A Bad Case of the Stripes

Amelie and I decided to avail ourselves of the fabulous Storyline Online website to have a movie star read a book to us.  Though I tried to steer her towards a couple that looked interesting to me, she was insistent we should “read” A Bad Case of Stripes, written and illustrated by David Shannon and read by Sean Astin.

You have to check out the website and share the stories with your kids, and be sure to check out the activity guides to go with them.


Amelie loved the story so much she just had to watch it a second time and would have watched it again, except I talked her into doing some “striped” painting and gluing instead.

Anyway, the story is about a little girl, Camilla Cream, who loves lima beans, but she would never eat them because none of the other kids she knows likes them.  Classic fear-of-man stuff.  Poor Camilla is so nervous about the first day of school and being sure everyone liked her that she breaks out in stripes.  Of course the kids at school tease her and when someone yells out, “Let’s see polka dots,” embarrassingly, she breaks into polka-dots.

A variety of doctors, specialists and experts try to diagnose the problem and the more “names” they put on her condition, the more ways she turns into everything and anything other than herself.  Every possible “cure” only made her into something further from the little girl we started with.  Finally, when an “environmental therapist” advised Camilla that to be cured she should close her eyes, breathe deeply and become one with the room, Camilla, mortified, said, “I wish you hadn’t said that!”   Because that is exactly what happened.  Camilla Cream slowly melted into the room.  Her bed was her mouth and two pictures on the wall were her eyes and a lamp {Amelie was quite intrigued to note} was her nose.

Camilla was upset.  Her parents were very upset and Amelie and I became quite worried about what could possibly happen that could help poor Camilla.

But a little plump, old lady came by with some lima beans.  They weren’t magic beans or anything, just regular old lima beans.  She offered some to Camilla.  Camilla resisted at first saying she hated lima beans, but then she relented, because she really wanted lima beans.  So, the lady tossed some in her mouth (her mattresses) and suddenly Camilla became herself.  Cured!

The moral of the story…

Isn’t children’s literature a wonderful surprise sometimes?  The moral of the story just unfolds before your eyes and while Amelie loved it (and I am betting will be watching it again at home — get ready Rocky and Jovan) I got something, too.

I got a great reminder that we were each created to do and to be something so incredible that God knit us specially together in the womb.  He knew each of us and saw us and put us on this earth and in His story with great care and purpose.

I am so shocked at myself sometimes, surprised that even though I am very, shall we use the lovely word Tredessa has used to describe me, determined… Even though I tend towards being highly opinionated and have a strong personality (is this why my siblings call me The Godmother?), though I go at everything, Dave tells me, like a house-on-fire, somehow, I am constantly doubting my every move, wondering what people will think, de-valuing my strengths and wishing I could be more like this person in this area, or that person in the other area.  And I am so doggone indecisive about my life and who I am and what I should be about.  So indecisive.  And I find that weird.  How can I be able to tell everyone else what they should do {*smile}, but I cannot just make a decision for me?

Are you ever like that?  Afraid to jump because you’re just sure it will be wrong and everything will be ruined?


I know life isn’t really ever as black and white as I wish it to be.  Some things are right and some things are wrong, but there are things that just happen and experiences that don’t go our way and if they’re not actually fatal (and let’s face it, I am writing this and you are reading it so we are still alive, no matter how hard the things we’ve been through) then they are just the result of life in a fallen word and usually we did the best we could and so we trust God and go on.

But sometimes fear of failure of mistakes or what people will think or are thinking just paralyse us and no one can actually see us anymore because we look like the wallpaper.  We’ve just blended into the atmosphere, having taken on the identity of the room we’re in and the people surrounding us.  When really, shouldn’t we be standing out like a “sore thumb of uniqueness,” the one-and-only US made by the Creator of the Universe as the only one of our kind?

Bleh, huh?


If we could just keep in mind, that even if it doesn’t always look black or white, left or right, right or wrong – God loves us, has a plan in an exciting adventure-filled life of wholeness and holiness and then there is the enemy of our soul saying, “You can’t do that.  Who do you think you are?  What will people think if you try that?”  Well, if we understood the differences in the voices, we’d know…

If I am called to impart the love of God, impart wisdom, impart the joy of being God’s daughter, impart the joys of home and family, the opposite is being shut down, told to be quiet, go hide, keep secrets, withhold it all.  We let some one who shrugs off our life mission stop us.  If I am called to impart so much good stuff and I bottle up my deep treasure – it goes bad.

If I am called to be wholehearted and impassioned and unwavering in zeal for life, for family, for the love of God, the enemy of my soul might diffuse me by pointing out how disinterested or unenthusiastic other people are for the things that light my fire.  Maybe even culture tells me that what I love isn’t important in today’s climate.  So, I try to get excited about something more “relevant” or important and end up unengaged, off-track, diffused.


Be you, seriously!

So, if you’re a singer, sing.  Sing so loud you dispel the darkness.  Sing in the night and bring on the dawn!

If you’re a preacher, preach.  Let your words fall like rain and wash away injustice and sin and bring the redemptive plan to life, on earth as it is in heaven!

If you’re a teacher, teach.  Expand minds and hearts and empower people to know and understand.

If you’re a baker, bake.  Writers, write.  If you’re a leader, lead (I feel I must mention that some one has to be following).  If you’re painter (walls or canvas) paint – bring color and beauty!  If you’re a sculptor, sculpt.  If you are merciful and compassionate, if you are tender and caring, if your heart is to help – quit letting others tell you to get tough and get a move on.  Be who you are – a rescuer, a strong shoulder, a hero, a soft place for some one to fall?   If you’re bold and well-spoken, if you see the wrong and need to make it right, if you were born to expose the unfruitful works of darkness, then armor up and declare the charge!

The point: as long as you are trying to fit yourself into anyone or everyone else’s mold, you’ll have a bad case of the stripes, and really, what we all want – and what we all need is: YOU!  The one and only you.


Note to self:  ALL of it is a note to myself!


Please watch this or check the book out at the library!  It has beautiful illustrations and is well-written.  My synopsis doesn’t do it justice.

4 thoughts on “A Bad Case of the Stripes

  1. Your writing and especially this post just make my heart sing! The beauty of it makes me want to dance and celebrate who God made me to be! Than I want to encourage others to join the dance and celebrate who they are meant to be.
    Just joyous, sweet Jeanie! Keep writing these truths!

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