Tuesday, June 30, 2015


The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

To the right of this post, there is a place on the sidebar where you can "Search This Blog." Enter anxiety, or fear, or prayer, or a snippet of the verse above, and hit "Search":  you'll see by the number of related posts that come up just how much I struggle with trusting God's good providence in my life.

I've also mentioned in earlier posts how one characteristic of this new season of my life is mid-morning sleeplessness . . . which is not a bad thing, because being awake at 3:00 in the morning provides such a wonderful opportunity to pray without the distractions of a busy daytime house. However, these wee-morning-hour prayer sessions can also be times of earnest spiritual wrestling. I am learning, however, that God is not only awake and ready to talk at 3:00 in the morning, but that He deals so very sweetly with His children in the still darkness of the night.

I lay awake in bed last night (this morning) with some very particular worries on my mind, but also with a very real sense of the nearness and attentiveness of God. "God, thank You so much that You are here and You are listening! Thank You so much that I never, ever have to be alone with the fears that plague my heart!"

Then, the above verse came to mind. "...do not be anxious about anything..."

"But I am anxious, Lord. I am anxious about my tiny daughter who will be flying back home from Japan soon. And I am anxious about my son at boot camp. And I am anxious about my husband's health and his work. And I am anxious about..."

It was a long, long list.

But talking through that list with God last night, I did not feel at all as if He were listening with a frown on His face: "You stupid, sinful, wicked child! Have I not just told you 'Do not be anxious'? And yet that is the very thing you insist on doing!" No, it was as if He was embracing me in loving arms:  "Yes, I know you are anxious about Martha, and about Tom. What else are you afraid of right now?" No condemnation (Thank You, Jesus!), just mercy and grace.

Praying through my worries, it felt like I was taking each weight inside my heart and handing it to God. He never flinched. "Yes," my Father assured me, "I care about these things, too. Can you trust me with them, Camille?"

Yes. Yes, I can, because I know how much you love me, Lord. Because You are awake and listening at 3:00 in the morning. Thank You.

And so, with an unburdened heart I drifted off to sleep.

But that's not the end of this story.

This morning after breakfast, I sat down to finish working through the study for our women's brunch tomorrow morning. I like to write out the verses at the end of each chapter of our study - I process things better when I write them than when I read them. I flipped open the study book, looked up the passage written on the page, and began writing on a sheet of loose-leaf paper. . .

"Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air:  they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? . . . the Gentiles seek after these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow..." Matthew 6:25-34

And then I looked up and wrote the next Scripture reference on the list, Luke 10:38-42, the passage about Martha and Mary, where Martha was frustrated because her sister was sitting at Jesus's feet instead of helping her serve their guests. The passage includes this verse: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Camille, Camille! You are anxious and troubled about many things! Be still, my child, and rest at the feet of Jesus.

Now, the funny thing is, this month's women's study is not about worry or about being anxious. It is about setting priorities, about using our time to do what God has given us to do instead of becoming distracted and stressed out by the to-do lists we or others create for us. But as I wrote out those verses this morning, I was overwhelmed with the sweetness of God - that He loves me so much that He wanted to continue our conversation from last night!

I finished the homework for tomorrow's women's study, then put on a kettle of water to make tea. A quick trip to "the library," where I read this excerpt from the June 2013 Tabletalk. Scott Devor, writing on the Christian's adoption into God's family: It is in Christ that we see [the] compassion of the Father most fully expressed. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32)

Devor continues: As our Father, He gives us all things that we need, and knows them before we ask (Matt. 6:8). This is similar to what Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount - that if earthly (and sinful) fathers know how to give good gifts and care for their children, how much more will our heavenly (perfect) Father give good gifts and care for us (Matt. 7:9-11)?

I've been brought to tears this morning - not because of fear, but because my Father is so very, very good. Almighty God - who has destroyed nations, slain entire armies, who crushed His own Son for my sake - the sovereign, terrible, omnipotent creator and sustainer of the universe, has stooped to love His frightened daughter with such incredible sweetness and tenderness.

I am undone.

(This was originally posted Friday, July 19, 2013. I am reposting today at the request of a sweet friend!)

Monday, June 29, 2015


There is a kind of learned helplessness that develops from long-term, repeated failure, from never being good enough, never measuring up. Whatever you do, it will be the wrong thing. Whatever you say, it will be the wrong thing. And if you decide to do nothing in hopes of not giving offense? to say nothing? That's wrong, too.

Doing or saying the simplest thing becomes a herculean task. Not doing or saying anything becomes a herculean task, too, as you brace for yet another criticism, another rebuke, another failure. It gets harder and harder to keep trying. What's the point, after all, if you're only going to get it wrong for the bazillionth time in a row? You become paralyzed. Your hope and resolve are slowly smothered under an increasingly-heavy blanket of defeat.

Been there. Done that. Actually, I still find myself wading in the shallow end of this miserable, dark pool. But, thankfully, I am beginning to breathe clean air again, to feel like there is hope, that there is value in trying anew. And I am learning...

There are some people in this world who are chronic victims. Whatever is difficult in their lives, whatever is wrong in their world, it is someone else's fault. They are miserable and downcast, given to heavy sighing, quick to withdraw into the safe isolation provided by the latest technological device. They frequently complain about what they can't do and what they can't have because of what so-&-so did, because of Someone Else's demands, because of That Other Person's wants and needs.

Been there. Done that. And, as I breathe a few lungfuls of fresh air, I realize:  that way of thinking is a load of crock. It is so much easier to blame others for my misery than to take responsibility for my own actions. It is so much easier to blame others for my apathy and passivity than it is to step into the harness and pull the weight of my own wagon.

A couple of words:  if you are a chronic victim, Why? Do you really enjoy wallowing in all that misery and blame-throwing? My husband once told me, "I don't think you're happy unless you're miserable." He was right. And as I considered what he said, I thought, "That is so stupid!" If that describes you - you can't be happy unless you are miserable - is that really what you want? To be miserable all the time? No! Of course not! In the words of Bob Newhart, "Stop it!"

Maybe you engage regularly with someone who is a chronic victim. It's emotionally exhausting, isn't it? Listen to me: You cannot do anything to fix all the negative things the big bad world is constantly throwing at the person who sees himself as a chronic victim. You cannot make that person feel better. Why not? Because they don't want to feel better. They don't want their problems fixed. They are happy being miserable. Don't feel like you need to camp out on the bottom of their pity pool with them - you will only end up drowning yourself down there, and you will not make them feel any better.

If you - like me - are trying to get out of the defeatist, chronic-victim mindset, I want to encourage you to try this:  When you find yourself slipping into that old habit of reciting the familiar, tiresome litany of why you can never succeed or be happy or move beyond a disappointing past because of what so-&-so did/does/is doing...STOP IT. You can't change the person you're complaining about, and you probably can't change what they are doing, either. What you can change is your self, your own way of thinking, your own course of action. So, stop mouthing off (either out loud or in your head) about how someone else is holding you down or causing your unhappiness, and start swimming toward the shore of your murky black pool of pity and get out. Figure out what small thing you can do, what small step you can take toward your goals...and then do it.

Also, I encourage you to stop listening to the people who consistently communicate to you that you aren't good enough, can't ever get it right, will never measure up, will always fall short. The people who insist on being miserable and who would rather blame you for their unhappiness than take responsibility for themselves. Instead, find someone who speaks hope, who sees possibilities, who likes to live life in the sunshine instead of in the muck. Put yourself in the company of those who speak true encouragement as often as you can, and listen to what they say.

Helplessness can be learned, but it can also be un-learned.

Why not replace learned helplessness with learned hope instead?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


So, right after writing that I was glad to be back on the blog and that I was looking forward to posting more regularly (see Hello, June!) ...

I fell off the blog map. Completely disappeared. Flat-lined.

Well, so much for good intentions.

Actually, I was on vacation. My annual summer vacation is a week spent mostly in a coffee shop in downtown Martin, Tennessee, while my youngest child attends piano camp at the university.

After dropping Helen off each morning for a day filled with learning and making beautiful music, I headed to The Looking Glass. This was my "office" last week, the table next to the window:

Wonderful coffee, lovely view, soothing background music, pleasant company...and on Fridays, Karen Longacre makes these wonderful Zen bowl salads that she serves for lunch. It was so yummy, wanted to lick my bowl.

(Actually, I did lick my bowl. If you are in Martin on a Friday and are looking for a tasty, healthy lunch, stop by The Looking Glass. It's downtown, on Lindell Street, right across from the Opera House.)

After working all morning at The Looking Glass, I packed up my office and headed to UTM's Elam Center pool. I swim laps five days a week, for one week each year. Love it. This year, I got to swim next to THIS amazing woman:

Mary is now 89 years old, and still swims all four competitive strokes. She can swim further and stronger than I can, although I am only a little over half her age. She is such a sweet, encouraging, positive lady - her smile and friendly conversation each day made swimming laps a treat. Mary truly is an inspiration.

After swimming, I picked up lunch and headed to the Student Center to write some more. A couple of days, I took a break mid-afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk around the lake at the Martin Recreation Complex.

Although I did not show up here at the blog last week, I did a LOT of writing...am now 12 solid chapters into Book #4! I am super excited about this newest writing project, and, with such a good start laid down last week, I am looking forward to continuing writing in the weeks and months ahead.

It may not be a holiday on the beach or a scenic mountain get-away, but I love my summer vacation - it's always one of the best weeks of my year!

Thursday, June 11, 2015


A group of young mothers sat on the porch, talking about potty training and childhood illnesses and motherhood in general.

"It's not that the particular tasks I have to do each day are so difficult," one mom commented. "It's that I have to be  mentally and emotionally and physically on-call, pretty much 24/7. I think always having to be available and aware - that is what makes this job so exhausting."

If you are a mom, you can probably relate.

The nights of deep, uninterrupted sleep end the day you bring Baby #1 home from the hospital. Even when the baby begins to sleep through the night, Mom rests somewhere in a state of semi-sleep, listening for the faint sound that tells her someone has had a bad dream, or fallen out of the bed, or just thrown up all over everywhere.

The listening and being aware and available continues during the day, too. You think, "The kids are playing quietly now. Maybe I have a few minutes to clean the downstairs bathroom. Hmm. come to think of it, the kids are too quiet." And so you race upstairs to find all of the sheets you folded yesterday pulled out of the linen closet and strewn all over the upstairs landing.

Or you start the day feeling unusually rested, and so you decide to run a few errands in town. In the drive-through book-drop at the library, the baby has a blow out diaper. After cleaning most of the poop off the baby and the car seat with all the diaper wipes you had left in the diaper bag, you resolve not to let this setback thwart your mission. Thankfully, the dry cleaner's has a drive-through, too.

At the Co-op, you have to unbuckle and unload. With a poopy-smelling baby on one hip, a suitcase-sized purse/diaper bag over one shoulder, and a toddler attached to your "free" hand, you make your way up the ramp to the loading dock so that you can order a bag of chicken feed. "Look, Mom!" Letting go of the toddler, you lurch to catch the four-year-old as he bolts after a fork-lift. Ouch! (You thought you had gotten rid of that catch in your back yesterday.)

At the grocery store, you realize that you did not actually get all of the poop with the diaper wipes and you now have a mustard-colored smear down your left side. Big deal. You're used to smelling like poop and spit up. Inside, the 4-year-old needs to go potty. Inspired, the 2-year-old wants to go potty, too. You wince at the pain in your back as your juggle the baby with one arm while trying to lift the toddler onto the toilet. "Jeffrey! Stop licking the edge of the sink!" Why is it that small children have an overwhelming urge to put their tongues on every shiny thing they see?!!

At the check-out counter, you realize the 2-year-old has only one shoe. Is it really worth retracing your trail through the entire store for a shoe? The 4-year-old needs to use the potty again, and the baby is shamelessly trying to find a way to access breast milk through the front of your poop-stained shirt.

At home, you change and nurse the baby. Down for the count, he looks like an angel nestled in his crib.

Lunch for the other two, then wash faces and use the potty. Nap-time story books. Another book. Another book.

You snort and wake yourself up, drool dribbling down your chin. Thankfully, both kiddos succumbed to sleep, too. Wiping slobber from your face, you put Max and Ruby back in their place on the bookshelf and tiptoe from the room.

Downstairs, you start a pot of coffee. Lunch:  remains of two peanut-butter-&-jelly sandwiches and a handful of only slightly mauled goldfish crackers. You finish off two sippy-cups of lukewarm milk and carry the kids' dishes to the sink.

Ahhhh. The house is quiet. You finally have a moment to let your guard down and catch your breath. Pouring a cup of coffee, you celebrate the moment:  Mom is Off-Duty!

And then the baby cries.

I have joked that I never actually drink coffee - I just pour it in a cup, let it get cold, and then reheat it repeatedly in the microwave. Ever have a 5-reheat morning? Yep, me, too. I've even found yesterday's forgotten cup of coffee, cold and forlorn, still waiting for me in the microwave the next morning.

My husband says that when the kids were little, I was a needy person. He was right:  I was needy!

I was needing an hour off the clock. A small window of time when I didn't have to be listening, watching, aware. A few minutes when no one was sucking on me or clinging to me or anointing me with poop or sour milk. When I didn't have to be ready to catch throw up in my hands, or to launder sheets at 2:00 in the morning.

A few minutes to sit quietly at a table and drink hot coffee all the way to the bottom of the cup.

Moms, this is hard work - not because the job is particularly difficult, but because it is never-ending. No paid vacation, no end-of-year bonuses, no 3-day weekends, no Federal holidays.

But it is also a very good work, this work of mothering. Hang in there. Yours is an honorable calling.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with the saying:  "Time and tide wait for no man."

I would like to add to that list:  pole beans don't wait, either.

I meant to stake the pole beans a couple of weekends ago, but I just didn't get around to it. When I spotted a few wispy tendrils reaching for the sky among the rows of beans, I decided that I absolutely, positively HAD to stake the pole beans last Saturday. But last Saturday was crazy busy and I never made it out to the garden.

This morning, I finally ventured into the garden to stake the beans. I found myself tripping over vines that reached across the rows, searching for something - anything, even another young bean plant - to climb, weaving themselves into a tangled green web.

After an hour and a half of staking and tying and untangling and redirecting, the bean plants are in good order. I feel much better - the beans can climb to their hearts' content now without blocking my path between the rows.

If you are thinking you'll stake your pole beans next week, take my advice:  don't put this chore off any longer.

Time and tide and pole beans wait for no man!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Two thirty a.m. and I'm lying awake (something related to menopause, I think), looking out the window at the night sky and the fireflies blinking on and off in the hay field. The house is quiet and the bed is oh-so-comfortable. This is one of my very favorite times to pray...

I am grateful that God is awake and listening at 2:30 in the morning. I am touched that He makes a quiet, dark, beautiful place to meet with me. I am astounded that the same God who holds the enormous, flaming, far-away stars in the night sky condescends to slip into a messy bedroom in a rural farmhouse for an hour of intimate conversation.

I pray for my kids, and my grandkids. For my church and my church family (King and Virginia, you are my special people today!) and for folks on the other side of the sea. For things heavy on my heart and my mind. Eventually, I drift off to sleep again, encouraged and strengthened with the confidence that God is near, and that He is sovereign and good and He loves me very much.

A few hours later, I am sitting down at the kitchen counter with my first cup of coffee. No one else is up and stirring about yet, and the house is still and quiet. Let's see, where was I...flip, flip, flip...2 Chronicles. NOT my favorite book of the Bible, and yet, reading through a tedious list of names I can't begin to pronounce, I am once again reminded of God's faithfulness to his faithless children. Reminded of God's big, scary, dangerous, life-altering, never-tiring, ever-pursuing love. And I pray for my kids, and my grandkids...

Much later in the day, I am driving to town for a meeting, alone in a funky-smelling green mini-van that badly needs to be vacuumed, soaking up the warm sunshine that beams through the windshield. My thoughts turn to a young man - someone dear to me - who seemingly has no desire to know God, no interest in Jesus's great love for broken, sinful people like us, and I am saddened. "Father..." I need someone to talk to, someone to share this burden.

And then it occurs to me...

Lying in bed at two-dark-thirty in the morning, at the kitchen counter with a steaming cup of coffee, and now, driving down the four-lane toward Union City, this has all been one long on-going conversation. Interrupted by sleep and exercise class and cooking breakfast for the gang at home...interrupted, but never broken.

"God, you are still here! You are still listening!" We were picking up right where we had left off, before the pause to review Helen's math lesson and the conversation with Tom about what he is working on on the Ranchero, and my rush to get out the door on time.

Nobody on Earth meets me like that. Nobody on Earth listens like that. Nobody on Earth loves me like that.

Is it any wonder that I adore Him?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


I haven't been on the blog in almost two weeks. Sigh. Writing on the blog is my Happy Time, my reward for taking care of other, more pressing things like folding the laundry, checking over Helen's chemistry, and meeting the deadline for next week's newspaper article.

There hasn't been a lot of down time here in Kendallville lately. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I felt any thing close to being "caught up."

Helen was checking the wall calendar in the kitchen one morning last week. "Mom, I can't even read this! There's too much stuff crammed on here!"

My mom used to have a saying:  "Feast or famine." Translation: there is either more stuff needing your attention than you can possibly get done - or - you have nothing at all to do and are twiddling your thumbs in boredom.

Our family activity level has had me feeling like I was drinking out of a fire hose lately. I'm about ready for a dry spell on the calendar...

Thankfully, June promises to be a little calmer than May, and I am looking forward to writing again soon.

(Maybe I'd better go block out several days on this new month's calendar, just in case things try to get all crazy on us again!)