Wednesday, June 29, 2016


A group of friends were discussing things in our lives that cause us anxiety:  health problems, relationship issues, misplaced hopes or expectations - in people, in circumstances - that cannot deliver the ultimate peace and happiness and security we desire. Joy thieves.

One friend commented something to the effect, "Don't you just wish life could be free from all these trials and difficulties? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't have to deal with all these disappointments?"


Well, on one hand, yes. Yes, it would be wonderful to be confident all my children love the Lord and walk daily in conscious dependence on him, to see strained relationships restored to the sweetness of full and honest fellowship, to climb the stairs without my knees hurting and popping.

But, on the other hand, no. No, because I am confident that God is using present trials to conform me to Christ, to tear out of my heart bits of idolatry, to work in me an ever-deepening knowledge of and delight in the beauty and sufficiency of my Savior.

No, because I have learned that trials and brokenness and disappointment, in addition to driving me closer to Jesus, are uniquely powerful opportunities to share the Gospel with others.

This morning, fresh on the heels of the above conversation, I read in the first chapter of Colossians:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the make the word of God fully make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of his mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim...

My sufferings, such that they are, add nothing to Christ's atoning work on my behalf. My desire to honor God or to endeavor to live in the power of the Gospel in the midst of trials, these add nothing to my righteousness or my assurance.

But, in some mysterious way, they allow me to "fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." What does this even mean?! Perhaps it means...

Jesus, when He walked among men, never experienced the heartbreak of losing a grandbaby. Maybe He had me walk through that heartbreak so that I could be learn the implications of the Gospel for this special kind of grief, so that I could be his representative to the grieving grandmother I met in the school parking lot.

The rush to the emergency room with the child whose body is broken, decades of energy-sapping chronic pain, business many unique ways can we "fill up the afflictions of Christ"? In how many ways can we learn and share with others what it looks like to walk in the power of Jesus and of the Gospel in the hard places of life?

Jesus redeems our brokenness. He redeems every tear, every disappointment, every grief, every hurt. He quiets our anxious thoughts and satisfies our deepest needs. Jesus showed us this when He walked on earth. He continues to show us this today as we - brothers and sisters in Christ - walk this earthly journey together.

Trials can be joy thieves - or they can be windows for letting in the sunlight.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


"The Check Engine light came on in the van."

"Just ignore it."

One philosophy regularly acted upon at my house is:  If something is wrong/broken/needs attention, ignore it and maybe the problem will go away. And if the problem doesn't go away, then at least the initial realization of the problem will pass far enough back into time that a person's bringing the issue up again can be dismissed with, "Seriously, is this even still an issue?" - or - "Are you really going to bring that up again?"

If the problem persists, strategy shifts from ignoring or delaying, to outright denial ("I had no idea - or - Why didn't you say something sooner?"), and then often into over-the-top dramatics.

A friend posted this meme on Facebook this morning:


Saying the problem is not a problem does not fix the problem. Ignoring the problem for days, weeks, years, and then responding with dismissive or belittling comments when it resurfaces (it will resurface), that does not fix the problem, either. Making up fairy tales inside your head about how you didn't know there was a problem, or how you've been busy fixing the problem, or about how you are obviously the victim of some demonic conspiracy, that doesn't help anything, either.

So, yeah - that meme. Not a particularly great start to my day today. Skipping details, I just want to point out:  problems don't go away because you refuse to talk about them, and I've got a load of hurt and anger that I am getting pretty tired of pretending is not a problem.

I went outside and weeded around the flowers, caught my breath, calmed down. Remembered essential things that I know are true.

And then, this...

This is a picture of a Batavia lettuce that my son Reuben grew. Reuben growing beautiful lettuce makes me believe that - despite my personal weariness - there is still much in this world that is very good.

"One of the the deepest and strangest of all human moods is the mood which will suddenly strike us perhaps in a garden at night, or deep in sloping meadows, the feeling that every flower and leaf has just uttered something stupendously direct and important, and that we have by a prodigy of imbecility not heard or understood it. There is a certain poetic value, and that a genuine one, in this sense of having missed the full meaning of things. There is beauty, not only in wisdom, but in this dazed and dramatic ignorance." - G.K.  Chesterton:  Robert Browning, Chap. VI - Browning as a Literary Artist (1903)

Often, we miss it. But then, on a very rare occasion, Batavia lettuce speaks something stupendously important with such clarity, speaks so emphatically, that it is heard even through my "prodigy of imbecility."

* * * * *

On another, unrelated note (but not entirely unrelated, of course)...

According to the article linked above:  "The PCA considered a specific apology when the issue was first raised at its annual meeting last year, but decided after nine hours of debate to defer it in order to perfect the language, allow for specific examples for repentance, and give churches time to study the PCA's complicity. The goal:  a more 'heartfelt and accurate' repentance." As PCA pastor Lane Keister put it, "You can't get an entire denomination to fully repent on a dime."

Wy Plummer, who coordinates the PCA's African American ministries, told Christianity Today that if the resolution had passed right away last year, "we would have gone to sleep again on issues of race."

(Note: I understand the difference between individual sin/individual repentance - and - corporate sin/corporate repentance. Scripture addresses both, and it is clear that, as believers, we need to be practicing both.)

In the year between the apology proposed at last year's General Assembly and the apology adopted at this year's General Assembly, my own little congregation, as far as I know, has not studied "the PCA's complicity" or "specific examples of repentance" or done anything else specifically related to this issue.

Still, I am humbly grateful for my denomination's official public apology.

In response to my excitement when I read the above article, one of my kids said, "Why is this such a big deal?!" His attitude was:  "I am not a racist. Racism is not a problem. Why can't folks just get over it and move on?"

Racism is not a problem today - not in America. Not in the PCA. Not in my home. Obviously. That's why the issue of racism just keeps coming up, over and over and over. Right?

(Saying the problem is not a problem does not fix the problem. See meme above.)

My day began with tears; several hours into this day, I am encouraged and I have renewed hope.

Reuben is growing beautiful lettuce, and God's people are moved to repentance.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


"Who are you when no one is looking?"

I have heard this is a good question for identifying who you really are, as opposed to who you think you are.

I have a friend who likes the idea of children, but who cannot tolerate being in the midst of a bunch of littles for more than a few minutes. "Kids are so messy!" "Children are always making noise!" "Can't someone make these kids be still?!" Kids - the reality - stress her out. My friend says she enjoys children; I think she genuinely wants to enjoy children; but, ummmm, nope...she's just not there yet.

I say I want to be thinner. Absolutely. But when it comes down to having to choose between "thinner" and a plateful of Helen's chocolate chip cookies, I choose the cookies almost every time. The idea of "thin" appeals to me, but not the reality. Honestly, if I never had to worry that anyone was looking at me with an eye to my size, I would be quite content with chubby.

I mopped the downstairs floors today. I love the feel of freshly-mopped floors beneath bare feet. If I was a hermit living all alone in the hills and no other human ever saw my floors, I would still mop my floors. I don't particularly enjoy mopping, but I love clean floors!

And I have figured out: I love writing. I am antsy to get busy on my next manuscript. I have my story idea sketched out and the first three chapters written, but it will be a couple of weeks before I can begin work on this story in earnest. I feel like a school kid sitting through an interminable math class, listening to the big clock above the bulletin board: tick, tick, tick, tick...will the bell for recess never ring?!

Who am I when no one is looking? Well, for starters, I am a chubby woman who likes chocolate chip cookies and clean hardwood floors. And I love writing.

Who are YOU when no one is looking?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Erica introduced a new yoga position to our class at ADBC a couple of weeks ago:  the modified fish. Initially, I thought the position rather uncomfortable. I focused on relaxing and breathing, while I hoped that Erica would quickly move on to another position. She did not.

Here is what the modified fish pose looks like:

(Click photo for CNN article on how yoga can alleviate smartphone slump.)
When Erica finally instructed us to slowly sit back upright, I was amazed at how open my chest and lungs felt and at how deeply I could breathe: "I feel like I just inhaled for the first time ever!"After that one pose, I felt remarkably more awake and energized.

This is now my new favorite yoga pose, people. Funny how a position that initially made me so uncomfortable ended up making me feel so much more alive!

Last week, a friend posted a meme on Facebook with this quote:  "It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness." It is easy to think that when everything in my life falls neatly into place, when I am happy because no ill wind disturbs the surface of my life's little pond, then I can be grateful:  God, make me happy, because then I will be grateful!

But the quote on the meme says something very different:  gratitude comes first, before happiness. In fact, happiness flows from gratitude (rather than the other way around).

It is like gratitude is the modified fish pose that expands our hearts so that we can breathe happiness in deeply.

Sometimes, life is uncomfortable. Sometimes, God puts me in places and positions I don't like, and I think, "I sure hope God moves on to something else soon." But He does not.

Instead, He keeps me there until I (hopefully!) stop fighting against him, until I focus more on the good He has for me in a particular difficulty than on how uncomfortable I am. Until I learn to say "Thank you" - to express gratitude for a God who is more concerned about my holiness than about my immediate comfort.

And then, finally, He sets me back upright, and I find that I can breathe more deeply than before, that I am more alive, more alert, more expectant, and more content. More joyful. And, yes, happy.

" is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." - A.A. Milne

Friday, June 17, 2016


This is a repost from a couple of years ago. Why share this again today? Because today, I am under the distinct conviction that, in one particular area of my life, the waiting is over. The time is now.

The first words that ran through my mind when I woke up this morning were:  "Get out of the boat." I could picture Peter stepping over the edge of the boat, out onto...what? the water?!!! How terrifying! How exciting! Stepping toward...what? His beloved Savior! How exciting! How terrifying!

"Get out of the boat."

Please pray for me today, and in the days and weeks ahead. Pray for wisdom, and courage, and perseverance. I seriously have no idea how this "walking on water" thing is going to work, no clue how it's going to turn out. I am most definitely a little scared. I am very, very excited. But, yes, I am is time to get out of the boat.

(originally published April 11, 2011)

Wow! Ever have one of those days where you feel like God just keeps getting right in your face and saying, "Do you hear me now?! Are you listening?!"

I have a little grand-nephew who, in the chaos of life in a big family, climbs up into Mommy's lap, puts his hands on each side of her face, and gets nose-to-nose with her. "Mommy, listen to me!" He's communicating, "I have something important I need to say to you, and I want to make sure you get this!" That's kind of how I felt this past God was taking my face in His hands, looking me in the eye, and saying, "Listen to Me!"

Life for me lately has been, well, just weird. Confusing. In some ways, very difficult. Challenging. Faith s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. Fraught with uncertainty and, yes, even a dose of fear. Kind of like living mid-step in that vague place between the dock and a boat that's just a little too far out in rough water.

An emotionally exhausting place to live.

Which brings me to Saturday.

A funeral. Prayer, Scripture, conversations with new acquaintances and with dear friends. Seemed like every word I heard was reminding me how very much God loves His children, and that He is faithful.

In the fellowship hall after the service, a friend was telling me of his adventures wind-surfing, something I know absolutely nothing about. Greg explained the difficulty, as a beginner, of learning to raise the sail on the board so as to harness the wind. Sounded like the process involves lots of floundering and flopping around in the water! Anyway, Greg made a statement that went something like this, "You have to realize that you can either fight with the wind and complain about it...or you can learn to wait for the wind. If you can wait patiently, then, at just the right time, you raise the leading edge of your sail the tiniest bit - and the wind does all the work. It raises the sail for you, without all that struggling and floundering, and then it takes you across the water." Wait for the wind...Then, zoom from the funeral to a ladies' luncheon. Our speaker at the luncheon told with such sweet countenance how God had led her through and used heart-breaking trials and difficulties in her life. In challenging the rest of us to trust God in the face of hardship and difficulty, she commented, "Cherish every tear." Why? Because, in God's economy, none of our suffering, none of our trials are ever wasted, and every tear is precious to God. They are redeemed for His glory. For our ultimate good. For the edification of the body of Christ. God transforms our suffering into opportunities to minister to others who are hurting around us. Cherish every tear...

Here it is Monday morning, and we're galloping full-speed into another week. This morning, in God's good providence, I read in 1 Samuel 13 of Saul's impatience as he waited on the prophet Samuel. With enemy soldiers swarming around him and his own troops fleeing in terror, Saul panicked - he didn't think he could wait any longer. Saul over-stepped his authority and offered the sacrifice himself, hoping to thereby gain God's favor and presence in battle. Instead, he lost everything. This morning, just in case I didn't catch it Saturday, God whispered again, "Wait."

And so I am "waiting for the wind," learning to cherish every tear, praying for the grace to know God's will and to be sensitive to His leading and His purposes for me in this season of life. Waiting, but keenly aware that God has not left me alone.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


I wish I had a time-lapse camera so I could show you the sunlight filtering across the hay field in the early morning. The hay is a sea of whispering gray green before the sun first peeks over the east horizon. Then, as first light filters through trees at the edge of the field, the tall grasses turn a rosy lavender. The sun continues to rise, and the field glows golden pink.

Finally, the sun clears the tops of the tall oak and maple and beech trees, and the entire field flames bright gold, like something out of a fairy story, great rolling Midas hills. Sunrise across the hay field is a crescendo of color, climaxing in a golden chord of good-morning Hallelujah.

Morning in the hay field in one of my very favorite times of the day.

This past weekend was busy and full and fun and exhausting. I crashed into bed Sunday night with the residue of a wicked headache and with so much left undone. Yesterday - Monday - I woke before the alarm went off, with a thousand and one To-Do-Todays already chattering in my head. It was going to be a hit-the-ground-running kind of day, a keep-running-all-day-long kind of day.

So I stumbled into the kitchen and started the coffee, then shuffled off to take a quick shower and to dress. Start a load of laundry, feed the cats, pack book bag and gym bag (yesterday was an out day), fill water bottles...quick! quick! quick!

As I stood at the kitchen sink filling water bottles, I glanced out the window at the hay field. The magic had just begun. My heart caught in my throat. My favorite time of day!

I remembered something important I needed to do at once, before the sun rose any higher, before grabbing breakfast and before packing the van. I grabbed my Bible and headed out to the porch swing.

The birds in the hay field are ecstatic, positively raucous in the early morning. Surround-sound music of the brightest, sweetest kind. God, all nature sings your glory!

The air in the hay field is cool and heady in the early morning, like the promise of baking bread or bee-brewed mead. Even the grass and the ground breathe perfumed praise to their Creator.

The light in the hay field in the morning is magical. And yesterday, I almost missed it.

The Song of Solomon speaks of a lover beckoning his beloved out into the fields. Come away with me!

Monday morning began tense with the demands of much to be done in a short amount of time. Until I looked out the window...

My Love is the fairest of ten thousand...

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Click HERE to purchase.
Back in January, I reviewed Tim Challies's newest book, Do More Better:  A Practical Guide to Productivity. (You can read that review HERE.) In February, after a month of implementing Tim's strategies for increased productivity, I shared some follow-up thoughts on productivity in general, and on how Do More Better was working for me in particular. (You can read the follow-up HERE.)

Now, five months after reading and reviewing Do More Better, I have a few additional comments to make...

For the first time in decades, I feel like I am actually managing to stay pretty much on top of things here at home. I don't check everything off my Todoist list every single day; but every single day, I do knock off some (usually most) of the tasks I need to complete.

What does this mean for me practically? It means, I spend time regularly in Scripture and in prayer. It means, I consistently work on writing projects that I enjoy. It means my bathrooms and floors are cleaned regularly and the laundry stays caught up. It means, the light fixtures in this house have been cleaned for the first time since we moved in over 10 years ago. It means, I don't feel overwhelmed by huge cleaning projects (like kitchen cabinets, windows, etc.), because I tackle those projects a tiny piece at a time, working on them a little each day until one job is complete and I can move on to the next. It means, I don't feel stressed at the thought of someone dropping by for a visit unannounced.

Second, I am spending a lot less mental energy trying to remember what it was I know I was supposed to do...but forgot. I am also spending less mental and emotional energy trying to figure out if I should take on a particular new task or project. It means, I feel much less guilt for things I haven't done - things I should never have added to my ToDo list in the first place - and much more gratitude for the things I am called to do.

And speaking of "calling"...

Early in Do More Better, Tim emphasizes the importance of praying for God's guidance and direction when deciding what things to do, what things to pass on to others, and what things to eliminate altogether. Encouraging good stewardship, Tim challenges readers to frequently consider how best to use our talents, time, and energy to serve others and to glorify God.

This one discipline - prayerfully seeking God's guidance in how to best use my resources of time, energy, talent, etc. - do this frequently (sometimes even daily!) has blessed me more, perhaps, than anything else I gleaned from Tim Challies's book.

How so?

In a peculiar turn of events, just as I began to develop a clearer vision of how I thought God wanted me to use my time, energy, and gifts, several other Really Great Opportunities popped up on my horizon. In the past, I would have really struggled - long and hard - over what to do. Should I accept this job? Should I commit to that ministry opportunity? Thankfully, these decisions have been much easier, much quicker, and much less fraught with second-guessing. I have been conscious of a tremendous weight that I DO NOT have to assume I need to carry.

On a related note, just when I seem to finally be discovering life lived not-so-close to the edge of chaos and utter exhaustion (I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW!), others have noticed my increased energy and productivity, too. A few have responded by apparently assuming that, wow, since Camille isn't completely strung out and on the verge of crashing, she should pick up some of my slack, too!

For the first time in longer than I can remember, I feel perfectly comfortable responding to such notions with, "Ummmmm, nope."

What does this look like for me practically? Like gratitude. Like excitement about the future. And it sounds like a tremendous sigh of relief.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Today felt a little bit like Monday all over again. Blegh.

It is 6:00, and I still have over a dozen things on my ToDo list, things that take time and brain power, both of which I am lacking this late in the day. Blegh.

So, what's a tired, stressed, frustrated middle-aged woman supposed to do when the day goes sour? Is there any hope of turning things around this late in the day?


Lamb therapy.

The newest addition to Helen's menagerie is named Bertram. As in Bertram (Bertie) Wooster. Hugh Laurie, eat your heart out.

Bertram is cantankerous and stinky. He screams like a girl when you try to lead him with a halter. He can hop straight up, three feet off the ground. He has a very thick, hard skull that serves as his primary means of communication with humans. Bertram is also fuzzy and adorable.

So, Helen and I headed out to work with Bertram - one of the many, many things on my long, long list of things to do today. Helen practiced leading Bertram. Then, while Helen caught her breath (at this stage in the game, "leading" the lamb means "dragging" the lamb, which is exhausting work), I tried my hand at leading Bertram.

After leading/dragging practice, we gave Bertram a bath. Did you know that lambs, when they get wet, shake just like a dog? Do you have any idea how much water even a very short coat of lamb wool will hold?

I smell like a sheep.

And I feel much, much better.

I may not get everything on my ToDo list done today. Not may not, but probably won't.

Who am I kidding?

I will NOT get everything on my list checked off today.

But it's been a good day.

Thanks to Helen and Bertram and a little Lamb Therapy.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


I am a homeschool mom, which means that for the first 16 or 17 years of their lives, I was my kids' primary teacher.

Seven kids. Kindergarten through twelfth grade = 13 grades each. Together, we have covered phonics, multiplication tables, the water cycle, calorimetry, American poets, cooking and sewing, and the geography of Subsaharan Africa.

And yet, for all that I have taught my children over the years, they have taught me far, far more.

My children have taught me...

  • To feel deeply
  • To value emotional and relational integrity
  • To desire truth even when truth scares me
  • To love with the ferocity of a lion
  • To find beauty in that which initially appears unlovely
  • To pant for grace
  • To cry without shame
  • To laugh without apologizing
  • To dance in the sunlight
  • To chase rainbows in the rain
  • To fall asleep with a thankful heart and to wake with praise on my lips

While I schooled my children, they schooled me.

I received the greater education.