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Sometimes, we journey to the dark so we can be moved by the Light. We trace the furthest boundary lines behind our eyes. We get deep next to demons, weighed down from evil within and without. And when warmth first touches cheek or shoulder or the back of our knees, the weight may not lift but there is relief. . . . And it is the same magic— to feel Light's warmth after a cold night or a long stretch of summer, it is the same glory— to be reading the lectionary in a Home Depot parking lot with sleeping car seats or having a morning cup of coffee on the front stoop with my co-laborers. . . . Somehow, God has anchored the pale blue ombre sky above me like an endless umbrella. He covers and cloaks with Light and sometimes I have to go deep in dark to feel it's warmth. . . . Morning Call:  Lamentations 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if  there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was brought upon  me, whom the Lord hath afflicted. . . . Opening Prayer:  Loving Father, as we journey with your Son in this week of remembrance and hope, help us to experience and receive you and your love for the world more clearly. Transform us by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. In the name of your Son, our Lord, we pray. Amen. #holyweek #notredame #outofthedarkness #intothelight
Naked morning comfort and I'm just basking in the humble light of it. They wear all their affections like clothes and this one makes me melt because they aren't so attached to their wholeness. They are ready to be broken to make peace with one another -- more ready than me, so I take notes. . . . The making of our Peace broke Him, completely. His humble persistence was full of glory because He was God, not because it looked good. Making peace means breaking pride, breaking selfish gain, breaking the sin inside that so easily entangles us, and breaking the power of the sin outside that so deceives us. . . . #newblog #momswhowrite #writersofinstagram #motherhood #siblings #siblingsasfriends #braveryofsmalllife #Godseconomy #kitchen #atlanta #family #teamkolts #teampixel #teampixelnofilter #nofilter #morningglow #morning #liveauthentic #kids #georgia #southernsummer
"Look, Mom! Edelweisses!!!!" And she passed the peace to me with flower weed stems and smooshed petals. The brisk tickle of Spring wind swept my elbows as I reached out to receive. . . . And it got made again, Peace. Established with delicate weed offerings and vulnerable outstretched hands, peace mended for a moment the breaks of the morning. The Great Deceiver's attempts to put us at odds— to wound one other with war words thrown in defense and pride— got smooshed underfoot in the backyard. . . . And I thought of Jesus making literal Peace, because the world doesn't allow it to come and be kept. Peace must be forged with active rebellion against the forces within and without that would rather war. We are a peace breaking people made in the image of One who carries Peace in his character, One who made Peace for us forever with God so that we can make peace today exactly where we are. . . . "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility." Ephesians 2:14 . . . And the little child shall lead us.
I studied Job's friends pretending comfort, while withholding kindness and refusing to revive a weary spirit. I taught about the people in Jerusalem spreading their coats out like a royal carpet for the King of glory to ride in on a borrowed mule. I learned about the invisible God we try to force fit our image but our invisible spirit is made in His. I chased my littles in circles in the newly cut backyard and followed Foster's gaze to find birds high on budding branches. I heard Zella yell to our neighbor two houses down to move her apple trees far away because our juniper tree has a bad disease that could infect it. I wrestled through pride and failure and defending ideas. I made a very late afternoon cup of coffee and cooked with my baby strapped on my back. I snuggled my girl and gave her choices while praying she would choose right. On the first day of Spring. . . . We rode to Bible study, the kids and me, in an Uber because I ran the battery down on the van. I caught the sun glory streaming in to hit all our faces in the backseat as Zella chatted with the driver about music, imaginary children, and her preference to not wear socks and shoes. Our Wednesdays have so much Bible in them — sometimes nothing connects and I arrive at the end with mush brain and then sleep in my day clothes. But yesterday, I fell into bed so thankful that there are constellations in all these bits of Light. He is holding all things together and sometimes He connects dots and reveals a special glimpse of the glory of it all. #writersofinstagram #momswhowrite
My brows converge over my nose and my face squints against the dark. I pray, "O, God. O, God." I lay flat on my bed between two littles and take a deep breath that reaches my shoulders and sides and ankles "O, God." . . . It feels like Spring shouldn't come, that it is so *wrong* here that Lent should last forever. That, though our hope for Spring is strong, it is mostly about escape and not about salvation. We have made ourselves at home in winter, comfortable with the frosted ground under our hibernation. Our evil isn't seasonal. It isn't an epoch, a phase, a time period. It is in us— bones, marrow and evil. And we don't even want out. A Stockholm syndrome sickness that's eating us up from the inside but we refuse rescue. . . . The mercy of the Lord comes anyway, budding trees and blooms for the just and unjust. He woos us— relentlessly— out of our captivity with kindness. He calls us to repent of our soul's winter so we can finally see and taste His Spring. He calls us out of shadow and into marvelous light where our winter is exposed and we can squint to see our salvation. And we can know even a little bit more the extent of His glory and the depth of His grace. . . . Spring is coming and we are Easter people, but today there is lament. #light #shadow
Why is it that when we talk about the beginning of the United States it's always "when we founded this great nation" but when we talk about slavery it skips to the Civil War and it's always, "they were fighting to keep slavery in the south." The same humans who founded this nation bought humans and made them slaves in it. And today, for that, I mourn. . . . Every human made in the image of God is the same amount of invaluable. The same amount of mysterious wonder is knit up in our bones, from those first moments curled up in the womb. Lord, have mercy on us for acting like it is not so. . . . . . #americanlent #lentenrose #whiteprivilege #slavery #lent #lament #foundingfathers #letstalkaboutit #repentanceproject #didyouknow #spring #teamkolts #liturgy #reflection #monday #teampixel #atlanta #blackandwhite #slavetrade

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Happy Birthday, Dear Caroline!

This is your present from your dear sister, sending you happy birthdays from up North. From Iowa, to Kentucky, to Canada, people all over the world love you, sister, and we wish you the best of days today. You are so special, and we love and miss you!

From your cousin Heidi and honorary niece, Amaya in Lincoln, NE:

Caroline! I have so many memories with you! You have been such an encourgement in my life! I can remember layng in the hospital, being somewhat drugged, and seeing your beautiful face. I could NOT believe that you traveled two hours just to support me. Even though I was just laying there, Amay inside me still. You are so loyal and so caring for others. Today, you need to be selfish and take a “Caroline” day. It’s your Birthday! Have an AMAZING day Care! Know that Amaya an I love you and are praying for you! Happy Birthday!

From your cousin Anna at Truman State College in MO:
I love Caroline because she is hard-core! We have kayaked all the way
across clear lake and back because she is tough and likes to take on
challenges! Every time we kayak we have the best conversations because
Caroline is so personable, easy to talk to, and full of encouragement
and wisdom! I love her passion for missions and for serving others.

Anna and Jaime in Kentucky:

Caroline, remember the time we were at Impact in Des Moines. You, Me, Margee, and Crystal stayed in the same room. You woke up really early one morning and started singing “Naked Parade, Naked Parade!” at the top of your lungs. Margee thought it was funny and Crystal and I were so annoyed because you woke us up early! That was a really fun time! I miss you and hope you have a beautiful birthday.
Happy Birthday Caroline!! We love you!!

From Mitch and Karen in Canada:
Happy Birthday Caroline! We wish we could be with you to eat……whatever it is they eat in Honduras on birthdays! Well the Lord has you (and us) outside the good ‘ol US of A for His purpose and His glory. Our birthday prayer for you is that you continue to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and seek His will for your life day by day as you serve Him. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” We love you as a daughter, and know that you are blessing others and being blessed as you serve the Lord in a foreign land. We look forward to a day when we can give you a big hug and talk about our adventures. Have a Groovy Birthday.
We Love You!! Mitch and Karen

From Jared, Tina, and Titus in Indianapolis:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! We miss you and think about/pray for you often! So… we would love to think of a hilarious story to send your way, but instead we are going to be sentimental… thank goodness you aren’t Christina and can handle a little mushy stuff… haha. I hope you know by now that we absolutely adore you… you are honestly one of the most thoughtful, caring, loving, and selfless persons we know!!! You are always smiling and Jesus’ love is reflected so amazingly in you! You are like a little sister to us and we love you SO very much! We are planning on sending you something soon…. until then, have a marvelous birthday…
Love, Jared, Tina, and Titus

Crystal Becker in Des Moines, IA:
Happy Birthday Caroline!

I’ve been putting off writing a birthday note to you because I wanted to come up with some smart, memorable thing to say. But then I realized that you are the one who does that. You always have such insightful things to say. So I gave up trying to come up with something original… and I’m just going to speak from the heart.
You are a JOY Caroline Marie. Every time I see you that’s what I think. You bring joy to all those around you. It’s been such a joy for me to be able to know you the entire 24 years that you’ve been here at our temporary home. And I’ve seen God do such a might work in you throughout the years. You’ve always been the mature, insightful one… and I’ve been the dramatic and… well, the dramatic one. 🙂 And our bond is strong because of one little word: cousins. I’ve learned so many things from you over the years and I look forward to learning from you in the years to come. And I’m excited to share in all the joys that the Lord blesses us with.
Happy Birthday Care. I’ve included a picture of the Nichols cousins… and whenever I see it, it makes me smile. It’s my JOY to call you cousin and friend. And I take great joy praying for you daily.

I love you,
Crystal Minnie

From the Maakestad Family in Pella, IA

Dear Caroline,
How well I remember you as a toddler, with a china doll face and such a big heart. And you haven’t changed at all – you are still awesomely beautiful and so very caring that you are halfway around the world caring for kids. Please know that Aunt Sherry in Pella, Iowa, is very proud of you and I wish you a very blessed day on this your birthday. You are so precious and important, and you are loved by so many.

All our love,
Sherry, Mike, Hannah, Kirsten and Sara Jane

From Margee in Mexico:
I wish I had my pictures with me! There are so many photos and memories! One of my favorite pictures is of us lying in my bed when I had a very bad cold,drinking ice cream floats and being ridiculous. It always reminds me how much fun we had doing everything (which was usually nothing).
Happy Birthday!
Love, Margee

Aunt Jane in Atlantic, IA:
Sweet Caroline~! Just like the song–I hope you can sing your way through this day and remember that back in the USA there are alot of people that love you and are wishing you the VERY BEST on this your 24th birthday. Your testimony, your faith, and your ability to care and show that you care I’m sure are speaking VOLUMES as you are doing God’s work this year.
Hope you have a GREAT day and again, remember, we love you and miss you!
Aunt Jane

Mom and Dad in Lewis, IA:
Dear Caroline,
If you were here we would make a Caroline sandwich (like the picture) and hug you to death! But since you are in Honduras, you will have to get your new friends to do this for you and pretend it is from us!
We love you.
Mom and Dad
If I could give you a birthday present in person, I would give you a flashlight to take on future adventures! ….and a Garmin…and some trail mix….and some hiking boots….and some Puma repellent!!!

From your friend, Amanda Hoye at Dordt College in Iowa:
Hi Caroline!
Just wanted to wish you happy birthday and say thank you for all you’ve done for me over the years. You’ve been such an amazing example for me and my sister! I am always surprised during camp to find that I get as much (or more) out of the speakers than the campers do! It was true this year, as always, and your message throughout the week reminded me how much I want to be involved in missions- even if it’s a mission to Atlantic, Iowa. Remember being my counselor, by any chance, at Bethany Camp about…oh, 5 years ago? I do, very well, because you were such an encouragement to me. All the late-night cabin talks…we were in the smaller lower room. I learned a lot that year, especially from you. You’re an incredible person, and I’ve been blessed by knowing you. I’m really excited to see where God continues to use you, because it’s going to be awesome! Happy birthday again, and I hope you enjoy your year!

In Christ,
Amanda H.

Grace from UC Davis, CA:

So when I thought of fun memories, I thought of our road-trip to “New
York.” And specifically, the “series of unfortunate events” that we
encountered when we decided to stop at Bob Evans…. dun dun dun! Between
you sliding off the road and almost hitting whatever that big thing
was, William losing his phone, and the crazy winter storm that we ventured
out into that was one of the craziest days I have ever experienced!
Happy Birthday Caroline! I love you!

Hope this makes you smile on your special day!
I am sure missing you on this day- wishing I could give you a big hug and an even bigger care package. But alas, I’m not on the ball enough to get a package ready a month ahead of time! So you can get excited for your gift that is to come, all these birthday greetings and more from the many people who love you, made into a hard bound book for you in Honduras. It’s called

Hugs to Honduras.

I love you, Sister!
PS- Maybe you should take a cue from when you were little and lost at the state fair- and some nice person brought you back to the fam b/c of a shirt that said your name. Might be nice for your next “lost” experience? A shirt with your name and where to return you to? 🙂

7 comments on “Hugs to Honduras- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAROLINE!

  1. Nicole says:

    My dear kindred spirit.HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAYS TO YOU! Or should I say “Espero que el cumpleanos tuyo este increible!”This season (fall, in case you forgot), always reminds me of that fateful day you and Meg encountered me on your bikes. I thought you were the nicest girls ever and still firmly believe that. Although “nice” has been replaced by a plethora of other (and better) adjectives and nouns—fellow prophetess, lover of Pascal, creator of a dance for our weddings—and the list goes on. I love you from the bottom of my heart.And I will get that video up of the babe. I know, I know, she’s practically walking. Your kindred.

  2. Caroline says:

    I feel so loved. This is an absolutely perfect gift. I’m sending my love back to you – through prayers and through my smiles of my heart!Thank you.

  3. Mrs. Nichols says:

    Granddaughter Caroline,Much love from the peach and apple orchard of Griswold (in our back yard). Imagine in your peachy mind, that we are thinking of your as the apple of our eye.Grandpa and I cannot imagine all the adventures that are awaiting you. Do all future adventures in your mind at the school. And take a flashlight. We are trying to imagine living in Honduras from the pictures that you have sent and it must be very beautiful. Grandpa will someday tell you his reaction to your weekend adventure. Be sure to ask. In a year, he will be able to talk about without cringing Grandpa’s reaction was do not walk out in front of any more trucks. We will help you celebrate your next one here in Iowa. Happy Birthday, hugs, warm loving arms around you. XXX OOO Gram and Gramps

  4. - Christina says:

    From Coralynn and Fam: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAROLINE!!!Even though you are far away please know you are close in our hearts today. I am so very proud of the woman you have become and the amazing plans God has for you this year. We continue to pray for all the exciting ways God will work with you and through you in this coming year. Jer 29:11—For I know the plans he has for you…plans to prosper! LOVE YOU! CoraLynn (and Baby Trewet)

  5. Ruth Ann says:

    Hi Caroline! I hope you are having a fantastic birthday in Honduras! Please know that we are praying for your time there! Just by being there you are a huge blessing…to those you come in contact with everyday, for for those of us who get to hear about your adventures through the blog! 🙂 God Bless!

  6. Jamesrn10 says:

    hey care i hope that you get this i couldnt figure out how to post anything on your blog so what ever happy b day and we will have to schedule a skype sometime love james

  7. Caroline, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! What a blessing to be able to celebrate the day the Lord brought you into this world. We are so blessed to have you as family and love you dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you celebrate your special day and as you serve Him in Honduras.We love you, Bret and Katie 🙂

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