Thursday, April 19, 2012


A repost, in honor of the occasion...



Long, long ago in a land far, far away, there lived a young couple who desperately longed to have a child...

Married just over three years, Steve and I decided it was finally time to expand our family. What an exciting, fearful, joyous, earth-shaking decision, to take that leap from "not yet" to "Now!"

What we didn't know - like many young couples - was that getting pregnant wasn't as simple as we'd thought. It would take more than just desire and a romantic evening. Month after month, the red flag of disappointment. Sigh! Would we ever have children?

Graciously, God gave us wise friends, friends who had faced and who were facing similar disappointment. "What do we do?" I asked Pam. "Well, I can tell you this - your doctor won't even talk to you about infertility problems until you've been unable to conceive for at least a year. You just have to keep trying." Then, she shared some practical tips from her doctor.

I went shopping for boxer shorts for Steve, instead of briefs. We drank copious amounts of orange juice. We learned about basal thermometers and calendars and "scheduling." Month after month, no baby.

We were living at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi at the time. I still remember base housing, the stark white walls and glass-bright linoleum floors. And I distinctly remember the time I contracted a flu bug that made me incredibly sleepy. Three days straight, I got out of bed in the morning to see Steve off, then immediately crashed on the living room couch where I slept until he returned from work. Then, after struggling through dinner, I moved like a slug through the evening before shuffling off early to bed. I simply could not wake up.

"I think you need to see a doctor," Steve commented on the evening of day three. "Something seems to be really wrong."

The morning of day four, I felt a little better. We decided to get out for some fresh air while I felt capable of walking. Steve waited for me at the front door. "You sure you feel okay?"

"I feel fine," I assured him. Then, without any warning, I threw up all over the entry hall.

I threw up almost every single day after that for nine long months.

Back in those days, an ultrasound showed little more than a red blinking light on a dark screen - the baby's heartbeat. Month after month, that blinking light produced in me an indescribable euphoria. At last, a baby!

Aside from my being green and nauseous for nine months and having to forcefully gag down food that wanted all-too-much to come right back up (ever had to eat tuna or peanut butter, on doctor's orders?), my pregnancy went well. And the delivery? Well, after walking through a couple hours of contractions in the wee hours of the morning, Steve and I headed to Hardee's for breakfast - me, I had a plain biscuit and Sprite. Wanted something "safe," in case this was the real thing.

My OB's office opened at 9:00. We drove over to have him confirm that this truly was labor. He smiled, sent us to Onslow Memorial Hospital, and shortly after noon, baby Emily made her debut in the world.

You know that passage in Psalms that talks about being knit together in a mother's womb? When they handed me that baby - the baby we thought we would never have - it was as if my hand, for a moment, for a split-second, brushed the hand of God. God Himself was handing me that red, squalling infant.

I had never seen anything so beautiful.

Twenty-three years later, with six additional kids (isn't God funny sometimes?!), I still get a lump in my throat when I consider what a beautiful, amazing, priceless gift God gave me in Emily.

We've been through some really hard times lately, Emily and me. Hard battles, difficult conversations. Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the fact that the enemy we are fighting is Satan and sin, and not each other. But when Emily is sitting at the counter quietly working a crossword puzzle, I look at her and am struck anew with the beauty of this young woman.

She moves like a fairy. She draws cartoons that crack me up and writes poetry that breaks my heart. She loves her sisters and brothers and her husband in a thousand sparkling ways. She makes gargoyle faces when you compliment her, sings silly songs and dances with the baby, draws Sharpie tattoos down her arms and her legs, falls asleep in Sunday school.

What about the one that is missing, Dennis?

That one is a bright star that is sometimes almost too radiant, too glorious, too weighty to hold. The first of God's most precious gifts. A reminder every day that God heard the prayer, long ago and far away, of a young woman's heart, and answered that prayer in a way more beautiful than she could have ever imagined.

That one is precious because she is Emily.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Two weeks since I last posted. Seems like ages ago.

A friend at church commented a couple of weeks ago, "Man, Camille, you look awful!" I felt awful, too. Exhausted. Wiped out. Completely drained, physically, mentally, emotionally. I'd been running on Auto-Zombie-Pilot for too long. Too little sleep, too many demands. Crash.

One of my man sons gave me some wise counsel. "Mom, it's pretty clear you can't keep doing everything you're doing right now. Something has to go. Wal-Mart seems like the obvious choice. You need to mark that off the list." So I turned in my two-week notice. How to pay school fees next fall? Hmmm, that question will have to be answered some other way than Wal-Mart.

I am usually not a very verbally emotive person. The nurse laughed when I informed everyone in the room, just minutes before delivering Son #3, "This is really very uncomfortable!" (Happy Birthday, Tom!) What I actually meant was, "I'M IN ABSOLUTELY EXCRUCIATING PAIN!!!!" I was not being funny. But, I guess because I wasn't screaming or threatening to choke the nearest person, no one seemed to appreciate the intensity of my discomfort.

I've been very, very tired for a long, long time. That's an understatement. But, despite my tendency toward understatement, a keen friend had eyes to see the sputter of an S.O.S. flare streaking across my horizon.

Let's call my friend Sally Johnson. Grace Abundant would be a better pseudonym. Sally called, out of the blue, with a proposition: "I'm going out of town for two days and want you to come with me." Sally explained that she would be at meetings on this trip - that we wouldn't be able to visit much - but that I would have two days to myself to do absolutely nothing.

On short notice, Grandma pitched in and took over childcare for the two babies I keep. We finagled a way to get me to Sally's house and still have enough vehicles for the college commuters. Steve stepped up to do eye doctor/piano lesson/mom-taxi duty. Unbelievably, everything fell into place and I found myself flying to the mountains for an unexpected holiday.

As we settled into our room that first afternoon, Sally explained, "I'll be in meetings until after 9:00 tonight. You're on your own for dinner." I am not travel savvy, and I sensed I was about to have to step out of my comfort zone, out of the familiar. "You're going to have to do dinner on your own. Just pick a restaurant here in the inn and let them know to bill me." Okay, I'd never stayed somewhere this nice, and I'd never done anything like room service or "put it on my tab." Definitely out of my league here.

Ever been in a situation where you were painfully aware of just just how small you are? How inexperienced, incompetent, or unqualified you are? A place where you feel like a rather drab, small mouse in a world of sophisticated giants and beautiful royalty? Yep, that's where I found myself.

And that's just where I found - again - the goodness of God, the grace of my Savior.

On my way to the inn lobby, I passed a spiffy young man in a crisply starched uniform. "Excuse me," I ventured, "are you a man with answers?"

"Yes! How can I be of assistance?"

"Well, I am looking for dinner. This is how I'm dressed," I indicated my not-snazzy jeans and sneakers, "and I don't really want a huge meal...I've been traveling all day. Could you direct me to a restaurant where I meet dress code and where I could get something fairly light to eat?"

"Follow me," he smiled. I did.

At the restaurant, the hostess greeted me cheerfully and asked, "Name?"

I hesitated. My first inclination was to answer, "Camille." I mean, I really wanted to say "This is who I am, and I am very important, and you should be so delighted to meet me and to get to serve me!" Something inside wanted to pronounce, "I am a mover and shaker, too!" But I remembered my friend's instructions. "Sally Johnson," I answered calmly. "Room 610."

"We're glad to have you dining with us this evening, Ms. Johnson," the hostess smiled. "Follow me, please." She led me to a small table next to a stage where a guitarist strummed and crooned mellow tunes. I ate a delicious meal. Watched all the sophisticated people at other tables. Listened to smooth jazz.

Later that evening, back in our room, I fixed a cup of coffee and settled into the sofa for a quiet evening with a good book. It occurred to me then that my holiday was a picture of grace. When I approach God, I so often want to come as "somebody" - I want God to look at me and pop to attention. "I'm Camille Kendall, and You'd really better listen to me, God!" But instead, God insists that I come to Him only through Christ. If I can't come with the simple confession - "I am Christ's" - then I can't come at all. Nothing to recommend me, nothing at all, except this grace association.

And what was my contribution to the holiday? What was I called to do? Rest. Eat. Pray. Rest. Fellowship. Read. Quiet. Rest. That is all that was given me to do, for two delightful days. I showed up broken, exhausted, empty-handed; my friend covered me with herself - her name - and told me to rest.

Rest. Is that not what Christ Himself calls us to do? To rest, to enjoy Him, to receive His provision humbly and with sincere gratitude?

Thank you, Sally Johnson (you know who you are!) for showing me Jesus - again. The fog is lifting: today is a new and brighter day because of you.

Thank you, Jesus, for meeting me in my brokenness. Teach me to know and to live in the rest that is Your perfect provision for this broken, sinful, weary woman.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This is a repost, for a friend. As the Amazing Teresa, Queen of the Solar Sisters, once told me, "This is hard work we're in, girlie!" Thankfully, we have Jesus.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Underlying the monumental endeavor of rearing and schooling a house full of kids, there exists a constant tension. As a mom, I want to push my children to do their best, but I don't want to be overbearing. I want them to strive for excellence...but don't want them to be enslaved by perfectionism. Structure to our day and to our activities is essential...but I must not be obsessively bound to a calendar or a clock. I want to respect their personalities...but I don't want to cater to their personal sins. Add to all of this the struggles I have with my own sinfulness, my own wrong attitudes and motives.

Always, in the back of my mind, there is the question, "Am I doing what's best? Am I asking too little of my children, or am I asking too much?" This question is a thin blanket over the fear that all my prayers and good intentions and hard choices and personal sacrifices and lifelong labor are working not to build up my children and encourage them on the path to godly adulthood, but rather are warping and twisting them into self-absorbed, perverse, angry malcontents who know nothing of the holiness, grace, and mercy of God.

There are good days and bad days in this mothering journey.

What makes a particular day "good" or "bad"? Maybe it's just that today is gray and cold, whereas yesterday was warm and sunny. Maybe it's the anticipation of a fun weekend ahead, or the emotional come-down after a holiday. Maybe it's a particular day in my monthly cycle. Maybe it's that we all are well-rested and well-fed...or exhausted and due for some comfort food. Maybe it's unresolved issues with my husband, or undesirable influences of my neighbor.

So today is a bad day. Oh, we got all our schoolwork done. The laundry is caught up. Dinner is in the oven. I even got to go for a walk back on the farm - but I spent most of it crying, wondering what on earth I'm doing, and why am I doing this, and did I just totally misunderstand what I thought was God's direction in my life so many years back, and am I just screwing up all the people I love most? Praying, God help me! Make something clear! Show me what You want, and help me to obey!

What's to be done with the bad days? With the heavy emotions?

Before starting supper, I checked Facebook. A dear sister had posted this quote from Lydia Brownback as her status: "Real prayer includes letting go of your insistence on a particular answer or timing. If you have really prayed, you can simply rest and wait for God. Trust Him with your concern, and your anxiety will clear away."

Rest. Wait. Trust.

So it comes back to that again, to the Gospel. Where I have erred, Christ must redeem, in His own way and in His own timing. He died to cover my wife-ing, my mothering, my home-schooling...because I just keep smearing those precious things with sin. But, yes, I am confident that His grace is sufficient to redeem all of this.

And I must trust that His grace is sufficient to redeem the children that, as a sinful and twisted woman, I am mothering with a fallen, broken heart.

Trust. Wait. Rest.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have been struggling recently with whether or not to continue with this blog. Several things have prompted this wrestling match with myself. School, baby-sitting, working at Wal-Mart, not keeping the house very clean, etc. - with so much on my plate, I have been absolutely exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's hard to write when you live in a dazed, gray fuzz. Have you ever read any great Zombie literature (as in, written by Zombies)? No, I didn't think so.

And my computer has been doing weird things lately, things I don't have the technical savvy to diagnose or treat. Seems I finally find a 30-minute window of time when I'm somewhat conscious and can think to write...and then it takes me 10 minutes to connect to the internet. Or my mouse isn't working. Or one of the kids needs the computer to download math homework. Or, whatever...the opportunity to write slips away, and I find myself frustrated for having even tried.

Perhaps my biggest discouragement stems from the comments of a close friend, that I'm "too heavy" here at the blog, that I need to lighten up. That I take things too seriously. That I'm just a little too weird and not much fun to be around. True, I'm no Shirley Temple, with bouncing curls and dimples and a toothpaste-commercial smile. And I'm not very good at making jokes. I explained that this blog is a place where I can work through some of the things I struggle with: doesn't it make sense, then, that it's more often heavy than light-hearted? My friend thought medication might be a better alternative to blogging. I've been mulling that over in my head for a couple of weeks.

But something peculiar has happened over the past few days. First, rather out of the blue, several people have emailed or called or come to me personally to say that something they've read here at the blog has encouraged them, and they've appreciated my writing about my faith struggles and my weaknesses. Not one person, or two, or three, or four, or five...but several. All within a span of only a few days. I'm learning that many people find themselves in some of the same valleys I've traversed, and that they are grateful to know someone else shares their struggles and griefs. Yes, someone else has been as confused or messed-up or weak-faithed or broken: They are not alone! And I am amazed and humbled that God has ministered to someone else in the body of Chirst, not in spite of my un-loveliness, but through my un-loveliness - my heavy-ness, my weirdness, my brokenness.

Second, I acquired and read a remarkable little book by Jena Morrow - Hollow: An Unpolished Tale. Jena Morrow has struggled with an eating disorder almost her entire life. Now in her mid-thirties, she remembers a moment when she was only 3 years old when she thought to herself, "I am fat." Sixteen years later, that first lie had grown into a monster that almost killed her, landing her in a residency program where she had to be monitored around the clock by medical staff.

Jena has an eating disorder. She is also a Christian. And writing from a unique perspective of faith, she shares her journey and her struggles - honestly, without any whitewash to clean up the filth and ugliness. She has learned to fight for life and for joy, even though she admits that she doesn't always win. The beauty of Jena's story is that it takes her - and her readers - back to the Cross. Back to Christ. Back to this amazing, faithful, beautiful, forever love that God has for His children, even the messed up ones.

Jena writes: I used to fear nothing more than giving up my eating disorder. I once thought that to grow in my faith and draw nearer to the heart of God, I would have to give it up first - 100 percent of it. After all, the disorder is sinful, and God hates sin. I used to weep over the passage in Psalms that says, "Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure" (Psalm24:3-4). I felt condemned, believing these verses meant I could not struggle with an eating disorder and still come into God's presence. But I have discovered that, on the contrary, the only way to come to God is as I am, dragging whatever mucky barnacles have attached themselves to me. Only by bringing my filth before God would I ever have hope of being washed clean.

She continues later, The eating disorder is not my identity, and it does not make me so ugly that God cannot bear to receive me. He can handle it. But He makes it clear that He does not want me to hold on to the disorder. He wants all of me...He is not concerned with what I can or cannot do, what I have or do not have. He wants my heart, my love, my devotion, and my trust. He wants me to let go of all that would keep me from embracing Him fully. "But I need this," I tell Him. "No," He says gently, firmly. "You need Me..."

The power of Jena's story, the power of her writing, is not that she gives you a problem-solved, happily-ever-after ending. The power of her writing lies in her honesty: "On a good day, life is beautiful. On a bad day, life is survivable. The trick is, simply, not to die." "Maybe the victory is in the living, and life is supposed to be messy sometimes - and that's okay." "...the plan is to keep on squeezing tightly to the hand of God..." Amazing how much hope and encouragement are packed into this "heavy" little book. Amazing how God is glorified in Jena's weakness.

I'm so thankful God gave Jena Morrow the courage and the motivation to write Hollow. If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, read this book. If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed by feelings of guilt or worthlessness, read this book. If you are a Christian who, like me, can't seem to go two days in a row without crashing or finding yourself mucking about in a slime pit, read this book. Why? Because it won't downplay your struggle or you situation; it won't tell you 10 steps to being "fixed"; it won't tell you to "just get over it" - but it will point you back to Jesus.

Meanwhile, I'll be blogging.