caroline holzberger

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

Archive for the category “Confessions”

I’m Just Gonna…

I love my three year old. Really, I do.

She is precious, hilarious, loveable, and expressive. She brings our world a lot of sunshine.

But occasionally she brings a Category 5 hurricane as well.

Not only is she is the baby of our family but she also has two big brothers. As soon as the doctor held her up and said “It’s a girl!” – we knew our lives would never be the same. It became evident very quickly that she would be spoiled. That is hard to avoid. Her big brothers literally adore her. And she loves to be adored. It’s a win-win.

But, we were determined she would not be spoiled rotten. There is a big difference between spoiled and spoiled rotten.

But, as the baby of my own family, I will admit things sometimes come to us fairly easily. We charm those around us to get our way. We pout and act mistreated, causing parents, and especially grandparents to give in. Plus, we are notorious manipulators. Abigail is already blooming into a nice little baby of our family.

What she doesn’t know is that Mama invented stubborn.

Lately, my darling girl’s had an awful case of the “I’m just gonna…”’s.

“Abigail, get your shoes on, we’ve got to go!”

“I’m just gonna wear these slippers.”

“Abigail, pick up your babies before we go to bed.”

“I’m just gonna let them sleep out here for night-night.”

“Abigail, do not get up from that table again until you have eaten your breakfast.”

“I’m just gonna eat three bites and then I be all done, ok?”

It started in a subtle way, but then the more I paid attention, the more I realized that this stinkin’ child was answering every single command with I’m just gonna…

It pissed me off.

How had I let this slip by?

Often, the thing she’s ‘just gonna’ do isn’t a big deal. I decide that ain’t the hill I’m gonna die on today. But, then it hit me that she was telling me how things were going to go, instead of the other way around.

Is it a big deal that she’s ‘just gonna’ put her shoes on in the van instead of right now when I asked her to? No. As a Mom of three small kids, I’m thrilled when we all get to the van with shoes that actually belong to us.

But that isn’t the point.

Is it a big deal that she’s ‘just gonna’ hang up her bathing suit after she cleans up her swim toys, even though I asked her to do it the reverse order? No. It’s all getting cleaned up, right?

But that isn’t the point.

The point is that she is in charge. She calls the shots. She’s. just. gonna.

No more.

How could she treat me this way when I am her mother? Pretty darn easy, apparently.

But man, oh man, do I do the same thing with my Father.

Commit to me one tenth of your income and then the rest is at your disposal.

“I’m just gonna make sure the bills are paid first and then give you my tithe.”

Do not have a love of money, but instead love your enemies and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

“I’m just gonna buy this one more thing for me – I deserve it! Those poor people aren’t even American citizens. I’ll go take my old stuff to Good Will next weekend.”

Submit. Be humble. Serve others.

“I’m just gonna take a ‘me day’ – retail therapy is good for me. I work hard – I deserve another massage.”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I throw up a bit in my mouth at the thought of it.

The audacity it takes for someone (me!) to look at the God of the Universe in the face and assume they (I!) have a better plan is down-right disgusting.

When God tells you to do something. Do it.

Do it fully. Do it with a pure heart. Do it immediately. Do it His way, not your own.

By the way, I’m writing this to myself, just so you know.

Now…’I’m just gonna’ go back and read it again. And again. And again…

Pancakes, Eggs, and Crow

That was my breakfast this morning. Minus the pancakes and eggs.

I have absolutely no idea where the phrase ‘eating crow’ came from. (Please don’t google it and send it to me. I honestly don’t care. but, i love you!)

I have heard that it basically means when someone not me has said something rashly, without much prior thought, clearly, again, not me and then later is proven to be wrong now we know it ain’t me! – that other person is said to be ‘eating crow’.

Sounds pretty disgusting, really. I mean, why crow? Why not pheasant? Or quail? Or poppycock? Shoot, is that a bird?

Regardless, it is usually meant for people who are embarrassingly proven wrong by exactly something they said would be one way and turned out the exact opposite. A friend told me about it once.

So I’m not sure if you heard the other day, but apparently there were a lot of people talking about McDonald’s. No wait…Burger King? Shoot, that’s not right.

Sigh.

“Hello pot! I’m kettle. You’re looking mighty black today!”

Yes, I got caught up in all the hullabaloo.

Yes, I just sucked in.

Yes, I drank the Kool-aid.

It had quite a quite bitter aftertaste, if I do say so myself.

I can’t help but wonder if God knows my head/thoughts/temper/judgmental heart/general Christian walk can’t handle that debating madness so He continually convicts me NOT to watch the news or read the newspaper. Sure, that makes sense. I’ll go with that.

Anyway…I am, in no way recounting my belief in most of what I said. Seriously…God gave me the idea to feed chicken to those less fortunate. God spoke directly to the guys who wrote down in the Bible what His desire was for one man and one woman in marriage. And yes, although my face is still stinging from some of the backlash, I still firmly believe that every single person deserves respect, love, and freedom to have their own opinion. Even me.

But…I haven’t changed mine.

Except on one ginormous small thing – Jen Hatmaker.

I led you a link to her blog about going with her down into ‘the basement’. Which, by the way, she has beautifully and eloquently expanded upon.

About this…hear me people, ok, listening ears on??

I

WAS

FREAKING

WRONG!!

My pride makes me so very ill sometimes. If only you knew. I am so glad you don’t.

Although I don’t know Jen personally please be my friend, Jen! I promise I’m fun at parties! but I honestly feel like I know her much more now through reading one of her books.

Interrupted has rocked. my. world.

No, not in a backstage-pass-NKOTB-reunion-concert kind of rocked my world.

But, more like the I-just witnessed-a-child-give-their-most-favorite-shoes-to-a-homeless-child kind of rocked my world. Times about a million and a half.

Sweet Ryan is reading it next. I’m watching him now, poor thing, lying next to me, all sleeping and ignorant – he don’t know his whole world is about to be turned upside down. Again. (After all, he married me )

The depth astowhich (yes I made that up) I was wrong is akin to the following:

Me picking up a vintage Fender Stratocaster for the very first time and asking Jimi Hendrix to scoot his scrawny butt over while I rocj this joint.

Ok, he is dead…let me try again.

More like me grabbing my blue box of Kraft mac-n-cheese and taking it to Paula Deen’s house for supper, insisting she should just try it…then throwing hers in yon trash can.

And even though I don’t know her personally, I already ‘know’ Jen Hatmaker well enough to know this is exactly where she’d insist I clarify she is not a super great person. You’re welcome, Jen. She isn’t an amazing, super-spiritual, good-luck-trying-to-be-like-me kind of Christian. It isn’t that at all.

It’s not really that she is much better than me.

It’s that the Jesus inside (and out!) of her that’s so much bigger, more alive, more evident, more shiny (as in ‘this little light of mine…’) than in me.

For now, at least.

I am fairly certain He’d love to be that way in all of us.

So, be prepared, people.

The storms, they are a comin’.

From hither on out, I ain’t gonna be the same. Simple as that.

I’m not saying Team Holzberger is gonna sell our every possession, give it all to the poor and live in a cardboard box. Please Lord. Please?

But, you will see more of Him because I’m going to discipline myself to be more like Him. Read more about Him. Sing more about Him. Think more like Him. And so on and so forth.

I figure if I submerse myself in Him, surely, it’s bound to rub off on me more.

Wanna join me??

Order this book. Seriously, it’s less than ten bucks. Do it.

In fact, read it with me.

Let’s chat, comment back and forth, hold each others’ hands when God’s perfect (and long overdue) conviction of our sin makes us want to throw up in our mouths.

Misery, er, I mean, joy loves company.

I gotta read the whole thing over again anyway. Stupid me, I borrowed my friend’s copy. I shoulda known better. It’s literally taken every blessed ounce of restraint in me as in, I have none left at all to leave it bare. I generally must write, highlight, circle, and make notes in margins…and of course be able to snot all over it when Holy conviction comes again. And again. And again.

Just an appetizer…

“If we’ve learned anything from the rebellious nature of Israel, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the meager offerings of the poor in Scripture, it’s this; God is supremely concerned with our motives. And our works count only when they match our motives.”

“We cannot think our way into a new kind of living. We must live our way into a new kind of thinking.”

Whoa. Stings more second time around.

So, my dear friend.

Join me

Basement with Jen Hatmaker.

Beach with my other Jen

Or anywhere in between.

We will lollygag no more.

Let’s do this thing.

Crow today. Grace tomorrow.

Jen Hatmaker, thank you.

Anyone on board?? Comment and let me know. I’ll announce official reading launch date soon… stay tuned.

That is all.

(Ps. I hope my vocab gave you giggles, my sunshine. Fortoo, I love you deeply.)

Fun at Parties

We are quickly approaching the fifteen year anniversary of the day I met my man. How did he I get so old?

September 25th, 1997. I was a naïve, impressionable, trusting, freshman in college. And Ryan…was a man. Like, a full grown man. No, he wasn’t some forty-eight-year-old creep preying on fresh college meat. But, he is five years older than me. So, when I, the ignorant little eighteen-year-old-girl met the wiser twenty-three-year-old man…the age difference made an impact.

I mean, he like paid bills and stuff.

Hey. I did have a brand new, never used checkbook. And I had gotten a speeding ticket before. Oh ya, and I could see R-rated movies, too. So, there. But, really…I was still a kid.

Our connection was immediate though. Much more immediate than I let on when I was interrogated by my rightfully concerned parents. After that crisp fall day, my heart was his. I’d recently sworn off guys after being played like a fiddle by one.

But clearly that didn’t apply to Ryan.

The more serious our relationship got, the more we opened up our worlds to each other. I remember the very first time I was going to meet some of his ‘grown up’ friends. On the way there, I nervously questioned Ryan quite a bit.

“What are we eating?”

“What if I don’t like it?”

“Am I going to be the youngest person there?”

“Do these girls and boys actually live together?”

But mainly…”What have you told them about me?”

His response to this question has proved to be the butt of many joking reminders to him over the last fifteen years.

“Uhhh, I dunno. Brilliant. I think I told them you had a great personality, you loved kids, you had a heart of gold…”

I didn’t even let him continue.

“WHAT!?!”

“Ryan??! Are you serious?? What were you thinking??!? A great personality?? I love kids!?! And I have a heart of gold!?! Dude, that means I am fat and u-g-l-y!!”

He stared at me blankly.

He had absolutely no clue what I was talking about.

Sweet man.

He tried to defend himself, insisting that I really do have a great personality, love kids and have a heart of gold… “but babe, you are fun at parties, and…”

Stop. Just stop it right there.

Suddenly I remember being completely appalled at my wardrobe choice of new tag still on it college t-shirt and jeans. Lovely.

Poor guy. He has heard that story retold and retold and retold and retold so many times over the years, he doesn’t even tune in and try to defend himself anymore.

And while those aren’t the characteristics you should use first to describe your new girlfriend…they really do describe me fairly well. I do have a fun personality. I could make friends with a tree stump. I have a ton of energy and therefore always loved being around kids. But then I had my own. And I guess I really do have a heart that loves people.

In fact, I know those things pretty well about myself. I’ve heard it my whole life.

You know those personality profile tests you can take that tell you if you’re green or orange, or a lion or an eagle? You know the ones. You fill out twenty questions and all of a sudden, you have a complete profile of all of your best and worst characteristics.

They all say the same thing about me.

Intuitive – Feeler – Extrovert – Leader – Playful – Funny – Competitive – Trusting – Warm – Friendly

But as I’ve gotten older and have been continually humbled by the God who made me this way…I seem to find less joy in my positive traits, and instead focus clearly on the negative ones, aka, the ones I skipped right over when reading my personality profile.

Judgmental – Impulsive – Overbearing – Superficial – Dominant – Scatter-brained – Manipulative

Ouch. Those aren’t fun to read. So, generally, I didn’t read them.

But, as a real-life grown up of my own now, I have been reminded of them quite often. In marriage. In motherhood. Lord, help me. In friendships. In life.

I guess it’s only fair to note that I also was never described as Trustworthy – Honest – Hard-working – Disciplined – Faithful – Consistent – Wise – Submissive

Dangit.

But hey, I’m fun at parties, right?

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted a blog in six weeks. Seriously. That’s like forty-two days, friend.

That is unreal for me.

I remember, during my couch time fighting back the urge not to annoy people by posting twice in one day.

I have lately, however, been teaching preschool summer camp three days a week… and mainly just enjoying my babies and my man quite a bit. In fact, in the last forty-two days, we have been swimming, hiking, fishing, swimming, reading, playing baseball, watching shows, swimming Abigail’s blonde hair is green, taking vacations, and having a BIG. FAT. BLAST. TOGETHER!!

I need to take a minute to say “THANK YOU, GOD!!!!!!!!”

For those of you who have kept up with my story over the past four years, you know this does not describe normalcy for me. My normal life for years now has been lying on the couch, peeing, taking a bath, and lying back on the couch. Repeat the next day. Repeat again the day after that minus the baths. And so on, and so forth. But ever since I became a Mayo gal, I’ve been sealed and healed and free to live life again. To God alone be the glory.

And while I am most certainly not apologizing for spending tons of fun time with my family, I am sad and sorry about not finding time to write. Yah sure, it was easy to find time when I was lying on my couch all day, every day. That was cake.

But, now that I am upright again (wahoo!) I have been hit pretty hard in the face with one of my greatest personality weaknesses. You ready for it?

Deep breath.

Hello everyone. My name is Caroline.

(Imaginary group responds in unison) “Hellooo, Caroline.”

I.Am.Undisciplned.

Ugggghhhh.

I have not yet figured out how to balance Mom and wife and writer. So…for the last forty-two days, I haven’t balanced them. Wife and Mom has trumped every.single.time.

But, I do feel God has called me to write, or teach, or speak, or something. He surely knows I have way to much plenty to say. Somebody said amen. So, here I am now coming before you, if there are any of ‘you’ left, and saying – “Hi! Let’s still be friends!”

After all, I am fun at parties. 🙂

No really, though…I’ve missed you. Forgive me for being gone so long??

Let’s still do life together.

Let’s still laugh and cry and thank Jesus for both, together.

Let’s stand in awe as He flat out shows off His majesty by taking the Queen of Slackers and reigning Mrs. Procrastinator 2012 – and turns her into a loving and submissive wife; a patient and humble Mom; and a disciplined and faithful writer.

Hear me…God is bigger than our personality flaws, my friend.

He is bigger than our past. He is bigger than our birth order tendencies. He is just plain bigger.

If He can make me disciplined – you can be darn sure He’s able to change any trait you don’t love about you.

So, I guess all that’s left to say is…Hellllooooo…anybody still out there???

Txting God

I love txting.

Wait, let me clarify…I love unlimited txting.

Back when Sprint used to count my every word, I didn’t like txting at all. I didn’t want anyone counting my words, telling me there were too many, then charging me money for them. That’s a nightmare for a true sanguine and her husband.

Thankfully, AT&T realized millions of outgoing wordy people out there were suffering an unnecessary penalty. Now, life is good.

Why do I love txting so much? Three reasons.

  1. I have three small kids. They are loud…like, ALL the time. If a friend called to tell me something, ask for advice, or give me wisdom, I wouldn’t hear any of it. I like my kids. They’re pretty neat. But, I’d have to hide in the closet every single time the phone rang. And, you’ve seen my closet – that wouldn’t be fun. So, txting gives me the opportunity to reply to someone whenever I can, without having to banish my little ones to the attic playroom.
  2. I talk too much. Nooo, not you? So, if I spent time having full out conversations all the time, I would never get anything done. Ever. Kids would be hungry. Floors would be sticky. Clothes would be stinky. CPS would be called. And yes, while I am the butt of many of my friend’s jokes regarding my super freakishly long txts…trust me, I’m saving my friends from hours of talking. The conversation would be ten thousand times longer. Translation: I’d have no more friends.
  3. I’m not bothering my friends at inopportune times. Most of my best friends have kiddos too, and can’t afford to spend time on the phone with people ok, me. They may be at work and don’t want to get fired. Or maybe they’re in the grocery line and don’t want to be “that chick” who can’t even get off her phone long enough to greet the cashier. Or maybe they’re lovin’ on their husband? Who wants to be the friend who calls during that? Yuck. Regardless, I am honoring my friends by giving them the freedom to reply to me at their convenience. I think it’s a win-win. Trust me, they do too.

Texting allows me to go a couple days without talking to a friend of mine, without completely losing touch with their life. We can txt each other over and over, having full, sometimes deep conversations back and forth, so that when we do finally see each other, we aren’t forced to ask questions like, “So, how was 2012?” or “Is that kid yours too? When did that happen?”

Some of you are chomping at the bit right now to get to the end of this post so you can leave a reply describing in detail why txting has ruined human communication. Cool your jets, I’m getting there.

While I am a fan of txting, it does have a few down sides.

First, people actually think that things like ‘b4’ and ‘u2’ are real words. They’re not. My Mom was an English teacher my whole life, she will be happy to share with you how txting has ruined grammar for teens. Then there’s one of my personal pet peeves — you’ve got thirty-year-olds out there saying things like LOL and OMG. Stop it! Stop it right now! If you are not between the ages of eleven and seventeen, for the love of God man, don’t use those phrases. Take the extra four seconds to type that stuff out and save your dignity, for crying out loud.

But the main down side of texting…if it’s all you ever do with a person, is that there seems to be something lacking in your relationship. For instance, I know one particular friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, Rebecca Dawn Hickman Wells, hehehe isn’t signed up for Bible study this session (She is going to love that I am bringing this up on my blog. She’ll probably txt me about it! :)) Anyway, last session, and really for years now, I’ve been used to seeing her every single Wednesday morning. I’ve gotten to hug her neck, soak up her smile and the tone of her voice when she responds to my silliness with “Oh my stars!”

But, not now. Now, even when we txt each other quite a bit over the course of three weeks, it’s not the same. So that when I do finally run into her, I basically maul her with so much pent up joy and love that’s been stored up for my precious friend. “I missed you so much!! How’ve you been? Please don’t ever leave me!” I’ll squeal at her. She rolls her eyes laughs, we hug, we cry. Ok, maybe we don’t cry…but you get the point. I can’t imagine what our relationship would be like if all we ever did was txt each other. Wait, ya I do…

Superficial.

Un-helpful.

Shallow.

Disconnected.

Sad.

It would lack accountability, empathy, true emotion and conviction. There is nothing quite like staring someone in eye. Peering deep into their soul, where they have bravely invited you a place where no words are needed. You just know.

You just can’t txt that.

Ok, confession time. Feel free to stop reading.

No, really, go take a nap, you deserve it. 🙂

I’ve been txting God lately.

No, I mean it.

I just completed an amazing Beth Moore Bible study (Seriously, go get it now!!) over the book of James. It was deep. It was intense. It was ultra-convicting. James was all up in my grill for seven weeks challenging me to live a real life for Jesus, not just give holy lip service to Him. It was such an intimate time of study that I literally found myself missing James when it was over, as if He was a friend who’d come to visit and now was gone. Wow. Isn’t it amazing what God can do with His living Word?

Now I am doing a different type of Bible study. ‘Brave’ by Angela Thomas is equally as convicting and life-interrupting, but not quite as intense. I highly recommend it to any woman out there who is in need of some soul-searching. It asks some tough questions. And even worse harder, it challenges you seek God’s answer for them. Whew, it’s a good one.

I came from James, where Beth challenged me to memorize the entire book of James, to Brave, where it is more about reflecting in quiet time with God.

The main difference between the two studies is that it doesn’t take me as long to get this current homework done. So, what do I do? Well, duh. I spend extra hours each week researching more verses, looking up Greek and Hebrew meanings, and sitting in quiet reflection as I allow the Holy Spirit to pray on my behalf. Obviously.

Big. Fat Liar.

In reality, I leave Bible study on Wednesday morning and it all goes downhill — quick. I have Thoughtless Thursday, followed by Forgetful Friday, and Sleep-in Saturday before it finally dawns on me during Oh Shoot! Sunday, that I only have three days to complete five days of homework. Ugh, confessions are no fun.

I spent seven weeks calling God and having long, meaningful, drawn-out conversations over the book of James. And now I’ve spent the last three weeks simply txting God a couple things here and there about becoming the Brave woman of God He desires me to be.

And wouldn’t you know, that I haven’t acted very much like Jesus over these last three weeks, either. Coincidence? I think not.

I’ve been less patient, more selfish, more prideful and less humble.

After confessing all this junk to God the other day, I felt better about where He and I were headed this week. Then, I sat down, Sunday afternoon, ready to devote some real time to my Bible study homework and read the title for this week –

“I Am Undisciplined.”

Ha! Not LOL!

God totally cracks me up sometimes.

So, my friend…I will spend the next few days trying to catch up with God. I have a lot to tell Him, a lot more to confess, but I think I’m going to try and let Him do most of the talking. What hurts the most is that I am all too aware I’ve missed out on blessings I could have received if I’d read this homework earlier in the week. Oh, did I mention this was Easter weekend, too? Goodness gracious, I’m awful. But, I also know for a fact that my God is a redeeming God. He still has plenty to say to me, especially about this topic. Clearly.

So, my friend…where do you find yourself?

Are you and God spending quality time together? Do you read His Word often and receive it as Truth, a love letter, a perfect guideline for true peace? Do you stay up late having heart-felt conversations each night? Or is His Word simply check-mark #2 on your spiritual To-do list each day, followed by a quick “Thank you for blah, blah, blah” txt before each meal?

Are you txting Him when it is convenient for you?

Or are you anxiously awaiting His next phone call?

Let my txting phone bill with ADiety (ha! get it?) be a lesson for us all.

Quick txts throughout the day are good, but only when partnered with consistently and wholeheartedly hearing His voice and seeing His face.

That, my precious friend is the relationship He desires. He has unlimited minutes and unlimited txts waiting just for you!

Btw, He reads all your other txts too.

Just sayin’.

Here Comes the Bag of Hair

I absolutely love movies.

I am a hopeless romantic.

I love sports!

And, I am a big, fat dork!

So, when a movie combines three strong attributes of who it is to be me, it makes me one happy girl! A few years ago, a movie came out called “Fever Pitch”. A romantic comedy that paired corporate woman, Lindsay (Drew Barrymore) and hilarious regular-guy type public school teacher, Ben (Jimmy Fallon) – this movie was essentially based around their quirky new relationship and Ben’s addiction to the Boston Red Sox.

(I sort of feel the need to insert a disclaimer here that this movie does contain a little bit of language and sexual maturity, so just because I love it, doesn’t mean I recommend the characters’ moral behavior or that you should watch it with your teenager!)

Anyway, so as Lindsay and Ben begin their fun and silly romantic relationship, they discover how compatible they are and begin to fall in love. Lindsay takes their relationship to the next level by introducing Ben to her closest friends.

They all immediately love him!

Except for one friend who is generally in competition with Lindsay to see who can have the most success in work, life, relationships, etc.

This friend thinks he is too good to be true. There must be some sort of major flaw they are missing! This causes the other girlfriends to begin speculating if maybe he is a convict, a dead-beat Dad or worse.

Lindsay thinks they are all acting ridiculous.

But, then they remind her of what happened to one of their other friends. She had been dating a guy for months and everything was going great.  He seemed like an amazing catch! Then, one day she was at his apartment helping to pick things up around the place. She went into his closet and found a huge garbage bag containing all of the hair and nail clippings from his entire life!

Ewwww!

Lindsay dismisses her friends and their lunacy and their relationship continues happily.

Until baseball season begins.

Ben is literally obsessed with the Boston Red Sox and although Lindsay has seen his apartment, which looks more like a gift shop, she doesn’t fully understand the depth of his love for this team. Ben sits her down and wants to explain just how much the Red Sox take over his life when they are in season.

As Lindsay sits and listens to Ben begin his confession, she can tell she is about to receive some very bad news. She mumbles to herself something that I always remembered –

“Oh great, here comes the bag of hair.”

I love it.

That phrase, while quirky, represented the moment she felt like she was about to learn the deepest, darkest secret about Ben, that she did not want to know!

Well, my friend, here comes my bag of hair.

Ready or not, here it comes. (deep breath)

I have been gripped by fear off and on my entire life.

I do not mean that I have been somewhat afraid of a few things. I mean, I have been paralyzed by the thing.

It has affected every single area of my life in a negative way.

Every single one.

And I have been so scared shocker! to talk fully about it for so long, that I have danced around the subject, given broad glimpses toward it, but have never been brave enough to outright admit it, except to my very closest of friends.

Until today.

Over the course of the last (not quite!) thirty-three years of my time here on planet earth, I have been so consumed with fear and worry that it has literally made me sick, cost me time and money, and impacted relationships in a way I’d hoped it never would.

But, friend, hear me now – God is truly delivering me from it. And it feels so stinkin’ good!

Just to give you a few examples of how serious of an issue this has been, I am willing to bear my soul a bit for you. I do this in the hopes that those few people out there who satan has tormented in this way can, for a moment, feel like they aren’t alone anymore. To God be the glory.

This was how my life has been, off and on, for years now –

If traveling with family and the proposition came that I ride in a different car than my kids, my immediate thought would be “No! Because then I know we will get into a car accident and I will have to watch them all die right in front of me.”

When Ryan and I were dating, in college, I would surprise him sometimes by coming over to his apartment unannounced. Every single time I did, I would pause at the door, take a deep breath and brace myself for the virtual certainty that when I opened the door, I would find him making out with another girl. It didn’t matter that he had not once, ever given me any reason to doubt his faithfulness. In fact, loyalty was one of the qualities that I admired most about him. It didn’t matter. I was convinced. By the way, this wasn’t cured once I got a ring on my finger. Nope. Baby weight, insecurity issues and fifteen years of laugh lines and stretch marks have only deepened that fear.

As a child, I was terrified that something awful would happen to my Mom. She even recalls numerous times when I would have nightmares and run into her room crying “Mama, don’t die and leave me!”

When I had my first child, seven years ago, I was completely certain that he would die from SIDS. Like, certain of it. I woke up multiple times every night just to put my hand on his chest to ensure he was breathing. I did this for years!

Anytime Ryan has been out late at night, or traveling for some reason, I was convinced that someone was going to break into our house and torture me. Modern mathematics simply cannot count the number of times I have played out this terrifying act on a warped movie screen in my head. I always felt I had to be prepared by setting the house alarm, locking all doors, then locking my bedroom door and wedging something up against it until he got home. I also did this when I would shower at my house when I was home alone with the kids. Despite it being in the middle of the day, it didn’t matter, I felt vulnerable. I had to be ready.

For those of you who have only known me the last few years, this may come as a shock to you, but believe it or not, I used to actually be a pretty healthy person. That is almost laughable now. But, really, it’s true. I had allergies, and got the occasional sinus infection, but overall, besides my ankles made of paper mache, I was pretty healthy! Yet, I often would picture something horrible happening to me. Like, having an aneurysm as I was driving down the road, causing a multi-car pileup and leaving numerous families ruined. I know, crazy isn’t it? I couldn’t just picture something bad happening to me, I went over the top and assumed it would ruin many lives.

I think I’ve pretty much given you a glimpse into my fearful world. Please still like me. I can honestly say that I wasn’t like this all the time. Some days were fine. But, it was something that was always there, lurking just under the surface, so that the slightest threat could cause it to jump out of the water and bite my currently faithful head off.

I functioned in life without letting too many people know of the grip that fear had on me. But, the older I got, the more kids I had and the older they got, the more danger they faced and the harder time I had with it. It boils down to this – I was losing the “control” that I thought I had on things. Talk about laughable. That is beyond laughable.

Through wise Christian counseling, countless Bible studies, the safe places I had in my most precious friendships, and reading numerous books about this junk, God has done some serious work. I mean, serious. Like Extreme Home Makeover kind of work. He has leveled what used to be my way of thinking, and been rebuilding it bigger, better and more full of faith. I have had a lifetime of sudden change and insecurity that, over time, caused quite a sense of dread. This is not His will for His children.

He has given me so many revelations; I hardly know where to begin. But, I will try.

1. Satan, the enemy of our soul, the father of lies, has but one job, friend, and that is to ruin us for Jesus. If he can, he wants to keep us from ever trusting God with our eternity, but even if he can’t do that, he will spend every second trying to keep us completely useless for Jesus while we are here on this earth. Be assured, you have an enemy. He is real. And he not only knows your weaknesses but he aims directly at them with every fiery attack he can.

2. I am not in control of much, really. It’s actually funny to think about how little control I actually do have in life. If you know a control freak then you know someone who is gripped by fear – whether they admit it or not. I believe that fear and worry are intertwined in a twisted dance between needing to control my life and the frightening thought that I can’t. This dance can consume a life if we let it.

3. I either trust God, or I don’t. Friend, you either trust God, or you don’t. Period. There is no grey area there. Trust me, I’ve tried to paint it grey with every rationalization you could imagine. But, that is a simple truth. Simple doesn’t mean easy, it just means simple. I am a selfish and prideful person. And every single time I have been gripped by worry and fear, I have literally looked at the face of my Creator and said “I can do this better than you. I have a better plan. Move aside.” Ouch.

4. The Bible is the one and only true Word of God. It is not an ancient, irrelevant collection of stories designed to evoke emotion from me on Sunday mornings. It is alive and active. It is relevant and helpful. It is inspiring and personal to just me. And to just you. It is the only offensive weapon we have in our fight against evil. (Eph. 6) The only one. Use it as such.

5. God desires good for us. He really does desire us to live a blessed life. He allows bad. After all, we live in a sinful world. But, nothing comes to us that has not first gone through His sovereign hands. That can feel like a blessing and a curse. Because bad things do happen to good people. It stinks, but it’s true. My life has moments in it that were so scary and tragic that you’d think it could only happen in the movies. But, if you are going to trust Him with your life, you have to trust that He can use even the worst of things for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)

I do not say that in triteness. I say it with every fiber of sincerity that I am capable of. And I want to be clear when I try to dismantle the falsity that so many Christians claim – “God will not give you more than you can handle.” Friend, that is not true. My life can attest to it. I have faced FAR more in the last few years than I could handle. Far more. I have been in such dark, lonely, desperate situations that I knew with certainty I couldn’t handle even on my very best day. And my world hasn’t even been rocked like other’s have. I’ve never buried a parent. I’ve never buried a child. I’ve never lost a baby. I’ve never lost a spouse. Although I have faced grief right in the face and stood alongside my family and friends as they have most assuredly faced more than they could bear.

Unfortunately, I think this is one crossroad in life where Christians turn from God. They face something traumatic and think, Wait a minute. I thought I wasn’t supposed to face anything this bad. If God didn’t protect me like He was supposed to, maybe He really isn’t real.

The verse that people so often misquote is:

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Did you note the importance of the words there? He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. You will be tempted. And you will face more in life that you can bear. But, you will never face more in life than GOD can bear. That is the key.

One commentary I read put it this way – “God has promised to supervise all temptation which comes at us through the world, the flesh or the devil. He promises to limit it according to our capability to endure it – according to our capability as we rely on Him, not relying on ourselves.”

The same is true for trials in life. We will face some that we cannot imagine getting to the other side of. It seems impossible. But, may I remind you of what a virgin mother was told by the angel when she asked how in the world she would conceive a child – “For nothing is impossible with God.”(Luke 1:37)

Our lives are filled with people who can attest to having faced something they couldn’t handle. The Bible is no different.

Sarah was ninety years old and felt the first kicks of a baby inside her belly.

Abraham walked up a hill with his one and only son with the intent to sacrifice him.

Jacob woke up the morning after his wedding with the wrong woman lying next to him.

Peter voluntarily stepped out of a boat and onto a raging sea.

Martha and Mary grieved the death of their brother, Lazarus for days before Jesus came.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into hotter circumstances that you and I could imagine.

Mary Magdalene not only grieved the death of her Savior, but then stood outside His tomb only to discover someone had “taken” his body. (Praise God that His body wasn’t taken away, it was raised up! Amen!)

These aren’t made-up stories. These are factual accounts of real-life people who walked this dusty earth just like you and I do now. I can say with certainty that they didn’t face these things thinking to themselves, Oh ya, this is not big deal. I can take care of this one.

They were scared. They were intimidated. They were ill-equipped. They were weak. They were selfish. They were unworthy. They were me.

But, by relying on the strength only God can give, they made it. They got to the other side of the thing by the strength and grace of God alone.

And I want to follow in their footsteps.

Do you?

Maybe you think I am a lunatic for being as fearful as I have been over the years. You’re probably right. But, maybe you know what it is like to be gripped by something with such fierceness that you often look at your own neck to see if anyone can see the impression of grip marks you know must be there. Maybe you’re gripped…

By depression.

By insecurity.

By wordliness.

By bitterness.

By singleness.

By your past.

Whatever it is, you have a hard time picturing your life without it. It seems to be just the way it is. It defines you. It defeats you. It darn near kills you. You know you cannot handle it and so you let it handle you. I don’t say that with condemnation, friend. I say it with familiarity.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.

And allowing the enemy to keep you all gripped up, ain’t abundant living at all.

I still have moments where I feel the all-too-familiar welling up of fear within me. The difference is that I quickly recognize it and give it to Jesus. Like, real quick. I know if I keep it long, it has the tendency to grow too quickly. But, now I am not defined by it. I am not consumed by it. I just let Jesus deal with it.

Think of it this way…

Jesus lives in your heart. When satan comes banging on the door to reek havoc, just don’t answer it. Let Jesus answer the door, so that satan will have to turn away and think Hmm, I guess I had the wrong house.

Friend, I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of person that when I take my very first steps out of my bed in the morning, satan says “Oh shoot! She’s up!”

Here are three books that I have read cover to cover numerous times over the years. They contain Scripture for healing your life. They contain wisdom from people who have been there. And they contain practical advice as to how to live this life for Jesus. May they bless you as they have blessed me!

“Get Out of That Pit” by Beth Moore

“So Long Insecurity, You’ve Been a Bad Friend to Us” by Beth Moore ( I personally think this should be REQUIRED reading for every woman out there, no matter your age! If you are a woman over the age of 18, you are insecure about something! Period. If you say you aren’t, then you are lying and clearly insecure about anyone thinking you are insecure! I’m just sayin’!)

“Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer

2205 Ventricle Drive

Your address is important. Anyone is real estate will tell you, it is all about location, location, location!

When I was growing up, I lived it two homes. First was the childhood home of my Mom and Dad before they got divorced. I loved this address for one reason; it rhymed. If you don’t know this about me already, I am very easily amused. From birth to age nine, I lived at 1105 Atlanta Drive. And with a good south’un accent, it sounds even more fun! (Try it, you’ll see!) Then, I lived with my Mom and Step-dad at 3510 Shelley Lane. Or maybe it was 3510 Shelly Lane. That subtle spelling difference depended on which side of the street you entered. On one side, the sign was spelled with “ey” and on the other side, it was spelled with just a “y”. I always thought that was a bit peculiar, but not significant.

That is, until my brother got married… to Shelly. Not Shelley. I messed that up quite a few times, until my clever brother came up with a way to help me remember. “Just think of Old McDonald…but instead of E-I-E-I-O, you can remember Shelly by singing  E-Y-E-Y, NO!” Ten years later, I still sing that little song every single time I write her name.

But, I digress. Shocker.

Ryan and I now live in what we consider our ‘forever home’. God-willing, we will live here for decades and have our grandkids visit us here. Now, the only drama with our address is the zip code. I mean, seriously…the city of Keller is retarded about this. We pay Keller taxes, have Keller City water and trash, are in Keller schools, all of it. We live in Keller. Yet, they told us when we moved here that our address is Roanoke, Texas.

What!?!

I called the Keller post office and the Roanoke post office to figure out this dispute. Basically, they told me that the Roanoke post office ‘helps out’ the larger city of Keller by picking up these few streets for them. Gee, thanks Roanoke. This issue has caused shopping online nightmares. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I am totally over it. I am tired of having to clarify this for Blue Cross Blue Shield. I am tired of having to explain it to friends. I am tired of the confusion it causes in my otherwise healthy relationship with Amazon.com. I. Am. Over. It.

Unfortunately, my best friend, Shelley (yes, for her, I sing E-Y-E-Y, YES!) bought us a very cute stampy thingy with our address on it for a housewarming gift. I love it! The ‘chuk-chuk’ noise it makes when I stamp it makes me happy. I love the circular shape and the monogram letters. Remember, I’m easily confused amused. Another thing you may not know about me is that I am the most frugal person you know. Unless you know my husband, too. Then, I’m a distant second. Therefore, I can’t bring myself to get a new one and throw this one away. Having drama about my address is not enough reason for me to waste this perfectly cute and functional stampy thingy to get a new one.

And, then there’s the fact that I’d have to call pretty much everyone and make the change – kid’s schools, church, Ryan’s work, my 134 doctors, and of course my BFF, Blue Cross Blue Shield. I guess I am not over it completely after all. I know where I live. I know I’m Keller proud. I know where my home is, so the fact that confusion swirls around everyone else, is just going to have to be Ok.

The same goes for Jesus.

His desire is to live within you. Our common “Christian-ese” says phrases like ‘ask Jesus in your heart’ and ‘Do you have Jesus in your heart?’. I’m not exactly sure where this ideal came from. Some people guess it was from the great old hymn by Alfred Ackley written in 1933. “He Lives” ends the refrain with “You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” I don’t think Ackley originated the idea, he probably was only reflecting what was already being said around him.

I prefer to believe that this ‘phrasing’ came about based on Scripture.  Ephesians 3:14-18 says “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

And John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

One commentary by David Guzik put it this way “Two ancient Greek words convey the idea “to live in.” One has the idea of living in a place as a stranger, and the other has the idea of settling down in a place to make it your permanent home. Dwell (from Eph. 3) uses the ancient Greek word for a permanent home. Jesus wants to settle down in your heart, not just visit as a stranger.”

Jesus wants our heart to be where He, the Master resident, makes His permanent home.

That’s the good news.

The bad news? My heart is a wreck! No seriously, the kind of mess that makes you rush straight from normalcy to sheer panic at the sound of the doorbell. You know what I’m talking about. You hear someone is going to “drop by real quick” so you throw the kids and the toys in the other room, vacuum the areas they might see, wipe down the bathroom they might use and spray Febreeze to cover up the lingering smell of funk. And that’s just for someone you don’t even like that much. This is Jesus. And friend, get this…Jesus ain’t ringing my doorbell. He already lives here. There is no hiding this mess. Dangit.

My anal and uberly methodical sweet hubby is a neat freak. Maybe I should say was a neat freak. Then, he married me. Poor guy. And then we had three babies in four and a half years, and as it turns out, “we” have “them” out-numbered. “Neat and methodical ” = two Holzbergers Vs. “Where are my shoes?” = three Holzbergers. Sorry, baby.

But, I can’t blame the disorderly state of my heart on Ryan. Well, I guess I have tried numerous times could try. But, he and I both know it isn’t his fault. It’s all me.

In the last two weeks alone (brace yourself) I have:

Cried three times in utter despair at my sin and my seemingly impossible ability to be well again.

Argued with my husband a few times more than normal.

Dug my heels in the ground to ensure I was right.

Yelled at my kids twice.

Debated in my head whether I really wanted to follow God’s will or if I just wanted to be healthy and ‘back to normal’ again.

I can’t believe anyone is still reading.

Envied numerous people who seem to not have it nearly as ‘bad’ as we do.

To say that my heart has been a mess, is a gross understatement.

And all this, at Christmastime, too, nonetheless. Sheesh. I should be shot.

The repentance I have done these last few days (yes, it took days) could very well have worn holes in the knees of my jeans let’s be honest, pajama pants had I been able to kneel for very long.

That’s the thing, friend…I can’t clean this stinkin’ house up. And not just because I’m not built that way. But, because I don’t have the right cleaning supplies. Only God does. The thing is, I have to submit (so not good at this) and allow Him to get to work. I have to give in to something heavenly. (Great song by Sanctus Real) I have to open the door to every dark closet and let Him in. He knows the junk is in there. I ain’t hiding anything. But, He wants me to admit that it’s in there.

All of this spring-cleaning-in-December has caused me to recall one of my favorite songs, ever. It isn’t a new one, but it’s a great one. It’s by Shaun Groves, called “Welcome Home” and it so perfectly describes my thoughts these last few days. In fact, I love it so much, I am asking you to PLEASE click below and listen to it on youtube and while you do, friend, please read the lyrics below.

(Disclaimer: The first three minutes of the youtube video are him talking, so you could skip that part, but it totally made me laugh!! So maybe it will make you laugh too! Like me, Shaun Groves has been given the spiritual gift of sarcasm :))

Shaun Groves – “Welcome Home”

Take, me, make me
All You want me to be
That’s all I’m asking, all I’m asking

Welcome to this heart of mine
I’ve buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I’ve made
Inside of me
Come decorate, Lord
Open up the creaking door
And walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains
Until no sin or shame remain
Spread Your love upon the walls
And occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded
No more doors are barricaded

Chorus:
Come inside this heart of mine
It’s not my own
Make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own
Welcome home

Take a seat, pull up a chair
Forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling
Gathered on my search for meaning
Every closet’s filled with clutter
Messes yet to be discovered
I’m overwhelmed, I understand
I can’t make this place all that You can

repeat chorus

I took the space that You placed in me
Redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked

repeat chorus

Take me, make me
All You want me to be
That’s all I’m asking, all I’m asking

Wow.

Prideful vines? Check.

Guilty stains? Check.

Souvenirs from floor to ceiling gathered on my search for meaning? Um, check times a thousand.

Redecorated with shades of greed? Don’t get me started.

Friend, I don’t know what your address is. I don’t know if you rent a broken down apartment, or have the fanciest home in the most elite gated community. But, I do know that it doesn’t matter at all. I guarantee you that Jesus cares more about His address than yours.

How is your heart?

I’ve told you how mine has been lately. Whether you want to remain my friend or not after that, is up to you. But, I feel like God is wanting me to be so open and honest about this because He is sick and tired of us stinkin’ people caring FAR more about our earthly home than His.

I’ve seen what kind of mess can come with just a few weeks of mediocre quiet times and warped priorities. It don’t me long, friend. So, can I encourage you to do what I have NOT been doing these last couple weeks? Spend good, quality time reading and soaking up His Bible. Spend good, quality time praying and sharing your heart, His home, with Him. Serve others. Walk humbly. Let Him lead.

And your own heart’s address, whether it’s like mine, on Ventricle Drive, or somewhere like that, Vascular Court, or even Artery Way…doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. It is your heart. And if you have accepted Jesus as your own personal Savior, then it is His home. And, if you are anything like me, it needs far more than just a Spring cleaning. It needs a 10:15am cleaning, and then a 10:45 cleaning, and so forth! It’s His home, friend.

Clean. That. Thing. Up.

In Jesus’ Name.

All God’s children said…

From the Knee Down

We are closing up the usually non-existent season of fall in Texas. It’s warm. It’s cool. It’s freakishly hot. Then, it’s freezing. Welcome to Texas weather.

Growing up in God’s country this area, you get used to the constant weather change. We know it is not safe to do the Great Closet Change until at least December 1st. You know this game don’t you? You spend two weeks the whole day replacing all of the warm weather clothes in each closet in the house. You bag them up for the next kid in line, or donate them, or want to burn them sell them, only to exchange them for cold weather clothing. Switching out short sleeved for long sleeved and bathing suits for velour tracks suits. Don’t lie, you know you own one.

One of the worst problems during this time frame, for yours truly, is the great hair dilemma. To shave or not to shave; that is the question. To all my male readers, you may want to skip down a paragraph or four I apologize that this particular issue doesn’t pertain to you. Wait, I take that back, I don’t feel bad for you. You are the lucky ones who only have to shave about 10% of the surface area of your skin on a regular basis. And, really, you don’t even have to. You can grow a beard, or a go-tee, or a mustache or that annoying little soul-patch thingy. You have like four options! Or, even if you are typically clean-shaven, you can still let it grow a little and it’s seen as a sexy and scruffy look. If a woman doesn’t shave, trust me, she’s scruffy, but she ain’t sexy. And don’t get me started on your benefits of standing to pee, no monthly enemy visiting, or worst of all, the complete ease of childbirth watching. You are never touching me again!!?!  Stick around though, you will still get something from the Jesus part. 🙂

Often during this long process of weather change, a girl just doesn’t know what do. You wake up. Take a shower. And then you have a choice to make. If you are like me and hate with every fiber of your being to shave, it often isn’t a tough choice. Nah. I’m not going anywhere special today, anyway. Scruffy, it is. And there was much rejoicing! Yaaaay.

Confession time. Ok boys, you for real might want to skip ahead! You’ve been warned.

As some of you may know, I went by the nickname, Carrie, during my growing up years. It turns out that I actually have a long history of being “anti-shaving” going back to those Carrie days. It just so happened that these most crucial months of anti-shaving also coincided with my favorite sport; soccer. For those of you who don’t know, female soccer players i.e. the “cool kids” are generally not known for their femininity. I am no different. I was a pretty big tom-boy for the majority of my life. I still prefer jeans, a T-shirt, and flip flops to a dress any day of the week. But, I have embraced my girl-ness – I can rock a little black dress, don’t you worry.

Anyway, back in the day, when winter months were approaching, I slowly began to feel quite a bit of liberation. The burden of shaving every single day was gone, and that big smooth-skinned weight was happily thrown off for a few months.

That’s right, I confess that I would often go months without shaving. Somebody just stopped reading.

After all, what was the stinkin’ point? Nobody ever saw my legs, ever! How would they know?

Well, I guess there was game day.

On game day, there was no way to hide it. Not that I tried. Fortunately, in soccer, your legs are mostty covered up. The tall socks that cover the shin guards go clear up to your knee cap. Then, the baggy shorts hang down to about two inches above your knee. So, there you have it; two inches.

Ain’t no way I am shaving my entire leg every single day just for the once weekly chance that someone might see those two inches. Um, no. Aboslutely not. Not me.

Eventually someone in the locker room noticed. from four feet away. They couldn’t believe it. I had man legs. But, I’d take that over their dry, winter-burned shaven legs, any day. It didn’t take long for someone to put two and two together that my legs were hairy and my name was Carrie. Perfect. I was now Hairy Carrie. Hilarious.

It didn’t end in soccer season, either. I mean, the hairy legs ended, but not the teasing nicknames. Volleyball season followed and yes, I shaved diligently. Especially for home games when we had to wear the “buns”, which were nothing more than glorified underwear. That’s right; a jersey, thick-ish material underwear, knee pads and shoes. Lovely. I assure you I shaved then. But of course, most of them knew my winter habits, and this was back in the late 1990’s when Forrest Gump was popular. So, despite my smoothly shaven season, my past followed me, and at the volleyball banquet I was awarded the “Forrest Bump” plaque. Nice.

Fast forward a decade and a half and here I am. Same me, new life. Now, of course, I have a husband I love, who did choose to marry a girl, not a boy. The first eight few years, he suffered through the occasional relapse of my soccer days, but overall, his life was fine and his wife’s legs were clean shaven. Pretty much. Hey, he picked me, people.

So, what in the heck is your point? you are most definitely probably thinking.

It’s simple, friend. Welcome back, male readers!

It hit me a few weeks ago when I was in the midst of the great hair dilemma. for the third day in a row.

I could wear jeans today…again. But, it is kinda hot.

Ugh, I don’t want to shave my whole leg!

(Ding!) Oh, I got it! I’ll wear capris and only shave from the knee down. Perfect.

As I sat there squirting the shave gel onto only the lower half of my legs, I was a bit proud of my genius compromise. After all, capris could hide the yuck, while the rest of the world only saw smoothness.

BAM! No, I didn’t fall in the shower. That was God’s loving 2×4 to my head.

Why is it that I feel I have to show my best all the time (i.e. “smooth legs) to the outside world, but leave the worst (i.e. hairy legs) in hiding? (Hey, I can’t help where God talks to me, people!)

Really though, don’t we do that in life, friend?

We “show” our best to everyone else, but we know the big hairy truth is just above the knee line, and each day we hide it, the funkier it gets!

We always smile.

We never act sad.

Our marriage is perfect.

Our kids are angels.

Bills get paid early.

And, we all love our jobs!

Praise God, and Amen!

Sounds great!

And utterly fake.

Why do we feel we can’t be real with everyone? Trust me, if people can still be my friend after reading this post, you will, won’t you!? then they can handle just about anything you throw at them.

Is that it? Do we feel that people can’t handle it? I get that. Before this medical roller coaster, I was generally a happy, energetic, outgoing person. And, I remember having a “bad day” sometimes and it completely freaking people out.

“Whooooaa. What’s wrong? You’re sad?! Whoa. But, you’ll be Ok in a little while, right?”

Gee, no pressure. Of course, the last few years have stripped me of any pretense. It’s amazing what true trials can bring out of a person. This has brought authenticity out of me, whether you want it or not. Hence, the ability to write about my hairy legs. I do want you to still be my friend, but I will just have to be Ok if you aren’t.

Or maybe we are ashamed, embarrassed, and afraid to admit that things really do get hairy sometimes?

What will they think?

Who will they tell?

I bet it is a lot little of both. But, really, friend, who do we think we are fooling?

I’ll tell you One person we aren’t fooling. His Name is Jesus.

1 John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

And, friend, this is much more than simply deceiving ourselves. Just two verses later, 1 John 1:10 says “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

Ouch. I don’t know about you, but I do not want anything I do or say to make Jesus out to be a liar. No way. No how. Not me.

The Bible says He has numbered the hairs on our head, (Matt. 10:30) but I am pretty sure He is aware of the ugly hair on our legs, too. He knows our sinful thoughts. He knows our judgmental assumptions. He hears our every envious thought as if we were saying out loud to His face. He knows the hairy truth, and get this, He loves us anyway.

Ephesians 3:17-18 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”

He loves you. He loves me. But, friend, He doesn’t want us to be fake.

Matthew 23:25-26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Today we don’t call people Pharisees. But, be assured, they are still all around us.

Back in this day, they were the ones who knew the Bible inside and out. They knew the laws, the protocol, and the procedures of every religious act. They went to the temple every time they were supposed to. They gave money. They kept the Sabbath holy. The outside of their cups were clean. But, in reality, they were deceitful, selfish, prideful, self-righteous, dishonest, greedy, materialistic, and manipulative. They had absolutely shaved, but only from the knee down.

Today, unfortunately, that person still exists; their cup just looks a little more updated. They have a fish on their car. Maybe their kids even go to a Christian school. They know some key Bible verses and can even quote them. They most assuredly have them hung up on the walls of their house. They may wear cross jewelry and have a blinged out cross shirt. Their cups are clean, but so often, only the outside. At home, they gossip about their friends, bad-mouth their spouse, only give a little money (and no time!) to the church occasionally, judge the homeless, avoid the poor and care more about the label on their jeans than the needs of their neighbor. They, too, have shaved, but only from the knee down.

I speak about these people because I used to be one. I wasn’t very blingy, but the concept still remains. I “looked” the part, but had no real change of the heart.

I want to make a disclaimer that none of the Chirstian-ish stuff I mentioned is not “bad”. Some of the most authentic, Jesus-chasing people I know have a fish on their car and a blingy cross on their shirt. That isn’t what I mean. What Jesus looks for is what’s inside. He wants to know if we are just faking it, or if we really have shaved the whole leg.

Jesus was authentic. He was the real deal.

And if we are to be named after Him and be called a Christian, He most certainly wants us to do the same.

DC Talk quoted a wise idea years ago in their super cool song, “What If I Stumble”

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

So true.

Friend, we are supposed to look different from this world! We are supposed to stand out, but still be authentic. Not perfect, but authentic.

I am not saying that we have to be completely blunt and tell every single person we come into contact with that we are having an awful day.

“Hi there, ma’am, how are you today?” (says the teenaged grocery store clerk)

“Oh kid, you have no clue. Do you know what it’s like to slowly feel like your soul is being sucked out hour by hour by four little children who can’t seem to do anything for themselves and need you every single second of every single day?!!”

(Clerk runs crying in the other direction.)

Yah, see, that is a bit much.

But, if you are having a day like that, then I recommend you find a trustworthy friend, or maybe your spouse, who can help you talk through it. More importantly, someone who can point you to Scripture and Jesus for encouragement. I had to do that just two short days ago. I was completely about to lose it, my strength was gone, my will was wavering, and I had to reach out. I have about seven girlfriends that I KNOW I can call anytime for anything. They’ve seen, in me, the good, the bad, and the super ugly. Remarkably, they stick by me and continue to support me in His Truth. I couldn’t be more thankful for them!

We all need that. Every single one of us!

Thess. 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Be honest in front of these people. But, be careful who you choose. Be careful what you say. Don’t go gossip to someone. Don’t bash your boss or your spouse. Be careful of what comes out of your mouth.

James 3:10 “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”

Matthew 15:18 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean.’”

So, friend, I guess the choice is ours. Do we want a clean cup, inside and out? Do we want to be able to attend an impromptu pool party and not be concerned our hairy legs would scare the small children?

Join me and let’s ask ourselves a few questions before God right now.

Am I really going to dive in and do this life right?

Can people see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life?

Do I show people the real me, or just the me I want them to see?

Take some time in prayer. Ask God to give you people you can trust. People who can handle the knee-up hairy truth. Read the Bible. Spend time in prayer. Be involved with a group of fellow believers who are willing to go on this journey alongside you. Friend, I assure you they have nicks and cuts and razor burn just like you do.

Do it now. Stop reading and pray. I gotta go shave anyway. 🙂

Stupid, Stupid Cardinal

I don’t know absolutely anything much about birds. I don’t ever generally spend my Saturday mornings bird watching, or ‘birding’ as some may call it. Yes, I just googled that.

I am not that great at differentiating one type of bird from another. Although, I absolutely know what a scarlet macaw looks like because of the years I spent watching Diego, playing Diego games, pretending to be Diego…with my boys. And, while I don’t like to but love to brag I could probably point out a canary to you, and maybe a blue bird and of course, a cardinal. In case you didn’t find a common theme there, those are possibly the three easiest to spot because they are each a solid primary color. Man, I’m good.

But, you really don’t have to know that much about a bird, to know the bird.

Take my best friend and neighbor…she has learned all about a particular bird over the last few days, and I guarantee she doesn’t know the cool ‘birding’ term I just busted out.

We were on the phone the other day and all of sudden, she just started giggling. Now, I know I am begging you to think I’m funny, but this wasn’t me she was laughing at. I asked her what was going on and she said “There is this cardinal outside that just keeps flying up to the window, chirping, and then bonking into it. Over and over, she just flies up, chirps, and then BAM! right into the window pane. Then she flies away and then right back and does the same thing all over again. ‘Cheep, cheep, BAM! Cheep, cheep, BAM!’ It’s hilarious…but really, kinda sad!”

Then, we spent the next few minutes creating a whole cardinal make believe world.

“Ya, this was probably the one that cheated through cardinal school and missed the Windows course.”

“Maybe she fell out of her nest when she was young and has brain damage.”

Cheep, cheep, BAM! Interrupted our silliness again, leading us into a while new round of laughter over this stupid, stupid cardinal.

“I have to do something to help this poor thing.”

So, sweet Shelley spent a few minutes cutting out little paper snowflakes to put up on the window. “Maybe if she can tell that there is something on the window, she will know she can’t fly through it!”

Personally, I would have taped a picture of a lion or something up to the window, but she’s quite a bit nicer than I am.

So, we proceeded to finish our real conversation that had begun half an hour earlier. This stinkin’ cardinal doesn’t know how hard it is for two mothers who have each had three children in four years to carry on a conversation without forgetting mid-way through what we were talking about anyway! We don’t need “cheep, Cheep, BAM!” to interrupt us!

As we finished our conversation, I asked how Jingle Dingle was doing. Yes, we named the cardinal. Shelly figured Jingle was a festive name since it is December now, and I added the Dingle, because clearly the bird was one!

Shelley went back over to that window and said “Oh there she is! Oh no!”

All of a sudden I felt really bad because I had visions of this poor, sweet birdie dead on the ground from brain damage. Her little baby birdies cheeping in a nest somewhere wondering where Mama bird was. Not so much.

“She is flying back to the tree, and then flying right up to the window, as close as she can get, hovering…giving me a little “Cheep, cheep Cheeeeep” and then flying back. It’s like she is trying to get as close as she can, but now she knows it is a window, so she can’t justify trying to bang her head through it. She complains a bit, and then flies off.”

To which I replied, “That stupid, stupid little cardinal, doesn’t she get that she is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen. That’s ridiculous.”

BAM!

That wasn’t Jingle Dingle. That was God’s 2×4 to my head.

I am that stinkin’ cardinal. Dangit.

And, clearly, I am insane.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Ok, great. Me and ol’ Jingle Dingle are insane.

Are you?

I face something in life that I have faced in the past, on more than one occasion, mind you, and yet, I try to approach it the same way and somehow expect it to end differently. Go ahead, lock me up, already. I wonder if strait jackets come in blue. I love blue.

I have, friend, been faced with medical drama after medical drama over these last four years. I have faced very scary times when I’ve been rushed to the hospital in true crisis. I’ve also been rushed to the hospital only thinking I was in true crisis. I’ve faced huge procedure after huge procedure with time to anticipate and desperately pray for it need it! to work. I’ve met with ‘new’ specialist after ‘new’ specialist, each one hopefully holding “the answer” I’ve been waiting for. And friend, I will admit to you, that so often, I have faced these with fear and worry. I have faced them in sin.

Worry is the opposite of faith. Just as hot is the opposite of cold. Up is the opposite of down. They are not only opposite of each other, but they simply can’t exist together. The same is true of worry and faith. Remember, worry is a form of fear. Jesus commanded us over and over not to worry! He repeatedly said “Do not fear!” and “Fear not!” He didn’t suggest it. He commanded it. He knows worry kills faith. And, friend, we need faith!

In Ephesians 2:8, the Bible says that we are saved through faith.

James 5:15 says that a prayer in faith will heal the sick.

Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith is impossible to please God.

In James 1:6, the Bible says that if we want wisdom, all we have to do is ask in faith, but if we don’t ask in faith, we get nothing.

And, then of course, there’s the fact that “anything that is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23)

So, it is no wonder that the enemy throws fear at us all the time, he knows that is what gets us away from faith the fastest! And according to Scripture, we need faith to be saved, healed, God-pleasing and wise. Our enemy, Satan, would much prefer us lost, sick, sinful, and dumb.

So, as I have approached these last few trials in my life, I have tried to do so with heaps more faith. I will not lie and say that I haven’t had my brief moments of fear, because I have. My closest friends and family can vouch for that! I am human. The difference is that I have not been consumed by it. I haven’t visited fear, camped out there, stuck my flag in the ground and claimed it for my own. I’ve seen it, acknowledged it for what it is (an attack from the enemy), and tried to move on in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.

Max Lucado said “No one can pray and worry at the same time.” Amen to that!

“Worrying is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other.” John MacArthur

Kay Arthur put it bluntly, “You either trust God, or you don’t. Period.”

Priscilla Shirer put it this way “I want you all to remember what the Bible tells us; God did NOT give us a spirit of fear. (2 Tim. 1:7) So, if you are facing something and you are afraid of, it is because the enemy has assigned a spirit of fear to that thing. And maybe he is doing that because He knows the victory that could come of it, if you face it with faith.” She continued on to say “The area of sensitivity and tenderness in your life is probably the area where God wants you to experience the most victory, where He wants the biggest ministry to come from your life.”

Wow. That was huge for me.

Maybe you aren’t afraid of anything. Maybe worry and fear aren’t things you struggle that much with. I would be grateful for that, if I were you. But, still…can you relate? Do you have something that you keep facing, but still aren’t finding victory? Do you, like good ol’ Jingle Dingle and I, keep bonking up against that same window, hoping things will change?

Well, friend, that stops today.

Make a stand with me and stop flying into that same stinkin’ window!

Stop bad-mouthing your husband to the gals at work.

Stop judging every chick you see with single digit sized skinny jeans.

Stop worrying that the world is going to come to an end if another Democrat is elected.

Take a stand with me, and go the other way!

Start praying for God to remind you daily of the reasons you fell in love with your husband.

Start eating right, exercising and praying for God to show you what healthy means for you!

Start praying for our leaders, our nation, our citizens and join a proactive and positive group of supporters.

Whatever you do, stop flying into that same stinkin’ window.

Jingle Dingle’s story is not over.

Nope. In no time, Shelley was calling me back.

“You are never going to believe this! She is back. All of a sudden, I heard “Cheep, cheep, BAM!” again and I went to the window and there she was! Right outside, except this time, she had moved over one window. “

To which I replied, as if somewhat yelling across the street to this stupid bird, “Jingle Dingle, why do you want so desperately to come in the house? We have no bird food. We have no nests. You have everything you need out there!”

So true, friend, so true.

How many times do we try to find victory over something on our own, only to later discover we’ve made very little head way. We may not be banging into the sin, but we sure are flying right back by and hovering for a minute while we get as close as we can to it.  We may have moved down a window, but if you listen closely, you still hear “Cheep, Cheep, BAM!” over and over.

Then, we would be an awful lot like the Israelites! Do you know that 38 of the 40 years they spent “wandering” were spent right outside the Promised Land? They were just right there. So close, but yet so far. Scholars estimate that the rest of that journey should have only taken them about 11 days. They spent 38 years. Friend, do you really want to waste 38 good years on an 11 day trip? Do you really think that sin is worth flying back up to every once in a while just to get a good view? Have you truly found victory, or are you just one window’s length further than you were, but still with a big, fat knot on your head?

We cannot do this on our own. Let me repeat that!

We – cannot – do – this – on – our – own!!

It is only, and I do mean ONLY when God works in us a heart-change can we make a genuine step toward victory over a thing. We can try. And boy, do we! But, friend, hear me now when I say that unless you are plugged into the One who promises to know even about every single sparrow, (Matthew 10:29) then you will fail. It may look like you win. But, you don’t. It is just defeat, moved one window over.

Seek Him. Pray to Him. Read His Word. Be involved with a Bible-based fellowship of believers. He has given you all you need out here to survive. This world has no real food for you and no real place to find rest.

Let’s see those paper snowflakes for what they are and move on to where we belong!

The Last Name Ain’t Ringling

Have you ever been to the circus?
If so, please stop and think with me about exactly what all of that entails. Just the spectacle of the whole thing is utterly amazing to me. I mean, there are multiple acts right in a row – Boom! Bam! Bang! – guy eating fire over here…monkey riding a bicycle over there…and that’s all before you’ve even started eating your cotton candy. Large furry “cats” who could easily eat any one of us for their mid-morning snack, obey commands from a guy in tights with a little whip in his hand. I mean, really? It flat out doesn’t make sense.
In fact, pretty much everything you see at the circus doesn’t make sense:
People balancing thirty feet in the air, blindfolded, as they cross a tightrope, on a unicycle for goodness sake, and with no net. No, they didn’t lose a bet – this is their chosen profession, people.
Six ton elephants jumping and dancing and twirling around as if they were toy poodles in the dog show and were born to move that way.
Grown men wearing makeup and oversized, mismatched clothes while they scamper around making fun of everyone, including themselves.
Twenty plates spinning on nothing more than overgrown toothpicks…all at the same time…spinning ‘round and ‘round and ‘round while the clown jumps back and forth all over the place, not letting a single one fall.
It just doesn’t make sense.
But, then again…I would venture to say that if you stopped and looked at your own little circus you call “life”, it wouldn’t take you long to respond in the very same way.
How am I going to get it all done?
Where are we going to get the money to survive this month?
How in the world have these kids turned out even remotely normal?
It just doesn’t make sense.
I’m not sure about you, but I think we can all relate to at least one of these circus acts. Maybe your boss attacks you each day as if your collar is made of fresh sirloin and he is the king of the jungle. Or, maybe your kids run around like monkeys and you’d swear your house looked (and smelled!) like a circus tent on any given day. It could be that you are surrounded by “good” people who have their own fake smile painted on their face all the time, making you wonder if you are the only one with real issues.
Can you relate?
I know I can. And for me, friend, it is the plate spinning. That’s my act.
I am that clown (I can hear some people saying Amen!) 🙂rushing around trying to keep every plate spinning. Too many plates; not enough me.
Spouse, kids, work, pets, finances, church, sports, school, parents, in-laws, carpool, Bible study, cleaning, deadlines, hobbies, volunteering, illnesses, debt, exercise…and so on and so forth.
Do you recognize any or all of these plates? I would imagine you do.
You know what the hard part is? Most of these are not bad plates. We aren’t talking about spinning plates like crime, drugs, deceit, jail, violence, etc. Generally, those plates aren’t the ones that get us down, are they?
The truth is this friend; you can’t keep even all the good plates spinning. It doesn’t matter if one plate is a collectible china plate with Scripture etched on it by hand. Or if another heart-shaped and was hand thrown in a kiln and carved with your wedding date and vows. You may even have a couple more that were made at a pottery place with precious hand-prints that aren’t nearly as little as you remember. Oh friend, those are some good plates. Our lives are rich because of those plates. But, if you also have another twenty plates spinning around them, you simply will not be able to keep them all up. And, the sad part is – you don’t get to choose which plate crashes first. It is that simple. I’ve heard it said that “more isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just more.” Friend, this is so true. And this is coming from someone whose nature is “anything worth doin’ is worth over-doin’.” So, trust me, I know this is hard.
But I wonder – what is your plate count right now?
In John 10:10, Jesus says that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
The thief is our enemy, Satan. And he comes ONLY to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your joy, kill your dreams and destroy your personal relationship with Jesus. He would love nothing more for you to live your entire life in defeat, constantly feeling like you can’t get it all done…aren’t doing a good job…and that it won’t…ever…get…better.
But, Jesus did not come so that we could all live over worked, under paid and totally stressed out. I feel like you and I pick up a few of those plates, ourselves, friend. Jesus came that we might have life to the full! And no, that doesn’t mean full of more plates to spin. That means full of his joy, love, peace, goodness, selflessness and everything else that reflects a relationship with Him.
But I can’t let even one plate fall. I just can’t. This may be what you are thinking right now.  I understand that. 
Take it from someone who has spent the better part of the last few years lying flat on a couch spinning one stinkin’ plate all by its lonesome self. Somebody came in, wrapped my plates in bubble-wrap and packed them up without my permission. Friend, I’ve been dying for some more plates. If it were up to me, I’d have gone and bought a 24-piece set and started spinning months and months ago. Thankfully, it wasn’t up to me. God made me. And because of that fact, He knows me so very well. He knows that for reasons I may never understand, I have needed to focus on just one plate for a while – getting better – inside and out. My healing over the past few years has been far more than simply physical. In fact, I am pretty convinced that the getting better inside is far more what He’s been after.
So, lonely I waited…spinning my one little plate while the rest of the world was buying up those 24-piece sets like it was the one-day sale at Macy’s. 
Hear me on this…it wasn’t until my heart changed about all this plate spinning that I was given back another plate to spin. Once my desire was for only a few plates, the best plates, the plates He wants me to spin…that is when He began to trust me again to receive plate after plate.
I couldn’t be more thankful. 
I want you to have this freedom as well.
But you don’t understand what I’m going through. You don’t know my issues. Our debt is too large. My kids need too much of my time. My job is too demanding. My spouse is the problem. 
You are right. I don’t know your problems. But, I do know the One who made you. And rest assured He knows your problems. 
The question is simple…do you want to keep spinning all those plates or not?
Have you ever wondered why those circus elephants don’t break free? I mean, you see these enormous animals who, with one leisurely decision to sit down, could turn your SUV into a metal pancake…yet, they are tied to these little stakes in the ground even your grandmother could break free from. As the story goes, a western visitor was traveling in a safari area and asked this very question. “Why don’t they simply pull up the stakes and walk away?” The local people replied that when the elephants are babies, they are tied to these small stakes and they quickly learn they can’t break free from them. So, even when they grow up to be big and powerful, and could easily walk away, they don’t because they have accepted the idea that they can’t.
That is the enemy’s goal for you and for me; that we never break free.
So, really it is up to us to make a choice. I want to lovingly encourage you to do evaluate your plates. Ask yourself some hard questions.
Do you really need them all?
Are you willing to sacrifice now in order to live a more “full” life later?
(Like me) Do you often try to pick up a plate you know you were meant to let go?
If it was all taken away, which plates would you really miss?
Looking at all these plates, are your priorities in the right order?
Friend, the only plate that really must keep spinning is your relationship to God. And no, I don’t mean “Yes, we go to church.” As my pastor says, “Being in church does make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car.”
Seek Him. Read His Word. Study it. Memorize it. Diligently pray for how HE wants your life to look. Ask Him which plates need to be dropped from your act. The freedom that awaits you amazing. The life that awaits you is full of what He wants it to be full of.
Go to the zoo. Walk in the park. Heck, ride a roller coaster or two. Just leave your old circus life behind. Look in the face of that enemy and watch his face as he realizes…
And now…ladies and gentlemen…in the center ring…It’s. Not. Me.

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