What a difference a year makes! It's been a year since "Sally Johnson" poured Jesus all over me. Looking back at this post reminds me of how very horrible I felt a year ago, how very wonderful life is on this side of that dark, exhausting valley. Sally prayed some very specific things for me that weekend in April 2012, and it is amazing how God has answered those prayers.
On my little chalkboard in the kitchen is written this question: "What is the opportunity?" Sally challenged me a year ago with these words: "I pray that when you encounter obstacles, God will give you the grace to pause and ask yourself, 'What is the opportunity here?' I pray that instead of obstacles, you will see the opportunities God is providing you."
"What is the opportunity?" That one question has been slowly and consistently revolutionizing my world. (I feel another blog post coming on!)
Thank you, again, Sally Johnson! GRACE, REST - originally posted 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.
Wish You Were Here: Letters From the Foot of the Cross
It is difficult to imagine that someone with an ideal family, a Ninja body, and a six-digit income can relate to my messy life in the middle of a hay field: my pants are too tight, my marriage is stressed, and my closets are a disaster.
But the truth is, life is messy...whether you look like you have your act together or not. If you are struggling in the trenches of life with muck up to your eyeballs, then you and I have something in common. Welcome!
This collection of "letters" explores the practical implications of the gospel for the nitty-gritty business of everyday life. Join me on a journey to discover strength for the day, encouragement to persevere, and flashes of joy to brighten the way.