Chariots for China

Eric Liddell. Oh, Eric Liddell. Let me count thy wonderful deeds!

Okay, enough of that.

Eric Liddell is known for his racing. Albeit strange, his running style won him many a race. His formula was simple: Run as fast as you can for the first part of the race, and ask God to help you run faster the second part.

Eric’s decision to forgo a race that was held on Sunday was quite shocking to his countrymen. He chose not to race in the event he was favored in, thus giving up a chance at a “sure” gold medal.

Eric ended up winning a gold in the event he was the given the least chance in. He was held in great regard by many who had disowned him after he had “dishonored his country”. And many of the others had stuck by Eric through the whole escapade.

After Eric’s success at the games in Paris, he decided to go back to China, where he had been born as a missionary child.

He returned to his birthplace, and started to help his parents do missionary stuff. One funny thing is that the head of the Anglo-Chinese School insisted that Eric and his family live in the French concession, in a huge house. Eric was, in fact, a British hero.

Eric begin his work as a teacher at a high end school. The founder of the school started it because he realized the need for mission work to the rich. He saw the poor being helped, but not the rich. I personally thought this was pretty ingenious. You don’t throw your net over someone else’s net. (See “I don’t understand fishing metaphors!” Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs)

Anyway, after a while Eric married a Canadian doctor, who wanted to be a missionary to China. Her name was Florence.

Then they had two girls in quick succession. Patricia and Maureen.

After five years or so, Eric was asked to help in a town that was in a war zone. China was still in the middle of the Sino-Japanese war. (If you say, “Huh?” you’re not alone. The Sino-Japanese war is also called the Forgotten War.)

He prayed about it and decided that he would go and help the town. He was quickly enrolled as a nurse’s assistant, and quickly became busy.

He became proficient in first aid, and was able to treat minor injuries, and the like. He would also travel to neighboring towns in order to help others have access to the hospital. (It was the only one for miles, and the Japanese had confiscated most vehicle, carts, etc.)

There was one time in which he was to retrieve a man who had been slashed across the face and neck, nearly decapitated, by a Japanese soldier. Eric and a man who had come along with him, rode the man back to the hospital on Eric’s bike. Along the way, Eric’s convoy was shot at by some Chinese men who thought they were Japanese.

Eric realized then that they were in a real war zone. Riding a bike could get you killed, albeit a case of mistaken identity.

After a bit of serving in the towns, Eric was granted permission to return to the English concession, and continue working at the school as a teacher. He lived there with his wife and daughters, and then they went back home on the basis that it was too dangerous for a wife and children in China. The Japanese had already regulated travel out side of the concessions, and Eric knew it was time for them to return.

It wasn’t quite time for his furlough, so he stayed it out, but then was restricted from returning by the Japanese. They said that the foreigners would be aloud to return to their homes, as soon as they were notified.

But the foreigners were soon notified otherwise. The Japanese had decided to put them in an interment camp.

It was run so as to keep the Europeans happy, but it wasn’t perfect. They had to fix the sewage system, and there wasn’t a lot of space. only about a football field’s worth for a few thousand people.

Through it all, Eric led the discombobulated upper class through the hardships. Many of the interns were not used to the hard living as Eric was. In many of the small towns in China, he had slept on wood floors. Hay was a luxury.

Eric was always smiling, and organizing games, classes, and youth group activities.

Eric died in the internment camp of a brain tumor. He was 43, and the only consolation for his wife, was that there was no cure for a brain tumor in 1945, and she knew it.

In all of the written accounts of the internment, there is a reference to Eric, or Uncle Eric, as many of Eric’s little friends called him.

Many remembered him as “constantly smiling”, or “The best christian man I knew.” There are countless other accounts with similar praise, as Eric was truly filled with God’s love, and he showed it in every action.

Eric Liddell was remembered in Scotland, his native land, by an award, that went to the first place racer in the top collegiate competition.

He is, and should be, remembered by all, as a man who truly loved God.

He gave his life to him, all 43 years of it. That’s pretty special 🙂

A New Writer

ian-mustacheWell, only new to this website. Actually, he’s been writing for quite a while. (Have you seen his previous blog? His writers group website? Anything in print? … I can’t link to that…)

Ian J. Campbell is an aspiring young author, and I thought it would be fun to make better use of this website by asking him to publish his thoughts here at least weekly. It will be good writing exercise for him, and hopefully entertaining, insightful, and perhaps even educational for you, the reader.

I’m not sure when he’ll post his first work to this site, but… stay tuned. It could get interesting!

(And how about that mustache he’s got working here?) 🙂

Cute story

I was helping Julia write a letter to Grammy tonight. We got to the word DOGS and she wrote the D, knowing “dogs” starts with “d”, but she is pretty shaky on which vowel says what sound. So I was saying the “ah” that the “o” in “dogs” says, seeing which of the 5 vowels she would pick. She guessed one of them (I forget which one now), not the “o”. I said, “No… “o” says “ah”.” She looked me straight in the eye and boldly said, “No, it doesn’t.”

That was classic Julia. She is very black and white/matter-of-fact 🙂 I love that about her 🙂

One Thousand Gifts

I went from being angry to being giddy. In seconds.

I’ve been reading the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I have been reading her blog daily for a year or more. She is VERY poetic in her writing, and sometimes that is hard for me… I am very black and white. I like things clearly spelled out 🙂 But time after time I can relate to her mistakes, and I am so encouraged by her perspective  – to keep going, to trust God is in control and loving us through all of this, to just go back and try again.

So I ordered a copy of her first book as a Christmas present to myself last month. I just got it in the mail a couple days ago… it was just released. It is just wonderful.

In the first chapter I grow so close to her. I cry with her. I know her struggles. I know her fear. I know her feeling stuck – then, her friend dares her.

I don’t do dares. Never did. Don’t ever want to.

But this one is different.

I’m not even half way through the book and I’m diving in with my whole heart. The dare – put simply is something like this… Pay attention and keep a list of things you love, or are thankful for. See if you can get to 1,000. Just try it.

OK, I will after I finish the book. After I find a nice new journal to write in… oh, I think I have some extra upstairs in the closet. That will be even better.

But then that night, I cannot sleep. It happens often. Usually I dwell on the things I need to get done, or I can’t figure out, or are really bothering me.

So I remembered how angry I was earlier in the day with 5 of the 6 kids for ALWAYS losing their gloves. Just one of each pair. We have more than 15 lone gloves – no match – no one has any idea where they could be. REALLY??? Not one match? (Well, our 12 year old did have his pair together, they were just soaking wet! So not one of the six had a matching pair of gloves to wear in the very very bitter cold.) Grrrrrrrrrr, that makes me angry.

And then I remember Ann and One Thousdand Gifts.

Pay attention, look and try to see the good all around.

And God showed me the precious little chubby (some not so little or chubby 🙂 hands that fit into the gloves, paired or not. I get to be the Mom of 12 super cute little hands! And I smile. And goodness literally bubbles up inside me.

And so number 1 on my list of 1,000 is tiny cute little hands squishing into gloves.

And my heart heals just a bit. And my expectation of the potential in this exercise explodes!

Number 2 is Ann Voskamp and her love of God and words.

Thank you Ann.

Thank you God.

Can’t wait to see the next 998!

HSLDA | Home School Laws

Map of States Home School Regulations

We the Campbells are not currently members of the Home School Legal Defense Association, but we do think they have some great resources for home schooling families.  Today I re-discovered the link below, from their website, and I think it’s worth sharing here.

HSLDA | Home School Laws.

It’s a clickable map of all the states and links to their home schooling regulations, state by state.  We happen to live in a “red” state (meaning high regulation) but certainly have considered relocation to any of the “green” states, should any problems arise with our local school district.  (Thankfully, that hasn’t even come close to happening.)

Visit that link, bookmark it, and perhaps becoming an HSLDA member might be right for your family.  They definitely are champions for families and home education.  Those are good things!

Things To Share

Just so there is content on the home page… here’s the first post at the new  There will still be stories from the Campbell family here, but there will also be tons and tons of great links to household and family and education resources discovered by Jen.  She’s really good at that!

So bookmark the page, subscribe to the RSS feed… however you want to do it… plan to visit at least once a day!  🙂

From The Mouth of Julia

“AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” I (Dad) let out a mock yell at something that was mildly frustrating. It was a sudden, loud outburst.

“That was loud!” said two-year-old Julia. She followed up with, “Not like lightning…”

“Not like lightning?” I inquired?

“No, not lightning. It’s that loud thingie… your mouth!”

At that point, I was on the floor laughing. 🙂

Trusting God

A long time ago we decided to live life differently.  The definition of “differently” continually changes, but along the way has included raising support from friends and family who helped financially free us to work in campus ministry here in New York, and accepting any invitation to come and sing and never ask for money from any of those engagements.

The current version looks a bit different, as I do certainly charge (a specific amount) for what I do, but I am still quite flexible and generous with my time. (Which is perhaps a very different thing?)

Bottom line is, we are happy to trust God to provide for us, instead of trying to do that for ourselves.

Many things have come together recently, however, to help us realize that we are not truly living a life of trusting God to provide for us.

True, we do trust him.  Implicitly.  We credit him for all provisions we receive.  And even when we do not receive what we wish we would have received, we know that He loves us, and that He sees more than we see.  And so we trust Him.

But what Jen and I have both seen—and Jen wisely alerted me to—is that we have been living with a foot in both worlds for some time now.

We have been on the one hand, trusting God to provide whatever he sees fit to provide, but on the other hand – while exercising frugal spending – going ahead of God and his provision, mostly in the form of paying for things we needed (or maybe didn’t?) with credit cards and other loans.

And now, the weight of that burden has caught up with us.

We are at least a month behind on most every monthly bill.  We were warned by our mortgage holder that we were in danger of losing our house (though that has been corrected) and there really is a great, heavy financial burden on both of us at the moment.  Seemingly more than we can work out from under.

We are taking steps to remedy this – including me working extra hours, Jen doing a little work for my dad, I applied for another job, etc – but I think perhaps the biggest step is really choosing what we believe.  And how we want to live.

And that “way” is trusting God to provide for everything we need.  Everything.

So we have decided from here forward to not use credit cards (barring perhaps a life-threatening emergency?) and see where that takes us.  So far, so good.  We have seen God provide tiny bits of cash when we need it, and we are much happier (when we are not thinking about the looming debt that is close behind us) spending the money that we actually have, rather than continuing to go ahead of God and pay bills or buy food or whatever we thought we needed on a credit card.

“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these [what they will eat, what they will wear], but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

That’s from the end of Matthew 6.  That’s a section of scripture that has always been very close to me, and I think maybe because that’s how God has always wanted me to live.  And the amazing this is, that’s what he wants from Jen, and what we want together.

So, we are embarking on a journey that I know will take us deeper… and actually, other than that we have no idea where it will take us.  Yes, it is frightening in a way… but, not when we remember whom we are trusting, and remember how He loves us, and has taken care of us so far… we know that he always will.

[PS… I do not write any of this to elicit some sort of financial response from anyone who might read this – which includes almost exclusively family and close friends.  Only wanting to share this decision/shift in thinking that seems very important – milestone-ish – in our lives right now.]


Tonight we had to eat tuna sandwiches. We have sworn off credit cards here in the Campbell house and are really trusting that God will give us what we need. If we don’t have it… we don’t need it.

So, we have tuna. That makes it tonight’s dinner.

The kids are all cooperating differently. Ian ate it. Kirstie ate it and talked about how she didn’t like it, but she was going to eat it anyway (with a smile!) Julia ate it with mom’s help. Alex is not. (Par for the course with him.)

Should be interesting learning to live on what God gives us. Tuna is only one manifestation of that choice.

So far, so good 🙂


Today while Julia was telling me a story about Kirsten, she was using the pronoun, “She” when referring to her. I actually understood her, but for some reason she didn’t think I did. She kept saying it, and she was not pronouncing the “h”, so it came out, “See.” I figured she must mean something else, so I kept trying to guess.

Finally, in exasperation, she said, “THAT ONE!!!” pointing emphatically to Kirsten.

I cracked up, as usual. What a fun age! 🙂