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God’s New Angel

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on October 15, 2013
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On Sunday, God decided it was time for Bill Gardner to become his newest angel. Bill’s 96 years of life were spent in the service of others – the military, the church, his community, and especially his family. I am blessed to have been a part of his family since my dad made the wise decision to marry Suzy, Bill’s daughter.

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For fifty years, Bill Gardner sang in the church choir. I’m certain those years of practice have prepared him well to sing God’s praises in heaven. If God has committees, Bill is probably already serving on one (or two or three). His obituary inspires me to spend more time serving others, and I want to share it here to hopefully encourage others to do the same.

Rest in peace, Papa Bill. Enjoy some of the books in God’s library. Share ideas with military heroes of the past. Kiss your wife again. And most of all, give my daddy a hug from me.

Obituary:
William A. Gardner, 96, of 102 Holloway Court, widower of Katherine “Kitty” McNeill Gardner, died Sunday, October 13, 2013 at Hospice House.

Born in Hartsville, he was a son of the late Sidney Kelly and Loucelle Gwin Gardner. He was a graduate of Hartsville High School and received his B.S. degree in Agronomy from Clemson University in 1941. Bill served in the US Army during World War II, retiring in November 1947 with the rank of Major after being wounded in action 1944.

Bill was president of Supreme Propane Gas Co., Inc. (1947-1979) and president of Alexandria, Inc. (1969-1996). He served as president of the SC LP Gas Association (1955-56), Chairman of the Board (1971-79) and became a Life Member in 1979. He also served as the State Director of the National LP Gas Association in 1957.

Bill served the Ninety Six community in numerous ways, including being a member and past president of the Ninety Six Lions Club and was named their “Man of the Year” in 1961. He was also a member and past commander of the American Legion Post 103 and served as president of the Ninety Six Chamber of Commerce in 1959, was named their Man of the Year in 1979, received Commendation in 1980 and served as chairman of the Historic Heritage Commission 1980-81. He was a member of the Ninety Six Town Council from 1955-58 and served as Mayor of Ninety Six in 1959-60. He served as a commissioner with the Ninety Six Commission of Public Works from 1990-93, served on the Greenwood County Planning & Zoning Commission from 1974-80, served as chairman of the Self Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, chairman of the Greenwood County Council on Aging, chairman of the Greenwood County Easter Seals Society, served on the United Way of Greenwood County and on the Greenwood County Beautification Commission. He served on the Elmwood Cemetery Association Board from 1982-2003.

As a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church, he served on and chaired the Administrative Board, chaired the Building Committee, sang in the choir for 50 years, taught the Jeffcoat Men’s Sunday School Class, was church treasurer and a delegate to the SC Annual Conference. He also served the SC United Methodist Conference as Greenwood District Lay Leader, chaired the Greenwood District Council on Ministries, served on the SC Annual Conference Nominating Committee, the SC Annual Conference Council on Ministries and served as chair of the Greenwood District Superintendency.

Bill was awarded The Order of the Palmetto in September 1996 and his Bronze Star in August of 2007.

Surviving are his daughters, Katherine “Kit” Gardner Adkins and her husband, Thomas Terry Adkins, Jr., of Greenwood and Susan “Suzy” Gardner Farrar of Ninety Six; a grandson, Thomas “Tom” Terry Adkins, III of Spartanburg and a granddaughter, Willa Katherine “Willa Kate” Farrar of Ninety Six.

He was preceded in death by his wife and a son-in-law, James Gerald “Jerry” Farrar.

Pallbearers will be Bobby Wells, Richard Shealy, Paul Johnson, Paul Walker, Butch Attaway and David Henderson.

Honorary escort will be members of the Jeffcoat Men’s Sunday School Class.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Paul United Methodist Church, PO Box 66, Ninety Six, SC 29666.

A Humbling Experience

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on July 23, 2013
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“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

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Last Monday morning, I woke up before 2:00 a.m. to prepare for a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, on a bus with 40 teens. When we arrived at the campus where we were staying, accommodations left a bit to be desired. The M-Fuge mission camp attendance made it necessary for four people to stay in rooms that normally housed one or two. There were two showers and two bathroom stalls for over 40 girls on our floor of the dorm building. We grew very close during the week, and joined together to moan, groan, and complain.

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However, it didn’t take long to be reminded of our blessings. It was nearly impossible to continue complaining while we served throughout the city at various ministry sites.

Some of the campers served at crisis centers for women and children, while others visited nursing homes. Some went to apartment complexes with residents who were refugees from other countries. Teens from our church and churches around the country played with children, sang songs, made balloon animals, splashed at water parks, and shared Jesus.

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Camp attendees knocked on doors and asked if they could mow lawns and pull weeds. The elderly and infirmed eagerly accepted the offers and exuded an enormous amount of gratitude. With the temperatures in the high 90s, they were unable to tend their own lawns, so the Fuge teens and adults wiped their brows, fought to stay hydrated, and got down to business.

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Part of the week, I served at homeless shelters. The first day we split into two groups to clean and to sand some furniture to be painted. It humbled me greatly when the director from the center explained they had run out of cleaning products so we only had two small buckets and one mop bucket with cleaner. The people working at that center were feeding the residents, rehabilitating those with addictions, training those who needed jobs, and yet their resources were so limited they ran out of basic cleaning products. I envisioned the cabinet under my kitchen sink, the shelves in the laundry room, and the closet in my hallway, all full of cleaning supplies. What an eye-opening experience.

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We also worked at a program called the Lord’s Supper. These wonderful people serve the community by driving trucks of food to housing areas and apartment complexes. They explained that during the summer, children in these areas might not get to eat breakfast or lunch because they weren’t at school where meals are provided, so the Lord’s Supper brought meals to them. Some of our teens made sandwiches and filled bags of cereal for delivery on the trucks, while others served food at the center. It was open for an hour at lunch for anyone who needed to come in to eat, so we donned hair nets and gloves to help out.

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While I was in Louisville, I called home every day to speak to Mark and Colton. We have been experiencing problems with two vehicles lately, and Mark told me one day the cost of the repairs had reached an astonishing level. He said, “We’re going to be broke this month.” The only response I could come up with was, “No, we won’t. I’ve seen broke this week, and we aren’t anywhere near it.”

When we weren’t on site in the city, the Fuge campers spent time worshipping together, in Bible study, and competing in some friendly competitions. All of the youth I went with and the ones I met from other areas dedicated their time to this ministry. Some may not have wanted to go, some may have been reluctant to serve in uncomfortable situations, but I was impressed with their efforts and blessed by spending time with them.

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This is the third year I’ve chaperoned the M-Fuge trip with the youth group. The first two years were life changing and inspiring, but they didn’t come close to my experience this year. I can’t remember anything I’ve ever done that has humbled me to this extent. I pray God will continue to place opportunities in my path to renew the humility I am feeling because it is something I don’t ever want to forget.

Have you done anything humbling lately? Have you stepped outside your box and served others? Look for chances to serve and you will be reminded of all your blessings. It’s an amazing feeling.

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.

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?

‘Tis the Season

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on December 5, 2012
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Cough. Hack. Sniff. A week later, I’m still fighting a wicked cold. I’m slogging my way through my days, trying not to contaminate everyone in my vicinity. I haven’t taken the time to rest and recuperate. ‘Tis the season to be busy, right?

It’s been more than a week since I wrote a blog post. My brain isn’t formulating words worth sharing, and I’m not motivated to do anything more than what is necessary. This short post will have to do for now.

Physically, I feel drained. But I haven’t done what is required to recover quickly. I’m still at work, I haven’t visited the doctor’s office, I am still taking care of my responsibilities, and I seem to expect healing to occur without any effort on my part except to take medicine to mask my symptoms.

It kind of reminds me of times when I’m spiritually drained. Yep, I’m a pro at masking those symptoms too. I continue to work, take care of responsibilities, even go to church, but I don’t do what is necessary for healing. I don’t immerse myself in His Word. I avoid asking for encouragement and support from fellow believers. Basically, I pretend all is well.

And just like my cold which could easily become bronchitis, pneumonia, or something else more serious while I refuse to care for myself, my spiritual self could fall even further into despair if I don’t respond to my needs.

During this blessed season that can turn into a chaotic swirl of activity, please take care of yourself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And if you have any great advice for those of us who aren’t so adept in this area, please share in a comment!

I Love Surprises

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on October 31, 2012
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Have you ever known someone for a while and think you have them figured out? Then one day they completely surprise you with a hidden talent or trait? I LOVE it when that happens.

A quiet teen who spends his free time hunting and fishing but reveals a love and talent for cooking.

A surly-looking, mostly-silent student with an “I don’t care” attitude who scores 100 on the first test.

An aggressive, violent teen who dissolves in tears when I tell him I care about him and his future.

A normally negative acquaintance who smiles and looks on the bright side for a change.

An independent, strong individual who humbles herself and asks for help.

I also enjoy situations that astonish me.

A mandatory meeting I anticipate will be long and boring but ends up inspiring and informational.

A volunteer opportunity that ends up blessing me more than those I’m serving.

A card of thanks and encouragement left for me from an anonymous church member.

A top expert in my field showing an interest in something I’m doing.

And especially, a hurricane that spares my family the worst of her fury.

Thank you, God, for the amazement you add to my life through people and situations. May I always view them with wonder and gratitude.

Change is Good…Right?

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on August 31, 2012
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Do you like change? Some people require it. Their life isn’t complete without shifts and obstacles. Others prefer a routine that remains steady and sure with few surprises to create bumps in the road.

There are numerous changes in my life right now. I’m trying to embrace each one because they’re all good.

Well, at least I’m trying to convince myself they are good, but some changes are difficult to swallow without a little sugar added.

School starts on Tuesday. Every class has its own personality, its own reputation. I try to ignore most of what I hear because in the past, more often than not, what I hear doesn’t equate to the reality in my classroom. Kids mature, and my relationship with them is never exactly the same as the relationship they shared with previous teachers.

Autumn started driving this week. Yes, she’s been driving for quite a while, but this week she took off alone. My stomach knots each time she’s behind the wheel until she sends me a text saying she’s arrived at her destination safely.

My 8th grade team has one less member this year. Our only male teacher was moved to the high school, and the change will dramatically alter our team dynamic. He kept the rest of us smiling and prevented the female emotional response from overwhelming situations too often.

Mathews Baptist finally found a new pastor after more than 1-1/2 years with an interim. Tag Kilgore has challenged, inspired, taught, and even entertained our congregation for months, and he will be truly missed. We excitedly welcome a new pastor and his family to our church family, and we anticipate a powerful future with them.

Magic, our cat of 13 years, died two weeks ago. If I walk through the house in the middle of the night, I still see her lurking in the shadows. When I enter the laundry room, I instinctively look in the corner to see if her water bowl needs to be filled.

Autumn has a new job at Chick-fil-a. I’m very proud of her, but I miss her when she’s not around. Usually everywhere she goes, I’m there too. Youth group, camp, shopping, wherever. She’s my sidekick, and now there’s a void when she’s gone.

Two of my five positions at church end this weekend. Roles I’ve held for three years will cease without any adjustment period. The abruptness almost seems harsh.

Change is good? I realize some of my “changes” above don’t seem so, but I have to seek the goodness in each one. Autumn is growing up, whether I like it or not. Magic had been sick. Tag’s desire isn’t to be our permanent pastor. The high school students will thrive under the instruction of my colleague who has been moved. I will have more time at church to devote to the youth group. Yes, good can be found in each change if I look carefully enough.

Change is good. When life doesn’t change, I get too comfortable and start to slip into bad habits. Change challenges me, creates opportunities to stretch my faith, and keeps me alert. I’m ready. Bring it on!

What changes are you facing right now? Are they churning up excitement or fear in your heart? Please share in a comment.


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