Monday, August 31, 2015


For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. - Hebrews 7:18-19

We are working our way through Hebrews during Sunday morning worship at Grace. The above passage was in the section of Hebrews from which Brother Billy preached yesterday.

The "better hope" we are promised in this passage is in relation to access to God. When the first Adam disobeyed his Creator, he lost intimate access to God (the very thing for which Adam was created!) - lost access to God for himself and for his offspring. But the second Adam - Jesus - through his obedience, has provided access to God once more.

That thought - access to God, the nearness of God, intimate knowledge of God - that thought both encourages and terrifies me. On the one hand, I draw tremendous comfort and assurance from the knowledge that God is very close at hand. That He is near, present in the ups and downs of my life in this fallen world. God knows me intimately, knows my struggles, and He is ever present and ready to give me strength and guidance and comfort.

God is near, close at hand. That thought terrifies me. Whatever I do, where ever I go (in my mind, on-line, with my eyes or ears or heart), God is with me. He sees and hears and knows every detail of every circumstance of every moment of my life. He knows the inclinations of my heart.

So, we watched a couple of trashy movies at the Kendall house this weekend. Not only did these movies leave me feeling physically blechy, because I stayed up late to watch them, but they also made me feel mentally and emotionally blechy. Like I'd been eating poop.

I got to thinking this morning...if I get covered in the muck of this world because someone next to me is splashing around in it and flings it on me, that's one thing. If I get covered in muck because I inadvertently allow my mind to wander from what is pure and lovely to what is base and vile - sort of accidentally find myself back in the pigsty again, without having meant to go there - that is another thing.

But if I walk intentionally, deliberately, right into the sewer and start to bathe in its filth; if, when I perhaps feel some slight twinge of conscience, I defy such gentle nudgings by wallowing even deeper; if I walk into the sewer and lie down and bathe in it with the full knowledge that God is near, God is with me, and I am debasing not only myself but my holy Creator - that is something entirely different.

What? Do I think that I can make the Holy unclean?! That I can smear his vision so that He cannot see into the darkness of my heart?! That somehow I can make his righteous gaze less searing if I coat myself and my conscience with muck?!

God, forgive me! Make me ever mindful of the reality that not only did Christ make it possible for me to draw near to God, but He opened the door for God to draw near to me.

God, help me to live every moment with the consciousness that You are near. Cause that truth to shake me and break me and utterly transform me.

The door is open, Lord - please, come and make me new.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


My youngest attended her first dual-enrollment class at UT Martin yesterday. Yes, she is definitely excited about taking a "real" college class, on an actual college campus, with a "real" college professor. This is my baby I'm talking about. When did she become so grown up?!

I have been occupied with the business of homeschooling my children for over twenty years now. When I pause to think about the women who have encouraged me during this journey, one in particular stands out. Not because she tipped me off to the perfect math or science curriculum. Not because all her children grew up to be rocket scientists and neurosurgeons. No, she stands out because she was honest with me about the tremendous labor of being a mom and homeschool teacher.

She admitted that there would be days of tears and attitude battles and physical exhaustion, days when I would be forced to admit that I was not equal to the task. Yes, there is a lot about homeschooling that is fun and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade this life for any other. But there are also days in this 24/7/365 job that can only be described as tastes of hell.

NEWSFLASH:  Homeschool Mother of Seven Ends Week-long Drinking Binge, Joins Mystic Guru's Ocean-side Meditation Compound After Overdosing on French Fries and Chocolate.

It could happen folks. Seriously.

Anyway, the friend I mentioned above - who has always been honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly of homeschooling - she has also always, consistently reminded me:  This is a good work. Persevere.

And, when I was able to sit regularly at her feet and glean from her wisdom, she also consistently pointed me to Jesus. "No, you are not adequate for the job. You need Jesus. Let's go to Him together..."

All of this to say, with my youngest now perched on the edge of the nest, fluttering her little wings, what advice would I offer the young mom coming along behind me?

First, I would reiterate Linda's counsel:  This is hard work, but it is good work. Persevere.

Second, give up the idea of perfection. God uses the weak and foolish things of this world to make known his power and glory. If you have it all together - if your house is clean and your family eats fresh-baked bread and eggs you gathered this morning for breakfast, if your kids have perfect handwriting and their clothes actually match, if you have an entire school year's worth of math lessons organized into Zip-loc baggies with appropriate manipulatives and worksheets before the first day of August, if all of next month's nutritious, organic meals are already tucked away in your freezer, if you organize the church nursery and lead the women's Bible study and teach Zumba three nights a week and do it all with a lilt in your voice and a spring in your step - well, you probably don't need Jesus. And if you don't need Jesus, how on earth are your kids going to learn by watching you just how very faithful and good He is to broken, messed up people?

If you insist on maintaining the delusion of perfection, you are going to end up teaching your kids a lie ["I am adequate"] - OR - you are going to crack and end up in an ocean-side commune with Mr. Mystic. Which is also a lie. Either way, if you insist on perfection, you are living a lie.




Trust God with your children's souls. This seems obvious, but can be tricky in practice. Satan's lies are so subtle! Compromise is so natural! It is easy to slip into wrong thinking, easy to begin to believe the lie that homeschooling will save your children. Or dressing a certain way. Or not reading certain books. Or not listening to that music. Or whatever. And then you slip into the lie of believing that YOU must save your children's souls - did you choose the right curriculum? the right youth program? the right homeschool group?

But the truth is:  You cannot save your children's souls. Trust me. The good news is:  God can. Trust Him. Rest in the Gospel. Breathe it in deeply (more deeply, deeper, keep inhaling...), and then sneeze it and drool it and splatter it out all over your kids.


Believe the Gospel.

Trust God with your children's souls.

Celebrate differences. Celebrate the unusual, and, yes, even the annoying.

Personal confession:  I am a Type-A person. Straight A's all the way through high school and college. I like organized closets and vacuum-cleaner strokes on carpet. Ketchup is for French fries, not for fried chicken, and ranch dressing is for salad, not pizza.

I am not a big fan of clutter, raw fish, loud rock music, hippies, pink hair, ghost peppers, un-ironed dress shirts, or tattoos.

Well, I didn't use to be a fan, not back in the days before Reuben started painting, and Martha came back from Japan and made home-made sushi, and Tom introduced me to "Back in Black," and Emily went all raspberry, and I had to admit that, yes, the Sharpie-marker sleeve tattoos were actually pretty cool, and I learned that car dancing with Helen to American Authors was a great mood booster, and...

Wouldn't this world be a dreary, boring, terrible place if everyone in it was preoccupied with wearing matching socks and making tidy vacuum cleaner stokes in carpet?!!!

What is it about your kids that annoys you? I'm not talking sin - I'm talking personality differences, personal preferences, personal expression. Instead of getting annoyed, take a deep breath and endeavor to listen, taste, see, engage, dance.

Personal confession:  This will probably involve some embarrassment on your part. It did for me. Your kids will embarrass you. And, as you enter their worlds, you will embarrass yourself. But the embarrassment only stings for a little bit, sort of like when you peel off a crusty, hardened scab to reveal the healthy new pink skin underneath.

Don't be afraid of the different, the unusual, the eccentric, the annoying. I've learned that there is a great big beautiful world outside of my little white picket fence, and God is doing great big beautiful things out there in it.

* * * * *

Okay, there is actually lots more advice I could offer a young mom, but I've been thinking and typing and rewriting for over an hour and my brain is beginning to turn into goo. It just happens.

I need to go make lunch, check Helen's math, and reply to some emails.

Life awaits!

(READER:  What advice would YOU like to share?)

Friday, August 14, 2015


It is a difficult thing as a mom - at least it has been for me - to rest.

There is always something else that needs my energy and attention. Laundry, meal preparation, dirty floors, lessons to prepare, school work to grade, flowerbeds to weed, clothes to sort and put back in the attic or tote to Goodwill, cookies to bake, crafts to make, messes to clean...

No matter how much I do, no matter how many hours a day I commit to this mom job, I always - always - go to bed thinking of so much that is still undone and all that will need to be done again tomorrow.

It is the hardest thing in the world, as a mom, to rest.

If you resolve to rest - to just take a break from the never-ending list of still-needs-to-be-done  - all those undone things sit right there in front of you, pleading for your attention like small children standing in line at the mechanical pony ride in front of Kroger:  "Mom! Mom! It's my turn!"

And while you are trying to rest, trying really hard, you feel guilty. And you feel the pressure of the river of work piling up behind the logjam of your "I just need a couple of minutes to myself!" As you try to rest, to catch your breath, the Mountain of Undone simply continues to grow bigger and bigger right before your eyes.

As a mom, you want to meet your family's needs. Your family expects you to meet their needs - that's what moms do, right? You expect yourself to meet those needs, even if you feel like you simply cannot possibly think of one more creative, economical dinner menu.

It is the hardest thing in the world for Mom to rest.

It is the hardest thing in the world to say "Enough. I can do no more."

Enough? Maybe I'm just being a slacker. Enough? Maybe I'm just being selfish. Enough? Well, if I don't do-this-one-more-thing, who will? It still has to be done!

It is hard to say "Enough" and not feel guilty. Hard to say "Enough" and truly rest. Hard to say "Enough" and believe in your heart-of-hearts that "enough" really is okay.

At least it's hard for this mom, saying "Enough" and believing it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


So, I had my first ever colonoscopy this week. One of the perks of turning 50.

Actually, I was supposed to take care of this last year, but I chickened out and cancelled my appointment. Last month at my annual check up, my regular doctor chastised me for bailing. She scheduled another appointment with the gastroenterologist this year, and then told me sternly to get it done.

In honor of my amazing brother, the procedure was scheduled on his birthday...sort of a celebration of our both getting another year older.

Without going into any graphic or nauseating details, here are a few things I learned leading up to and going through the procedure:

I eat a lot and I often eat without thinking. Okay, for the past year, I have been very deliberate (for the most part) about eating less. What I have not been aware of is the number of random bites I consume during a day. The last bit of cheesy scrambled eggs left in the skillet after cooking breakfast for the kids. A spoonful of Spanish rice when packing leftovers into a storage container. A couple of potato chips while packing lunch for Helen. Having been instructed to eat NO solid food whatsoever, I was suddenly aware that my hand moved reflexively toward my mouth with amazing frequency.

I am a rebel at heart. So, Day 1 of the prep program, I was instructed to eat no raw fruits or vegetables, no red foods, and nothing containing nuts or seeds. My favorite breakfast in the world is a toasted whole grain English muffin spread generously with crunchy peanut butter. My favorite lunch at the moment is a fresh tomato sandwich. No garden-fresh tomatoes?! No crunchy peanut butter?! Those were the ONLY things I wanted, all day long. Inside my head, I was growling like a grumpy cat all day long.

Water is the elixir of life. On my regular doctor's advice, I drink a lot of water each day. A LOT of water, usually a gallon before noon. Amazingly, this "therapy" has eliminated the terrible migraines I used to battle regularly. Day 3 of the colonoscopy process:  no water. Only that nasty, super-sour Intestinal Drano. I felt parched and found myself saying "Hello" to a headache. When the going got tough, I didn't crave diet-Coke, coffee, merlot, or Corona - nope, I was desperate for some life-giving water.

I am very thankful for modern plumbing. How many other ordinary, seemingly-insignificant things do I take for granted in a given day?

A sense of humor is a good thing to have. "The last time you had a bowel movement, what color was it?" asked the nurse processing my admission paperwork. "Ummmm, brown?" I guessed. "Well, was it a dark brown, or a paler mocha color, or was it more of a light tan?" Let me tell you, folks, when you are dehydrated and hallucinating about crunchy peanut butter, there is nothing like an earnest conversation about the color of poop to make you realize that life is often very, very ridiculous.

I think I'm in love with the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist lifted my arm and examined my wristband. "Name?" he asked. "Camille Kendall," I answered. "Date of birth?" Next thing I knew, I was waking up from the best sleep I've had in years. Years. Forget the crunchy peanut butter. Never mind dehydration. Forget the pitchers of nastynastynasty stuff I had to drink. It was all worth it for those few minutes of incredibly sound, restful sleep. I woke up feeling like Super Woman (sans cleavage).

There sure are a lot of nice people in the world. When it seems like your whole life is going down the pipes, when you are fighting back tears because you feel weak and tired and you just don't think you can swallow one more galling mouthful of nastiness, it's amazing how God puts someone sweet, kind, and gracious in your path. I can't say enough good about Dr. Nuako and the incredible staff at Summit Endoscopy Center in Union City, Tennessee. You guys are wonderful.

Oh, and David - you are pretty terrific, too. Happy Birthday!