caroline holzberger

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

“Mama, Say Your Thing”

Ryan and I are pretty crazy about our kiddos. God has blessed us with three little kids that are such joy-givers to our lives.

Jacob is our first born and is typical to that form. He is methodical, honest, organized and a natural rule-follower, like his Daddy. He cannot understand why Quik Trip gas stations are purposely spelled wrong. It does. not. compute. Not only is he a super smart kid, but he also has such a huge heart. Cartoons have brought him to tears because someone in the story is injured or has gotten their feelings hurt. His heart is outgrown only by my heart for him.

Benjamin is our joy boy. He was the happiest baby ever and thankfully, he has never outgrown it. He was a middle child, before he was even the middle child. He isn’t happy unless everyone else is. He is silly and hilarious without even trying. He loves to “cuggle” all the time and is always ready for a party, whether he remembers to wear underwear to the party is debatable, though. When he feels, he does it big. If he is sad, it’s bad. If he is happy, he’s bouncing off the walls. This boy is flat out contagious, and I hope I catch it from him – every single day!

Then there’s sister friend. Our family is rounded off by our precious baby girl, Abigail. What a joyful surprise to be blessed with a baby girl after two rowdy boys. Abigail is a lovely mix of her two big “bruddas”. She is very smart and somewhat methodical, but only when she feels like it. She is often silly and generally happy and I swear that girl will do just about anything to get attention – good or bad. We call her our sweet little pink bridge between our two opposite natured boys. She is, in so many ways, the typical baby of the family. Her brothers absolutely adore her, which works out well – because she likes being adored. Rumor has it that she is her mother’s child and I’m getting ‘payin’ for your raisin’ from my parents. Ryan often asks what he did to deserve this, though? She is defiant, charming, manipulative, precious, loving, and beyond strong-willed. Dangit, she is my kid. That sister friend is gonna keep me on my toes – but I kind of love that about her!

Which leads me to where God spoke to me recently.

Sister friend had, not at all shockingly earned the right to go to time out. Again. That child has spent more time there than both of her brothers combined and multiplied by twelve. The routine is similar, depending on the offense. She will occasionally receive a spanking (which honestly does break my heart and not at all hers!) and sometimes even Sassy Spray to “encourage” the reminder of good words over bad. The taste of the vinegar in her mouth is the taste of our unkindness on God’s lips. He wants our words to bring Him joy. She wants her words to bring her joy. We are working on that one.

But, a few weeks ago, while Abigail was misbehaving, I had had enough. After seeing how much it would cost to actually ship her to China, I had to just take a breather and calm down. Now, I want to make one thing clear to you all. And although I am pretty sure you know this, I want you to know that I know this too.

Hear me now – I am not a perfect parent. No kidding, Caroline!

In fact, although I know, intellectually (and Biblically) that no one is, I can honestly say that I am not even remotely close to the person who won last place in the “Closest Thing to a Perfect Parent” contest. No really. If they lined us all up in order, I wouldn’t even be able to see the gal who won last place with binoculars. You with me?

So, accepting that my Mom of the Year award is only self-given and fictitious, at best, I will proceed to tell on myself a little.

Over the last two years or so, I have had to do most of my parenting from my couch. Do the math. Abigail is 2 ½ years old, so that is most of her sweet baby life. And lest I need to remind you of some of her personality traits mentioned above that she got from yours truly she is very capable of manipulating the poofy hat off a British soldier. Yes I did that once.

So, I have been, how shall I say, extra challenged in my complete lack of ability to chase that girl down and “encourage” her to obey her Mama, like I could with the boys. I could talk a big talk, but overall, she knew I wasn’t getting up unless it was really bad. To say that she’s ‘milked it’ would be a dairy big understatement. I crack myself up.

So, as I inch closer to healing again, again, again, again, I have been doing my best to parent her consistently, lovingly and patiently. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fall flat on my face.

On this particular day, my face had carpet burns, if you get my drift.


Abigail was in time out. Again. I was determined to let her sit there for a few extra minutes to get my point across. I let her Dora show keep on playing loudly in the living room so she could know that I wasn’t pausing this to wait for her. Yes, I contemplated letting the whole show end before calling her sweet hiney back in here to talk to me.

I always have a little ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with my kids after time out. It generally looks like this –

“Why did you go to time out?”

“Because I swiped the toy”

“Is it kind to swipe a toy?”


“Do you love your brother and want to be kind to him?”


“Do you want to obey God by obeying Mama?”


“Then you go march yourself back in there to your brother and hug him, say you’re sorry, and ask him to forgive you. What do you say?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Mama loves you big. I always love you big!”

“I know.”

“Ok, then GO!”

Friend, if you have small kids, you know that if I had a dollar for every one of those conversations, I could retire now and pay Blue Cross Blue Shield cash for the last four years of mail they’ve sent me. And still build me a castle or two.

Well, this particular day, as I let Dora play on and on for a few minutes – and then I got distracted.

Perhaps my phone rang. Most likely, one or both of the boys needed something of me. And quite certainly, my ADD kicked in.

Here’s where I lost my Mom of the Year crown –

I lay on the couch quietly as the Verizon Fios screen stayed frozen on the “You’re show is over, lady, what do you want me to do” screen – meaning that Dora was long since over. Then, I see a little girl come around the corner and sheepishly stand at the end of the couch staring at me.

Hey, I recognize her.

“Hey! There’s my best girl! What ‘cha doing?” Seeing her reminded me of nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Silence added with her rascally grin.

“Abigail, baby, what are you doing?”

She inches a bit closer, smiling and being silly.

“Sister friend, get over here and give Mama some lovin’.”

She obeyed and came over to cuggle with me a little bit. Then she pulled away and just stood there staring at me. She acted as though she was impatiently, yet sort of obediently waiting, for me to say something to her. It was weird.

What Abigail?”

“Mama, say your thing.”


I had no idea what this child was talking about. Like NO recollection of anything. At all.

“Mamaaa, say your thing.”

“What thing, baby?”

“Say ‘Why did you go to time out?’ to me, Mama.”


That was the sound of my crown being swiped right off my head.

Holy cow, she was in time out and I totally forgot about her. Like, totally.

And here she was standing in front of me, smiling and silly, acting as though nothing had ever happened. She was clearly not the least bit remorseful. I feel quite certain that she, too, had forgotten why she went to time out. Can’t blame her, it was probably a good 45 minutes ago. All she was doing, was coming over to me to, once again, sit through the speech she’d heard a hundred thousand times.

She hadn’t had a heart change.

She wasn’t sorry.

She was just doing what she had to, so she could get back to doing what she wanted to.

Oh man, I don’t know about you – but I am my little girl. Not only in hair color and personality type. But I know for certain I act like this sometimes with my heavenly Father. Dangit.

Ok Lord, I know I’ve sinned. Go ahead and say your thing. I gotta get back to what I was doing.


Friend, I so often what to encourage you in my writing. But, I gotta be honest, I’m kinda calling you and I out on this one. Have you, LIKE ME, faced God a few too many times lately without a completely humble and repentant heart?

Do you know in your mind that you should repent, so you do, in order to get your ‘Good Christian Gold Star’ for the day?

Or are you so remorseful for your behavior that when conviction hits, you can’t get yoru face in the carpet fast enough?

I am aiming for the latter but have been hitting that target closer to the prior, lately.

That ends now.

Actually, it ended Saturday night.

I was so tired of worrying. (Yes, friend, that is a sin!)

I was so tired of dealing with the ripple effect this illness has caused in my family and my marriage.

I was so tired to envying other healthy, active and skinny Moms.

I was so tired of having to act strong and positive all the time.

I was just so. flat. out. tired.

I had recently begun the process of letting the weight of this go. For me, it wasn’t a one time deal. I guess I figure that since I repeatedly and willingly added weight after weight to my back, that it will take a process to unload it all.

Don’t get me wrong, Jesus takes it all immediately. But, I wasn’t offering it ALL. He was ready. I was only partially ready. Period. And, I have to re-learn the discipline every day of NOT picking the junk back up.

I have cried enough tears to fill my swimming pool over this thing, friend. I’ve weeped for my children. I’ve weeped for my family. I’ve weeped for our finances. I’ve weeped for my strentch marks and the  insecurity I have adopted. But, this time, friend. I weeped for cleansing.

It wasn’t pretty.

In fact, it is what I like to call an ugly cry. Not a single tear running down my cheek as I blink once or twice and not even smear my makeup. I mean the kind of ugly cry that makes the snot run, forces the funky noises come out, and mocks your so-called waterproof mascara. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty.

I am quite certain that this genuine, wise, precious woman I adore at church didn’t even know what hit her. It was time to go up and get communion and I walked right over to her row in the next section and flat out lost it. Ug-ly cry. Fortunately, the praise and worship music was so loud, only the people within 10 feet of me were aware, instead of the whole congregation. Thank God! But, really – I couldn’t keep it in. I had no control. I just ugly cried all over her precious little sweater. She held me. She patted my head. She wiped the tears out of my hair. She whispered how much she loves me and how much my God loves me.

I was not just coming to God so He could “say His thing”.

I came to repent.

For being fearful and not faithful.

For envying.

For saying hurtful words to those I love.

For thinking even more hurtful words that I somehow kept in.

For not keeping a pure heart with my motives.

For judging the splinters in other’s eyes and forgetting the beam of timber in mine.

For complacency and laziness.

For not praying enough.

For desiring my will over His.

For pride – times a hundred.

Friend, it wasn’t pretty.

But, I feel confident that, to my Jesus, it was beautiful.

Oh how I desire you to have moments like that too.

Where you come before your heavenly Father and truly listen to Him. To have a heart to not just listen to His obligatory “thing” He has to say about your sin. But, to truly let His Word cut to the very joints and marrow of your soul. Let Him dig up that junk and shovel it out by the heapful. Lord knows if His excavation equipment can handle my heart, it can handle yours – easy.

I was wondering if you would join me in a much needed dunking of Scripture. Let’s just dive into this and allow the perfect, cleansing power of His Holy Spirit and convict us, instruct us and guide us.

(To my precious friend – thank you. You were the arms of Jesus Saturday night. I love you. Let me know if your sweater needs dry cleaning!)

On the count of three, let’s jump in – 1…2…3…

Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

Proverbs 29:23 “A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.”

1 Peter 5: 5-7 “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all of your cares on Him, because he cares for you.”

2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills {his purpose} for me.”

Ecc. 7:8 “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”

Jeremiah 5:3 “O LORD, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.

Proverbs 18:12 “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”

Jeremiah 15:19 “Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.”

Psalm 138:6 “Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.”

Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

1 Timothy 1:5 “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

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One thought on ““Mama, Say Your Thing”

  1. You had me crying because I was laughing so hard…then crying because you spoke straight to the heart. One of your best. Well done. Ham & cheese coming to your inbox. Love you.

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