WHEN GRIEF RUNS DEEP

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

I read the text in horror and disbelief.

How could he be gone? He was the picture of potential. So much going for him. H had been through so many challenges and had come so far. Achieved so many accolades. How could his world have crumbled so low tht taking his life be the answer he turned to?

Shockwaves ripple through the core of my heart. A landslide of sorrow.

All who knew and loved him grieved. In our homes. On social media. In our conversation. In our prayers. In our hearts.

We grieved deep with a pain that stings fierce.

We grieved for his family, for the empty seat at their dinner table and the empty gap in the hearts at home. We grieved for his friends, our children, teammates and our community. We grieve because death hurts.

In the sacred sanctuary of God’s presence, we were reminded that God is the healer of the broken. We were reminded that death is not the end for those that place their faith in Christ. We were reminded to cvherish those we love and to keep our eyes wide open to the needs of those around us.

The pastor painted a canvas of Hope as he spoke. Each word a stroke of truth. A smattering of grace in full and vibrant color. He shared from the Word of God about the Word made flesh: our Hope, Jesus.

And then this… “Our friend did not die of hopelessness, he died of brokenness.”

Oh, my soul.

How does one who is surrounded by community of love feel broken to the point of death? To the point of thinking that suicide is a solution to the pain?

I struggled to breathe as I think back on this tragedy.

I consider the lives I love that are tortured by depression and sigh inwardly.

The weight of it all still sits heavy on my heart.

Inwardly, I speak to the Father. I remember pouring my heart out to the Comforter and sensing His peace in the middle of the grief. The burden remains, but the everyday struggle. When life is fagged and darkness taunts us like a bully, how can we see beyond the despair that grips us?

I don’t have a simple list of answers, but I do know this: when grief runs deep God’s comforting love runs deeper still.

The peace we long for and te rest we are desperate for will always be found in the arms of Jesus. And those arms are constatly reaching out to us.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from the, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29.

This is the invitation Jesus gives to each of us.

If you find yourself in a place of unrest…if you are trying to sift through a landslide of souls sorrow…if you’re carrying a heavy load, will you turn toward Hope and accept His invitation now?

Prayer:

Lord, please help me bring my grief to You. Thank You for being a God of hope and healing. Remind me of the peace and plans you have for me.

In Jesus’ Powerful Name

Amen

ARE YOU TOO BUSY TO SERVE?

But the Samaritan, as he traveled came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him (Luke 10:33)

When my friend Marji moved away it was hard. I have missed her terribly and this has been several years ago when she moved. It wasn’t until a few months after she moved that it hit me — why her friendship is such a gift. Simply put, she had time for me. I guess I don’t just mean time to talk on the phone, to chat over coffee or meet up with other friends. It’s more than that; she has the mental and emotional space to love well. She’s not so stressed and consumed with her own life that she has no time or energy for anyone lse. On the contrary, she has the capacity to be a good friend — to pray for me often to remember my appointments and concerns, to process and thnk through my questions and decisions.

I feel like this sort of friendship is very rare today. Most people (myself included) are so busy, so full, so preoccupied with our own plans, ministries, projects, and schedules.

But when I think on Scripture, I am deeply convicted. We should never be too busy to serve! Think back to the story, or perhaps read it in its entirety in Luke 10. Those who passed by the Samaritan — were they not ‘important’ people, on the way to ‘important’ work? I’m pained wondering how many people I pass by because I am ‘on a mission’ — simply too consumed with my own life to stop and help.

I do a lot of good work. My life is jam-packed, in fact, with noble projects and important events and all the things that I accomplish. But are these things interfering with my ablity to stop and hlp someone in need? Am I too stressed, too busy, too overwhelmed, too distracted to be a true friend to the people in front of me?

Thank about Jesus. The Lord of the Universe, The Savior of the World! And he had time to talk with little children, to dine with sinners, to pause and heal the crippled. I heard someone once say, “Jesus was never in a hurry.” I don’t know that we can fully confirm that! But from the overall theme of the Gospels, it does seem to be the case that when people in His path needed help, He could stop and help without acting bothered or inconvenienced.

Prayer:

Lor, thank you for the full, busy lives You allow us to live, for the many projects and jobs we can do. But Father, may my good works and important schedule never become so pressing that I lack the ability to be a good friend. Slow me down, Lord. Open my eyes to those in need, and convict me deeply to treat them as You would have treated them

In Jesus Powerful Name,

Amen

What Next?:

Evaluate your schedule. Do you have the margin in your life o stop and help your neighbor? If not, stop and pray that the Lord would help you see what you may be able to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to your neighbor well.

COVID-19 Rant

Strange. Now that the journey markers of each week are gone, it’s hard to remember what day it is without Monday—Bible Study, Tuesday—get groceries and write, Wednesday—answer mail, emails, text and do the wash, Thursday—see patients from 7 am to 7 pm, Friday—special dinner out or at home, Saturday—water flowers, yard work, pick veggies, groceries, Sunday—church and lunch with close friends

No wonder people in nursing homes are thought to be losing their memories when every day is exactly the same and no one comes to visit or eat or have great discussions or listen to music together or meet in the park or go for walks or grocery shop….  Who cares if it’s Friday or Tuesday? 

Why put on make-up or do your hair or take another shower or read a decorating or fashion magazine. Or news magazine, for that matter?  No wonder the residents all look old and puckered and drag around in old chenille bathrobes. No wonder last year’s magazines are as good as this year’s.  No wonder they don’t get tired of that lavender top and want a new striped yellow and lime one—or new shoes, or sharp new slacks.  No wonder they are late to the dining room when it doesn’t matter what time it is or what’s for dinner. Everything tastes the same and IS the same anyway.  Why play a game when winning or sharpening your wits won’t lead to a wittier banter?

I have to mark my days during this pandemic by doing something that makes me know today isn’t yesterday and certainly won’t be tomorrow!  I have to cook different foods.  I have to set the table and do it with different place mats and different colored napkins and intentionally different flowers. I have to light the candles and play the music.

I have to actually touch my sweet lover and kiss his lips and watch romantic movies—or disturbing ones or Westerns, or documentaries about Henry VIII.  I have to make a blueberry cobbler, even if and especially if I send half of it to a friend in town.  I have to take a hot bath in sweet-scented bath salts.  I have to like myself.

Today I will pickle some cucumbers and pull some weeds.  It matters.  I will snip off some zinnias and a stem or two of lavender and put them in a vase with purple phlox and the last of the lilies.

Today I will put on my lipstick and polish my flaking-off nails because even though I can’t go to the nail salon, I will not abide these ugly nails.  I will make tea and it will be Earl Gray!

Today I will hug someone who doesn’t have a temperature.  Today I will read my new travel planners I just ordered from Amazon even though I pretty much know I can’t go anywhere any time soon.

Today I will co-ordinate my clothes and wear earrings.  I will read something so deep and challenging that it will tie my brain in a knot and force me to read it again—and again, and maybe again.  I will not give up until I get it!  Today, listen to me! Today will not be just another day no different from yesterday or tomorrow.  Today I will shine, even if no one is watching.  And I will sing!

TRUSTING GOD TO WRITE YOUR STORY

But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:28

I sat in a church pew after lying in bed for several days silently. For days I was going to be a mom and then I miscarried.  There was nothing I could do to change it, and I couldn’t believe it. People would come and go, say words that I didn’t really hear, nor would I remember. And I remained mostly silent. They would pray for me, tried to keep me distracted, but I felt numb.  As though my whole world had simply stopped spinning. One day a friend climbed on top of the bed with me, with tear-filled eyes, and these words were spoken to me: “This is part of your story now.”

Fast forward 11 years. There I sat, terrified and confused, in a row of church chairs.  Watching my children in a church presentation and doing such a loving and wonderful job.  As I watched I tried not to think about how I knew that my marriage was over.  I once again found out and it was confirmed that he was cheating on me again. I didn’t know if everything was going to be OK, and I didn’t understand it.

My friend at church whispered to me, “God doesn’t give a story like this to just anyone.”

But I didn’t want it to be.

I had written out a story for my life and this wasn’t part of it.  It didn’t include the loss of a baby and an upcoming divorce.  This isn’t what I dreamed of when I was a little girl.  It’s not what I ever hoped or prayed for.

But it was my story.

I had carefully laid out my plans.  I had dreams for my future.  I had crafted the perfect path in my head.

But I’m not the author.

And so, sometimes I just have to take that tight grasp I have on my dreams, and let go. Even when it hurts, even when I only want to grasp tighter to my carefully laid plans, on the good days, the bad days, and everything in between.

If I truly trust God with my life, that means I trust him with every aspect.  Each and every word, sentence, and chapter.  Even when I feel like I can’t bear to flip the page and see what happens next.  Even when I think the next page is going to be wonderful and it turns out to be downright awful.

It’s all part of what makes our faith so scary and yet so beautiful.  And because of our faith in Christ, we know that in the end he will redeem all of the scary and seemingly hopeless patches.

Even though I’ve been through some tough times, I love looking back and seeing what God has already brought me through.  The hopeless times.  The tiring times.  The exciting times.  Because the truth is, though many of these chapters haven’t been what I had always hoped for, a lot of them are filled with blessings I also didn’t deserve.

I remember a couple days after I found out about my miscarriage and was deep in the pit of grief and decisions, my Dad showed up for a surprise visit.  And I’m glad he did, because his words still ring true to me…..”there are better days ahead, kiddo.”

Three months later I got that positive pregnancy test.  As I write today, I have three terrific children that are all in their 30’s.  I would not feel as blessed had I not gone through the years of trial after trial.  And I am thankful for each of them because of the trials.

And yes, I did go through a divorce 20 something years ago and it was a most difficult time.  But as I look back, God grew me in ways that have amazed me and I am also thankful to him for what he has taught me.

You see, in this life you will wander through phases that are difficult, and phases that are absolutely beautiful.  So if you’re in the midst of a rough patch, keep trudging on.  It gets better.  God does have better days ahead for you. Just trust Him.

Prayer

Lord, some phases of life can be difficult and feels so hopeless, while others are so full of joy.  I pray that You would strengthen me through the hard times, and that I would praise You in the good times.  I pray that through it all, no matter what, I will boldly place my life in your hands and trust You will bring everything together for your good.

In Jesus Powerful name.

COVID-19 AND BEYOND

Dear Friends,

Thank you for being a part of our family for all these years.  We love each one of you and pray for you as we wrestle with difficult decisions that a few months ago we never could have imagined.  In order to comply with the CDC recommendations for limiting public gatherings due to the Coronavirus, we have made the decision to reschedule all of our events through the end of June.  We are looking at our schedule right now and hoping to begin scheduling in July of this year.  Many of the events that you may have planned on through June will not be available.  We will keep everyone posted as the events receive a new date.  Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.  This decision was not made lightly but we want to keep all those who will be attending as well as the artists and the staff safe.  We look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Gary and Gayla Campbell

G&G Ministries

Two Ears, One Mouth

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26 NIV)

I want my words to be life-giving.  I want to use my words and tone of voice to bless people and love them well.  Isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what pleases God? Tod be clear: I’m still a work in progress when it comes to this, but by God’s grace I am making progress.

My heart is hushed as I reflect on the way James addressed the importance of our words in the New Testament.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:19-20, 26, NIV)

I know this verse.  Maybe you do too.  Maybe you even know it by heart or have it written on an index card that’s taped to your bathroom mirror.  But, as James reminds us not so subtly, knowing and doing are two different things (James 1:22).  It is not good enough for us to be “knowers” of God’s Word.  If we want to be men and women of great and godly impact, we must also be doers.

So let’s break down the verse so we can better implement what it has to say about how to ensure that our words will be life-giving.

Be “Quick to Listen”

My friend Marji said, “This is difficult for a girl who likes to finish sentences and finds silence to be the most uncomfortable sound in the world.  I often have to turn off the voice in my own mind to really hear the other person.”  I get her.  Don’t you? Such good advice.  To be a good listener I have to turn off the voice in my mind.  I don’t need to think of my answer while the person is talking, I need to listen and be in the moment.  I need to hear.  When I hear, I am better equipped to be compassionate, understanding, gracious, and honorable.

I get myself in trouble when I don’t listen.  I stumble over arrogant thoughts, confident that I know more, understand more, have a better idea than, a more correct idea than, or a holier idea.  God knew this would be a struggle for most of us.  He points us to a better way in His Word.  Be quick to listen.

Be “Slow to Speak and Slow to Become Angry”

This may come as news to some of you, but I have lots of opinions.  Bogs of them! And I have almost convinced myself that people need to hear them.  Certainly my husband.  He should know where I stand on everything he says and everything he thinks. Right? And my kids? “Oh, my kids LOVE when I give them my opinion twenty times a day!” said no mom of teenagers…ever. So with this directive to be slow to speak, I sit up a bit straighter in my chair.

And then there is that “slow to become angry” part. Ahem! Have I mentioned that I’m a bit spicy? I credit it to being a sassy girl from the ‘Burgh, but that’s just a way for me to make excuses for my sin.  Some people hold their anger in.  I’m not that people.  My anger becomes a lovely fireworks display inside our home.  Light my fuse and I will show you some sparkling color and allow you to hear my booms!

And with that vulnerable gem of an admission, we move on to the next oh-so-challenging point that will lead us toward the righteousness that God desires from us.

“Keep a Tight Rein on Your Tongue”

The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). One important word to notice in that verse is the word any.  That doesn’t even leave room for a loophole or an excuse that starts with “But HE said…”

You and I may have a word-choice problem, but our word-choice problem does not have to have us! We are children of God who are filled with His righteousness.  It is time for a new day with words, friend.

Chin up. Shoulders back, Deep breath. Intentional step forward.

Let’s do this.

Prayer:

Holy Father, please forgive me for all of the times I’ve allowed sinful behavior to creep into my thoughts and conversations.  I ask that you will now, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24)

In Jesus’ Power Name

Next Step:

Read Proverbs 18:21.  What two powers do our tongues possess? Which of those do you want your words to reflect? What can you do today to make that happen?

Beyond the Grave

How do we convey just how we feel when we lose someone we love? How do we explain the deep, lonely pain, the emptiness left in us?

The hopes and dreams we have remains like an unfinished book of their life; like an incomplete chapter that remains unfinished with nothing more to write.

No words can express the hurt and anguish we feel. Yet God shares our tears and gives us His love And He, in time, will heal.

We know God’s comfort and know there is hope. With a new chapter to begin, we can hold on to God, For He loves us so much and fills the void within.

As we close one chapter, another can begin. Though the one we love has gone, through Christ’s strength in us and hope in our hearts, we find courage to carry on.

 

Relief That Comes When Seeking Him First

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

A while ago, I accidently stepped on a wooden toothpick that was lying on my bathroom floor. Oh my goodness, did that ever hurt! I knelt down to pick up the toothpick… missing the wooden tip. Yes, I now had a chunk of toothpick lodged in the side of my foot. I spent hours trying to squeeze, tweeze, poke, and pluck the splinter out. It nagged and hurt and throbbed. This little piece of wood was no more than a centimeter, but I thought about it so much! It affected so much of my day-to-day: what shoes I wore, the activities I could do, what occupied my thoughts and my time. I kept thinking, “It is amazing how something so miniscule could affect your life so much!”

A splinter is a small thing, but when it’s lodged in your skin, everything gets off-kilter and uncomfortable. A small thing with big ramifications.

As the week went on, I had found myself trying various at-home remedies like swabbing my foot with honey, baking soda, salt, banana peels… you get desperate! But one thing that came to my mind as I pondered the significance of such a small object, is how a seemingly small sin can affect your life in an incredibly significant way.

As our verse says, Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and He tells us that our needs will be provided for. This calling to “seek Him” isn’t an option. If we’ve signed onto follow Jesus, we are to go after him and the way he wants us to live before anything else. There are so many “little” ways I get this wrong. By caring more about checking my phone than checking in with prayer. Going to friends for advice instead of going to Scripture. These are “little” choices but if they fester and remain, we will feel the effects.

Is something off-kilter or not quite right in your heart? Is there a habit you need His help to break? Are you seeking the Lord as you should and trusting him to provide? Maybe you’ve come out of a season where you haven’t been faithfully reading the Bible. Do you feel it; how life feels awkward and not quite right?

God is so gracious, and a week after I stepped on that toothpick, I woke up one morning and the splinter had popped right out. I nearly cried in relief! He is so good and with His grace, he heals those tender and sore places to help us serve Him with a willing heart.

Prayer: God, please be gracious to us. We want to serve You, but we need your help. Take my heart and cleanse every part so I can be better for you.

In Jesus’ Powerful Name

Amen

 

Gratitude Changes Us

Gratitude Changes Us

By Gloria Gaither

 

The joy of summer is the harvest, whether it be golden grains, the bounty from the vegetable gardens and orchards, or the armloads of blooms that border our yards.  The season of the summer of life, too, results in harvests that bring us joy:  children and grandchildren, enduring friendships, and well-established relationships with neighbors and our broader communities.

 

It is impossible to enjoy these joys without being grateful.  And when a roomful of dear friends and family gather to express their gratitude in stories and singing, games and crafts, something unforgettable is bound to happen.  Yes, when families bring the gift of time and bounty just to give thanks, to eat and talk together, and to sing our hearts out to God for all the blessings they have experienced, we are somehow changed.

 

It is really true that “the hand that gives, gathers.”  Whether times are sparse or abundant, let’s keep being generous with whatever blessings we have.  If we are blessed with good memories, share them.  If we have been given the gift of music or art or writing, sing or paint or write something to share.  If we are good at sports, an afternoon on the drive-way basketball court or the front yard football field is great for the heart, the body, and relationships!  Making something together around the cleared Thanksgiving table will unfailingly lead to the greatest conversation and lots of laughs.  Give what you have!  And enjoy and revel in the gifts of others. No matter how hard we try, we can never, never out-give the Lord!  Let’s live these end of summer days with an attitude of gratitude!

Exciting Times Ahead

Gary and I have bought our dream of an old farmhouse with 5 acres.  Every inch of this barndiminum needs to be transformed and loved. In other words it is a major fixer upper.  We have completed three room of this huge project and we have so much more to do.  And this is the house where we will live and have many Bible studies ahead.  There have been no updates on this website because we have been living out of our suitcases waiting for this property to become a reality.

We also plan to build an event center and sleeping quarters for those that want to stay longer than a few hours.  We have prayed that God place his blessings upon everyone that comes to find Him and rest in Him.

We are applying for grants and doing a lot of fundraising for this G&G endeavor that God has placed on our heart.

Please keep us in your prayers and if you feel led donate to God’s ministry.