Monday, July 27, 2015


Hypothetical situation:

Dad volunteers to fly solo at home with the kids so that Mom can enjoy a much-needed rest from the demands of motherhood. As Mom leaves to spend two stress-free days relaxing with her best momfriends at a cabin on the lake, or for a weekend women's retreat with the ladies from her church, Dad assures his wife, "I've got this, Baby. Don't worry about a thing. Just relax and have fun. Enjoy yourself!" With one toddler on his hip and three-year-old wrapped around his leg, Dad smiles as he waves goodbye from the driveway.

And then...

The party starts.

Back-to-back movies and non-stop video games. Forget chores: laundry and vacuuming and dirty dishes can wait until Monday. Getting the kids down for naps is impossible...we'll all just sleep late tomorrow morning. Lucky Charms for breakfast, McDonald's for lunch, and frozen pizza for supper. Plus, a late night run for ice cream, just because this is kind of a holiday, right?, and Dad is cool like that. Besides, we're all sleeping in late tomorrow, so what difference does it make what time the kids come down off their sugar high and finally get into bed?

And so Mom rolls back into the driveway Sunday evening, refreshed from a restful weekend, and is greeted by...

A houseful of tired, nasty, strung out, over-sugared, fussy kids, an overflowing laundry basket, Doritos crumbs stomped into the living room carpet, and the awesome-est Dad in the universe.

Mom's relaxed muscles beginning contracting into steel cables down her neck and across her shoulders.

She smiles and hugs the kids. Re-entry - Monday morning - is going to be hell.

Oh, well. The holiday was nice while it lasted!

* * * * *

Hypothetical situation:

Mom volunteers to hold down the office so that Dad can enjoy a long-anticipated fishing trip with his buddies. "Don't worry about a thing, Baby...I've got this!" she assures her husband as he loads rods&reels, tackle boxes, and a cooler into the bed of his pickup. "Have fun and enjoy your trip!"

And then...

The party starts.

Mom hauls all the kids into the office so she can keep an eye on everyone while she answers the phone, checks emails, schedules appointments for next week, and invoices customers. She lets the toddler redecorate Dad's work area while the 4-year-old depletes all of the dry-erase markers on the filing cabinets. Forget checking emails and scheduling appointments - funny cat videos on YouTube are so much more entertaining!

Mom orders Chinese, delivered, because the kids need to eat some vegetables and because fortune cookies and chopsticks make lunch feel like a holiday, right? Mom is cool like that. Never mind that Billy slings lo-mein noodles into the fax machine and Jane squirts soy sauce on the computer keyboard.

Mom and the kids stop at Cracker Barrel for dinner on the way home (don't worry about the weekly grocery budget) because they serve vegetables - and kids need vegetables - and because one parent shouldn't have to cook if the other parent is out of town, right? Forget washing and ironing Dad's shirts and khakis for next week - Mom is exhausted after a day at the office, and, anyway, this is a sort of a holiday. Right?

And so, wearing a rumpled shirt and last Friday's not-too-terribly-dirty khakis, Dad sits down to work Monday morning to a sticky keyboard and a jammed fax machine. When he tries to check email, he discovers that his internet tabs have been reset to Pinterest, FaceBook, and sites for flash-mobs and baby hedgehogs. And he can't find the stapler, the hole puncher, or the answering machine, anywhere.

Oh, well. The holiday was nice while it lasted!

* * * * *

It happened again last week. I saw a dad out with his kids, and when I asked him how he was doing, he answered, "It's a little bit crazy at our house right now...sort of a weekend long party! I'm babysitting this weekend so Sally can enjoy a couple of days of rest."

"No," I replied, "you are not babysitting. You are the dad:  it's called parenting."

What I really wanted to say was, "It's called parenting, Dad, and it's your job. Yes, it's hard work. Are you leaning into the harness this weekend so that Sally's rest isn't undone her first day home, or are you just skating by until Sally gets home to clean up behind you?"

Kids don't take time off from being kids just because Mom or Dad needs a break. Whether at home or at the office, parenting children is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-days-a-week kind of job.

Are you ready for Active Duty?

Friday, July 24, 2015


My son is slowly rebuilding a 1973 Ford Ranchero...

Thomas's strategy is simple:  he finds one thing that does not work correctly, and he fixes or replaces that part. Then he figures out another thing that needs to be repaired or replaced and tackles that. One piece at a time, Tom is transforming his clunky, junky Ranchero into a serious piece of awesomeness.

The Ranchero may not be road worthy yet, but it IS running - and it is a beast.

I've never been one to get too excited by muscle cars or jacked up trucks. Vehicles simply do not turn my head. (Well, except for that one time there was a white 1954 Corvette convertible parked out in front of the Goodwill store. I definitely had to get a closer look at that sweet set of wheels - gorgeous!)

Like I was saying, I typically don't get too excited about a vehicle. But the Ranchero is different. For one thing, it's Tom's - and Tom's excitement about the Ranchero is contagious. For another thing, when Tom cranks that ginormous engine, you can hear it and feel it all the way over to Grammy's. There is a lot of power under that expanse of hood!

Yes, this vehicle definitely turns my head. And I most definitely want to go for a ride in the Ranchero as soon as it is a little more "passenger friendly"!

* * * * *

I sometimes feel like a clunky old rust-bucket. Like none of my parts work like they should and they need to be replaced.

Seems like so often these days, I find myself praying, "Lord, I need a new heart! Please, Lord, give me a new heart!" I find my heart is corroded with ingratitude and complaining and hurt and apathy and despair...

Some days, I feel like my heart is an irreparable piece of junk. Sigh.

But then I remember...

My heart is His. God loves me, and His love for me is contagious with God-sized hope and joy.

Christ redeems me. Is redeeming me. Is transforming my clunky junky heart into a serious piece of awesomeness.

How can I not be excited about that?!!!

* * * * *

Let's take this baby out for a drive...

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I have enjoyed sitting on the porch swing the past several mornings, watching the sunlight creep across the hay field in front of the house.

Monday and Tuesday - clear days - the light began as pale silver, then ever-so-slowly brightened to gold. The field, thick with red clover blossoms, took on a warm, rosy glow. The changes in the light as the sun climbed from dawn to day were so incredibly beautiful that I wondered how I had missed such grandeur for so long.

Yesterday, the sky was overcast. As the sun climbed into the sky up above the clouds, an electric blue-green glow illuminated the hay field beneath the clouds. This morning, with high thin clouds tempering the brightness of the rising sun, the field took on a golden-green hue.

There is this particular magical moment as the sun clears the horizon...the changing light is breath-taking. And it is different every day. The moment is fleeting, lasting only a few minutes. I sit transfixed, distracted from my Bible and my morning coffee. The subtle change in the early-morning light...I don't think watching the first rays of the sun filter across the hay field could ever grow old.

This flicker of exquisite beauty passes so quickly. It would be the easiest thing in the world to miss. I have missed it for years.

A friend who is a young flight attendant posted recently on FaceBook:  "I sat down in my seat today, flying home. The man sitting next to me was looking out the window, at the stunning sunset, and he was overcome with emotion. He turns to me, and says, 'Look at that masterpiece! God is AMAZING! I love the Lord so much; He does so many, many incredible things every single day despite the cruelty and evil in this world. It gives me such hope.'"

Lord, give me eyes to see.

Monday, July 13, 2015


If you are in Obion County, Tennessee, this week, I would love for you to join me at a couple of book events!

On Thursday evening, July 16th, I will be greeting visitors and signing copies of my newest book - Wish You Were Here:  Letters From the Foot of the Cross - at the Obion County Public Library. I will be in the Tennessee Room from 5:00-7:00 p.m., and will read an excerpt from Wish You Were Here at 5:30.
The Obion County Public Library is located at 1221 East Reelfoot Avenue in Union City, Tennessee, across the street from Baptist Memorial Hospital.

On Saturday, July 18th, I am joining the festivities at Troy Community Involvement Days. I will have a book table at ADBC Fitness Studio, located on the north side of the town square in my hometown of Troy, Tennessee, from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
The address for ADBC Fitness Studio is 115 W. Westbrook, Troy, Tennessee.

Copies of Wish You Were Here:  Letters from the Foot of the Cross will be available at both events, and can be purchased for $12 each. I will also have copies of my first two books, Bethel Road and Slow Sun Rising. If you have already purchased a book and would like for me to sign your copy, feel free to drop by - I would love to meet you!

Monday, July 6, 2015


I have a friend who has a small, home-based business. Much of her interaction with customers is through email. A couple of weeks ago, my friend commented that an impatient customer had called and emailed her repeatedly to ask if her order was ready yet, despite the fact that my friend had told this particular customer that her item would not be ready for at least two weeks.

What the impatient customer did not know was:  my friend had been taking care of grandbabies, and she provided meals for the family of a friend who passed away that week, and she was dealing with some pretty serious health issues of her own.

The customer couldn't understand why my friend said it would take two weeks to complete her order.

The customer had forgotten that on the other side of her computer screen, as she cranked out her fussy emails, the person receiving those messages was a real-live, flesh-&-blood woman with very real limitations on her time and energy.

Because so much of our interaction today is via electronic media - emails, texts, voice messages, Facebook posts, "chatting" - it is easy to forget that every time we "speak" (email, text, chat, etc.), we are speaking not into an impersonal electronic void, but we are speaking into the lives of actual people. People with hearts and souls, personalities and preferences, hurts and histories, jobs and families, joys and struggles.

When communicating and interacting electronically, it is way too easy to dehumanize the people on the other side of the screen:  we think of them as inboxes or cell phone numbers or avatars, instead of as people.

Another friend and I were talking recently about how labels make it way too easy to do the same thing - to dehumanize people. We take huge populations and put them behind the rainbow flag, or the Confederate flag, or the Christian flag, and then we relate (or don't relate) to them based solely on some broad, impersonal categorization.

From what I have seen over the past couple of weeks, it is way too easy to spout garbage when we are speaking not to a person with a face, but to someone whom we think of only in terms of a flag or a label.

And so I want to tell you about two people I know, and then I want to issue you a challenge...

First person - let's call her Sarah. Sarah is a lesbian, living an openly lesbian lifestyle with her female partner. She is a radical feminist. She identifies herself as Christian, although her description of the god she worships is nothing like the God who reveals himself in the Bible. Sarah is one of the most beautiful people I know. She is creative and funny and kind. She is my friend, and every time I am around her, she makes me smile.

Second person - me. I am a heterosexual, homeschooling, politically conservative mother-of-seven. I am a Christian, and I believe that as Christians, we must accept God as He reveals himself in Scripture and that even our sexuality must be taken captive to the Word of God. I am a Calvinist and, concerning gender, a complementarian.

Sarah thinks that I am narrow-minded and old-fashioned, and yet she consistently treats me with kindness and respect. Sarah knows that I believe her lifestyle choices are an offense to God, but she also knows that I struggle with and am grieved by my own pet sins.

Amazingly, in spite of our very great differences, I love Sarah...and she knows that. Amazingly, in spite of our very great differences, Sarah loves me. We see each other as distinct individuals with intrinsic personal value.

Knowing Sarah as an individual impacts how I relate to the gay/lesbian community as a group:  I no longer see an impersonal, unfeeling, inanimate rainbow flag - I see the face of my friend.

And now the challenge...

Next time you sit down at the computer and pull up your Facebook page, or type an email, or add your two-cents'-worth in a comment thread...

Next time you send a text or chat with someone on-line...


You are not only speaking to and about flags and ideologies and worldviews, as offensive and unbiblical as some of those are...

But you are also speaking to and about individuals, other human beings who - although they may be terribly twisted and broken by sin - are still image-bearers of our Creator.

Remember:  whatever you say or write or text from your side of the screen, there is a person on the other side of the screen - a real, live person - who will hear you.

How would you speak differently if you were sitting face to face?

Friday, July 3, 2015


...[Jesus] said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat...And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" - from Mark 4:35-41

A couple of things in this passage jumped out at me in a new way this week...

"Let us go across to the other side." Jesus initiated this boat ride. The disciples would probably not have found themselves in a floundering boat in the middle of a storm-tossed sea if Jesus himself had not taken them there. They would have been safe on shore instead. Jesus's disciples were not in this storm by accident - Jesus took them into it.

"Let us go across to the other side." The storm itself was not their ultimate destination. Jesus took them into the storm. Then He took them through the storm. Then He took them to the other side. The other side - that place Jesus wanted them to be; a place they could not have reached if they had not gotten into the boat and gone into the storm.

"Let us go across to the other side." This is NOT:  sometimes terrible things just happen, for whatever reason, but it's all going to be okay because Jesus is with me and He will keep me safe and will calm the storms in my life. No, this is:  Jesus is going to take me into terrible situations - deliberately - because He has something to teach me. I am not a victim of capricious circumstances.

"...the waves were breaking into the boat..." - and the disciples were afraid. They were looking at the terrible situation that threatened to overwhelm them, and they were afraid.

"...there was a great calm..." - and the disciples were very afraid. The disciples realized they were dealing with something - someone - even more dangerous than a stormy sea.

I want to find comfort in the hope that when my life is "stormy," Jesus will "calm the sea." Big waves are scary. If the sea is calm, I am safe. At least I feel safe. Smooth sea = safe; choppy sea = not safe. That is a lie, and it is not living by faith. If I am looking at the water - at the circumstances - whether the water is stormy or calm, whether the circumstances are painful or pleasant - if I am looking at what is going on outside the boat, out there in the sea of my life, I AM LOOKING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. And I am basing my security and my peace on the wrong thing. I am wrongly preoccupied with weather conditions and shipping reports.

The point isn't:  what is going on outside the boat?

The point is:  what is going on inside the boat? And more importantly, WHO is in the boat, and WHOSE idea was this boat ride in the first place?

When I stop staring at the crashing waves in panicked hysteria and look instead at the One who said, "Let us go across to the other side..." -

I will at once feel both more terrified and more safe than I have ever felt before.

Jesus, give me faith to get into the boat. Once I'm in the boat, Jesus, give me faith to fix my eyes on You, so that I care not whether the sea is stormy or calm, but I live each moment celebrating this great truth instead:  I am with my Savior!

(Originally posted Tuesday, April 21, 2015. I realize this is a fairly recent post, but I needed to be reminded of these truths again today!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.  Matthew 12:36-37 (KJV)

The English Standard Version translates this passage: "...on the day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak..."

Idle words. Careless words. Either way, this is one of the scariest passages in the Bible to me.

I am a writer. I post here at the blog; I produce a weekly newspaper column; I write books; I write devotionals and emails and letters. Lots and lots of words.

As my oldest daughter has accurately observed, concision in not my strong point. You've heard the expression, "Well, to make a long story short...", right? I tend to turn that expression on its head:  "Well, to make a short story long..." Why say in a few words what can be expanded to fill an entire page?!

Too many words, and not always handled appropriately.

When I was a girl, my mom frequently challenged me with these words:  "Before you speak, Camille, ask yourself, 'Is what I am about to say true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?'" Mom understood the weightiness of words. Mom knew that words - even idle or careless words - carry with them eternal consequences.

I still try to ask myself those three questions regularly. And I wonder:  How much of the traffic on Facebook and Twitter, in emails and instant messaging, in chat rooms and comment threads - how much of that traffic would be silenced if people paused to consider that one day, they will have to give an account for every word they speak or text or type?

Every single idle word.

God has created us and called us to speak. To speak words that are true, and honorable, and just, and pure, and lovely...

Yet I so often run my mouth without engaging either my brain or the filter of Scripture. Aaaaugh! Then, when I realize my folly, I understand Job's lament: "I lay my hand on my mouth!"

"...every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Reading those words, my heart trembles.

But then I read...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1-5

Jesus. That most true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable Word. That Word which redeems my filthy heart and mind and mouth, and cleanses me from every idle word I have ever thought or spoken or typed.

All those idle words I have spoken - Jesus is the one Word that silences them all.

The Word which no darkness can overcome.