February 26, 2013

Speak God. I am Listening.

"So should we go for it? Should we just go ahead and jump? Is this the next step... the beginning of another new season in our journey? Is this what we've been waiting for and praying for and hoping for? Will this path bring the freedom and life we long for? Is this the way God would have us go?"

This past Sunday, we escaped, or maybe we ran for our lives, from the confines of suburbia and fled to the beautiful, majestic Shenandoah National Forest. We hiked and climbed, but most importantly, we drank in the crisp and refreshing, cool mountain air in huge, thirsty, can't-get-enough gulps. We were in desperate need of a detox from the many things that drain us and cloud our vision and scramble our brains. It was good... so very, very good.

There's much I want to say and write about our time away, but for now, for today, I feel the need to be silent. The house is quiet and still with my three off at school and work, the dog sleeps peacefully on his bed, and all my ears can hear is the gentle hum of the heater and the low, rhythmic flip-flop of warm clothes turning over in the dryer.

Like the young boy Samuel, I'm praying, "Speak God. I am listening." (1 Samuel 3:10)

Big decisions await...

I know he will answer.

After reading this post, my husband laughed and commented that the first two sentences read as if we're considering throwing ourselves off the cliff in the picture and just being done with it. So, in case you're a bit worried about our mental state, may I assure you that I'm only speaking metaphorically of course. Thank you, Honey, for your keen observation.  What would I do without you?! (a wink and a smile)


February 22, 2013

A Day in the Life

My day started off on the sofa where I had moved to during the night due to my sweet but sick husband's continuous coughing. I gave him a kiss good-bye as he left for work then stumbled to the kitchen to make a cup of tea since we were out of coffee and I haven't been well enough to run to the store to buy more.

I listened over and over again, and then a bit more after that, to this song that has completely captivated me. The lyrics are so beautiful and true to my heart...

"And you take my hand and you guide me on and you show me the way to life. 
And you lift my head and you give me hope and you show me the way to life."

And then I set my mind and heart and day on this scripture that keeps me rooted in Christ and choosing life regardless of how I feel or what my days may bring...

"Choose life, so that you may live... for the Lord IS your life."
~Deuteronomy 30: 19,20

I spent some time praying and read a very timely and encouraging devotion from Joyce Meyer about all things working together for good. 

And after breakfast, I took my children and a neighbor friend to school, then drove to McDonalds in my pajamas and slippers for coffee. The warm morning sun shone down, the song above played loudly on the stereo, and a hot cup of coffee was in my hand. After being sick for several days, I felt alive.

I came home and wrote a few important emails and surfed Pinterest, to which I might be shamelessly addicted, for creative inspiration. I changed the sheets, but didn't wash the dirty ones, and got ready and headed out to the grocery store for the first time in a week. I've missed the grocery store, as silly as that sounds. Wegmans is one of my favorite places and quite possibly the best grocery store ever. I could spend hours and hours there and lots of money too. And I usually do and today, I did.

photo credit: meltdown reboot.blogspot.com

I came home and put all the groceries away and ate a few slices of the chocolate cherry bread I bought from the bakery, then collapsed back on the sofa exhausted from all the morning's activity.

After my children got home from school and I had hugged and smooched on them and caught up on their days, I took the littlest one, who is also the biggest one, to get a haircut. While I waited on him, I had a very nice and interesting conversation with an Indian man, who gave me a good laugh when he asked if my son was my brother, about raising children in an American culture. 

After my boy got an awesome haircut, we came home and ordered take-out pizza from our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant because Thursday nights have become it's-almost-the-weekend-let's-celebrate-and-order-pizza nights.

After we threw away the paper plates from dinner and got ready for bed, we all gathered together in our room. Three of us snuggled up in the bed and one sat in a chair because all four of us can't squeeze into our queen size bed anymore. We talked a bit and prayed together and said our good-nights and everyone headed off to bed. I didn't sleep on the sofa but instead cuddled up to this sick and coughing, but warm and wonderful man, pictured below wearing my movie-star sunglasses. 

It was a good day with a lot of life lived.

This is the first post in a new, but soon-to-be-on-going and hopefully weekly, series on what my life looks like in a day. I imagine it to be a journal and memoir of sorts... a way to record and remember my days... what it looks like to "be and keep being".


February 15, 2013

Gloriously Perfect

It was an interesting Valentine's Day.

Pretty lackluster for sure.

It's not that we weren't feeling the love because we were, it's just that we were feeling bad too. As in sick. Two out of four of us (the parents) were under the weather... like when you stay in your pajamas all day and barely make it off the sofa (that would be me) and when you go to work anyway and suffer through the whole miserable day because you don't have a choice (that would be my man). It was no fun at all.

Though there were a few gifts for everyone, some candy here and there, and heart-shaped pizzas delivered for supper, (Thank you Papa John's!) it wasn't the Valentine's Day I had hoped it would be.

We didn't have a huge, mouth-watering Italian dinner on the red and white gingham tablecloth and I didn't bake a decadent, ganache-drenched chocolate cake like I'd planned. My man and I didn't raise a toast to our love with glasses full of rich, red Merlot and we went to bed very early, but not for romantic reasons at all.

It wasn't a typical Valentine's Day for the Barkers as far as celebrations go, but there was still lots and lots of love to go around... plenty of it. Sweet words. Big hugs. Cozy snuggles and loads of laughter.

Oh how I love this little family God has given me. Sharing life with the three of them is my greatest treasure. They make my heart smile and swell. With them is my favorite place to be. And whether or not we have a pin-worthy, delicious, glorious and perfect Valentine's Day celebration, we have each other and that alone is gloriously perfect.

Summer 2012


February 14, 2013

Love Notes

Beautiful scripture from Jesus on this Valentine's Day... 

A love note of sorts, the best kind ever, overflowing with words of love and hope and promise. 

Be blessed...

"So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.

For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help.

O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.

He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, 
he will still be with you to teach you.
You will see your teacher with your own eyes. 

Your own ears will hear him.
Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left. 

Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. 

There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. 

The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. 

In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. 

The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—
like the light of seven days in one! 

So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them."

~Isaiah 30:18-26

photo credit: tgaw.wordpress.com


February 12, 2013

What I'm Listening To: "You Revive Me" by Christy Nockels

When my heart is heavy, my soul is thirsty, and life feels like a desert... the air so thick and suffocating, God draws me to worship. He invites me to rest, to lay down every struggle and heartache, every need and longing, and find comfort in him. He breathes his life into me and the dry and waterless desert becomes instead a river of joy where his power reigns and his grace and mercy are abundant. 

Strength and life flow freely and lavishly as he revives me...

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
~Psalm 63:1, 3-5

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." 
 ~Matthew 13:45-46

"Oh Lord, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."  
~Isaiah 26:8

This is the third post in a series called, "What I'm Listening To: How God is Wooing My Heart Through Song"


February 7, 2013

What I'm Listening To: "Come to Me" by Jenn Johnson

Yesterday was hell and there's no nicer way to say it. It just was. It was one of the hardest, darkest days I've had in a while. It seemed that everything Satan could think of to throw at me was hurled my way and I found myself very disillusioned and weary from the battle. There were lots and lots of tears and many lay-myself-at-the-feet-of-Jesus prayers.

In my ache and grief, Jesus lovingly reminded me that there isn't anything I feel or experience that he doesn't understand... nothing that he himself, having been human, didn't feel or experience as well. He gets me. He knows me better than I know myself. He feels my pain and understands my longing. He sees my heart. He knows my story and has a plan for my future.

Living in and with mystery is not for the faint of heart. It will expose you in all the right and heart-wrenching ways and reveal what you deeply and truly think of God... how much you're willing to trust and depend on him... if you'll live by faith. It is the stuff of heaven though the process feels nothing like paradise. Some days I'm incredibly strong and resilient and I hold my sword ever so high, but other days I feel quite small and weak and I look for rocks to crawl under and hide. In the conflict, God is teaching me to live on the shores of heaven, far, far beyond what I see and feel. He's calling me up to walk consistently in truth and in the authority he's given me regardless of my circumstances or feelings. My heart is expanding in the process and it's both painful and beautiful.

There is precious little that I know for certain right now. I have more questions than I have answers, but I've learned I can have understanding or I can have God, and I want God. The answers will come in time. For now, he invites me to rest, to wait on him, to live in truth, and to trust him with my story. He says, "Come to me, I'm all you need. Come to me, I'm your everything."

I am the Lord your God, 
I go before you now. 
I stand beside you 
I'm all around you 
And though you feel I'm far away 
I'm closer than your breath 
I am with you 
More than you know 

I am the Lord your peace 
No evil will conquer you 
Steady now your heart and mind 
Come into my rest 
And oh, let your faith arise 
And lift up your weary head 
I am with you 
Wherever you go 

Come to me, I'm all you need 
Come to me, I'm everything 
Come to me, I'm all you need 
Come to me, I'm your everything 

I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves 
And I am your steadfast, so don't be afraid 
Though your heart and flesh may fail you 
I'm your faithful strength 
And I am with you 
Wherever you go 

Don't look to the right or to the left, keep your eyes on me 
You will not be shaken, you will not be moved 

I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way 
 Just come to me, come to me 
Cause I'm all that you need

"Seek my face more and more. You are really just beginning your journey of intimacy with me. It is not an easy road, but it is a delightful and privileged way: a treasure hunt. I am the treasure, and the glory of my presence glistens and shimmers along the way. Hardships are part of the journey too. I mete them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine. Do not recoil from afflictions, since they are among my most favored gifts. Trust me and don't be afraid, for I am your strength and song."  ~ from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

This is the second post in a series called, "What I'm Listening To: How God is Wooing My Heart Through Song"


February 1, 2013

What I'm Listening To: "Home" by Phillip Phillips

I think we may have outgrown our home. Not the one we're physically living in because it has plenty of room and space and it's just the four of us and our sweet, old dog. But I'm pretty sure we've outgrown this season of life, this place God has had us call home for over the past six years. It just doesn't fit us as well as it used to and like a pair of my son's outgrown jeans, it feels tight around the waist and there's not much room to breathe. 

God is on the move. 

I sense it deep down in my heart and feel it in my bones.

The ground below us is shifting, the clouds are rolling in, the winds are picking up, and a storm is brewing. Change is coming. I can't say when, I can't say where, but I know my God is up to something and he's haunting me in the most beautiful ways through this song. It plays continually on my stereo and across my heart and even when I sleep, I'm aware of the inviting, hopeful lyrics. Though Phillip Phillips sings the song, it's the voice of Jesus that I hear...

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause i’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause i’m going to make this place your home

God is calling us to another cliff... another leap of trust and dependence on him. He's offering his presence and he promises we won't go the journey alone. Whether we move clear across the country or down the street and around the bend, he'll be with us every single step.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do and I will not abandon them."  
~Isaiah 42:16

I wonder, is God on the move and up to something fresh and new in your life as well? What does this song say to your heart? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

This is the first post in a series called, "What I'm Listening To: How God is Wooing My Heart Through Song"

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