ROMANS 8:13 May the God of hope fill you with
all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by
the power of the Holy Spirit. ♥





FEAR NOT?

I love that Jesus always taught His disciples right where they were. No synagogue lessons but real life encounters that opened the opportunity to learn.  The things He taught in their fishing boat were foundational in many ways. A basic understanding of who was in control came out of a couple of stormy nights.
On one particular night, after a long day of teaching, Jesus curled up and fell asleep in the stern of the fishing boat. A storm rolled in and the boat was tossed about along with the disciples. Still, Jesus slept. The disciples were in a panic. We can just imagine the scene as they tried to control their boat. They finally woke Him with accusations of neglect.
Mark 4:38b “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
With a word He quieted the sea.
Verse 39 reads, “And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind cease and there was a great calm.”
His disappointment was apparent.
Verse 40 continues, “And He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
The problem that day was not the storm or even the fact that Jesus was comfortably asleep on deck. The problem was that the disciples did not remember who they were with. They failed to understand that regardless of how it felt, Jesus was aware and in charge. His humanity was resting but His authority was wide awake. The problem was not the situation. The problem was lack of faith.
A situation becomes a problem when we dig in and look for ways to manage alone. It can become unbearable depending on our own power. This reaction shines a spotlight on just how weak our faith is.
The truth is it’s hard to try to handle this life on our own. The big and scary things are real. Fear gets hold of our heart and panic dances free in our mind. Like the apostles in the boat we fret and fuss and freak out. We pray and struggle but sometimes God just doesn’t act quickly enough.
When we are knee deep in turmoil yet ignore His commanding presence, our lack of faith breaks His heart. When our gaze is horizontal and not vertical, our lack of trust breaks His heart.
I see my fear as weakness. God see’s my weakness as strength.
I see my weakness as an inability to cope. He sees my inability to cope as a refusal to trust.
2 Corinthians 12: 10 reads, “I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, I am strong.”
Paul may have been weak in the situation but he was strong in his faith. He looked past what he saw and trusted who he knew. The question is can we look past what we see and focus on who we know?
Sometimes we need to get out of our chair, walk around to the other side of the mountain and sit back down. We need a change in perspective. Most times God perspective comes into view and a glimpse of His bigger picture can be seen.
When I was young and afraid of the monster under my bed and my dad wrapped his arms around me and held me tight and promised that it would be okay. I was calmed not because the monster went away but because my dad was with me. And I trusted my dad. And I could fall asleep.
Here’s the thing. At some point we have to take the risk. At some point we have to be willing to let go of the control we think we have and grab hold of His robe. We can remain calm in the storm, any storm, as long as our faith is in the One who has it under control.
And when the storm last longer or pounds down harder than ever before, the Truth is present. The One who walked on the sea and commanded the whipping wind and the cutting rain is right there. He won’t leave.  He never has.
When the apostle Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he asked to walk out there too. But once on the water he panicked.
Matthew 14:30-31 But when he saw the wind he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, Lord, save me. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and looked around, he began to sink. But Jesus held out His hand and rescued Peter from threat of the deep.
It’s time to get serious. He is holding out His hand right now. Go ahead. Grab a handful of faith and toss it into your backpack. Pull out the map of evidence He has given you in His Word. Choose to trust only in the promises found in the Bible.  Now reach out and take hold of the hand of Him who is really in control. He moves in the lives of those who are searching and eager to know Him better. So get ready for a great adventure!
2019 © Charlene M Campanella  
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)


A   SPACE TO HEAL

I got to hang out with a group of amazing women last week. Between grilled veggies, Falafel, and laughter we met each other not just in body but in heart. There were no walls only a genuine desire to reach deep into our souls and join hands.

This was not a therapy group.
There was no script to follow.
There was no pledge to take.

We met in a quiet clean place belonging to a local artist. Nature’s beauty was displayed anew everywhere in the material she reclaimed and repurposed. Old bark and limbs were sculpted to become useful vehicles of light and beauty. That which had laid dormant and discarded now led the way along the path to wholeness. Just like our reclaimed lives when nurtured past those things that caused us to stumble.

This was a place to put down and pick up.
A place to deny and rejoice.
A place to hurt and heal.
A place to share the bitter and the sweet.
It was a place to breathe.

I have a dear friend who is a physiatrist and a mighty woman of God. She has taught me much over the course of our six year friendship.  One thing in particular is the vital necessity to acknowledge pain before moving on to healing. I have witnessed this in her first response to an aching heart. She listens without interrupting, empathizes without minimizing, acknowledges without judging. She confirms that the hurt can be overwhelming and paralyzing. She grieves alongside them. She straightens out crocked thinking. She gives space to feel.

Before release and restoration there must be healing. The need to absorb the balm of peace and time in the company of those with whom we feel safe is vital. Sometimes we need gentle hands to peel our stiff aching fingers from around that suitcase of pain and confusion we’ve been carrying around. It needs to be opened and exposed and detoxified. This happens best in the incubator of love and acceptance.

We need to create this space for each other.
That evening was the first step.
It won’t be the last.

This was the atmosphere we soaked in. It was as if we all had entered a sanctuary that promised we would be known, accepted and loved back to wholeness. We all have a story that blooms with the potential to escort another along that path to freedom. We just need to be true to each other. To be real and bruised and lovely and messy and wet from tears and bright with hope.

I felt the Spirit of God hovering above our nest. And He was smiling. His heart was full with the knowledge that His daughters were stepping out in faith and peace. Faith that He would use our pain for good and not for the evil that was planned.  Peace that would pull us further still to the higher place of freedom. We had realized the truth. We picked up the prize and headed for the goal.

That night was an evening where hope was passed from one brave heart to another. There was the promise that this was not the end of our journey together.  This random evening that started in the hearts of a few determined warrior women will happen again.
It must happen again.
And again.
And again.
Until the very last one of us can open her eyes wide in the sunshine without shame or fear or anger and drink in deep the hope that springs from sharing life together.

2018 © Charlene M Campanella  
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)


TUNNEL VISION

Years ago I had a friend who was going through some difficult health issues. She told me about a day she found herself sitting alone on her hospital bed gently head butting the pages of her opened Bible. With each hit she begged for the words held there to penetrate her brain and dive straight into her soul. She needed to own those words. She needed to swim in the promises they held.

This picture while seemingly over the top is the key to changing behavior or bearing up under pressure or combating anger. In a sense I need to beat myself over the head with the truth.  That's the only kind of Bible thumping I am eager to promote. It is self imposed. It is often necessary.

Sometimes I need to get tough with myself. Sometimes I need to get a good case of tunnel vision.

I remember when my boys were young. Getting their attention was a great accomplishment especially when Scooby Do was in the middle of an adventure or a friend was waiting on the door step. Trying to tell them something and being sure it got through took more than words. It took reaching down and holding their little cheeks in my hands. I would get nose to nose and speak slowly and calmly. It took stillness. It took eye contact. And a kiss on the forehead.

Trying to make my way in life while listening to all the options available today is like trying to wade shoulder deep through a lake of mud fully suited in flippers and a life preserve. My only option, my sure solution is to dive headlong into Gods Word.

I can only tell you what I know and I know that this practice has saved me from much pain and discouragement. I remember what the days before looked like and they weren’t pretty. But when I weigh everything against the truth of Scripture, when I wrestle to own what God says in His book, when I am able to understand what He means and trust Him for the things I can’t understand, I have peace. I can see purpose through the clouds. My faith blooms. Yes, and there is even joy unexplainable in the midst of chaos.

So this morning with writing this post, I am reminding myself of the importance, the absolute necessity of time spent reading and studying my Bible. It is my life line, my grounding reality and my reason for hope.

As I look at the world out my window, I am amazed by the lightning bolts dancing just past the tips of my wings. More reason to keep my eyes on the horizon and follow Gods flight plan. That’s what the Bible is for me. A complete guide from God for the path ahead. He is faithful. He is awesome. He is in control. And He always provides and amazing ride!

Deuteronomy 11:18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

2016 © Charlene M Campanella
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)

PS As always, I hope that you will read beyond the verses I sight at the end of my posts. I am just giving you a taste to wet your appetite. Grab the Book and read on. You won’t be disappointed!



LET IT BUMP

These words had a profound impact on my life during a flight lesson not so long ago. I had just lifted off the runway when we experienced a bit of turbulence.  As I struggled with the controls to keep the airplane level, my flight instructor breathed peace into my clenched fingers.

“Just let it bump.”

Of all the direction I could have received from him, this was not what I expected. This was a battle with the wind and I needed to win. I would man-handle the controls until that bird flew straight and level!

But he wanted me to ease up. He wanted me to quit fighting it. He told me to allow the airplane to fly through the waves of air. He wanted me to relax just a bit and go with the flow. No amount of struggle would have brought a smooth departure. It was windy and that was something I could not control. If I could just ride the bumps instead of fighting them, it would be fine.

And I did.  And it was. And that was the moment that my mind and body became one with my machine. Like a child learning to ride a bicycle, that connection needed to be met and once it was met, harmony rang sweet.

The weather of life is unpredictable and uncontrollable as well. Turbulence can make it feel like the bottom is going to fall right out. Sometimes it does. But most times it just presents a bumpy ride.  We can either strain to keep our balance upright in the blustery wind, or we can relax into the arms of God and allow the gentle rocking to sooth our souls. We can give over to the One who does have control. He is not wringing His hands in frustration wondering what to do next.

And in the darkest days. In the days that threaten to strip us down to bone. He is there in the whirlwind and the thunder. He is the heart beating loud that says “you are alive”. He is the whisper that reminds us to breath. He is the arm of a friend to holds us up when we would rather crumble in a heap on the floor. He is in the front of the boat when the waves are tossing. He is the hand reaching out when we start to sink.

All my wrestling with the controls of that little Cessna would not have made the ride any smoother. All the wrestling with the aches of this life won’t make them go away.  But there is a peace that transcends understanding. That peace if found in the hand of God. Curl up in His palm. Lean into the warmth and relax the controls.

I pray that you find a seat in His hand today. I pray that you are able to look out at the fires and floods and lies and fears and storms and deserts and the pain and the loss and feel the bumps and still feel His pulse.

“Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty.”
Psalm 93:4

2016 © Charlene M Campanella 
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)


DREAMS

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dreams.  Not the ones that happen when you sleep, but the ones that pull you forward. 

There are two things that I have consistently dreamt of doing. Until a couple years ago they were really self-serving. I wanted to do them for pure enjoyment. I guess you could say they were part of my “perfect” life.

What I know now is that dreams are the manifestation of who God created us to be. The dreams that dance through our thoughts in the quiet of the morning, those are the callings from His heart. Those are His fingerprints on our lives.

When I kept my dreams to myself they remained clouds on the horizon. The neat thing about our human nature is that once we vocalize a thing to someone else, it becomes part of our reality, a tangible possibility. Making that dream public is the first step in making it happen.

Once I shared my dream it became a cloud I could touch. Friends held me accountable.  When tempted to give up their voice would echo encouragement. Through moments when it all just seemed too hard, their strength pulled me through. Those dreams challenged me to stretch beyond what seems magical to reach what is possible.

I remember as a child lying on my back in soft grass on a bright summer day watching the clouds change shape. To focus on one in particular I would have to hold my hand completely over the sun. Only then did the lovely contrast of blue and white become visible. In the same way, unless we purposefully block out the glare of the shiny things of this life, focus can be lost. 

We were each created with a purpose.  Don’t let that purpose slip through your fingers. Look to your dreams and speak them out loud today. Let them live in the reality of your life.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

2016 © Charlene M Campanella
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)


ENJOYING THE VIEW
I looked out the window a lot when I was a child and passenger aboard our Piper Comanche. Dad was a pilot and we flew all over the eastern half of the states. One thing I can say about my hours in the air is that I don’t ever remember fearing. Regardless of the situation, rain or shine, I enjoyed the ride. I trusted that when I was with my dad, I was safe.
There was one particular flight that must have tested my dad’s limits. It had been a rainy dreary day when we took off. There was no promise of counting swimming pools out the window, a game mom and I played on long flights. There were only patches of filmy clouds visible on the horizon. So I plumped up the pillows and took a nap.
 At some point in the flight, I was jarred awake by turbulence. Not just a few bumps but a bump that pulled me off the seat and caused my head to hit the fabric covered ceiling. My father was talking on the radio and my mother was caught up in a litany of prayer. Dad’s level of intensity seemed higher than normal and I sensed something serious had happened. But after a few minutes of observation, I heard dad chuckle as he patted my mother’s shoulder and things seemed to be back to normal. I put my head down again and fell asleep.
I woke up later on final approach and rubbed my sleepy eyes. We were moments from touchdown at Sunny South Airport in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. It was a bright and beautiful day perfect for playing on the beach. I had already forgotten about the storm we had flown through.  Dad had promised we would rent a catamaran and go out sailing on the ocean and I was excited for a new adventure.
As it turned out, our little Piper had been sucked into a convection current similar to what exists in the center of a tornado or cumulus cloud. This is the current that causes the cloud to pull tall in the sky. Our rate of ascent was roughly 1200 feet in several seconds. My bump on the ceiling was caused by the sudden stop at the top.
Today I marvel at the fact that I was so unruffled. The only explanation is my faith in dad’s ability to fly. My trust was so complete that whatever we did was, for me, without fear. I don't ever remember being scared when we were together. Whether it was backpacking, flying or riding on our little Honda motor bike, excitement ruled.
How similar the feelings can be when we have faith in God. With eyes trained on Him there is complete confidence. Although the road may be full of pot holes we can trust that He is able.
The problem with fear and reliance on human power is that it can keep us stuck and motionless. We won't be able to move into service with God and join Him in His work. If "His will be done" is what we pray, then we need to move. We need to get up out of our stupor and get at it.
Dad said to me recently regarding the pursuit of my Private Pilot’s license, "If you wanna fly, get your butt in the sky!" Those words inspired me in more ways than one.
When God puts a plan on the horizon or plants an idea in our heart, when through prayer and good council His voice remains clear, we can proceed without fear. Everything is under His control and He will complete what He starts. Sometimes it isn't even about us. It’s about how our obedience and service and experience and testimony can change the hearts of those around. It can simply be to show what a life committed to trust in God looks like. It will most certainly splash courage in uncertain times.  With this confidence, we can sit back and enjoy the view out the window.
Whatever God is calling you to do, get up and do it.
Hear His voice today saying, “You wanna soar with the eagles and see things you only dreamed of? You wanna have an impact beyond what you thought possible? You wanna make this life count? Then get off your butt and take my hand. You're in for one wild ride – but don’t be afraid - I've got this!"
Psalm 16:8, 11  I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

2015 © Charlene M Campanella
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)

 UNWRAPPED

Speak to them even though you think their ears are not tender for your words. Come along side and offer your hand. Let them hear your voice, these young ones who seem to have it all together. I listen to their hearts at night as they settle, just before sleep. Some are losing hope.

The younger ones need your strength.You have walked through some pretty deep and swirling streams, remember?  There were times when you struggled for your next breath. Like when that career failed to fulfill your sense of purpose and became just a job. Or when the relationship you pinned your future on took a nose dive and all you can remember is Prince Charming riding away on his horse. Or the day you woke to find that he snored with his mouth open. Or maybe Prince Charming never arrived at all. When girlhood dreams woke to a woman’s reality, we faced the challenge together. And you survived. And you flourished. Remember the peace that flooded your heart as you rested in my arms? Remember the courage it took to trust Me?


The younger ones need your courage. Your sweet child, the darling you carried for nine months came into the world with a rush. Remember sleepless nights when illness kept you awake rocking and praying? The first steps, first words, first school days, first date came all in the snap of a finger.  Remember moving day when you wiped tears with a shaking hand and that familiar smell as you hugged goodbye? You let go of your baby with joy and heartache all in the same moment. Remember the child that never came? Remember the child you lost? Remember the child you released? This season is not for the faint-hearted.


The younger ones need your wisdom. Now many of those things are behind you. You have experienced life and found wisdom to fill a book. Your days are less hectic and your weekends are freer. Listen. This season has great purpose to Me. I did not lead you through it all for your sake alone. I call you now to be teachers to the younger ones. Here Me when I tell you that they sorely need your active presence in their lives. I have planted you in this place to be My beacon. You are My gift to them.


The younger ones need your hope. Allow yourself to be unwrapped. Feel neither pride nor shame in your story. I have promised to work all things to good and that is what I plan to do. My presence is resting inside you and I want to use it to bring these daughters close. I want them to feel your hope. When you do this, you will bless My heart. You will find a work to fill your empty corners. It is the way I will redeem every single one of your broken dreams and desperate moments. All the pleasure and pain and sorrow and joy you lived will be an example to their young souls. In this you will find satisfaction and My purpose for the rest of your days. Peace will rain down in a flood and splash dry lips with joyful praise.  


2 Corinthians 1:4-5 He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (The Message)

2015 © Charlene M Campanella
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)


ON LETTING GO

A group of young men and women stood straight, hands raised and repeated a pledge like so many before then. My son, in that group, was no longer the little boy whose nose I’d wiped and booboos I’d kissed. He was vowing to serve and protect his country. I was shoulder to shoulder with other moms witnessing this transformation to adulthood. How did we get to this place so quickly?  Only a moment ago we were rocking them to sleep. This was just another step in letting go.

Letting go of our children is something that we need to do every day of their lives. I remember exchanging knowing glances with the moms around me. We had to be strong. When the time came to say goodbye, words still stuck like cotton balls tight in my throat. Off those sons and daughters went to boot camp with a promise from their drill sergeants to turn them into man and women others could depend on. This was real. They were in control. They kept their promise.

From the beginning of their lives, the most important prayer in my heart for my sons was that they would come to know God in a personal way.  I prayed that they would step beyond their parent’s faith and build a faith-story of their own. That transition would be a crucial part of becoming the men I knew God wanted them to be.  Life is tough and without His hand to guide, the journey would be so much harder.  I continue to pray that God will do whatever it takes to drawn them closer. I ask God to make Himself so real to my sons that any trace of doubt would be chased away forever.

 It is often in a desert of need that we meet God face to face. While I don’t pray for desert experiences for my children, I do pray that God will use every situation to open their eyes to the hope that lives in Jesus. I am not afraid of adversity because I know that God will use it to reveal His love and power and forgiveness and truth.  He will use it to build their faith one experience at a time.

If we don’t loosen our grip on the circumstances of our children’s lives, we can get in Gods way. It is hard to watch a child suffer through difficulty. It’s joyful to glory in their success.  Regardless of the mood, they need strength and courage to walk through life. While God is molding them, we have to temper our desire to jump in and help. This is not our relationship. It has to be between our child and God.

The thing I remember is that God loves my children so much more than I could ever begin to love them. His plans for them are perfect. The best thing I can do to help is to trust them in God’s hand and keep pointing to Jesus.

That is the peace that God keeps alive in my heart. He promises to walk close to those who call on Him and my prayer is always that they continue to call on Him.

God is real. God is in control. God keeps His promises.

1 John 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.
           
 2015 © Charlene M Campanella
 (May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)          
LEGACY BUILDING

Few things in life are more valuable than a legacy of prayer. My grandmother’s dedication to prayer is an embrace of love that has reached from one generation to the next. The blessings she poured over this young life caused a spark that began a yearning to know God. 

Grandma lived out what she believed and she believed in prayer.  Her morning began looking into His face. She bowed her head at noon and ended each day in sweet conversation with her heavenly Father.  Her trust in God carried her through every moment, whether struggle or triumph.  Her prayer was a song, like a soft breeze rustling autumn leaves. The solid foundation of faith she built, one prayer at a time, cultivated a deep desire in my heart to know this God of hers.


Witnessing this woman and her faith provided the most powerful lesson of my youth. It filled my heart with the courage to continue even when every inch of my being screamed, “Give up.” Drowning in grief following the death of my first husband to suicide, I heard my grandma’s soft voice whispering the promise from childhood.  When flat on the floor in regret, guilt, and confusion, I knew what to do.  One prayerful cry brought the healing hands of my Savior that lifted me with a breath of hope. 

Now with grandchildren of my own I want to leave the same legacy, continuing in my grandmother’s footsteps. I am determined to influence my grandbabies for God by lifting them before Him each day.  These sweet ones will know where to turn for hope. That’s the legacy that changes lives and molds hearts to face the future.   

2015 © Charlene M Campanella 
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author) 

 FOR THE KING

A group of us are studying the book of Esther this summer. It is the story of a young Jewish girl who was taken from her home to serve in King Ahasuerus' court. She is ultimately chosen by him to be his queen because of her great beauty. One Night with the King, a film made several years ago, is a depiction of the book of Esther. While the movie is not completely factual, it is an entertaining look at true events.
           
Chapter 2 of Esther describes how the king ordered young and beautiful virgins to be gathered from among all his provinces so that he could choose from among them the next queen. Great ceremony was taken in cleansing and prettying up these young women before they were presented to the king.

Precious oils and perfumes where used and the process took months. They were finally taken before the king so that he could make his choice. It was all in the presentation. The right smell. The right hairdo. The right outfit and jewels. No expense was spared in decorating these young women. They were pure and clean and undefiled. They were lovely.
           
My heart fills with joy when I realize that our King, God, requires no such preparation to come to Him. I don’t have to wait until I straighten out my life or give up that habit or stop a certain behavior. I don’t need to bathe in scented oils or brush my hair till it shines or get a new wardrobe. I don’t have to clean myself up first. I don’t have to be lovely.
           

All I need to do is fall broken at His feet, to release the grip on what I call managing and free fall for a moment. I can abandon hope in my own power and grab ahold of the folds of His robe.  And He is there. God is there.
           
Whether you are already His child or have yet to call on Him, He’s waiting.  He is looking to hold you through this life, no matter what comes. Don’t wait for the right time. The right time is now, right where you are.
           
Situations can take a while to change. Old habits die hard. People won’t get what they expect from us and some may walk away. But let’s release the baggage and turn away from remedies that make us numb or giddy or pliable. Let’s feel and think and hope and pray and submit and trust and hang on every minute until it passes and then do it all again the next minute. Let’s keep our focus on Jesus and feel the peace He promises. It is real. It is life.
           
The God of the universe, the true King of heaven and earth is waiting to fold you into His heart. Relax into the truth and the hope that will give you rest.


Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”


2015 © Charlene M Campanella
(May not be used or reproduced in any fashion without written consent from the author)