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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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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.

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.

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.

Seeking Horizontal Approval

Posted in A Class Act by Linden Barrick on February 5, 2013
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Today’s society wallows in sexual innuendo (did you see some of the Super Bowl ads??), so some would read the title of this blog and let their minds wander to the bedroom (or a parked car, or a bathroom stall, wherever). But that’s not what this is about. Sorry, but there’s nothing racy here.

Recently, I’ve heard the terms horizontal and vertical approval used on occasion. I understand the concept of seeking approval either from those around me (horizontal) or from above (vertical), but I didn’t analyze the small aspects of my life in regards to the distinction. Until now.

I know many aspects of my life probably reflect my need for horizontal approval. Not always because I thrive on the approval itself but because sometimes it’s easier than seeking the vertical type. But there’s one area of my life that really needs a change.

What I’m referring to is my “connectedness” to other people. Nowadays, it’s so simple to stay connected. I remember while growing up, sitting on the hard, dining room chair next to the built-in desk between the kitchen and dining room, winding the phone cord around my fingers while I chatted with whoever happened to be on the other end. If I wasn’t near the phone or in the house, I simply wasn’t connected.

That was it. No email, no iPhones, no tablets, no Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat. How did we ever survive?

Sometimes I long to be unconnected again, but I fear I’m addicted to it. Living far from family is a great excuse to be active in online communities and social networks. Texting is a fast, efficient way to keep tabs on Autumn or keep in touch with Mark, friends, and co-workers. Reading blogs and articles increases my knowledge and awareness.

But is it too much? Does it waste valuable time? When I consider my connectedness based on seeking approval, I think so. Here are just a few of my many habits…

When I’m in my classrrom, I check email every time I sit down at my desk.

Rarely a day passes when I don’t read the news feed in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Frequently (very frequently), I send texts just to find out what other people are doing.

I receive over one hundred blogs and articles in my inbox and/or RSS feed every week.

Each of those isn’t bad in and of itself. But when I think in terms of seeking approval, God plays little if any part in those actions. Do I check professional email frequently so I can answer immediately and the recipient might view me as prompt and on-the-ball? When I send a text to see what others are doing, am I overly concerned with their life instead of focusing on mine? Do I check the social networks (and post status updates on them) to feel an inflated sense of belonging?

What might happen if I dedicated a small amount of this time to gain some vertical approval? Could I eliminate a few email checks or Facebook scrolls and instead read a devotion? Say a prayer? Think of a way to help someone? My relationship with God would certainly flourish. My spiritual walk would follow a straighter path. My need to feel approval from others would diminish as I absorbed the approval from the One who matters most.

Awareness is the first step, and now that I acknowledge my problem, it’s an easy fix, right?

Sure it is. Now guess how many times I checked email while typing this. 🙂


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