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.

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Years Later ...
1/9/2017 1:00:00 AM BY Barb

Hi, honey.

I’m thinking about you, as in a few hours it will have been eight years since you died. So hard to believe it’s been that long.

I’m sitting here with your picture in front of me wondering what I would say if I could get a message to you.

I miss you, of course. Even more so when I look at your picture. I literally feel the warmth of your eyes and your smile. I can almost hear your laugh. And your voice. Standing beside me at church, singing during worship. Kneeling beside me at home praying for our kids. Answering your phone at work. Saying, “It’s all good,” the night you died when your fever was so high, your body stiffening, and your stomach heaving. To the very last, you wanted to comfort and encourage those around you. And you did.

The pain has changed over the years. In the beginning, I didn’t believe it when people told me time would partially heal the wound. I wondered, “How could I ever miss Greg less than I do today? How could this hole in my heart ever be filled?”

The answer is that it hasn’t been filled. There’s still a gaping hole that only you could fill. But what has changed is that I no longer constantly yearn for that to happen. Scream for it. Cry for it. Plead for it.

God has helped me stop grieving over what I can never again have. I’ve accepted life and continued to move forward. You asked me to do that in the letter you left me. Not to look back.

But what I want you to know is that God has gone above and beyond that. I live a new “normal” and love my life. Sometimes I even notice advantages to being single.

But I’m really not alone. I’m not afraid, and I don’t worry about the future. It’s hard to imagine how a God in heaven can fulfill a promise to be a husband to the widow, but He does just that. I talk to Him, honey, like I used to talk to you. Sounds weird, but He gives me ideas. Reminds me of things you used to remind me of. Gives me words when I’m writing, like you used to do when I’d call you at work for them. Wakes me up in the night to tell me He loves me.

Do I wish I could hold your hand and snuggle beside you? Definitely. I miss your touch more than anything else. Thank you for loving me all those years—especially the last ten when we learned to appreciate each other so much more. Thank you for cherishing me, encouraging me, and spoiling me.

As the years pass, memories come and go, and I can’t help but wish I’d done better as a helpmate for you. I wish I’d told you, as often as I told my friends, what a wonderful husband you were. I really know how to make them jealous when I relate memories of how you came to my school to warm my car and scrape the windows on snow day- dismissal times. How you ran me a bath, fixed me a coke, warmed my car, and carried all my school stuff to the car every morning before you left for work. How you’d surprise me with grilled cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate in the evenings when I was writing. How you’d come into the room with a grin and announce how you’d just arranged a surprise weekend trip to the beach (or the Bahamas) for us.

My greatest regret? Two things.

First, that you can’t know how wonderful our kids are as adults. They’ve been the best in the world to me these last eight years. Loving, but not enabling me. Taking care of my needs. Constantly checking up on me. They are you in so many ways.

Second, the grandkids. This should probably have been first. I think the saddest I get is when I see a grandpa playing with his grandkids. Our grandkids are SO special. They would have LOVED you so much!

I don’t understand why life had to happen the way it did, but that’s okay. I don’t go there. I’m so good with God’s sovereignty and His plan for my life. But I sure can’t wait to get to heaven to see you again.

Not sure how it all works out, but I hope I will know you as my husband and can hold you for days and days and days. Oh, honey, I love you so much! The sad tears are many, but not nearly as many as those of the joy I feel for having known and been loved by you.  XOX  Barbie

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”   Psalm 16:11