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As Autumn Prepares to Leave

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on October 30, 2013
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Last night after almost 6 hours in the car and a full day at an educational conference, I sank into the couch with my laptop determined to delete the emails accumulated in my inbox. As I clicked to remove ads that I would normally consider and blogs I read on a regular basis, I scanned all the messages to make sure I didn’t eliminate any family, church, or school news.

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As my eyes traveled down the sender list, one subject caught my attention. “As Autumn Slips Through My Fingers” is the latest blog article written by Margaret Langridge, a writer and photographer I enjoy following. But as I read this particular title, sadness gripped my heart.

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Margaret’s article is about autumn slipping away to be replaced by winter’s gloves and slick sidewalks. She anticipates a special occasion, her anniversary, and reflects upon the time she lacks for her writing. It’s a thought-provoking, gratifying article.

Unfortunately, the phrase “Autumn slips through my fingers” means something totally different to me. My 17-year-old, senior in high school, beauty and brains daughter, Autumn, will be leaving me soon. She is entrenched in the college and scholarship application process and is excited for her future.

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I’m also thrilled for her, but I find myself counting the weeks I have left until she leaves. If we move her into her college dorm mid-August, the magic number now stands at 41. That’s not a very big number, especially when so much of her time is spent at her job. I love Chick-fil-a and working there has been good for Autumn. She has grown in confidence, and the level of responsibility required to take college courses her senior year and work 20 or more hours a week has forced her to improve her time management skills, which will certainly come in handy at college. In spite of the positive effects, I am starting to feel resentment build every week when she sends me her schedule and I count the evenings she won’t be home with the family.

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Frequently while completing chores around the house, I wonder what it will be like without her at home. What I’ve always referred to as “Daddy moments”, instantaneous tears when my dad crosses my mind, have started concerning her as well. Putting clothes in the washing machine can open the dam of tears in an “Autumn moment” that I can’t control. My liquid emotions flow, and I am left with red eyes and a runny nose as a result of doing laundry. Yes, it’s crazy.

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Autumn hopes to attend George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Have you ever heard the phrase “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? I’m sure the whole time we were touring the campus, God was chuckling. We thought we were there to discover Autumn’s second choice because she had been determined for years to attend a different school. After the visit, we were both in shock. GMU seemed to be the perfect fit. To make sure, she scheduled appointments with a professor in her desired field of study from each of the schools. The interviews solidified her change of heart. GMU rose to the top of her list.

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Now we wait. The early application is complete, and Autumn should find out by mid-December if she is accepted into the GMU Honors College. I’m praying if that’s where God wants her, that’s where she’ll end up.

Oh, and I’m also praying God helps me control my tears.

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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.

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.

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!

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.

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:

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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.

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