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Archive for July, 2012

The Humble Games

I once tried selling makeup and plastic bowls with burping lids at “parties” to ladies who’d been bribed into attending with obscene amounts of sweets.

I am so not a saleswoman.

I’ve never been good at convincing people to spend their money on some product we both know they don’t need. Perhaps my tightwad practical side is to blame. It’s just that I have a hard time seeing the value of stuff sometimes.

Unfortunately, this inability to see worth carries over into my life, to moments when my self-worth is being questioned or challenged. I have never done well with criticism. I don’t get defensive or retaliate with snappy come-backs. When my worth is challenged, I quietly cave. Probably because, as a kid, I believed put-downs. Every time. Didn’t matter if the person didn’t know me. For some odd reason, I figured they just knew. Put-downs weren’t hard to believe because I could usually see some truth in it.

It’s healthy to be honest with ourselves. For instance, I want to know when I’m being a thoughtless, self-absorbed jerk so I can stop doing it. (Did I just hear an Amen?)

But for some of us, there can be a down-side to flaw-seeking, inward scrutiny.

When burdened with feelings of low self-worth or humiliation, the temptation is to seek reassurance I’m not that bad. I must admit: I am pretty good at listing all the things I know are wrong with me. The problem is the longer the list, the more likely someone will jump to my defense and reassure me I’m not so bad. Not bad at all. In fact, those people usually follow up with a list of all the good things they see and appreciate about me.

Yes, I just realized how pathetic that sounds.

The trouble with such a ploy for reassurance is that I somehow forget there really are a couple truly weak or sinful areas that still need some attention. Throw the baby out with the bath water. Kind of. Okay, that’s a really bad cliché. More like out of sight, out of mind. (Still cliché, but less disturbing.)

So we’re back to square one.

What exactly was it that You saw in me, God?

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  (Psalm 139)

That’s just it—it’s not about me. God has this astounding capacity for love that I can’t wrap my brain around. It has something to do with his holy, righteous nature. I also know that Jesus paid a costly price for me. That alone determines my worth. I can’t demure, discount, or play games with that.

God sees great worth in me, not because of anything I’ve done, but because he made me and paid an enormous price for me. Clothed me in a righteousness I don’t deserve. I have a choice: Either cheapen God’s priceless gift by playing the I’m Bad/Okay, I’m Not So Bad/No Really, I’m Bad game while avoiding what I actually need to change, or allow Christ to shine the light of truth into all my motives, thoughts and actions, and purify me—the sinner he paid the ultimate price for without hesitation.

Q: How do you respond to criticism, from others and yourself? Do you get defensive? Take it to heart so deeply that it crushes and you have to toss it all out? Or do you ask Jesus to show you if there is any truth to it that needs your attention?

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I’m veering slightly from the river’s edge today to share this little side note…

As you may know, I write inspirational romance and women’s fiction. Some are okay with calling it Romantic Women’s Fiction.  I tend to write along the lines of a relational drama combined with a strong love story. Think Nicholas Sparks meets Karen Kingsbury. At an offbeat little comedy club. Where they serve killer coffee and garnish everything with bacon.

Anyway.

If you have not yet been bombarded spammed made aware, I am currently taking part in a short-short romance story contest. I’ve entered 2 short stories.

Did I mention that they’re short?

My stories are now posted for the public to vote on (give a thumbs up or down).  Anyone can vote (you only have to provide an email address & don’t have to sign up for anything). You may vote once for each story you like. The stories with the most votes move on to further rounds, and the author who wins the final round receives an all-expense paid trip to American Christian Fiction Writers‘ Conference 2013. Voting ends in August.

 

Here are links to the stories:
is a touching story about a young woman who finally admits she’s in love with her best bud, only . . . it may be too late.
There’s something achingly familiar about the quiet, handsome man Lily has been serving breakfast at the diner.

 

 

 

You are welcome to vote as you please for mine and/or any other stories you want to win. Thank you so much for taking a brief detour to read my short stories and for supporting faith-inspiring fiction!

Come back next week for a cool stop along the banks. Bring coffee and bacon, we’ll talk.
God’s Grace & Blessings,
-Camille

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The Fourth of July came and went for us this year without explosives. Not even a sparkler. My husband and I just don’t get excited about fireworks anymore since our three kids hit their 20s. (This will likely change when we get some impressionable grandkids.) But with or without explosives, I don’t know if we have ever spent Independence Day giving a lot of thought to our freedom.

In fact, I had to do a little surfing to refresh my knowledge of Independence Day and remember that our colonial ancestors were angry over taxation without representation in Parliament. It wasn’t so much about the taxes, but the principle. The tyranny. The bully who insisted on taking and giving nothing in return.

I appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in America today, and am very grateful for the many who have sacrificed family, health, and lives to make freedom possible. Freedom from tyranny is a good thing.

Freedom from condemnation is also a good thing.

Romans 8:1-2 says:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Because of what Christ did for us, it is possible to be in right relationship with our Maker, and for that I’m very grateful.

I am proudly tyranny free,

thankfully condemnation free,

and reluctantly sugar free.

But there’s one freedom I wish I didn’t have . . .

It’s the freedom to go my own stubborn, selfish way. I often take God and his amazing grace and fresh mercies for granted. I ask, plead, seek, then get an answer and go on my way. Or worse—ignore him altogether and just wander around doing as I please.

Until something goes terribly wrong, or until I’m faced with something I can’t handle on my own . . .

The author who penned the old hymn Come Thou Fount knew exactly what I’m feeling. It’s such a beautifully honest testament to the frailty of the human heart. I’ve included the song on a video below. Take a moment to listen and let the words soak your heart with truth.

I love the last verse. In fact, I am this verse:

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let thy goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love

Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it

Seal it for Thy courts above

Ah Jesus, how quickly I can wander off and lose sight of You. It’s not in my frail-yet-stubborn nature to stick close to Your side, not without Your Spirit’s kind, persistent help. Please bind my wandering heart to You, by Your goodness and sweet grace.

Amen.

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This previous post suggested you don’t have to be a rock star to use your gifts for God. Have you figured out a way to use your gifts? If not, keep looking. If you’re prone to crushing self-doubt, ask Jesus (and have the nerve to believe him). You’ll find it.

As for me, I can safely say I’m a communicator. An “imparter” of words, such as they are. But I’m no Apostle Paul and I don’t have all the answers. Psyche! You thought I did!

I’m not here to dazzle anyone with my two-cents’ worth of wisdom (read: management assumes no responsibility for your bedazzlement). I am simply a traveler who wants to invite mutual encouragement in the faith with the help of God’s life-giving, life-changing word.

What I do know is I’ve always loved to write. Currently I am working toward publishing my faith-inspiring romance novels. Lord willing, it could happen through traditional publishing that produces lovely printed books with stunning covers, or maybe as e-books, or something super innovative and cool that my puckered little brain has yet to imagine.

And I’m okay not knowing because I will continue to write. For me, writing is a lot like being a seed-sower: I scatter seed, but I may not be the one to water, cultivate or harvest the fruit of my labor. Some kind, wealthy landlord (traditional publishing house) may come along and help me produce a crop large enough to feed tens of thousands from my carefully sown words.

I’d like that.

Or . . . one tired, hungry little kid may come along and find the sustenance he needs in my words to make it the rest of the way home. I’d like that too.

Either way, my goal is to do what I was created to do to the very finest of my ability with God’s gracious help.

Remember the prophet Jeremiah? I’m pretty sure he didn’t get nominated Prophet of the Year or score 4.5 stars in Prophets Weekly. He didn’t get many “likes” on FaceBook (though, come to think of it, he did get published…) but being popular wasn’t his goal. He did what he was created to do regardless the response.

I’ll keep sowing “word seeds” and pray God steers me down the paths He has prepared, whether rich or rocky, trampled or tilled. Whether on that path I’ll meet a rich landlord or a homeless kid, who knows. Maybe both.

Here’s the Apostle Paul’s word of encouragement to us:

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”  Romans 1:11-12

Question: Do you know your strong suits, what you were created to do? Have you recognized the unique, recurring spiritual gifts in your life? Please share!

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