Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Hundreds of independent bookstores across the country will be hosting local authors on Small Business Saturday, November 29, thanks to a movement call Indies First.

In conjunction with Indies First, Braylee's Cottage & Zoo in Union City, Tennessee, is welcoming several local authors for a meet-and-greet from noon until 2:00 pm. Featured authors include:  Lisa Smartt (the Doug & Carlie series; The Smartt View); Merry Brown (the Exiled trilogy; the Four Families series); Kenny Luckett (Across the Pond; Story in the Shadows; Miles Across the Pond); and myself, Camille Kendall (Slow Sun Rising; Bethel Road).

Braylee's Cottage & Zoo is a specialized bookstore serving Obion County and the neighboring communities and is located at 228 South First Street in beautiful downtown Union City. Business hours the day of the event will be 11am-9pm, and the authors will be on hand from noon until 2:00.

If you plan to be out shopping in Obion County this Saturday, stop in to say "Hi!" and enjoy delicious refreshments while you support your local book store!

(To learn more about the authors and the books they have written, click HEREor visit the authors' personal websites by clicking on the names above.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In the past, I have addressed a few myths commonly believed about homeschooling, myths such as:

Homeschooling takes money out of the public schools - false.

Homeschoolers are naturally smarter than their public-school peers - wrong.

A parent must have a college degree to homeschool - nope.

Today, I want to look at a myth commonly believed by homeschoolers themselves. It goes something like this...

"If I homeschool my kids, they won't buy into the humanistic philosophy of today's culture."

"If we homeschool, our kids won't do drugs or have premarital sex."

"If I homeschool, my kids won't be the victims of bullying and they will not bully others."

"If I homeschool, my child will get a full scholarship to college, earn a degree, and have a fabulous career."

"If I homeschool, my kids will become mature, responsible, productive, godly adults."

In other words, we believe that if we homeschool, our kids will be protected from whatever horrible thing we want to save them from, that they will adopt our faith and worldview, and that they will become beautiful people living beautiful lives.

That is an awful lot to deliver.

Research indicates that, yes, homeschoolers generally are better educated, they perform better in college, and they end up with higher-paying jobs as adults than their public-schooled peers. Homeschoolers usually grow up to be more socially and morally conservative, and they also tend to be more religiously and politically active and more involved in their churches and communities.

But homeschooling is not a magic bullet that guarantees "happily ever after" to us and to our children.

I know godly, dedicated homeschool parents who have grieved to see a son trapped in drug addiction, a daughter running away to become a night-club dancer, or a child renouncing his faith as an adult. There is the young woman who moved in with her boyfriend, and the young man unable to find or keep steady employment.

We live in a fallen world where sin touches every single aspect of our lives. That is a reality that even homeschoolers must face.

So what are we to do?

First, for you homeschool parents out there who are also Christians, I encourage you to remember that it is Jesus - not homeschooling - who saves sinners. sinners such as us and our children. Remembering that Jesus is sufficient, able, and willing to save our kids should give us great hope, even as we witness them struggling with sin or disappointment in their adult lives.

Second, I exhort you to be persistent in prayer. I once heard faith defined as "a conscious dependence upon God" - and parenting, whether you homeschool or not, requires a lot of dependence upon God! The challenges we face as parents should keep us mindful of our need for God as we raise our children and should move us to continually seek Him in prayer.

Third, persevere. This calling - parenting, and homeschooling - is not easy, but it is a good work. Let us not tire of doing good, but rather let us press on with endurance, hope, and joy.

Monday, November 17, 2014


When my oldest child was just reaching the age of 36, I realized that zombies would invade the earth in exactly three days. I had to do something. But what?

* * * * *

This, folks, is what happens when my youngest discovers that I have left the blog up unattended.

This morning, my own brain is rather like the snowy landscape outside my kitchen window - smooth, white, blank. I don't think there is a single coherent thought or interesting idea rattling around in my skull. Not one.

So, I asked Helen, "What would be a good idea for a blog post?" When I came back from switching the laundry over to the dryer, I found the above "prompt" waiting to stimulate my creative juices.

Helen is supposed to be working on chemistry. She is doodling on the banjo instead. Seems we are both having difficulty staying on task.

So, with banjo music echoing in my otherwise empty cranium, I am going to simply share some of the fun "leaves" on our family Thankful Tree. Can you guess who in my family is thankful for:...?

romantic, moonlit walks
my math genes
groovy music
my beautiful twin
good preaching
cumulonimbus clouds
(the fundamental theorem of calculus, which I am not even going to try to type out)
my amazing husband
fried food
wild parties

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"I would like one egg."

"How would you like that cooked?"

"Fried, over easy."

"What else?"

"Nothing else. Just one egg."


"No, thank you."

"We have really good raisin toast."

"Just one egg, please."

"Just one egg?"

"Yes, thank you."

"One egg." The waitress cocked her head to the side and smiled. "Alrighty, then, just one egg!"

I admit it. I'm at it again. Once again, trying to whittle away a little bit of my middle. (That sounds like something Dr. Seuss would say, no?)

Very early this morning before exercise class, I ate a toasted bagel, topped with crunchy peanut butter. I LOVE crunchy peanut butter...can eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. Yum.

When I met my friend for coffee at the Huddle House later this morning, I really intended to just order coffee. But, after a vigorous step workout, my toasted bagel was ancient history and I was feeling quite hungry. So, I ordered an egg.

Just one egg.

Initially, the waitress looked at me like she was confused. I don't think she'd ever had an order for just one egg. When she headed toward the grill behind the serving counter, she laughed and called out to the cook, "I have an order here for just one egg!"

We Americans eat so much food. Absolutely, I could have put down two eggs, bacon, and a stack of pancakes. I've done it before.

That's why my boobs sit right on top of my belly roll.

Which sits right on top of my thighs.

Just like one of those colorful ring-stacking toys for babies.

Red - my head. Orange - boobs. Yellow - belly. Green - thighs.
Well, you get the idea....

All of this to say, I have some power tools in my toolbox this go 'round:

Power tool Number 1 - I now know for a fact that it is possible to eat smaller portions, even in a breakfast diner where the air is thick with the intoxicating incense of waffles and pancake syrup. If I get hungry again later, I can eat another small portion. Makes much more sense than "tanking up" ahead of time, on the off-chance that I might get hungry later. Which I will. So my strategy is eat a little now of whatever I want, and then eat a little bit more later when I get hungry - instead of eat a lot now, and then a little more later when I get hungry. I'll let you know how it goes...

Power tool Number 2:  The awesome support of the ladies at ADBC Fitness, particularly Caroline and Melissa, who challenge me to work harder and to make healthy choices, one small change at a time.

Power tool Number 3:  A cool free on-line program called MyFitnessPal. I know from personal experience that I will not keep a food journal, or count calories, or eliminate carbs, or give up Helen's amazing brownies, or drink aloe-avocado-green tea smoothies. It's just not going to happen. MyFitnessPal lets me set goals, and then helps me see how my food choices and daily exercise contribute to reaching those goals. (MyFitnessPal even helps folks who want to gain weight, which I think is totally awesome.)

So, here's to not giving up, to failing and then trying again, to eternal-springing hope...

Anyone else up for a game of ring toss?!

Monday, November 10, 2014

THE FOUR P'S (Groom, Part 3)

Over at Carmel Conversations, Noel posted in "Praying Friday" that she prays for her sons that, in their marriages, they will be the Four P's - Priest, Prophet, Protector, Provider.

Priest - praying over their homes and seeking God on behalf of their families.

Prophet - talking to their families on God's behalf, and teaching them the word of God.

Protector - gatekeepers, watching over who/what comes into the home.

Provider - doing what it takes to put food on the table.

Young groom, I think you can glean much from Noel's earnest prayers for her sons. And, concision NOT being my strong point, your own mother (who also prays for her sons) wants to add...

Priest - Pray for and with your wife (and future children) every day. Your prayers do not have to be long or eloquent, but they should be consistent and sincere. I can't tell you how much it will bless the heart of your wife - and how much it will contribute to her sense of union/oneness within your marriage - for her to hear you, her husband, lifting her name to the throne of God.

Prophet - Read Scripture together with your wife every day. Don't make this complicated, or you'll end up not doing it - read a chapter a day, or even a few verses. As the head of your new household, you initiate this, making it a priority to develop a family habit of looking at God's word together daily. Also, talk with your wife about what you are reading and learning on your own, and about what she is reading and learning in her personal study.

Protector - Endeavor to be a vigilant gatekeeper, watching over who/what comes into your home. This is more than just getting a handgun carry permit and packing heat. This is protecting your family mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well as physically. What do you allow into the home - when you put that movie into the DVD-player? When you click on that internet link? When you talk about the pastor's Sunday-morning sermon? When you relate conversations from the office? Be mindful of your wife's conscience and protect it. Do you know her particular frailties and do you endeavor to gently strengthen her in those areas - or do you run roughshod over her and tell her she needs to just "toughen up"? Be her protector.

Provider - Do what it takes to put food on the table and shoes on the feet. This may mean working multiple jobs. It may mean passing up that once-in-a-lifetime deal on a new deer rifle or skipping this year's fishing trip with the guys. It will definitely mean working hard, planning ahead, budgeting, delaying gratification, and dying to self.

Priest, Prophet, Protector, Provider. It's a big calling.

In fact, I can guarantee that it is bigger than your ability to fulfill.

Thankfully, you have an Elder Brother who does all of these things excellently, who is exactly the type of husband you should strive to be. He is very gracious, and He is eager and able to help you in this journey - to strengthen you when you are weak, to cover you when you fail, to pick you up and push you forward when your endurance wanes, to carry you when your strength is completely spent.

Young groom, learn quickly to lean hard on Him.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Yes, I admit I am SUPER EXCITED about participating in W. G. Rhea Public Library's annual Cornucopia of Talent this year!

I met Connie McSwain, the Director of W. G. Rhea Public Library, at a book review club meeting several months ago. Do you believe in love at first sight? Connie is one of those enthusiastic, lively people with an infectious joy for living - spend a few minutes with her and your day is certain to be made brighter!

I don't know who else is on the program for the afternoon, but knowing Connie, this is going to be a wonderfully fun event. I hope you can join us Saturday, November 8th, from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the library. W.G. Rhea Public Library is located at 400 W. Washington Street in beautiful Paris, TN. I will be there along with several other area authors, to interact with visitors and to hopefully sell a few books. (A book by a local author - signed with a personal inscription - sounds like a GREAT Christmas gift!)

Books, good company, delicious food...come to Paris!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ADIOS, LONE RANGER (Groom, Part 2)

Yesterday, we looked at how the woman was created as a help "meet" for the man. Today, I want to explore the implications of that idea further.

Dear Groom,
There is no room in marriage for a Lone Ranger mentality.
Your Mother

Some men - perhaps because of that same skewed Greek philosophy I mentioned yesterday - seem to think that as the man/husband/head of the household, they are responsible for making every decision and facing every difficulty on their own, independently of their wives. They do not seek input from their wives, and resent input when it is volunteered. They perceive suggestions and opinions different from their own as challenges to their authority.

Big things (like career changes, relocations, major purchases) and little things (children's bedtimes, entertainment, home decorating) - these men feel it is their responsibility to make all decisions without consulting their wives, and it is their wives' responsibility to act on those decisions without commenting or asking questions.

Such men are, as the old saying goes, "shooting [themselves] in the foot."

God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." (Genesis1:18)

I think we can safely conclude from this short passage that:
1.) It was not good for man to be alone.
2.) God created a helper for the man.
3.) The helper which God created - the woman - was fit for/suitable for the man.

The husband who asserts that he does not need his wife and who does not seek her help is basically saying:
1.) I am fine on my own.
2.) I do not need a helper.
3.) I am perfectly capable of doing everything myself.
...all of which sounds very contrary to to what we've just read in Genesis.

Some husbands think of the wife as a "helper" strictly in terms of someone who cleans the bathroom, keeps the laundry caught up, and takes the dog out to pee. Yes, these are valuable services - take a minute to find out just how much you'd have to pay an employee to perform all the household services normally done by your wife! But the term ezer communicates an idea of help which is much larger and more potent.

Ezer help is more than valet service. It's the intensely personal, vigorous, sometimes uncomfortable help of someone involved in Kingdom work, work that is physical, mental, and spiritual.

When you play Lone Ranger, you not only "shoot yourself in the foot" - you also squelch your wife's ability to express her God-given helper design, and you run the danger of crippling her spiritually and emotionally. Play the Lone Ranger in your marriage long enough, and you may very well end up finding yourself alone.

So, young groom, today I want to exhort you to not only recognize your wife's helper design, but to fully appreciate and utilize the gifts, skills, and insight that God has given her.

Setting family goals, making major decisions (career, moves, etc.), planning a budget, parenting - all of these should be done in dialogue with your wife, not independently of your wife.

Yes, you are the head of your young family. And if you are a wise head, you will value the suitable help of your wife. Do not waste the good gift that God has given you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

HELPMEET (Groom, Part 1)

(The first of several letters to the new groom...)

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. - Genesis 2:18, ESV

The King James Version calls the woman "an help meet" for the man. Other Scripture translations refer to this helper as "suitable," "corresponding to," and "complementary to."

A couple of things in this short verse stand out to me - 

"...the LORD God said" - I am not just reading someone's opinion in this verse, but I am encountering the very words of God.

"It is not good..." - God says that it is not good for the man to be alone. Up until this point in the creation narrative, God closes each creative act with the grand benediction, "It was good." But here, we seem to have hit a snag. God pauses in His creative action and pronounces, "It is not good..." Only after God has created the woman and presented her to her husband do we read that "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (Gen. 1:31)

"I will make him a helper..." - The word for "helper" used here - ezer - is the same word that God uses when He refers to Himself as the helper of his people (See Psalm 10:14, 33:20, 72:12-14, and 86:17). Take a few minutes to wrap your brain around that.

 Ezer is not a diminutive term. It does not imply that the woman is some how less than man (that is Greek philosophy, not biblical doctrine), either in value or, as an image-bearer of God, in glory. Rather, ezer refers to a strong one who comes alongside. Erase the image of June Cleaver from your brain, and consider instead Deborah (Judges 4 - 5), who rode out alongside Barak to meet and defeat Sisera.

"...a helper fit for him" - I'm going to be honest with you, young groom: there will come a time when you look at the beautiful young woman standing next to you and you think, "This is not what I signed up for! This woman is going to drive me crazy!" Maybe she has opinions that you don't agree with. Maybe you are baffled by her emotional makeup. Marriage may start feeling more like a tug-of-war than like two who are "equally yoked" and pulling together in the same direction.

Those are the times you most need to remember that God created this woman especially "fit" for/suitable for/corresponding to you. She is an extraordinary gift from God: a helper meet.

God didn't give you this woman to make your life easy-breezy and exciting (although she may do that to an extent). He didn't give you this woman to help you chase your pet rainbows (although she may help you do that, too). God gave you this woman so that together you can reflect something of His image to a fallen world. God gave you this woman to stand alongside you as you journey together toward greater holiness and a deeper knowledge of your Creator.

God created her especially "fit" for that job. He did not make her different (physically, emotionally, etc.) to exasperate you, but to teach you something about himself. It is exactly at the point of difference that you have the most to learn, and the most to gain.

"Helpmeet" - Reuben Kendall
18"x24"/acrylic on canvas
(To purchase, click HERE for info.)

Monday, November 3, 2014


After a riotous weekend - and a noisy, overflowing house - I am sitting at my computer in an empty, silent kitchen. The house is not completely empty. The Chicken is here with me, but she has not yet ventured out of her nest and down the stairs.

Today is going to be Recovery Day.

At my house, when we clean up in preparation for a party, we basically take the piles of junk that are stacked all over the house and shove them into closets and drawers and other secret places like the top of the fridge. Books we're reading, mail that needs to be responded to, notebooks for a research project I'm working on, boxes of books I need to sell, newspapers we're saving to put on the garden, car parts, fishing tackle,...it's all stuff we use, but stuff I'd rather not have lying all over everywhere when the house is filled to bursting with company.

So today, I'm going to have something like a giant Easter egg hunt as I try to remember all the places we've stashed stuff so that I can return everything to its usual place. So that we don't forget to respond to the mail, or to finish that research project, etc.

It's like hitting the junk pile re-set button.

Maybe - just maybe - a few of the piles will disappear completely. Remain lost forever. Never make it back to the light of day.

A gal can dream, can't she?