caroline holzberger

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

Archive for the category “Not Claire Huxtable”

Sovereign Pause

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

Like, spoiled, y’all.

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

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

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

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

No. way.

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

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

Spoiled brats. Lucky dogs.

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

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

Have you ever felt a Soverign pause on your life?

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

Noooooo. Anything but wait, Lord. 

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

Stink.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord, what do I do?

Then, it happened.

Pause.

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

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

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

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

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

Easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Soverign pause on my life.

Have you felt it?

Have you obeyed it?

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

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

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

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

I don’t know, friend. But He does.

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

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

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

To Him be the glory.

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

He’s Just Not That Into Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we really there?

Is my ‘baby boy’ officially gone?

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

His sullen attitude sometimes.

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

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

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

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

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

What the !?!

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

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

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

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

Jacob? Notsomuch. And, I get that.

1) He’s a boy.

2) He’s eight.

3) He’s a boy.

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

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

(crickets.)

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

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

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

“Hey buddy, do both ears hurt?”

No.

“Does the left one still hurt?”

No.

(Ok, Jacob. Nice talk.)

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

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

I’m thinking like congestion. Maybe sinus pressure.

And, then he floored me –

“Yah I guess.”

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

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

BAM! (sound of my jaw hitting the floor)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheesh. Get a clue, Caroline.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson Two: I will not disengage with my kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, dude, this job is hard.

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

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

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

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

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

Moms, this deal is tough.

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

I will choose to embrace the good with the bad.

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

I will pray for my kids.

I will love on my kids.

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

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

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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…

Something Got Me Bad

(I feel the need to make a disclaimer that the following blog post contains a word that may cause some people to be squeamish. I want to respect this, since I too, have my own word that I despise. My lifelong friend and college roommate had huge issues with this word. Sweet J, if you are reading, you have been warned!)

Benjamin. (No, that is obviously not the word I was referring to!)

Sigh. My darling middle child is such a precious boy. He is kind, affectionate, and I kid you not when I say he has the biggest heart ever! As loving and cuddly as he is, don’t get me wrong, he is all boy. If he isn’t sword fighting like a Power Ranger, then he is playing a sport, any sport (very well I might add!) or freely allowing his bodily noises to flow without hesitation, like only a little boy or grown man can!

For all of Benjamin’s endearing qualities, I must admit that, like his mother, he is a bit absent minded at times. These are just a few examples of “Benjamin moments”.

While getting ready for a bath one night, he pulled his pants down and said, “Huh. I forgot to put on underwear today, Mama.” How the kid made it through the entire day without noticing that he’s going commando, is remarkable, and all too familiar to me. Not the commando part –  I notice my underwear. But, I don’t notice many other details.

While driving to Florida to see the kid’s great-grandmother, we decided to stay overnight in Mississippi. Benjamin was so excited to get to wherever we were going. A joyful traveler, he kept saying he couldn’t wait to meet “the nice lady”. I assumed he meant his great-grandmother, but as it turns out, I was wrong. When questioned who he was excited to meet, he exclaimed “Mama, I can’t wait to meet Ms. Ississippi!” That’s right, he was beyond excited to meet a state that he thought was a lady. He later asked if Mr. Sippi was going to be there too!

He often can’t find his shoes when they are right next to him. And I cannot count the number of times he has been joyfully “surprised” to see a squirrel in our yard. We have almost a hundred and fifty oak trees in our yard and perhaps half as many squirrels. We see them constantly, but to him, it’s always a pleasant surprise.

Before I go further, I feel inclined to mention that Benjamin is a very smart boy. He knew all his letters and numbers before he was three. He has been finding rhyming words forever and his teachers sing his academic praises. But, what he has in intelligence and precious-ness, he lacks in common sense, sometimes.

This story I am about to share is the epitome of that truth.

We were playing in the backyard recently on one of the many! un-seasonably warm “Texas winter” days. The kids were in t-shirts and shorts and having a blast soaking up the sixty-five degree weather. Then, I heard Benjamin start to fuss.

“Mama, something got me bad!”

I look up to see him lifting up his shirt, wincing and scratching at his chest. I wouldn’t put it past our mosquitoes to have stuck it out through December, but I was a bit surprised. Hoping not to see a spider bite, I lifted up his shirt and said “Show me where, buddy!”

“Right there, Mama!” he exclaimed, somewhat frantically as he pointed to an itty bitty red splotch around his nipple.

‘What buddy, I don’t see anything except where you were scratching yourself.”

“Maammaaa…right there!!!”

Then, it hit me.

My sweet yet utterly unobservant boy was pointing at his. own. nipple.

Pause. “Um, that isn’t a bite, buddy, that’s your nipple.”

Utter confusion came across his face as he looked up at me with an innocent look of bewilderment.

“It’s ok Benjamin, look, you have another one.” I said, as I pulled up the other side of his t-shirt for him to see.

Sheer panic came across his face.

He looked down at his body as if he’d just discovered a third arm that he’d never noticed before.

Then, in an attempt to ease his little brother’s fears, my oldest boy chimed in, “It’s okay Benjmain, I have them too!” He lifted up his own shirt to reveal, that he too, in fact, had two nipples.

Benjamin gasped!

Jacob and I giggled.

“Buddy, it’s okay, that’s how God made you. You have always had them.”

Still quite confused, he looked at me for help, “Mama, do you have them too?”

Friend, this is officially where the show and tell part of the story ended.

“Yes buddy, I do. Everyone does.”

“Whyyy!?”

“Well, that is how Mamas feed their babies. Isn’t it amazing how God made us that way!”

“But why do boys have to have them?”

I got nothin’.

“Sweetheart, I have no idea. I guess only God knows why He chose to make boys that way too. You can ask him someday if you want! But for now, don’t panic, you are just fine!”

My sweet, sweet Benjamin.

The child can read but he didn’t know he had nipples.

It is bad enough that he is five years old and hadn’t realized this, but to make matters worse, we spent every waking moment of the summer in the pool or playing outside shirtless. “We” shirtless, being the boys, of course! So, it’s not like the kid hasn’t had the opportunity to notice his nipples. I’d even give him credit for never looking downward, if it weren’t for his big brother and Daddy in the pool with him. Nipples in plain sight.

Although I can’t really accuse Benjamin, because I have been pretty unaware of things in my world too! My best friend notices when someone she sees once a week at church changes their nail polish color. I, however, failed to notice when Ryan took down the huge American flag that hung above our front door – a year ago! I think some people are wired to pay more attention to details. But, I guarantee you; we are all supposed to be aware.

I’m not sure about you, friend, but I fail to notice other more serious things that should be quite obvious.

Hmmm, like my own sin, for instance.

Ya, I went there.

I have had plenty of times where I have seen sin in others and been fully able to recognize it. Yet, I rarely felt like it took the time to look down at my own self to see the very same thing. Jesus said quite a bit about the heart behind this –

Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Oh how quickly I place that robe on and reside over others in my mind. The Judge Caroline show could put Judge Judy out of business, I’m sad to say.

Matthew 7:3-5 “”Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

I happen to love how the Amplified version of the Bible says it. Shocking, I know. Anyway – it clearly relates these two objects perfectly in verse three – “Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye?”

Ha! Beam. Of. Timber.

I love it! God’s Word cracks me up sometimes! Ever had a beam of timber in your eye, friend? I can conservatively say I’ve built a log cabin or two hundred.

Not only that, but I have been in flat out denial about my sin. For instance, if Ryan and I get into a “spirited discussion” about something and he says that’s hurtful, I have been known to take that as a full out invitation to get him back. We know each other’s Achilles heals. Often we try to avoid them. But, then sometimes, we aim directly at ‘em with all we’ve got.  I leave the situation appalled at his behavior, his hurtful words, his ugly heart, and choose not to look at any of those same things in myself.

Luke 6:29, 31-33,35 “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic… Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that… But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back…”

I don’t believe that Jesus thought anger was sin. Jesus got angry. (See Matthew 11:15-17) Like my wonderful pastor says, “There’s a good mad and a bad mad.” Here’s the key –

Psalm 4:4 “In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

See what happens when you sin in your anger…you give the devil a foothold. I don’t know about you, friend, but I have a hard enough time fighting him off without giving him any extra headway, thank you very much.

And then there’s the favorite among us “good” Christians. It’s the whole idea of ranking sin. We are so good at that.

It’s not like I murder, beat my kids or rob banks – I’m good.

Ok sure, I may curse every once in a while, but it’s not like I cheat on my taxes or something.

It’s just a little white lie, no big deal.

Ya sure, I gossip, but that’s not that bad. Besides, we gotta pray for her, because did you hear what she did?

Ya right, friend. It doesn’t work like that. A sin…is a sin… is a sin. Period.

Something as “simple” and “innocent” as gossip seem relatively harmless. But, see here who gossips are listed with –

Romans 1:29 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

Romans 6:23 put sit plainly – “the wages of sin is death.”

Whether you rob a bank or tell a lie – you have separated yourself from God and require the redemption of Jesus’ blood to pay for that sin. Yes, I understand that some sins are done purposefully and some without knowledge. I agree that some sins carry greater weight in our lives simply because of their consequences. But, let’s not encourage ourselves because we may “seem” to not be as far from God as the next person, because really, friend, far is far. Sin is sin.

Then, there’s the quieter sins. The ones that don’t shine as brightly outwardly – like judging others…or envying others…or lusting over others. These sins happen in our minds and in our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Psalm 139:2 “You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.”

And this one always gets me – 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.”

So, dear friend, what shall we do?

I say we seek authenticity now. Quit acting like we don’t sin. I will tell you just a few of the things I struggle with are pride, worry and fear, and a judgmental heart. There you have it. Not going to sugar coat that for you. I’m calling a sin a sin. Period. I want to just claim that “it got me bad”, confess that thing, and move the heck on! Don’t you?

The great news is that God knows our hearts, good and bad. He knows when we are truly repentant and He knows when you are just giving it lip service. He knows when we have a heart to honor Him but, in our flesh, we just blow it.

Let’s do what Peter suggests “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Let’s let the Holy Spirit do his job and convict us “of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8)

Nipples for some reason have to be a part of all of us forever. But, friend…sin does not.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Thank you, Lord!

“Mama, Say Your Thing”

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

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

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

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

Which leads me to where God spoke to me recently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So.

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

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

“Why did you go to time out?”

“Because I swiped the toy”

“Is it kind to swipe a toy?”

“No.”

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

“Yes.”

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

“Yes.”

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

“Yes ma’am.”

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

“I know.”

“Ok, then GO!”

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, I recognize her.

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

Silence added with her rascally grin.

“Abigail, baby, what are you doing?”

She inches a bit closer, smiling and being silly.

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

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

What Abigail?”

“Mama, say your thing.”

“Huh?”

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

“Mamaaa, say your thing.”

“What thing, baby?”

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

Whoosh.

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

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

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

She hadn’t had a heart change.

She wasn’t sorry.

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

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

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

Ouch.

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

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

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

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

That ends now.

Actually, it ended Saturday night.

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

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

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

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

I was just so. flat. out. tired.

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

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

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

It wasn’t pretty.

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

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

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

I came to repent.

For being fearful and not faithful.

For envying.

For saying hurtful words to those I love.

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

For not keeping a pure heart with my motives.

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

For complacency and laziness.

For not praying enough.

For desiring my will over His.

For pride – times a hundred.

Friend, it wasn’t pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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