Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I am currently reading Glennon Melton's memoir, Carry On, Warrior:  The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. Glennon is all about telling the truth as she sees it, living honestly with herself, endeavoring to match her "outside" self to her "inside" self.

Three pages into the book, she writes:

"Then, one day I was at the playground with a new friend from church named Tess. I suspected that Tess was having trouble in her marriage. We hadn't talked about this, though, because we were too busy talking about more important things, like soccer practice and highlights. I felt frustrated that our conversation never went deeper. We seemed incapable of discussing the very things that were most important to discuss.

"Lost in my frustration, I started thinking about all the time and effort I'd spent building protective layers between my broken heart and the broken world. I considered the ways I'd distanced myself from other people - people who might hurt me more than I was already hurting. People who might be disgusted if they saw the real me. My fear of really being seen had driven me to hide inside the bunker of addiction for decades. When I finally crawled out, I pulled on my secrets and shame like armor and carried my invulnerability like a weapon. Life, to me, had always seemed like a battle to survive. But there at the playground, I realized that surviving wasn't enough anymore. Sitting there with Tess, I realized I wasn't really sitting there with Tess at all. There were so many layers of my armor and her armor between us that we couldn't touch each other. And even if we'd wanted to, we couldn't have gotten close enough because we were shooting each other with stories about our 'perfect' lives.

"Suddenly, this all seemed completely ridiculous."

Glennon decided then to put down her armor, put down her weapons, and, in her words, "walk out onto the battlefield of life naked." She started telling the truth - about herself, her family, her marriage, her life in this broken, messed up, "brutiful" world.

A few of my thoughts as I read Carry On, Warrior:

First, Glennon is a wonderful writer and story teller. I disagree with much of her theology/philosophy, but I appreciate her candor. I appreciate the fact that she is willing to say - yes, life is hard, and sometimes it doesn't make sense - without having to try to explain why bad is not so bad and painful is not so painful. Yet, she writes about difficult realities with a definite spice of joy and humor. The chapter about the time she wore a new padded yoga top to the gym, with the tags still on it, will make you snort coffee out your nose and is worth the cost of the book. "Easter," the chapter in which she shares a painful letter to her husband about the lack of intimacy and the frustration she feels concerning their crumbling marriage, should be required reading for every man on the planet.

Second, I think Glennon must have an extremely brave family. In the dedication at the front of the book, Glennon tells how her mother came to her and confessed how painful and confusing it was for her to read Glennon's stories, how scary it was for her (Glennon's mother) to have these stories shared with friends and strangers. And yet, her mother tearfully encouraged Glennon:  "I am so proud of you. I am in awe of what you and God have done together. You have to tell your stories. This is what you were meant to do. Don't stop telling your stories, Honey." That is one brave Mama.

The courage of Glennon's family - her parents, her husband, her children, her friends - astounds me, because inevitably, Glennon's truth-telling about the mess in her own life means exposing the truth about some of the mess in theirs. And yet the stories are told from Glennon's perspective, her point-of-view/experience:  Tish and Bubba and Craig are not the writers, and they don't get to interject their sides of the stories into Glennon's manuscript. I am completely awed by the love and courage demonstrated by the people closest to Glennon as they encourage her in her resolve to walk "naked" onto the battlefield of life, because this means that they, too, must at times stand naked beside her. They love her and value her work enough that they are willing to do just exactly that, as painful and scary as that may be. Wow.

While Glennon is refreshingly honest about the messiness - and the beauty - of life in a fallen world, you will not find sound biblical doctrine on which to build your life in Carry On, Warrior. On the contrary, you'll encounter a jello salad of Christianity-for-me, new-age spiritualism, and eastern mysticism.

But Glennon openly admits that the point of her writing is not to say "Here is how you make sense of it all" - but rather, to say "You are not alone. You have value. This life is hard, but it is also worth living. I understand your struggles and I will stand with you." That, my friends, is huge. She offers a soft shoulder to cry on and a warm heart with which to share life's hilarities. She is a warrior on the battlefield, giving generously of herself to encourage other warriors who dare to show up for life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I pulled into the driveway just ahead of the year's first winter storm. The sleet started coming down Sunday evening and by Monday morning, we were locked into a glistening white deep-freeze. At 8:30 this morning (Tuesday - day 2 of snow and ice), the temperature outside was 8 degrees. Folks, this is not Wisconsin. In the hills of Northwest Tennessee, 8 degrees is COLD.

I've been away from home for two weeks, welcoming the newest addition to the family down in Montgomery, Alabama:
Yes, he really is this beautiful!
High temperatures last week in Montgomery were close to 70, by the way. We were running around in shirt sleeves just this past Saturday, soaking up the sunshine.

I've seen lots of joking on Facebook about how folks in Tennessee go crazy whenever snow is in the forecast. We run out and clear the bread and milk aisles at Wal-Mart and Save-A-Lot. We stock up like we think Armageddon is about to happen, like we'll never be able to buy milk and bread again. I used to make those snide comments, too, about frantic storm shoppers, but not any more.

So, like I said, after two weeks away from home, I pulled up to the house just ahead of snow-ma-geddon. A little over an hour from home, as I cruised through Jackson, I actually thought about pulling off the four-lane to make a grocery run. "Nah," I decided, "I'm sure Steve has heard the forecast and stocked up on essentials." I was so tired. I just wanted to get home, unpack, and curl up in front of a warm fire with a glass of wine. So, I drove past Wal-Mart. And Kroger. And Food-Rite. And Save-A-Lot.

Waking up Monday morning to the icy wonderland outside, I discovered that the house was well-stocked (not!) with three eggs, a quarter of a loaf of bread, half of a half of a half-gallon of milk, and enough coffee to brew one more pot. Plus, we were on the last roll of toilet paper.

And there was no way I was going to be able to make the mondo grocery run needed to restock after being away for two weeks.

We scraped by pretty admirably yesterday, Monday, and I hoped the ice would begin to melt and the roads would clear enough for me to get out today in the van.


My shiny clean, empty refrigerator suggested that today was going to be a yucky, scrape-by kind of day, and I didn't even want to think about the toilet paper situation. But then, something wonderful happened...

A sweet angel offered to drive me to the bustling metropolis of Troy in her all-wheel-drive Subaru so that I could pick up a few groceries.

Day 2 of snow-ma-geddon, the highway into town looks like this:

But I'm okay with the icy roads now. Totally chill. (Ba-da-bum!)

Because we have milk, and bread, and eggs, and coffee. And plenty of toilet paper.

Next time I hear "winter storm" in the forecast? You can just bet your boots I'll be at Wal-Mart or E.W.'s with everyone else, picking up milk and bread, stocking up before the storm front moves in. You can make all the jokes you want - I won't mind, as long as I have coffee and toilet paper in the house.

(Thank you, thank you, thank you, Carly, for blessing me with your awesome driving skills this morning! You are an angel!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Who else remembers the wonderful feelings of joy and freedom that accompanied the school teacher's words every time she spoke the words, "Class dismissed"?

I loved school. Even so, at the end of every school day, the word Dismissed! made my heart leap. I couldn't wait to get home - to the horses, to the dogs, to long walks on the farm. I might have been tired and dragging when 3:00 rolled around, but I inevitably discovered new reserves of energy the moment my teacher dismissed the class for the day.

And then there is the other kind of "dismissed."

You know, when you interject something into a conversation, and the other person either ignores what you just said or explains how it is totally irrelevant. Like...

Person 1: "The light switch in the laundry room isn't working."
Person 2: "Maybe a fuse is out."
Person 1: "Impossible. I checked the breaker box just last week and all the fuses were fine."

Okay, so maybe Person 1 is correct. Maybe a blown fuse isn't the problem. Still, wouldn't it be so much more gracious to say, "I checked the breaker box last week and everything looked good. I really don't think it's a fuse, but I appreciate your suggestion. Perhaps I should check the breaker box again to be sure."

Or maybe the conversation goes like this...

Person A: "This squeaky door hinge is driving me nuts!"
Person B: "My Grandma used to rub a bar of soap on the hinges of her screen door, to make them stop squeaking."
Person A: "That's stupid. Didn't your Grandma know soap won't fix a squeaky hinge?!"

Maybe soap really won't fix a squeaky hinge, but did Person A really have to call Grandma stupid?!

Right now, you might be thinking, "What's your point, Camille? What's the big deal?" Maybe, just maybe, you are beginning to dismiss me before you've finished reading this post.

My point is this: While being dismissed from school at the end of the day can give someone renewed energy and enthusiasm, this other kind of dismissal does exactly the opposite. It saps the joy and life right out of a person.

If a person is dismissed enough in this manner, he'll just stop showing up for class. Stop trying to join in the conversation. Stop sharing ideas or experiences or fond memories. Stop looking for ways to engage or to help solve problems.

I've been on both sides of this horrible kind of non-dialogue.

And I want to say...

If you are a person who finds yourself routinely dismissed by someone important to you, I am so sorry. I know how disheartening that is. But, please, don't let the other person's rude behavior cause you to retreat into a silent hole behind a wall of emotional concrete. Even if your idea truly is ridiculous, even if your Grandma truly is stupid, you are are a unique and precious Image Bearer:  your ideas and input have value and should be respected.

If you are a person who frequently makes comments like "That's stupid!" or "No, you're wrong, because I blah-blah-blah" - would you please just stop and listen to yourself?! How often are you dismissive of someone else, even someone you love? I want to challenge you to do two things. First, STOP IT. Stop the dismissive comments! Second, apologize to the person to whom you have spoken in a dismissive manner. Say the words out loud, to the person's face:  "I did not listen to and receive your comments graciously. I am sorry. Will you forgive me? I value your input and am going to try to be a better listener." Yes, you will probably have to say this more than once - old habits are hard to break.

And for folks on both sides of these subtly hurtful interchanges, let us endeavor to be mindful of the dignity due the Imago Dei, the almighty, all-wise, all-sufficient God who condescends to not only listen to His creatures, but who stooped even further and walked and talked on this earth as one of us.

If anyone on the planet ever was justified in being dismissive of those around him - their ridiculous comments and questions and bickerings - it was Jesus. But instead of dismissing us, He loves us and listens to us. He engages us and draws us into a holy conversation.

Holy Spirit, I want to be like Jesus. Please, Lord, make it so! 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


What condemns me?

This was the question I asked myself during Sunday morning's worship service at Eastwood Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

Bart Lester was preaching from Romans 8:1-4 - "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

Here are a few of the notes I jotted down during Mr. Lester's sermon:

  • Justification is not dependent upon my progress in sanctification.
  • All progress in holiness in this life is due to the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How is sanctification (progress in holiness) possible in light of the continuing presence of sin in this life? Answer: NO CONDEMNATION!!!

I am justified, not condemned. When am I justified? Now. The proper motivation to pursue holiness rests in this confidence: I am not condemned/am under no condemnation, but am fully covered/freed by Jesus.

  • Where ever sin is the governing authority, there is death/lawlessness.
  • Where ever the Spirit is the governing authority, there is life/light/sanctification.

The Christian is not free from the presence of sin in this life, but the Christian IS free from the enslaving power of sin. "Walking by the Spirit" means going back to the law - which no longer has the power to condemn me - and being gradually conformed to the law by the power of God's Spirit working in me.

NO CONDEMNATION. It is so easy to read these words and to mentally affirm them as true.

It is so very difficult to live like I sincerely believe these words, to tell my emotions to go take a hike when they say something different.

I was sitting there listening to Mr. Lester, and got to thinking, What condemns me? What is it that, whenever I think about it, it makes me feel guilty, condemned, ashamed? What makes me hang my head, with my countenance downcast?

Oh, that would be a list too long to post here. But for starters, how about...

I was a failure as a military wife. An unqualified disaster. I don't think that's something my husband has ever truly gotten over. Sadly, I haven't managed very well as a civilian wife, either. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

I was a mess as a mother, too, often majoring on the minors and minoring on the majors. Not often enough modeling to my children the love, mercy, and grace shown to me by God in the person and work of Christ. Frequently lost in a gray fog of exhaustion, relying on my own limited ability and insufficient strength. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

I am a woman. What woman has not felt that female-ness, by it's nature, is a kind of falling short, of being less-than? In the home, in the church, in community life, in the work place - the attitudes and comments and actions that so clearly communicate that, by virtue of being a woman, I will never measure up, will always - despite my best efforts - fall short of good-enough. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

The list could go on and on, but these are probably the Big Three. I'm a disaster - as a wife, as a mother, as a woman.


And then I read...



Reminded of this great truth, I can go back to that law which requires that I love God (not myself) supremely and that I love my neighbor (husband, children, church...) as myself - and, instead of feeling guilty/ashamed/condemned because I honestly cannot measure up, I can pray with expectant faith, "Lord, make it so."

I don't know about you, but I need to hear this good news, this gospel - NO CONDEMNATION! - every single day.