Thursday, January 31, 2013


When feeding the horses one day last week, Martha noticed that June Bug favored her right forefoot slightly.  "Nate, June Bug looks like she's limping a little.  You need to check her foot out."

But Nate is in class most days from 8:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening.  Often, he's on campus even later studying.  Leaves the house not long after daylight and almost always returns after dark.  Hard to find a horse back on the farm after dark, much less check her hooves.

Friday morning, June Bug hobble toward the barn when I was out feeding the chickens.  No longer "favoring" one foot, she was limping badly.  It was painful to watch her walk.  When Nate came in that afternoon, I told him, "Nate, you need to check on June Bug.  Make sure you find a way to make that happen this weekend."

Nate was out waaaay before sunrise Saturday morning, duck hunting.  Then helping a friend with a home-improvement project.  Then checking traps.

Sunday afternoon when Martha and I pulled into the driveway after church, we spotted June Bug back behind the red barn, lying down in the field.  Now, Little John - aka Fatty Lumpkin - flops down on the ground all the time to snooze and soak up the sunshine.  Occasionally, Tulip will even lie down for a nap.  Although I have seen June Bug lie down and roll around to scratch her back, I don't think I've ever seen her just lie down flat and motionless.  Yes, I was worried.

Nate had driven from church to a friend's house, so there was no telling when he'd be home.  Martha helped me haul in the dishes from the church dinner.  "I'll change and run check on June Bug," she said.

I called Nate.  "Your horse is down in the field.  You need to get home and find out what the problem is." In horse speak "back in the field" means "out there on the farm grazing somewhere."  "Down in the field" means "We have a problem."

To relieve your suspense:  June Bug was up walking around by the time Martha reached her.  No, she was not down, in the scary sense of the word.  But she was still limping very badly.

Nate came home and checked June Bug's hooves.  Found the problem.  He walked into the kitchen with a wood splinter, not much bigger than a toothpick.  "I think this is all it was."  The splinter hadn't punctured June Bug's frog, but had wedged in the groove next to it.  Each time she put weight on that hoof, the frog pressed against the small sliver of wood, causing her frog to bruise and grow increasingly tender.

Yep, that tiny sliver of wood was the problem.  June Bug is walking around this morning without a hint of a limp.

All this to say.....(You knew I was coming to it!)

A very small thing, a relatively harmless thing - something like a sharp comeback or a sarcastic response or a belittling comment or a piece of miscommunication - can so easily grow into a very big problem.  In fact, the pain and injury that result from unresolved "small things" can become crippling.

Yes, I realize how ironic it must sound for those words to come from the Queen of Not Dealing With Things.  But hey, I'm learning.

A couple of things hit me from this lame-horse episode.  First, if you are the person responsible for something - or some one - you have a responsibility to be aware of "small things" that could lead to big problems.  A responsibility to be engaged, to keep your eyes open, to ask questions, to be frequently checking things out to see if all is well.  In a relationship, maybe that looks like: "You seem quiet today.  Is every thing okay?  Have I said or done anything to upset you?"  Or maybe it looks like:  "I'd really like to know what's been on your mind lately.  Let's go out for coffee and talk."  That responsibility does not look like:  "I'll just wait and see if she gets over it."  Or, "It's his problem - let him deal with it."  Or, "I'm just too busy to deal with this stuff right now."  Or, "I'm tired and have problems of my own" - as if that justifies sharp words or a bad attitude.

Being engaged, being vigilant, taking the initiative - sounds like very hard work to me.

The second thing that hit me was:  How sad that June Bug had to suffer several days, when the splinter could have been easily removed early on.  June Bug is fine now and probably doesn't think at all about how sore she was last week.  But people - and hearts - are not so resilient.  I've learned from experience that when small things are left unaddressed, a heart grows calloused.  A barb is left to fester, then acknowledged only after it grows into a major problem - yes, there is perhaps some kind of healing and resolution doing things this way, but there is also a lot of scar tissue.  To touch a once-injured spot in the heart no longer causes pain, because, like scar tissue, that spot no longer feels anything at all.

To wind this post up:  Nate, check on your horse more often.

Husbands, own the responsibility of loving your wives.

Mothers, own the responsibility of nurturing your children.

Sisters and brothers, own the responsibility of loving the Church.

And let us give thanks to God for his Son, Jesus - that we have a Great Physician who heals all our wounds, even the very small ones.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Martha stood looking intently out the living room window.  Suddenly, she burst out laughing.  "Guys! Come look at this!"

A tiny calf - maybe two weeks old - was charging around in circles on the hillside behind Granddaddy Kendall's red barn.  Tail held high and black fur glistening, he frolicked this way and that, lowering his head as he kicked up his heels.

Why was this so funny?  Well, the little fellow was very earnestly chasing blackbirds.  Seemed he had made it his personal job to keep the pasture free of the winged critters.  He would lower his head and charge at a cluster of the birds.  They would hop into the air just as he reached them, at the very last possible second, then flutter in the air a bit before settling back onto the hillside.  Undaunted, the frisky calf would lower his head and charge again.

Yes, it did look rather silly, and we couldn't help smiling at the calf's playful antics.  But to him, this was obviously serious business.

Which got me to thinking...

Play is the work of children.  I remember reading in a child-development textbook many years ago, "Little stones are for little children to gather into little piles."  Children - indeed, all young things, even calves and kittens - have serious business to tend to: it's called Play.

In our current sad age, we often think that, are often told by "the experts" that small children need to be busy doing other, more serious things.  Like watching Baby Einstein. (Don't do it, Mom! Don't plug in that DVD!)  Or memorizing word flashcards when they're three, "to get a jump start on school."  (Don't do it, Mom!  Don't buy those flashcards!)  Or practicing sitting still on a "thinking mat," like they won't get enough practice sitting still when they are too soon sentenced to 6-8 hours a day in a classroom.

No, small children should not be doing the work of adults.  They should not be clocking in at 7:45 in the morning and pulling an 8-hour shift.  They have more important work to do.

Stacking little stones into piles.  Chasing birds.  Digging tunnels in the dirt under the porch.  Making squash babies and mud pies.  Running, climbing, yelling, singing - enjoying and learning from the delight of being so very much alive in this big, wonderful world.

Mom, do you really want to give your baby a head start, a good foundation?

Put away the LeapFrog and the educational DVD's and the flash cards.

Do something far better for your child.  Go outside and play. 

Friday, January 25, 2013


I was walking back from the chicken house one morning when I spied our cat playing with some unfortunate critter in the driveway.  Kitty batting mice around before she makes a meal of them is not an unusual sight, but, even though I know it's "just what cats do," it always makes me wince.

This particular morning, I stopped to see what Kitty was playing with.  A chipmunk.  It wasn't really hurt - yet - just kind of dazed and confused.  Kitty sat calmly by while the chipmunk hopped about on the gravel.  If she thought her prey was getting too far out of range, Kitty would pounce on it, gently pick it up, and return it to the middle of the driveway where it was less likely to make an escape into the grass.

There are a lot of cute little critters in this world, and chipmunks are one of the cutest.  Apparently, chipmunks are also very tasty - we frequently find tails, teeth, and other odd remains on the doorstep.  But this morning, I'd caught Kitty in the middle of her sport and I did not want to witness a chipmunk execution.

"KITTY!"  I hollered at the cat and quickened my pace.  Kitty made eye contact with me, and quickly assessed that I intended to put an end to her fun.  She stepped closer to the stunned rodent.  "Kitty, you stop right there!"  Yeah, right - like anyone can tell a cat what to do and the cat actually obey!  Kitty took another step toward the confused chipmunk.  When I started jogging, Kitty knew I meant business.  She froze mid-stride, less than a foot from her "toy."

I reached the cat and scooped her up into my arms.  Now Kitty was the one who looked confused.  Why had I just ruined her game?  We headed for the house.  I was determined that Kitty would spend the morning inside, just to make sure the chipmunk had plenty of time to escape.  When I looked back from the porch, the little fellow was already hopping through the grass toward the tree line.  Yes, this chipmunk would live to face Kitty another day.

All this to say...

Have you ever felt like that chipmunk?  Like you were in the teeth of something terrible?  Have you felt like a helpless victim of your circumstances?  The object of some great malevolent intent?  Like life was making sport of you?

Me, too.

I read something interesting recently.  "Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?  For thus says the LORD: 'Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.  I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.  Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.'" - Isaiah 49:24-26

Isaiah was speaking the words of God, encouraging the nation Israel.  Israel was in captivity and in hard bondage to a pagan nation.  Their plight was terrible and there seemed no hope of escape.  They truly were "the prey of the mighty."  Who could free them from the strong jaws and sharp teeth of their oppression?

Yes, the king of Babylon was truly mighty, but there was (is) someone bigger than that powerful earthly king.  God, He is The Mighty One.  The footnote in my Bible for verse 26 reads: "Isaiah reveals the vindication of the people of God.  God Himself will fight for His people and redeem them from all adversary."

Back in Isaiah's day, even the king of Babylon was under God's sovereign authority.  Maybe Israel felt like they would never escape from his iron teeth.  They had no hope of relief.  But then God, The Mighty One, told their oppressor to put them down, to let the captives go.  And that's just what he did.

What's biting you today?  What in your life seems so big that you feel like you'll never beat it, never be free?  God knows your struggles, and He is using them to teach you about Himself and to sanctify you.  He will not let your trials consume you.

Persevere, and have hope.  God is not far off.  God is close at hand and is watching.  When He has accomplished His good purposes for you in this trial, you can be confident that the Mighty One will command the "tyrant" that presently afflicts you to cease.  God redeems captives, rescues the prey.  He is our LORD and Savior, our Redeemer.  He is the Mighty One of Jacob.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is a repost that came to mind this morning as Steve and I were having our ritual "How did you sleep last night?" conversation.  Seems that after 50, a full night of sound sleep becomes a dream, only a memory.  Dancing makes your hips and knees hurt.  Spicy food and caffeine are a no-no late in the day.  Your metabolism drops to zero.  Pajamas are a necessity, not an accessory.  It's vitally important to always know where the bathrooms are located.  And... 

(originally posted May 7, 2010) understand the meaning of the term compression garment. Your underwear is a practical application of NASA technology, and, in size, is not unlike a spaceshuttle landing field. climb out of the recliner after working the daily crossword in the newspaper, and, hearing a clatter, begin looking to see if you've dropped your glasses or your pen. Oh, yeah, I forgot....that's just my joints cracking.

...your kids have ever laughed at you for simultaneously wearing two pairs of glasses - one on your face, and a forgotten pair on top of your head. have discovered that, at large gatherings, everyone in the room sounds like the adults in a Peanuts cartoon. "Wah, wuh-wa-wah..." You're seriously considering taking a class in lip reading. hesitate at the top of stairs, trying to decide between the danger-induced thrill of walking down normally or the safety of taking the steps sideways, one at a time. Step, close. Step, close. Step, close.

...the Classic Rock station plays all the tunes you loved in high school. Where do they get off calling those songs "oldies"?

...your son asks if he can spend Saturday helping a friend round up cows, and you answer by telling him the menu for tonight's supper. "What?" "Oh, you weren't asking about dinner, were you. I misunderstood. What did you ask?"

...your hour-glass figure has transformed into something more like a Ripley's-Believe-It-or-Not version of a sweet potato. Yep, you finally got some curves...they're all just six inches lower and much bigger around than they're supposed to be. think making the bed, showering, and getting dressed in the morning qualifies as an aerobic workout. drop something on the floor, and, after a pause, you decide to leave it there. You'll pick it up later, after you've dropped three or four other things. That way, bending over will be more worth the effort.

...even when you're wearing your reading glasses, your arms are not long enough to allow you to read the buttons on the TV remote. the morning, you reach for the Raisin Bran or the Meusli instead of the Lucky Charms or Cap'n Crunch. And you absolutely MUST have that morning cup of coffee. For health reasons. bedtime, you frequently find yourself debating whether to take two ibuprofen - or - drink a glass of wine - or - just go straight for the Lunesta.

...a good night's sleep means you stayed in bed until the alarm went off (not that you slept the whole time), except for the two times you got up to use the bathroom and the time you got up to change nightgowns after a nuclear hot flash. Hello, menopause!

...instead of doing things for your kids so that they won't hurt themselves, your kids now do things for you so that you won't hurt yourself.

...removing your brassiere is a cost-effective alternative to having surgery for a face lift. Here is the dilemma: Do you lose twenty pounds in pursuit of your youthful figure, only to find you now look like one of those raisins at the bottom of the box? - or - Do you keep the extra weight, sacrificing your fanny for your face, so that you look a little younger above the shoulders?'ve ever thought that you have probably already lived at least half of your life. You've paddled your canoe to the middle of the lake. From here on, no matter what life throws at you, you're paddling toward shore. It's all home from here!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It was Sunday morning and I stood at the door to the church nursery, trying to peel my toddler off my leg so that I could make a quick escape.

This particular morning from nearly 20 years ago sticks in my mind for one reason:  I was also dropping off another child, the same age as mine, who was staying with my family for a week.  My child - who had been in this same nursery several times before and who was familiar with the staff and who always ended up having fun playing with the other children - my child clung to me, reluctant to leave and join the other kids.  But the other toddler - who had never been to our church before and who knew no one there - he marched right into the room without looking back.

I felt terrible.  Why couldn't my kid make the hand-off as easy as this other little boy?  I began apologizing to the nursery staff.

One of the nursery workers, a pediatric nurse by profession, interrupted my embarrassed apology.  "Your child is only showing proper emotional attachment, and that's a good thing.  He knows who his momma is, and he doesn't want to leave you.  Buddy, on the other hand, is so used to being cared for by so many different people that he goes with equal ease to any adult."  She turned from Buddy and helped peel my son off my leg, continuing to comfort me over his loud protests.  "Don't ever apologize because your kids know who their mother is."

Oh.  I'd never thought of it that way.

That incidence comes to mind because, in the past week, I've seen pictures on Facebook of several different little babies (3-4 months old) holding their own bottles and feeding themselves.  Pictures with captions like, "So proud of my baby!  Drank the whole bottle all by himself!"

Now, while I can definitely understand a young mother's elation at finally being able to feed and quiet a fussy baby without having to tie up the mom's time and hands for 20 minutes, I found those pictures disquieting.  Why?  Because I remember when my babies were little, and we'd be at family gatherings, and I'd be sitting in the front living room nursing a baby while all around me on the floor - propped up in bouncy seats or on pillows - other little babies were sucking away at bottles with no one holding them.  The first child I fed with a bottle was Number 4, and by then I had learned that, yes, no matter how busy I was and how much I didn't want to be interrupted, it was indeed possible to stop what I was doing long enough to sit down, hold the baby, and feed him a bottle.  Not one of my babies ever drank a bottle on their own.  They DID learn to drink out of sippy cups without assistance - but by then, they were also sitting in a highchair at the table, gathered with the rest of the family.

I think it is interesting that God has hard-wired humans so that the natural means of feeding a baby involves physical closeness, eye contact, and, almost always, verbal communication as the mother soothes and bonds with her baby through the "conversation" of coos and lullabies.  (As opposed, say, to cows or kangaroos, where nursing does not involve eye contact or conversation.)  If a baby is bottle fed instead of breast fed, I think the feeding experience should pattern as closely as possible that of nursing.  No, it is not something to celebrate when a tiny baby can lie in a playpen alone and drink his fill without the warm touch and soft voice of his mother.  That is just very, very sad.

It's almost like God knew we would be busy, that we would want just a few more minutes to finish folding the laundry or cooking dinner.  He tied the milk jugs to us with skin, so that we couldn't detach them and leave them with the baby in the crib.  He put them in just the right place so that our babies would see our faces and hear our voices.

We are so quick to think of bottles and boobs as all about food.  Our design seems to indicate that God thinks the milk source is more about nurturing, about knowing who we are, about knowing whose we are.

Friday, January 18, 2013

CHAMELEON defines "chameleon" as:
1 :any of a family (Chamaeleontidae) of chiefly arboreal Old World lizards with prehensile tail, independently movable eyeballs, and unusual ability to change the color of the skin
2 a: a person given to often expedient or facile change in ideas or character
   b: one that is subject to quick or frequent change especially in appearance

My name is Camille. I've been called a lot of things over my lifetime, including nicknames like The Hurricane, Cami, Camilly, and, yes, Chameleon. The Hurricane? That's a reference to Hurricane Camille, the BIG one that hit in 1969, killing 259 people and causing over 1.42 billion dollars in damage. Not a particularly fitting nickname, given that I have a rather phlegmatic personality. Cami? That sounds like some type of women's underwear. Camilly? Maybe what you would call a baby; can come across as a little demeaning.
Chameleon? Now that's a nickname that makes sense. While I don't have independently movable eyeballs, I am prone to change to match the environment. What do you want me to do for you today? Who do you need me to be?
Sometimes, this tendency is a good thing. It helps me connect and relate to other people, helps me smooth over an offense or a tense situation.
Sometimes, this tendency is a bad thing. It becomes a method for avoiding difficult issues. You hurt my feelings? No problem - I just become a rock. I don't need to confront you about your hurtful behavior or myself about my sinful attitudes. Nope, I just blend into the gray. You want me to be happy and fun today, even though I'm grieving over a broken relationship? Sure thing. I'll put on a smile and try to blend in with the sunshine. You want me to feel sorry for you because you're reaping the consequences of blatant disobedience to God? I won't agree with you that God is unkind or unfair, but neither will I call you out for blaming God and wallowing in self-pity. Throw all the muck you want, and I'll just blend in with the mud.
But something is changing.  Maybe it's this whole mid-life thing of figuring out who I am - not who I used to be, not who I wish I were, but who I really am, right now. And not only figuring out who I am, but finding out that I'm okay with that, that I don't have to define myself in terms of how other people see me or how they react to me or what opinions they have of me. It's like finding out what color I really am underneath, and then choosing more and more to be that color on the outside.
If you're orange, and you're used me being orange whenever I'm around you, I have some news that may be a little unsettling. Don't panic - I think we'll find a way to work this out. The color isn't orange: it's...

Thursday, January 17, 2013


The general philosophy of cleaning around here seems to be:  Neaten the piles.  Piles on the kitchen counters, piles on the bookshelves, piles on the washing machine and dryer, piles under the beds, piles against the walls, piles in the closets.  Cleaning the house equates to shrinking, reorganizing, and straightening the piles, but definitely NOT eliminating them!

Way back in my younger days, I was a Neaty.  You know, one of those people who keeps their closets organized and who polishes their bathroom faucets every day.  Yes, in my deepest, most secret heart of hearts, I love counter tops that are (gasp!) empty - except for maybe a small vase of flowers or a bowl of fruit.  I like to put my feet up on the ottoman without having to first relocate all the books, papers, and sweaters that collect there.  I like to actually be able to see the baseboards.  I like to be able to open a closet door without flinching and throwing up an arm in self-defense.

Truth be told, many of the piles around the house are mine.  The stack of books I'm reading for various writing projects.  The egg cartons I'm saving for when egg production bumps up in the summer.  Lesson plans and school-related paperwork.  Yes, I am no longer the extreme Neaty I once was.

I soothe my frustrated inner Neaty by telling myself that one day (One Day - hahaha!) I will get around to cleaning out the closets.  One day, somewhere far in the future, I will empty the attic.  One day, I will clean out jackets and sweaters that no one uses.  I will reorganize the filing cabinet, so that I can actually put some of these loose papers away.

But today is not that day.  For now, I'd really just like to get the floors swept and mopped before Saturday's Ladies' Brunch.  That will be no small feat, because first, the floors have to be excavated.

Notice to my children:  I'll be recruiting you for heavy labor this evening and tomorrow.  Hard hats and boots optional. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


After a month off during Christmas break, I am trying to get back into the swimming routine.  Before the holidays, I was up to a strong, steady mile.  I had even upped my forward crawl to ten straight laps.  When I finally got back in the pool last week, twenty laps seemed a reasonable goal.  But even though I swam slowly, I was whupped when I finally climbed out of the water!

We still haven't quite figured out the commute/car pool schedule for spring semester, but it looks like I will probably be able to manage a swim most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Awesome!  Today, however, I will not be swimming.  We batted around a couple of plans over breakfast, and, due to the weather and a class cancellation, I decided to stay home.  Not an easy decision to make, because I really want to swim...and because I know how easy it is to not do the right thing, and then to slip in a habit of continually not doing the right thing.

Since I could not exercise at the pool today, I sat down at the computer and chomped through a package of pop-tarts instead.  In my book, Pop-tarts are the equivalent of low-class cookies, not even really a food product.  I had already eaten breakfast:  I was not hungry.  Honestly, I ate the Pop-tarts without even thinking.  Then, when I brushed away the last crumbs, I wondered stupidly, "Now, why did I do that?"

Which brings me to the reason for this post.  Why is it that doing a good thing, the right thing, is so difficult, while doing a foolish or silly or bad thing is so very easy?  To swim laps, I have to argue with myself, grit my teeth, push myself out the door - even though I like swimming.  But to eat a bland, sugary Pop-tart, something I don't even really like?  I can do that without a thought.

To read my Bible this morning, I have to set the alarm.  I have to brew a pot of coffee, and turn off the phone and the computer.  But to blow 30 minutes on Facebook?  Happens in the blink of an eye, before I even realize that I've burned the chili I was cooking for dinner.

Why is it so easy to watch a movie with my mind in neutral, and come away with nothing more than, "That was a fun flick" - instead of engaging and critically considering the underlying message, the worldview promoted?  Why is it that I can sing every word to a blasphemous country song, but remember so few lines from the truly great hymns?

Yeah, I know why - because I am fallen, sinful, broken.  My natural tendency is toward sin and compromise with the flesh.  Total depravity - not as bad as I could be, but bad in every part.  Corrupt in every fiber.

I hear there are some folks who deny the doctrine of total depravity.  Obviously, they're a few Pop-tarts short of a full box.   

Monday, January 14, 2013


Here is a difficult thing -

If the Bible truly is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God - which it is - then it is of utmost importance that I read it.  Reading the Bible, I come face-to-face with the holy, terrible, just, loving, merciful God of the universe.  I am confronted with my own sinfulness, and my great need for the great Savior, Jesus.  And then, I find myself faced with a dilemma: do I respond with obedience or with rebellion?

God clearly communicates in His Word that He hates adultery, lust, and lasciviousness.  Suddenly, clicking on the flashing internet link is about much more than indulging my carnal inclinations.  Now, it's about what I truly believe concerning the God of Scripture:  is He God or is He not?  Sleeping with my boyfriend - no big deal, right?  Everyone's doing it, right?  Except that now, sleeping with my boyfriend is a brazen, defiant declaration that God is not God and His Word is not true.

My overly-critical comments about a fellow church member, my eagerness to be in on the latest gossip, my tight-fisted protection of "my" assets and my reluctance to give freely to the church and to those in need, my disparagement of those in authority over me...all demonstrate a heart in rebellion to the authority of God.  Even while professing to be a Christian, I stamp my foot like a petulant child and insist upon doing things my way, in blatant disobedience to my Creator.

Yes, I need a VERY great Savior!

Encountering the truth of God's Word, I must be broken and reshaped.  I cannot continue nonchalantly on the same sinful, rebellious path.  Either my life, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, must be conformed more and more to the Word of God - or - if I have any scrap of integrity, I must admit that I do not believe in this God at all and that I am no child of His.

I must read the words that God has written to me.  And I must change, be changed as I encounter His truth.

But I am so comfortable with my old sinful thoughts and patterns of behavior!  They are so familiar!

Ahh, but I am no longer my own.

In redemption, Christ was not given to me so that I might use Him to my benefit, to assuage my guilt or to increase my comfort or to secure my future.  No, in redemption, God has given me to Christ, to be used for His purposes and for His glory.

Everything....everything has changed.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Sunshine after a week of gray dreariness - is there anything lovelier?  Makes me want to pull on a pair of rubber boots, venture out into the mud, and savor a bit of golden glory.

I met a friend earlier this week for coffee... a dose of an even better kind of sunshine.  We were intending to talk about writing, and we did.  But we also talked about motherhood and kids (Can two moms spend time together without talking about kids?), about relationships, about goals.  And somehow, we talked about Jesus.  Whenever I'm with this friend, Jesus always comes into the conversation.  In fact, He keeps coming up over and over.

Sitting there talking about life and struggles and dreams, with Jesus popping up all over our conversation, it felt like a warm sun rising in my heart.  If you had walked in and said, "Jesus is coming right now!  Let's go meet Him!" - I think my friend and I would have both replied enthusiastically, "Let's go!  Let's go meet Jesus right now!"

But Jesus did not walk into the coffee shop that morning, and He has not since then beckoned either of us to join Him in Glory.  My friend and I continue to walk this earth, where sunshine is lovely and where clouds sometimes blanket the sky from horizon to horizon.  Still, that taste of sunshine in the coffee shop refreshed me, made me want to pull on my boots, get out in the world, and chase the light.

Spread a little sunshine today.  Share the light.  Talk to someone you meet about Jesus.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The seed catalogs have begun arriving.  They are definitely designed to make a person drool - filled with colorful pictures of gorgeous heirloom flowers and ginormous, perfectly-formed vegetables.  Exotic blooms for the yard, and drought-resistant, pest-resistant cultivars for the food plot.

It's the dead of winter.  I see only cold, gray sogginess outside my kitchen window.  But the seed companies know that spring is already stirring, in the chilly muck and in my mind.

The sweet-breath-of-spring is blooming now.  I pick a few blossoms every day when I go out to tend the chickens.  Keep them in a tiny bottle on the window ledge above the kitchen sink.  The fragrance is amazing, potent and sweet, promising that despite the cold and gray, yes, spring will be here soon.

The days are noticeably longer.  It was not yet fully dark when I closed up the hen house at 5:00 yesterday evening.

Here we are less than two weeks into January, and I want to go poke around in the dirt.  My grandmother used to say, "Everyone needs a little dirt to scratch in."  This is the same grandmother who grew peach trees from pits, who enjoyed fresh tomatoes until Thanksgiving, who considered Bermuda grass an insidious enemy.

Is it because we are all children of Adam and Eve, because our race was created to tend a garden?  This yearning to be out in the dirt, tilling and planting and tending, while it is yet too cold and gray...this itch to scratch the ground, when we must waitwaitwait longer still for feels like homesickness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


"I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at the first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond.  One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke.  Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light.  But they do not call it goodness.  They do not call it anything.  They are not thinking of it.  They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes." -  C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


2013 promises to be a good year for the Kendall family.  A busy year.  A year of great and exciting changes.

I wake up kind of slowly, and I usually begin the morning lying very still in bed, with my eyes closed, praying about and thinking through the business of the day ahead.  But a few mornings ago, I woke up on the brink of a panic attack.  What was on my mind this particular morning, causing the adrenaline to begin pumping before my feet even hit the floor?

Preparation for a new study with the Women in the Church.  Working out details for our little church's first-ever women's retreat.  A new series of articles for the weekly Soli Deo Gloria column.  Spring semester; paying for college classes, and figuring out our "bus schedule" for the commuters; lesson plans for the home crowd; upcoming graduation for two high-school seniors.  A new grandbaby - only four more weeks!!!  Kids going every which way - one applying for out-of-town work during summer break between classes; two applying for internships on the other side of the world; one thinking seriously about boot camp... The list was long and full of good things - but so many "big" things that my head was spinning!

I tend to be a fearful person.  Prone to anxiousness.  Although I've loosened up a lot over the years, the transition from being In Control to daily dancing the limbo has not been easy.  Yes, I sometimes find myself tightening up.  Stiffening fearfully, like someone bracing herself in anticipation of a cold, hard wave crashing against the seashore.

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of regularly reading the Bible.  Now, if I truly believe that the Bible is God's written Word - His holy, inerrant, infallible, living Word to me - then reading it will be a very high priority.  Furthermore, if I truly believe that the Bible is indeed the word of the Lord and Creator of all things, then I will take it very seriously.  My thinking and my behavior, exposed to the living Word of God, will of necessity be radically challenged and transformed.

When I read that God - who created me and who has the power of life and death over me - hates adultery, I can no longer be comfortable sleeping with my boyfriend or chatting with my girlfriends about some Hollywood hunk's great packaging.  When I read that God created man in His image - so that even the nastiest, basest human in some way communicates something of the glory of the Creator - I can no longer dismiss or belittle people who look or smell different from me, or who speak another language, or who worship differently, or who offend me with their political views.

Likewise, when I read in Scripture - over and over and over, from Genesis to Revelation - that God is sovereign, that He is good, that He loves, redeems, preserves, and sanctifies me, then I can no longer nurse and coddle my anxious thoughts.

I am so thankful that God wrote down in Scripture how very much He loves me, that He reminds me often that He is sovereign over every detail of my life, that He proves repeatedly that He is good and that I can trust Him.  I am glad He wrote all this down where I can read it every single day - because I need to be reminded, every single day, lest I forget and grow fearful.

"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

Thank you, Lord, for Your written Word.  Thank you for the new life that is mine in Christ.  Help me, Lord, to live what I believe.  I believe; help my unbelief!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


With a brand new calendar hanging on the wall, I'm guessing that some of you have resolved to read through the Bible this year.  I'm currently half-way through a two-year reading plan.  Whether you read the Bible in one year or in two or three, the important thing is to READ your Bible.  If you haven't read the entire Bible, why not get started today?

About mid-February, the writing group at Grace is going to begin a new series of articles on understanding Scripture.  In preparation for this new series, one of the books we are reading is R.C. Sproul's Knowing Scripture.  If you're nervous about digging into Scripture, I recommend this little book - it will encourage you and give you some wise, practical guidelines to help make the most of your time in God's Word.

Early in his book, Dr. Sproul mentions two common reasons Christians are not more diligent in their study of God's Word.  One, we believe the lie that only super-educated, professionally-trained theologians can read and understand Scripture.  Thus, we leave the business of studying Scripture to the "experts" and trust them to tell us what God says.

In a history lesson years ago with my young children, we learned that the expression "hocus pocus" actually comes from the Latin mass.  Roman Catholic priests, you see, recited the mass in Latin, which most lay people did not understand.  Hoc est meum corpum ("This is my body")  - the "magic" words the priest spoke to turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ - was shortened by the lay folk into hocus pocus and became a general formula for performing other "magic" tricks.  It was all strange and mystical and beyond the ability of the average church member to truly understand.

Maybe that sounds silly to you today - but I, too, have been guilty of buying into the "hocus pocus" lie.  For a long time, I simply would not read the book of Revelation.  Why?  I had somewhere picked up the idea that it was so complicated and mysterious that I could not possibly understand anything in it without the tutelage of an expert.  Just recently, I read an advertisement for a seminar in my area, announcing that an end-times expert was going to be in town for a week to unravel the knotty mysteries of Revelation and explain exactly what God was telling us.

No, I did not attend that seminar.  Thankfully, several years ago a pastor challenged me with these words:  "Read your Bible, Camille.  This is not rocket science.  Just read it.  You'll be amazed at how much you'll understand."  And so I began reading.  Started in Genesis and read straight through to the end.  I have to admit that I felt a bit nervous when I turned to the first page of Revelation, but I plowed ahead anyway.  You know what I found?  No helicopters or army tanks or any of that nonsense - No, instead I found beautiful encouragement.  A reminder that God is sovereign over all the affairs of men, from the beginning to the very end; that God loves and preserves His people, the church; that Christ is beautiful and powerful and sufficient.  In short, I discovered that God was saying in the book of Revelation very much what He had begun saying way back in Genesis.  Same God, same message, and no "hocus pocus."  It made me sad that I had waited so long to read this beautiful book of the Bible.

Did I understand everything I read that first time through the Bible?  Absolutely not.  Will I ever understand it all?  Not in this life.  But you know what?  I understood a lot, and I learned even more.  God desires to make Himself known to His people, and He has chosen to reveal Himself through the written word - through Scripture.  He initiates communication, and He knows how to communicate effectively to those He has created.  He doesn't write to us in some unintelligible gobble-di-gook that can only be untangled by professors and magicians.

I'm not saying here that there is no value in sitting under the instruction of trained theologians.  Indeed, God appoints teaching elders for that specific purpose - to teach and feed and grow the flock.  What I am saying is that not being an expert is no excuse for not reading your Bible.  The Bible is the very word of God, and these words are your life!  Read your Bible!

The second reason Dr. Sproul gives for our negligence of Scripture is laziness.  Ever since the fall, every aspect of our work in this life has become toil...and we hate toil.  Why is it so much easier to read Amy Tan or Nicholas Sparks or William Shakespeare than to read what God has written?  Because we are sinners, and we are hostile to God.  The world is full of thistles and thorns, distractions and obstacles to our fruitful study of God's Word.

Well, if the bottom line is simply that I'm hostile to God and that I refuse to study His Word due to my own rebellion or laziness, what's to be done?  First, admit the truth:  "God, I just don't find Your Word interesting.  I have other things I'd rather do with my time.  When it comes to reading Scripture, yes, I am lazy."  Acknowledge the truth...then, repent and ask God to give you a hunger for the Bible.  That's a prayer that you know He will answer, because He wants to speak to you through His Word.

The sovereign God of creation wants to tell you how much He loves you.  He has written you a letter.  Go read it.  Even if you don't understand rocket science.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Out with the old, and in with the new...

How did you kick off the New Year?

Me - I was sacked out with a stomach bug, a seemingly inevitable "benefit" of large family gatherings.  I thought my friend Clorox had helped Mom escape the bug, but then dark rumblings began deep within the caves of Mount Doom.  The evil was spreading.

Thankfully, the darkness passed quickly.  (That was a pun, but you wouldn't know, would you, unless you'd been here?)  The gurgling and burbles subsided.  I missed a couple of opportunities to enjoy fellowship with friends over the holiday, but, no, I didn't miss out on ALL the fun...

Here are a few snapshots from January 1, 2013, at the Kendall house:

Card games around the kitchen table in the afternoon.

Beautiful young women and a couple of good-looking young men camped out in front of the fireplace, lazily talking about life and family and school and holiday adventures.

A crowded table at dinner time.

A very giggly bunch of young ladies working on dance steps in the living room, with Tom providing rhythm on an electric guitar.  The girls had to plug in a CD when Tom left... go swimming in the pond with The Brothers.  How did this become an annual tradition - this craziness of jumping in the pond on New Year's Day?  They headed out into the dark armed with flashlights, towels, and coveralls.  We could hear their shouts and screams all the way back up at the house, when they hit the water.

So Helen started making hot chocolate, to help the guys knock the chill off.

Popcorn, home brew (can you say Homeschool science experiment?), and the Lord of the Rings.  Snuggled up with Steve on the loveseat, in front of a toasty fire.

Quite an excellent start to the new year, I think.  No more tummy rumbles, and I'm ready to start on that to-do list this morning.

Nate came downstairs to breakfast this morning, chuckling, "The pond is iced over!"

How awesome is that?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


First day of a New Year!  Fresh start.  New resolve.  Refurbishment.  This year, I WILL...


Lose weight?  Visit Ireland?  Run a marathon?  Take a wine-tasting class?

Often, when we think of what we would like to accomplish in a new year, we imagine doing something life-altering, exciting, important.  A big challenge.  A worthy goal.

I was talking to a friend recently, about how so much that is most important in a family happens in such small, quiet ways.  It's not intense, soul-baring conversations at the evening table - it's just being together at the dinner table, evening after evening, talking about old books and new movies and strange dreams and funny memories.  It's not that I affirm you or you affirm me, speaking polished, practiced words - it's that we say "Hello" each morning over coffee; I follow you to the door with "Call me when you get there"; we begin the evening with, "How was your day?"

Back when I began this parenting adventure, I used to listen to a popular radio show directed at parents.  This was a time when myriads of parents were desperate to assuage their parental consciences for the hectic schedules that defined modern family life.  The expression "quality time" became a popular balm:  so-called experts assured stressed-out, over-extended parents that it didn't matter if they spent so little time with their children, so long as the time they did spend with them was quality time.  "Quality over quantity."  The kids spent all day in daycare, or at school, and then there were ballet lessons, a quick meal at the drive-thru, ball practice, homework, bath time, off to bed...  Don't worry, the experts assured parents, the kids would be fine as long as Mom and Dad made pancakes with the family on Saturday morning, being sure to engage in serious, probing conversations about values, self-image, bullies at school, teen stress, premarital sex.

Sounds almost good...except that it's a load of crock.  Parenting - family - is not about "quality time."  It's about time.  A child is not a patient in need of a one-hour session with Mom-the-Therapist every Friday afternoon at 4:30.  It's not "Okay, times ticking, honey - what's on your mind this week?"  It's "What did you learn in History today?" - "Listen to what Grandma wrote in her letter..." - and - "Come help me fold this laundry."  It's weeding the garden together.  It's staying up late three nights in a row one week in December to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it's a Pride and Prejudice marathon in February, year after year after year.  It's roasting marshmallows in the fireplace and reading Calvin and Hobbes cartoons out loud together on the couch, because there really is nothing else more pressing or exciting on the schedule.

I don't know exactly what happens, or how, or why.  But I do know that something huge and mysterious, something foundational to the soul of an individual and to the soul of a family, happens in the small, quiet moments we spend together.  And I know we need lots of those small, quiet moments to be healthy.

The same thing seems to be true of the church.  Some people approach church with the "quality-time-not-quantity-time" mentality mentioned above.  We think we should be able to check in for an emotionally-charged, spiritually-focused hour once a week, and expect God to do great things in us and among us.  It doesn't matter if we don't have time for God or His Word or His people during the week - as long as the music is great on Sunday morning and the sermon is relevant to my life issues and I feel like I walk away having "touched Jesus."  Check in - BAM, God does something amazing! - check out.  And when no BAM! happens on Sunday morning, we think nothing has happened at all.

Which is another load of crock.  Spiritual family is not about getting together for an emotional high once a week.  It's about sitting together regularly, listening to God's Word read and taught, even though this week I just don't seem to be getting the point of the message.  It's about praying day-in-&-day-out for the elders and deacons.  It's listening to Sarah ramble on again in Sunday school, because she needs to talk.  It's about loving a whole bunch of messy, often tedious people...because Jesus loves them.  Jesus loves them; He thinks they're beautiful; and He knows I need to - He even commands me to - spend time with them.  Not "quality" time.  Time.

So, are you making any New Year's resolutions?  Do you want to do something really BIG this year?  Something amazing?

Can I make a few suggestions?

Eat dinner with your children every night.  Drink coffee in the morning with the college kids.  Read A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh out loud as a family.  Push the living room furniture back and swing dance with your boys, Mom, and with your girls, Dad.  Don't send the kids out to mow and weed-eat the yard - go out there and do it with them.  Pray for your elders.  Sing all the hymns on Sunday morning (yes, even if you can't carry a tune in a bucket).  Call Sarah this week and ask her how she's doing.  Listen to the sermon, even if you don't understand all the big words.  Tell God "Thank you!" for the family He has given you.

2013:  This is going to be a great year to do something Big!