Hello, God. Welcome to My Classroom


I Haven’t Written Anything Lately

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on October 7, 2013
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I have not posted on my blog for one month. The words haven’t been flowing, or maybe I’m swallowing them along with all the emotions I’m attempting to hide. My emotions have been so raw lately, blood might ooze onto the page with every keystroke. An illness in the family, surgeries, hospitalization, and more surgery to come, and yet my life keeps moving on, day by day, while I don’t write.

My family is far away. The majority of my family members live in Missouri; I’m in Virginia. Being many states away makes it difficult when I know I could help if I lived closer. Helplessness, sadness, and guilt become braided together tightly enough to create a noose, strangling me and making me unproductive.

I have been alternating between bouts of intense prayer, times of fighting the liquid emotions that flow freely at inopportune times, and periods of numbness. Happy moments seem faded, but welcome, like an old pair of tennis shoes that had been drying in the sun.

News from Missouri has become more positive of late. Thank you, God. Hope continues to grow, and my numbness is starting to wane. So for today, a few words flow from my fingertips without too many emotions welling over.

No, I haven’t written anything lately. But prayer is powerful.

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Have You Ever Felt Adrift?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on August 9, 2013
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Last week, I spent an amazing week at Lake Greenwood in South Carolina with my step-mom, Suzy, and her family. Every year the days at the lake take on a familiar pattern. We wake up, eat, take a walk down the road to visit the donkeys that reside in a pasture nearby, spend time in the lake, eat lunch, more lake time, eat dinner, and play cards or a board game late into the night.

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It’s a calm, unplugged week with poor cell reception and two television stations. If we need to make a call or want to go online, we usually have to stand on the end of the dock or walk out to the road.

While on the water each day, we boat, tube, ski, jet ski, swim, and float. Mark and Colton spend many hours fishing, which rewards us with a delicious fish fry dinner. Of all the time on the water, I have to admit I love to laze on a raft most of all. The speed of the jet ski, excitement of the tube, and freedom of boat rides are glorious, but basking in the sun while bobbing in the water makes me content and happy. Usually I close my eyes, listen to the kids play, feel the water ripple around me, and chat with whoever is floating alongside.

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On Thursday, the breeze tried to ruin our raft time. We ended up floating to the neighbor’s dock and paddling back numerous times. Although I could use the exercise to combat the many meals we consumed, it wasn’t our normal relaxing float. The old quote says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In this case, laziness gave birth to inspiration. Digging a ski rope from the boat, I hooked the handle around a dock piling and looped the other end around my ankle once I dragged myself back onto my raft. Suzy and her sister Kit paddled up, grasped the neighboring float, and created a raft convoy.  Once again, we were able to enjoy our raft time without drifting away.

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Suzy commented that our spiritual life resembles our raft experience. We held on to each other and also tethered ourselves to a stable structure. As Christians, we must stay connected to one another while tethering ourselves to Jesus to keep us in the right place. Without Him we become adrift, never really knowing where we will end up, and once we are lost, we struggle mightily to return to the path He has planned for us.

Are you adrift? Are you floating slowly in the wrong direction, seemingly unable to change your course? Tether yourself to Jesus and connect with other believers. Your spiritual life will be transformed. It could even feel like a peaceful, contented day at the lake!

Run, Linden, Run!

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on January 5, 2013
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I am not a runner chick. In fact, I truly despise the act of running. I have a love/hate relationship with my “dreadmill,” and I rarely go beyond a brisk walk when I climb aboard.

I admire runners. I work with and am close to so many people who enjoy the physical and mental benefits of running, but it doesn’t seem to be a part of my genetic makeup.

But I am proficient at one kind of running. Very often, I run, sprint, dash, and rush in the opposite direction of where I’m supposed to be. I’ll be on a mission, moving as fast as I can to reach a goal, when suddenly I realize I shouldn’t be pursuing it.

It happens all the time. You’d think I’d learn my lesson. What causes me to do this?

Sometimes I attempt to reach a goal or accomplish something to please other people. Have you ever done that? Usually in my experience, if my actions do please someone else, they often leave me feeling void of any triumph. Achieving things for others rarely satisfies my own sense of accomplishment. So why do I continue to do it?

Another reason I believe I run from what I’m supposed to be doing is because what God is calling me to do is scary or just plain hard work. I’m not the most self-disciplined person and taking the easy route appeals to my lazy side. But think about it…God’s will is rarely easy.

Was it easy for Noah to build an ark? Not only was it physically taxing, I’m sure the ridicule from others caused him great emotional anxiety as well.

Was it easy for Abraham to follow the command to sacrifice his son?

Was it easy for Mother Teresa to share the love of Jesus with others?

Is it easy for missionaries today to spread the Word of God in hostile countries?

Honestly, I don’t think God has ever asked me to do anything that extreme. So why do I run the other way in a furious attempt to do my own thing? Or to follow the will of others?

The answers elude me.

The one thing I know for certain is when I’m racing toward something with blinders on, God will shake His head, tap me on the shoulder, and make me realize I’ve chosen the easy path. Sometimes He does this with a Bible verse that pops up over and over again. Or it might be a certain song I hear on K-Love. Or maybe it’s just an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Whatever means He uses, I’m sure I don’t always get the hint on the first try, but He keeps sending me clues and reminders until I recognize the need to switch directions.

Thank you, God, for your patience and guidance.

Dear Family and Friends,

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on August 27, 2012
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This is a difficult blog for me to write. When it comes to my faith, I’m not as vocal as I should be. I squirm at the thought of giving my testimony, and I don’t believe I have ever directly asked someone if they believe Jesus is their Savior. (Yes, I realize I need to work on this. A lot.)

Recently some books I’ve read and some experiences have caused me to reassess my spiritual health and think about the spiritual health of you, my loved ones.

And I feel an urgent need to ask some direct questions:

If you were to die today, where would you go?

Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?

Do you believe Jesus is your Savior?

Do you understand your relationship with Jesus is the only path to eternal life?

I’m not asking for answers to these questions. Many of you, I feel confident, will be with me for eternity in Heaven.  Others I’m not quite sure. And some I fear will not be with me unless changes are made in your lives. But I won’t know for sure until I’m no longer of this world because I’m not part of the equation.

The answers aren’t for me. The answers are between you and Jesus. The Bible says on the Day of Judgment many people who feel they’ve lived good Christian lives will face Jesus and He will say He never knew them. We may know who Jesus is, believe in His existence, and do good deeds, but if we don’t have a personal relationship with Him, He won’t know us.

My birthdays seem to be getting closer together. Time flies, and I’m old enough now to wonder how much time is left. This focus on my future – and how fleeting it may be on earth – has caused me to reflect more often and more deeply on my eternal life with Jesus.

Will you be in Heaven with me? I pray you will. That’s my sole purpose for writing this. I realize everyone’s response to this post may not be completely positive, and because of that, I feel ripped open and raw as I prepare to hit the publish button.

Please, examine your life. Think about everyone you love. Decide whether you want to spend eternity with them in Heaven. I want you there. And so does God.

Book recommendations:
Not a fan. by Kyle Idleman
Weird: Because Normal isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

Are You Carrying the Burdens of Others?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 30, 2012
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Are your shoulders broad enough to carry your burdens? There are times when we feel like we can conquer the world, but all of us have times of weakness when we feel like we can’t handle all the pressures and responsibilities of life.

Yesterday, Pastor Tag Kilgore offered an inspiring message on weakness. The third category of weak people he mentioned is those who carry the burdens of others.

But wait, aren’t we supposed to help others? Shouldn’t we lighten the load for someone in need? Why would doing so make us weak? At first I thought, “Tag, you’re way off base.” But the longer he talked, the more I realized the message made sense and actually pertained to me and to many people I know.

I beg forgiveness if I’m misrepresenting Tag’s intent with the following examples. But they say perception is reality, and this is what I gained from the ideas he shared.

Considering my students and all teens, this is how I would describe one example of carrying someone else’s burden. Sally and Joey are dating. Their young love is evident in the joy flowing from in their eyes. Yeah, it’s enough to make me queasy.

Then the inevitable happens: they fight and break up. Sally tells her friend Betty how horribly Joey treated her and that her heart will be bruised forever. How will she ever trust another boy again? Betty doesn’t only sympathize with Sally; she becomes personally involved in the situation. Her anger boils and she plans revenge on Joey.

Surprise! After a day (or an hour) the lovebirds make up, and all is well between Sally and Joey. Unfortunately, Betty hasn’t been part of the make-up process, so her bitterness remains, a burden that weighs her down and affects her life.  She has taken on the burden of others, and now she faces consequences because of it.

Do you think this could only happen to teenagers? Consider your job or your church. Are there a few people who volunteer or are volunteered to do the majority of the work? Church members frequently become overburdened, serving in every capacity they can. Some do so for the right reason, they are being called to fill a particular position, but not everyone.

Here are some reasons people might accept the burdens of others:

  • They feel the job won’t get done well if someone else does it.
  • They want to know everything that is going on.
  • They desire power over others.
  • They hope for a sense of belonging by being involved.
  • They thrive on the praise they receive for their hard work.

These are all rather selfish or egotistical reasons, don’t you think? And I have to admit I’m guilty and so are many other people I know. Unfortunately, we sometimes neglect our own responsibilities – family, work, leisure – to claim burdens that don’t belong to us.

Is it because there’s little acknowledgement of a job well done when we fail to go above and beyond the norm? Rarely do we get praised for going to work, buying groceries, or scrubbing a toilet, so maybe we seek it by taking on too much.

Humans are impatient. We don’t want to wait for God to tell us we were good and faithful servants. We want that praise now, so we seek it from other humans. But false praise it is.

Are you carrying someone else’s burden? Or have you been successful at avoiding that situation?

Are You Focusing on the Rearview Mirror?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 27, 2012
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My stomach clenches and quickly reaches up to strangle my breathing. My eyes shift from the speedometer to the rearview mirror. How fast was I going? Did he clock me? Is he coming? Are those flashing lights I see?

The next few miles pass in slow motion, fear preventing me from going even one m.p.h. over the limit. I focus on what’s behind me, the mistake I made, instead of observing what I’m currently driving through or anticipating what lies ahead.

Have you ever felt this way? Trying to move forward but focusing on what’s behind?

Sometimes I wonder how much life I’ve missed because I’ve been examining the rearview mirror in my mind, obsessing over all that I’ve done wrong. When I do this, I diminish my productivity and squelch my dreams. I listen to that little voice telling me I’ve failed before. How could I possibly succeed in the future?

The devil loves it when I do this because it makes me an ineffective servant in God’s kingdom.

Mistakes are part of experience. Exploring them thoroughly and using what I learn from that exploration to change my behavior is a good thing. But being consumed by them hinders my usefulness and ability to live up to the purpose God gave me.

I have to adjust my view so I look through the windshield to see what opportunities are available. If I don’t, my gifts will be wasted and my life will lack value. When I look in the rearview mirror, my attention should only be on my kids sitting in the backseat, beautiful examples of my present and future blessings.

Do you obsess over mistakes from your past? How have you learned from and let go of those mistakes?

Do You Doubt His Presence?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 24, 2012
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While on vacation a couple weeks ago, rain fell one night followed by an overcast and gloomy day. It was our last day at the lake, so we ignored the lack of sunshine and headed out to the water. It was slightly chilly, not a warm and comforting day in the sunshine.

Life can feel like that sometimes, blanketed in dreariness, cold and unwelcoming. A burdensome drizzle falls, causing me to seek shelter or pull the covers over my head because I fail to see God’s hand at work.

That evening at the lake, Rudolph emerged. The cloudy day hadn’t kept the sun’s rays from reaching me. No, I hadn’t used sunscreen. Even though my skin rarely burns, I usually apply sunscreen to my face, but I failed to because of the weather. I couldn’t feel the heat, so I doubted its presence.

Do you ever have days when you doubt God’s presence? I frequently feel like I face life’s monsters on my own, struggling to accept He’s there. I feel abandoned and alone. Haven’t we all felt that way at some point?

But like the sun’s rays reaching through the clouds, God is always there, touching my life and leaving some sign. It may not be as noticeable as a bright red nose, but His love and influence eventually become apparent in all situations. I simply have to open my heart to see.

When have you doubted His presence? How did He reveal His handiwork to you?

M-Fuge Mission Camp 2012

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 21, 2012
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Few experiences stir me as much as being a part of 35 youth and 5 adults who bond through laughter and through tears.

Few experiences encourage me as much as seeing almost 700 people give their time to serve others.

Few experiences inspire me as much as watching a man use his God-given gift to glorify Him.

Few experiences amaze me as much as listening to 35 exhausted youth on a charter bus sing “He Loves Us” during a very long drive home.

Few experiences upset me as much as having a child beg me, a complete stranger, to come back and play with him tomorrow.

Few experiences tickle me as much as the pursuit of bacon.

Few experiences change me as much as M-Fuge. Absolutely unforgettable.


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