Hello, God. Welcome to My Classroom


Praying for Spouses

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 26, 2012
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I frequently pray about my kids’ spouses. Autumn is 16 and Colton is 8, so I hope this won’t be something that happens too soon, but it’s never too early to pray for their future.

Obviously, Autumn will probably be the first to marry. I know God has already chosen her spouse, so I pray she will open her heart to “the one” He sends her way.

Now, I don’t want to tell God His job, but here are a few of the traits and characteristics that are on my wish list for her future husband…

He will make her laugh out loud. Every day.

He will applaud her efforts, even if the results aren’t quite what were expected.

He will love experiences with her more than he will love acquiring things.

He will plan time together, not rely on her to do so every time.

He will never run errands without asking if she needs anything.

He will support and encourage her dreams and goals.

He will provide security and stability without using it as a tool of control.

He will never sit and drink coffee while she does tedious chores.

He will buy her what she wants, not what he thinks she needs.

He will understand her need for female friends and support their time together.

He will indulge her with her favorite activities.

He will listen, even if what she’s saying doesn’t directly affect his life.

He will ask her opinion and truly take it into account.

He will remember when she mentions something would be entertaining and make it happen.

He will consider how his actions and words affect her.

He will have a heart to serve others, not expect others to serve him.

He will treat her like a princess because he truly believes she is one.

He will love Jesus more than he loves her or himself.

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If the World Gives Up on You…

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 20, 2012
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The other morning I passed a car on the side of the road. A white slip of fabric fluttered out the window surrendering its ability to move. As I drove by, I noticed the dents, rust, and other bruises mottling the battered body. No wonder it had given up.

Then something else caught my attention. This pile of abandoned metal wore 30-day tags. My initial reaction was Why would someone buy that piece of junk? Did they really think it would run?

As I drove by shaking my head in disbelief, my thoughts suddenly did a 180-degree turn, and I started considering the hope that must have been involved in the purchase.  Someone hoped that car would provide them with the transportation he or she needed. Even though it looked like it was near death, the purchaser believed.

Likewise, even when I feel battered and useless, God has hope that He can use me. That I can still fulfill the purpose He has for my life. He would still purchase me, no matter how I looked. In fact, He did and the cost was His Son. Even if I feel like waving my flag in surrender, He believes I can keep going and chooses me for the job He requires of me.

Do you ever feel abandoned on the side of the road if you can’t provide what other people expect or need? Sometimes it’s impossible to accomplish everything, and the rejection or dismissal hurts when it’s not done successfully. But that’s what happens when we focus on the world instead of on God. If we concentrate on doing God’s will, the world’s needs will also be met.

Because God doesn’t care if the world has left me stranded at the curb. It doesn’t matter how dented and rusted I look to the world; He still has hope for my future.

Liquid Emotions are Genetic

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 12, 2012
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Do you have liquid emotions? I most certainly do. Overwhelming sadness? I cry. Mad and indignant? The tears flow. Frustrated beyond belief? The dam opens. Laughing hysterically? Yep, even then.

There’s absolutely nothing I can do to prevent the tears. They have caused me embarrassment, frustration, and even horror, but still they flow. I’m not sure why I’m made this way, but I do know I inherited this trait honestly from my mom. During my childhood, I can recall seeing her crying in response to television commercials. I thought she was a mess, but now I’m a mess too.

Years ago, I watched Steel Magnolias and was able to relate to the comment made my Dolly Parton’s character. Truvy said, “Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.” Well, I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but it is probably one of my most frequent.

Currently, I’m reading Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin with my students. This is the fourth year I’ve read it in class after reading it once for pleasure and once to make sure it was appropriate for my students. Altogether, I’ve probably read it at least a dozen times. It’s one of my all-time favorite novels, and I recommend it highly. One of the characters, Uncle Willee, cries freely. His emotions are definitely liquid, and for one abused little boy, Unc’s tears are the first time he’s ever seen a grown man cry. That boy has trouble accepting Unc’s tears as a positive thing when his own make him feel like a weakling.

Yesterday, Colton stayed with friends while I went ice skating with the high school students from the youth group. At one point, he misbehaved by being unkind to his friend, and he cried when reprimanded. To some people this seems absurd, but to those of us with liquid emotions, it is very familiar.

At the dinner table as he and I discussed what had happened and what his consequences would be, his eyes flooded again. When I asked why he was crying, his chin quivered. “Because I hurt my friend.”

Cynics would say he’s merely upset because of the consequences. I would also be skeptical except I’ve seen the same young boy tear up and try to hide his emotions many times. When watching a movie that touches his heart, usually because an animal gets badly hurt or is treated cruelly, he just can’t help himself.

I’m sure it’s difficult for him to reconcile his tears with his need to feel like a “man”. I want him to be brave and strong, but I also admire his kind-hearted response to life. I’m not sure how to foster one of those traits without compromising the other.

What I am certain of, whether good or bad, is he gets his liquid emotions from me.

Negativity Will Get You Nowhere.

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 7, 2012
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As I posted yesterday, I truly believe that God is in control and He can use anyone to further His kingdom.

I have stayed out of political conversations for the most part over the last year. Students frequently ask who I’m voting for, but I’ve learned it’s not a smart move to reveal my choice. That being said, I feel the need this morning to share my feelings about one aspect of the election.

I’ve been stunned and saddened by the negativity during the campaign. Not that negativity is anything new in politics. I remember in 1972 being on the playground at elementary school and hearing a boy yell, “Nixon, Nixon is our man. Throw McGovern in the trash can.” Such eloquence certainly trickled down from an adult to this vocal second grader, and he felt the need to share with the rest of us. I don’t remember his name, but I can still see the ruthless triumph in his eyes and the wicked smile on his face.

With that in mind, I felt the need to discuss the election results with Colton this morning. Not only so he would be up-to-date with what’s going on, but so he would be prepared for any of his third-grade peers who felt the need to be mouthy in support of their (ummm…their parents’) own camp or with antagonism toward their opposition.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to send kids off to school without having to prepare them for adversity?

Nothing has changed since my playground days. Now my peers are a little older than second grade, but many still spew hate to try to get their point across. Instead of on the swing set, it’s now carried out on Facebook, Twitter, and any other avenue at their disposal.

The interesting thing to me is how many Christians are involved in this ugliness. Have we forgotten WWJD? What would Jesus do in this situation? I’m positive he would not be spouting revenge and hate.

The United States has fewer Christians now than ever before. If someone who claims to be Christian truly wants more people to vote Christian values, wouldn’t it make sense to leave the negativity to the politicians and focus on spreading Christian love? Serving others and growing His kingdom seems to me to be the logical strategy for creating change in our world.

The last time the U.S. had a surge in church attendance was after the attacks on September 11th.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you turn to God and cry out for help.

I certainly don’t know the future or what God has planned, but a lot of people think our country is going to be destroyed in the next four years.

I’m not sure, but maybe it’s just going to hit rock bottom.

The Results Are In…

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 6, 2012
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Not really…it’s going to be a long evening of anticipation, waiting for the final results to be tallied. No matter who wins this election, there will be many people convinced our country is facing the worst four years ever. I feel a blanket of uncertainty settling over me.

The news announced some people in Virginia are waiting in line for 5 hours to exercise their right to vote (I’m feeling very blessed about my 25 minutes). Good for them. Everyone should do their duty, no matter the length of the line or the state of the weather. I truly believe apathy eliminates an individual’s right to complain.

At this point, I have no idea what the outcome will be, but in these two things I am confident:

1) God is in control.
2) He can use anyone to further His kingdom.

As my good friend Bobbi posted, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.” John Quincy Adams.

I’m praying His will, not mine, be done today.

Something’s Wrong With This Picture

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on November 2, 2012
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Do you ever take a step back and wonder about a situation in your life?

I have today off school because of a yearly festival in the county where I teach. Autumn and Colton have Monday and Tuesday off school for a teacher workday and Election Day.

Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with this picture.

I am not the poster child for how to become a teacher. After graduating from college ten years after I graduated from high school, I spent nine years in one career before deciding I wanted to teach.

At that time I was 38, pregnant with our second child, and figured if I could give birth at that age, I could change careers as well.

I had an English degree, but not one in education. Because I had been out of school for so many years, I decided to take the Praxis exam to see what it was like. I knew I’d fail but thought it would give me a good idea of what I was facing for my new goal. So at eight months pregnant, I waddled into the testing center and took the exam.

I passed. I could hardly believe it.

That led me to make another decision. Did I really need to have my education credits to begin teaching? I knew some teachers were hired on provisional licenses. I might as well try, right?

I only applied in the county where I live, Mathews, and the next county over, Middlesex. Middlesex hired me, and I’ve always been so grateful for their confidence in me. Over the next couple of years, I taught, took classes to get my permanent license, and have never regretted my decision to change careers.

As far as teaching in a different school division than where my kids attend school, I have always enjoyed being able to be a parent in one and a teacher in the other. It could cause conflicts to be both. I certainly know a lot of teachers who successfully wear both hats in the same school division, but I’ve liked having them split.

It’s only on occasions like today and next week when I question it. With Mark’s job and now with Autumn driving and working, the logistics of where Colton will go each day after school causes some extra stress and even some begging at times. But I have wonderful family and friends who are always willing to help. And I have administration at my school who understands sometimes family comes first.

Today, I wish my kids were home with me, but I have the chance to go to Colton’s fall party at his school, which I rarely get to do. I didn’t tell him I was going to show up, so I hope he’ll be surprised.

There are always blessings in any situation. I simply have to be willing to look.


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