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.

God-Moments
6/8/2019 11:46:00 PM BY Barbara E. Haley

God-Moments

This afternoon I spent the better part of an hour brainstorming with four wonderful servers at IHOP about my new middle-school chapter book. These ladies shared experiences and ideas and are excited about being a part of the upcoming book.

But as I talked to the girls, all in their early 20s, I felt sad. Several of them have already had babies or miscarriages, though none of them are married. One young lady looks so down every time she works. I asked her today what makes her happy. She said her boyfriend and alcohol. She has a rough home life and not much hope for the future.

As we talked about the book, an idea sprouted in my mind. I want to write some sort of book for these young girls. Fiction. A character, like them, who finds peace and joy at the end of a painful journey. Happiness in Jesus. This is what I want for these sweet young ladies. It’s just an idea at this point, but the Holy Spirit will grow it with time. I’d love for your prayers for this project. And if you have any ideas, please email me to let me know. What a joy it is to be used by God to minister through the written word.

And now … here’s the first chapter I wrote after our brainstorming session. Enjoy.

Chapter One (Rough Draft)

            Penelope plopped her lunch tray down, eased her long legs over the bench, and slid to a seat beside her best friend. “Cheeseburger and fries, again? Didn’t we just have these three days ago?”

           Kennedy grinned. “Better than their mushy meatloaf and creamed corn.”

            “I guess.” Penelope spread ketchup on her burger and replaced the bun. “Can you hand me the salt, Ken?”

            Kennedy scrunched her nose so high she looked like she was literally in pain. “Uh, how about no?”

            Penelope laughed. “Whatever. You’re weird.”

            “This seat saved for me?” Gryphon Van Horton set down his tray and sat across from the girls. “Like we don’t all know that Kennedy is weird? What else is new?”

            Penelope’s tongue went dry as she tried to think of something funny to say. She crossed her ankles and squeezed her knees together so tightly she almost winced. Why did Gryphon have this effect on her? Just last year the thought of one of the fourth-grade boys showing her special attention totally grossed her out. Of course, that might have had something to do with P.E. being the first class of the day and the boys stinking like wet dogs the rest of the day. And the chocolate pudding that stuck to their braces after lunch. Oooh. Just the thought . . .

            “Did you hear we’re getting a new P.E. coach?” Kennedy asked. “Coach Lopez flew back to Puerto Rico over the weekend. Her parents were in an accident on Friday. She quit and is going to stay there to care for them.”

            “That stinks,” Gryphon said.  He smiled at Penelope and stole the dill pickles off her tray. “Wonder how long it will take the athletic department to replace her. Just when you guys had a real shot at beating some of the big city schools in the tourneys.”

            Gryphon had just gotten the words out of his mouth when the principal stepped up to the table. He reached over Gryphon’s shoulder for the salt shaker. “Mind if I borrow this? The one at our end of the table is clogged.”

            “No problem,” Gryphon said. “Just sprinkle a little on my fries before you take it away, if you don’t mind.”

            Kennedy’s eyeballs bulged, and her bushy eyebrows formed an awkward V-shape in the middle of her forehead like a vulture ready to make a crash landing. She quickly recovered, though. “Uh, sir?” she stammered.

            “Yes?” Mr. Picard turned his attention to Kennedy as he shook salt lightly over Gryphon’s fries. For a nano-second, that is. 

            Because then the lid fell off the shaker directly into Gryphon’s pile of fries, and Gryphon hollered and jumped and bumped Mr. Picard’s arm just enough that Mr. Picard finished emptying the contents of the salt shaker straight into Gryphon’s long, mousy-brown hair.

            At that point, Gryphon reacted in what seemed like slow-motion. Like a drama-king on stage for America’s Got Talent, he made a big show of unfolding himself from the table and bench without tilting his head one iota. As other students cheered and pounded the tables, Gryphon shuffled cautiously over to a trash can and vigorously shook the seasoning from his scalp. 

            All this time, Mr. Picard stood like the statue of James Madison that resided to the left of the flagpole in front of school. Like the man was seriously in shock or something. Other than tiny little veins bulging on his neck like grub worms squirming just beneath his epidermis, he did not move a muscle until Gryphon returned to the table. 

           And then Gryphon did the coolest thing. The cafeteria had gone completely quiet. “Mr. Picard,” Gryphon said, “I am so sorry about what just happened.” Gryphon turned away from the principal and winked at Penelope and Kennedy. “Did you girls see who was sitting here before you? ‘Cause you hadn’t used the salt yet, had you?”

          The girls shook their heads. 

          Mr. Picard cleared his throat. “Well, I will find out who unscrewed that lid. We do not tolerate such foolishness at Madison Middle School. Not as long as I’m in charge.” He marched to the front of the still-silent cafeteria and addressed the students. “Anyone who saw anything needs to report to my office immediately. I will get to the bottom of this.”

 

            

 

            

            

            

            

            

            

 

            

 

When Life Happens!
1/23/2019 9:31:00 PM BY Barbara Haley

 

Heavy weight presses in as we consider what life has handed us. 

We try what we know, to no avail. We come to the end of ourselves. 

Our hearts race and we wonder how much pain can one’s heart can bear. How much might prove to be too much?

Overwhelming sadness for those we love who are walking through impossible circumstances. Questions without answers. Overwhelming obstacles. No immediate sign of hope. 

Crushing anxiety and dread about what might lie ahead. What if? starting so many of our thoughts as we try to reconcile the bad with the good. The weak with the strong. The past with the present. Trying to find a balance when there really isn’t one to be found.

For each of these elements carries weight as, together, they interact to determine the future. Color emotions. Demand responses. Trigger further incidents.

Once so clearly black and white, our vision muddles into a nebulous gray that leaves us confused and unsure of our recollections. Doubting the truth. Praying for the best but suspecting and anticipating the worst. 

And we wonder about our roots. Emotional and spiritual, sometimes so tightly entwined it is difficult to distinguish one from the other. Have we prepared for seasons such as this?

Experience—one of life’s strongest teachers—calls to us, so we take a moment to reflect. We search for patterns, answers, and promises. How did we get through previous struggles? What led us out of the valley and up to the mountain tops?

In glaring honesty, we turn to the Source of our very lives.

“Dear God, why? What next?”

We cry until our burning eyes can produce no more tears. We scream—if not aloud, then in the deepest recesses of our hearts. 

And finally, we come to a point of decision. 

Will we continue to bear this burden by ourselves? Will we push the pain aside as long as possible, engaging ourselves in busyness to avoid thinking about the reality of our circumstances? 

Or will we turn to the One who calls us to His side, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

We were not designed to carry the burdens of life, but to bring them to the One who promises to lift the load and rightly determine our future. The One who promises that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you . . . to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 7:8).

What should we do when life happens?

We must purpose to bring our burdens to God, even when we think we are too tired to even pray. Intentional action. Just whisper His name, and He’ll understand the cry of your heart. For before a word is on your tongue, He knows it completely (Psalm 139:4).

Life impossible? God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

Bring your burdens to Him. Trust in His faithful promises. And celebrate, in faith, the hope of a better future. He won’t let you down. He’s given us His Word!