Monday, December 22, 2014


I read this in Habakkuk last week:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places." - Habakkuk 3:17-19a

Which made me think of these words from Job:  "Though he [God] slay me, I will hope in him" (Job 13:15a).

Which was echoed in this excerpt from Carolyn Custis James's book, When Life and Beliefs Collide:

"God's plan isn't defined by happy endings; neither is it about getting answers to all of our questions...God's plan for Job, as for all of us, went much deeper than material blessings or divine explanations. In the furnace of affliction, God was revealing himself to his child. Through the eyes of suffering, Job saw more of God than he would ever see through the eyes of prosperity...By the end of his life, Job's theology had taken a quantum leap. God had gotten bigger, and his relationship with God had been reinforced with deeper truth.

"It is a startling truth that God doesn't work around our troubles; he works through them, orchestrating events to ensure that the outcome will benefit the souls of his children and draw us closer to himself...Sometimes we see God more clearly in the dark, when he has our undistracted attention and we struggle to know if the hand that rules the night is as good and powerful as the hand that rules the day."

I love Carolyn's synopsis of the book of Job:  "If we read carefully, the central issue in the story is not what Satan is doing but what God is doing...The book of Job drives home the point that God is the central figure behind even the tragic events in our lives. He is the one who is in charge and who holds us in his hands."

I don't know about you, but I often pursue God because I want the blessings I hope He will give me - peace, direction, purpose, meaning, hope, health, security, salvation for my children, etc. I frequently find that I desire these good things rather than/more than I desire to know and love God himself better.

But God doesn't promise that I will have all those things, all the time. And Scripture doesn't tell me that God will answer my questions of "Why?" or "How long?"

No, God promises me something infinitely better.


God, grow me until, regardless of my circumstances, I can truthfully proclaim with Habakkuk:  I will rejoice in the LORD!

Friday, December 19, 2014


Just over a month ago, I wrote about my renewed determination to do something about my stacking-ring physique. If you're curious, you can read that post HERE. When I first shared my intentions here at the blog, I thought, "Hmmm, I'll check back in after a month with an update, to see how this new strategy is working."

Well, December 12 came and went, and I did not post an update. I was preoccupied with welcoming my brand new granddaughter into the world!

But now, a week late, here is the update:

Drum roll...

Over the course of five weeks, I've lost 9 pounds, and the stacking rings have shrunk by a combined total of three inches. Yep, I'm pretty psyched!

I want to let y'all in on a few secrets I've learned...

I did not radically change my diet, just opted for smaller portions. Yes, I ate Helen's brownies, and Grammy's cornbread dressing (those five weeks included Thanksgiving weekend), and fried fish and onion rings at Boyette's.

I had "good" days, when I stuck to my smaller-portions strategy. I had "bad" days, when I became a human locust and mowed through more food than a teenage boy.

In the MyFitnessPal food diary for one particular evening, I recorded the following snacks: a bowl of Lay's potato chips, a bowl of ice cream, an apple, a bowl of Cheerios, two pieces of Dove dark chocolate... This was in addition to the substantial dinner I had just consumed. (Must've been the day before I started my period, huh?)

I'm sharing this because I want to encourage others who, like me, are struggling with maintaining a healthy weight. Guess what I've learned over the past five weeks? I don't have to, in the strictest sense of the word, be always on a diet. I don't have to ban carbs or desserts or greasy french fries. I don't have to feel like a failure because I ate my body weight in fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the family reunion. I overindulged last night - so what? Today is a new day, and today I can make healthier choices. Seeing the results of a few days of healthy choices has motivated me to make those healthy choices more consistently. And knowing that chocolate chip cookies are not on the taboo list has kept them from becoming a type of irresistible forbidden fruit.

So, what about exercise? I try to work out at the fitness studio in Troy four or five days a week. This is not CrossFit, people - it's a class of mostly middle-aged women, who have knee problems and back problems and balance problems. If I'm correct, all but three of the group are grandmas. I've learned that I don't have to do a Ninja workout to notice a difference in how I feel - I just need to do something, even if it's low-intensity - every day, if possible.

In the past five weeks, we've been through the Thanksgiving holidays. I missed several days at the studio, but I managed to take walks on the farm most (not all) of those days. I missed over a week of exercise at Caroline's when the baby came, but, again, I did get out for a few short walks in the fresh air. (Mind you, I was walking with an extremely pregnant daughter, so they were not power walks!)

Again, the point is, I've learned that I don't have to do something impossibly difficult or intense, just something that gets me moving.

What else have I learned?

Well, I've learned to not be discouraged by what I see in the mirror. I've lost nine pounds, but I still have a jelly roll around my belly and the waistband on my jeans is still snug. It would be tempting to think, "What's the point? This isn't making a difference!" But Caroline explained to me that we lose weight from the top down. You notice it first in your face and neck. Then in your arms and chest. Then in your middle.

Yes, I may still be lacking a waist, but the Octo-boob is in retreat. (You know, all those "extra" boobs that hang out the top and sides and back of your bra.) My neck is thinner, and a bra with only two cups is finally sufficient - I call that progress, folks, and I am encouraged!

I have learned the value of having a wonderful support team. Helen is my number one cheerleader, and Caroline is running close second. Neither of them nag or reprove me for occasionally pigging out or skipping exercise, but both consistently encourage me and celebrate every success. "Great workout this morning, Mom!" is SO much more motivating than, "You know, you really shouldn't eat that."

I've also learned that this is a slow process. Nine pounds in five weeks - that's less than two pounds a week, folks. You know those magazines in the check-out line at Wal-Mart, with covers that promise you can lose 20 pounds before Christmas, which is next week? Ummm, I don't think that is really possible, at least not without amputating a significant body part.

If the number on the bathroom scale doesn't change this week or next, that's not failure - that's a plateau. And with patience and perseverance, you can move past the plateau. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

I have learned a little bit about the importance of being honest with myself. That day when I personally cleaned out the kitchen pantry (nom, nom, nom)? When I sat down to fill in my food diary on MyFitnessPal that evening, I fudged the data. Yep. Pretty ridiculous. Two butter cookies...hmmm...well, they were actually both pretty small, so I'll just enter one. No one was going to see that entry but me, and I knew better. I was flat out lying to myself. What the heck was that about? I thought, as I corrected the entry. I decided that evening, whether my new strategy worked or not, I needed to at least be honest with myself.

Finally, I've learned that some of the people I most expected to care about and notice the changes I've made - haven't. Haven't noticed. Haven't cared. And that's okay. They are not the ones who have to cram their booties into my size 14 jeans or who have to walk around on my stiff knees. I am. And I have noticed a positive difference in how I feel and how my jeans fit, and that's enough for me.

Christmas is less than a week away. That means parties and food and missed exercise classes and lots of celebrating. I'll check back in after the holidays and let you know how the "One Egg" fitness plan is going!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


A couple of quotes by two of my favorite theologians:

"Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." - G.K. Chesterton

"Simply learning to be 'spiritual' will not heal anybody's soul. It simply helps numb them to the pain in their minds. Christianity is about the only one who can heal us; the only way to God:  Jesus. It is therefore the opposite of any worldly religious system of doing the right thing until God accepts you, and also the opposite of awakening you 'spiritual side' until you are at peace with yourself. Any gospel presentation that begins with learning to be okay with yourself without Jesus, and then offers Jesus as an optional religious study second, isn't the gospel...offering a a spiritual fix grounded in anything other than Jesus is the type of deception and soul-destruction that hell was made for." - R.W.K.

* * * * *

My first yoga instructor, Clara, would often shoot me disapproving looks in the mirror during the final relaxation portion of our practice/class. While we sprawled on the floor in the corpse pose, Clara would instruct the class in a sleepy, musical whisper to "Empty your minds. Feel yourself floating...drifting away to some favorite place or memory...Soften your brains..."

Back in those days, my brain seemed to always be pretty "soft." The thought of deliberately softening it even more...well, I could picture my brain turning into gray goo and dribbling out my ears onto the polished hardwood floor of the yoga studio.

So, Clara's exhortation to soften my brain usually made me snort or giggle, which, of course, broke the hypnotic tranquility of the atmosphere Clara was trying to create with our relaxation poses and her buttery smooth voice.

Thankfully, Clara never kicked me out of her studio. I guess she thought that maybe, over time, she'd reform me.

Some people think Christians should not do yoga. (Click HERE to see my thoughts about that.) I agree, in the strictest yogi sense of the word. Emptying one's mind may be a great way to step away from the concerns and stresses of the day, but, eventually, we all have to bring our minds back into the present and into reality.

I think of the relaxation part of yoga as a great yawn, an opening wide of the jaws of my mind in preparation for biting down firmly on solid truth and doctrine. The apostle Paul exhorts believers to continually engage our minds. Much sounder advice than Clara's instruction to float out of our bodies to our mystic happy places.

Today's post is prompted by this video clip that a friend sent me:

Yeah, I'm a little messed up, too. And releasing thoughts of that negative truth might make me feel temporarily better, freer, but it doesn't do me any lasting good. When I leave yoga class, the truth is: I'm still a little messed up. (A LOT messed up, actually.)

Thankfully, there is Jesus.

No, Clara, I am not going to empty my mind. I am going to endeavor to be continually filling my mind with Him.

Monday, December 8, 2014

AH, AH, AH....!

My college kids are taking the first of this semester's finals today. Long hours studying over the past weekend, more long hours of study in the days ahead. Friday evening, they will finally be able to put the textbooks away and enjoy a much-needed break from school work.

My youngest is psyching up for the ACT on Saturday. This will be the first time in her life that she has taken a standardized test. We've been practicing filling in bubbles and taking timed tests, so that Saturday morning won't feel so strange.

My second youngest and her husband are expecting their first baby ANY DAY. She's nesting:  keeping the pantry stocked, laundry caught up, chores checked off her to-do list, timing Braxton-Hicks. The Chicken and I, while we're chugging through math and science and practice ACT, we are waiting for a phone call. Bags packed, gas tank full, going through the day like we're living in the middle of an almost sneeze.

This, my friends, promises to be an exciting week at the Kendall house. Come Sunday, I think we're going to be due for one blowout of a party!

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Yesterday, a friend shared a link to a dialogue between Lecrae Moore, Voddie Baucham, Phillip Holmes, James White, and B.J. Thompson, addressing the situation in Ferguson, MO. I strongly recommend that when you have time, you go HERE and listen to the entire discussion.

What was my take-away from hearing these godly men share their thoughts on Ferguson, the gospel, the church, and culture? How am I a different person after sitting in on their conversation, different from the person I was yesterday morning?

First, I am challenged anew to earnestly pray for the church and for the effective proclamation of the gospel. Not just my local church, not just in my hometown, but across the nation - and especially in areas where people are greatly discouraged and hurting desperately.

Second, I am convicted of my lack of intentionality in pursuing meaningful relationships with people who are very different from me. Relationships that are more than surface acquaintances - relationships that are intimate, honest, concerned, and committed.

Change in this area is going to be hard for me. Out here in the middle of a hay field, I don't have very many opportunities to engage with people of any kind, whether they are like me or not. And my personality - I tend to be quiet, introspective, more comfortable hanging out in the shadows that form around the edges of social opportunities.

Yes, Pastor White, this is going to take intentionality. Work. Persistence. Prayer. I begin this day with no clear vision of just exactly how to go about this and with no small amount of trepidation. But I know that I have been passive too long, and that must change.

Third, I am tremendously blessed and encouraged by the thoughtful, biblical counsel of these men - Voddie Baucham, Lecrae, James White, B.J. Thompson - and I am thankful these brothers in Christ took the time to call this sister to task.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Today's post is in response to a recent comment by a young friend who seemed to think that if I and others like me (Christians) could get over our religious baggage - "throw away your Bibles" - and instead embrace the technology, progressiveness, and modernity of a country like Japan, then the world would be a much better place.

While I appreciate this young man's passion and his boldness in expressing his opinion, I am afraid that he has been looking at Japan through Thomas Kinkade eyes.

I have two family members who have planted their feet on Japanese soil. They wanted to see this amazing country for themselves and to get acquainted with the people. They have invested their hearts, time, prayers, and energy in the people of Japan.

What they saw and what they learned in Japan broke their hearts. By extension, my children's knowledge and experience have also broken my heart, and have created in me a burden for the people of Japan.

Japan is one of the richest nations in the world. The country has little poverty, low unemployment, healthcare for almost everyone, and 100% literacy. You're right, Daniel - Japan is a wonderful place.

Japan also has the second highest suicide rate in the industrialized world, in spite of the fact that it dispenses more anti-depressant medication than any other country in the world. Martha said that daily, commuter trains are delayed due to "technical difficulties" - a euphemism for "another person just committed suicide by throwing himself in front of the train, and we need a few minutes to clear the track."

This occurred so frequently that other passengers seemed to think nothing of it. Just a normal part of the daily commute.

Yes, Daniel, there is much that is very, very good about Japan. There is also much that is broken and dark and hurting.

So, no, Daniel, I am not going to throw away my Bible. Instead, I am going to open it and read about a good and sovereign God who loves the broken and hurting people of Japan - people who are so discouraged that throwing themselves in front of a high-speed train seems a better alternative to living one more day in such a "perfect" world - and I'm going to get on my knees before that God and plead for mercy, grace, and hope.

(For those who really would like to know more about Japan and about gospel work in Japan, click HERE to read more,  or you can watch a short video HERE.)

Monday, December 1, 2014


Different folks have different attitudes about marking in books.

Myself - I'm a book marker.

When I read a book - especially a nonfiction book - I usually do so with a pencil in hand. I underline favorite passages, make notes in the margins, and jot down questions that come to mind as I read. If I come across an unfamiliar word, I'll look up the definition and write that in the margin, too. Sometimes, I'll make a note of the date and particular circumstances in my life at the time.

Occasionally, something I read is particularly relevant to a problem or struggle I am currently facing. I make note of that, too. When I go back and reread a text a year or two later, it is interesting to see where I was then, and to consider where I am now.

At least one of my children has picked up the book marking habit. This turns the rather solitary act of quietly reading a book into a conversation that transcends time and place. For example, in G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy, my daughter occasionally commented on the notes I had written in the margin. Now, when I read through Orthodoxy again (a book every one of you should read at least once!), I encounter not only Mr. Chesterton's thoughts, but my own thoughts from the past and my daughter's thoughts as well.

I read my Bible with a pencil in hand, too. Reading through Scripture year after year, and documenting my life in a small way as I do, the Bible becomes my own story in a very real way.

Every time I read Psalm 91:15-16 - When he calls to me, I [God] will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation. - every time I read that passage, I see the note in the margin - 5-29-11/Melissa - and I thank God for bringing a sweet friend through a terrible illness and adding years to her life here on earth. Three and a half years ago, I read that passage with pleading and with tears in my eyes (Please, Lord!); today, I read it with joy and thanksgiving for God's mercy and goodness.

One of my children thinks that marking in any book - and especially the Bible - borders on sacrilege. I, on the other hand, think that books talk to us. Jotting down thoughts and notes in a book transforms a manuscript into a conversation between me and Mr. Chesterton or Mr. Lewis or my heavenly Father, and with the person who pulls a book off my shelf to read it after me.

Books and I - we've had so many lovely conversations!

How about you? Are you a book marker, too?