WHY...

Barb Enjoys
Writing at IHOP

I love God, and I love telling others about Him. That’s why I write. Well, that, and I absolutely love to create characters and story worlds.

HOW...

Barb Chooses
Writing Topics

Ideas … ideas … ideas. Someday I seriously intend to settle down and write in one genre and only one genre … if God so leads.

WHAT...

Barb Loves to
Teach & Share

Novel writing is so relevant to our walks with God. Our stories begin with wounded, flawed characters who desperately need help.

When you think you're finished, and then . . . God!
8/6/2017 8:18:00 PM BY Barb Haley

When you're sitting at IHOP working on your novel and the Holy Spirit brings you to tears with the plans He has for your main character. When her stubborn heart has been pierced with a near-death experience and she realizes life is so much more than busyness. That God is so much more than a big judge in the sky who is disgusted with what she has allowed her life to become. That He loves her beyond understanding and asks only for her trust and obedience. The two things most difficult for her to offer.

A Second Wind, my first novel, was complete ... I thought. But today, God has added a new dimension. A deeper level of change and commitment in Biz' life. And a growing faith that God is able and willing to do the impossible in her life for His glory!

Join me as I post small snippets of Biz’ journey once a week. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Double your fists when her stubborn nature makes decisions you can clearly see are not in her best interest. But that’s life, right? We’re all there and can identify with the questions she asks and the doubts and fears she encounters. And we all long to know God in an intimate way as our best friend. Our Savior. Out Counselor. Our Rock. And so much more!

 

Enjoy my first post below, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE at the bottom right so you don’t miss any adventures along the way!

 

A Second Wind – Part 1

Anticipating the stir my visit was bound to create, I squared my shoulders, lifted my chins, and marched through the doorway. After all, the company was still mine on paper.

The door to my son’s office opened, and Robby stepped into the lobby, almost filling the doorway with his stocky six-and-a-half-foot frame. “Hey, Mom. I thought you took a couple of days off to rest.”

So there it was. I hadn’t been expected to show up for the meeting. But I’d heard about it, quite by accident, and nothing on this side of heaven would keep me from attending. No, I wasn’t expected . . . and most likely, was not wanted. But as I said before, this was still my company.

I slid past my son. Just as I suspected, they were all there. Every stinkin’ trucker in our employment. Which only amounted to a little over a dozen.

“Want to grab me a chair, Robby?” I walked my eyes around the circle—somewhat amused with the assortment of emotions displayed on their faces. Surprise, of course. And a bit of guilt, embarrassment, discomfort. “I guess I missed the memo about the meeting on Thursday morning.”

Robby brought me a chair and took his place behind the large mahogany desk. He folded his hands on top of a pad of yellow legal paper and shut his eyes for a moment.

Yes, I thought. Prayer would be appropriate. But when you’re finished, I have a few choice—

“So, I guess I just need to be honest, Mom.”

“Good start.”

He smiled ever so slightly—not an I’m-glad-we’re-together-on-this gesture, but one riddled with tension. “The guys asked to meet with me to discuss the future of their employment.”

Okay. That hit hard, like I’d been plowed down by one of my own trucks. Most of these truckers had worked for me for years, some of them for more than a decade. We were family. Good grief, I’d seen them through divorces and custody battles and chemotherapy. I made sure I had their backs, and they always had mine. Like when they offered to take somebody out who threatened to sue me a few years ago. Not that I accepted their offer, but the thought got me through the mess. 

I’d loaned the guys plane ticket money so they could visit their dying parents and banned their ex-wives from the premises. I was fair. I never cheated them out of a dollar or a shift or a free donut on Fridays. I thought they trusted me.

So why had they gone to Robby?

Fortunately, the pain that pricked my heart was short lived. Indignation buoyed my determination to remain in control. No ugly. Just a strong desire to do whatever it took to bring the boys back into my camp.

“Discussing the future is always a good thing,” I said. As I paused to look around the room, my eyes connected with each employee who would reciprocate. Hopefully, my body language expressed my understanding, and maybe even my endorsement, for their concerns. “Will it bother anyone if I stay to hear what you have to say?”

A seasoned trucker, two seats to my left, shifted in his seat and crossed his arms in front of his chest. The wiry, little man with clumps of blonde-gone-grayish hair draped over his balding crown and plastered with hairspray,had been with me from the beginning.

Pete turned my direction and nodded his welcome. “I’m sure I can speak for most anyone in this room—us truckers, that is. Ms. Biz, there ain’t no one we respect more highly than we do you when it comes to trucking know-how. And even though you sometimes get all up on your high horse about stuff that ought to be our business, we know it’s because you care more about this company than life itself.”

I stared at my feet, wishing I could stop the heat filling my pudgy cheeks. That I could appear unmoved. In charge. But that wasn’t happening.

Pete continued after a pause. “That’s what makes it so hard to say the things we intend to say. And . . . well, the truth of it is, we were taking the coward’s way out, intending to make Robby pass the news on to you.”

My forehead tightened; my neck went stiff. “News? What are you saying?”

“Things have to change around here, Mom,” Robby said. “Or these guys plan to work elsewhere. Several of them have already accepted other positions.”

I stared at the boy—the man—who sat behind the desk. I waited for someone to say he was wrong. But no words came forth, and the silent buzz in the room intensified until I almost plugged my ears to shut it out.

With a false, but necessary, bravado to my voice, I responded. “Pay raises? Is that what you need?”

“It’s not that easy, Ms. Biz,” Pete said. “There’s no way you can afford to pay us the wages we can get from larger, consolidated trucking companies. Then there’s the flexible hours, the safety incentives, the most recent technology on them trucks, and the on-the-job schooling they provide to keep our licenses current.”

“It’s the whole package,” a younger trucker added. “I hate to do it to you, but I can’t afford not to take advantage of the offer another company made me. I’m here to give my notice.”

“Mm-hmm,” several others murmured, nodding their heads.

“Just can’t see no way around it,” Pete said.

“Right.” I reached for the desk as my hands began to tingle. The room swirled around me. My breaths became choppy, unable to reach my lungs. I gasped for air as my knees buckled.

Truckers leapt to their feet to support me. Robby stood, and the men eased me into his chair.

“Are you okay?” Robby asked. “Someone please get her a drink.”

As my breathing slowed, I relaxed enough to consider what had just transpired. The meeting. The truckers, and . . . their demands for more than I could ever give them. “What are we going to do, Robby?” I whispered. “Are we finished?”

 

 

 

 

 


 

Those Branches HAD to Go!
5/30/2017 12:25:00 PM BY Barb

As  I sit outside and wait for my sweet little puppy to potty in the grass instead of on my kitchen floor, I’m observing my freshly pruned tree.

Just a week ago, this tree resembled a gigantic sphere of leaves set atop of post of bark. Her shade was wonderful, and behold, I thought she was very good.

But, alas, my gardener came and pointed out some hidden faults. It seems many of the lower branches, though heavy laden with beautiful growth, leaned toward the ground instead of the sky. Instead of supporting the upper branches and encouraging growth in an upward fashion, these limbs were sucking the life out of my tree and actually limiting all upward growth.

As you can see from the pictures, my gardener skillfully trimmed away the branches that were not functioning in healthy manner—those not of benefit to the entire tree.

That which looked so pleasing to my eye had to go. Painful, but necessary.

Oh, we could take this analogy in so many directions. People in our lives. Habits. Thoughts. But God brought activity to mind.

I recently returned from my annual Christian writers conference in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. We experienced a huge snowstorm that closed the highways and dropped three feet of snow before us. We were snowed in.

While the view was exhilarating and the air crisp and refreshing, I was almost too busy working the conference to even appreciate what lay before me in splendor and glory outside. One morning, I opened my drapes and immediately had to look away. The brilliance of a white, snow-covered ground, bleeding directly into snow-covered mountains reaching all the way to the blinding sun was more than my human eye could behold.

For the first time, I was able to visualize verses about the radiance of God. Above and beyond anything I could imagine. And God spoke to my heart.

Like the lower branches on my tree, busyness was stealing my time with God and others. The things I was doing were good and necessary, but my priorities had become skewed. And in that moment, I realized that I needed to rid my life of the busyness, even if just for a few moments at a time, in order to continue growing in God. Some activities needed to be clipped away completely. Others put in perspective.

So I knelt … even though I was almost late for an appointment. “Lord,” I prayed, ”You and I both know I don’t have time for this.” We laughed together because the Lord knew my heart. “But I don’t want to continue on my own. What a mess I’ve made of things in just this short time of busyness. My strength is gone. And my joy. I’m so sorry. Thanks for speaking to my spirit and reminding me what was missing . . . Who was missing. I love You so much. Fill me with more of You and remind me to look others in the eye and genuinely listen to their words and their hearts. I don’t want to miss even one opportunity to bless them with Your love.”

So often I work continuously while my heart longs to paint, play the piano, write my novel, or visit with others. Years ago I was taught to finish my work before playing. But I believe life would have me work myself straight into the grave with no breaks if I let it.

The lower branches of my tree are gone. You can see the darkened areas where my gardener applied salve to the open wounds to prevent infection while the tree heals.

Jesus, our Great Physician, keeps a careful watch over our growth in Him, pruning and applying the balm of Gilead when necessary. We are not responsible to grow our own fruit. Rather, we have only to listen and obey when He calls us to make changes in our lives.

In John 15:5, He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”