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Southern Eyes: Campmeeting memories

Late summer has always been campmeeting time in my family. I grew up attending campmeeting, very similar to many local residents who faithfully flock to White Oak and Fountain Campgrounds. The one that I attend is on a slightly larger scale, located between Jackson and Flovilla, Ga., in the land of nowhere. I love that it still possesses the nostalgia of the large, open-air tabernacle with a tin roof. And I love it even more since they installed a unique air conditioning system several years ago. It's quite amusing to watch as people migrate to the seats under a vent. The rest just have to use the old-fashioned funeral fans.

All ages at Indian Springs Camp Meeting have their own open-air tabernacle and ministry leaders: the toddlers, youth, 'tweens and teens. (The toddler tabernacle does have screened "walls" to prevent tykes who are overcome by the toddler-spirit from escaping).

With three worship services a day and daily Bible Study and prayer meetings, one would have to have a really hard heart to escape the spiritual rejuvenation that is unique to the camp meeting experience. This year, one of the featured speakers was Dr. Benny Tate. In addition to pasturing a large church, Dr. Tate is also a motivational speaker for corporations such as Delta, Gold Kist and Chick-fil-A. Combine a successful preacher with a motivational speaker, and the result is inspiring. The point I remembered most during his message was that God has no limitations. I really didn't listen to him too much after that, because I was too busy to think of all the limitations I place on all situations. Leaving the tabernacle without walls at the end of the service, I went on a walk and considered all the mental walls that I have to constantly climb over.

In my opinion, nightly walks around the camp are the most enjoyable aspect of camp meeting. It's always dark, the temperature is cooling, there is safety in the "gated community," and the frogs are always singing. After awhile, that croaking gets loud enough to drown out all the thoughts of what bugs me. For "bugs," the options are limitless. On this particular night, I thought of everything from how to get a kid into college when I have his grades scattered from here to Timbuktu and need to round them up in order to complete his transcript, to the elections, gas prices, runs on the bank and how to hide a belly bulge in my swim suit. It was tempting to join the frog choir and just croak. Instead, I took refuge in the message I'd just heard, and gave it all to God. Then I would've hopped on down the road, but that belly bulge outweighed my frog legs.

Web posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008

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