Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I had a peculiar experience recently.

I sat in a room with a group of other people and listened while one person told her friend something about me that was untrue.

I was a bystander, not part of the general conversation.

The person misrepresenting me knew that both she and I knew the truth of the situation she related.

The person to whom she was speaking did not know me or have any prior knowledge of the events described, nor was this person likely to have any reason to interact with me in the future.

I suppose I could have called the story-teller out in front of her friends. But why? To humble her? To salve my pride? To defend my reputation? The false report was not of such a nature as to do me any significant personal harm, although it was rather embarrassing to sit there and hear myself described in a derogatory way to someone I had just met.

All of this to say...

Later, when I described the event to my family and shared how it made me feel, I explained, "I don't like for people to believe things about me that are not true. I dislike even more for someone to promulgate untrue things about me to others!" The incident made me feel sad, hurt, angry, indignant. I wanted someone to step in and defend me. I wanted an advocate!

Thankfully, I do have an advocate. Actually, I have two.

1 John 2:1 tells us that when we sin, "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The word advocate in this verse - translated from the Greek word parakletos -  is also used repeatedly in the book of John to refer to the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit of truth," my helper - see John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; and John 16:7.

People, there are lots of negative things that can be said about me truthfully, without having to lie or make up stories. I am a mess, plain and simple. Thankfully, when I am confronted with the muck in my heart or with the sin that "clings so closely" in my life, I don't have to make excuses or defend myself. I can own the muck (and not feel compelled to make excuses or tell stories to cover it up), because I have an advocate:  Christ, who covers me with himself and who pleads my case before the Father. Jesus speaks in my defense.

And when someone (like the woman mentioned above) says things about me that are untrue, thankfully, even then, I have an advocate: I have the Holy Spirit, the "Spirit of truth." And I have Jesus, the person I desire most to please, who knows the truth about how I have thought and how I have acted. I do not have to defend myself because they speak truth on my behalf, even when others malign me.

When I am negatively misrepresented by another, I want an advocate.
Confronted with my own sin, I need an advocate.
Thankfully, I have an advocate!
And because I have an advocate, I can rest.

Friday, May 20, 2016


I recently received a beautiful, feather-light wool scarf handed down to me from my grandmother. In my silly way of thinking, this scarf is a talisman of strength, infused with some kind of hidden energy.

Grandmother is an extraordinarily strong woman. At 97, her body is failing (which greatly frustrates her still vigorous mind), but she lacks no strength of will. This is a sad, difficult season for a woman who has long made her own way in the world for so long. It is a sad, difficult season for those close to her, too.

So, back to the scarf...

Life sometimes throws hard stuff at us. Sometimes, we wonder where we will find the strength or means to carry on for one more day. How do we endure the trials and tragedies that knock the wind and the will out of us? How do we find strength to breathe and to simply take the next step while struggling with broken bodies and broken relationships?

Babies often have "lovies" with which to soothe themselves - a favorite teddy, a scrap of love-worn blanket, mother's hair, combed with little fingers.

I have lovies, too. I have a necklace given to me by my paternal grandmother. I don't wear it often - not much occasion to wear such finery in my fold-the-laundry, mop-the-floor day-to-day life - but it is a comfort, tucked away in its little box like an I-love-you rosary. Over the years, when I have felt particularly discouraged or overwhelmed, Mer's necklace has served as a reminder that women before me have weathered difficult times and come out on the other side strong, beautiful, and very much alive. A bit of Mer's blood runs in my veins. That thought encourages me.

And now I have Grandmother's scarf. Whatever else can be said about Grandmother, she is a strong woman. I don't have much occasion to wear her beautiful scarf, but I like to unfold it and drink in its beautiful texture and colors. Remembering that this woman's blood also runs in my veins encourages me.

I a daughter of strong women. And I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I have spent almost an entire day trudging through paperwork.

Grade and attendance reports for the spring semester, application and educational plan for the 2015-2016 school year, dual-enrollment worksheets, forms for 4-H events...and I am still not done.

I needed to take a break from shuffling paper, so I cleaned out a base cabinet in the kitchen. The kitchen cabinets are my current clean-one-thing-a-day project. Helen cleaned a cabinet, too. At this rate, we'll be able to check cleaning cabinets off the To Do list in record time. (I wish there was a way we could double-team the paperwork!)

Helen needed a break from school and from cleaning kitchen cabinets, so she is now outside practicing casting with a fishing rod.

I would like to take a longer break and spend a couple of hours here at the blog - but the day is almost over and I still have a sizable stack of paperwork to chug through. Sigh. The blog will have to wait.

But, just so I'm not tempted to feel sorry for myself, I want to list 10 things I am thankful for right now:

  1. A new poem today at Apples&Pears!
  2. A sweet girl on the front porch, playing with fishing tackle and listening to country music.
  3. Sheets dried on the clothesline.
  4. A new coffee maker - thank you, Ben!
  5. Homeschooling - even if it involves lots of paperwork.
  6. Friends who unfailingly point me to Christ.
  7. Grandbabies!!!
  8. A cup of hot black tea in the afternoon.
  9. Dark chocolate.
  10. My exercise buddies at ADBC Fitness.

Also, proof copies for Confessions of a Homeschool Mom arrived today - I am SUPER excited about that!!!
They're here!!!
Now, if I want more time to play here at the blog, or time to begin reading the Confessions proof, I guess I'd better get back to work on that stack of paper...

Friday, May 13, 2016


I live in the middle of a hay field. After spring rains and sunshine, the hay is almost shoulder high.

The field is populated with meadowlarks and red wing blackbirds. Other kinds of birds burble and twitter in the fence rows and in the copse behind the house.

The windows are open right now. I sit here and write in an aviary.

I wish there was a way to bottle up birdsong, like some kind of auricular perfume, so that I could send you a vial.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I do not want to forget.

Helen and I were heading home after running errands in town one day last week. As we pulled out of the Wal-Mart parking lot, she asked, "So, what are you thinking right now?" This is one of Helen's favorite questions.

"I was thinking," I answered, "that, if I am ever successful as a writer...financially successful...I want to throw a really nice party for the cashiers at Wal-Mart."

When I worked at Wal-Mart, we called the shift from 5:00-11:00 pm "the crap shift" - a crude term, but accurate. All the customers are tired and crabby and in a hurry to get home. All the cashiers are working their second jobs, and they are also tired, crabby, and wishing they could get home.

Wal-Mart at 1:30 pm on Monday is one kind of store. Wal-Mart at 2:30 am on Tuesday is another kind of store. Wal-Mart at 6:30 pm Friday is different kind of store altogether, and it is definitely not the place you want most to be.

During my short stint at Wal-Mart, I learned a few things about the cashiers who work the crap shift. Many of them are coming straight from their minimum-wage day jobs, or they are stepping into the register after a full day of classes at the university. This evening job is their second job, the one they work to just-not-quite make ends meet.

They finished pulling a 9-to-5, and now they are pulling a 5-to-11. Tomorrow, they will do it all again. They are tired and struggling financially, and yet they are some of the kindest, most encouraging people I have met.

They work part-time, so they don't rate many company benefits. They work evenings, so they get the picked over, cold left-overs when the store provides a thank-you lunch in the employee break room.

They negotiate the twilight zone between the day manager and how he wants things done, and the night manager and how he wants things done - it's a bit of a tightrope, figuring out who's in charge at the moment and which protocol to follow.

They process a crush of customers, with their problems and returns and price challenges, just as the Customer Service Desk closes for the night.

There is not much that is very nice about being a crap-shift cashier.

So - that day when Helen asked - I was thinking, "I don't want to forget how hard that was, working evenings at Wal-Mart. I don't want to forget how tired I felt all the time. I don't want to forget the despair I encountered when, working so hard and feeling so weary, I barely had enough money at the end of the week to pay for gas in the van so that I could drive back to work the next day, and the next."

I was thinking, "I don't want to forget how kind my coworkers were, even though they were often exhausted and discouraged, too. I don't want to forget how under-appreciated they all were - by customers, by their supervisors, by the time-clock at headquarters."

I was thinking, "God, please don't let me forget. Don't let time and distance and ease make me forget. Help me to remember, and to be grateful. Help me to remember, and to say Thank You to the woman behind the register."

I was in a crabby mood this morning because I have to put off grocery shopping for another week, and even then, I will probably have to choose between shopping for cleaning supplies and healthcare products or canned goods and produce. I am tired of having to decide whether laundry soap and toilet paper are more pressing needs than potatoes and eggs.

But then I remembered...

I have enough gas in the van to last the rest of the week. We have milk and bread; we have shampoo and dish soap, too. And, I am not scheduled to work the crap shift at Wal-Mart tonight. Thank you, Jesus!

I forgot to be grateful.
God, please don't let me forget.

But then I remembered.
God, help me remember to say Thank You.

And when I finally do make another grocery run...
Lord, remind me to encourage the woman behind the register. Remind me to tell her how much I appreciate her service.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Funny how things overlap...

A couple of week's ago during our Wednesday night study at Grace, we read this:

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. And he said "...do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved." - Nehemiah 8:9, 10b, 11

In the verses just before this passage, the people of Israel had listened as the Law was read and explained. When they understood the Law - and understood their guilt before a holy God - they were grieved and began to weep. And they kept on weeping.

But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites rebuked the people, explaining that if they had truly repented of their sins, it was no longer time to mourn but to rejoice. To insist on remaining downcast and to refuse to celebrate the forgiveness extended to them by a merciful God would be sin. They had repented:  now it was time to celebrate!

Our sin should grieve us. But to continue mourning after we encounter the gospel demonstrates a cold-heartedness toward the very gospel we profess. It is sin on top of sin if we park our heinies in the shadows when we have been commanded to walk in the light.

This past Sunday in our discussion of C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, we talked about spiritual pride. Two particular manifestations of spiritual pride include:

1. Thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought:  I'm a pretty good guy; God's holiness is not really so very far above me.

- and -

2. Thinking more lowly of ourselves than we ought:  I am such a horrible person that God could never forgive me; God's grace cannot cover a sinner such as I.

In both cases, our eyes are focused on ourselves - our righteousness, or our sinfulness - instead of on God. And both haughty self-exaltation and wallowing in our baseness are sin. Both deny the truths of Scripture, insisting that our thoughts or emotions trump God's Word.

Then this morning, I read:  "...I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting...For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." - 2 Corinthians 7:9a, 10

Camille's takeaway from all of this:  It is entirely possible for me to be brokenhearted over my sin, and yet remain unrepentant.

A friend once said to me:  "Joy is the litmus of the gospel." If I have no joy, then I have forgotten the gospel. I am stepping back into the yoke of a works-based righteousness instead of walking in grace.

Yes, I should weep over my sin. But then, I should repent and rejoice in the goodness of the gospel and the sufficiency of Christ. The gospel moves me past grief, into joy. into a salvation "without regret."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I have almost finished working through the manuscript for Confessions for the third time. (Or is this the fourth time?) A few formatting changes to make, a couple of references to check, and then the manuscript goes out to a handful of readers who will critique the manuscript, make suggestions, and mark up their proof copies. While these awesome people read with highlighters, pens and sticky tabs in hand, someone else will work on a cover design. Exciting times!

I think of myself as a "soft" writer - my fiction does not contain a lot of big explosions or cliff-edge, life-or-death crises. Perhaps this is because my own experience has been that many of the significant questions and monumental conflicts in life develop quietly, slowly, almost imperceptibly, just beneath the surface of everyday life.

The young widow who just learned that her deceased husband was unfaithful - she is probably not going to suit up in a leather cat suit and go all ninja all over the silver screen. But she IS going to struggle with how to process betrayal and how to practice forgiveness.

The middle-age woman who has packed more moving boxes over the years than there are fleas on a stray cat -  she isn't going to build an indestructible fortress with lightning flashes from magical deep freeze hands. But she IS going to yearn for a place to call home, a place that provides security and stability in the midst of life's unpredictability.

The young mother drowning in small children - I doubt she will drive off into the sunset one evening and leave her kids behind so that she can trade motherhood for a career as an exotic dancer in Las Vegas. However, she IS going to feel the sting of sacrificing herself to serve her family, and she is going to wonder if she has value or purpose beyond changing diapers and cleaning up spilled milk.

Every one of us asks big questions every single day. Yet we do this so quietly and so frequently that we often fail to recognize the powerful significance of our seemingly small daily decisions and choices.

For most of us, life is so ordinary. Except that it's not, really. Because it is in the ordinariness of our daily lives that God quietly shows us extraordinary things.

"There are no ordinary people."
- C. S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory