Saturday, January 29, 2011


Three kids playing lawn tennis, Kendall style, in the front yard - a twenty-year-old sporting shorts and an afro, a seventeen-year-old wearing overalls and a camo hat, and an eleven-year-old with the best big brothers in the world.

Two brothers striding side-by-side down the driveway, both dressed in camouflage, rifles over their shoulders, heading back on the farm to look for coyotes.

Martha's voice from the barnyard as she feeds and brushes three well-loved horses after a good workout with Little John.

A beautiful pause in a crazy life.

A little taste of Shalom to come....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Tom plopped down next to me on the hearth with a sigh. "Mom, Mrs. X got on to me a church this morning, said I was being disrespectful. What is her problem?"

"Well, what did she get on to you about?"

"She said she saw me pull Ben's hair, and that was 'inappropriate behavior' for church. I told her that's just what brothers do. It's, like, being affectionate,...but she didn't understand."

"Well, try to think about Mrs. X's perspective. Maybe your pulling Ben's hair was a distraction to her, and she thought it might be a distraction to others."

"Maybe she should concentrate more on the sermon, and quit focusing on the people in the pews."

"Either way, you need to be respectful of Mrs. X and of her concerns."

"Yeah, but then she said I was being disrespectful during the benediction. What's up with that?"

"What happened during the benediction that upset her?"

"Well, you know how some of the people at church sort of halfway raise their hands for the benediction? Kinda like they're having a ball tossed at them? Well, I thought, What's up with this? Don't be so namby-pamby, people...If the preacher is giving a blessing, reach for it like you want it!"


"Well, I raised my hands like this - (imagine Elvis or some rock star greeting a crowd of fans, arms straight up in a Power Vee)." Tom continued, "I thought, Man, I'm going to make myself a lightning rod for Jesus!"

"And Mrs. X....?"

"She said the way I stood and raised my hands was irreverent. Then Mr. X said that I needed to 'grow up'."

Funny thing is, I'd already heard this story, from Mrs. X's perspective, earlier that day. Mrs. X is a dear friend and a precious sister in Christ. I truly did appreciate her concern and her willingness to speak to one of my kids when she felt his behavior was out of line. As a parent of four teenagers, I need all the help and reinforcement I can get!

Funny thing is, after hearing Tom's lament, I know that Mrs. X read the 'outside' and got the 'inside' all wrong. She wasn't privy to Tom's heart. Which got me to thinking...this is tricky business, to struggle to 'grow up' in our faith and yet remain child-like.

Funny thing is, now I want to be a lightning rod for Jesus, too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


When I was about 10 or 11 years old, long time ago, I watched a television movie while I was at my grandmother's house for the weekend. A Girl Named Sooner. I don't remember much about the movie, except that it was about a young girl who had been abandoned by her family, who endured one heart-breaking hardship after another, who had no sense of her own value.

At some point in the sad story of her life, she was befriended by a school teacher. Sooner - the little girl - made a pet out of a pigeon that lived near the school, feeding it from her meager lunch each day. During one especially tragic scene, a group of kids gathered around the bird and started throwing pebbles at it, eventually killing the bird. Sooner, motivated by a desire to fit in with the other kids, joined in the game of tossing pebbles at the pigeon, thereby playing a part in killing her own pet. When the school teacher learned of the incident and confronted Sooner, the little girl replied, "It wasn't nothing. It was just a pigeon. Nothin' special."

"But it was yours," the teacher wept. "That pigeon was was special because it was yours, because you loved it..."

Just a pigeon.

Except that it was important to one little girl.

That scene from A Girl Named Sooner has haunted my memory on and off for over 30 years. I've wished I could internalize the lesson Sooner's teacher labored to teach her.

In my mind, the scene plays out something like this....

Inside, I am a "neat-y" - I am happier and more productive when my space is organized and clean. As the mother of many children, I have heard countless times over the years something to the effect of "The mess really doesn't matter. Just let it go!" And in the less-than-tidy business of raising seven children, I've tried to believe that. Except that, to me, the mess does matter, at least the mess in my own house. I have to wonder, if it matters only to me...does that mean it doesn't really matter at all? Like, my preferences and desires are somehow inconsequential?

Or, someone does or says something that hurts me badly, even breaks my heart. When confronted, that person simply replies, "It's no big deal. You just need to get over it." No big deal, really...except to me. If it doesn't matter to the person who hurt me, that means it doesn't matter at all? How is it their perspective trumps my heart?

Or, something I hold very dear. Beautiful, precious, a beloved treasure. Then along comes someone who makes an off-handed comment, without even thinking. "That is so stupid! So ugly! So dumb!" Oh, really? You think so?

Well, I've got news: they're wrong.

I just wish I'd figured that out sooner.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I think I've probably mentioned before how a dear friend - one of those few people who sees more into my real soul than others - pegged me several years ago as passive-aggressive. Then, the term was new to me, so I had to ask for an explanation. With a working definition in hand, I had to admit that she was right. And, in the many months since that illuminating conversation, I've witnessed proof after proof that I am indeed passive-aggressive.

If your words or actions hurt me, I don't confront you. Instead, I go through mental gymnastics trying to understand or justify your behavior. "She must be all hormonal today." "He's probably just stressed from work." "I'm sure it wasn't your intention to be hurtful - you just have too much on your plate right now..." So, I make excuses (valid or not) and pretend not to be hurt and just keep plugging. Until....

Until some tiny, relatively unoffensive comment or action triggers a nuclear meltdown. And then, everyone around looks at me bug-eyed and asks, "Where did that come from?"

In trying to change, to be less passive-aggressive, I've encountered a few new frustrations. When I actually make the effort to say, "That really hurt my feelings" - or - "This is too difficult/you're asking too much of me" - or - whatever it is that is not my P-A reflex - many people don't really listen. It's as if I'm not truly serious unless I'm in meltdown mode. Or worse, they do what I've done myself for so many years - they formulate a theory that allows them to dismiss my issues. "She's all hormonal." "She stressed out from work." "She'll be 'over it' and in a better mood tomorrow."

I'm beginning to think that "passive-aggressive" is just another term for lazy. Not willing to exert the emotional or physical effort necessary to deal productively with the unpleasantries of life. I don't like something about the way things are at present - but I don't really want to do anything to change, either. Why won't I make the effort to change? Maybe fear - I expect to be disappointed. Shoot, I'll probably go way out on a limb, have to endure even greater frustration and hardship, and things still won't be any better. Maybe personal history - I don't really have a very good track record when it comes to productive change. Maybe exhaustion - at the bottom of the well, with no physical or emotional resources left. None.

One good thing about the bottom - the only direction left is Up. Up - sounds like climbing, hard work, especially from the bottom of a deep hole. But at least there's no confusion about which direction to head, no perplexing options to weigh, no "wrong" paths to take. The bottom of the well - a win-win location. If I take a step at all, it will have to be Up - and that's a step in the right direction. If I don't take a step, it's an opportunity to rest, to rebuild strength....until I can take that first step.

Today is the Sabbath, a God-appointed day of rest.

Tomorrow, I pray I'll be rested enough, have courage enough, to begin climbing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Seems I have little time to write these days - adjusting to a new kind of normal, trying to figure out a routine/schedule that will make the most of the time available each day. So, today, instead of Camille's Thoughts on Life (which are scrambled and incoherent at present), here is a poem by George Herbert. Reuben read this aloud to me while I was cooking breakfast this morning...I think this Herbert dude has stolen my heart.

The Elixir
-George Herbert

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing,
To do it as for thee:

Not rudely, as a beast,
To run into an action;
But still to make thee prepossest,
And give it his perfection.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav'n espy.

All may of thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture (for thy sake)
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.

This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold:
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


In the beginning, God.... What great comfort in four little words!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep...
.incomprehensible, frightening, and dark, kind of like the place I am standing in just now.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said,

"Let there be light..."

How is it possible for God to speak so much comfort into four little words?