Archives for 2009

Sisterly Christmas Fun

My Christmas shenanigans aren’t limited to just our own little family. I carry them right on over to my parents’ house as well. Here I am with my younger sisters, Janice and Carolyn. Since Carolyn is my baby sister (14 years younger!), I told her she could sit on my lap for this pic. And like any good little sis, she did what she was told :)

Someone is missing from this sisterly Christmas fun, though — our older sister Debbie. Arizona is a long way from home come Christmas time, isn’t it, Debbie? We missed you!!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones!

*Will get back to regular posts after the first of the year — hopefully! :)

From Us to You — Merry Christmas!

Timed photo fun is always a part of our holiday festivities. So from us to you, here’s a peek at our annual Barker Christmas shenanigans. Merry Christmas to all!

(I’ll be taking a break from my regular blog posts the next couple of weeks as we all celebrate the holidays with our families. During that time, I’ll pop in to post a picture or two and then try to get back in the swing of things after the first of the year.)

A Christmas Treasure

Remember how some of my holiday decorations are Christmas books? One in particular is becoming more of a treasure with each passing year. It’s my Christmas journal. (Yes, I have yet another journaling project. Some of you may remember me telling you about my gratitude journal.)

I found this journal by Brownlow back in 2003 and have recorded the most special moments of my Christmas seasons in it ever since. I loved it so much I bought a few others to give as gifts and hope those who received them are enjoying theirs as much as I do mine.

I thought you might enjoy reading one of my journal entries so I selected one from 2005 that tells about a holiday “first” for us. It’s not fancy writing, just off the cuff, but hope you enjoy anyway:

“Another first happened this Christmas season — we reached out in friendship to a CCC international student. I met “K” earlier this fall through the Match program at CCC. As we are developing a friendship, it is my hope and prayer to help her in her spiritual journey…

A little over a week before Christmas, we spent the evening with K, first bringing her to our home to see our tree and decorations and then out to Pizza Hut.

I shared with her my joy in having the house decorated for Christmas and told her the history behind some of our cherished Christmas items. Before we left for Pizza Hut, I told her I had a little surprise for her and pulled a gift out from under the tree. She was so excited and happy. She said that in Japan they don’t have presents under their Christmas trees, and it has always been her dream to have a present under a Christmas tree! I was so glad that I had that gift for her!

Inside the gift I placed something that I hope will help lead her to Christ. It was a little book called The Message of Hope — excerpts of scripture from The Message Bible… I’m thankful Christmas provided the opportunity for me to give her a most precious gift — the Word of God.

K had never been to our Pizza Hut. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together. As we left, I asked her if she would like to go light-looking, and she was thrilled. Since she doesn’t have a car, she hadn’t seen many of the light displays.

We ended our evening with a warm hug as I told her, “I love you, sugar”. She said, “I love you, too!” She stood on the sidewalk in the cold — without a coat — and waved as we drove away. What a special opportunity God has given us to share our — and His — love with K.”

Questions for you: Do you keep a Christmas journal? Do you have a Christmas “first” you’d like to share?

“Remember the wonders He has done…” 1 Chronicles 16:12a

*My photo

*Be sure to sign up for the “Your Choice Christmas Giveaway” — Dec. 9th post.

Angel Tree – The Church Being the Church

It’s been a crazy-busy weekend for me with extra choir rehearsal, two cantata presentations, and Angel Tree delivery this afternoon as well as the normal holiday “stuff”, but I wanted to take time to show you the amazing picture above — our empty Angel Tree.

Why amazing? Because not long ago, it held 90 yellow Angel tags, each one representing a child needing a loving touch while separated from his or her mom and dad by prison walls. Our church had 45 children needing two gifts each, and on Angel Tree Sunday, our members flocked around the tree, rising to the occasion in economically troubled times to reach out to hurting kids.

What a thrill that day to witness the church being the church — everyone working together to carry out a potentially life-changing ministry within our community and a few other neighboring towns. In addition to my preparation and overseeing the project, there have been nearly 85 others help in some way. This doesn’t even count the volunteers who will show up to deliver the gifts today. Once again, amazing.

So church, thank you! Whether you prayed, put up the tree, filled out Angel tags or Delivery cards, manned the Angel Tree table, bought gifts, donated money, sorted and wrapped gifts, made phone calls, helped carry gifts to storage, made maps, will deliver gifts, prepared Christmas cards for the prisoners, made announcements, helped me work the copier :) or did some other office chores for me, thank you for pitching in and working like the body of Christ is designed to work — with a spirit of unity and cooperation.

Believe it or not, we all still have an opportunity to serve — through prayer. Pray for the seeds that will be planted today during the delivery of the gifts. Gospel materials will be given to each child and caregiver, and spiritual conversations will take place as the Lord gives opportunity. Also, Christmas cards with a spiritual message will be sent this week to 28 prisoner parents. My annual Christmas poem will be tucked inside as well. Pray that it will point needy men and women to the “The Light of Christmas”. (I’ll post the poem on the blog next week.)

How have you witnessed your church being the church lately? It’s always a blessing to see — no matter the season!

“The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose… For we are God’s fellow workers…” 1 Corinthians 3:8a, 9a

**Don’t forget to enter the Your Choice Christmas Giveaway — Dec. 9th post.

Your Choice Christmas Giveaway!

Another giveaway? You bet, Virginia. I can’t let the season of giving go by without playing Santa and giving something away here on the blog. So let’s get this show-Ho-Ho on the road! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

What better way to prepare for the new year than to have a new devotional book on hand to help you turn your hearts and minds towards the Word of God each day. With that in mind, the lucky winner of this giveaway will receive his or her choice of one of the four books listed in the next paragraph. Just leave a comment along with your email address (if I don’t know you personally) on this post by noon (CST) Dec. 20th. Any comment will do, but if possible, pass along the title of one of your favorite devotional books.

The four books the winner will choose from are: Beth Moore’s Voices of the Faithful (an excellent choice if you’re interested in missions); Max Lucado’s Grace for the Moment, Vol. 2 (short selections but great stuff if it’s anything like volume 1); Thomas Kinkade’s The Art of Creative Living (excellent for artists, writers, and anyone involved in creative endeavors); and Daily Devotions for Writers, compiled and edited by Patricia Lorenz (I have a devotion is this book!). All of these books are daily devotionals except the one by Thomas Kinkade, and it’s arranged in short selections so can be used much like a regular devotional book.

So what are you waiting for?! Leave a comment, and maybe you’ll be the winner this time. Even if you don’t end up winning, we can all be winners if we take time each day for spiritual thought and meditating on the Word of God. There’s no better choice we could make!

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2

Flickr photo by powerbooktrance