as it is now, I feel Jesus would be pretty disappointed and truthfully, pretty hacked off. Thank you for over a decade of being there for me, through thick and thin, through an illness that left me lying on my couch unable to sit upright for months on end. All I could do was praise and worship from my couch, and you were there for me with an outlet of praise for Jesus. So, thank you. And goodbye.

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