My Pic

My Pic

Welcome to my little Corner

I am Barbara.

An introvert masquerading as an extrovert, a backyard gardener with a farmer's heart, a nurse by day and a dreamer by night. I am passionate about Jesus, spicy food, puppy dogs, words, compost and the aroma of desert rain. Music is chocolate to my soul but solitude feeds the deepest part of me.

And you need to know:

I have been rescued.

Several times actually. Right out of the mud and mire. My writing began as whispers between me and my God and it will always be rooted in that soil. So the plan is simple: I write. Out of the overflow of my heart, the place He has so generously chosen to dwell.

Though I am all grown up, I feel as if the handsome Prince has finally found me and the glass slipper fits. And a living breathing fairy tale has ensued.

So pull up a chair and "sit a spell", as we would say from my West Virginia roots. I hope you find His Footprints here.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

After the Visit

My fingernails scrape the crusty places of “milk soaked Rice Krispies met desert air” off the high chair.  I wipe small fingerprints from glass and sticky apple juice splats from the floor.  Laundry and weekend memories are each sorted in a kind of healing process.  Today I “pick up”.  And as I do, I slowly become whole again.

They are off to the Grand Canyon while we embrace the canyon within us since they left.  There are no more busy little friends clinging to us one moment and the next leading chase.   They have departed with their brief hours of sleep, the ones we all had longed for more of and left us longing for something else - the more of "them".  Bedtime kisses and night time prayers have come to an end.  No pictures of sunflowers or “sit by ME Popi” or childish delight ringing in our ears.  The dogs have stopped barking and I no longer have to steal precious moments behind a bathroom door to renew.  Because gone are the wide toothless grins and sound of bare feet down our hallways.  There is instead a deafening silence.

But how can I feel empty when I am so full?  Full of such joy, laughter and thanksgiving.   This family may be gone now but I watched him – this son of ours - who bears such a beautiful tension of tenderness and strength.  I saw him lead his precious family - touching, instructing and shaping.  And this mother smiled. For it is as it should be. 

Tomorrow morning we will awaken not to a 2 year old sweetie or a 5 year old bright eyed beauty but an alarm clock.  We will go to our respective jobs and try to return to whatever that normal was before the little ones came and sprinkled love all over us.  The house will be cleaned but never made devoid of the life that passed through its doors.  And if the Lord allows it, we will replay today’s scenario another day in the future.  And be so very grateful.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Dirt on Tomatoes

I’m obsessed with tomatoes.  Not the store bought variety that graces our winter salad bowls with colorful tastelessness, but the ones I pulled from the vine today.  Warm.  Bursting with sweet acidity.  For breakfast, lunch and dinner!  But my success was not always so.

When we first moved to the desert my experience was dismal.   Unlike the gardening conditions back east, nothing grew easily in the intense heat except for the native landscape.  But I was not to be deterred.  Two years ago I dug down deep into the brittle soil and caliche of the desert ground and replaced it with glorious top soil and compost from a nearby farm.  In effect, I created my own Edenic soil.  In the past two seasons, I have increased tomato productivity two more months by merely improving the soil.

You can probably guess where I am going with this.  In the Parable of the Sower, the seed was sown on the path (hardened soil), in rocky places with little soil, in thorny soil, and finally in “good soil”.  What made the difference in the maturation of the seed was the condition of the soil in which it was sown.  Perhaps this should be the target of our prayer as we lift up one another.   The Master Gardener knows what each seed requires for growth.  We don’t.  We pray for deliverance from suffering when in fact trials may be needed.  We pray for health and wealth when another plan may be best.   Might we be better off to leave the plan in His Hands and pray instead that God does His work in the soil of the individual heart?

While the desert soil is adequate for its indigenous flora, the soil had to be changed up for my tomatoes to thrive.  Similarly, God may have to change up the soil in a heart before one can hear, understand, and grow to maturity.  But the joy we will feel someday as we see the fruit of our prayer will far surpass an obsession with the fruit of a tomato vine.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Perfect Woman and Me

The Proverbs 31 woman was the subject of our ladies Bible study recently.  Groan.   I felt bile rise up in my throat at the very mention of her.   How many times do I have to look at this woman with all her accomplishments and abilities against my own imperfections? 

Sure, I’ll “provide portions for my servant girls” as soon as I have a few servant girls.  And how about that workday?  “She gets up while it’s still dark and her lamp does not go out at night".  I know how I feel after rising at 5 am for work and I can assure you that by 9 pm it isn't pretty!  There is no lamplight at my house unless you count the glow of the alarm clock.  And while it’s admirable that “she laughs at the days to come”, who wouldn't with all that giftedness, a husband singing her praises and kids calling her blessed? 

I confess that my attitude has been sour.  But as the group discussion continued that night, an epiphany came to me and the cloud of bitterness receded. 

We are taught that the Law, while impossible to obey perfectly, was nonetheless set up as God’s standard for His people in the Old Testament. But anyone who has read Scripture knows the Israelites were no more successful at living this perfection than we are today.   Gal 3:24 says “…the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.”  In seeing the required perfection, we also see our inability to meet it.  But God in His grace presents not just the dilemma but also the solution – Jesus.

Is it not possible that this woman is of the same cloth as all other Old Testament standards?  Could she not be a composite of a woman in a perfect state rather than a guilt provoking role model against which we compare ourselves?

A woman who, rather than wagging a critical finger in our direction, in fact  points our way to Jesus.

I think I may have made a new friend.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Memory Maker

Last week was my grandmother’s birthday.  She is celebrating in Heaven these days.

I was too busy to attend her funeral years ago.  My priorities were all messed up.  My parents told me that my presence would just complicate the arrangements and I accepted the excuse.  Sure, I had just moved to the other side of the United States, had young kids and was getting settled in a new job.  But sadly I was just too busy to say good bye to the 102 year old woman who had loved me for so many years. 

The memories of a little red suitcase for overnights and hand fed apple scrapings did not occur to me.  Nor the water melon seed I planted among her roses that rewarded me with my first taste of the glory of gardening.  Or the nightly back scratches in her big poster bed or the creaking of her rattan rocking chair while the giant fan blew against my face, brushing away the wispy strands of my baby fine hair.  I did not remember her love of words that she passed on to me.  (I often wonder what she would think of her aging granddaughter now as a writer!) And I forgot how her spunky sarcastic humor entertained me and about all those little gifts she would bring out of hiding that she had saved for me when I came for a visit.  And how she loved eating peaches better than anything and how she was a great cook but never liked her own cooking because she had “messed with it”. 

Yes, I set aside all those things.  Because life comes at you fast and when you are young you forget that a time is coming when you will hopefully have made memories that someone holds onto.  

A belated birthday wish to you Mimi and even more importantly, my belated gratitude.   I remember now.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Holy Routine

I have graduated.  From the closet floor to my computer desk.  I even have a picture on the wall nearby that spells out WRITER.  I don't feel official.  Who really reads my ramblings anyway but friends, family and the occasional person who gets to my blog by mistake?

But I am certain of this: I do have a story to tell.  Because I AM A STORY.  His Story.  And so are you.

Each day is sovereignly designed by our Maker.  What if we awakened each morning with a sense of wonder?  What if we chose to see the road ahead as an adventure, approaching the mundane components of our day as opportunities for God to reveal Himself through us?

As Christians, we drink from the well of Grace.  He lovingly rearranges the broken pieces, picks up the loose threads and paints over the ugly hue of our depravity.  Each element of our day is the remaking - the masterpiece He is creating.  Because the Gospel is not just words on a page.  It's about changed lives.  And that process doesn't happen overnight but through tiny joys and a dusting of drudgery in each minute of every day.

The echo of providence resonates through our lives if we will only listen for it.  As I write, I write as a learner, hearing my own words over and over.  Not just in the finished piece, but in all the revisions.
It is there that I hear anew what God has done and is doing.

My story, your story, His story - all one really.  Even the trivial aspects of our day bear the fingerprints of the nail scarred Hand.

So like Jacob, let us wrestle.  Wrestle to see Him in our seemingly insignificant routine.  For His pen is scripting majestic strokes of glory on the pages of our ordinary lives.