Hello, God. Welcome to My Classroom


Some Amazing Teens…

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on May 23, 2013
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This blog is a shout out to the teens in my youth group. They are amazing! They continually impress me with their hearts to serve and their love of Jesus. Whether to pray together, play together, or serve others, they choose to spend their free time week after week in positive ways.

MBC Youth…you ROCK!!

Last weekend, they fed the homeless in Richmond.

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They pray unashamedly and publicly.

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Competition gets fierce!

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Helping others makes them happy.

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Worship is an important part of their lives.

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I love all of you! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the best youth group around. Anyone who believes teens are lazy, uncaring, and/or disconnected needs to come spend a few hours with you.

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Quit Beating Yourself Up

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on May 20, 2013
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Since May 3rd, thanks to a new accountability partner, I have dragged myself out of bed every weekday morning before 5 a.m. to tackle some distance on the “dreadmill”.

Well, I’ve done it every morning except one.

Last Thursday, I received a call from Colton’s school nurse to inform me he hurt his arm/wrist while playing on the playground. After a trip to the doctor and an x-ray, it was determined all was fine, but it still hurt which caused him to have a restless night. Because Colton and I were up and down, the dog didn’t sleep well and between trips to put Colton back in bed and give him Tylenol, I was also shoving Rico out the door to take care of business. Overall, it wasn’t a restful night, so sometime after 3:00 a.m. I reset my alarm clock and gave myself permission to sleep a little later than usual.

Perfectly acceptable, right? Not in my  mind, apparently. Instead of focusing on the many miles I’ve logged lately and that I can even feel a bit of a difference in the way my pants fit, I can’t seem to forgive myself for the day I skipped.

Why? Why do I do that? Why do women everywhere do that? (I’m not saying men don’t ever feel defeated or useless, but it seems to be a more significant problem for women.)

Recently, I saw a video online from the Dove Beauty Campaign showing how tough women can be on themselves.  A forensic artist drew women from their own descriptions and then from the descriptions of their friends. The differences in the drawings are astonishing. Take a look here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

Why, when God’s word tells me I’m worthy, useful, and wonderful, do I believe the negative voices that weasel their way inside my head and my heart? I don’t know the answer, but I know I’m not alone. Why do we waste so much time in our lives without confidence, filled with anxiety?

Do you know a beautiful, productive, essential woman who beats herself up regularly? I’m sure you do. Today, take the time to tell her what you see in her. Maybe the reflection from your eyes will fill her heart for a moment and brighten her day.

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.

Need Restoration?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on February 25, 2013
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The Piankatank Bridge is under construction. I have to cross the bridge every day on my way to and from work, so I was worried at the beginning of the school year when it was announced there would be one-way traffic over it for a very, very long time.  If I consider the situation logically, I realize I’m never sitting there for more than 3 or 4 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal.

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It’s a slight inconvenience, but I’ve found I’m in awe at the process. The construction workers aren’t simply repairing the roadway; they have completely eliminated one lane and are rebuilding it from scratch. It’s a little unnerving when I see one side of the bridge completely demolished while I drive across the other. How do they maintain the stability of one side while obliterating the other? If I’m in my car, my perspective doesn’t provide me with much of a view, but when I drive Mark’s truck, I sit high enough to see straight down to the river. Scary!

As I consider the bridge, I think about God’s restoration of His believers. Many people hit rock bottom, become completely destroyed, before they reach out to Him for help. He keeps part of us stable enough to cry out for His help while other parts must be rebuilt from scratch. He doesn’t just patch up our flaws; He completes a total overhaul, starting with our hearts.

He can renew anyone, no matter how deep the wounds. So many of my students need restoration. A boy searching for guidance but without a father figure. A girl who believed the words “I love you” and wants to feel clean again.  A victim who wants to die rather than face the bully who demonizes his days. All can be renewed with God’s love even when the world feels cold and lonely.

Like the bridge, it might take total demolition before restoration can begin, but God’s power makes it possible.

Expectations Revisited

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on February 4, 2013
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Reblogged from June 2012 –
I needed the reminder this week. Maybe you do too!

Expectations are a part of everyone’s daily life. I expect my children to mind their manners and my students to follow the rules. My family expects me to buy groceries. My boss expects me to show up for work. Life’s roads have fewer potholes when everyone does what’s expected of them each day.

But sometimes expectations ruin a situation. They can be the enemy of happiness and wrench all enjoyment out of an experience.

We’ve been reviewing for end-of-year tests in my classroom. I have a box of candy, toys, and other incentives to reward the students when they do well on a practice test or win a review game. After receiving incentives for a while, the students began to expect them. They’d walk into class and say, “Do we get candy today?” Talk about deflating my balloon. I love giving the kids goodies to keep them focused and motivated, but when they ask for them? Very frustrating.

If something you like to do turns into a duty or expected responsibility, you might not like it as much. I love to bake and cook. I make cakes, cookies, breads, and especially decorated cupcakes. I also enjoy making appetizers and complete meals when I have time. One year my principal hired me to cater our end-of-year staff party. What a shock to find all my pleasure stripped away when great cooking became an expectation. My nerves and anxiety ruined the experience. I discovered a cherished hobby shouldn’t always become a job.

Have you ever planned to take a gift or a meal to someone who is sick or just moved into the neighborhood? I usually I take food because it gives me an excuse to bake, of course. But few things annoy me more than a well-intentioned but controlling person telling me what to do. One time I received an email from a fellow church member who had “scheduled” me to take a meal to someone in our congregation. Had I planned to take that person a meal? Yes. Did I plan to do it on the day I was “scheduled” to do so? It just so happened that yes, I had planned it for that day. Was I happy about being told to do it? No, not in the least.

I readily admit this is my own rebellion against someone else controlling my decisions (that topic requires a whole blog series by itself), but all the joy of preparing a meal as a gift vanishes if someone else tells me to do it. It’s like requiring a mean-spirited toddler to say, “I’m sorry.” When he does so, it lacks sincerity. If I’m forced into kindness, it loses its authenticity.

I think the main reason expectations are the enemy is because they cause us to feel resentment toward others. If you expect to have fun and laugh with someone, that anticipation adds joy to the relationship. But if one person in the relationship expects something such as a phone call at a certain time every day – and gets annoyed if it doesn’t happen – the expectation depletes the relationship. If I can learn to eliminate many of the expectations I place on people and avoid the irritation they cause, life would be more enjoyable.  If I try to live up to God’s will, not that of someone else, disappointment will diminish as I experience the blessings of life every day.

Do you expect too much from someone? Do you resent expectations other people place on you?

Are You Rich or Poor?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on January 18, 2013
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The rich have computers, televisions, iPods, and God in their heart. The poor have computers, televisions, and iPods.

The rich have barely enough food to survive and God in their heart. The poor have barely enough food to survive.

The rich have brand name clothes to wear and God in their hearts. The poor have brand name clothes to wear.

The rich have no health insurance and God in their hearts. The poor have no health insurance.

The rich live in homes big enough for three families and have God in their hearts. The poor live in homes big enough for three families.

The rich beg on the streets and have God in their hearts. The poor beg on the streets.

The rich have good health and God in their hearts. The poor have good health.

The rich live on a few dollars a day and have God in their hearts. The poor live on a few dollars a day.

The rich serve others with God in their hearts. The poor serve others.

The rich have savings accounts, retirement plans, and God in their hearts. The poor have savings accounts and retirement plans.

Do you want to appear rich externally, or do you want to be rich internally?

The Choices God Makes

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on January 8, 2013
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Last week I wrote about making choices to please other people, and the thought continues to poke around my mind. Why do humans bow to the will of others so often? Why is approval from others so significant in our lives?

Over the years, I’ve said many times to a student, “Why do you keep making poor choices when you know they will result in negative consequences?”

Usually the response includes something about friends thinking it’s funny or other friends being involved. Peer pressure is an ugly thing, and it doesn’t end in the teenage years.

I struggle to control my frustration as it creeps into the rest of the conversation with the student. How do I make this student understand? And who am I to think I can make my students understand? I’m as guilty as they are when it comes to making bad decisions to please other people.

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Last night – well, early this morning – our puppy woke me at 3:30 to go outside. (I’m not complaining…it’s better than the alternative.) Anyway, I had a hard time drifting back to sleep once I crawled back between my warm blankets, and I again started contemplating this dilemma.

On Sunday, the teens in my Sunday school class got into a discussion about Adam and Eve making the choice to eat the apple. Their comments were very thought-provoking and philosophical, and they wandered through my mind as I tried to go back to sleep.

I began to consider the Garden of Eden situation from God’s perspective. God knows all past, present, and future, so didn’t He know they would choose to eat that apple? Why did He put the tree there?

Once that thought hit my mind, sleep fled. I had never considered why God did that before. And He made that choice knowing it would have negative consequences…just like we do!

As I let the idea float around in my mind, I came to this conclusion:

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God knew humans would become complacent in the bounty and blessings of the Garden and forget to give Him thanks and glory. Don’t we do that all the time? When life is good, our gratitude wanes and we begin to expect the beauty in the world. If that happens, it often takes something traumatic or stressful to remind us to look to God for guidance and give him thanks for the blessings we have.

Maybe, just maybe, God made the choice to put the tree with forbidden fruit in the Garden so we would live on earth without forgetting to give Him the glory He deserves. It certainly wasn’t the last time He did something that would be hurtful for Him to benefit the human race. Just ask Jesus.

Do you agree God knew we would disobey Him but chose to place the tree in the Garden anyway? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to have feedback on my early-morning musings.

 

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