Thursday, July 04, 2013

Freedom Fighters

Qavah woke up on July third and asked why Daddy had four days off work in a row. She hadn't been thinking of the upcoming July 4th holiday because we were busy with other things. But when she asked about Daddy's vacation I stopped to tell her about the Declaration of Independence. I found a picture book of early colonial life and taught her about that time in history. She listened carefully to my entire explanation of the events leading up to the signing of the document and the war that gave the colonies their freedom from British rule. As though this was all such important news, she was wide-eyed and asked, "So when did all this happen?" My brain doesn't function as well in the math department so I answered, "About 300 years ago." She pondered that for a moment and commented, "Oh, so it was before you and Daddy got married." I guess those two events seem like a long time ago to her way of thinking. 

Ronald Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed down to them to do the same." How true, and how necessary for us as parents and grandparents to help our children grasp the truths of our freedoms as stated in the Constitution. We finished up our homeschool session that morning with a little lesson on the flag of the United States, and the meaning behind the July 4th holiday. Please enjoy your celebrations this weekend. And may God continue to bless America to the next generation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More Than A Wedding

We arrived at the Uwharrie National Forest (North Carolina) in plenty of time to move into our little cabin and return to Oak Lodge for the beginning of the most unique wedding I have ever attended. It was designed to celebrate the union of not just two people, but two families. Entering the lodge, I noticed a clothes line with bright and beautiful aprons lining the walls. They hung merrily in a row and the ladies attending the wedding were asked to claim one of the aprons for their own. The bride's mother and the groom's mother spent considerable time making all of the bridesmaids' dresses, the groomsmen's shirts, the aprons, and table runners. The mothers had already had time before the wedding to bond, to sew, and to dream of the coming years. So upon our arrival, there was an ease of conversation, and comfortable levels of familiarity among both families. Every attention was given to our family dietary restrictions and I was touched by the mother of the bride giving so much thought to a menu that would meet the needs of so many people.

Wes, our nephew, and Lillie, our soon-to-be niece sat with the guests and enjoyed playing card games and interacting with everyone. Their desire was for everyone in attendance to have a great time, and they wanted to be a part of the fun as well. As they sat up late playing games, and enjoying the live music of brothers, friends, and cousins, they were making memories of their wedding weekend that I hope they will enjoy for a lifetime.

The morning of the wedding we all pitched in to help set the stage for the wedding. Aunt Jacqui's floral designs boasted rich colors of orange, yellow, and green.  With handmade streamers strung, chairs set up, musicians practicing, tables set, and dinner in the oven, the bride along with her attendants dressed in the Maple Lodge and the men dressed in the Oak Lodge. There was a feeling in the air that was precious. The intentional effort on the part of the couple to unite our two families had worked so beautifully that I overheard the bride's brother say that he wanted Paul Burton in his wedding someday. Of course he said that just after Wes and Lillie opened the gift Paul Burton had made for them which was a handcarving of their two family crests mounted on a plaque with a sword and engraved Bible verse.  

The ushers seated Paul and me in the outdoor chapel that had been created just steps away from Oak Lodge. As birds sang, Paul Burton and Conner (friend of the bride) played music on the violin and harp, and Colin and Jennifer sat behind us with our five grandchildren. Kathryn sat beside me holding my hand, and I knew she was loving every moment of the experience.  I looked ahead of me at Mom and Dad, married sixty-seven years, and had to snap a picture to remind me of their years of faithfulness to each other which has set a good example for the rest of us. Words really cannot express what was in my heart after being cooped up in a hospital room for nearly a year. I felt a deep sense of gratitude and freedom just to be able to be in the wide-open space of that outdoor setting, and to share the experience with my whole family. It was also one of those memorable times that makes one smile for months afterward. 

Qavah came down the aisle first and Paul and I cried. I remembered the day several months before when Lillie called me in Pittsburgh to ask if Qavah could be her flower girl. I prayed so hard for her recovery, and on the afternoon of June 8th 2013, when I saw that little peanut striding down the aisle tossing her flower petals, I could hardly see for all of the happy tears. 

To God be the glory for the marriage of Wes and Lillie and the union of our two families. To Him be all praise for the beautiful sunlit day He gave to them, and to us. I'll take this opportunity to thank the Talbott and Templeton families for such a great experience.  Elaine and Judy, I love my apron. Sometimes when no one is looking, I dance around the kitchen in mine. It's a dance of joy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Front Porch Play

Having the four grandchildren last week was a lot of fun for us, and for them. The weather was overcast with periods of rain for four days straight. Not being able to contain them indoors any longer, Kathryn and I brought some ride-on toys to the front porch where they could still be outdoors and stay dry when the rain fell. One day I started thinking about how our screens pop out of the windows and that they were just about the right height to create the McCampbell drive-thru restaurant.

While I made lunches, I asked the older kids to find the pirate coins and make some paper money. They finished their project about the time I finished making lunches. What fun to see them "drive up" to the window to receive their lunches and pay me with money they had made themselves! They got such a kick out of it that they have already told me that they want to do it again.  When I play with children I feel God's pleasure. They are always ready to pretend and create. I find that to be refreshing for my own soul when real life is hard. I hope that my Lord's eyes were smiling as He watched what I had done with the morning He had given me. 

Thank you God, for the creativity to enter in to the play and pretend world of children. It reminds me that to You, I am still Your child.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dedicated to Brave Moms Everywhere

There is a particular kind of woman I want to praise today in this Mother's Day post. She's every mom everywhere who has had to take the high road and choose a loving response over a negative reaction. To Claire's mom, who wrote in her Caring Bridge journal that after being up night after night with her sick little Claire, heard her scream, "I hate you mommy," just before hurling her princess toothpaste tube from across the room into mommy's back. And her mom responded, "steroids, those nasty things." And this dedication is for moms who helped to hold their baby's arms down while blood was being drawn for the purpose of checking tumor markers. And to the moms I have known who released their children to God, either though an accident or illness, knowing it would be many years before they would see their children again in Heaven. 

Moms have a special kind of ability to do what is needed with an amazing amount of grace. To all these mothers I just want to pat you on the back and say a hearty heart-felt word of gratitude for showing the world that children have worth.  God values them, and we should too. And even when they grow up to do nasty or mean things, they are precious in the eyes of God, and He sacrificed  His only Son on Calvary to insure His covenant would extend to them.

There is one more group of women to commend in this writing. I want to thank the women who made an adoption plan when they recognized the child they were carrying would need a home. They are mothers to be celebrated today too.  They may possibly be imagining what their child looks like on this Mother's Day, and if they made a good decision.  If I could talk to the two women who gave birth to my two adopted daughters I would say, "thank you for giving God the final authority in the matter of your baby's life. He chose us to parent your babies, and what a blessing they have been." Happy Mother's Day to all. 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Marriage; What It Is

It has been a  dark gloomy day in the Valley. The cold air and dark clouds had arrived yesterday, and by mid afternoon today, the days of predicted rain had begun. I would feel hemmed in if not for the internet and the connection to the world it is for me. On this cold day I have some things to think about to warm my heart, and if you want to join me, grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in for a while.

Paul and I have been looking forward to finding time to be together for a few days without any responsibilities. Recently we have had a friend volunteer to come for a couple of weeks to stay with the girls so that we can take a break. Qavah still needs daily care and while I am not quite ready to hand over the responsibility of her central line; that offer started us dreaming! Now we are like kids at the candy store with twenty dollars to spend. We have been on the internet and searched our hearts to know what a true vacation would be for us. It didn't take long to settle on something. We have set our hearts on a trip to Israel, and have been dreaming about it daily ever since. The trip wouldn't be until next spring, but every day we have started to look forward to the trip by searching for the best hiking shoes and clothing for warm days and cold night. We imagine ourselves hiking the trail  where Jesus walked, and talking to Him as we walk through our day. It's a forty mile hike from Nazareth to Capernaum and we hope to do it in six days. To see some of the beautiful trail and read more about it, here is a place to start: 

We have put many vacations on "hold" in our lives, thinking we will get to take time for each other eventually. Then having lived in the bone marrow transplant unit for eight months we learned that "eventually" isn't guaranteed to anyone. I picked Paul up from work on his lunch hour today and we went to Gander Mountain, a store we have never visited. After all, hiking was for other people who had time. Today we looked at walking shoes, just for the fun of it. And even while I picked them up and turned them over in my hand, I dreamed of slipping them on in the early morning as the sun is rising over Israel.  Our dream has become a topic of conversation and we find ourselves caught up in the joy of planning the journey. I hope the joy continues because now we start the dieting and exercising to give us the stamina to walk and not grow weary. 

Paul and I have shared so many wonderful moments together. Many of those moments are tucked in our memory for later review, when time and experience causes us to appreciate them even more. One day at a time turned into forty years of history. We've had many adventures and misadventures, and I suppose, Lord willing, as we walk along together in Israel we will be thinking of some of those times. But I also know that new adventures await us as we age, and no one knows the infirmities lying around the bend. As the years take hold of our faces, once smooth skin looks more like a relief map on the road to the journey's end. But oh how sweet to live with the one who knows the girl inside, and how she still likes to laugh. And the sweetness of knowing which coffee beans he prefers to make the best morning coffee to start his day. With all of those years of history, a picture is being painted for the world to see.  The Scriptures speak of the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5 :32-33 as the earthly relationship that depicts the love Christ has for us.  With God's help, the better we are at loving our spouse the better the world around us will understand the unconditional love of God. 

I recently discovered this story of William and his beloved wife. You'll want to watch both features. Please enjoy them, their story will bring my words to life.

Friday, May 03, 2013

The 1950's

Our nine-year-old daughter Qavah is slowly starting to read. With more oxygen going to her brain since her bone marrow transplant, she is thinking more clearly, and able to comprehend the formation of words using letters. We are starting out with the same Sally, Dick, and Jane readers we used with our other three kids. I have observed that after a session of reading, Qavah will call Paul "Father" instead of "Daddy," just as Sally, and her siblings do. The little stories are usually quite simple, but that doesn't matter to Qavah. She's learning.

We live a simple life, much like the one in the Sally, Dick, and Jane, readers. My girls prefer puffy dresses, my boys are respectful, and I enjoy cleaning our home and cooking for my family. Around five o'clock I can be found re-applying lipstick before my husband Paul arrives home from work. The boys are grown and out of our nest now, but we girls greet Daddy at the end of his work day with hugs and kisses of appreciation.  Most days we sit down to a home-cooked meal to eat dinner together at the table. It sounds like a scene from the nineteen-fifties, doesn't it?  I hadn't really thought about how much my life resembled the classic story-book life of Sally, Dick, and Jane until recently. 

Last week I was listening to a speech our President made to a group of abortionists. He said that the pro-life movement would prefer to go back to the fifties. He meant it in a derogatory way, of course. But as I thought about growing up in my neighborhood, east of Detroit, I remembered those years fondly. Everyone I knew on my street had a daddy. Everyone on my street respected the property, and we children called the adults by Mr. and Mrs. I remember that the church located at the end of our street made it so that whole families would leave their homes together and walk to church, with mom and dad out front and several kids following behind.  And the cry of my heart when I heard my President was this, "Lord, please help me to reflect the benefits of knowing You to a world that has strayed far from the nineteen-fifties values, and You."

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

COMING SOON: The New Campbell Family Journal

Having spent months inside the small hospital room where our daughter received her bone marrow transplant, I had plenty of time to think and pray. It was during that time I had the idea to change my blog. Previously I used The Campbell Family Journal for updates on the health of our two daughters, however, I soon found that I enjoyed journaling my thoughts. The more I journaled, the more clearly I could see the way God was reflecting His own image on my heart. He helped me to think things through and share them in a way that resonated with others. I feel so humbled when someone mentions my writing as a "good thing." It is a surprise even to me, and I know it is a gift from God. I wouldn't have thought to do it on my own.

Included in my new blog will be daily devotional quotes I have gathered, and links to the sermons I listen to in order to fill my mind with good things. I want those who stop by my blog to feel as though they have stopped by my front porch, to sit awhile, and to glean with me the harvest of good things God is doing in this world. If you feel like relaxing on a porch swing in the South, and taking in refreshment, you'll like the new look and read of The Campbell  Family Journal. I hope to see you there in just a few days. My hope is to launch this new endeavor by May 5th. 

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement over the past year while our daughters have been through some very tough health challenges. We feel so blessed to have been able to cope, and get through it with God's help, and the care of our praying family and friends. I'll see you back here soon. Thank you for stopping by today and finding that Mr Snowy has been packed away, and spring is well under way.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mr. Snowy

A few weeks before Christmas we were coming back to the Ronald McDonald House for the night after a long day at the hospital. The elevator doors opened to the tenth floor and there stood Mr. Snowy; a wonderful white Christmas tree dressed as a snowman welcomed us. The students of Trinity School of Nursing had come here to decorate the tenth floor for the holidays. They put so much time and detail into their work; and I really appreciated it. I went upstairs to the office to find out who I could thank for making our Christmas merry and bright. I told the office staff how much I appreciated everything the staff had done to make our Christmas so special, especially Mr. Snowy. There were so many little things like that happening in the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, that it was nearly impossible to thank everyone.

Two weeks ago the decorations came down and we missed Mr. Snowy immediately. While we were with Qavah at the hospital all signs of Christmas had disappeared, and the starkness of the hallway reminded me that this is a well-run organization that had to keep moving forward for the sake of keeping the hallways clean and prepared for the next holiday. One night last week we were coming back to the apartment late. It was after midnight when we arrived at our apartment door, and standing proud and tall at the doorway to our apartment stood Mr. Snowy with a sign on his branches.  It was like seeing a friend standing there, and the note was signed by the Ronald McDonald House staff and Trinity School of Nursing. They gave us Mr. Snowy to take home! I think when I set him up next year, I will remember with fondness the many special moments we have had here in Pittsburgh. The people of Pittsburgh deserve to have this institution of healing in their city. They welcome little ones from around the world, and care for their families as they face the toughest challenges in life.

Paul, Kathryn, and I are packing up boxes, feeling more certain day by day that Qavah will be discharged to home next week. Mr Snowy was dismantled and boxed up for the ride home. It is with great love and gratitude that I write this post to remember the people of Pittsburgh who loved us and cared for us particularly through the Christmas season. We are thankful to God for their love and blessing.

Families awoke on Christmas morning to presents outside of the apartment doors

Each door was decorated to reflect Pittsburgh's winter weather

Mr. Snowy

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Daddy, I NEED YOU!

Qavah has a common reaction to painfully miserable circumstances. She calls for her Daddy. I had just brought her back to the hospital last night around six o'clock. She was experiencing severe pain in her legs and wrists. The doctors are now looking at her problem from every possible angle, but as I was putting her into her hospital bed, Paul called to see how our day was going. She was moaning and crying, so it became obvious to him that things were not going as well as they were in the morning when we had spoken. I had just put the phone on speaker mode, and Paul heard Qavah cry out, "Daddy, I NEEEEED you!"

Within a couple of hours, Paul packed up his clothes, gassed up the car, stopped at the store for some  snacks, and drove all night to get here at four this morning. We spoke by phone for a good part of the trip so that he would not get sleepy. I looked at him this morning sitting beside Qavah's pillow and stroking her head. I sat across the room on the sofa watching him gaze at her. It was still dark in the hospital room and there was a glow from the nightlight shining on the two of them. I was so touched by that scene and the lengths a Daddy will go to meet the need of a child crying out to him. An idea formed in my mind that became crystal clear. That's what our Heavenly Father promises to do when we cry out for help from Him. 

Oh Lord, because of the scene I witnessed last night in Qavah's room, I can better imagine you coming swiftly to us, and sitting beside us when we call to you. There was no hesitation for an earthly father to run to the aid of his child. How much swifter You are to reach the cry of your children when they call! Thanks be to You dear Father, for keeping your word.

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:11-13