Jennifer Campbell is a farmwife from Franklin, Ind. She and her husband, Chris, have a livestock and hog operation, and three kids, from sixth grade to senior year. Sounds like a typical farm family, right?
There isn't anything typical about the way Jennifer writes. She's a social media queen, and does her own blog. Recently, she began writing some Web items for our Indiana Prairie Farmer website. You can find some of her articles online now.
She just told me the headline for her next blog on her own site would be "I Keep Tom Bechman in the Closet." I told you she wasn't typical!
Somehow, I knew she wasn't kidding, but I was afraid to ask what in the world she was going to write about. The next day she sent me the story.
Sure enough, the headline was, "I Keep Tom Bechman in the Closet." I thought perhaps it would have been more accurate if she had said she keeps a copy of a story by Tom Bechman in her closet.
She included a picture of it, right there, taped to the back wall, right next to a cute drawing by one of her kids. The story was an editorial I wrote after tornadoes swept through southern Indiana nearly two years ago, killing a farmer I had visited, his wife and his great grandson, leaving his granddaughter and another great grandchild to survive.
After I sat in the living room with the survivors, including the granddaughter, a few weeks later, I penned the piece, "God Promises You Today, Not Tomorrow," which came down to appreciating what you have and hugging your kids or parents tight. You have today, but there is no guarantee of tomorrow.
The article came out about the same time Jennifer was dealing with the impending death of her father to leukemia. She recounts how she took him breakfast in the hospital occasionally. The last time she took it, she was supposed to be loading hogs, but stayed with her father and was late getting home. The employee had already hauled off one load. Something or someone told her to stay. It was the last time she would speak to her father.
The story and artwork by her kids are there to remind her of what's important in life, she says. It reminds her that faith is important, and that it keeps us going.
In early November, I laid in a hospital bed getting antibiotics for an infected leg caused by a fall a week before. My wife called. Breathlessly she tells me that a neighbor of my parents – a close friend whose house I visited many times as a kid – fell down her basement stairs on her way to do laundry and died as a result of head injuries. My wife had just seen her the week before, the picture of health.
Talk about eerie: lying in bed from a fall and learning someone else you knew well died from a fall.
If nothing else, Jennifer's blog reminds us God is in control, and that we must trust him, enjoy every second he gives us here, and make the most of our opportunities to enjoy family and friends.
I still can't get past the headline, though: "I Keep Tom Bechman in the Closet."
As a fellow writer, Holly Spangler, an editor with Prairie Farmer in Illinois and a follower of Jennifer's blogs says, "She should win some kind of award for that headline, if nothing else!"