caroline holzberger

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

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I’m Neither Dead Nor In a Cult

Hello my beloved friends. My name is Caroline. Do you, perchance, remember me!?!

If so…do you still want to be my friend?

I haven’t posted a single word in almost two months. Like, not. a. word.

I’ve wanted to.

I’ve thought about it.

Sure have intended to.

But, alas, nada.

Here’s the deal. Brace yourself –

I

got

a

job.

I know, I know, that’s nuts, right? The more I work, the more I agree with that statement.

I have always held firmly to my support of being a homemaker and stay at home Mom. I have even received criticism for it. Maybe lost a friend or two?

But, for this year, for reasons I will briefly explain, I’ve jumped back in…a bit.

Disclaimer: Some of you Moms who’ve been working and raising your kids all this time are about to fall out laughing at me. Or perhaps, comment on my blog with some nastiness. I hope for the first. But, for those of you who have worked full time and raised your kids, I think you should be commended, and then committed. Seriously. This. Is. For. The. Birds. Unless your family like genuinely needs the income and no, not for hand scraped floors and Disney vacations I don’t know how why you do it!? I only work until 1:00pm and I feel like my life is in shambles. Passionate about your work? Sure. I love my work. But, dude – this is hard. The homework, the errands, the running around to every extra curricular thing, the church, the friends (nevermind, I have no friends anymore, no time) , the cleaning, the groceries, the laundry that never ends – whatintheworld!?! Why, oh why? And some of you have like, real-life, stressful, grown-up, corporate jobs. Not me. I am blessed to love on preschoolers, watch them on the playground, and give them snack. Yes, ladies in gentlemen, my folks paid for five years of college for me to be the playground and snack girl. Rock on! And I have no take home work, no stress from work, no deadlines at work, no dress code at work, nada. It is all good. All joy. All fun. All casual dress. All people I adore. All good. No travel. No traffic. No politics. Such a blessing!!! And still, this new life of mine, is haaaaaaard.

Disclaimer about my disclaimer: I loooooove my job. Like, for real. I love the people. Truly the salt of the earth. I love the environment. I love the hours. I love the company I’m with (meaning I get to see my baby girl all day!) I love the school, and I believe passionately about the work they do there. I love that I get paid. Holla. I really do love working at this job. It’s the whole working part I’m still adjusting to. But, unless I’m able to interview for a job that pays me to stay in my jamis while I clean my house and care for my kids – then I am happily pick this one.

So, here’s the skinny – I was approached by a precious friend about working at my children’s preschool. All three of my kids have gone through this fine establishment and I swear to you people, any smarts they have (especially in reading!) it comes from this school. I promise, y’all. I looked up one day and said “Wait a minute, you can read!?!” Momoftheyear crown is mine once again. Anyway, it is my baby girl’s last year before kindergarten (do.not.get.me.started.) and then I will have no little people at my home at all for seven hours a day. Not one. I have no flipping idea what that will even feel like, but at this particular moment I think it will resemble heaven. So, when she approached me, Ryan and I prayed about it, weighed pros and cons, etc. and made our choice. After all, I was very open to helping my one-educator-income family out financially. Educators get paid crap. Period. And, get this, I get to work with people I adore, with kiddos I adore, and see my baby girl more during the day than if I stayed home with her. That, my friends, is a win-win. It had Jesus written all over it.

But, I repeat – working is for the birds.

I haven’t had to get up and go to work every day in NINE YEARS, people. Are you good at anything you did nine years ago?!? Didn’t think so. So…dear ones, if you have seen me in the last five weeks you may think I seemed more scattered, distracted, stressed, aloof, annoyed, crazy, hostile or indifferent. It’s only because I have been more scattered, distracted, stressed, aloof, annoyed, crazy, hostile and indifferent. But, I’m coming out of it. God is using this as a HUUUUUGE teaching tool about where my heart lies. What are my priorities? Are they in order? For the record – they are crazy whacked out currently, but unwrinkling slowly.

So. I just wanted to say “Hello!” and “I love you!” and “I still love Jesus and talk to Him all the time!” and “Praise God ‘The Middle’ and ‘Parenthood’ are back on!” and “Shoot, I think I’ve gained ten pounds!” and some other things that I can’t remember. I’ve missed you. And, I hope you’ve missed me. I have actually had quite a few meaning more than three people come up to me and ask where I have been with my blog. They’ve commented, somewhat sadly, that I haven’t posted anything in forever. My first thought has been “Hey. I have a job now and I’ve bathed this week. Cut me some friggin’ slack.” Quickly followed by “Ya, you’re right. Could you just go ahead and do that for me?” and then once again followed by “Wait. You noticed? You actually missed the ramblings I throw up onto  you via my keyboard?! Wow.” (sniff, sniff)

So, I decided, that although I have no profound insight about my precious Jesus today, I will say this – I’ve had to lean more into Him these last five weeks than I have since my couch. When I have, He has been there faithfully – to give me Peace, stretch my time, bless my marriage, give me a special moment with my kiddos, and so on and so on. But, ohhhh when I haven’t, I have crashed and burned and been selfish and grumpy. It’s ugly, dude. I mean it.

My life has changed. I have a job now. But, that’s not it.

I am married.

I have three kids.

Two of them are in public school, which, bytheway should come with a free secretary for each child to singlehandedly manage the tonnage of paperwork coming home and lists oh the freaking lists! of things to turn in, donate, create, and sign up for. Shoot me now! And do it before the fall carnival so I don’t have to do the temporary tattoo booth, please.

I also go to church.

I also have to clean my own home and run my own errands and do my own laundry. Sucks out my very soul.

I also have each kid in one count it, ONE extra curricular activity. And I coach one of them. And yes, they’re only in one thing each – but ‘they’ equal three. Me and hubs equal two. You do that Math. I can’t. I’m too tired. I have a job now.

Dear Lord,

I have blown it big time lately in my deep study of your Word. Please forgive me. And thank you, thank you. thank you for your saturation of Truth in my heart and mind exactly when I needed it via an email devotional or song lyric. Thank you for providing for our family in each and every way. And specifically for this job. What a show off you can be, by giving me something so ab.so.lute.ly perfect for our family. Oh that you would continue to mold me and shape me into the person you want me to be. I do not envy the work you have ahead of you. But, I praise you in advance for the glory you will receive through it. May I become more disciplined, in Your Name. May I become more empathetic, in Your Name. May I become less judgmental, in Your Name. May I be light in this dark world – a true, honest, transparent person, willing to show their flaws in order to shine your perfection. And, now Jesus, please extend my sleep. Oh, I beg you. I obeyed your calling to finally sit down and write – I know this is what you have called me to do in this life. So please, Jesus, pleeeease take these seven hours until my alarm goes off  and make them feel like twelve. Or thirteen? I know you can do it. You’ve held me every day these last few weeks. I am so thankful for it. I need it now more than ever. ‘Cause, you know, Lord, I have a job now.

Thank so much you for Jesus, Amen.

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Five Minute Fridays – “In Between”

(Disclaimer to my readers – This is a challenge. A group to join. A prompting by another woman I like to just.sit.down. every Friday and write for only five minutes. That’s it. Which is roughly how long it takes for me to write my normal first sentence. Ahem. So, lest some of you start dancing joyfully with glee that my post is shorter – it is advised that thy shouldn’t get thyself used to it. In Jesus’ Name.) READ MORE HERE.

Here we go…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Praising God From My Couch was born.

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

So, now what?

(crickets)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Good Mom

I remember it like it was yesterday –

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blink. Blink. Blink.

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

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

Yet, I still have my moments. Daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

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

Be encouraged.

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

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

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

A good Mom manipulates her kids’ emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good Mom lets her kid fail.

Repeat- A good Mom lets her kid fail.

A good Mom lets her kid get picked last.

A good Mom lets her kid be disappointed. Daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dangit.

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

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

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

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

It is waaaaay easier to be a bad Mom.

To say yes just to make them happy.

To let them continue with their wordly desires.

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

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

To ignore their attitude.

To ignore the heart behind that attidue.

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

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

That. is. bull.

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

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

There is always tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

And, enjoy this day. Alone and quiet.

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

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Breaking Up With My Radio Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the heck!?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still stuck my lip out sometimes. Ok often.

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

Me: “Who cares!?! I’m trying it out!”

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

Score!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yup.

Um, no thanks.

Umm…maybe?

Um, Ok, but I’m pitching a fit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So – here it is –

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

Ding! The Time is Now 10:21pm

I am such a bizarre person.

It seems I often start my blogs with some sort of confession like this. I am not completely sure if it’s because I am reminding you or consoling myself. Either way, the statement has been made. And it is fact.

One of the many, many insert twelve more manys odd things about me is that I have this uncanny ability to convince myself of the time. This mainly happens at night when I have stayed up faaar too late. Whether I’ve gotten cought up on Friends re-runs. Oh the wardrobe those first few seasons. Was is really that cool to wear those button up mid-driif shirts that tie in front? Really? Or maybe I am writing. Like the other night when God gave me wisdom from Tom Petty. Or maybe I am wasting my life away on facebook trying desperately to catch up on those I love but never see and those I love and always see.

Regardless of the culprit, I have, on many occassions been able to avoid eye contact with the clock and convince myself – the time is now 10:21.

It’s not even that late. I can go to sleep now and still get eight solid hours.

Only 10:21.

Not even that late.

I will literally do this over and over in my head, as I mindlessly sit through yet another episode laughing at Joey and Phoebe.

My delusion doesn’t change the actual time. Well, in my world it does, but in the real world it does not.

The time really is 12:53am, you fool. Look at the stinking clock.

But, I don’t.

Instead I live in denial. I replay these words over and over in my head. Then eventually, I lie my head down on my pillow, completely assured I will still get a decent night’s sleep.

Anyone wanna chip in for my therapy fund?

Here’s the deal. I want to stay up. I know it is getting later, but I choose not to care. That’s the bottom line. I want to do whatever it is I’m doing. I don’t want to stop doing it, simply because I should go to bed. So, I convince myself it’s fine. It’s not late. I’m fine.

Again, anyone? Every small donation helps.

Can you relate to this at all? No, you’re a lunatic, Caroline.

Do you have something, anything in your life that you convince yourself is true? I can personally relate, in some form or fashion, to every one of the following thoughts. They have been mine. Have they been  yours?

I do need five different pairs of black pants. They fit differently.  Some are casual and some are dressy. Never mind that I have literally thirty-six other pairs of pants. That’s irrelevant. What happens if I need to wear black ones all in the same week?? See? I need them.

I don’t have to tithe every single month. I mean, who does that, really? After the upstairs remodel, we are cash short. We give more than most people anyway. Besides, I donated some stuff to Good Will this month, that’ll count. Shoot, I gotta find that receipt so I can write it off.

This ice cream or margarita is exactly what I need right now. Like, need. it. Plus, I deserve it. I’ve had a long day. I won’t eat too much. I have been good all week. It won’t add to my weight. I’m pretty healthy. I had two vegetables on Thursday. It isn’t a big deal. What’s one ok, three little scoops??

Ok, so maybe I don’t spend that much time actually hanging out with my kids? They love their Wii and iPhones, how do I compete with that? Besides, I’ve gotta check out that cute thing for the dining room I saw on Pinterest. We only have thirty minutes before I have to drag them all around town for their practices and games. I just want some peace and quiet today ok, every day after work. I know! I’ll let them pick their favorite movie to watch in the car!

I don’t actually have to get out in this world and serve people. I volunteer at church as a greeter once every other month. I’m good. Besides, who has the time? With work, soccer, dance, karate, and our planning our Vegas trip coming up, I literally do not have time. I’m sure if I had more time, I would do it. It’s not like it’s that big of a deal. Not everyone is called to help the needy. It’s just not my calling.

Friend, can I please say this with love…could you turn your love ears on?? Because I genuinely care about you. Your heart. Your defenses that may be trying to raise walls right now.

Jesus wants more for us.

He wants us to receive the peace that comes from fully living in His will for our lives. Caring about what matter to Him. Shining His love to everyone we see. Yes, everyone. The custodian at the kid’s school. The teenager with circus rings in his ear lobes at the McDonald’s drive-thru. The homeless guy on the side of the road. The pregnant waitress at your favorite restaurant, who can’t possibly be a day over 18.

This is a big job, this whole living like Jesus thing.

It’s not for the lazy.

It’s not for the complacent.

It’s not for the selfish.

It’s not for the judgmental.

Jesus was none of those things.

This life. This beautiful, peaceful, precious gift of a life you’ve been given is for so much more.

It’s for the joy despite your circumstances.

It’s for the certainty of faith not based on what you can see.

It’s for the compassionate heart for those in need.

It is for the honest conviction of what is right and wrong, NOT based on this world, but based on His Word.

It’s for the willingness to stand up for what is True and not get sucked into the warped version of the American Christian.

It’s for the love of the only Savior who can help any single one of us.

How much longer can we choose not to care?

Let’s wake up, friends. Shall we?

Let’s stop deceiving ourselves.

Let’s look at the fr-eak-ing clock.

The time is not 10:21.

Wisdom From Tom Petty

I love movies.

Let me rephrase. I love good movies. And, in my world, the definition of a ‘good’ movie has z-e-r-o to do with 3 1/2 stars versus 4 stars. Nor, what two guys rated it. Nor the number of nominations it got from a awards ceremony that could single-handedly cure world hunger with one month of the attendees’ salaries.

I love movies that make me feel good. Some say I’m narrow-minded because I won’t watch ‘the great films’ or those with ‘deep, meaningful themes’. Well, get me a t-shirt with “Narrow is thy mind” cause it is what it is. I have three kids. I don’t have time for a lot of movies. So, sue me if I just want to see the ones who give me hope and joy and silliness. Don’t sue me, really. You’ll be bummed out.

So, tonight, I watched a good one.

My man and I have grown accustomed to the beloved Red Box. It only costs a buck (now plus thirty cents, dangit) and you get to watch a new-ish movie in the comfort of your own jamis. Golden.

Sometimes we pick a loser. Sometimes we pick a winner. Tonight, someone in our marriage that’s a girl, picked a winner.

Won’t Back Down is the movie to see, says me. This movie is inspiring, motivating, hope-giving, and getyouoffyourbutt causing. Hence, me writing a blog post this late at night. I will not look at the clock because I want to live in denial that is is before 11pm. Simple facts, it’s about two determined mothers­, one a teacher, who look to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. Please watch this trailer. 

Yes, I am partial to the movie because I, too, was an educator. In fact, I was raised by them. Three out of my four parents devoted over a combined 100 years to teaching children. I used to stand in awe as grown ups would approach my parents with glee. It seemed everywhere we went out, as a kid, I heard them call out “Mr. Sanders! Mr. Sanders! I was in your sophomore Math class in 1986! Do you remember me!?!” To which he would happily reply “Hey, Guy!” as he happily hugged his long lost student. His joyful response was genuine, despite the fact that he called everyone “Guy” just to be safe. He had clearly impacted their life, and I wanted to get in on that business.

And I did. At least, for a little bit. As The Author of Life would have it, we got pregnant during my whopping second year of teaching. Ps. We’d just built a brand new house. Sur-priiiiise!

So, the decision for us was obvious, my kids came first. And, there you have it.

Number of years in college = 5.

Number of years actually using said degree = 2.

Sorry, Mom and Dad. (Please don’t make me pay you back. Ryan’s in education..you know we be broke. :))

But, this movie, although extra-inspirational for my education-based-first-love…actually caused me to jump up off my bean bags for a whole different reason. A Jesus reason.

And I have Tom Petty to thank for that. What the!?!

I am not sure if Tom Petty loves Jesus or not. Shoot…hold on…Ok, just googled Tom Petty to make sure he hadn’t passed away. I’m not in to pop culture.

At the end of this go-get-’em movie, they played this theme song at the very end.

Seriously, friend, please take a minute and listen to this song afresh. I know you’ve heard it. But this time, turn on your Jesus ears. Truly listen to the words. Take note of some of them I highlighted below. It won’t take long and I promise I’m not writing much after this. Ya right.

Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down

No I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
… and I won’t back down

Chorus:
(I won’t back down…)
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
(and I won’t back down…)
hey I will stand my ground
and I won’t back down

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin me around
but I’ll stand my ground
…and I won’t back down

Who knew Tom Petty could be pointing to Jesus?

The apostle Paul surely talked this same message up to pretty much every church he wrote to!

2 Thess. 2:15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

Phil. 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel”

Eph. 6:14 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”

James 5:8 “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Some of you precious people are new to our Christian family. Like, maybe you gave Him your life as an adult. You are my heroes! I always thought you guys had a way cooler testimony than I did. Boring me – preacher’s kid, grew up in church, babysat all the church kids, worked at church camp, didn’t drink, smoke, party blahblahblah. Then, God showed me the thread of His faithfulness and my own pride all those years…and of course then He added a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to my testimony these last few years.

But, either way, new brother or sister, this one is for you –

1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

We all were ignorant to His Truth for some amount of time. Some longer than others. But, if you call yourself a Christian then, you better not conform to the old ignorant you. You can’t let this world keep draggin’ you down. Stand your ground.

And, then the part that really got me is when Tom Petty said “You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”

Dude.

That’s flat out Scripture.

Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (KJV)

Our pastor pointed out once that this verse is something to really take a look at. It talks about the gates of hell being able to withstand an attack or not. This time, it’s a big, fat not! Lest we forget Whom we serve. Not a weak, wimpy God. But, The God who, if desired, could smash down the gates of hell with one breath. He can. Friend, someday He will.

But, here’s my point (Thank you for grace of my occassional rambling, it’s late. Er, I mean, it’s 11pm)

I WANT TO BE LIKE THOSE PEOPLE IN THIS MOVIE.

PERIOD.

If they can get that inspired, that called-to-action for the Truth of their edicational system to be revelaed, why can’t I stand up for Jesus. Like, for real, even if it contradicts what we all think is ok?

If they can work and work and research and plan, in order to prepare that proposal for the educational board, then why can’t I research The Truth of His Word and be ready for when my fellow Christ-followers are losing their way? Why not me?!?

I just wrote one of the most controversial posts I’ve ever written the other day. Last time I did that, I got 207 people to my website. In. One. Day. (And y’all, that was about chicken! Sort of.)

This time, when I spoke Truth to my fellow brothers and sisters about how messed up we are (including myself!!) in our false ideals of what American Wealthy Christian lives are supposed to be about….I got 406 in day one and another 102 the next day.

Whatintheworld?!?

This has been eating at me. Why so many people? Why this post on a random Thursday?

Was it because I got your attention by telling you I’d lose friends over this? Did you read to find out if you’d be one I’d lose? Did you pass it along on facebook because you really liked me? Or because something inseide of you (um, called the Holy Spirit) told you “Hey. This is the real deal. Listen to this!” Or maybe you didn’t agree with me. Maybe your first reaction was “I like my things. I tithe to my church. Leave me alone.”

I don’t know. But, for some reason 508 people read it.

Thank you, Jesus. Oh how I hope You’re screwing other people up besides just me right now, for Your Glory.

Oh how I pray that you are shaking up our thoughts, our reactions, our misconceptions for this one life we have. Lord, Tom Petty ofallpeople said it himself…

Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin me around
but I’ll stand my ground
…and I won’t back down

God, please help us out.

Help us out of this muck and mire that is slowly sucking us down into the world You died for, yet mocks you still.

Use me how you will, Lord. Friends or no friends. Let me speak love in Truth. May Your Word be my basis, alone. Let those same 508 people read this and pass it on to 508 more. Why? So I can be popular? Heck, no. So You can, Lord. I shove all the Glory up to You. I want none of it. It is Yours.

Speak, Lord.

Wake Your people up. Get them off the pews.

I know You’re doing something big, Father. I’m in.

Enough is enough.

I will not back down. I will stand my ground.

Amen and amen.

A Blinged Life

I am low maintenance.

Before you spit the coffee from your mouth, let me explain.

I have never been a fussy, girly-girl. I am what you’d call a faithful jeans a t-shirt type. And, no, not a cute, form fitting t-shirt with blingy butt jeans and Toms. I mean, like a real t-shirt and whatevercurrentlyfits jeans. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the girly girls. I have had my moments and phases as an adult like when I was skinnier that I liked to coorrdinate jewelry and buy trendy clothes. Aside from Jesus. boots and leggings darn near changed my life. But, overall, that’s not me.

But, don worry, this isn’t me giving fashion tips. That’ll be the day Satan is chillin’ in an igloo.  But, that isn’t the point of this blog.

The other day, I was faithfully cheering on The San Franscisco Giants (my son’s little league team, obviously…Go Rangers!) and I glanced over at a fellow Mom at the baseball field. She was, but sheer first impression, probably not a low maintenance fuss-free, jeans and t-shirt type. This was my initial assumption based on the attire she chose to wear to the baseball game. Her makeup, hair, accessories, and, howshallIsay, self improvements to her body all suggested she was tipping the scale more toward the higher maintence type. At least, with her outward appearance. I don’t know the girl. And this is no judgment on her character specifically. But, this blog is not about her. In fact, this blog is not about any one person individually. Instead, it is about all of us. Each of us. Ok, just let me explain.

I live in an area where I am constantly surrounded by people who are lifetime members of her “Takes Me an Hour to Get Myself Ready for a Baseball Game” club. And if I’d ever owned an eyelash curler, I couldn’t throw it ten feet without hitting three or four chicks just like her. It is my constant surroundings. In fact, it describes some of my dearest friends. So, that ‘type’ of chick isn’t what caught my eye.

It was her boots that could my eye.

Take a look for yourself.

DSC_0036

My instantaeous mental thought was Oh, look how cute for her!

Quickly followed by some assortment of –

Oh Jesus, I’m sorry. 

I hope she didn’t pay $150 to bling out your cross.

Is that the point? Are we supposed to be lovin’ our blinged out Christian life?

Well, yes, of course, Jesus wants us to love the life He’s given us. But, oh how I feel certain we are off course for why we are supposed to love life.

This chick at the baseball game could very well have a completely sold-out heart for Jesus; serving Him faithfully, reading His Word daily, giving to those in need generously. Just because she had blinged out Jesus boots doesn’t mean she is superficial. Please hear me. It’s simply broken my heart since I saw her, realizing that most of us really are so superficial with our faith. We are too busy blinging our the cross, we rarely spend time kneeling before it. The current American Christian culture has taken His idea of lovin’ life and exchanged it for a golden version shaped like a blinged out calf.

He didn’t die so our IRA accounts were secure.

He didn’t die so our kids could attend an exclusive Christian school and not have to be around those public school kids.

He didn’t die so we could feel happy about our recent re-model to the kid’s floor of the house.

He didn’t die for any of this material crap.

He died for people. Real, live people. Hurting people. Poor people; both materially poor and emotionally poor. He died for some who have much. And, for some who appear to have little, but inwardly have so much more.

I can’t help but wonder if He is well pleased with the state of our American church. I’m lying. I know He ain’t pleased. I am surrounded by wealthy churches. Those with coffee bars inside and pastors who live in million dollar homes. People arrive at church in their luxury SUV’s, adorned in their exclusive clothing, carrying their expensive hand bags. Some of them love Jesus fiercely and give money to His people happily. Others have been convinced all they have to do is look the part, say a prayer, and then they get to live out the rest of their days “lovin’ life”.

We have missed the point so badly in my world. Whether we admit it or not, we put appearance before authenticity. We put charisma before character. We choose trends over transformations. And, all the while, if our church drops $500K on an upgrade, we agree to it, after all, the lobby is looking a bit outdated.

Shame on us.

Forgive us, Jesus.

Forgive us for being so caught up in it all here.

Forgive us for not looking ANY different than the world.

Forgive us, please Father, for misleading other believers into what the Christian life is supposed to be about.

It’s about Jesus.

And Jesus wasn’t about wealth. He was about the poor.

Jesus wasn’t about fame and fortune. He was about humility and generosity.

Jesus wasn’t about petting the egos of the saved. He was about seeking out and saving the lost.

Jesus wasn’t concerned about His people’s happiness. He was all about their holiness.

Ugh, friend. My heart is heavy. Maybe it’s because I’ve fasted  lately and only worn seven items of clothing for the last two weeks – and been. just. fine. I didn’t die. The world didn’t stop spinning. And yet, there are 308 MORE items in my closet. That doesn’t even include undergarments, socks, or shoes! I have drawers that literally are too full to shut. I have more t-shirts than one person should be legally allowed to own. Go with me here…let’s say, since I really am a wickedly frugal person and generally never spend more than $15 for ANY item of clothing, that each of those items cost me $15. Friend, I have $4,725 in my closet alone. Don’t even get me started on my kid’s closets!! Does that make anyone else want to puke?

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I would have had FOUR more trash bags full of them if I hadn’t purged last year in disgust of my excess, after reading this amazing and humbling book.

What about you? Do you also spend $15 on each item of clothing? Maybe less? Teach me! Maybe a bit more? Maybe a lot more? Oh how easy it is for us to justify how we spend our money. After all, it’s our money, right? Nope. (Luke 14:33, Luke 18:22)

dare you to count your own clothing items. In fact, I triple dog dare you. Ya, I went there.

And then, for the truly brave, comment on my blog and tell me. I can’t wait to hear. Or comment on whether you agree or disagree with me. By the way, this isn’t a political battle. It is a spiritual battle. I am not a socialist. I’m not a Replublican either, for the record. I’m not an anything except a Christian, wife, Mama, friend, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, etc. Period. This is so not about how we cast our vote or where we shop.

It is about our hearts.

It is about our motives.

It is about whether the heck we actually look like Jesus to this world or not, dangit!

I want to hear what you have to say. Truly.

But, until then…I gotta go to Jesus about this thing before I start to scream or cry. Or both.

Lord, I’m wondering now, if you could screw up a few people’s ideals. Could you please come into our churches and mess us up? I beg you, Holy spirit, begin a stirring in our hearts that yearns for so much more. Let disgust not enticement be our reaction to worldliness. Humble us in whatever way you need to. I believe so profoundly, Lord, that this is not your idea of Christianity. Show me what is. Show us what is. Help us to be wise with our extreme wealth. Help us to stand out in this world. Come into our churches, into our conscious thought and mess.it.up Jesus. Wreck us for You – not for worldly things. Help us, please, God to not miss the whole point. Destroy our desire to be “lovin’ life”. May all we aim for, Lord, is for You to be lovin’ how we live our life. Amen and amen.

7 Foods Fast Felt Slooow

So, I survived the first week of The 7 Experiement. Survived is the key word. It was tough, y’all. To fast like this requires a certain resolve in your heart.  It requires discipline, steadfastness, consistency, order, faithfulness. Generally, meaning, never  those words are not used to describe me. Like, never. I am fun at parties, though.

Before I even tell you about my first week of this delightful event, I must preface with a little scene setting. When Thing One made me do this, today is opposite day she didn’t tell me I didn’t realize the first week of our Food fast would be during Spring Break. Noooooo!!! (Insert this grown-up whining) “But, that’s no faaaair. We are going on vacation for Spring Break!” In case you didn’t know, I haven’t done a lot of vacating over the last few years. And this was a big one! My Dad and Step-mom planned the trip and invited us and our three little rascals to tag along. This was a h-u-g-e trip, because we were headed to…wait for it…Spring Training with the Texas Rangers!! Our family are HUGE Rangers fans. This is entire theme of the boy’s room. I guarantee sister friend can name more Rangers than most adults. The boys know all the players, stats, positions, jersey numbers…all of it! In fact, Ryan can say, “Hey guys, who am I?” and then he’ll position himself in a batting stance, to see which boy will shout “That’s David Murphy!” or “Oh, easy Dad, that’s Josh Hamilton!”  We will miss you, Josh! just by seeing their stance.

So, needless to say, they were pumped! And so were we! We planned to see Carlsbad Caverns on the way there and Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, and the piece de resistance – The Grand Canyon on the way home. We’d agreed to give Dad some money for gas but other than that, they were fitting the entire bill. I know, we are blessed!

This trip was gonna be epic.

Until I remembered the Fast. Stink.

I committed to only eating healthy, whole foods and no treats for the first week on stinking vacation. If God grew it or made the animal and it was made into something healthy from that animal meaning: no bacon I could eat it. No chips. No cereal. No treats. Here we are, a family who never, and I mean never, eats out, because it doesn’t fit in with Mr. Budget – and now we had a week FULL of lunches and dinners paid for, and I couldn’t have fun with that?! Darn you Jen Hatmaker.

So, without further adieu, here are some snip-its from my journal:

Week One – Food. By the way, it ain’t pretty.

Day One

So, I’ve spent days doing laundry, making lists, organizing our belongings for the eight day road trip. My husband got all of his stuff together himself congratustinkinglations so all I had to do ha! was get everything ready for me and the three children under eight years old. Nice. Nana and I had planned well, with the ‘things to do in a car for a zillion hours’ area covered with the God-given invention of Kindles and Nintedno DS devices. Add to that coloring books, markers, puzzles, etc and we were set. For like two hours.

So, here we are, Friday afternoon, and the rental suburban was packed to. the. brim. Kids were going potty one last time, again, and all of a sudden Jacob starts screaming. Like, screaming. He is eight years old, and only screams like a girl when he is hurt, like, bad hurt.

He is clutching his ear and crying out “It hurts so bad, Mama! Heeelp Meeee!!” So, I did what I do…I gave him Ibuprofen. Then, I looked at the clock. 5:11pm, on a Friday. Awesome. Hello, Urgent care. Goodbye souvenir money.

Two hours later, I called my parents, who had taken the stuffed rental SUV to Wendy’s to feed kids #2 and #3 dinner. Before I could order a double cheeseburger and fries with a chocolate milkshake, I stopped. Fast. “I’ll have a baked potato and a salad.”

When they arrived to pick us up from our 2 1/2 hour detour from the road trip, they only had the salad. “They were out of baked potatoes, but we got you fries!” Ugh. Fast.

It begins.

Day Two

Who doesn’t love being in a car for ten stinking hours with three small kids? Pick me! Pick me!

Let’s all take a moment and thank our grandparents and great grandparents for not killing our lineage off on their first road trip. My Dad told me about his road trips each year to California to see family –

Dad: “We rode in a ol’ two-seater (I acted like I knew what that was. Regardless, it sounds small) for hours and hours. My Mom, Dad, me, my three older sisters and my little brother. We found room where we could, taking turns lying on the floorboard and back dashboard. (Isn’t it hilarious that kids are in booster seats until they’re like 13 now!?) If Dad got tired, we stopped. Otherwise we didn’t stop. When it was bedtime, we’d pull off onto the side of the road and lie on the ground on a blanket. If we fought, we pulled over for a different reason. You didn’t want that to happen.”

Oh Grandma Owens, thank you for not killing your five children.

If that had been me and my kids, our vacations would have consisted of a tour of the local post office, a scenic walk to the railroad tracks and back. Vacation, done.

But, here we are with 1-2 electronic devices per child, and an assortment of movies to watch on the, not one, but two TV screens in the rental. And books. And coloring books. And seven thousand games of I Spy, and Guess the Animal, and The Alphabet Game, and of course my favorite, The Quiet Game. I rocked that one.

Carlsbad Caverns was unreal. The kids had a blast, I took a bunch o’ pictures and all was well. But, after ten hours in the car and a lovely five mile walk 750 feet underground, we had whiney kids. The next kid who fusses only gets seven foods for the next week! Ok, maybe we had grumpy grown-ups too. Then we found an oasis. A lovely flashing red , green ,and yellow hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican food place. (aka heaven on earth) I personally believe you must eat Mexican food at least once a week in order to get into heaven. Ok, maybe not, but better safe than sorry.

Fast.

(Sounds of weeping and gnashing of teeth) “No tortillas? No chips and queso? No margartia?” Boooooo. But I deserve it. This has been a looooong day. Fast.

Fine, I’m going to bed. Goodbye Day Two – you are not my best friend.

Day Three

Take me out to the ballgame…take me out with the crowd…buy me some peanuts and…oh, wait. Nevermind.

Don’t buy me no peanuts. Or Crackers Jacks. Fast.

Have you ever tried to eat healthy whole foods at a baseball game? It is impossible. At a baseball concession stand there are three basic food groups. 1) Salty snacks 2) Sausages and other meat-like products 3) Straight up sugar

I came prepared with cheese, oranges, and apples. That lasted an hour. It was hot. I was hungry. I wanted a Lemon-Chill. It’s made from lemons, right? Wrong.

Fine. I’ll just be hungry.

But, friend, it was H.O.T. Like, Arizona-people-grow-cactus-in-their-stinking-front-yeards-here, kind of H.O.T.

I caved.

I stood in the ice cream line happily. I had resolved (after a whopping three days) that I had to have this. I needed it. I deserved it, even. After all, God doesn’t want me to be like the legalistic Pharisees and live by the letter of the law, right? As I was thinking this through read: convincing myself I noticed Scripture on the back of the shirt, the lady in front of me was wearing. Psalm 25:5 “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”The catch phrase was “All Day Long, Sista!” Gee, God, thanks. I tapped her on the back and struck up a conversation, because that’s what I do. The more we chatted, the more of the presence of God I felt. We were instant friends. She told me about her awesome church, which, by the way, is roughly 19 miles from my house. Uh, ya, that’s God showing off. I told her a bit of my testimony. She told me hers. We laughed, praised, and chatted it up. It was a very long ice cream line. I found out she is a writer and wants to speak. Gee, sound familiar? Oh, and her friend just gave her a new book to read…wanna guess? Yep, that’s right, 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Ok, God we got it! So, here I am 1,100 miles from home, and God uses my weakness to encourage me, further His work through me, and bless my stinking socks off. And give me a new friend who lives 19 miles away.

He is just too much sometimes.

For the record, I took two bites of the ice cream and gave it to my kids. Almost with a pure heart, too.

Day Four

Baseball game #2 = Hungry Me Day #2

I half expected to meet another friend in the ice cream line. But, I didn’t try it. Instead, I got a whack! No, not a foul ball, thankfully. Instead it was the Holy Spirit’s loving 2×4 to my head.

Gee, daughter of mine, can you even remember the last time you went hungry? Like, really hungry? Millions of my children live this way every day. Millions of them die. Needless to say, I didn’t crave the Lemon-Chill anymore. Or ice cream.

Day Five

My body feels better! Crazy how junk food wrecks us up, isn’t it? You don’t realize it until you get rid of it. Don’t believe me? Try it. Go two full weeks eating only whole foods. Nothing processed. Nothing fake. Nothing fried up and battered. Nothing with 18 ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Drink a ton of water and not much else. You literally WILL NOT believe how good you feel. It almost, almost makes me excited about next week.

Day Six, Seven, Eight

I am tired of apples. I am tired of oranges. I am tired of the hotel’s version of “scrambled eggs”. I also am tired of sitting. Lord, your Grand Canyon was beyond words. How in the world you made that and still care about me, is simply beyond me. Like, way beyond me. But, thank you. Thank you for giving me something so very huge to look at to remind me you are even bigger. Better. More awe-filled. And you love me! You chose my body to dwell in. Unfathomable.

Ps. After 2,500 miles in eight days, I never want to get in a vehicle again. Ever.

Ahhh, home again. Praise Jesus. And now…

WEEK TWO – Food

Ok, this time, since I am home and back to “normal” again, I want to truly experience this Fast life. So, I did it. I picked Seven foods ONLY to eat this week. Here I go: Chicken, Eggs, Cheese, Sweet potatoes, Broccoli, Strawberries, Apples. The end. Done.

I began the week totally pumped. If Jen Hatmaker can do this for a month, I can do it for a week.

Well, I did it.

But, it wasn’t easy. Like, at all. We live in a fast world. Team Holzberger purposely tries its best to dial it down a few hundred notches by not signing up our kids for a zillion things, by me staying home as a homemaker, and by scheduling times of nothingness except family-home time. But, there are still times when you have to hurry out the door. And in those times, it is way easier to grab junk that is pre-packaged and processed, than to scramble up a few eggs. I won’t eat eggs for a few months now fyi.

But, isn’t it amazing how our busy lives dictate our health? I found it fascinating and depressing when Jen Hatmaker wrote (p.31) “As we enter this week of fasting from food, dear reader, may I gently suggest that when it comes to food, more is not always more? That position netted us in an unprecedented national health epidemic. No country has ever been this sick, fat, and this deceased based on toxic food supply and bad choices.”

It is crazy to acknowledge that we are the first generation is history to have a shorter life-span that our parents before us. What is that!?!

Junk food. Period.

Can I tell you how hard this was? I mean, it was just for a week, and it was just me, so it wasn’t too bad. My husband (who already eats like he is on a fast) and kids still ate like normal people. I consider us pretty healthy people. Our kids don’t eat a lot of candy. They eat fruit and vegetables and meat and drink milk. We don’t do sugar-filled juices or sodas. But, my pantry still has goldfish, Cheez-its, and Fruit Loops. They eat processed stuff. They eat that junk, honestly because it is cheaper. I have a coupon and the store puts it on sale, so I buy it. I can’t afford to eat organic. I can’t pay $6 for a gallon of milk when we go through six gallons a week. That’s $36, friend. That’s a third of my weekly grocery budget, and I haven’t fed them any food yet.

Poor people are fat because junk food is cheap. Eating healthy and organic is trendy now so a lot of wealthy people do it. For us middle of the road families, we are just that; a somewhere-in-the-middle type of group. We buy some healthy stuff when it’s on sale. But, we buy some junk type stuff when it’s on sale too. We are doing the best we can with what we have. I know those who are in finacial trouble are doing the best the can too, but oh, how sad to know they can’t even think about trying to buy healthy. It just isn’t an option.

Isn’t there something grossly wrong about this?

I scrambled eggs.

I baked sweet potatoes.

I grilled chicken.

I steamed broccoli.

I liquified strawberries and made frozen smoothies.

And, I ate apple after apple after stinking apple.

And, I feel better. I lost four pounds.

But, mainly what I learned this week is how even though it is doable, it is hard. You must prepare ahead of time. Your mind must be focused. You must have resolve. And, you must have money. The real world will begin again. I gotta be able to find a way to mesh these worlds together. Lord, help me to remember that I am the vessel carrying the very presence of the Great I AM. God chose me to be here. He chose this body for me. Could it be skinnier? Yes. Could it be healthier? Yes. But, most importantly, could it honor Him more? Absolutely, yes!

May we all remember what Jen Hatmaker said on page 34 as we leave this Food week and move onto Clothes week –

“God told His people all throughout the Old Testament that their fasting moved him not one iota because their hearts were far from Him.”

Keep my heart close to you. Keep the heart of my dear friend reading close too, Great God.

Friend – has any of this struck a chord. Do your food choices bring you joy or shame? Does your body honor Him? Did you take part in this Fast with us? What did you experience?

Talk to me.

 

My Tightrope Act

Circus people freak me out a little baffle me.

Do these people make a ton of money or something? Are they still in their rebellious phase of life? Do they each have some sort of death wish?

It’s got to be something.

What in the world would compel someone to walk on a tightrope fifty freaking feet in the air. With. No. Net. I mean, seriously?

Oh, and as if that’s not wacko-crazy-ridonkulous enough, then they ride a bicycle up there. Ya, a bicycle. On the tightrope. Then a unicycle. Then they’re blindfolded. With rings of fire. And tossed to a fellow lunatic tightroper. Upside down. With flips. Backwards.

I can’t go on. I’m getting too worked up.

Ok, well, maybe I can go on. Shocker.

But, this time I’ll talk about me and my tightrope act.

Maybe you’re familiar with it? Please say you are.

No, it may not be literally up in the air, but I sure have walked a fine line, a time or two in my life.

Dating the “bad boy”. Y’all, he was sooooo cute.

Telling my parents “No. I’m an adult now, I can decide.” Ugh. I was eighteen. Jesus, please come back before my daughter is eighteen. Please!?!

Speeding in my new car. Like, fast.

Cheating through Physics class. Don’t get me started.

Sin and Truth are often divided by what seems like a very fine line. Your conscious chooses. If you’re me between the ages of birth through now twenty, then you fell toward the sin side. Other times you dove off head first. Sigh.

But, lately, by the grace of God alone, the gift of perspective He’s given me, has kept me from that particular tightrope in some areas of my life. However, I’ve found a whole ‘notha one to balance on.

It’s the fine line between “good” and “best”. Friend, I gotta be honest, this tightrope feels like it’s about three-hundred feet higher up in the stinkin’ air.

The fine line between contentment with what we have and the desire for just a bit more.

The fine line between eating a veggie and a fruit a day and actually acting like my body is His temple and treating it as such.

The fine line between butting into a friend’s life and obeying God’s Word of admonishing our fellow believers.

The fine line between settling for the way I look/feel and joining a gym and resolving to get myself healthier.

The fine line between just serving my husband and kids and truly finding joy in my God-given role as a homemaker.

The fine line between smiling and nodding as people live as complacent Christians and shouting in their face that Jesus would throw up if He were standing here.

Ok, maybe that last one is a bit harsh.

But, sometimes I feel like I can’t get a grip.

Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever stop, take a few deep breaths, look at the world around you…and then wanna scream your flippin’ head off? If you say No, please go away.

Good! I’m not alone!

Here’s the deal…in the circus, if they take a misstep, they die. They make an instant people-pancake on the floor and traumatize the audience.

I can’t help but think that, as Christians, our missteps are equally as fatal and equally as traumatizing for the constant audience we have watching.

If we act just like the world, then why the heck would anyone be drawn to Christ? If we blend so well, why would they bother? Our attitudes. Our priorities. Our motives. Our worldliness. Our selfishness. Our judgmental hearts. Every misstep, repels one more audience member from not just the circus ring, but the Ringmaster Himself.

It’s almost too much to bear.

So, what the heck do we do!?!

I’ve got one word for you – (ok, two words)

The. Bible.

Period.

That’s it, friend.

Read the book. Do what it says. Act like the Author. Then go to bed. Wake up. Repeat.

Our beloved gift of His Holy Word is THE ONE AND ONLY way we can figure out how to get through this madness. He has Truth waiting for us in His Word. Waiting. Just sitting there in black and white and red…waiting for YOU! For ME! His Holy Spirit desires to speak to us.

To guide us.

To instruct us.

To remind us.

To convict us.

To encourage us.

To love on us.

To model for us.

To change us.

It is not an old-timey book filled with neato stories that make good flannelgraphs.

It is not a decent book to spend a few minutes reading at church on Sunday, while you count the minutes until the lunch buffet.

It is not a weapon to throw into people’s faces as you misquote the Author. How dare you.

It is the only balance we need for every tightrope we face. Whether it is between sin and Truth. Or between good and best.

His Word is alive and active. I can tell you countless times His words have jumped off the page to me, where I hadn’t seen them before. Cut me to my core. Lifted my soul. Brought me to tears.

It’s simple – just open it. Let Him do the rest.

Your circus act is not over yet. You have more to do.

Tell me, friend…do you agree?

Has He used His Truth to help you walk that fine line you faced?

Or have you felt alone on your tightrope, not knowing how to use the balancing Tool? Not sure it was worth it?

A few loving reminders :

We don’t do fake here.

We do real.

We do truth.

We do grace.

But, friend, we do obedience, too.

Will you share with me?

Love, love.

Prone To Wander

Who are you?

Not like, “Please state your full name for the record, ma’am.” I mean, what are you like?

Me?

I’m nuts.

Surely you know that by now.

Since yesterday was spent glory-ing just made that word up in my shortcomings, I’ve been thinking a lot about them. Might as well tell you.

I am surrounded by organized chaos. I like to say to my darling yet anal husband that he’s mistaken when he labels me as disorganized. Because, how can it be disorganized, if I know exactly where everything is? Medical bill? Yep. Third pile on the left, under the magazine and behind the Lego ninja. Boo-yah. In reality, I probably do operate in organized chaos. Ok, full disclosure, there’s probably a heavy emphasis on the chaos with a just a splash of the organized on the side.

Which leads me to another character trait of mine – I’m an eternal optimist. Sometimes, to a fault. I want so badly to believe the best will happen. Sometimes I need to believe it. The guy will get the girl. The bills will be miraculously paid. The house will be miraculously cleaned up. That one never happens. Everything will work out fine in the end. When movies don’t end this way, I pout. I’m taking my popcorn and goin’ home. Life should be this way – at least, if you ask me. Often, life don’t ask me, though.

I’m also the poster child for ‘that person’ on those personality profiles. I’m the uber-outgoing, “fun-at-parties” , never met a stranger, born leader who everyone loves. For the most part. I am fairly honest, sometimes to a fault. My filter is all but gone. I have a huge heart for people and truly want to be everyone’s friend. As in, everyone. The guy pumping gas next to me. My bank teller lady. The chick who wanted a peaceful morning, but had the misfortune of riding in the elevator with me for twelve floors. I mean it, everyone.

I’m that creative person you want on your team for a project because of my contagious spirit and spunky ideas. Plus, the planning meetings will be a blast and I’ll bring snacks. 🙂 But then you probably ok, desperately need someone like my husband on the team too, or the project won’t get done. Probably because I’ll lose interest or forget to send the deadline email out to the group. Details, schmetails. But, ooohh our display would totally be pretty!

In fact, on that note, a recent epiphany struck me quite hard. I guess that’s what epiphanies do best, huh? None, and I mean, not-a-stinkin-one of those people closest to me are like me. No, really. Zilch. Zero.

My man, couldn’t be more opposite. Our core values are similar. But, The Five Love Languages book revealed what we already knew. My top #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, were, no lie, his exact #5, #4, #3, #2, #1. Awesome.

My lifelong best friend yes, even through the awkward years, my sunshine, was a non-emotional, non-athletic, non-boycrazy, non-dramatic, non-starvingforattention chick. I was too, minus all the nons.

Super neighbor and I aren’t that much alike. She’s a planner and a cleaner. She loves order and lists. Schedules and deadlines. Ya, me…notsomuch.

Thing One likes to read. I could stop there. But she is also the poster child of an introvert. I think she is lovely and hil-ar-i-ous but when we meaning I grab twenty more people into the room, they don’t see what she lets me see. In fact, a few months ago when I began posting about our super cool Book Club  I was fairly certain I would lose all my friends. I panicked and texted her my greatest fear –

Me: I am pretty sure I am going to lose all my friends over this thing.

Her: I know. But, it’s ok (me, ready for some inspiring and encouraging advice)… I’m an introvert, I only need one friend. I’ve got you. I’m good.

Me: Gee, thanks. Go read a book.

Most of my friends who I love so dear are truly not like me at all. Why is that? Is there some sort of law of nature that only allows one of ‘that kind’ of person in a group so they don’t eat each other? Do I dislike myself so much, I don’t like to be around other ‘me’ people? Or do I like myself so much, I want to be the only ‘me’ around? Hmmm, tough one. I’ll let you ponder that one for a bit.

Sometimes my entire life I have been labeled a flirt. I would like to believe I treat guys as openly and filter-less-ly add that one to my dictionary as I do girls. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a smidge ok, a heap of insecurity that needs to feel like guys think I’m worth liking. Not that I want them to actually like me…just acknowledge I’m worth liking. Now would be a good time to bring in the psychologist.

I’m funny. In fact, I think I’m one of the funniest people I know. I crack me up all the time. And clearly, humility is high on my list as well, eh?

I can be an mile wide and an inch thick. Although, I will admit, God camped me out on my couch for a few years, causing that mile wide to get about six feet wide. The only direction I could dig was deep. I praise Him for that!

I am a recovering worrier. Like, a bad one. God sure can use medical roller coasters to help cure that. Either that, or send your butt to the looney bin. I had a 50/50 chance on that one. Jury ain’t back yet, either.

I forget things that are important.

I don’t notice details.

I’m not a super listener. But oh how I’m a great talker. Doesn’t that make up for it?

I’m an emotional wreck at times daily and yet I’m a pro at masking it so that you feel ‘everyting’s ok.’ God forbid I be sad, depressed, or downtrodden. That freaks people out.

But, all this out in the open, God can still use me, right?

(crickets)

I mean, I know He has called me to ministry. I feel He is leading me to write, to speak, to make my loud mouth used not for my good, but for His glory. He can take this whacked out lump o’ clay and turn it into something good, right?

Often I doubt, but deep down I know, I’m no accident. God made me this way for a reason. God can (as my Mom always told me to) use my powers for good and not for evil. Right?

If I know no stragner, then I have no problem giving the homeless guy a hug and making him smile. If I’m fun at parties, then I can turn something like scrubbing toilets at church into a fun shin-dig, right? If I pretty much lack a filter, then I can look my fellow pew resident in the face and lovingly suggest they leave the pew and hit the poor area of town for a change. In Jesus Name, of course.

I used to believe somewhere deep down in my soul that I was broken. I wasn’t made right.

I annoy some people. Only those breathing. I don’t blend in. I never fit in. I’m not modest and demure, contemplative or soft-spoken. Those are traits of a true woman of God in ministry, I assumed. How do I become those things? The answer is – I don’t.

I don’t believe that junk anymore. Thank God, I had a while say four years or so, to really analyze who I am. Maybe that’s why I trashed pretense. No time. No point. Also no one to have a pretense with when it’s just you and God on the couch. Again.

I was cleaning my house yesterday once a year whether it needs it or not and a song came on that struck me to my core. Being that I had me and my wrecked self on the brain, this one particular line hit be like a 2×4 to the head. Dang, God is good at that.

Would you listen to it with me? You will know when you reach the part that got me. Trust me, my picture would be in the margin of the hymnal if that was allowed, and not outright sacrilege. So, I found a blog where someone had multiple versions of this song to choose from. FYI, my favorite choice for which version is the best is the 7th one down, by Jadon Lavik. Love.

Please, take a moment and praise with me.

Jesus sought me, when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God. He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

Wow. Interposed His precious blood. Amazing.

Oh, to grace how great debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.

Not doubt.

But, here’s the kicker –

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.

Ugh.

Maybe that’s not you. Maybe we are built differently. You could obedient. Faithful. Reliable. Organized, for goodness sakes.

But, those three little words could be used as my profile description.

Prone. To. Wander.

Ugh, Lord I feel it. I hate it. I deny it. You redeem it.

So, my prayer today is simple. And, if you like, it can be sung – Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thine courts above.

So, dear friend…leave a comment and tell me who you are. Don’t be shy. Lord knows I sure wasn’t.

Sola Deo Gloria.

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