caroline holzberger

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

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Impromptu Campout

I’ve never done this before. I am writing to you right now, on my site. Un-edited. Un-researched. Un-planned out. Today, you’ve got me fresh from the oven.

Normally, my routine is to wait until I have about an hour or two to sit down Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with why I’ve blogged once a month lately and write. I open a Word document and begin. I generally type from my stream of consciousness of what God told me yesterday or a week ago, or whenever it was, and then go back over it and edit, re-edit…sleep on it, and edit again. I often wait to post until I think it is a good day of the week to be seen, and then I go on my facebook and post it for all to see. Goodness gracious, that sounds awful.

Not today. Today I just finished my quiet time for the first time in daaaays and God said something to me. Poor God hasn’t had listening ears to speak to in a few days, I hate it when I do that to Him. Not poor God, though. Obviously. Poor me.

So, today, one of the devotionals I read was titled “It’s OK To Be Human”. But I often don’t think it is. Like my oldest child, I am my own worst critic. I expect so much of myself, especially after all I’ve been through. Have the last five years meant nothing to you? I often ask myself, chastising me for my complacency and laziness in The Word. So, what, now you’re well, and so you get to just go back and live your everyday Mommy world without diving deep into my Word? Nice.

Today, I wanted to go back to bed. Like, really, reeeaaally wanted to go back to bed. In all honesty, I still wish to be snuggled up under my covers. Sister friend is still aslep, the big boys are already off to school, so I wanted to do like I do so many days, and curl up back under my layers of covers and snooze again for as long as humanly possible. But, I didn’t. Instead, I came over to my desk with the sole purpose of working on an online photo book. Not Bible study. Not biblical research for my book. Photos. I chose photo book time over sleep time. But, as I approached this work area, that voice in my head appeared… Oh sure, you’ll lose sleep for photo arranging, but not for quiet time. Wow, girl, you should really go into ministry.

Ugh. That voice annoys me sometimes. It’s not the Holy Spirit. I know this because the Holy Spirit isn’t nearly that tacky. It’s the chastising me-voice that guilts me into things sometimes.

Haven’t been to the homeless church in weeks, have you? Sell-out.

Or if I do go volunteer, then it’s Oh ya sure, you go feed the homeless, but you can’t even honor your husband by keeping a clean, organized home? Way to go!

Ugh. Ever feel like you can’t win for losing? Like you really aren’t doing anything well?

But, then I did hear the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Lord!!

Just come. Even if your motives aren’t pure. Even if you are just doing it to check it off your list for the morning so you can feel better about doing what you really want to do. Just come. I want to be with you. I can speak to you if you will just come.

Sure enough, He can.

The verse that jumped out at me today as the Amplified version of a verse I’ve had memorized since my old flannelgraphs days.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest over me.” (I think that’s right?)

Um, ok. Boast about weaknesses. His grace is all I need. Got it. Sort of.

Honestly, I’ve always been better at boasting in my strengths. It’s remarkable how quickly and easily I can work in “Ya I had a full scholarship to play sports in college…” into a conversation at my kid’s sports practices. Two seconds flat. Sheesh.

But don’t worry, I have, over the last few years, become accutely reminded of my loooong list of weaknesses, and have thankfully learned how to boast in them instead. Sometimes.

But, today, the AMP version of this verse sang a new song over me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (AMP) But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

Do like I did, sweet friend, and read it over and over to yourself. Maybe even out loud. His Word truly does sound pretty when read out loud. See which part speaks to your heart. To me, it was my keen desire to go camping. Not literally, although I do ache for Team Holzberger campout season soon, if our weather could just mellow out. I love Texas.

But, I mean camping in a figurative sense. Oh how I long for the strength and power of Christ my personal Savior, My Messiah, to just flat out pitch a tent smack-dab over my heart and just dwell on me. Quick, how do I make that happen? How do I make that happen? 

Ummm…(looking back in the verse to see the “how to” part)…Dangit. I must gladly GLORY in my weaknesses and infirmities. Gladly glory in them.

Ok, if that’s what it takes. I’ll do it.

I actually did. For a few minutes, I cast off my ghetto glasses held together by paper clips and put my head in my hands and gloried. I confessed some sin. Ok, a lot of sin. I listed off my least favorite things about myself. I acknowledged all Satan has piled up against me. Then I just waited.

waited…

waited…

waited…

Then I heard it.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

The sound of four tent stakes being pounded into the ground. Right. over. me.

My heart was renewed. My mood lightened. My outlook invigorated. My ho-hum-ness about certain things uplifted.

Just like that.

I gloried in my weaknesses. I really did. I named them and claimed them that He could use them for good and not evil. And here I am admitting all this lame-ness to you.

Thank you Jesus. For your Word that is alive and active. (Hebrews 4:12) For your promises I get to cling to. For your character – you can’t be anything but faithful. You just can’t. And for this day. What will you do with it now???

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Tear It Down

Did you know, my friend, that I didn’t take a shower for over six months? Gross, Caroline!

No, I mean, because of all my medical drama, I wasn’t physically able to stand up long enough to take a shower. So…I became a bath-girl. Not by choice. But for the love of those around me who solidified to me that not-bathing was not an option.

Now, before you get any lofty visions of me bathing which is a bit weird anyway in a beautiful, antique cast-iron, claw-foot tub, with lavender bubble bath and Enya playing softly in the background…please see the below picture.

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My bath is funky.

It’s thirty years old, swirled with flecks of gold (I told myself it was 24 carat) and stained with some sort of gross-ness. I’d bleached and scrubbed time and time again, but it just wouldn’t go away. I told myself it was clean, but my eyes told a different story. Before the medical roller coaster I never used the thing, ever. It creeped me out. But, then when I had to go F.O.B. (Flat.On.Back) I didn’t have a choice. Our other bathtub didn’t hold water and had duct tape repair. This was the only option. For months.

But, now, years later, I am an upright girl. And when Ryan fi-na-lly said we had saved enough money to re-do some of the bathroom, you dang skippy better believe what ‘thing’ I wanted to demolish first. That’s right, friend – this bad boy –

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Can you even believe I bathed in that thing for so long? It gives me the willies. Blech!

But, as you could imagine, when given a sledge hammer and free reign over the destruction of said bath-tub-o-gross-ness I went. to. town.

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The protective eye goggles were for the sanity of Thing One’s husband to not have to come to the rescue of my eyeballs. But, despite the goggles, can you see the pure and everlasting joy on my face?

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Never has a sledge hammer been slung with such pure joy and utter determination.

I wanted to tear. that. thing. down.

And, friend, that’s how I feel now, as well.

Not with any more of my bathroom fixtures, but with all this other junk.

I mean it, I am so done.

I’m done with the busyness of stuff that don’t matter none.

I’m done with the enemy trying to attack my severe lack of discipline.

I’m done with fellow Christians (as in, including me) living life complacent and half-asleep.

Soccer practice. Birthday parties. Science fair. Ha! Clearly not our house! Deadlines. House payments. Political differences. Religious apparel. Luxury SUV’s.

Is this really what it’s all about?

I apologize sort of for my boldness. But, I truly am ready for a revolution. An awakening. A revival, if you will.

I’m ready to tear this Halfway For Jesus idol down for good.

I cannot tell you how many nights I spent in that dirty old bath tub, crying out Our God. Literally crying out His Great Name for healing. Both of those songs brought me to tears, and still do. Along with a few more. Like, this one. And this one. (LINK Blessings) And this one. (Sweet friend, bookmark this blog for the times you need to just cry out to God.)

Oh how I just wanted to be well. Words cannot express how badly I wanted God to take this trial from me.

But, friend, this is my bathroom currently –

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The bath tub is gone… but I’m still crying out. I’m crying out from amidst my dirty sin I’ve been soaking in for way too long.  My sin of laziness. My sin of pride. My sin of selfishness. My sin of worldliness.

My skin is pruned up I’ve been in this icky water too long. Again.

So, let me be clear. My goal here is not to make friends, really. That hurts me to say, because I looooove having friends. I looooove people. But, my love for people has kept me from being 100% totally bold with the words of Truth He gives me.

So…if you want to go along with your life doing what you want, when you want, and how you want – all the while with your Jesus fish on your car, then fine. Please feel free. I will absolutely still be your friend.

But, now, it is time for me to do something different.

NOW it’s time for this songPlease listen. 

“There’s a wave that’s crashing over me…and all I can do is surrender”

“Whatever You’re doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, but now I can see…You’re up to something bigger than me…larger than life…something Heavenly.”

“It’s time to face up, clean this old house, time to breathe in and let everything out.”

“It’s time for something heavenly.”

First order of business is something I talked about last blog – The 7 Experiment. (“Time for a milestone. Time to begin again. Re-evaluate who I really am. Am I doing everything to follow Your will? Or just climbing aimlessly over these hills?”)

My denial runs too deep to be nervous about it. My partner in crime is too. You can BE SURE the enemy has been attacking the two of us BIG TIME about this thing. He can go to hell, though. Literally. Like, for eternity.

So… do you wanna jump in with us?

Have you prayed about it?

If not, please do.

Then, LET ME KNOW via comment on my blog (not my facebook) that you will join us. And don’t forget – Jennifer and I are giving away FIVE workbooks for The 7 Experiment.

Would you like to be a lucky winner?

All you have to do is comment on this blog post about why you want to join us, and we will pick the winners before we begin on March 1st. So…I can’t wait to hear from you, dear friends.

God is up to something BIG…I’m just along for the ride. I hope you will ride along.

Let’s let Him tear down every single thing He needs to, in order to bring Him more glory. Shall we?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about then please read my last blog (LINK Splash Water Falls) and catch up. I’d love, love, love for you to join us.

“Encore! Encore!”

As I close my eyes, I can almost see

The closing of a symphony

Divinely written, for all to hear

As Jesus made His love so clear

One humble child cried out for more

And heaven heard echoes – “Encore! Encore!”

So, in case you have lived in a hole for the last few months, a life of your own and somehow missed this blog I re-posted…please oh please take a moment and read it. “An Eternal Symphony – One God, Two prayers, Three beds” is a story of His divine symphony; and it is crucial to understanding the “Encore, Encore!” of today.

My partner-in-crime (aka. Thing One) wrote that beautiful blog about one of the coolest things God has done in my life lately. What a blessing it was to even be used. No, really. The fact that He knows my every thought, intent, motive, desire, and not only loves me still, but also uses me on the occasion to bless others – it is darn near unbelievable!

So, Thing One is basically the yin to my yang. Or maybe she’s the yang to my yin? We aren’t sure who is who. She helps keep me grounded when I want to give away all her our money. She helps my emotional roller coaster level out when I get into a tizzy – generally about how crazy-blessed everyone is around me, yet they care not for the poor, the homeless, the widowed, the orphaned. Anyway, God has made it very clear He desired to mess me up in a major way, as He grows in me a heart to pour love, mercy, grace, and joy to the least of these. Those who society has forgotten, ignored, judged, and abandoned. These are my new homeys. I am blessed by them.

Anyway, so when God introduced me to my friend Tony, who by the way, is a hard-working, employed, tax-paying, insurance-carrying, (not-that-it-should-matter) single-Dad on that divinely appointed fall day I had no idea how He would continue to show off. What Jennifer didn’t mention in her blog was the next conversation Tony and I had after God gave his precious kiddos each a bed to sleep on. Our phone call went a little something like this –

Me: Ok friend, I respect that your first instinct was to attain the things you needed for your kids. I love that about you. But, could you please tell me something you want, just for you? Not a need, a want?

Tony: No. Absolutely not. You and your friends have done so much for me. Thank you, though.

Me: C’mon, Tony…please?

Tony: No. The beds are more than enough.

Me: Seriosuly, dude, just tell me something. Just for you. Not a need, a want. I can’t buy you a car or anything, although God could, but what would you want if you could get it?

Tony: Caroline, I am fine. I don’t need a thing.

Me: Hence the word “want” not “need”. Tony, quit arguing, you know I can take you, right? (This would be a good time to mention that my new friend Tony is an almost six foot tall, 230 lb. large black man with arm muscles larger than my neck. But, still, he could tell I am fierce. He was scared!)

Tony: Ok, ok, Caroline…if I had to pick something that I really just want…I’d have to say…(insert sigh of hesitation)…a washer and dryer.

Sweet man. Still thinking of the best for his family.

Thankfully, before my loud mouth could say the words “That isn’t a want, Tony, that’s a need.”, God reminded me that to some people, owning your own washer and dryer is a luxury. It is a want, not a need.

Me: Ok, friend, let me see what God can do.

In true me fashion, I told a few people ok, everyone I know  and asked them to keep their ears peeled for a washer and dryer available to donate. I had friends hunting on Craig’s List for me. People prayed. It was awesome.

And, I kid you not…by that time next week, we had three different sets of washers and dryers fully donated by people who’d heard this story. Not one. Not two. But three different sets for Tony to choose from. Wow.

Tony needed beds. Within 24 hours, he had beds, mattresses, bedding, and much more.

Tony wanted a washer and dryer. Within a week, he had three different sets to choose from.

Man, God, you outdid yourself.

But, still, He wasn’t done.

The craziness of the winter months came, with holiday-madness taboot. Tony and I texted every once and a while, updating each other on how we were doing, how good God is and how great it is that He introduced us. With every conversation, Tony expressed his overflowing gratitude for all God had done.

Then, it happened.

I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize.

It was Tony.

“Hey Caroline, how are you? It’s Tony.”

We chatted ok, I talked and talked, shocker! a bit about my kids, our holiday break, and so on and so forth. Then it happened. I asked how he was doing? His voice broke.

“Caroline, I wish I had better news.”

My heart sank.

“But, man, I didn’t want to call you. I hate to even bother you again, after all you and your friends have done to help me and my kids. But, I don’t have a choice. Caroline, we’re in trouble. I need help. I’ve called on God, and so now I’m calling on you.”

He proceeded to tell me about the confusion with his new job he’d just accepted in November. This was a great opportunity for him and would be the highest paying job he’d ever had. But, he wasn’t aware about the time-period where the GM plant would be shut-down and he would receive no income. Ugh. Can you imagine? No income.

He had no time to prepare for this, and was now facing eviction from his apartment. He didn’t have enough money to pay his rent or his bills. He’s been turned down for unemployment and food stamps (since he technically was still employed) and was facing a tough reality. “I just can’t let me and my kids lose our apartment. I don’t know what to do.”

God did.

God knew Tony’s humble heart. He, once again heard the plea of a desperate Daddy, doing all he could for his kids, and He answered His prayer.

Tony’s facebook posts the morning before he called me –

“Lord I know some things in life happen unexpectedly and we have no answers, no resources, and basically no control of. But your grace, mercy and power along with our faith u can make the unthinkable and impossible work. This is my prayer today and now I can relax and be stress free because u have it already worked out in your name. Amen!”

“Even when I get discouraged I am still waiting on God. He taught me too many lessons when I get impatient with him.”

I prayed with Tony. I assured him I would do anything I could to help. I told him I’d call him back as soon as I knew something.

The conductor bows His head in gratitude as the cheers raise to the heavens. “Encore! Encore!”

When I received Tony’s phone call, I happen to be with Thing One one of our favorite new churches full of some of our favorite new people. Check it out, it’s amazing!

I immediately told her Tony’s story and we discussed what we should do.

Me: “Let’s just go on facebook and see who all can help out. Everyone will want to!”

Jen: “How ‘bout we contact a few people who know our story with Tony and see if they want to help, first, before we announce it to the world.”

Me: “Oh, ok, that’s probably smarter.”

Yin to my yang. Yang to my yin. Whatever.

Then the cheers began from the back of the auditorium, as the conductor received all the praise He deserved.

From my cousin stationed in Korea – “Encore!”

From another cousin and her Bible study group in Nebraska. – “Encore!”

From a single-mom friend of mine, from my writer’s group, who is struggling for her own fresh start from abuse and danger. She heard Tony’s story preached at her church, and when she heard the newest development, she immediately got out her checkbook to help. – “Encore!”

Super neighbor and Fav friend both helped (again!) even though Fav friend has since moved halfway across the country.  – “Encore, Encore!”

My accidental friend, who met me through a mis-sent email in the first part of this story, now a treasure to me, who already gave three mattresses to Tony’s precious children. – “Encore!”

The blessing of a friend who owns my kiddos’ preschool, and four of her teachers, as well. Oh how I love those ladies! One of them even gave up the cash she’d received for Christmas to get to spend just on herself. Instead, she gave it to Tony. – “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!”

Friend after friend. Servant after servant. Reached into their hearts with love, and even more importantly, into their wallets for real, tangible help.

The next morning, Thing One and I drove to Tony’s apartment complex office and wrote a check. In less than twenty-four hours, we had enough money to pay his rent for two months, and give him a check to pay his utilities and water bills as well.

Over two-thousand dollars in less than 24 hours.

The conductor stands back, pride gleaming, as His child after child anxiously cries out “Encore! Encore!” in hopes to hear His eternal symphony once more.

And we heard it.

Loud and Clear.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Ps. These are the pictures of the three Thank You notes Tony’s kids wrote to all of us. Read and be blessed by Tavi (age 13), Dorian (age 12) and India (age 11).

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“Mitt Womee” and “Bockabama”

First, a disclaimer.

This is not a political blog. I am not a political person. Like, at all. As in, understatement of the century.

In fact, it has been strongly suggested that I am a neglectful American, too selfish and/or lazy to care about important political issues. Ouch.

How can you not watch the news?

What do you mean you don’t know the name of the Vice President?

I know, it’s bad.

I guess.

Maybe it’s not. I’m unsure.

I mean, I’m not a Republican. Gasps heard round my Bible belt area.

Don’t worry, I’m not a Democrat either. Sighs of relief come over the crowd.

I don’t associate myself with a political party.

But, don’t unfriend me on facebook just yet. I think we can still be friends.

I support our troops. I thank God for them.

I am not in favor of abortion.

I am not in favor of same sex marriage.

I am in favor of the extremely wealthy giving money to help the extremely poor. But, I am also in favor of the not so wealthy giving money to help the extremely poor.

I am favor of public education.

I am in favor of freedom of speech and religion.

But, hear me, friend…I am also in favor of the people who don’t agree with me on any of those issues.

More importantly than any of that, I believe the Bible to be true. It is my authority on subjects political and not.

I believe God meant it when He said to care for the needy, neglected, and forgotten. The homeless, the widowed, the aliens, the orphaned…those precious people are dear to Jesus. Therefore, they matter to me.

I am in favor of different churches worshiping in different ways.

But, I am not in favor of churches spending millions of dollars on church building expansions and coffee bars, when there are people starving on the streets within ten miles of them.

I am favor of churches banding together for the greater good of others, despite what the ‘label’ on their church sign says.

I am not in favor of complacent Christianity, which so many of us suffer from severely.

Should I vote?

Yes.

Did I vote?

No.

Fairly certain I just lost a few friends.

I didn’t ‘not-vote’ because I’m selfish. Or lazy. Or complacent. Or ignorant. I may be some of those things, but that isn’t why I not-voted.

Honestly, I didn’t want either man to be president. I believe voting is important, and my vote, this time, was for neither one.

But, once again, this is not a political blog. I am not a political person.

In spite of my not-vote, I still feel pretty good about my last few days though.

My partner in crime and I went to an amazing church and fed some homeless people yesterday and provided blankets for ten of them to be warmer at night. I feel pretty good about that.

I just had two very deep conversations with my sons about their character and how their choices impact all people around them. That, I’m proud of.

I honored my husband with a party, thrown in his honor, with his personality in mind, not for me and my desires. That blessed him and me.

I supported a precious friend through a time of anxiety, using the many, many, many times I’d totally been there, and the Truth from God’s Word that got me through. Blessed by that, for sure.

I’m not saying you can’t do all that and also watch Fox News. But, I just don’t.

We don’t really watch much TV at all, actually. But, for sure not the news.

I don’t read the paper. I do clip the coupons.

Can I love Jesus, America, and Americans, but still not care much for politics? Is that possible?

Can I love our country, our freedom, and our Lord and still choose, this time, not to vote in November?

I think the answer is yes. But, I could be wrong.

Anyway, like I said, this is not a political blog. I am not a political person.

What I really want to do is to tell you about Mitt Womee and Bockabama.

Who are these people?

I have no idea.

But, neither did Matthew.

Let me explain.

You see, my kiddos were given the opportunity to vote at school last week.

I didn’t know they would be given this opportunity.

I also didn’t know how/when/why they were asked to do so.

And, I certainly didn’t know what they were told about each candidate.

I didn’t know anything.

I only knew that when I welcomed the four crazy, energetic boys jumping into the car at carpool, I noticed that one of those wild boys that I birthed, had a sticker on his shirt exclaiming in big, bold, patriotic colors, “I Voted!”

I asked Benjamin, “Son, where did you get that sticker?”

Throwing his backpack at me, he answered matter of factly, “At school.”

Gee, son, thanks.

“No, buddy, I guess what I meant was, why did you get that sticker?”

“Cause I got to vote for president today at school.”

I was intrigued.

Mainly because my precious six-year-old just recently discovered he had nipples (LINK), so I was dying to find out what his new found political position would be.

My first-born child, Mr. Accurate, interrupted, “We only got to pretend to vote, Mom. It wasn’t for real.”

Thank you sweet Jacob. For a minute, I thought they’d lowered the voting age to six.

(Love that boy. He and his need for accuracy remind me of his dear ol’ Dad, who I happen to love.)

“So, Benjamin, who did you vote for?”

This should be good.

“Mitt Romney, of course.” He replied, as if that was the most ridiculous question I could have ever asked him.

Of course?!? Ok, this is getting pretty interesting.

“Why did you vote for him, bud?”

“Mama, I looked at his picture, and he just looked like he was gonna win.”

(Obviously my kid isn’t a prophet.)

Then, the car full of kiddos began their own little political talk. It was pretty comical. Three kids were mine. The other three kids were not. One kid voted one way because the ‘other guy’ already got a turn at being president. Benjamin voted his way just because he liked the guy’s picture. I guess there is validity to keeping elementary students from voting for real.

Benjamin went around the car, asking each elementary student who they voted for.

Three for Romney, one for Obama.

Interesting.

I know the parents of these kiddos pretty well, and I feel certain that most of them do not have specific political debates at the dinner table. Not at this young of an age, at least.

The two preschoolers stared in awe, as if they were watching a big kid ride a bike with no training wheels for the very first time. Mouths open, they just took it all in.

Then, it happened.

After the big kids chimed in their cheers for their candidate of choice, Benjamin turned to Matthew, my darling neighbor and honorary nephew –

“So, Matthew, who would you have voted for?”

Mind you, Matthew is only four years old. He neither knows what voting means, nor what a president is. Unless you are voting for your favorite Rescue Hero. Then, it’s Billy Blazes, hands down.

Matthew had just witnessed his brother and two honorary cousins chime in gleefully, as if voting for their favorite flavor of snow cone, “Mitt Romney! Mitt Romney!”

So, he happily mimicked, “Mitt Womee”

Benjamin sighed with a great amount of relief and approval to the younger kid, “Oh, good!”

“What about you Abigail? (his three year old sister) If preschoolers were old enough to vote hilarious! Who would you have voted for?”

“Mitt Womee, like Maffew!”

“Good girl, Abigail!” Benjamin replied.

It was settled. As for Carpool #8 (is great), the votes were in.

Barak Obama – 1

Mitt Romney – 2

“Mitt Womee” – 2

(Can you tie with yourself? Not sure about the political logistics of that one.)

Matthew and Abigail still have no idea what a “Mitt Womee” is, but they cast their vote nonetheless.

This carpool situation really stuck with me for many reasons – none of which are political, but all of which are essential.

Reason #1 – Kids are always listening. Always. What you do, or do not, talk about at the dinner table matters. “We don’t like Bockabama.” comes out of their mouths quite easily, even though they may be certain that a Bockabama is a type of evil ninja game. They have no clue. But, they’re certain it ain’t good. They hear Mommy and Daddy say it, so they say it. Period.

My friend, this is good and bad. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if, for at least the next three years and eleven months, we spent as much time and energy talking all about Jesus, and Peter, and Paul, and James at the table? Would they be able to go to school and say, “I want to be brave like Peter. He faced death because he loved Jesus. They even cut his head off. Whoooaaa.” Or, maybe they’d meet a new friend named James, and say “Oh, cool! That’s the same name as Jesus’ brother. Did you know, he didn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God until after Jesus died!? Isn’t that crazy!?” Kids listen to what we say, especially when we don’t know they are listening. That’s their favorite time to listen, in fact. What would happen if we now focused those debates on which king of the Bible was the noblest, or which disciple they are most like? I can only imagine the impact it could have on their sweet little minds.

Reason #2 – If you don’t address an issue with your kids, someone else will. I heard a sermon today by James Dobson on talk radio (see, I listen to talk radio…just not the political kind) say “You need to set the priorities for your family. If you don’t, someone else will.” Great point. My own children had never heard anything about this political debate from Ryan or I, until after they’d already cast their vote. Thankfully it was pretend. Thankfully it wasn’t a crucial issue in their current moral or spiritual lives. It wasn’t about them taking drugs, or getting into a car with a stranger, or showing someone their private parts. If we don’t address it, they may not be prepared for when it’s time for them to cast their vote about the subject. They may hear what the other kids are doing at school, and just go along with what they say, and with what they do. It doesn’t take much for our kiddos to get swayed one way or another.

Look at my sweet Benjamin. He went to kindergarten that day a normal six-year-old kid who still can’t tie his shoes and just lost his first tooth. He came home a Republican. Just like that. His decision had been made. His conviction was strong. And, I had nothing to do with it. I had no influence. I had given him no guidance. Scary, isn’t it?

Please hear me, friend – this is not a political blog. I am not a political person.

I am not shaming myself for not previously talking about the political election. Although, I am thankful for the many discussions we have gotten to have about it all since then. It did open my eyes to the impact politics can have (or not have) on a family.

I am sharing this because of the possible tragedy that could occur –

If we are more intentional about informing our kids how to vote for president, and not on how to live for Jesus.

If we focused more on their knowledge of party lines, that their desire to cross society’s lines to help those in need.

If we modeled our tendency to see everything through a political lens first and a spiritual lens second.

It could be bad, friend. Very, very bad.

Now, can you successfully do all of the above? Can you love Jesus and Fox News as well? YES! Of course. But, if we have to pick a side to emphasize, I wonder which one we’d choose.

They both matter. One, just matters for eternity.

But, please hear me, friend if we are still friends, I do love Jesus. I do love my kids. And I do plan on investing a ton of time, energy, effort, prayer and love in trying to make sure they know both of those facts. I want them to know where I stand on matters of the heart. I want them to know where I stand on divorce. On drugs. On pre-marital sex. On gossip. On fear. On giving.

I want them to know, not so I can force my beliefs on them. I want them to know because I want them to know the Truth of the Bible more than anything else in this life.

I don’t let myself get appalled at who won this election. At how the media skewed the coverage of certain issues. Or, at the backlash from all of the above.

I honestly don’t have time.

I’d rather get appalled that 25,000 people in this world will die today, yes TODAY alone, because they don’t have food and water that’s safe enough to eat and drink.

I’d rather get appalled that the church is dying, those who profess Jesus do it quietly, and more people are willing to put a Romney sticker on their SUV than their church’s sticker.

I’d rather get appalled that people will strongly support their candidate in public, but cower at the opportunity to stand up for Jesus in public. Fortunately, Jesus is God and doesn’t need us to stand up for Him. He sure does want us to, though, for the record.

It wouldn’t hurt to remind you, that this is not a political blog. I am not a political person.

The time, energy, and money you spend on issues like politics is between you and God. The amount of brain space you save for that stuff is your prerogative. But, here is the truth, my friend, your kids are getting older every day. Your moments of time with them are short. The words you get to say to them are few. They words they actually listen to are even fewer.

Make. Them. Count.

Not for election day. But, for eternity.

Because, one day, you will literally look our Savior in the face and answer for these things and more. Your vote for president, while important here, will be irrelevant there.

God is bigger than all of this stuff. He knows the electoral spread for every election for the next thousand years. He is in control.

And in case your heart needs one more encouragement…

Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Does that mean God wants Obama to be president. No. Maybe yes. Who knows?

But, He most certainly allowed it.

He can be trusted. In all things – He is big enough.

Now, enough of this mess. Go play with your kids!

Amen.

Full Christian Bellies

Ahem.

As usual, I am about a day late and a dollar short.

Apparently there’s been a not-so-great debate going around the country the last month or two, about chicken and marriage. And, while it sounds gross, illegal and to be honest, a little weird…I still felt I should write about it.

First of all, let me be clear that I don’t ever, I repeat ever, watch the news.

I don’t watch much TV, really.

I don’t read the newspaper.

I don’t listen to talk radio.

I don’t debate openly about anything…especially politics. In fact, I don’t know much about politics. I do know this.

These realities in my life are why I hadn’t heard about the whole Chick-Fil-A-hates-gays-so-let’s-hate-them-back campaign. I honestly didn’t know. Ah, what ignorant bliss that was.

That was then. This is now. Now, I do know about this mess.

I know about the hateful comments.

I know about the quick judgments.

I know about the broad labels and the vast assumptions.

I know about all of it now.

But, honestly, friend, IT DON’T MATTER NONE!

Really.

Because most importantly…I know Jesus. No, seriously…I like personally know the Guy. In fact, He and I hung out a lot the past few years while I was flat on my couch.

So, I thought about Him and I asked myself…

Self, would Jesus would be at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday August 1st, 2012?

Hmmm…that’s easy.

Dang right He would.

Briefly.

I don’t think He would scream condemnation and hold up picket signs with some cleverly thought up, yet equally mean spirited phrase painted on it. Not because He wouldn’t be mad about this junk. He’d be very mad. Correction. He is very mad.  Shocked? No. But I’m fairly certain He is pissed off. And if you don’t think Jesus could get that way – you are wrong. He simply didn’t sin in his anger like we seem to repeatedly do hour after hour.

Jesus wasn’t some long-haired hippy who was a few thousand years too early for the peace and love movement of Woodstock. Yes, He is peace and love. He embodies them. But, He is also perfection of judgment. Righteous, perfect, and holy. God doesn’t take sin lightly, friend. People used to get smote, you know. I mean, whoa – that’s for real mad! I’ve been mad, but not gonna-smote-people-kind-of-mad.

As for this mess…

I won’t judge Truett Cathy or his comments, because I’ve never met the man and haven’t heard every single thing he’s had to say on this issue.

I won’t bash the mayors of Chicago or Boston. I’ve never been to their cities nor met them, either.

I will most certainly not use the Name of the One who holds my eternity, as a weapon of hate or judgment upon thousands, maybe millions of people – none of which, I’ve ever met.

I will, however, say this…and I will say it slowly so as to not be misunderstood.

Marriage – is – for – one – man – and – one – woman.

Period.

I won’t dance around that. The Bible says it, and that settles it. End of story.

The Bible repeatedly confirms what God had in mind for marriage. And it seems like our culture continually craps all over that. The book of James is pretty clear about obedience. Seriously, go read it. It whipped my lazy heart into shape!

James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” As Beth Moore so eloquently said, “James won’t let us ‘grace’ ourselves out of obedience.” Amen to that!

My comment on facebook (Team Holzberger will be at Chick-Fil-A Wednesday August 1st…will u? Don’t be a chicken! Just go eat some 🙂 in Jesus’ Name.) was meant as an encouragement to my friends to support something they believe in, NOT a statement of hate toward anyone else, anywhere…especially those I haven’t met.

Friend, did you know God knit every gay and lesbian person together in their mother’s womb? Every single one. He has their hairs numbered. He knows their hearts. And, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for them, too. Yes, even if they don’t have a favorite pew to sit on or a fish on their car, He died for them too.

Does that make you uncomfortable? Are you upset at the thought that God may have done that kind of knitting right before He knitted your scrawny neck?

Is that where hate comes from?

But, hatred is not the same as judgment.

Jesus didn’t tell us never to judge. He just said to be prepared to be judged as well if you do, and with the same measure. He instructed us hypocrites not to judge the particle of dust in someone else’s eye when we have a flippin’ beam of timber sticking out of our own. (Matthew 7 and Luke 6)

But, we have to judge. We judge every single day if things are appropriate for our lives or not. Big things. Little things. And absolutely huge things.

We judge little things, like what clothing is appropriate for us, and God help us, our children to wear.

We judge big things, like what we will spend our time, money and energy on. And more importantly, what we won’t.

And then, like today, we judge absolutely huge things. Like how we will handle situations like this big ol’ mess. Well, my friend, I have made my judgment.

I’ve judged that this whole thing is completely and utterly ridiculous!

Goodness gracious, people, we all have the right to have an opinion, whether it differs greatly or aligns perfectly with Truett Cathy’s.

But, hear me…if all we ever do is rant and rave about it, then go fill our Christian bellies with Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday – then I judge that the enemy wins.

Satan is not only a master of destruction, but he is most certainly a master of distraction.

He is thrilled if we stay all puffed up or all up in arms about this whole thing. Because whether self-righteous or mad, either way we focus less on Jesus, who He is, and what He wants us to do today.

Yes, maybe we’ve ordered some waffle fries on a certain date…but for goodness sake, wouldn’t we have eaten supper that day anyway? Am I right? Friend, I assume if you are reading this now, then you have access to a computer, a roof over your head, and leftovers rotting in the back of your fridge just like I do.

Whether you are a Christian, an atheist, or haven’t got a clue either way …the fact is this – God made you and He knows your heart. Your lack of faith in Him doesn’t make Him any less God. My true faith in Him doesn’t make you any less important to Him.

But, if you do claim to love Jesus, then Wednesday, August 1st is a great day to go to Chick-Fil-A if your reason in your heart brings Him glory. But, if your reason in your heart is just to make you feel better about all this, or to show ‘those liberals’ who’s boss, for the LOVE of God, don’t go.

But, if you do go, please, friend, don’t let it end there.

Yes, your willingness to fight that crazily crowded parking lot may have helped raise the number of people who went out to “support biblical values” that day…but have we really loved anyone?

Have we fed the poor? Helped the needy? The orphaned? The widowed?

Have we really acted like Jesus?

Or have we acted more like the Pharisees and sat back in judgment while we turn our backs and full bellies on those who are in very real need?

My dear, sweet  friend and fellow sojourner on this road of writing led me to a link of someone I have grown to respect.

Her name is Jen Hatmaker and I totally think she and I would be friends.

She loves Jesus, but not only with her words on facebook, her blog, and her books…but with her life. With her sacrifices. With her actions.

She, too, is appalled at this whole ordeal. In fact, I invite you to read her opinion on this whole thing. She has invited you and me into her basement to ride this whole thing out. She invites us to not take part in such ridiculous arguing.

And although I respect her greatly and feel certain that the two books of hers I’m about to read (Interrupted and 7) are going to rock.my.world…I have never been much of a basement girl.

I’m more of a ditch-the-dark-basement-and-sprint-to-the-hilltops-with-your-big-ol’-maglight kind of girl. Pretty often, in my world, anything worth doin’ is worth overdoin’.

A hundred years ago when I was an athlete, my favorite part of basketball was repeatedly and purposely taking a charge. Bruises. Broken ankles. Concussions. It didn’t matter. I still planted my feet firmly and held my ground while my opponent barreled into me with all their might.

The whistle blew. The ref made the call and that was that. Sometimes the call was in my favor. Often it wasn’t. Either way, we both always ended up with our backs flat on the court.

This is no different.

‘Us’ and ‘them’ will both come out of this bumped and bruised and perhaps concussed.

Little do we know, we aren’t each other’s enemies. We all actually have the same enemy. And he is fierce.

He’s come at me full speed and flat-out leveled me, at times.

I’m sure Satan has done that to you as well.

Like I said, my friend…this is no different.

He is coming at anyone who leans toward the left, and trying to get to them to lean even more. He is highlighting the sinful responses, ugly comments and out-right mistakes of those of us who call Jesus, our God.

He is coming at us Christians with one goal. He’s trying to get us to take our eyes of Jesus and put them on chicken. He wants us distracted, frustrated, upset, and busy.

After all, he has serious work to do in this world. And he won’t let some five-foot-four-blonde-‘has-been’-athlete-chick get in his way without a fight. But, does that mean I don’t take the charge? Um…Dear Hell, NO!

Once my visceral reaction about this madness died down…the more of me was released and the more of Jesus was revealed. The process wasn’t pretty. But, I realized I just couldn’t stop thinking that I wanted to do what Jesus would do.

And Jen Hatmaker, with all due respect, I just don’t think He would go down into the basement and ride this out.

In fact, I kinda think He would go grab a nugget tray and turn that puppy into something that would feed ten thousand. He’d find a way to get a handspun milkshake to someone who desperately needed something cold to drink.

He. Would. Serve.

He’d give a fresh chicken sandwich to a lesbian and then sit down and have lunch with her. Look her in the eye. Listen to her. Love her. Show her the Truth.

So, yes, in my humble opinion…I think Jesus would go to Chick-Fil-A on August 1, 2012 to openly support the Truth of what God’s Word says.

But, only briefly.

In fact, maybe He’d save the drama and just drive-thru.

Because He would know the real work to be done was not just ‘saying’ He stood against something, or stood up for something and being proud of the pics He posted on facebook with the cows cut outs behind Him.

He knew it was more important to live it.

Taking that blessed secret chicken recipe and giving it to someone who hasn’t eaten meat in weeks.

Surprising a group of kids with milkshakes who hadn’t been hugged in months.

He would sit with them. Talk with them. Pray with them. Laugh with them. And then on August 2nd, friend, He would get up and do it all over again.

So, my friend…what will you do?

Sit back, idle and quiet as your kids purposely eat McDonald’s on Wednesday, just because you don’t agree with every single word that’s come out of Truett Cathy’s mouth?

Make posters with slogans and draw a line in the sand proudly, reassuring every gay and lesbian person out there that you’d actually prefer a line to separate them from you?

Or go feed your belly with chicken and go home to proudly rest your satisfied head on your clean, fluffy pillow?

Or maybe…just maybe…you’ll take a step further.

Maybe you, like me, would ask forgiveness for your great, huge, ridiculous sin. And when you were done, you’d do it again for all the other ones you forgot.

Then, you’d make a PB&J for yourself, grab an apple for the road and then go serve chicken to the people who really need it.

And yes…you should give up the waffle fries, too.

You can do it.

Amen.

C.S. Lewis wrote in the book “Mere Christianity” I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Sooo BIG!

I love toddlers.

I know that sounds crazy, but really…they are so stinkin’ funny!

My precious babies aren’t little babies anymore. I type with a very full, yet sometimes sad heart, because my house is done with the cute toddler phase. My baby girl is three years old, going on thirteen. Lord, help me!

The best age, if you ask me, is somewhere between 13-18 months. This, my friend, is the golden age.

They are still fat and happy. Rolls on their legs, dimples in their elbows, and joyfully walking all bowlegged and crooked. I. Love. It.

They generally don’t throw fits yet.

They generally don’t talk back.

They still want to cuggle with you.

And best of all, they do tricks.

Much like having a performing monkey, you can, with practice, get them to do just about anything funny.

My kids were always a big hit at Cotton Patch Café. The servers knew us and loved us. Nana and Grandpa would take us to eat there about once a week while my kids were in the ‘golden age’. Upon entering the restaurant, the servers would scramble around telling each other, “Hey, look! There’s that kid who does_________! It’s funny! Come watch!”

With Jacob, his famous trick was to “do his muscles”. It was hilarious.

See?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, c’mon, you have to admit, that is pretty funny.

Upon command, my sweet red-headed 13-month-old would become completely fierce and serious about flexing every single muscle in his body. It was cute. It was intense. It was focused. Much like our sweet Jacob.

With Benjamin, he was famous for “the look”. Our smiley, chunky baby would immediately respond when we’d say, “Benjamin….give ’em the look!” Way. Too. Cute.

See?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironic that this little one would do a trick that made him look fierce and mad…because he is neither. He is our joy boy. He is sensitive and precious, kind-hearted and happy. But, “the look” was pretty dang funny. Oh, how I miss those cheeks!

Then, there was sister friend. In true Abigail fashion, she loved all the tricks. She was more shy in Cotton Patch, but at home, she rocked every trick in the book…especially the “muscles”.

 

 

 

 

 

Although, the most popular one with all three kids at this adorable age was probably the same trick that toddlers are doing everywhere.

Each of my completely different and yet completely the same little babies looooved telling me how big they were. When asked this infamous question…each of them would throw their arms up in the air immediately, almost as a Pavlov’s response, and show me just how big they were!

“How big is Jacob?”

Sooo BIG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How big is Benjamin?”

Sooo BIG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How big is Abigail?”

Sooo BIG!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is a crowd pleaser and even more so, a toddler pleaser. They just love braggin’ about how big they are.

Adults are pretty much the same way, aren’t we?

Perhaps we don’t throw our hands up in the air anymore, although some of us may. But, we think that way.

Problems come.

Disappointment arrives.

Fear creeps up.

And what do we do?

We convince ourselves we are Sooo BIG!

My friend, I have had some pretty low moments these last few years.

I have walked through medical drama and great physical pain. Fear and anxiety have gripped me so tightly I could. not. take. one. breath. I have faced darkness. Depression. Even the very real fear of death. And I type to you now, in full disclosure…to confess that I tried to throw up my hands and convince myself I was Soo BIG!

But. I. Was. Not.

My wonderful pastor has said a comment numerous times in the nine years of our time at my church …yet each time it strikes me to the core – every – single – time.

“The good news is…that you can have all of God that you want! The bad news is…that right now, you have about all of God that you want.”

Ouch.

So, my friend…I ask you the same question I’ve asked myself countless times…

How BIG is your God?

Is He Sooo BIG!?!

Or, are you?

Is your God bigger than debt?

Depression?

Unhappiness?

Infidelity?

Friend, is He bigger than a superficial Christian life?!?

If you love the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…if you have accepted Him as your personal Savior…then the answer is 110%, absolutely, positively, emphatically – YES!

IF. You. Will. Let. Him. Be.

Ifs don’t get bigger than that, my friend.

I do not speak out of the knowledge of my brain. I speak out of the wisdom of my life. Not a wisdom that puts me above you. Don’t hear me wrong, friend. Wisdom is simply knowledge put into practical and prayerful use.

I “knew” God was big. He commands the lightning. He parted waters. He raised the dead. And so on and so forth. That is big. I “knew” that in my head.

But, now, I know, that I know, that I know HE IS BIG…and even better, that I am so very, very small.

He has proven Himself bigger than my fears.

My bills.

My unhappiness.

My anxiety.

My great and repetitive sin.

HE. IS. BIG.

Even on those days and weeks and months when I don’t live like I know that, He was still BIG. My acceptance (or not!) of it, does not determine it.

I have friends right now who are seeing His faithful BIG-ness. They have stepped out in faith to give God their debt, their home life, their future. They heard His command for their family and, at first, they didn’t follow it. They doubted. The struggles they faced seemed BIGger than their God. But, now. Oh, now things are different. Right now, as I type this, they are basking in His BIG-ness. They decided to obey. They followed His very clear, yet very scary plan for their family…and God has done nothing but show off His BIGness to them. On this very night, they rest in the security of their BIG God and their small selves.

And yet, still, right now, I have family members, people I love dearly, who cannot get joy from this life any easier than they can get eggs from a cow. They try and they try with all of their might. All of their reasoning. All of their rationalizing. But, the BIGger their problem, the smaller God seems, because they won’t simply give Him their depression. Their past. Their expectations. They’ve been burned again and again and they have now dug their heels in and decided not to let the fire come near them again. The problem with that is, that sure, they’ve helped ensure they won’t get singed, but they also won’t get warm.

So, what is your ‘thing’? That area, or if you’re like me, areas, that seem too BIG for God? Hear me…

MY God is BIGger than ALL of it.

Name it.

He can handle it.

I do not claim that you will be healthy, wealthy and wise if you trust Him. But, you will have Him. If you give your seemingly BIG thing to Him…He will line it up against Himself and show you what BIG really looks like.

Trust Him, friend, not only when you are healthy, wealthy and wise…but when you are sick, poor, and dumb.

Mostly – GIVE IT ALL TO HIM.

I beg you.

Will you trust Him with _______________? Whatever seems BIG to you…will you trust Him?

Throw your hands up in the air, drop to your knees and answer me now…

“How BIG is my God?”

SOOOOO BIG!!!

Amen and amen.

Big Pile o’ Yuck

I do not enjoy chores.

I mean, I guess most people don’t genuinely enjoy chores…but I really, totally, 110%, do-not-like-them at all. But, I have some friends weirdos who actually do enjoy cleaning and organizing.

In fact, I am married to one. For better or worse, for clean or for dirty, I am his and he is mine. Poor guy.

I will say, that since riding on the medical roller coaster for so long, I often now find myself joyfully doing chores. I darn near cried while vacuuming last night. Perspective is such a beautiful gift.

But, to keep it real, I admit I still am not necessarily geared toward the clean/organized lifestyle. It takes effort. Lots. and lots and lots and lots Of. Effort.

A few areas I fail at regularly, are as follows:

  1. Dusting. Hate it. Am Annoyed by it. Can’t remember the last time I did it. Period. Moving on.
  2. Toilets. Ugh. That was one of my major chores growing up. Every single Saturday morning. Clean the bathroom. I think I may suffer from PTSD. (Post Toilet Stress Disorder) I may need therapy about this thing, people.
  3. Lastly, but certainly not least-ly… kitchen floors. Oh my stars, (I love you, MSDW!) this one takes the cake. And apparently crumbles that cake all over my stinkin’ kitchen floor.

Honestly though…shouldn’t there be a law against feeding children rice or peas before the age of seventeen? What’s the stinkin’ point? The amount that actually makes the looong journey from their plate to their mouth can’t possibly give them much nutrition. If you disagree, then you clearly have never stepped on a pea barefoot. Or God forbid a mandarin orange. Can I get a witness, here?

So, in order to fulfill the role I feel God called me to I needed to take action. Super neighbor and I came up with a chore schedule to get us through the week. Do a little something every weekday so that your weekends are chore-free. Wahoooo! And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaaa. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is lovely.

So Super Neighbor and I came up with a realistic and attainable goal.

We. Were. Brilliant!

In theory.

Life happens. Soccer practice happens again and again and again. And cub scouts. And church. And choir. And yada, yada, yada. No, FYI we aren’t one of those families that has each of our children in twelve activities at a time. Don’t get me started on that.

But, still. I am a recovering couch dweller here people and I am simply trying to keep my head above water.

So, what happens to my kitchen floor?

Go back and read the title of this post. (Go ahead, I’ll wait…)

That’s right…before you know it, you have nine seconds to yourself and you casually make a stupid mistake and look down at your kitchen floor…like, really look at them. And after throwing up a little in your mouth, you know you must get to work.

As you’re sweeping, you can’t help but think, How did this happen? Did I not just clean this floor a couple weeks days ago? How did all this yuckiness build up so fast?

That’s the thing. Sometimes it doesn’t even look that bad at first…until you sweep it all up into piles. Like, multiple piles here, people. Not ah pile. We’re talkin’ my-ten-square-foot-kitchen-has-more-piles-that-it-does-tiles kind of dirty

You that way? Please say yes. Please say yes. Please say yes.

Lord knows I am. And remarkably He loves me anyway.

Cause, that’s right friend, I ain’t just talking about my kitchen floor.

I let my sin build up, too. Little by little, sometimes lot by lot until all of a sudden God lovingly brings something to my life to act as a Sovereign Swiffer to show me how these little sins have piled up to form one ginormous pile o’ yuck.

Sheesh. Where did all that sin come from? It didn’t look that bad at first.

And, if you are at all like me Lord help you, you stare at your big ol’ pile and you’re astonished to see so much grimy envy, honey worldly cheerios, and crumbs from every prideful word you’ve spoken and thought you’ve had.

What a mess!

How in the world did it get this bad?

Simple.

Sin and Satan.

Our enemy is real and he is pissed. He doesn’t get to go to heaven. Ever. And IF you have personally accepted Jesus as your Savior then he knows that you do get to go to heaven. For-ever. That would make me mad too, I guess. But, Satan’s one and ONLY goal is to steal, kill, and destroy the abundant life God has planned for us.

I’ve said it a million times…Satan isn’t trying to get you 180 degrees off course. He’ll settle for just 1 degree off from God’s plan. Ask anyone who’s ever sailed a boat. One degree makes all the difference in the world as to whether you get to your destination or not.

Ps. You don’t.

So, if Satan can’t have you for eternity, you can bet he’ll do all he can to make you completely ineffectual for Jesus while you are here on earth. Satan can’t be in God’s kingdom, so he doesn’t want you doing anything good for it while you’re here on earth.

I’ve heard it wisely said that “the enemy doesn’t have to try and get us to do his will, he just has to convince us to insist on our own.” Then he wins.

And, as my beloved pastor  of my awesome church, Bill Ramsey, says “The good news – you can have all of God that you want. The bad news – right now, you have about all of God that you really want.”

Ouch.

That one stings a lot little.

So, I said to myself, “Self, it’s the enemy’s fault. He gets the blame and I can move on.”

Nice try, Me.

Have you ever heard of a Bible guy named Paul? He puts it perfectly in his letter to the church in Rome.

You (and especially I) are partly to blame here.

We make choices.

We set priorities.

We make excuses.

We feel justified.

With each one, we pile up more yuck to be swept up at a later date. A more convenient date. Most of all, a date of our choosing.

Like, maybe when someone is coming over for a playdate. Dangit, now I have to sweep the kitchen!

That’s just exactly what so many Christians do before going to church. Gotta clean it up before we get around those other Christians, right?

Gross.

I had a sweet friend tell me once that she swept her kitchen floor after every single meal.

Not after every day…but every meal.

I laughed out loud.

Then, I realized she wasn’t kidding.

Hmm…maybe I’ll just serve one meal a week. Perfect.

My retarded reply – “Ugh. I hate sweeping! Don’t you? Why make yourself do that after every single meal?!”

Her reply was brilliant. Please get this, friend…

“I have to. If I don’t, things get completely out of hand!”

N-5. Bingo!

Reading a ten minute devotional in the morning ain’t enough for me. Maybe it is for you. If so, great! But, it is NOT enough for me! I guess my kitchen floor gets dirtier than other people’s in a shorter amount of time. No, I’m not bragging in my sin. I’m not rejoicing at the lost cause I may seem to be sometimes. I’m just telling you the truth.

Over these last few months of trying to get well, regain strength, run my home, cook meals (like, real ones!) do laundry, carpool, practice after practice, and still try to bless others who have blessed me – I’ve been desperately trying not to lose my intimate relationship with Jesus. And, friend, I’ve flat out blown it more times than I could tell you.

Pile after pile after pile.

But, you know what?

God’s sovereign Swiffer rocks!

He likes to sweep.

You know what else? He likes me clean.

He likes me when I’m unclean too, but He knows how much better my life is clean.

Not spotless, mind you. I ain’t even trying to project that type of image.

No way Jose.

What I am saying, is that, if you let Him, if you really truly with a humble heart, let Him – He’ll get you so clean inside, that you can’t help but want to sweep after every single meal.

It may not be fun. But, that’s life. Pruning ain’t fun. But, it’s necessary to bear more fruit. It is for His glory.

And, if it brings Him more glory for my floor to be clean, then so be it. I’ll sweep after every meal.

Yes, even me.

With the sin stuff. Not with my real kitchen. Sorry- ain’t happening.

Crappity Crap Crap

I am sure, when you were young, there were more than a few words deemed “bad words” in your home. Being that we were all raised differently, I doubt we’d have the exact same list of words. Yes, for the most part, our Moms probably didn’t drop the ‘f-bomb’ before breakfast, but other than that and a few others of its four-letter-word friends, our lists may be very different.

In my home now, we have my middle son, Benjamin, who acts as our very own ‘word police’. It’s a mystery how the kid can hear a bad word from across the house, yet can’t hear me yelling “Your shoes are right there!” when I’m standing right next to him. Go figure.

In Benjamin’s world of bad words, there are the three major offenders.

Obviously, there’s the s-word. He catches me on this one all the time.

(To my friend on the phone) “Oh I know, I was so stupid to even think I could fit into that dress—“ (from across the house) “MaaaaMaaa…we don’t say that word, remember!?!” “Yes Benjamin, thank you buddy!”

Then, there’s the h-word. Yes, I let this one slip all the time, too.

(To Ryan) “Ugh, I hate it when I can’t remember what I was about to say…” (from the backyard) “MaaaaMaaa…we don’t say that word, remember!?!” “Yes Benjamin, thank you buddy!”

Lastly, there’s the worst of all — the three word phrase. This one makes him gasp.

(To a friend) “If I don’t get at least seven hours of sleep, Oh my gosh, it will not be pretty!” (from down the street) “MaaaaMaaa…we don’t say that, remember!?!” “Yes Benjamin, thank you buddy!”

Sweet baby boy. Now if I could just get him to turn his dirty socks right side out, we’d call him trained.

In my home growing up, there was one word that truly drove my Mom nuts. It was frowned upon, gasped at, and pretty much forbidden for most of my life. (Hence the title of this post)

You guessed it. My major bad word growing up was – crap.

I’m not sure what the basis for her disgust was. I assume it’s due to the fact that during the height of the crap-word-using time in my life (middle school) she was not only raising a crap-sayer, but also teaching crap-sayers as well. I have a feeling it was just too much for her.

Either way, she didn’t like that word one bit.

I wish I could tell you that her distaste of the word ‘crap’ caused me to diligently train myself to use it no longer…but that would be a lie, and Jesus sees what I’m typing, so I’m keeping it real. That’s right, Jesus sees what I’m typing and thinking and the motives behind what I’m typing and thinking.

Crap.

(Sorry, Mom)

But, honestly, without breaking the ‘socially acceptable’ vulgar words that belong on the obscene list, crap isn’t all too bad. I personally didn’t see the point in her distaste, after all, it’s not like I was cussing.

Didn’t matter.

Mom hated, (MaaaaMaaa…) oops, I mean strongly disliked the word, and that was that.

Friend, unfortunately, it is still a word in my vocabulary. I am sort of working to cut off completely.

And, here I am, vnoashgsosh years after being a teenager in angst, yet I still resort to my old craptastic ways faster than you could spell…well, crap.

The only reason I bring all this up is because I have been trying for a week now to sit down and write this to you. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed being in His presence when I do this thing. My personal spiritual relationship with Jesus has been, on my part, crappy. No other way to say it.

I have been so very busy.

Life has been so very crazy.

I have been so very lazy.

I didn’t want to write to you about this for lots of reasons. Beginning with pride and ending somewhere along the undisciplined track.

But, then it dawned on me that the enemy wins that way. Satan would love to keep us quiet, alone and afraid. He wants us to huddle up in the dark somewhere and not share anything with anyone about what we are going through.

Well take that, Satan! I am about to take my sin of pride, selfishness, envy, laziness, and worst of all, spending NO real quality time in His Word for the last few weeks and post it on the internet! Where, if desired, thousands of people can read it. So, ha! I hope that one hurt!

Anyway, my precious friend, the vision God has given me for this blog is, as always, to just keep it real with what I’m going through. And unfortunately, what has been real in my life lately is a bunch a worldy crap.

There you have it.

So, now I have confessed this mess to Jesus. And now I’ve admitted it to all of you.

I’m back.

Grace wins.

Satan loses.

Wahooo!

And now, dear friend, I would love for you to share with me how craptastic times have brought you down as well, but how God has redeemed them. The other vision He has given me for this blog is that this become like a little forum for us to do life together, laugh together and lift each other up while we lift up the name of Jesus.

So, please comment and let me know your crap and His good. Give Him glory and let’s build each other up. Right out here in the broad daylight. Let’s kick Satan in the groin with the purifying and forgiving grace of Jesus Christ.

Amen and amen.

(And Mom, I really am sorry about all the ‘c-words’…but it’s better than that UHaul story I could have told, right? That sure was a mighty big truck, huh Mom? 🙂 )

I Like Big Buts

It was eighth grade.

Do you remember eighth grade, my friend? I sure do.

The year was 1992.

I was boy crazy.

I was counting the days until my braces came off.

I was just beginning the slow fade toward moral questionability.

I was overly self-conscious and even more insecure.

I was popular and desperately wanted to stay that way.

And I liked big butts.

Not really.

But I did like the song.

Some silly grown man named himself Sir Mix-a-Lot and came out with an up-beat song my friends and I all loved, entitled “I Like Big Butts.” I am embarrassed to admit that even now, as a thirty-slnvnish year old woman, I can sing every word of that entire song. Thankfully, at the age of thirteen, I had no idea what ‘anaconda’ he was talking about, or what ‘hitting and quitting’ meant at all. I was so naïve then. I just loved the song.

I don’t recommend that you allow your children to listen to this song, FYI. In fact, as an adult, this is the song I remind myself of when I start to think; The songs kids listen to nowadays have gotten completely out of hand.

I agree they have. But, then I remember this song and I’m reminded that songs have been out of control since at least 1992. I’m guessing those of you who happen to be older than me would attest to it being true for longer than that.

So, anyway…back to eighth grade.

It was my friend Meredith’s birthday party and she had a sleepover. Totally rad.

A bunch of us stayed at her house and acted exactly as you’d expect a group of thirteen year old girls to act.

Silly. Dramatic. Loud. Giggly. Boy-crazy. And when bored – completely ridiculous.

At one point during our loud singing and dancing to our various mixed tapes, some wise soul suggested we grab Meredith’s parents’ camcorder and make our very own music video.

Brilliant.

We all knew we’d be back up dancers on MTV someday anyway, so why not start perfecting our ‘running man’ move now? The next song that came on the mixed tape was none other than “I Like Big Butts.”

Perfect choice.

Have you ever had a time in your adulthood where you look back at the stupidity of your youth and think, Oh dear Lord, I hope that doesn’t end up on Youtube someday!

This was my moment.

After hours of practicing and choreographing, it was time for wardrobe.

This was crucial.

There is no hidden meaning in this song. The guy liked big butts – period. Mainly, the song was about black girls having desirably large rear-ends and white girls not being able to compare. And while I distain when judgments of a person are distributed upon an entire group, Sir Mix-a-lot was correct when describing my friends and I.

We were five white girls, each with ‘an L.A. face but no Oakland booty.’

So what should we do, then?

Like, duh. Pillows.

We proceeded to pick out ridiculous clothing, mostly neon colored (obviously) and after appropriate amounts of Aqua Net and purple eyeliner, we stuffed Meredith’s parents’ couch pillows into the back of our pants. We needed junk in our trunk if this music video was ever going to get to the desk of Downtown Julie Brown.

The next hour was not my finest hour.

We danced. We gyrated. We had the ‘whip’ sounds perfected.

We were, in fact, the very coolest people we’d ever seen. Sike.

Our music video was a success.

We, however, were complete and utter fools.

Meredith went to a different high school than I did and we eventually lost touch. But, every single time I hear that song I’m reminded that I would literally pay her money to burn that video of me shaking my pillow-stuffed butt ‘like red beans and rice didn’t miss ya’.

Lovely.

So, this morning, during my quiet time, I was reminded of two separate times in the Bible where God showed His greatness with a few big BUTS.

I read them, saw how God transformed something, and said to myself, Wow! Those are some big BUTS.

Honestly, I didn’t mean for it to come out that way in my brain. But as soon as it did, I giggled like a thirteen-year-old and I was immediately flashed back to eighth grade. So, of course I had to confess it to you. Anyone else find it remarkable that God can speak to me through this stuff? I’m so like totally lame!

Anyway – that thought of God’s BIG BUTS sent me on an amazing search in His Word. And now I’m even more excited to share with you how our powerful God uses BIG BUTS to transform lives.

Take Joseph for example. Poor guy. He was the baby of the family with eleven big brothers who hated him. They got tired of his special dreams from God and they took the kid out to the middle of nowhere and sold him into slavery. Talk about some sibling rivalry. Sheesh.

Can you even imagine? Being a foreigner in a land, with no family or friends, feeling completely lost and alone. BUT, God was with Joseph. God protected him, blessed him, and raised him up as a leader of the entire land — as only God can do. I love it when God shows off like that, don’t you!?

Years later, Joseph was faced with his brothers, the very family who’d chosen to try and ruin and/or end his life. And what does Joseph say?

“You intended to harm me, BUT God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Now, that’s a big BUT.

Then there’s Joshua. Talk about a brave dude. He and Caleb were one in a million. Literally. Of the estimated two million Israelites God saved from Pharaoh, Joshua and Caleb were the only two who stepped foot on the Promised Land. That’s right, Moses did not. Just these two guys and the next generation that grew up in the desert.

And when they got there, they continued to stand up for God. At this point, despite God’s faithfulness, so many of the Israelites had turned to worshipping idols. They’d adapted to the land and adopted the ways of the people there. So, Joshua assembled all of them together. He purposely recounted all the miracles of God and His faithfulness to His people.

They had a choice. Just like we have a choice. Joseph called these people to the carpet.

BUT if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

That final phrase hangs on the walls of Christian homes everywhere, including mine. But do we live it? Joshua feels like I feel – pick a stinkin’ team, people. If you’re not going to serve the Lord, then make your choice. BUT don’t fake it – don’t be wishy washy – pick a side now. BUT you can’t serve both.

That’s an eternity-changing BUT.

Then there’s Gideon. Oh friend, this is a good one – I could write a whole book about Gideon! He was raised up from the weakest clan and he himself admitted to be the weakest of that weak clan. He was asked by God to face an army too big to be numbered. In fact, the army he faced “settled in the valley thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12)

No big deal, eh? After all, Gideon had at least 32,000 men available to him, right? Well, yes, at first. Then God spoke up.

BUT the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” (Judges 7:4)

God didn’t want anyone to try and take credit for His mighty work. So, God whittled down Gideon’s army until the odds were completely NOT in their favor. Do you know how many guys Gideon finally ended up with?

Three hundred.

That’s right, three hundred guys armed only with torches and trumpets.

That’s a big BUT.

Then there’s one of my favorites – Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah. Have you heard of them? These poor teens were plucked away from their homes and all they knew to serve in the king’s court. They were thrown into a world full of customs, traditions and religions they didn’t know or agree with. They even lost their identities when their names were changed to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Maybe now their names ring a bell?

Along with their best buddy, Daniel, these kids were asked to bow down and worship a golden idol. Although they knew the penalty for disobedience was death – they refused to obey. They looked right at the king at told him what’s what.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

That, my friend, is life or death. BUTS don’t get bigger than that.

Oh wait, maybe they do…

Jesus came. Jesus healed. Jesus died.

And every one of his followers were devastated. You can’t blame them. We now have the gift of hindsight through Scripture to assure us of the end of the story. But, these people looked directly into the eyes of Jesus. They saw His smile. They literally heard what His voice sounded like. They witnessed the blind see. They saw the dead raised. And then they saw their Savior killed.

Grief is overwhelming. We all face it differently. Some of us weep. Some of us question. Some of us get angry or bitter or depressed. Some of us do all of the above.

Mary Magdalene gained much through Jesus’ saving grace. So, as you can imagine, she lost much at His death. In her grief and mourning, she and her friends went to the tomb of her Savior. At the tomb, they found the biggest BUT mankind would ever know.

“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, BUT when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” Luke 24:2-3

Amen and amen to that! That big BUT flat out saves my life, friend. And yours too, if you allow it.

Satan thought he’d won, BUT God showed him otherwise.

Death had a sting, BUT it only lasted three days.

Jesus died. BUT my friend, He didn’t stay dead.

That tomb was full, BUT it didn’t stay that way.

And that’s not even where the story ends.

Jesus ascended into heaven, BUT that’s not the last we’ll see of Him.

Acts 1:11 (BUT) They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come again in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

That truth of His return gives us hope when things seem hopeless.

When we don’t feel strong enough to forgive, like Joseph did. BUT, God gives us strength.

When others stand against us for what we know is right, like they did to Joshua. BUT God gives us courage.

When we face hot situations that seem impossible to survive, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. BUT God gives us faith.

When we face battles we feel completely incapable of fighting, like Gideon. BUT God gives us victory.

When loss is great, and hope seems like a distant memory, as it did for Mary Magdalene. BUT God gives us His peace.

When life on this earth seems too evil and the enemy seems to win. BUT God gives us a promise.

Our God is the God of BIG BUTS. He alone has the power. He alone deserves the glory. He alone is God.

May His Truth soak so deeply into your soul, there is nothing left for you to do BUT give Him praise!

 

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Phil 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Phil 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

1 John 1:7 ” But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

B.s.

Brussels sprouts.

Just the sound of it makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth shudder. That particular vegetable was the bane of my existence as a child. I have vivid nightmares memories of that vegetable from my obviously scarred childhood. I can literally still envision them on my plate at dinner. And after dinner. At bedtime. And yes, the next morning for breakfast, too. Maybe that’s why I can still picture them so clearly on my plate, is because they stayed there for a very looong time.

I hated them.

I often tell my kids not to use the word hate because it is such a strong word. But, I’m a grown up, dangit. So I can look you square in the eye and say confidently, that I super-duper, royally, 110%, with every fiber of my being, hated them. And because I was somewhat (ahem.) of a strong-willed child, I often tried to call my parents’ bluff with their whole “Ok, the brussels sprouts be waiting for you for breakfast” warning.

There’s one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty about my parents…they weren’t the bluffin’ kind.

The only thing worse than Brussels sprouts for dinner, my friend, was Brussels sprouts for breakfast. I don’t care what time of day though, I mean, seriously, what child actually likes Brussels sprouts?

Oh ya, my perfect big brother.

He liked spinach and reading too. Kiss up.

And while I’m not convinced sure my mother made him eat vegetables he didn’t like, I sure don’t remember him choking them down for breakfast.

Before I was in even in kindergarten, I made a vow to myself – I will never, I repeat, never force my children to eat anything they don’t like.

Rule # 1 in parenting: Never say never.

‘Cause you will dine on those words quicker than you did your supper on joyful spaghetti nights.

Obviously, I’ve gone back on that promise. In fact, there have been many, many times I’ve forced my children to eat something they didn’t want to. Usually because they asked for it and then changed their minds. I despise wastefulness. They asked for Cheerios, they can eat Cheerios. Yes, even if they discover a box of Fruit Loops they didn’t know we had. Don’t be wasteful. Period. The way I see it, I did the birthing, so I make the rules. And my husband can make a few too, of course. Fair is fair.

So. I had to cut myself a little slack with my inner vow. Actually, I just revamped it. I will never, and I really do mean never, force my children to eat Brussels sprouts, ever!

What was that parenting rule #1 again? Shoot! My kids sucked all my brain power from me…how am I supposed to remember that kind of stuff.

Well, now I remember, dangit.

And this moment has a familiar bitter taste. Like…um…oh ya, Brussels sprouts.

The thing is…I joined a co-op recently. No, not a convent. Not a commune. But a co-op. As in ‘co-op’-eration with each other in selling food. Ok, so I just made that up. But it makes sense. Anyway. I joined this fruit and vegetable co-op in my area, and seriously, it rocks my world. For only $16.50, I get to go pick up a huge basket F-U-L-L of fruit and veggies. Super neighbor told me about it and it really did sound fun. Each week is different, so you never know what you’ll get. I gotta tell ya, this was my favorite part. I love-love-love a good surprise. Birthdays. Christmas. Engagements. And now, apparently fruit and veggies.

I used to think only weirdoes joined co-ops. Now I’m convinced only weirdoes don’t.

Seriously. I was so excited to check out my first basket of goodies. Super neighbor and I were giddy about planning our family’s meals for the weeks around these healthy foods. The cost is so small, and just look at all I got my first week.

That’s right… 6 tangeloes, 12 apples, 5 kiwi, 4 lemons, 3 summer squash, 4 zucchini, 2 pints of Brussels sprouts, 2 sweet onions, 9 bananas, 2 heads romaine lettuce, 4 green bell peppers, 6 red pears and a partridge in a pear treeeee.

ALL for $16.50! I mean, c’mon, people. You have to admit that’s pretty impressive.

But, did you notice anything familiar in on that list?

That’s right, friend. My very first week in the fun co-op world…and there’s not one, but two stinkin’ bags full of Brussels sprouts. I swear my Mom called those people.

So, I pitched a fit calmly voiced my dislike for them to Super neighbor. She was able to calm me down and bit, assuring me she would find a way to prepare them in a way I could tolerate.

God bless her. She tried.

She added butter and bacon and other things to make me feel better. And yes, I can say that I pretty much tolerated them. Sort of. Ok, I swallowed the serving on my plate before it was breakfast time, which I count as a win for me. (Me: 1, Brussels sprouts: 342)

I tried to pick the pieces of bacon out in huge bites and then just tell myself, It’s just itty bitty lettuce. It’s just itty bitty lettuce. It’s just itty bitty lettuce. – quickly followed by a huge gulp of milk. I did ok, all things considered.

Week two.

This time, Super neighbor and I went to pick up the baskets ourselves instead of sending the husbandfolk.

We arrived.

Anxiously waited in line, like we were nutso Black Friday people ready to get the newest version of Elmo doing something ridiculous.

We waited patiently. Well, Super neighbor waited patiently. I just waited. It was early on a Saturday morning and I was standing in a line for flippin’ fruit and veggies, y’all. I had my basket on my head just for fun. Those people should be happy I wasn’t snoring and drooling on them.

So, we eventually got to the front of the line…where they pointed us to the direction of our baskets…

Ooooh, our baskets!?! The anticipation was building…

We got to our baskets…began to unload them…and low and behold…another-freaking-bag-of-Brussels-sprouts was waiting right there on top.

I may or may not have exclaimed “Noooo! Not stinkin’ Brussels sprouts again!’ out loud for all to hear. And people around me may or may not have looked around, expecting to see a five-year-old, only to find a sloppy, sleepy, thirty-vnxoalish year old woman pitching a fit.

These people were pretty much all wearing “Life is good.” t-shirts and Tevas made out of wheat-grass germ or something.

I looked like a fool.

Then a delusional sweet woman offered some support, “Oh no, honey! Honestly, if you just roast them, sprinkle on some salt, pepper and a little olive oil, they really are soooo much better.”

What I said – “Oh thank you, ma’am! It’s worth a try!”

What I thought – Ya, uh- huh, lady. And then I’ll ride my unicorn to the end of the rainbow and eat cotton candy all day with the Easter Bunny. Sure.

I needed an ally. Super neighbor was way too upbeat about another stinking helping of Brussels sprouts. I was all alone.

So, I reached out to Snarky friend, who I used to trust and I’ll be darned if she didn’t say the exact same thing.  “No really, just roast them with a little salt and pepper and olive oil. I promise, they aren’t bad.”

She promised. She loves Jesus. And she knows that I know she loves Jesus. She has to keep her promise to me.

(No she doesn’t. Promise, my foot. She was a big, fat liar. I should have known. She uses agave to sweeten her coffee and she snacks on pomegranates, for goodness sakes. Traitor.)

Deep breaths. Regroup. Ok, I can do this.

My sweet Mom was visiting for the weekend, so I got the great idea to recruit her in this endeavor. I figured, if there was anyone on the planet who’d be invested in my conversion to Brussels sprout lover, it’d be her.

She even volunteered to do the roasting. Such a nice Mom, that one.

So, two days later, after she’d left and we were back into the swing of things in our normal weekly routine, I saw the bag o’ B.s (I’m tired of typing those words, Brussels sprouts. But do take note of the acronym. Coincidence? I think not.) in the far back of my fridge.

I began to pump myself up.

I can do this. I am a grown up now. I can do hard things! I am bigger than this B.s.

I was still on some type of high that came from making The-Best-Squash-Casserole-Ever. (which my kids devoured by the way) Voted on by me who’s never had it before, but it still convinced this recipe is the best. I can’t help it if my maiden voyage rocked it. Don’t hate.

That, along with my new love for grilled asparagus combined with my new addiction no kidding, I’m hooked! to The-Best-Zucchini-Bread-On-The-Planet …I was kind of on a healthy food high.

I had all I needed to rock this B.s. once and for all.

I served up some ‘red chicken’ as my kids call it. Their absolute favorite. Yes, I planned this. Give them the meat they love and it will help the B.s. go down easier.

B.s.

I plated it all up…took a deep breath…and turned on my ‘happy-go-lucky’ Mama voice, ready to sing the praises of B.s.

I even had a moment of brilliance as I remembered what yet another delusional sweet woman at the co-op place called out to me as we walked away, baskets full o’ B.s. – “Oh, and if you sprinkle some parmesan cheese on at the last minute of roasting, it’ll be even better!”

I didn’t sprinkle the parmesan cheese, my friend. I dumped it. See? I do love my children.

Then, I braced myself for what I knew was coming.

“Mama, what is that?”

“Do I have to eat that?”

“I no like that thing, Mama!”

They get their whining from their father. (Ahem.) Moving on.

Then, I gave what may be the finest mother-speech of my entire life. It went a little something like this…

“Kids, you know Mama loves you. Because I love you, I try my best to take good care of you. I do all I can to keep your sweet bodies fed with good growin’ food and not junk, because I want you to be healthy and grow up big and strong. (I can always capture the boys interest by alluding to their potential big and strong-ness. Abigail was picking her nose.) I understand why you may not want to eat this. In fact, did you know that when Mama was a little girl, she really didn’t like Brussels sprouts at all? They were my very last favorite veggie. Even, now, as a grown-up, I don’t love them. But, I know they are good for me and yes, even grown-ups have to do things sometimes they don’t want to do. And I know God wants me to take care of my body (ya. I went there) so I am going to eat them. We are going to eat them together. We can do it! Remember, we can do hard things!”

We were all so pumped up, I think I could have served them veal and shrimp ka-bobs and been ok.

We all counted down 5-4-3-2-1…take a bite!

And we all did.

It was at that very moment, my mind flashed back to my childhood. I could see the shag carpet, the 1984 Tv trays, the look on my mother’s face as I sat defiant in front of my B.s.

That taste in my mouth was back with such force, I literally had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from spitting the B.s. out and nailing my middle child in the head.

Oh no! What do I do?! I can’t spit it out. Not after that speech.

Maybe I can sneak it into the trash when they aren’t looking. How!?! They are staring at me with disgusted looks on their faces.

Why the heck did I put five of them on my plate? Five? What was I thinking!?! Abigail only has to eat two. That’s not fair.

Oh no! Benjamin’s gagging!

What do I do!?! I’ll be a horrible mother if I go back on my word to them.

But there is no way I can swallow this.

Oh God! Benjamin’s gonna hurl!

Abort! Abort! Abort!

(Muffled through a full mouth of B.s.) “Nevermind kids, hurry! Get to the trash can!

With a swiftness I’ve never seen, they all obeyed. And there, as a family, we all spit out our B.s.

My kids looked longingly at me like I was their hero. I can relate. I was my hero right then too.

Thank the Lord above that my health-nut husband was not home. He would have tried to make me stick to my guns and set a good example. Darn his integrity. But, I would have thrown up. Guaranteed.

I did not set a good example for my kids that day, my friend.

I told them one thing and then did another. I blew it.

That was not my finest Mama moment, that’s for sure. And the more I thought about it, the more I stressed out about ‘passing down’ this hatred for Brussels sprouts.

It is going to be my fault these kids don’t like Brussels sprouts! And fish! And Chinese food! Oh no!

That didn’t last too long, because seriously, if that’s the worst baggage I give them, they’ll be fine.

But, it did get me thinking…what else am I passing down to them?

What baggage am I heaping onto them because I haven’t let God deal with it?

I would imagine (this may be a stretch) that if I’d been cooking Brussels sprouts all their lives in various ways with various flavors, they’d have no problem with them at all.

But, because I hated them and never fixed them, they too now hate them and won’t eat them.

Because I live fearfully and not faithfully, they too live in fear and doubt their faith.

Because I choose worldliness over holiness, they too choose to befriend this world and its ways.

Because I judge a person by their skin, they too will carry predispositions about people they’ve never met.

Because I don’t submit well to my husband, my boys may get walked all over by their wives and my daughter may never understand the blessing of serving her husband.

Because I act in anger and impatience, they too can’t control their anger and feel entitled.

The parent’s list could go on and on.

But, the bitter taste in my mouth stays the same.

Being a parent is the hardest job ever. I take that back. Being a good parent is the hardest job ever. You are a teacher every single minute of every single day, like it or not. Those little eyes are watching every move you make. Every TV show you record. Every snide remark you say in traffic. Every obsession you make about the way you look, or the way others look. They are soaking it up and forming habits that help shape how they see this world – and themselves.

(Gee, Caroline, no pressure.)

Friend, I can’t help it where God speaks to me.

Trust me, I’d just assume He’d leave Brussels sprouts alone. But, He didn’t. Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about the baggage I am giving my kids. And this goes much deeper than a distain for Brussels sprouts.

I’m talking about –

Fear.

Lack of discipline.

Insecurity.

Pleasing others.

Complacency.

Legalism.

Pride.

Envy.

Those alone would fill a baggage cart and cost a fortune when priced per carry on.

That’s just the thing. I’ve been visualizing all of this baggage and it’s making me more sick to my stomach that Brussels sprouts. And that’s saying a lot.

Thankfully, my precious friend, we can throw that junk down at the foot of the cross. Jesus died for our baggage. He wants to carry our baggage. He can transform our baggage. Believe it or not, He can use our baggage for our good and His glory.

But, friend, we gotta lay it down. We’ve gotta be aware of it – be resolved against it – and be strengthened by the only One who can handle carrying it in the first place.

So, let’s release this B.s. Let’s be humble and admit we can’t do this thing on our own. Let’s let Jesus take charge and lead us to raise up a generation that shines brighter than any before. A generation with less baggage and a more firm foundation.

I know if I let God truly deal with the baggage I have, then I won’t feel nearly as bad keeping our home a ‘Brussels sprout free’ zone…forever.

Besides, I’m fairly convinced they won’t be serving Brussels sprouts in heaven. Well, maybe they will. But, there…they must be good!

And I leave you with the happiest  not clean plates I’ve ever seen. 🙂

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