Tuesday, April 29, 2014


One of the less-than-pleasant aspects of this new season of life...

Physical &/or mental fatigue, fluctuating hormone levels, decreased hydration (oops! I forgot to drink my gallon of water!), changes in atmospheric pressure or humidity - when all the conditions are just right, "when Jupiter aligns with Mars" - one of those two-ton headaches sets in and drags me down like soggy boots on a long-distance swimmer.

I've been fighting this current skull cracker for almost a week. It's like a frontier squatter - moved in and set up house and just won't be ousted.

Thankfully, I'm not completely incapacitated this go-round. I can still cook dinner, fold laundry, make a grocery run. But every little thing seems to take so much effort. And maintaining a good attitude? A Herculean task.

This morning (Monday), I resolved to take no pain medication for the day. After a week of trying to turn down the volume on the pain-o-meter with various meds, my stomach was beginning to complain. It needed a break. So, my head is complaining and my stomach is complaining, and I really just want both of them to stop fussing and behave themselves!


On the up side:

Current storm systems will be moving out in a day or two - the weather forecast is calling for clear skies and sunshine by mid-week. I've rested today, a lot - easy to vegetate when your head feels like a turnip. Some major projects that required a great deal of mental and physical energy were checked off the To-Do list this past weekend.

I have been challenged, strengthened, and encouraged in my faith and in living out the practical implications of what I believe by a dear sister in Christ. The view out my kitchen window is fabulous - last night's thunderstorm and the accompanying deluge painted the landscape an even more intense shade of green. And Helen is quite content to take a day off school to let Mom be quiet and still and idle.

Malaise fading...

(I wrote this yesterday, Monday, and I am very happy to report this Tuesday morning that said headache is definitely on its way out. Yay!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Yesterday, Helen made her Math Lesson Countdown chart - 16 lessons to go! By mid-May, we'll be finished with Algebra I for good.

We missed a week of schoolwork in late February (wedding preparations) and then missed a few more days in March (retreat planning), so we will not finish school the first of May this year as in years past. Still, we're close enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Helen and I are both eager to plow through her remaining coursework. Summer break, here we come!

After tackling today's schoolwork, weather permitting, I hope to get outside and dig up some flowers to share with a friend. And clean out the chicken house. And weed the strawberry bed. And do a little Round-Up magic. And I need to terminate two good-looking roosters.

If I can get most of those things checked off, and finish preparations for this weekend's women's ministry workshop, and run a couple loads of laundry, and come up with a menu for dinner, then, if I'm not completely worn out and bleary-eyed, then...

I very badly want to get back to editing Book #2. Sigh.

While Helen is at piano camp this summer, I intend to indulge in a personal write-a-thon. Gonna park my broad backside at a coffee shop in Martin and type my stumpy little fingers off. Away from the clutter and To-Do's that jockey for attention here at home, it'll just be me, coffee on tap, and my laptop for eight hours a day. Well, with a break for lunch and a walk around the fitness trail. Maybe Moby Bologna will even make a reappearance!

But, in the words of Aragorn, "This is not that day."

So, back to the school books, and the weeding, and the chicken poo, and the pile of clothes in the laundry room floor...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014


(Names and details have been changed, to protect, ummm, someone!)

I have a friend named Gill. Gill and I serve on a committee that meets monthly to take care of very important business. We meet the third Wednesday of every month at 1:00 in the afternoon at a sandwich shop on the town square.

Except that we don't.

When Gill and I first accepted the responsibility of serving on this committee, we sat down together with our planners and we made a plan. We decided to meet each month on the same day, at the same time. We thought that by planning ahead, we would be able to work other things around our meeting time so that we could do our very important business.

Let me tell you how this works for me. On my calendars (the one on the kitchen wall and the one in my purse), I have written "Meeting with Gill, 1:00" on every single third Wednesday from January to December. When I make an appointment for a haircut, I look at the calendar - "Nope, can't make next Wednesday. How about Thursday morning?" When someone asks if I can help pack boxes for the school supply drive, I check the calendar - "Not Wednesday afternoon. Is there another time I can help?" When Sarah calls and invites me on a coffee date, I check the calendar - "Sorry, I already have a commitment on Wednesday."

Get the idea?

But Gill, he works differently. The Tuesday evening before the Wednesday we are supposed to meet, I get a text. "Meeting a buddy for a game of racquetball tomorrow. Need to reschedule." The Wednesday morning before the afternoon that we are supposed to meet, I get a call - "Hey, I forgot about our meeting today. I'm in St. Louis for a ballgame and won't be able to make it."

"I forgot." Turns out I actually could have scheduled that haircut appointment after all.

"I made other plans." And I could have helped at the school supply drive.

"We need to reschedule." And I could have met Sarah for coffee.


When Gill and I finally do get together and have our very important meeting - usually after multiple "reschedules" - I always end our meeting by pulling out my calendar. "Okay, Gill, our next meeting is supposed to be Wednesday, April 16th. Will that work for you? Or, is there a better time for you to meet?"

Gill pulls out his cell phone and checks his electronic calendar. "Wednesday, April 16th, looks great for me - I don't have anything planned," he answers. He taps away on his phone. "I've got it down on my calendar."

Except that he doesn't. And next month, we'll be going through this frustrating rigamarole all over again.

Now, after this rather tedious and lengthy rant, I want to tell you a story.

Long, long ago, when this gray-haired granny was a young college co-ed, she told a boy named Dan, "Sure, I'd love to go to the Conway Twitty concert with you next month."

My girlfriend Tina dated Dan's brother Sam. Tina and Sam were thick as thieves. Dan and I were just friends, not girlfriend/boyfriend, but we often accompanied Sam and Tina on their outings. Sam and Tina were going to the Conway Twitty concert. Dan wanted to go, too, but he didn't want to be a third wheel - so he invited me along.

I did not like Conway Twitty, but I did like Dan - and Tina and Sam - so I said "Yes" to Dan's invitation.

Almost as soon as the tickets were purchased, Sam and Tina broke up. Great. Now I'd be making a road trip to hear a geriatric rockabilly star, with Dan, my girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, and his brand new sweetie. Awkward!

The morning of the concert, I called my mom from college. "Mom, I really do not want to go to this concert."

"Of course you're going any way," Mom replied flatly.

"I have a sore throat. I think I'm coming down with something."

"Take some Tylenol."

I groaned into the phone.

"You told Dan you were going to the concert. So, by golly, you are going." Mom was completely unsympathetic. "Camille, when you tell someone that you're going to do something, you do it. You do not back out at the last minute and give lame excuses."

"Mom, this is going to be so AWKWARD!" I complained.

"Have a great time - enjoy the concert!" Click.

Yes, the double date was indeed a little awkward. But it was fun, too - not because of Conway Twitty, but because Dan was such a great guy.

And Mom was right. Bigger things were at stake that Friday than concert tickets and pizza. Things like integrity, reliability, and respect.

Now, back to my monthly meeting with Gill...

Gill, take a lesson from my Mom:  if you tell someone you are going to do something, do it. Don't back out at the last minute, giving a bunch of lame excuses.

Trust me, Gill - you'll be glad you honored your word.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Last Wednesday, I wrote a post listing 10 ways you could show your love for the church. (Read that post HERE.) Today, I want to add a few more things to the list...

11. Encourage. Tell your sisters and brothers when you see evidence of growth and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. When you notice a brother struggling, come alongside and speak truth and grace into his situation. Remind him of the gospel and of the sufficiency of Christ. Speak encouragement.

12. Connect. Don't run out of the building the second the benediction is given - take a few minutes to speak to the people around you. Are the men meeting Saturday morning to pray? Well, dude, make plans to be there! A new family visited your church this morning? Say Hello. Invite them to lunch. (Even if they decline your invitation, I assure you they will appreciate your having asked.) Sarah has a doctor's appointment Tuesday morning? Ask her if she'd like a ride or if she'd like just having someone to go along with her. One of the teenagers performing in a school band concert? Attend the performance! Take advantage of opportunities to connect with your brothers and sisters.

13. Be prepared. At Grace right now, Brother Billy is preaching through Romans on Sunday mornings. Currently, we're in Romans 10. When we finish Romans 10, we'll move on to Romans 11. Since we know the passage Bro. Billy will be preaching from, members can read the chapter before Sunday morning to prepare our minds for worship. Some churches list next week's hymns in this week's bulletin - take time during the week to look over and listen to the hymns so that you'll be ready to SING with gusto on Sunday morning!

14. Support your church financially. Give joyfully and generously from what the Lord has given you. Tithing is not old-fashioned, Old Testament stuff - rather, for Christians, tithing is, as Randy Alcorn puts it, the "training wheels" of our giving. Tithing is the starting place, where we learn the art of giving until we become fluent enough to give even more.

15. Serve. Some folks think "Christian ministry" means street evangelism, teaching Bible school, or spending summers on the mission field. But Christian ministry can be as simple and down-to-earth as weeding the flower beds or taking the trash out each week. Volunteer to serve in the church nursery, or sign-up to bring doughnuts and juice for the fellowship time between Sunday school and worship. Fold bulletins. Write notes welcoming new visitors. Greet people as they arrive for worship. As my boys would say, "get some skin in the game" - find a practical way that you can serve the local body of Christ.

16. Don't trash talk the Bride of Christ. This seems like a no-brainer, yet I am amazed at how often I hear people bad-mouthing their church, their preacher, their session, their music leader, etc. Imagine the reaction of a powerful, jealous king if someone in his court off-handedly made derogatory remarks about his queen. Well, there is just such a King, and He has a Queen whom He loves dearly...and this King hears every single word you speak. The church is Christ's Beloved. Yes, He knows her flaws - He died for them - but He doesn't look favorably on those who gossip about her or who attempt to smear her reputation.

These are some of my thoughts on ways to love your local church. What would you add to the list?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Back in December 2013, I wrote about the phenomenon in churches today of what I call the "terminal visitor" - someone who attends a church pretty regularly and affiliates themselves with a particular congregation, but who for one reason or another doesn't take the step of officially joining. While this person may enjoy the benefits of study and fellowship with a local body, he doesn't commit himself in a way that, as my boys would say, gets a little of his own "skin" in the game. Rather than viewing the church as the beloved bride of Christ, this person seems to regard his local church more as a live-in girlfriend. (You can read that post here:  Marry the Girl Already!)

Okay, today's post builds on that earlier post. Let's say you've taken the plunge - you jumped in and "married the girl"/joined your local church. Everything's good, right? Now, we can all just motor along like we have been all along.

We've all heard the story about the man who told his wife that he loved her on their wedding day, then said if anything changed he'd let her know. He was basically saying, "Don't expect me to tell you 'I love you' every day. Don't expect me to give you on-going displays of affection. I told you that I loved you once - don't expect me to do it again. Just trust that I meant what I said, and I'll let you know if anything changes."

We read that story and halfheartedly laugh. It's supposed to be funny. Be really, that story is just very, very sad. We feel sorry for the woman who has bound herself to a lazy, insensitive, apathetic husband. No I-love-you's, no romantic notes, no flowers or chocolates "just because" - whether this man is just stupid or completely selfish, we don't expect this marriage to last.

But that's exactly the kind of spouse most of us are content to be when it comes to our relationship with our local church. "I told you I loved you when I married you. If anything changes, I'll let you know." Then we motor along in our own little worlds, focusing own our own needs and plans and frustrations. We are completely self-absorbed, or just plain stupid, or both.

I Googled "10 ways to show your wife that you love her" - and I got over 553,000,000 results. Count those zeroes! That's over half a BILLION! Today, I'm going to create a different list. Here goes...

10 Ways to Show the Bride of Christ that You Love Her:

1. Go to church. Be there in the pew, on time, for Sunday morning worship. Every week. (How would your spouse feel if you just came home randomly - once this week, then maybe again next month - whenever it seemed convenient?)

2. If you can't go to church on Sunday because of sickness or some other circumstance beyond your control, touch base with your church family. Let them know you miss them and are thinking about them and that you are looking forward to being with them again soon.

3. If you have wiggly toddlers or if you're old and deaf as a rock, and you feel like going to church is a waste of time because you can't get anything out of the sermon - go to church. Trust me, those squirmy, whining toddlers, and that silver-headed lady on the back row who whispers like thunder in the middle of the sermon ("I REALLY LIKE THAT NECKTIE THE PREACHER'S WEARING TODAY!") - you are ALL a blessing to our fellowship.

4. When someone from your church says something that hurts your feelings or that offends you - go to church. Trust me, no one has been more offended or hurt by the sinful behavior of the people in your church than Jesus, yet He shows up every Sunday. Because He LOVES His bride.

5. When you have been the one who offended - the one who hurt another, or who "fell off the wagon" again into some besetting sin - go to church. You need to hear the gospel, to be reminded again of how much Jesus loves sinners. And you need to testify of that truth to your brothers and sisters, who are also struggling with sin.

Okay, I realize Numbers 1-5 sound a lot alike:  Go to church. Let's shift gears a little - what do you do when you get there?

6. Sing. Even if you don't think you have a particularly good voice. Even if you can't carry a tune in a bucket. When the music leader tells everyone to stand and turn to hymn #463, stand up and SING. Sing, and sing loudly!

7. Listen with a "Yes" face. When God's Word is read or preached from the pulpit, LISTEN. Pay attention. Listen like you are hearing the words of a love letter from God, written especially for you, read directly to you. You may not understand every word, but every word is precious.

8. Pray. Pray for the people in your congregation. Pray for your elders and deacons, for your pastor, for the men and women who teach Sunday school. When the congregation prays corporately during worship, pray together with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

9. Touch somebody. A hug, a handshake, a kiss - demonstrate affection for Christ's beloved. The church is not just a spiritual body, it is a physical body - and the physical body needs physical affection.

10. Say "Thank You." The church is Jesus's precious Bride, his beloved, the apple of his eye. He has invited you to know her and love her. Say "Thank you" to Jesus for the incredible privilege of entering into relationship with those whom he loves.

Two final admonitions:

One:  Do not scorn the one Jesus calls precious - do not neglect the Bride that Jesus himself embraces.

Two:  Go to church!

Friday, April 4, 2014


What are your plans for the weekend?

Saturday, April 5th, Troy is hosting its first Ladies' Day on the Square from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The event will showcase businesses owned and operated by women in the Troy community. A few of the activities planned for the day include a fashion show, a fitness demo, refreshments, and sales booths. Door prizes will be given away every half hour. Come out and join us for a fun day on the square!

(For more information and a detailed schedule of the day's activities, click HERE.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


"Nature's first green is..."


Is there any sight more lovely to winter-weary eyes than early wheat sprouting in the fields? When everything else is still dull brown, last year's faded gray, the winter wheat comes along and paints this field and that impossibly, eye-popping emerald.

Then, as if inspired by the boldness of the wheat - such shocking green! - the jewel weed fairies sneak out at night and paint the yet unplanted fields purple. Purple?! Outrageous.

It rained again last night. The rain looked clear, splashing in my hand, but it must in reality have been some kind of magical, multicolored paint. This morning, the maples are swelling pink. The forsythia, terrestrial sunbursts tethered here and there against the humble grass's shyer green.

The Greening - makes me feel like a kid on Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


After almost ten years back in Obion County, I am finally getting out and exploring the neighborhood. With only one student at home, I find I occasionally have free time, and I seem to have a bit more energy these days, too. All that said, I am discovering amazing people and places right here in the hills of Northwest Tennessee.

Beginning today, I am going to write a post every now and then to tell you a little about my hometown. If you're from Obion County, go check out these people and places. If you're not from Obion County, I hope you enjoy a snapshot of life in the country!

Today's snapshot:  OutsideIN

LeEllen Smith didn't want to witness ministry from the side-lines - she wanted to find a way that she could jump in herself and meaningfully serve others in her community. OutsideIN, located on the north side of the town square in Troy, Tennessee, was born from that desire.

LeEllen explains, "The mission of OutsideIN is to repurpose materials which were thought to be useless in an effort to reinvent lives that were thought to be hopeless." OutsideIN employs women who, because of past addictions, incarceration, or lack of education, have found it difficult to get or keep a job. Through job training, education, and mentoring, LeEllen and the other volunteers at OutsideIN encourage these women to use their God-given talents to do productive, meaningful work and to develop the confidence to move forward to better jobs and more stable lives.

The shop at OutsideIN takes donated T-shirts and refashions them into a variety of products, including fun and funky maxi-skirts, hi-lo skirts, and sundresses. These are sold at the shop and are also marketed through other outlets.

LeEllen's daughter Micah helps sort donated T-shirts.
Bryleigh and Susan modeling maxi T-skirts.
Micah modeling a reverse-dye hi-lo skirt.

These garments are so fun - and comfortable! - that I've purchased one to wear to my next book signing. Looks like just the kind of funky skirt a writer would wear, don't you think?

Helen wearing an OutsideIN BlessDress.
LeEllen also wants to share the privilege of ministry with the ladies who work at OutsideIN. For every garment that is sold to a paying customer, a second garment - a BlessDress - is donated to an orphanage in Zambia, Africa, with which OutsideIN has partnered. Through the "Wear One, Share One" program, the ladies at OutsideIN are able to experience the blessing of ministering to others through their work and service.

Now that I've introduced you to OutsideIN, maybe you're wondering how you can learn more about OutsideIN or how you can be part of this ministry. You can check out their website HERE. Or their FaceBook page HERE. Or you can email LeEllen at leellen@wearoneshareone.org or call her at 731-446-8326.

How can you help the wonderful ladies at OutsideIN? If you're spring cleaning, OutsideIN can use good-condition T-shirts, and they are also in great need of more sewing machines. Do you have a friend or relative who owns a boutique? LeEllen is always looking for more outlets for OutsideIN products. You can also help by simply spreading the word - share this blog post or OutsideIN's FaceBook page or website with your friends.

Next time you're in Troy, stop by and pick out a fun new skirt or dress to add to your spring wardrobe!

(Photos used by permission, from OutsideIN's Facebook page.)