Life Stories

Lane, Janelle, and their 3 girls were at Grace Point in March for our Faith Promise Sunday. I know the family well because we attended Huntington First Church with Carol Zurcher and the Garguilio family for over 12 years. I had just joined the Grace Point staff (as the children's pastor) 7 months prior to Janelle's family coming a few weeks ago. As the children's pastor, I am often one of the very last ones to leave after church on Sunday mornings, after staying until all the kids have been picked up and the room is cleaned. I love teaching kids and know God called me to Grace Point, and He has given me great joy in serving. However, the transition to Fort Wayne had been more difficult than we anticipated, and though no one knew it, I was feeling a little discouraged, unseen, and lonely.

On Faith Promise Sunday, Janelle's girls spoke in kids worship and did a wonderful job. Janelle had helped them prepare rice and beans for the kids to taste, which was a huge hit! The service had long ended, and I was wheeling a cart of supplies from the kids worship room back to my office, taking a short-cut through the sanctuary.

Janelle saw me from across the sanctuary, where she was talking with a few people who were still there. She left the conversation and came toward me, beaming a beautiful smile as she always did. She said, "Hi!" and at first, I thought she saw someone else. When I realized she was talking to me, I stopped and she hugged me. I hugged her back. She said, "Oh, thank you for leading the kids every week! What a wonderful ministry! It is so important!" Then she asked me questions about how we were doing, how we were liking Grace Point, how the children's ministry was going, and how our move went. She was genuinely, sincerely interested, with her eyes and attention straight toward me. When I told her that we had not sold our Huntington home, but were renting, she shared the similar situation she and Lane were in after moving from Elkhart. We talked quite a while about many things, until I realized how much time of her schedule she had given to me. She reminded me of God's faithfulness, and how He would be with us and help us.

For 7 months I had been ministering full-time, and -- unbeknownst to Janelle -- had ashamedly been feeling overwhelmed with the transitions and expectations. On that day, March 2, 2014, Janelle ministered to me. God used her to be the lifter of my head that day. She touched my heart.

Less than a month later, she was gone from this earth.

I never got the chance on this earth to tell her how much that simple gesture after church that Sunday morning meant to me, how much God used her to encourage my heart and my calling back into full-time ministry. I can't wait to tell her in heaven, but I bet she already knows.

Lane, Joy, Laura, Sarah, and Carol, your Janelle was a light for the Lord wherever she went and whatever she did. I mourn with you today over her sudden passing, and rejoice with you as well as we celebrate the life she so beautifully lived.

To all who may read this, may we be like her. May I be like her.

Watch and take advantage of any and every opportunity to show simple gestures of kindness that speak the love of Christ. Notice others. Embrace others. Encourage them with our words. Smile. Remain faithful -- faithful to our family, and our calling, and our Lord.

Pastor Katrina Arbuckle


Thank you, Katrina. Yes, may we all have more of Janelle's grace, poise, and presence.