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Easter, Disney, and Daddy…

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 27, 2013
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This weekend, we will be attending Easter services at church before running home to throw suitcases in the car and heading to the airport.

We’re going to Disney!

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The trip has been planned since before Christmas, so the anticipation has been both exciting and excruciating. For Mark and the kids, this will be their first visit to the Magic Kingdom. I can’t wait to spend Spring Break with them in such an amazing place.

Of course, I’m certain the amazing place has changed a lot since I’ve been there. When I was ten years old living in Missouri, my dad moved to Florida. For the next eight or so years, my sister and I spent a month every summer with him, and we always went to Disney. In my generous moments, I feel extremely lucky because of this. In my selfish moments, I wonder if it was part of a guilt offering for living so far away.

Was I a fortunate kid to spend that many summers in Florida with a visit to Disney thrown in for good measure? Absolutely. As an adult whose father passed away in 2001, do I wish I could trade those days at Disney for more time with Daddy? Definitely. For many years, I only saw Daddy during the summer visits and when he came to Missouri at Christmastime. It just wasn’t enough. And because of that, I sort of have a bittersweet outlook toward Mickey, Minnie, and all that they represent.

Don’t get me wrong. I have great memories of our time at Disney, and I hate that I have these stirrings of antagonism when I think of it, so next week will be about changing those feelings for good. I plan to relive my old visits with Daddy while creating new memories with Mark and the kids.

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I looked through some old pictures trying to find some from my childhood Disney visits, but instead I came across this one of my sister Lauren and me at The Farm. Last year, I blogged about The Farm (What Churns Up Your Memories?), but when I re-read it today, I noticed I didn’t mention the Easter egg hunts. I can’t even begin to explain all the incredible hiding places at The Farm. The yard itself boasted many trees with trunks full of nooks and crannies perfect for concealing eggs, not to mention the many barns and other outbuildings where they could be hidden.

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Of course, we always went to church and knew the reason for the holiday. It’s confusing for kids sometimes when they are taught about Jesus but want the excitement of the bunny and the glorious basket of candy. I see that in Colton now. Although we went to the egg hunt at church last Sunday afternoon and he came home with a full basket, he spent the morning in church where tears in his eyes proved to me that he knows the real story. A video depicted Easter from the perspective of the thief hanging with Christ on Calvary, and by the time it was over, Colton was working hard to swipe away the tears with his sleeve. He was baptized a few weeks ago, and I’ve wondered if he truly understood his profession of faith. Seeing those tears eliminated any doubt in my mind.

This is probably the most rambling blog I’ve ever written, but there are a lot of emotions, thoughts, and ideas muddled in my mind about this weekend and next week. I needed to get them out, even if they tumbled forth in a messy pile. If you’ve read this far, thanks for your perseverance!

Have a happy Easter, everyone. The Lord is Risen. He is King. We are blessed.

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The Icing on the Cake

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 20, 2013
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I like icing. To be honest, I love icing and maybe even lust for it. I’m one of those people who swipes her finger around the edge of the cake plate to get any sugary swirls left behind. My husband usually scrapes most of the icing from his cake. I reach for it immediately before he can do something unthinkable such as throwing it away. (Should be illegal!) I usually eat the cake first and save the icing. You know, the best for the last.

I rarely buy lunch from the cafeteria. Not necessarily because it’s cafeteria food (and all that implies) but because it’s less expensive to bring lunch from home. Occasionally, if I’m running late in the morning or my leftovers aren’t very tempting, I’ll crash the line in the “café” and grab a tray.

Recently when I did this, they were serving cake. Bonus! I stared at it while I ate the rest of the daily offerings. Once I started eating dessert, being careful to avoid the icing, it dawned on me it was really good cake. Exceptionally good. Each bite a delicious experience. Would the icing be better than this yummy cake? How could it possibly be? But you know what? It was. Even when I was eating a fantastic piece of cake, the best was yet to come.

It reminded me that in my brightest hours, when all my blessings are apparent and I feel overwhelmed with joy and abundance, something better, something beyond my wildest dreams, is still waiting for me. Eternity in Heaven will beat even the very best times on earth. No question about it…it’ll be the icing on the cake!

Reposted from March 2012

A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 15, 2013
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Recently, Autumn was asked by her boss if she’s happy at her place of employment. He feels she doesn’t smile enough while there. She responded that it isn’t her personality to have a smile on her face if there isn’t anything to smile about. Appropriately, he reminded her she works in the hospitality industry and needs to look pleasant all the time. I’d like to add, her beautiful smile is worth sharing. (That’s a completely unbiased opinion, of course!)

My poor baby unfortunately gets her stern look honestly. When I’m focused on something or have a multitude of things coursing through my mind, I frequently appear troubled or bothered. I know so many people who naturally smile even when feeling irritated or gloomy. Their mouths simply curve upward, creating an allusion of happiness.

Me? Not even close.

Autumn and I had a conversation about our non-smiling faces and about how she needs to smile at work no matter what is on her mind or how her day is going. I also need to remember that lesson. Even if things are going badly or I’m stressed to my breaking point, God can give me the strength to persevere.

More importantly, I am blessed beyond what I deserve and always have something to smile about.  No matter how dismal things seem, if I start concentrating on all the positives in my life, how can I not smile? Maybe God shaped my face and mouth the way He did so I would occasionally have it pointed out and be reminded to focus on all my blessings.

Thank you, God, for using your unique creations (me and Autumn) to remind me of all you provide. May my smile shine to help spread Your love and help brighten the lives of others.

The Evils of Fundraising?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 13, 2013
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My students at school began a fundraiser today. The money earned from the event will greatly benefit the students and our school. With tight budgets and cuts from government funding, we need all the help we can get to provide resources and other supplies.

At my church, many members frown upon fundraising. The church by-laws state that fundraising cannot take place for the daily operation of the church, but some people also disagree with using it for other purposes such as youth group retreats and mission camps.

When I try to view the situation from their perspective, I have trouble formulating valid reasons why fundraising is evil. Do they think it will deduct from the amount someone might tithe to the church? Is the money earned through fundraising somehow tainted? Or does it give Christians a bad reputation to solicit money? I’m not sure their reasons and I tend to shy away from confrontation, so I most likely won’t ask outright. (Yes, I’m a wimp.)

On the flip side, I can come up with reasons why the youth should fundraise for their activities. As a teacher and a youth leader, I see many teens floundering in their lives, searching for a purpose. Here are three ways I believe fundraising can help these teens:

1) Responsibility – In today’s society, many teens exist in a vacation-like gap between childhood and adulthood. For some, no one has ever told them they can make a difference in the world. They don’t feel responsible for a lot of what happens in their lives.

The teens in our youth group love, and I mean love, going to retreats and mission camps. These activities are beneficial to the teens and to so many other people as well, but they are expensive. For many, Mom or Dad writes the check and the teen merely has to show up and enjoy the trip. If teens play a larger part in earning money for these trips, it would be a lesson in responsibility and accountability, and I believe the trip would mean even more to them if they had to earn their way.

2) The Cost of Service – Teens in our youth group have many opportunities to serve others, but some do not yet understand the cost of serving. They might believe giving up time from friends or other activities is all it costs. However, gas is used getting to most places of service, and many teens fail to consider this. If we eat a meal out during a service project, usually Mom or Dad slips them some money to pay for it ahead of time. It would be beneficial for teens to realize the cost of service is more than just time. Raising money to help pay for some of the additional costs would help the teens realize their future life of service will come at a cost, but they will also know the blessings outweigh that cost.

3) Expanding the Kingdom – The more money our youth group earns the more lives we can touch. Going to retreat weekends helps recharge the teens. Mission camps allow them to see how people live in other parts of the country. They spend camp time serving others in a variety of ways. The cost of the camp, out-of-state transportation, meals, and travel supplies can be overwhelming for some families. The more money we raise, the more people we can take along to help serve others. The more people we serve, the more who learn about the love of Jesus.

I pray that church members support our efforts to raise money through both donations and fundraising. The money will touch the lives of our youth as well as all the people they serve. And I thank God for the opportunities available to serve. May He open our eyes to see them all.

Counting Mistakes

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 7, 2013
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Last fall, I posted an article about mistakes. This is part of what I wrote…

Here are a few things I’ve learned about mistakes:

1) Everyone, and I mean everyone, makes them. No one is perfect, and we all fall short at times.

2) What I learn from my mistakes must guide my future decisions and choices.

3) I can’t let guilt from my mistakes smother my joy in life.

4) If I don’t learn from my mistakes, they can become habits. Most likely bad habits.

5) Sometimes I don’t have the strength of character to make the right decisions on my own. I need help. Choosing the right friends can help me avoid mistakes. And of course, the strength of God’s Spirit makes it possible.

6) I conquer my tendency to make mistakes when I give up what seems fun or exciting to do what is right.

7) There is a difference between an accident and a mistake. If an accident happens more than once, it’s still an accident. But if you make the same mistake more than once, it has become a choice.

In addition, I have recently been reminded of an extremely important fact. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the mistakes of others and ignore my own. I must make a deliberate effort to count my own mistakes and let other people worry about theirs. When I go to bed each night, I want to be able to say the devil didn’t use me to hurt anyone that day. I pray that I’m a positive influence and role model to others. If I can say that, I guess I’m in fairly good shape.

Thank you, God, for this reminder exactly when I needed it.

Recipe for an 8th Grade Writer

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on March 2, 2013
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Ingredients:

1 unit on sentence structure, end punctuation, and comma usage (This is not optional. They do not remember from previous years. Ditto for all ingredients.)

1 unit on verb tense, subject verb agreement, pronoun antecedent agreement, plurals and possessives, homophones, and double negatives

1 unit on capitalization and spelling

1 unit on narrowing and focusing on topic

1 unit on elaboration and details as main idea support

1 unit on effective introductions and conclusions

1 unit on sentence variety, point of view, tone, and voice

1 unit on purpose and audience

1 unit on organizational structures

1 unit on advanced vocabulary and figurative language usage

Steps:

1) Mix ingredients one at a time into a slouching, uninterested, unmotivated 14-year-old student.

2) Add additional amounts of any of the above ingredients as needed for desired outcome.

3) Pray. A lot.


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