Friday, March 23, 2018


"You think too much."

I was not being chastised for being introspective - although I am introspective. I was being chastised for reading.

In an effort to improve my writing, I am attempting to follow the advice of successful writers who graciously share their wisdom with newbies like me. I have read the advice of such gifted writers as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling, and without exception, every one of them has said: Read. Read lots of books. Read lots of kinds of books.

Stephen King put it bluntly: "You have to read widely...If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."

But this is not a post about writing, or about reading. It is a post about thinking.

My friend's problem was not particularly with the fact that I was reading: her problem was with what I was reading. If I had been reading the latest New York Times best-seller or a cheesy romance, she would not have been concerned. But my book list included several titles of theology, doctrine, history, know, heady, brainiac stuff. The kind of books that make a person think.

I did not choose these titles because I naturally prefer this kind of writing. Personally, I love fiction. Fiction goes down easy, like sweet tea on a hot day. Working through even a small volume on some doctrinal issue, however, is for me a slow process that requires great effort. It is work. Brain work.

My friend's point was: Why on earth would I want to exercise my brain - why would I want to do the difficult work of thinking - when there are so many other pleasanter things to do with my time? And furthermore, why would I want to risk the stigma of being identified as a thinker, a nerd, a brainiac, by reading books like that?!

Brace yourself: I'm going to shift gears hard...

Are you familiar with the Parable of the Talents? In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells a parable about three servants whose master went on a journey. Before leaving, he entrusted his property to his servants: to one, he gave five talents; to the second, two talents; and to the third, one talent. These servants were responsible for managing their master's property until he returned.

When the master returned, the first servant, who had invested the money entrusted to him, gave to his master not five talents, but ten. The master was understandably pleased, and rewarded this servant accordingly. The second servant did likewise, presenting his master with not two talents, but four. The master was pleased with this servant, too. The third servant, however, buried the talent entrusted to him and had nothing to hand back to his master upon his return except the one talent he had been given. In this man's case, the master was NOT pleased. Rather than rewarding the servant for at least keeping his one talent safe, the master punished this lazy, cowardly man.

"Well," you ask, "what does all of this have to do with thinking, Camille?"

I'm getting there...

Now, back up a couple of chapters in the book of Matthew. In Matthew 22:36-38 we read -

"And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And [Jesus] said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.'" (emphasis added)

Again, over in Luke 10:27, we read: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

And in Romans 12:2, we read: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..."

In 2 Timothy 3, we read about weak women who are easily led astray because they cannot discern truth...they cannot think correctly.

Paul reproves the "foolish Galatians" who are likewise unable to discern truth and who are bewitched by false teachers. Paul challenges them to stop being foolish and to engage their minds!

God, it seems, cares very much about what we do with our minds.

"Where are you going with this?" you ask.

Where I'm going is...

Every thing I possess in this life comes to me from God. Everything. My faith heritage. My family culture. My life experiences. My gifts - writing, speaking, etc. My financial resources. My opportunities. My personality. My body. Everything.

This includes my brain. This includes my mind.

Everything I possess has been given to me by God to be invested for his kingdom. Everything. My desire should be, when He asks, to give everything back to him with interest.

Maybe, like my friend, you think brain work - developing your mind - is a waste of time. Maybe you feel like a five-talent encourager, a three-talent giver and one-talent intellectual...makes sense, then, to focus on encouraging and giving and forget about the mind stuff, right?

Well, No. God commands us to love him with everything we've got - with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind - not just with our favorite things or the things we're good at or the things that come easily to us.

If you feel like you have a one-talent brain, I want to encourage you: invest that one talent well. I don't think God is going to be upset if you don't grow into a Jonathan Edwards or an Albert Einstein, but I do believe He cares very much that you grow.

God doesn't ask you and me to invest the resources He has not given us, but to invest the resources He has given us, all of the resources He has given us, for his kingdom.

So, in response to my friend's indictment - "You think too much." -

No, sweet sister, I do not think nearly enough. But I am laboring to think more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


At a recent job interview, the human resources director asked me, "Camille, what is your dream job?"

I thought a moment, then finally admitted: "I don't have a dream job."

Probably not the answer she was looking for.

I thought about that question for days afterward. It seemed like a reasonable question. Surely, I could come up with a reasonable answer!

If I had been asked "What is your dream job?" when I was seventeen, as I was heading off to college and the big, wide world, I could have answered in a heartbeat: "I want to be a large-animal veterinarian." I had wanted to be a vet ever since I was little girl, riding with my feet on top of Daddy's mud boots as he headed to the barn to milk our jersey cow.

If I had been asked "What is your dream job?" when I was twenty-two, I could have answered in a heartbeat: "I want to be a mom." There was nothing in the world I wanted more than to have a child of my own to love and care for.

I never became a vet. No regrets there, however. Somewhere between seventeen and twenty-two, I fell out of love with cow poop and dog vomit.

I did get to be a mom, though! Being mom to my seven amazing children has been the richest, most rewarding job imaginable.

But my children are all grown up now. Now what? I don't have a great burning desire to pursue a particular job or career, to be a veterinarian or a teacher or a nuclear physicist.

"Camille, what is your dream job?"

I've been thinking hard about that question. Today, I have an answer.

Camille's dream job: I want to be a person who gives hope to other people.

I don't know where God is going to put me to work - in a nursery greenhouse, or a hospital lab, or behind a computer screen at home - but wherever He places me, I know what I want to do: I want to be a conduit of the gospel.

That is my dream job.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Today begins with a confession...

About a month ago, I learned that I have high blood pressure. (I wrote about efforts to make lifestyle changes to help bring the numbers down HERE.) One day last week, for who-knows-what reason, my blood pressure pegged higher than ever. I don't typically get too freaked out by health issues, but last week, I was worried.

My daughter was even more worried: "Mom, this is not good! What are you going to do?!"

Well, right now, I am doing pretty much all that I can. "Look, if I drop dead from a heart attack today, I get to be with Jesus," I replied. "That would be awesome. Don't worry about me, okay?"

"That's great for you, but I will be left here all alone!"

I didn't see how this morbid train of thought was going to make either of us feel any less anxious. "Okay, then...I will try my best to hang in here 'til your sister gets home. Then, if I die, you can live with her."

I know that if anything happens to me, God will take care of my children. But to respond so flippantly to my daughter's fears? What is wrong with me, people?!

Moving forward now...

That night, I lay awake thinking about our conversation. I thought about how I am sometimes so cavalier with my words. I thought about how all of us have fears and struggles, and about how all of us are in different places in this faith walk.

I thought about the great paradox: how a person can be so mature in some ways, such a baby in other ways.

I thought about the sovereignty and the goodness and the faithfulness of God. I thought how grateful I am that God exposes my sin, and how thankful I am that God is patient and forgiving with his foolish child.

I thought how thankful I am that my daughter is patient and forgiving, too.

And then I started thinking: What do I owe my neighbor? Particularly, my neighbor who is my young daughter?

Well, because I am her mom and she is my daughter, I owe this sweet neighbor a lot of things! But, on the heels of the above conversation, I thought of three particular duties I owe my neighbor...

I owe it to my neighbor:

To show up for life, and to live like I mean it. To endeavor to live the life God has given me in a healthy, vigorous, thoughtful, engaged manner alongside my neighbor. To live without fear of death, but, also, to NOT be flippant about checking out early.

To live a life of integrity and authenticity. To be consistent in who I am, wherever I am, i.e., to not be one person to my daughter, a different person to my best girlfriend, someone else to the group I address at next weekend's conference, Camille #17 to the stranger at Walmart, and yet another version of myself inside my head.

To share something of the loveliness of Christ in my attitudes, words, and actions. I need Jesus like parched ground needs water. My neighbor - my daughter - needs Jesus, too. My thoughts, words, and actions need to drip with the life-giving water of the Gospel.

You know something I never see Jesus do in Scripture? I don't once see him being cavalier or flippant. Jesus, while He walked on this earth, took life very seriously. He took other people seriously, too. Best I can tell from reading Scripture, He still does.

Jesus, help me to be that kind of neighbor.

One of my favorite neighbors - I LOVE this gal!
* * *
"Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." - Jim Elliot, martyr  for Christ

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


The plague made an appearance at our house over the weekend. After a visit to Mammoth Cave with her dottery parents and a weekend trip to the mountains of north Alabama to go wild pig hunting with her brother, my youngest finished off a week of spring break camped out on the living room sofa with a bucket.

NOT the way you want to end spring break and head into midterm exams.

Instead of said youngest's fab cooking, we have been serving up lots of Gatorade and Sprite, applesauce and Jello, chicken noodle soup and saltines here at Kendallville lately.

Our patient is about out of the woods - just exhausted now after a rough couple of days and weak from a lack of calories. She has three days worth of eating to catch up on, which is not an easy assignment for one so small.

Okay, I admit it: most days, I am discontent with my weight. It gets uncomfortable having to bend over this spare tire, and for once, I'd love to discover that my jeans were too loose instead of too tight.


When the plague hits, I am genuinely thankful for my built-in energy reserves. Genuinely thankful.

When the little chicken can't keep food down for a day or two, it's a big, scary deal.

When Mama can't keep food down for a day or two, it's really not a problem. I haven't caught the plague this go round, but I'm ready, just in case.

I guess there's an up side and a down side to everything.

Most days, I'd rather not be a chub-a-muffin. But today - being a chub-a-muffin suits me just fine.
Loving on her favorite patient - Nurse Kitty takes her job very seriously!

Friday, March 9, 2018


Several years ago, I wrote here at the blog about how much I loved to go fishing with my Pap when I was a little girl. (Read that post HERE.)
Pap on the lake
I loved being near the water, soaking up the sunshine, listening to summertime thrum of the cicadas, waiting for my red-&-white bobber to dance. I loved catching fish, and then eating them for dinner.

Fish for dinner!
But mostly, I loved being with Pap. Fishing, you see, wasn't nearly so much about fish as it was about being with the sweet man I loved.

Last week, I shared how my youngest and I are going to try to go on at least one adventure together each month. (Read about our 2018 adventures HERE.) Why plan an adventure every month? For fun. To learn something new. Because Mom is prone to work too much and play too little. To put an end to "if we ever get around to it."

One of the activities on our adventure list: "Spend an afternoon fishing."

I haven't had much interest in fishing since the summer my Pap died. Too hot. Too many mosquitoes and chiggers. Too slimy. Too stinky. Too sweaty. Too plain messy.

My youngest, however, loves to fish. Seems the fishing bug jumped clean off of me and onto her.

I haven't had any interest in fishing for years, but this year, I want to go fishing. Forget the mosquitoes and the sweat. I already know I am going to love being near the water, soaking up the sunshine, listening to the thrum of the cicadas.

Maybe we'll catch some fish and fry them up for dinner. Mostly, though, I am looking forward to making memories with someone I love.

(A big "Thank you!" to my sister Alix for the pictures!)

Thursday, March 8, 2018


Today, a re-post, prompted by a conversation with my sweet daughter, and because I need to be reminded...

(originally posted 7/1/15)

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.  Matthew 12:36-37 (KJV)

The English Standard Version translates this passage: "...on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak..."

Idle words. Careless words. Either way, this is one of the scariest passages in the Bible to me.

I am a writer. I post here at the blog; I produce a weekly newspaper column; I write books; I write devotionals and emails and letters. Lots and lots of words.

As my oldest daughter has accurately observed, concision in not my strong point. You've heard the expression, "Well, to make a long story short...", right? I tend to turn that expression on its head: "Well, to make a short story long..." Why say in a few words what can be expanded to fill an entire page?!

Too many words, and not always handled appropriately.

When I was a girl, my mom frequently challenged me with these words:  "Before you speak, Camille, ask yourself, 'Is what I am about to say true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it helpful?'" Mom understood the weightiness of words. Mom knew that words - even idle or careless words - carry with them eternal consequences.

I still try to ask myself those questions regularly. And I wonder:  How much of the traffic on Facebook and Twitter, in emails and instant messaging, in chat rooms and comment threads - how much of that traffic would be silenced if people paused to consider that one day, they will have to give an account for every word they speak or text or type? What about the hushed head-to-head conversation over coffee with my best girlfriend? What about the phone buzz, or the prayer chain, or the comments bandied around the family dinner table this evening? What if I had to give an account for those words? The truth is: I WILL have to answer for those words, all of them.

Every single idle word.

God has created us and called us to speak. To speak words that are true, and honorable, and just, and pure, and lovely...

Yet I so often run my mouth without engaging either my brain or the filter of Scripture. Aaaaugh! Then, when I realize my folly, I understand Job's lament: "I lay my hand on my mouth!"

"...every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Reading those words, my heart trembles.

But then I read...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5

Jesus. That most true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable Word. That Word which redeems my filthy heart and mind and mouth, and cleanses me from every idle word I have ever thought or spoken or typed.

All those idle words I have spoken - Jesus is the one Word that silences them all.

The Word which no darkness can overcome.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Hiking frozen Reelfoot Lake back in January. SO COLD!!!

I am a house mouse. My youngest is an adventurer.

For the sake of my daughter's sanity, I am trying to come out of my shell a little, expand my horizons. Because I do anything better if I have a plan, I have resolved to plan and execute one adventure with my daughter each month this year.

Helen and I brainstormed a list of possible "adventures." Some are indoors, for cold or rainy weather; some are outdoors, for when the weather is nice. Some are close to home; some are further away. Some are free; some would require us to save up a bit of moolah ahead of time. Some are silly; some are serious/educational.

Here is our list so far:

  1. Tour a historic house/property.
  2. Visit an art gallery or a museum.
  3. Spend a day at a botanical garden.
  4. Hike the trails at a state park.
  5. Spend an afternoon fishing.
  6. Explore a cave.
  7. Go kayaking or canoeing.
  8. Attend a concert.
  9. Take a handgun class at a shooting range.
  10. Go horseback riding.
  11. Ride a train.
  12. Have a spa day.
  13. Take a cake decorating class.
  14. Plant a garden planter or hanging flower basket.
  15. Camp out for a weekend on Granddad's farm.
  16. Host a dance party.
  17. Book an airplane tour of our home county.
  18. Go out for burgers and a movie.
  19. Tour local cemeteries and look up dead relatives.
  20. Organize a picnic with friends.
  21. Go Goodwill shopping.
  22. Plan and host a dress-up party for the nieces and nephews.
  23. Visit the zoo.
  24. Take a photography class.
  25. Go creek stomping.
  26. Try a new restaurant.
  27. Audition for a play.
  28. Volunteer to read and help with crafts for story time at the library.
  29. Plan a mini-concert for nursing home residents.
  30. Visit a fancy dress shop and try on evening wear.
  31. Enter some kind of creative competition (art, music, writing).
  32. Check out a student art exhibit at the university.
  33. Have a cookie decorating party.
  34. Attend a piano recital.
  35. Plant a tree.

So far this year, in addition to freezing our patooties off at Reelfoot Lake in January, we have...

...visited the beautiful Victorian Village district in downtown Memphis, TN. (BONUS: A stop to catch up with sweet friends on the drive home!)

...and something educational in this gal's particular area of interest: we attended Beef Field Day at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and then later the same week, had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr. Temple Grandin

This year -  2018 - is off to a fun start. Let the adventures continue!