Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New blogging address!

Hi Friends!  Thanks for stopping in!  I'm blogging at a new address now, and I really want you to join me.  My new address is simply: garimeacham.com. This blog site is inactive, but there's plenty of action on my new blog address...can't wait to meet you there. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Written by: Gari
The other day I was sitting at a baseball game watching the fans around me (Don’t tell my husband that I wasn’t watching the game!)  I couldn’t help but notice a young couple that was obviously on their first date.  They were performing for each other; telling jokes, laughing, nudging each other’s arms in a playful game of hopeful bliss.  Everything seemed to be going fine until the pretty girl took a bite of her hot dog and it sprayed ketchup and mustard into her eyes! The more she rubbed them the more she looked like a clown ready for a circus. 

            She was so embarrassed that she finally took a heap of napkins and ran for the ladies’ room.  When she came back to her seat she was a little less playful.  Actually, she was a bit shy—and I got the sense that embarrassment got the best of her.  It has a way of doing that.

            My guess is that embarrassment has robbed us all of some finer moments.  I know I’ve had my share of knee-slappers when it comes to looking stupid, but what really shakes me up is spiritual embarrassment.  Deeper and more cutting than physical embarrassment, spiritual embarrassment has the power to snatch me away from God’s glory.  It dresses itself to look cute, but underneath the attractive exterior it’s nothing but a bogus counterfeit to authentic belief. Let’s peek into embarrassment’s closet and see if we’re wearing any of its latest designs.

·       When God doesn’t deliver the answers we hoped for after praying publicly with our requests; we’re embarrassed we made ourselves so vulnerable. 

·       When God moves or engages people in ways we don’t understand, we feel like we need to defend His reputation—or worse, distance ourselves from Him so we won’t be associated with questions we don’t have answers for.

·       Filled with confidence in most areas of life, when it comes to talking about Jesus we clam up, embarrassed that we may step on some pedicured toes.

·       Going to church is great, but when asked to lead or volunteer in ways that place us outside our sphere of security, the answer is always an immediate “no thanks.”
Unfortunately, I’ve worn some of the clothes from this closet—and I'm embarrassed to say--they're not so pretty. 

Always a lover of drama, the Apostle Peter is a man after my own heart.  If there’s action, he wants in on it.  Yet, as bold and in love with Jesus as he was, one of his toughest opponents was spiritual embarrassment. 

            Peter, like every other faithful Jew, had been waiting for a Messiah; for someone that would sweep away the political landscape and overturn the Roman government’s power and abuse.  He knew He had found this Messiah in Jesus, but towards the end of Jesus’ life, the political coup wasn’t playing out like Peter thought.  When Jesus began talking about suffering, and eventually being murdered; Peter pulled Jesus aside to let Him know this kind of talk was a little embarrassing to the cause. 
"From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and raised up on the third day.  And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, 'God forbid it, Lord!  This shall never happen to you.' "  (Matthew 16: 21-22)
I can just picture Peter taking Jesus aside to rebuke Him.  Oh... the patience of Jesus is astounding!  What came over Peter to make him think he could tell Jesus how His life should play out? Simply put...embarrassment.  He had traveled with Jesus, served with Jesus, and had big plans for Jesus.  I wonder if Peter could have avoided his famous denial if he hadn't been so embarrassed by the events God choose to make His son a King.   
That's the rub...God chooses how He wants our lives to play out, and if we bravely keep from being embarrassed by the way it looks; we're on our way to glory.  Kids misbehaving, marriages that struggle, habits we need help overcoming, prodigals that leave God after years in a youth group, downsizing, capsizing, overturning...may cause an initial blush of confusion; but if we boldly look to God rather than circumstances to define our lives--we'll never have to bow our heads in embarrassed shame.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Written by: Jessica Russo

There has been an underlying solemn mood in my 8-year old son (Bryce) the past week and I could not pinpoint the problem until last night it hit me: Anticipation. His little mind is stirring with anticipation of the quickly approaching first day of school. The strange thing about it is he is excited to see his friends again but the negative thoughts of schoolwork, embarrassment, and overall struggle of last year is far outweighing any positive anticipation.

The term anticipation is defined as: 1. The act of anticipating. 2. An expectation. 3. Foreknowledge, intuition, and presentiment. I have always thought of the word as having a positive connotation. The bible uses it as a positive outlook of hope and excitement. Revelation 16:15 promises a blessing for those who are watching for the Lord with anticipation: "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches."

On the flip side of the word there can also be a negative anticipation. I remember as I studied for my Real Estate Broker exam, the more I prepared and anticipated the test the more nervous I became. Although I knew I was fully prepared for what awaited me I was still consumed with fear.

As for my little man starting school, his anticipation has led to worry, worry to fear, and fear to self-doubt. This is the form of anticipation that can sneak in and overwhelm you before you even realize it. The bible speaks against this negative anticipation in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

As I researched a bit on this topic I came across a quote that I love:

If pleasures are greatest in anticipation, just remember that this is also true of trouble.
-Elbert Hubbard

So true! When planning a vacation or trip of some kind our mind can get an exaggerated excitement in anticipation for that event, that the event itself could never live up to our expectation, and leaves us disappointed every time.

Also, when we are negatively anticipating a test or performance of some kind our mind will develop an exaggerated worry or fear for that event that could leave us feeling foolish for ever worrying about it in the first place.

The lesson I have learned through this is that we are not to anticipate the things of this world. We are only to anticipate the return of our Lord and his promises and blessings revealed to us. These are the thoughts, plans, and hopes that will sustain our peace and happiness on this earth.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

As the children begin making preparations for school in a few weeks I pray for their Strength to face adversity, Courage to defend righteousness, Confidence to believe in themselves, Motivation to develop their minds, a Servants Heart toward others, and a perfect peace only our Heavenly Father can provide.

May we anticipate things not of this world but of Him, His plan, His promises, His blessings, and His peace.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

I can only imagine...

The other night Bobby and I had the privilege of opening up for the band Mercy Me.  We shared our testimony along with a pitcher from the Astros and his wife Rachel.  This picture was taken with the band, standing in the midst of sunflower seeds and spit in the Astros dug out!  I was so honored to serve alongside this band because they happen to be the authors of my all-time favorite song; I Can Only Imagine. 

 I don't know what it is about this song, but every time I hear it I come undone. As they sang to this  huge crowd gathered at the ballpark we were all on our feet; eyes closed, tears streaming down our cheeks, arms raised to heaven as if we could touch its glory through the words we were echoing.  I looked at Bobby, our daughter Ally, and my sweet friend Ronda when the last notes of the song came to an end, and we couldn't speak.  There are moments when only tears express the emotion of the heart, and this was one of them. 

This song is so anointed that it seems to breathe hope at funerals, Sunday gatherings, and youth rallies as it speaks to the first moments we will see Jesus face to face in heaven.  Does anyone dare sing about that?  Do we even try to imagine that scene?  Although I've been told about heaven since I was small, it's still so mysterious and unknown-- yet when Mercy Me describes it; it's strangely comforting. 

I can only imagine, what it will be like--when I walk, by your side.
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see--when Your face is before me.
Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of You be still? 
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall, will I sing Hallelujah...will I be able to speak at all?  I can only imagine...I can only imagine...

When I was a young believer I remember bragging to someone that when I saw Jesus in heaven I would high-five Him and say "My BFF, Jesus, You're the man!"  This mature lover of God humbly replied "It might be hard to high-five if you're flat on your face before Him."  That was the first time I remember feeling completely undone by the thought of seeing Jesus face to face.  I can only imagine...

Last week I was in a recording studio for two days as we recorded the audio version of my book Spirit Hunger.  Something weird happened to me as I came to certain part of the book, a book that I'm obviously acquainted with.  When I began to read a section that described my father, I had to stop the recording and gather myself as tears fell like rainfall against the pavement.  I was describing the state of his limp legs after living for 38 years as a paralyzed man.  I hadn't seen his legs undressed until a few days before his death.  They were covered in sores, oozing puss, and mere bones with a thin strip of skin around them.  I practically gasped when the nurse pulled back his sheets to shift his position in the bed.  Ever since his car accident when I was young I felt distanced from my dad.  He went into a protective shell to somehow survive his new life; once a bank president, now a quadriplegic.  Strangely, I've felt more drawn to my dad since his death than I did during his life. I don't remember ever crying over him when I was in my late teens or young adulthood, and now, every time I talk about him I cry.  I think the words Mercy Me captured in their song are the reason why.

When I picture heaven one of the scenes I relish most is seeing my dad dance before Jesus on legs that were once twisted, pussing, and useless.  That thought alone makes me bow in reverence to the one I call Lord.  But then I picture another scene.  I see me dancing with my dad and Jesus.  A holy concert of grace and abandon as we turn and glide with Jesus leading the dance.  A former disco dance teacher, I like to get everyone in a line and turn out steps in unison, but Jesus does it differently.  He likes to dance uniquely with each dance partner He holds. 

I have no idea what heaven will be like, but I do know this, it will be greater and wilder than anything we can conjure.  Sometimes I'm shocked by how tightly we hold onto life here...forgetting that a greater dance floor awaits us in heaven.
I can only imagine....I can only imagine...


The words to this verse showered me

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Echoing Fear

Written by: Jessica Russo
Co-blogger for Truly Fed Ministries
Fear has plagued me over these past few weeks. Numbing me like the feeling of a cool wind sweeping over newly shaven skin. I see the blessings and joy in my life, I know they are there but I could not feel their entirety. When internal factors are weighing on my ability to fully embrace life I have to search out those numbing elements, take an aggressive hold on them, and drag them out of me.

There are two types of fear that usually affect me. The first being a general concern for safety of my family or loved ones. For example, if a child is doing something unsafe and I am fearful they may get hurt. I call this momentary fear. Once the action is corrected the fear is gone. This is an instinctive healthy fear that everyone experiences.

The second type is the anxiety, worry, or fear of future events or outcomes that I/we have no control over. I call this echoing fear. At times you don’t even know where the fear comes from it just keeps reverberating in your head while silently consuming you in its paralyzing fog. The Bible tells us this fear is not from God.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Echoing fear set in a little over a week ago when I woke up unable to walk. My struggle with back pain began as a teenager when I injured my lower spine in a car wreck. As time went by I would have occasional flare-ups but they were mostly manageable then they would pass. Last week was in no way manageable. Pain was shooting from my lower back down my right leg. Immediately my mind goes to my work-outs; “Will I be able to maintain my work-outs,” “Will I be limited to walking for the rest of my life?”

Now ladies (and gents) let me tell you; I like my crazy work-outs. Running obstacle courses, lifting weights, running through mud, sand, water, you name it. The more intense they are the better. I live and breathe this wildness. So the thought of never being able to do it again sent me in an automatic tailspin of worry, anger, fear, and sadness.

I would try to push myself to walk, bend over, or move in any way. The pain reigned supreme over my stubbornness so, with two kids tagging along, I went to the emergency room. Leaving the ER I had gained a variety of medication prescriptions and two specialists referrals but no answer or treatment. Returning to my bed I sat in my own self-pity for about an hour before I used a lifeline and phoned a friend. As exceptional friends often do, she knew exactly what to say.

As soon as I hung up the phone I began to speak aloud “This fear is not part of me.” “This fear is the devil and I will not allow it to consume me.”

Echoing fear is not from God but from Satan. Send it back into darkness where it belongs. No matter what is darkening your mind with worry, anxiety, doubt or fear, cast it back where it came from and look to God for your joy, your direction, and your peace.

Psalm 34:4
“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”

My medical update is ongoing but promising. As for other fears that plague me I have written them down in a list. Each day I denounce one of them and pray for sound mind regarding that fear. Then I mark it off and do my best to never revisit it again. There are fears on my list such as health, my child’s education, food/weight issues, and personal failure. You may share some of these fears and/or have others of your own.

We all have echoing fears. It is a strong tool of Satan’s and he loves to use it. God has given all of us a spirit of power and peace over any other forces that Satan can use. I don’t know about you but that alone allows me the authority to consciously defend and protect myself from the darkness of doubt, worry, or echoing fear.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Be Brave...

Of all the most beloved scriptures in the bible, none is more recognized than the first line of the 23rd

Psalm.  “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.”  This line has been uttered from fox holes in

bloody war battles, from ambulance stretchers, from jail cells, from school buildings, from lonely

beds, and hands holding empty checkbooks.  I love this line of scripture, but further in this Psalm is

a line that hovers over fear.  It taunts, and dares fear to rear its head.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”(vs. 5)

I used to think enemies were political fights between countries, but now I realize it’s more personal.  We face enemies each moment we breathe.  The noise we hear in our head that tells us we can’t change; we won’t grow; we will fail.  The thieving stabs Satan thrashes to bloody our families, relationships, dreams, and health.  The lost hope of addiction, procrastination, abuse, and dull neglect.  These are enemies of the worst kind.  Enemies that torture with a low grade temperature that spirals to heat rash. 

The power of this verse lies in the fact that God Himself leads us to a dressed table.  He pulls out the seat and places an embroidered napkin into our laps as He pushes the chair in.  He lights exquisite candles that cast a mellow glow over the table as the polished silver begs to be placed between our fingers.  A plate sits before us, clean and unsoiled, like the spirit within us refreshed by the cross. 

Calm and sure, God sets this table while the screams of our enemies blare. Smack in the heat of the hiss and snarl; right in the center of the terror; He sets a table for us.  He isn’t shaken.  He’s the essence of peace. 

One of the first times I shared this concept I had about 165 ladies stand up and walk to the back of the room where I was teaching.  I asked for a volunteer that I gently led to a seat at a table while everyone circled around.  The table was draped with a soft green cloth and etched glass candlesticks.   Strings of clear beads sparkled like jewels in a crown as I silently lit the candles and placed the cloth napkin in her lap.  As we looked at the beauty of the table, I reminded the ladies that this is what God beckons us to. We joined hands and bowed our heads together to soak up that moment and pray.  As women began to pray I could hear the soft rain of tears.  Our prayers began as hushed praises, and grew to bold pronouncements of God’s goodness.  One woman prayed for her wayward daughter while another moaned over the loss of a son.  Another woman shouted that she would no longer fear the co-workers that spoke poorly of her, while another broke into a verse of Amazing Grace that we sang sweetly together.  All of a sudden I realized that there were not only gentle tears being shed, but heaving sobs.  It was as if the Holy Spirit washed over that scene with a cloth so authentic it couldn’t be mistaken for anything but glory. 

In the week that followed I received dozens of comments: “I’ve never felt the Lord like that!”  “His presence was oozing from the walls.”  “What a time of healing and grace.” Proof that even though our enemies are in the midst, they aren’t invited to sit at the table.  God’s reserved that spot for you. 

I once heard Dr. Larry Crabb say that though we are invited to sup with the King, we often crawl under the banquet table and beg for crumbs like dogs.   Not in this scene.  We are seated at the table and God is our waiter.  He’s died to serve us.

Why does this demand bravery?  Isn’t God the brave one to set our table in the midst of enemies?  What’s brave about simply sitting down?

 Bravery sits with valor.  Though our hands and feet feel like running , we sit at the table, posture straight, and let God prepare.  We aren’t setting the table ourselves, we aren’t crawling around under it, and we aren’t cowering in another room.  We gallantly rest in the chair and let God prepare the table we are meant to dine at. 
Won't you dine with me sweet friends?
(This is an exerpt from my upcoming book Spirit Hunger released in early October)

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Written by: Jessica Russo

Co-blogger for Truly Fed Ministries
Arriving back from vacation and I didn’t waste any time getting into the swing of things. It is VBS week at Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX and what an exciting time it is. Last year I assisted in a third grade classroom but this year the coordinators assigned me a teacher role in Kindergarten. I must admit I was not jumping for joy with this assignment because this is probably my least favorite age group but I figured God was trying to teach me something so I entered the classroom with a joyful heart ready to see what God had in store for all of us this week.

As the children filed in the room and chaos ensued, a little girl was hesitant to leave her mom and join our class. She was silent when I asked her name and just shook her head no. “Would you like to be called something else?” I asked, “I will call you whatever you want.” She looked up almost in tears and whispered “Flower.” We wrote Flower on her nametag and she reluctantly walked over and sat at our class table.

Our Bible lesson the first day was on Gideon and how God wants to use all of us. When we got back to the classroom we reviewed the lesson and I asked questions. When it was Flower’s turn for a question I asked her how God could use her and she replied “God talks to me.” This was a strange answer so I asked another question for clarity “How does God talk to you?” I asked. She pointed around the room at each teacher and said “Through her, and her, and her.”

Now ladies let me tell you that was a defining moment for me in that classroom. My role there was not to herd these little chickens from room to room and feed them a snack once a day; my job was to show them Jesus through me. They were looking for it, expecting it, and fully deserving of it.

When Flower proclaimed that God speaks to her through the older generations it provoked a new train of thought for me. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that God speaks to us through scripture and Romans 12:2 tells us God speaks to us through our thoughts and impressions. A child that cannot read and has not developed mature thought processing must totally rely on their elders to guide, guard, and direct them spiritually. That’s not a task to be taken lightly for me.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

This has me questioning if God is speaking through me to my children and are there times the devil speaks through me. All the times I think ‘do as I say, not as I do’ is this evil speaking through me? Am I imitating the Lord in all that I say and do to the extent that He is speaking through me? What are my own children seeing in me? It is amazing that I have spent my entire life studying God’s word and growing as a Christian and a five-year-old can plant something so deep in my heart that it completely changes my awareness.

God planted little Flower in my classroom to teach me each child needs that ray of light He shines through us and each child needs living water that flows from the heart of believers. With this, all His little flowers can grow, bloom, and spread the beauty of God.

Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.