Make This Your Best Summer Ever

Don’t make this just any summer. Every summer with your kids, and every summer with your friends and family is unique unto itself and special. Life is truly short. We are not even promised tomorrow much less another full year.

So, spend a few minutes and consciously work to make this summer the best yet. Here are a few ideas that may help.

Time passes far too quickly.

Psalm 39:4
4 “Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.

The apostle James accurately described life as a mist or a vapor, depending upon the translation you use. See James 4:14. Regardless, the thought is clear; life is short.

Using a short summer well requires a bit of planning, so start now. These thoughts about summer in Florida show why planning ahead is so important:

• You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
• The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
• Hot water now comes out of both taps.
• You can make sun tea instantly.
• You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
• The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilled.

• You learn that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
• You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.
• Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?”
• You learn and experience that asphalt has a liquid state.
• The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
• Potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt, and pepper.
• Chicken farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
• The cows give evaporated milk.

Regardless of the heat, mosquitos, and the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms, summer in Florida is a great time; school is out and there are a couple of months to enjoy life in the Sunshine State.

Start with a plan; make a calendar

Set up a family calendar and plan ahead. The summer will slip by if you don’t. This calendar will start to get filled in as you move ahead through the steps of this post. How do you make that plan? Read on.

Ask questions

Ask everyone in the family what they love the most about the summer. Don’t settle for – “No homework!” Then ask for one thing that each family member would like to do. You may need to place some reality checks on those due to time and budget, there probably isn’t enough time or money to sail around the world.

When there is hesitation, offer a few suggestions to get helpful interaction.

1. Ask them to try something new

The good news is children are more flexible than adults and they have tried fewer things, so there are more opportunities for unique experiences for them. Here is a helpful site for nurturing creativity. Aha! Parenting.

The best part of this is that your children may come up with something new for you! Whoever comes up with the idea or ideas that are selected gets a standing ovation of thanks. That will encourage new ideas for the rest of the summer and into the future.

And work to make it more than just fun. This is an opportunity for you to plan carefully to help your children grow mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and at the same time, grow closer to you. In your mind have at least one of the following as a goal with every activity that gets scheduled:

• Make God a part of you and your family’s lives and activities.
• Aim for connection between you and the family.
• Lead your children toward healthy interaction with their peers.
• Try some new activities and experiences that will expand their worlds – and yours.
• Allow each child to show skills and develop those skills.
• Build their physical activity levels, skills and strength.
• Develop teamwork and working together.
• Give them intellectual stimulation.

Overall, keep God in these activities. Outside in nature, it is God who created this amazing variety and beauty. Indoors, it is God who made us and gave us a safe home. He designed the original family and made all of this life possible. You get the idea. And include a daily devotion and prayer.

2. Keep it positive and upbeat

This is an adventure for them and for you. The minute there is negativity, they will spot it because children spot the attitudes of their parents (and reflect that attitude). If you show stress, they will be stressed. You deserve a great summer as much as your children do and being positive will make that possible.

3. Take pictures, a lot of pictures

Get your phone ready for some memory making pictures. The best pictures are the unstaged spontaneous ones, especially pictures showing facial expressions. But you have to be prepared. Likely your phone has camera capabilities that are unknown to you, such as a timer, video and some special effects, such as slow motion. Practice and get ready to capture some of the fun.

4. Unplug whenever possible

Except for using the phone for pictures, put it away or turn it off! That means children and parents. This is a hard rule to enforce, but essential to quality family time. It is also a hard one to obey. The latest email, text or news flash is likely nowhere near as important as your family’s sense of love and togetherness. Mankind existed to thousands of years without instant connectivity. You and your children will live life better with a few hours of no technology fun.

5. Include some rest and relaxation along the way

Even the kids need some downtime. You certainly do! Allow rest when needed.

There are some things that are every day and not just weekend days or summer days. One of those is Bible study time and another is prayer. A family devotion is a great way to start the day and a prayer before the activities discussed below is a great idea. Especially pray for everyone to stay positive and loving. A site with solid and helpful family devotions is They are short enough to be manageable for any size family covering all ages, but they also leave you with challenges for everyone at every level.

Now, let’s plan a few good times. Here are a few ideas to fit the different days, weather and circumstances:

Get active

• Build your own mini-golf course

Your back yard offers challenging obstacles, trees, bumps, dips, fences and bushes. There is no need to make holes in the yard, use cups laying on their sides. Buy a couple of cheap putters and some range quality balls and play golf!

• Make and fly a kite

It isn’t hard to build a kite. But it is quicker and probably cheaper to buy one at WalMart or a Dollar Tree. Pick a breezy day and kite flying is fun.

• Fishing can be fun

In Florida, freshwater fishing requires a license, but do you really believe all those folks fishing on lakes and rivers have licenses? Probably not, but know that buying a license is easy and can be done online.

• Have a water balloon battle

Buy a batch of balloons, put on bathing suits or shorts and t-shirts, and have some fun. It will cool off a hot summer day. Alternatively, water guns cost more but can be endlessly refilled and reused.

• Can you still hula hoop?

Challenge the family to a winner-takes-all hula hoop contest. See who can keep it up the longest. When keeping one hula hoop up is mastered, try two and then three at the same time!

• Take up jumping rope

We all jumped rope as kids. Learn again, but start slowly; you aren’t as agile as you used to be. Learn some new jump rope rhymes and see how much fun it can be.

• Visit a new park

The Tampa Bay area is loaded with great parks. Many post scheduled activities, nature walks and picnic areas. For example, Lettuce Lake Park off Fletcher Avenue in Tampa has it all: boardwalks, nature trails, canoe rentals, picnic tables, open play areas, shade, and scheduled adventure walks.

• Play Frisbee golf

You can spend a lot and have decorated “holes” or spend a little and keep it simple. Make the holes longer or shorter, depending upon the skill of the players.

• Try croquet again

Most of us have played some croquet. Try it again. You can look up the rules, play using a rule variation, or make new rules up as you go, adding new twists and turns. For between $40 and $50 you can get a nice set.

• It’s time for badminton

It’s easy, inexpensive and a great family activity. Maybe you can have a family badminton tournament. Just be sure the children win! You can find an inexpensive set for $40 up.

• Try a new game

Go to Amazon or and search for “outdoors games for families.” You cab find many games, some familiar and some not. You can shop and buy in any price range that fits your budget.

• Try skipping stones

For a free and fun challenge, have a family competition in stone skipping across a lake. Let’s see if anyone can get to seven skips.

• Go tubing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding

There are excellent places to tube, kayak, paddleboard and canoe all over Florida. At Rainbow Springs State Park there is a vendor with tubes for rent. They do pickup so after a few hours you don’t have to get a cab to get back to your car. Order online. The springs are beautiful, the water is chilly even on the hottest day. Don’t forget the sunscreen, hat and sunglasses!

Nature time

• Buy or make a bird feeder

They aren’t expensive but they also are not too hard to make. Making a bird feeder could be a good family project with the kids. Then you get to watch the birds visit your yard. Start a list of bird sightings.

• Try bird watching

Now you can add to your chart of bird sightings. Take a hike and look for a few species you haven’t yet spotted. There are hiking trails all around the Tampa Bay region and bird books that can help you identify the birds. Take a few pictures when the bird is close enough and the lighting is good.

• Find a new beach

Florida has a wealth of beaches. There is always a stretch of beautiful Florida sand you haven’t seen. It breaks the routine to head for a beach you have never visited before.

• Pick your own fruit or vegetables

Find a farm with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, vegetables, or flowers. They are seasonal but family farm picking is always fun. Or find a local farmer’s market and go first to listen and learn and then to pick fresh fruit and veggies.

• Mini-golf

Miniature golf is always fun, although it is getting increasingly costly. It gets you out, gets the kids out, and is a good and challenging time of family fun.

For additional ideas inside and outside the house, see the Age-by-Age Guide to Screen-Free Activities Your Child Can Do With Minimal Supervision. Many are solid ideas and the unplugged aspect is especially important.

For those rainy afternoons and all evenings

Outdoor activities are great, but Florida weather makes outside activities impossible on many afternoons and even a few whole days. Between the heat, the humidity and the thunderstorms, you might as well plan a few inside days and evenings.

• Breakfast in bed is always good

This isn’t a “one and done.” Breakfast in bed can go on all summer with everyone taking a turn on Saturday morning. Dad cooks and serves first, then the children, followed by Mom. Try some different breakfast foods.

• Read some

The starting point for reading should always be an age-level appropriate Bible. But don’t stop there. There are excellent reading materials for all ages in the Helen Enns Memorial Library at Idlewild. Set a reasonable goal for the number or books or pages to read before the summer reading starts and keep a list of books read. Have a good reward set for the child reaching the goal. But make sure the books were read with comprehension. Ask for a short book report including the key thoughts presented by the author(s) and the main points learned from reading each book.

One goal here is for your children to learn to love reading. For help on how to do this, visit Raise a Child Who Loves to Read.

• Fresh lemonade or sun tea is a welcome treat

Everyone loves fresh lemonade and fresh sun tea. Then you get to enjoy it with fresh cookies!

• Set up a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), a giving fund

Once the DAF is set up and you have funded it, hold a family meeting to decide how to give money away. This is a wonderful way to teach generosity and to start teaching stewardship. See Teaching Money to Children and Youth, Parts 1 through 10. Stewardship teaching and learning begins at home and should start early. Holding a family giving conference becomes a regular activity to see how to be generous.

• Try some writing

Reading is important, but so is writing. Combine learning and fun (which may help make learning fun by itself). One idea could be to interview an older aunt, uncle or grandparent and then write a short story about their life.

• Finish any summer school assignments

Many schools give summer reading assignments or other summer work so learning doesn’t stop over the summer months. Set aside time to tackle these assignments.

• Have a family cook-in

Get everyone together and assign a course to everyone. Needless to say, someone gets clean-up duty. It will be a challenge but everyone needs to learn how much work it is to cook a meal so they can really appreciate all the effort that went into years and years of meals.

• Create and bake a family pizza

Each family member gets to at least suggest an ingredient. Parents get a veto simply because some things are not meant to be on a pizza, but be willing to try some new things! Whoever suggests an ingredient that is used, gets to apply it before the pizza goes in the oven.

• Redo the ‘do, try a new hairdo

Join the children in trying something really new, a new hairdo. You can even go extreme and try a new color for your hair with a washable hair color. Just make sure it really does wash out completely! Try some extensions and gel!

• Watch a movie

A good afternoon or evening movie night is great so long as you can find a movie everyone will watch. Between DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime and several thousand available channels, you should be able to find a watchable family movie or two or three. Don’t forget the popcorn.

• Build a pillow and box fort

I learned this from a great nephew who went through some hard health times. He and his brother built a master fort using boxes and pillows. Empty Amazon and Walmart boxes never had a better second life.

• Look back

You have all those old pictures. Look back on days past. Have each family member pick a day, month or year that was a favorite. Then they get to say why. It will help you get a perspective on future activities.

• Hold a paper airplane challenge

See whose airplane goes the farthest, the highest, makes the most curves and don’t forget, has the best style.

• Play games

There are many old games you have played. Look up the rules and try them again. Maybe Uno, Canasta, Go Fish, Rook, Bridge, Scrabble, or Spades. They are inexpensive and challenging.

• Make homemade ice cream

Ice cream makers aren’t expensive, but you don’t need an ice cream maker; you can find recipes online. Now take it to the next level! With some wafer cookies, make some ice cream sandwiches, freeze them. and enjoy them over the next few days.

• Camp out inside

Florida heat and rain, not to mention mosquitos, make camping out tough. So, close the bedroom doors and camp out inside using sleeping bags, blankets and pillows.

• Play Once Upon a Time

Sit around a table, set a theme (such as one of the following; If I were a princess, a Knight’s life, a day at the beach, a day of rafting, this Halloween, or long ago when dragons walked the earth). The first person has to start talking with the words, “Once Upon a Time …” After one sentence, the speaking duty passes to the next person who continues the story. The story builds sentence by sentence but with each person causing turns and twists to the plot that can create many laughs.

If this works for your family, start adding new wrinkles. Have your children write down different (1) themes, (2) locations, (3) actions, or (4) names. Put them in a bowl. Draw one out and start a story revolving around it. Here are a few ideas of what you could write on these paper slips:

• A long, long time ago…

• A sailor’s story…

• Next year at school…

• In the mountains…

• In the deep woods…

• Next Christmas…

• If we had a new brother or sister…

• If I was Roadrunner…

• If I was Coyote…

Check out the site It is filled with information and ideas, even if not from a Biblical eye gate. For even more indoor ideas, here is a great site, Prodigy.

Excursions, but not too far

Day trips are a good way to spend a Saturday. When relatives or friends visit, a day trip is one of the best ways to show off your hometown and surrounding communities.

• Go to a free concert

You should be able to find a few with a quick online search. If you can’t find one, put together a playlist of your old favorites and share them with the children. But be prepared to hear complaints, hopefully good-spirited ones, about your generation’s music tastes!

• Go to a flea market

There are fewer and fewer flea markets around, but they can be found. Check this out. If you can’t find one you want to see, then search for garage sales, especially community garage sales and check out a few on a Saturday morning. Let the children try to negotiate for something they want; they might be better at it than you!

• Check out a show or concert

There are options galore for every budget level. You do have to check for language and content, but see what is available at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tampa There are many other venues, but the content and language are often questionable.

• Take someone special with you.

I have seen a family take a gnome on a visit to ZooTampa and include the gnome in every picture. Try it, then create a digital or even a physical scrapbook with your gnome’s best photos.

• Go fishing in the gulf

Shop around online because prices vary, but often the ships sailing from Tarpon Springs are the best and most affordable. Do searches using “Tarpon springs fishing” and “Tampa Bay fishing.”

• Visit a local farmers’ market

There are quite a few farmer’s markets in the area, and their days of operation and hours vary, so do a search online for “Tampa Bay farmer’s markets.”

Art can be fun

• Start a rock garden

Gather a few good-sized rocks – a home supply or gardening store is a great place to look – and then have a painting party. See who can paint the coolest animal rock or prettiest rock, or anything else you can think of. They can become part of your garden. Be sure that each painted rock has the name of the artist on it.

• Try chalk art

Chalk for sidewalk art is cheap, try a Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Ollies. And the work of drawing sidewalk art, sketches on the sidewalk that are not permanent is both challenging and fun. Have your camera ready because the chalk artwork won’t last through a good Florida rainstorm.

• Try different art projects

The variations and opportunities are almost endless. A quick online search for ceramic or art workshops in your area will turn up many available opportunities that will fit any budget. Try this link or search for Tampa Bay art classes or search for ________ classes (inserting the type of art in which you are hoping some of your children will develop).

Make a community by getting people together

• Bake cookies for a neighbor

This is a good service activity too, it is just closer to home. It also helps you learn more about a close neighbor and may start a new friendship.

• Hold a scavenger or treasure hunt in the neighborhood

There is a lot of room for creativity and variation here. You can make it a traditional scavenger hunt, although having kids knock on stranger’s doors or going around strangers is a bad idea. Now change it up. The hunt is for things readily visible from the sidewalk and it is a picture scavenger hunt. For example, in our neighborhood, one house has a ceramic frog in a visible garden. Another neighbor has a fountain, another has a flowering tree. Look for a black cat or a small dog. Find a red flower. You get the idea.

• Meet friends at a park

It can be a birthday, anniversary or holiday, but any day is a good day for friends to get together. Get out the badminton game, the croquet set, a soccer ball or whatever else you have for fun.

Hold a service day

Work hard to have one day a week or at least two days each month be a day to serve those less fortunate.

Hebrews 6:10
10  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

• Visit a nursing home or assisted living facility

Call in advance or visit together with other friends and turn the time into an opportunity to play games, sing, speak with and maybe even have lunch with the seniors. Always remember to ask questions and listen. Nothing blesses those seniors more than having someone actually listen to them.

• Clean up a senior’s home or yard

Idlewild always has a list of seniors who would welcome a visit and who have work projects that they themselves can no longer do. It doesn’t have to be much to be a big help. Have you ever wondered how a home-bound or wheelchair bound senior cleans the top of fan blades?

• Serve meals

Serving meals with Metropolitan Ministries or Trinity Café can be good afternoon’s work.

• Pack food

Serving at Feeding Tampa Bay is both rewarding and educational. The incredible quantity of food donated and distributed to the hungry families of Tampa Bay will help every child realize how fortunate they are to have food at home.

• Serve through Idlewild

Just serving at Idlewild is also a blessing and the opportunities abound. Check with Idlewild Missions or get signed up through Connections so you can learn of the many service opportunities at Idlewild.

• “Spring-cleaning” starts at home

Have a Spring-cleaning day at the end of the summer. It’s been a long, active and prayerfully rewarding summer. But there have been many new activities and many messes made.

There are many opportunities here. One is in how you approach these “jobs” or “chores.” They really are neither; instead they are family service opportunities or family contributions. Some parents give allowances. Others consider family service opportunities part of the responsibility of all persons living at home. See Teaching Money to Children and Youth – Part 8.

Regardless, make these family service opportunities, jobs or chores fun. Make them a family affair; everyone pitches in and has a responsibility.

When you run out of ideas

There may come a time when you hear those dreaded words, “I’m bored!” The worst part is that it is never said just once; it quickly becomes a chant. Saying “watch TV” is possible, but certainly not the best response.

Fight fire with fire. Quickly come back at them with “Me too! What would you like to do?” When all you get back is a blank stare, hand out paper and pen and ask for three wild ideas, new ones, for things they might want to do within 50 miles. Don’t settle for just two. Three new ideas really means three. A quick Internet search for “Things to do (your area) will turn up Trip Advisor ideas, among others, with others for things to do in your area. Searching Things to do Tampa Bay turns up the following and more: the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, Busch Gardens, the Henry B. Plant Museum, Fort DeSoto Park, Sunken Gardens, the Ringling Museum of Art, Adventure Island, Alafia River State Park, Ybor City Museum State Park, Clearwater Marine Museum, Florida Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Classic Car Museum, the Glazer Children’s Museum, Florida Holocaust Museum, Hillsborough River State Park, the Manatee Viewing Center, and many more.

Have you been to the Leslie Hale Teaching Center in Tarpon Springs? They have a tabernacle display and a Tour the Bible Collection. The admission? Free!

Every community has hidden treasures that can be fun, educational and a blessing to visit.

Do this exercise at the start of the summer and check off the ones you visit. See how many you can see each summer. The ones you can’t get to become the weekend projects once school resumes.

There is another solution to the “I am bored” comment when it arrives. Remember those “jobs,” “chores,” “family service opportunities,” or “family contributions”? Have a list of those available and present them as an opportunity to cure boredom.

It’s bedtime

The first thing children want to do in the summer is stay up later than during school days. Stand firm. The schedule was reasonable in May and was as much for their health (and your peace of mind) as for them to be able to stay awake at school. Having a consistent routine is good for them and for you.

Make a few exceptions for special evenings, but in general, regular adequate sleep is good for everyone.

Always remember who made this possible, Jesus. Always think of the blessings you have of freedom, health, and life.

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.

A Special Father’s Day

Father’s Day can be a tough holiday. There are many like myself whose father has been gone for many years. There are others whose birth father abandoned them or worse. But there are many others with fathers who are living and are special. Here are some ideas for all of them.

Overall, honoring fathers is a great start to building a foundation for present and future families. Having a solid foundation matters – a lot.

Matthew 7: 24-25
25  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

No, Dad isn’t and has never been the perfect father. Let me guess, you were the perfect kid? No, the position of perfect Father is reserved for our Father in heaven. But fatherhood has never been easy. Accept the fact that there have been failures, but that hopefully you turned out right anyway.

Regardless, it honors God for you to honor your parents.

Exodus 20:12
12  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Father’s Day is always the third Sunday in June. Put the date into your online calendar and make it recurring. Now you have no excuse for missing it!

Father’s Day 2023    Sunday, June 18, 2023

Father’s Day 2024    Sunday, June 16, 2024

Father’s Day 2025    Sunday, June 15, 2025

Father’s Day 2026    Sunday, June 21, 2026

Honoring fathers who have passed

Some honor their fathers on the anniversary of their passing, but others honor them on Father’s Day. Whatever day it is, honor them. Share a memory with family and sharing with pictures is even better.

Honoring fathers who are absent

The unfortunate truth of America is that way too many fathers are missing from the lives and homes of their children. Some have chosen to abandon the responsibilities God has given to them to be the head of the household. Others have been forced away from their families by family disputes. There are many reasons, some understandable, others not. Regardless, the result is that the foundations of our homes and lives are weaker because of their absence.

No one can change the past. But we do have a part in creating our future. If you are reading this, don’t look back in anger or even in sorrow at the past. Instead look forward to your future and the lessons you can learn from his past mistakes. Maybe the greatest gift you can him give is forgiveness for his mistakes. We all make mistakes, some larger and more impactful than others. And we all need forgiveness. Think of the sins of the older brothers of Joseph and his forgiveness. They caused him to be sold into slavery and told his father Jacob that he was dead. Genesis 37-50. Yet he still forgave them and loved them. Genesis 50:15-21.

God wired us with a basic human need. We need fathers in our future who will instill Christ into their children, who will not just teach but live the life of a good, moral and law-abiding man.

Honoring fathers who are here

Use this day to honor all fathers, not just your Dad. Make this a celebration of the many strong, hard-working, devoted and loving fathers who are on the front lines with their wives and children, working to provide support while playing with their children and loving their wives every day.

It does not take a “Super Dad” to have a super impact. Psychology Today reported the following:

“Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections…Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”

There are a thousand or more ways to celebrate the life of a father. You can purchase a special gift, take him to a game involving a favorite baseball team, give him a round of golf, or simply buy or, even better make, a special card that tells him how awesome he is.

Or make it an even bigger deal. Plan a cookout with fathers, uncles, grandfathers, friends and family. It will be hot, but worth the time. If that isn’t possible because the family lives spread out all over the U.S. or even the world, make it a block cookout with all the dads in the neighborhood.

You have many options, make a card, make a gift basket, make a gift, buy a gift. But all of those pale in comparison to your presence and kind words. Consider sharing the following as a part of giving that honor:

God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad

Why? The following give some reasons that apply in many cases as good reasons to honor your father.

1. Dad gave you life. Even if you don’t have the best relationship with your father, you wouldn’t be here without him! But it doesn’t stop there because it is far easier to become a father than to be one.

2. Dad helped and served a lot during your early days. The pregnancy, childbirth and newborn phases you went through were hard on him as they were on Mom. He became an expert diaper changer and tear wiper.

3. Dad loves you without restraint and unconditionally. He may not show it well (it’s a guy thing), but that love is there. Look back at those old family photos with him holding you.

4. Dad worked hard to pay the bills and keep things together around the house. Many dads were and still are the family’s primary or only breadwinner, especially during the earliest years of your life. Back then there were a lot fewer Mr. Moms.

5. Dad did his best as a role model. Sure, he failed at times; no one is perfect. The truth is that most dads try to be a good example. I love the way one author put it:

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
Clarence Kelland

6. Dad taught you sports and kept you active as a child. He also likely picked you up the times you fell as you learned to ride that bike without the training wheels.

7. Dad helped when he could and as much as he could. Sure his advice wasn’t always what you wanted, but later you learned that he was wiser than you used to think he was.

Remember what Mark Twain wrote about his dad:

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

That is a shorter version of what Ann Landers, the great advice columnist, later write:

4 years: My daddy can do anything.
7 years: My dad knows a lot, a whole lot.
8 years: My father doesn’t quite know everything.
12 years: Oh well, naturally Father doesn’t know that either.
14 years: Father? Hopelessly old fashioned.
21 years: Oh, that man is out-of-date. What do you expect?
25 years: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
30 years: Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks.
35 years: A little patience. Let’s get Dad’s assessment before we do anything.
50 years: I wonder what Dad would have thought about that. He was pretty smart.
60 years: My Dad knew absolutely everything!
65 years: I’d give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man.

8. Dad was your shelter. He made you feel safe and kept you safe. Sigmund Freud knew that well:

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. “

9. Dad was funny. The best Dads don’t take themselves too seriously.

10. Dad was your banker. If you needed money, ask Dad (If he said, no, there’s always Mom).

11. Hopefully Dad encouraged you in your faith. A father’s most important job is to disciple his children to meet and know Jesus.

Of course, your Dad didn’t hit all of these. He wasn’t a super Dad (probably), but he was still the best Dad he could be. Thank him, honor him and give back to him some of the love and joy he shared with you.

Here’s a final tribute and thought:

A dad is a mender of toys,
A leader of boys.
He’s a changer of fuses,
A healer of bruises
He’s a mover of couches,
A soother of ouches.
He’s a pounder of nails,
A teller of tales.
He’s a dryer of dishes,
A fulfiller of wishes
Bless him, O Lord.
     Jo Ann Heidbreder

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.

With a Little Help from Our Friends

The Idlewild Foster Care Annual Picnic, a part of February Month of Love activities for foster families was a huge success and a joy for all.

First and foremost, God blessed us with a beautiful day, clear and cool but not either cold of hot, a perfect Florida winter day!

Second, with the help of our friends at Redeeming Love Foster Closet and Once Upon a Child, we went from 80 in attendance in 2022 to 163 on Saturday!

Third, with the fantastic food from South Florida Catering, there was food for all and extras to take home for many.

We had balloons from the Lamberts.

We had face painting from Fabulous Fuentes that was even good enough for Ercel to get painted.

We had Uncle Charlie and many, many Carlitos, and Isaac even presented to gospel and a young man accepted Christ.

And we had other friends from ministry including Belinda Leto from Celebrate Birthdays, Esther Dupree from Redeeming Love Foster Closet, and a host of volunteers who generously gave of their time and energy to make for a blessed day.

Thank you all for your part in a great day!


Save $ in 2023

Saving money is a challenge, especially in the high inflation of 2022. The money seems to (and does) build up slowly and the temptations (or need) to cheat and spend rather than save are like dieting temptations, easy to find and hard to resist. Here are a few practical ideas to keep your savings increasing and to help you hold the line on spending. When you save on one of the ideas here, save the money toward an emergency savings account, your retirement or a special trip and vacation.

Try these ideas and save:

1. Your car insurance rises every year even though your car is older and is worth less. You would think at least the collision coverage would decrease since your car is a year older and worth less. No! But it will, if you decide to shop around at least every three years. You may not want to decide based upon premium cost alone, because there is a lot to be said about receiving good service; but if money is tight, shop around. 

2. If you have emergency savings, go with high deductible collision coverage. You can save a lot that way. I will admit it may cost you if you have an at fault accident, but if you go several years without an accident or if the other guys has no coverage and no money, your savings will far exceed the amount of your deductible. If you don’t have an emergency savings fund, start one now.

3. Shop your homeowners coverage as well. Those premiums tend to rise more than the value of your home. For some reason, the premiums never seem to decrease when the value of your home goes down. Home insurers, like car insurers, count on you not wanting the hassle of changing carriers.

4. Drop your magazine subscriptions. Check and you may find the very same magazine is available at your nearest public library. Or, alternatively, spend a quiet evening at a local bookstore, reading your favorite magazines for free.

5. Hold a garage sale. Go through your closet and find clothes you have not worn in a year. The chances are you will never wear it if you haven’t worn it in a year. Pull the junk out of your closets you never use and out of the attic that you stuffed up there and see if there is someone else who wants your junk. You won’t make a lot, but you will make more than doing nothing will make for you. Alternatively, try eBay or sell online. A second alternative is for you to donate what you have to a Christian thrift store and take the deduction on your tax return if you are able.

6. Check your Internet, cable, streaming and phone plans. You can almost always improve your plan and save money if you check once a year. Ask yourself if you really need that landline. We dropped ours over a year ago and discovered we received fewer junk calls during dinner.

7. Get a free energy audit from your power company and see where your electric use can be trimmed. Consider adding attic insulation if your house is old, many types of older insulation settle and lose R-value, costing you money every month. Alternatively, you could do something really radical and turn off the lights when you leave a room.

8. If it isn’t free, drop your gym membership and take up walking. It is easier on the knees and hips than jogging, can be done well into your 70’s, and is free!

9. Keep your tires properly inflated, put the right gas in your car and maintain it based upon the manufacturer’s recommendations.

10. If you use AAA for emergency roadside service, go to an AAA location and check out their available gift cards. You get a 3 to 5% credit in AAA dollars towards your next year AAA bill. If it is a card for a restaurant you are going to eat at anyway, a store you will shop at anyway (or even Amazon Smile), or a gift card you would give as a gift anyway, you will save an annual AAA fee in a fairly short time, certainly less than a year.+

11. While I am on the topic of gift cards, buy them at a discount from a discounter like You can at times find meaningful discounts on hundreds of gift cards including Walmart, Target, and many large retailers.

12. Buy used, not new. A used car, if checked out carefully, is a great savings over a new car. New cars lose thousands of dollars almost the same moment you drive the car off the lot. If the car isn’t too old, you may still have some warranty left – always check. If buying a used car, always check the obvious things such as the tires. Many dealers will put new tires on a car if you spot a worn or repaired tire.

13. Used books are readily available at thrift stores, or, even better free books, magazines and videos are available at the public library.

14. Buy an Entertainment Book and eat out for 50% at many restaurants. Try Entertainment Books and see what restaurants and services are covered in your area. In the Tampa Bay area there are over 150 restaurants and services offering substantial discounts. You quickly save the cost of the book, try new places and then save a lot more.

15. Save without the hassle of coupons. There is a rather remarkable website worth checking – Savingstar. You can go to their free website, check the products you want to buy from a store and get cash back after you shop. You can link your store loyalty card or upload the receipt and save. The stores available can be seen from the site and include Publix, WalMart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and literally hundreds of other retailers.

Saving just requires that you try. The problem is that we tend to get so busy, that time is a commodity that is hard to find. But if you can find the time to try a few of these ideas here, you can save a lot. If you have additional ideas, call or email us and we will pass them on.

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.

God’s Heart for the Poor

God’s heart for those people who are unable to help themselves is overwhelmingly apparent during a reading of the Scriptures. I thought I would go through and find the many times He has made His heart visible to us, either by expressions of his compassion for the poor or His direction for us to act as His hands and feet to serve the poor. It turned out to be a greater task than I had expected. I kept seeing more and more verses and passages where God’s heart for those who are struggling was evident. I don’t claim to have nearly all of them simply because there are many passages that can be interpreted as directions to serve and help those less fortunate, far more than I can list here.

Some of the early verses in the Torah were directed at God’s chosen people, the Israelites. And in the New Testament there is a special affection shown by God for followers of Jesus. But God made it clear that His heart cries out for all His children, Jews and Gentiles alike.

Exodus 22:25
25  “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.

Exodus 23:11
11  but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Leviticus 19:10
10  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:22
22  “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.’”

Leviticus 25:35-37
35  “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.
36  Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.
37  You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.

Leviticus 25:39
39  “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8
7  If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.
8  Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.

Deuteronomy 15:10
10  Give generously to them [poor Israelites] and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Deuteronomy 15:11
11  There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Deuteronomy 23:19
19  Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest.

Deuteronomy 24:12
12  If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession.

Deuteronomy 24:14
14  Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns.

Psalm 9:9
9  The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:17-18
17  The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
all the nations that forget God.
18  But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

Psalm 10:14
14  But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

Psalm 12:5
5  “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”

Psalm 12:7
7  You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,

Psalm 35:10
10  My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, LORD? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”

Psalm 41:1-3
1  Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.
2  The LORD protects and preserves them—
they are counted among the blessed in the land—
he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
3  The LORD sustains them on their sickbed
and restores them from their bed of illness.

Psalm 54:4
4  Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Psalm 63:7
7  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 69:33
33  The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.

Psalm 70:4
4  But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”

Psalm 109:30-31
30  With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
31  For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.

Psalm 112:5
5  Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.

Psalm 140:12
12  I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.

Psalm 146:5-9
5  Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God.
6  He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7  He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
8  the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
9  The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

Proverbs 14:21
21  It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 14:31
31  Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 19:17
17  Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs 19:22
22  What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.

Proverbs 21:13
13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
will also cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 21:26
26  All day long he craves for more,
but the righteous give without sparing.

Proverbs 22:9
9  The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor.

Proverbs 22:22
22  Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court,

Proverbs 28:27
27  Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 31:8-9
8  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9  Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Isaiah 1:17
17  Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Isaiah 10:1-3
1  Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2  to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
3  What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?

Isaiah 41:17
17  “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

Isaiah 58 is a wonderful chapter with dialogue that clearly shows God wants more than just ceremony and worship in a service; He wants worship through how we treat others. Formality, ritualism, and religiousity are not what God is seeking from His followers. God clearly wants us to care for all of His children.

Isaiah 58:3-11
3  ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
6  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7  Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8  Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11  The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Zechariah 7:8-10
8  And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah:
9  “This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
10  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

By the time of the New Testament and Jesus, the early appearance that God’s heart was only for His Chosen People had vanished. Understand that God’s heart did not change, but His prophet’s message and their writing did. It is undeniable that God’s compassion is to all people, the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. His Chosen People will always have a special place in His heart, but God’s love is for all people.

Matthew 5:42
42  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Matthew 10:8
8  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:42
42  And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Luke 3:10-11
10  “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11  John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Luke 6:30
30  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Luke 12:33
33  Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

Acts 20:35
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Romans 12:13
13  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Galatians 2:10
10  All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

1 Timothy 5:8
8  Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:16
16  If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
17  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
18  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
19  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Hebrews 6:10
10  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Hebrews 13:2
2  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:3
3  Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Hebrews 13:16
16  Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

James 1:27
27  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 John 3:16-18
16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
17  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
18  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

After a review of those verses, I doubt it is possible for anyone seeking the heart of God to not feel His compassion for those in need and to at least begin to feel the same compassion.

The real question is not what God’s heart is, but rather what you will do about it now. The one option you do not have is to do nothing.

Proverbs 21:13
13  Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
will also cry out and not be answered.

For a few ideas of how to get started, give us a call at The Idlewild Foundation at (813) 264-8713. It is our mission to motivate, educate and facilitate a spirit of Godly stewardship and radical generosity for the Kingdom of God and we would love to encourage you to walk closely with God.

About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40-year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus. He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016. He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.

A Great Start to 2023

New Year’s Resolutions to Kick-Off the Year

What are your New Year Resolutions for 2023?  Lose weight – check, exercise more – check, and get in better shape – long overdue! Those three resolutions are there for me almost every year. But then life happens! Sometimes I keep such a resolution for a few weeks or maybe even a few months with strong encouragement. After that, the busy days of spring begin to take over.

Instead, join the Campbells and make one of your resolutions for 2023 to review your family financial and estate plans. Significant life changes (and even significant inflationary, market or legal changes such as increasing income tax rates) are something that should trigger in our minds the question, “Do I need to change my will or trust?” or “Should I change any of my beneficiary designations?” If you need an easy way to keep track of your bequests and beneficiary designations on bank accounts, IRAs and financial or investment accounts, make a list. It is best done on a computer file so you do not have to re-do the entire document each time there is a significant change, but then print it and keep it with your estate and financial documents just in case your computer files are somehow lost. For a few additional thoughts on this topic, see A Few Estate Planning Pitfalls (especially #3) and A Few More Estate Planning Pitfalls.

Also, think about adding a few fresh ideas in which your entire family can become involved! Here are some things we are trying that I can offer as suggestions to prayerfully consider.

  1. Serve: Serve together as a family, a small group or just as a group of friends.  Find a ministry that touches your heart and about which you can be passionate. Schedule yourself to serve regularly in this ministry with your family, a group of friends, or involve your small group. On a simpler note, you can visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while, perhaps someone out with an illness or injury. Always remember that stewardship is a L.I.F.E activity that is not limited to dollars and cents. It involves your Labor, your Influence, your Financial resources, and your Expertise, your entire L.I.F.E. Stop by the Movement booth in the Gatheria at Idlewild. Learn how you can discover God’s gifting to you and put your gift(s) into joyful service. You can give an hour a week – yes, you really can.

2. Broaden your view: Look for new opportunities to broaden your stewardship. Never neglect giving your tithe to your home church. Check out Does the New Testament Teach Tithing?, More on the Tithe – Tithes and Offerings 1, and More on the Tithe – Tithes and Offerings 2. Know that God has also called us to give over and above the tithe. Read and reflect upon Deuteronomy 15, Matthew 23:23, and Luke 12:33-34.

3. Give generously and wisely: When you find a ministry that touches your heart, consider giving as well as serving. You can give in different ways. Instead of just monetary giving, consider giving an appreciated asset, stock, or a piece of property. This type of giving may be better for both you and the charity than if you sold and donated the net proceeds. This strategy may reduce your tax burden if done correctly (and wisely) and increases the amount the charity receives – and what that charity can do. Not sure how to do this? The Idlewild Foundation can show you how. Just give us a call at (813) 264-8713. And never forget God in your giving.

4. Learn about Giving Funds: Explore the possibilities of a Donor Advised Fund that will allow you a deduction now, but choose who you want to support and how much you will give at a future date. This kind of fund can be an efficient means of setting up recurring donations and makes record keeping for taxes easy. Learn more at Ways to Give, or just give us a call. Now, with the new administration in Washington and with there being a great likelihood of either direct or indirect tax increases, more than ever you need to examine tax-wise giving. We can help!

5. Share your experience with others: If you have a life example of how God has blessed you and how you have given back to Him, share your story. Tell your small group, your friends, and your family about how you’ve been blessed and how you’ve been able to bless others.

6. Accelerate your giving: In 2021 Idlewild completed its debt elimination program that was called Accelerate. Despite the rugged inflation in 2022, you have some additional money that can be given to the kingdom. Rather than increase your standard of living, instead increase your standard of giving (a quote from Randy Alcorn). Increase your giving to Idlewild’s kingdom investments, join Pastor Ken in that goal, or increase your giving to other Christian ministries. Please consider The Idlewild Foundation and its Fund 1:27 where 100% of any donation goes to ministry. Nothing – not one cent – goes to salaries, overhead or administrative costs. Give over and above the tithe and enjoy the joy of generosity. For a bit of help encouraging that, read More on the Tithe – Tithes and Offerings 1, More on the Tithe – Tithes and Offerings 2, and Science Proves That It Is More Blessed to Give Than Receive.

Here’s another idea! Why not spend some time reviewing your spending for last year? By looking at your bank and charge card statements you’ll get a pretty good picture of where your money was spent and what your priorities have been. Did you find ways to glorify God through any of your spending? Did your spending in 2022 give more glory to yourself than to God? Could you do better? Give God the credit He is due. He made your income and your abilities (and every breath you took in 2022) possible.

Deuteronomy 8:18
18     But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth …

Take some time to sit down with your family and discuss ways to manage your money more effectively. Consider speaking with someone from the Stewardship Ministry of Idlewild Baptist Church or with us at The Idlewild Foundation. There are financial counselors who work with Idlewild’s Stewardship ministry who will meet with you for free to discuss your finances and budget and help. We can give you tips and ideas in managing your money. And don’t worry. You won’t be bludgeoned until you agree to give money to Idlewild or to the Foundation! On the other hand, you will learn ways that you can further God’s kingdom by sharing His blessings with others – with open hands!

You can contact us at The Idlewild Foundation, (813) 264-8713 or email me at Make 2023 a year to celebrate!


About the Author

John Campbell has retired from a 40 year legal practice as a trial attorney in Tampa. He has served in multiple volunteer roles at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, where he met Jesus.  He began serving as the Executive Director of the Idlewild Foundation in 2016.  He has been married to the love of his life, Mona Puckett Campbell, since 1972.

Idlewild’s Widow Ministry Restored

In July, The Idlewild Foundation and the Idlewild Women’s ministry combined to bless the widows of IBC. Before the pandemic Idlewild had a widow ministry, In His Image, that held monthly luncheons. But the pandemic and its seemingly never-ending health issues put an end to in-person meetings like that, even ones so important to good spiritual and emotional health.

But time passed and by mid-2022 it seemed overdue to offer some help and encouragement to our widows. So, we reached out to the Idlewild women’s ministry and got the ball rolling.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do,
but encourage one another,
especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25

There were several factors that called out that this was God’s timing:

  •  There was a generous donation given to the Foundation for widows.
  •  The previous head of the widow ministry had stepped down after 20 years of service and God provided a new volunteers to head it.
  •  All of the facilities and support needs fell into place with the incredible cooperation and hard work of the Idlewild special events team.

The only problem with the luncheon timing was that it fell ten days after John Campbell, the Executive Director of the Foundation, was to return from a mission trip to Atibaia, Brazil. But that seemed like enough time to deal with the final details and preparation. Satan worked to make things harder. The return flight was delayed by a day and John returned home with a mild case of Co-vid 19, but enough to keep him quarantined right up to July 8.

Still, with the extraordinary effort of Jodie Montgomery, Director of the Idlewild Women’s ministry, her volunteer helper, Keira Rinchuse, who made literally hundreds of phone calls, and the Idlewild Special Events team led by Nancy Reed, the luncheon happened and was a blessing. Also helping was the chairman of deacons Chris McNeal and a number of deacons who drove the cart from the parking lot, greeted the widows, and sat with them for a Carabbas meal and a dessert choice from Wright’s Gourmet Deli. Take-home treats were put together by the special events staff with an extra treat by the Fox family

Jodie led the luncheon and did a short devotion. But the best part of the luncheon was the fellowship with a deacon at each table and the widows spending precious time together.

The luncheons will resume regularly now, led by Terry Gilbaugh and Meredith Wester. The widow ministry will bear the new name, Silver Linings. Additionally, the widows will continue to be blessed through the generous gift to the Foundation which will also help support widows with particular needs that they cannot handle. This community effort shows the church at work in a big way. The church is not and should never be a building. Instead, the real church is a body of believers living in the rescuing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is what just happened.

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”
Helen Keller.