caroline holzberger

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

Archive for the category “Finding God in Texas”

Wholey, Holey, Holy

My life has been a bit tough lately.

Not lately, meaning this week. I’m talking lately, like the last five years.

And, in case you are new here (Welcome! So happy you’ve joined us!) and wonder what in the heck I am talking about, feel free to detour a bit and read the facts or the drama. It well help you “get it.”

As for the rest of you faithful followers, you know about my medical roller coaster. You know about my high times and my low times and lower times. You laughed at my Nut to the Head and laughed harder at my Happy Wetpants … and God bless you, you even cried at my Déjà vu and “Seriously!?” moments.

So, this news will be big to you. Maybe even as big to you as it is to me…

You ready??

We. Went Camping.

Like, me, my man, and my kiddos piled in the Gracevan, just us Team Holzberger, and we got away from it all. It was absolutely the most amazing two days!

If you would have told me eight months ago, that if I’d just hold on for a little bit longer, if I’d just keep believing, keep trying, keep getting stronger, that I’d get to go camping with my kids, I’d have probably shook my head, burst into tears and ugly-cried snot all over your new Gap sweater.

But, we did.

I speak the beloved truth when I tell you that my man and I packed up our three sweet little babies and drove an hour north to a local state park and did this thing up right.

We had a tent. (borrowed)

We had bikes to ride the trails. (mine was borrowed)

We had sleeping bags, a lantern, a Dutch oven for cooking, and two blow-up mattresses. (Borrowed, borrowed, borrowed, borrowed. Man, our friends aren’t bright have blind faith, don’t they?!)

With hardly anything that actually belonged to us, we still felt fairly prepared for the life outdoors.

And, this life was beyond what we could have imagined.

I will not paint you a picture of camping utopia and mislead you greatly. Not enough foooood! Where’s the first aid kit!? I can’t feel my legs! But, I will say that this was one of my favorite weekends, ever. Like, in. my. entire. stinkin’. life.

Modern mathematics cannot count the number of breaths of thanksgiving I gave to God on this trip.

Thank you, God for their wonder of your creation.

Thank you, God, for this family hike.

My God, thank you for this sleeping bag laughter…music to my ears.

Oh Lord, what a breathtaking sunset you painted for us.

God, this moment, right now, is perfection on earth.

Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times over.

As I sit here tonight, in my jamis, listening to my Pandora radio, I am unable to restrain the tears, as I try to find the vocabulary to encompass these moments of pure, unadulterated joy.

Then, I realize there are none.

Me — the one who never ever, ever, ever shuts up — cannot think of a way to describe to you how special this trip was.

I guess I could try to tell you a story of someone who was bedridden, alone, in pain, feeling destitute and outcast from normal society. Someone, who day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, suffered from pain, stress, fear, seclusion, unanswered questions – all the while watching as the world spun around just fine without her a part of it. I could tell you that this same girl, alone every day, was poured out completely in every single way — empty, broken, alone, desperate. This same girl no longer allowed herself to picture a healthy life. Because…what if? What if God would be glorified more by her living her life just this way? What if?

But, then it happened. In God’s perfect timing  and not a moment earlier there was a phone call to a friend, an acorn to the head and that was that. This same girl, who’d had her faith stretched further than she ever thought it could go…finally had physical hope. She had, by the grace of God alone, maintained her spiritual hope, her emotional hope…but now…this was act-tu-ally happening. She. Was. Getting. Better.

Four years. Four years – the better part of it spent alone, staring at ceilings, in and out of hospitals, unable to live a normal life, with no answers in sight. This girl was actually now getting stronger. Mentally stronger. Spiritually stronger. And finally, physically stronger. She delicately and slowly began to believe that maybe God could be glorified through her healthy body again. So, stronger she got.

That was my life. Always flat on the couch, always with an ice pack strapped to my head.

But now, by God’s grace, this is my life.

Because that same girl, who watched her babies grow up in front of her eyes, yet beyond her reach from the couch, was now packing a bag. Setting up a tent. Leading a hike.

There really are no words.

At one point, as we were walking along the shore of the lake, the kids giggling and throwing rocks into the water, it hit me. — when God worked His mighty way in the Bible, the overly grateful people almost always built an altar.

Moses. Jacob. Isaac. Abraham. Daniel. The list goes on.

As I remembered these stories of great faith,  I looked along the shore, at my feet, and noticed the rocks I walked upon.

I whispered to myself…Well, wouldja  look at that. All of these rocks are holey.

In my head, I’d simply noticed the rocks all had holes worn into them from the waves crashing over them time and time again. But, as the words came from my mouth, I didn’t hear the word holey meaning, “filled with holes”…all I heard was holy…as in holy.

This is holy ground.

Whoa.

At that moment, God so clearly spoke in my spirit that this.was.holy.ground.

I just kept grinning like an idiot, whispering it over and over as tears filled my eyes,

Holy. Holy. Holy.

Then, God spoke this blog into my heart in such a complete way. Not just Holy, Holy, Holy is this ground. But, look, my beloved…

Wholey, holey, holy.

These rocks, were a perfect representation of me and my couch time with God.

They were completely (wholey) filled with holes (holey) because of the Sovereign, divine (holy) waves who were permitted to crash upon them time, and time, and time again.

They were wholey, holey, holy.

Did she just call herself holy? No, I’m not calling myself holy. Although the Bible says I am set apart for His purposes, (Jer. 1:5, Gal. 1:15) a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2), but it still sounds pretty cocky to call yourself holy. Especially if the you, is me, and I know how unholy this holy can get.

I do not believe God caused all I’ve been through, yet I most certainly am confident He allowed it. And while I am beyond thrilled to be off my couch, I wouldn’t give up that time with Jesus for anything. He met me on that couch. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year. When I felt alone and afraid, confused and angered, disappointed and depressed…Jesus joined me in that moment. He joined me in my trial. He joined me on my couch.

How could I not build an altar of praise?

So, I bent down, as I walked, and began to collect these wholey, holey, holy rocks. One by one, I scooped them up into my shirt, smiling from ear to ear.

Forever, will I look at them and be reminded of this camping trip. Not the coyotes. Not the injuries. Not the lack of food. But, of my rocks. Of my altar.

Of my Sovereign, trustworthy, holy God.

Who captured my heart wholey.

And allowed a holey four years to strip my life of so much.

To make me a little bit more like His holy Son.

I stand before Him now wholey, holey thankful for His holy couch and this beloved weekend.

Amen and amen.

Ps. After sharing the less serious and more funny camping stories with my family at Thanksgiving, my brother chimed in. In the spirit of sarcasm and silliness, i.e. my two shining qualities I feel I must share my big brother’s views (via a comedian) of camping. It’ll make you laugh, I promise.

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Blue Bell On the Pie

Disclaimer: this post may be very painful for some people to read. For all of my friends that live in my general Texas area  i.e. God’s country, I am saddened to inform you that there are, right now, parts of this country of ours that do not have Blue Bell ice cream. I’ll give you a minute to take in that tragic news.

Deep breaths. Ok. We want ya’ll to know that we are sorry. I am, in no way, trying to rub it in your face the fact that our area is better than yours blessed with something you don’t have. I do however invite you to come to your senses and move here. But, if you don’t, fear not, you can still go to heaven. It’ll be close, but you can. 🙂

Ok, now we can begin.

Have you ever heard the phrase “icing on the cake”? No, Caroline I’ve been living in a hole for forty years .Basically, it means an extra enhancement to what you already were pleased with. That phrase is pretty common, but to me, not very impactful. This is because I’m not much of a cake person. I don’t hate it. If it is the only dessert offered at a party, then I may eat some, but then again, maybe not. And if I do, I will most definitely not eat the icing. I really don’t like icing.

I know, I know, I’m such a weirdo. Shocker. But, I just don’t like cake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very fun at parties, I just won’t eat the cake at them. See, that’s good, right? More for you! J

So, as I was growing up, my Mom began to notice that her darling stubborn, strong-willed and charming daughter was not really a big fan of the cake at her own party. Wanting to please her, and not waste money on stinkin’ cake my Mom asked what my favorite dessert was, because I could have that instead.

Done. That’s easy!

Apple pie with vanilla Blue Bell ice cream with it. Not on top, mind you, but with it. And, by “with it”, I mean in a completely separate bowl/plate to be eaten one a time. Yes, I have a lot more than just food issues.

So, there you have it. That is how the tradition began. Every year after that, I was presented with exactly what I wanted and then some. Not just my favorite, apple pie. And not just vanilla ice cream with it. But, Blue Bell ice cream! If left to my own devices, I could easily clean out a half-gallon of that stuff in half of a week! Happy Birthday to me!

Mind you, the other guests were often wondering who took the cake? Yes, pun completely intended. The answer was me. I took it away, that is. While I am a pleaser by nature, on this day, with this issue, it didn’t matter, really. It was my birthday, so apple pie it is. You can have cake on your birthday, cool? Cool.

So, when I think of something being way, super, more amazing than I could have thought, and then adding an extra bonus on top…I don’t think icing on the cake… I think Blue Bell on the pie.

Today, was a Blue Bell on the pie kind of day.

I have, the last day or so, been happily recovering from a “dark time”. I had a tough few days last week that were filled with self-pity, moments of fear and worry, envy of others’ “easy” lives, and shocker! very wimpy quiet times. Gee, I wonder if any of that correlates? DUH!

So, I have spent some time on my face before God, apologizing, confessing, crying  that ugly sort of snot in the carpet type of cry, and just letting Him deal with some junk of mine. You may be thinking to yourself, Gee, you would think she would pretty much be done with that after all God has done for her lately.

Maybe you’re right. I should be. And, honestly friend, I am, for the most part. If you could see inside my head you’d laugh at its emptiness and my heart you’d be shocked by some of its hardness, you would ultimately see restoration. God has been working harder than those people do on Extreme Home Makeover to rebuild His home in my heart the last few years. He has cleaned out enough worry and fear to load a few truck-fulls headed for the dump. He’s removed quite a bit of pride and has rewired my controlling nature. He has been busy. But, I just can’t sit here and pretend to you that I still don’t have my moments of weakness sometimes.

Sorry. If you would prefer to think of me as only a strong, wise, godly woman, then I will let you down. I sin. I am selfish. I throw myself the occasional pity party. I raise my voice at my kids and lose all patience in the blink of a baggy, tired eye. But, friend, I love Jesus. I have been working daily to allow Him to work more and more in me. More of that in a later post. I gotta stay focused here.

So, yesterday was rockin’. And I closed my eyes last night at peace with whatever God wanted to do regarding this whole Mayo trip #2. Today was superb and I spent quite a bit of great time praising and writing and keeping my thoughts on His will.

I did have a few practical things I had to get taken care of today, though, amongst my God-stuff. Turns out, all this stuff was God-stuff. He showed up in all of it. The one thing I have been putting off for weeks a few days was the phone call to the insurance company to find out how much this most recent spinal fluid leaking would cost us. I know God has done amazing things through all of this, but we do live in the real world. And, I can’t send them a piece of paper with God’s wisdom on it. They need a payment. Period.  I had to make the call. I had no choice. So, I put my big girl panties on and did it. (Dun, dun, duuuun.)

After playing the automated phone person game for a few minutes, my clearly spoken for the love of God I said “Claim Questions”, directed me to an actual human. And, not just any human, but the one He picked for me. I was delighted to hear a very friendly, and very Southern accent on the other end of the phone. She sounded precious! God connected me with a lovely lady name Kyle. She was a peach.

We talked a bit about my seven million claimsand how it all was looking. She directed me as to how to go online and take a look at all of this clearly. Then, she looked at one of my claims that was labeled “out of network.” She said “Uh, oh darlin’, that’s not good.” Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Abort! Abort! I briefly contemplated acting like I was driving through a tunnel, cutting the phone call off, throwing the phone into the pool and running into my closet to hide in the fetal position. But, I didn’t. Instead, I took a deep breath and explained what happened with that doctor. I asked if I needed to call them and straighten this out. She quickly said “No, sweetie, you just give me a minute and I’m gonna get this all taken care of right now.”

So, I gave her a minute. Actually, I gave her about twenty minutes. I placed my phone on speaker and turned on a movie. You’ve Got Mail. A classic.

Eventually she came back on the phone,

“Caroline?!”

“Yes, ma’am, I’m here!”

“Well, that claim just gave me a fit! I mean it, I’m sorry to be so blunt, but it did! It gave me a fit! But, don’t you worry, I’m not done. I’ve got it all worked out and I will get it all straightened out right away, but I didn’t want you to have to sit on hold anymore!”

I thanked her for being so helpful and caring. Then, we talked about the $22,000 bill I received from the Mayo clinic. I knew we wouldn’t have to pay all of it. But, to be honest, I didn’t want to even have to pay even one eighth half of it.

She researched all 128 (I kid you not!) claims from the Mayo clinic and spent forever adding them up for me, adjusting them, and came up with a number that didn’t stop my heart. So, I was pleased. I felt like I actually had good-ish news to tell Ryan. God had taken that number down a bunch and I was pretty happy about it! This was just about the last piece to make the whole apple pie of my last day or so. It was good stuff! After close to an hour on the phone with this sweet woman, I had all my bills lowered and my questions answered. I thanked her for her time and efforts. And then it happened.

God busted out the Blue Bell.

Kyle said “Oh darlin’, I’m looking at your history here and you do look like you’ve been through quite a bit these last few years. I’m so sorry about that!”

“Thank you ma’am! I have been through a lot, but you know, God is good! And, I’m…”

I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before she screeched,

“YES HE IS GOOD! ALL THE TIME!! I am SO thrilled that you know that too! He showed me that so clearly this morning! I mean just right smack dab in the middle of my face, He just showed me how good He is!”

And of course, I said, “ME TOO!”

I was beaming!!

Then, my insurance company lady and I spent the next few minutes talking all about how good God is, how He has been with me on this couch and with her in her life. I told her about how He has blessed me with time to write my blog. I told her how I was “praising God from my couch”, to which she replied

“Oh darlin’ I just love that you are doing that! I want that website ‘cause I have two people I know right now who really need to read all about that!”

After a few more minutes. I thanked her for her time and her joy. She said, through tears “You have blessed my day so much! I can’t wait to read your story! Thank you for sharing with me!” to which I replied, through tears, “Thank you! It gets pretty lonely on this couch sometimes, and you have made my whole day!”

We blessed each other and hung up the phone.

I lost it.

I mean it. Flat out, blubbered like an idiot and cried out to God, out loud, “Thank you, God! Thank you for loving me enough to do that for me today! Thank you!”

Can you even believe it!?!

I know, me neither.

I mean, seriously, who gets to have a call like that with their stinkin’ insurance company? No one. Well, apparently, me.

Friend, God loves you that much too! I don’t know if you are like me, but I think my mind forgets that sometimes. I can often remember His holiness, His sovereignty, His beautiful creations. But, for some reason, I forget sometimes that, like my pastor says, “He doesn’t just love all of us. He loves each of us.”

Do you feel that? Do you feel that the God of the universe knows you that well and loves you that much? I hope you do, friend. But, if you don’t. May I please encourage you with some Truth?

Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

Wow. You get that? Your hairs are like, actually numbered. Not only does He know that you have 6,438,819 hairs on your head, but He knows that if you pluck one out, that it was number 124. Who else in your life would love you enough to sit and count your hairs? To number them? To know them each individually and be aware if one is gone? My husband loves me. But, the sweet man has to sometimes take a double-take to realize that ALL of the hairs on my head have been cut and colored. Don’t judge, I look good blonde. If God loves you enough to number your hairs, I think that says quite a bit.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,”

Wow. Can you wrap your mind around the fact that before any pregnancy test said positive, God already knew you? He knew you first because He made you. To know someone is to know about them. And you don’t want to know about someone unless you care enough about them. He cares about you. He knows you!

Psalm 139:2 “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

Wow. He knows every time I sit and every time I lie down. This, of course, is super special to me since I have been doing a lot of lying down lately, and not a whole lot of rising up or going out. He knows that. He sees that. He cares about that. And, friend, this goes for you too! He cares enough to know every single time you get up and down each day. That says a lot.

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.”

Wow. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the “Anointed One”, the Savior, was also called Immanuel. The angel of the Lord told Joseph that his bouncing baby boy, would be God with us. God with Joseph. God with me. God with you. All the time. He loves us that much that He actually allowed one of His names to be Him with us. A few years ago, there was a huge ridiculous craze about naming celebrity couples by combining their names into one. Angelina and Brad were Brangelina. Jennifer and Ben were Bennifer.  But, that stuff is retarded doesn’t really matter. This is our God, choosing to name Himself “Me with You”. Like, not Hollywood forever, but literally forever.

I kinda had a plan in my mind of what I would choose if He allowed a door #1 or door #2 game show moment for this second Mayo trip. I would have probably chosen door #2. Turns out, He picked door #1. Go figure.

So, here I am, still bathing in my Blue Bell and pie moments He has given me the last couple days. I only told you one big one. I have had A LOT of little ones, some medium sized ones and another big ‘un or two. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the last few days from all the Blue Bell and pie moments, friend. And you know what, God knows I need it. I need these reminders of His goodness and His faithfulness and His direction. I needed it when I tucked my sweet babies into bed tonight and had each of them cry and be sad that we are leaving them again tomorrow. I will need it in heaps tomorrow as we say goodbye and drive away.

Friend, I get it. I see the big picture. I am BEYOND thankful for this Mayo trip #2. But, my babies are 7, 5 and 2 years old; they just see their sick Mama leaving again. So, here’s the beauty of it…He will serve them up their own big ol’ batch of Blue Bell and pie as well. They are His. Like my pastor always says, “God doesn’t have any grandkids.” So true.

You are His, too. Open your heart to receive your own blessings upon blessings. He wants to do it. He is capable of it. Just believe it. And dig in…it really is that good!

Ephesians 3:16-21 “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. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

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