Archives for August 2009

Wedding Planning…With the Ultimate Coordinator

You’ve heard the familiar cry “Let the games begin!” Well, the game is on — wedding planning is in full swing for the Barkers. For Kelli and me (and sister Kristin!), that is. All Don cares to hear is the briefest recaps of what’s cooking. His thoughts can best be summed up in the question he hollered to me the night of Kelli’s engagement when he overheard me gushing our news to one of my sisters. “How much is this going to set me back?” He plays his Father of the Bride role perfectly, huh :)

Amazing how one little question can kick our lives into a whole new gear. Ever since Jake uttered the words to Kelli, “Will you marry me?”, she and I both have had our brains overtaken by the all consuming task known as wedding planning.

She found out right away that next summer (when they want to have the wedding) is not that far away in the wedding world. A bride and her family have no time to waste in securing the ceremony and reception sites. A few of the places she’s checked into are already booked through next July.

So…we’ve not only been at work trying to get those things nailed down but also have thrown in some wedding gown shopping. Crazy, I know, but hard to resist :) We’ll also have to soon find a photographer, caterer, and florist. The most highly recommended vendors’ calendars don’t stay open for long…

I’ve reassured Kelli more than once in the past 10 days that it won’t be this busy all the time. Once we get a few major things taken care of, we’ll be able to approach the remaining details in a more leisurely fashion. That’s the dream anyway :)

Hosting a wonderful wedding celebration takes a lot of work, requires careful planning and budgeting, and involves some unavoidable stress. But…it yields much joy and lifelong memories as well. We certainly wouldn’t want to attempt it all on our own. Many folks hire professional wedding planners, but we’re calling on our heavenly Father. I found during my first experience as a mother of the bride that He is the perfect wedding coordinator.

This should come as no surprise, though, should it? The Lord God Himself is the ultimate wedding planner. After all, His Son Jesus is described in scripture as the bridegroom of a radiant bride, the church, and heaven itself as the site for His wedding supper. God is certainly no stranger to wedding planning.

As we keep our eyes on Him and take each need to Him in prayer, He will prove faithful as He always does. He’ll show us once again that He’ll walk with us through every situation — even something as detailed and frou-frou as wedding planning. And I’m hoping you’ll whisper a prayer when you think of us as well. Walk with us, too, won’t you?

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come…” Revelation 19:7a

Spotting the Evidence

When you think of Kansas, chances are you think of farms and wheat fields, but now when you drive across the state, you’ll also catch sight of the occasional wind farm. I took this shot from our car as we drove to Colorado last month. And yes, it’s a small miracle that it’s not a blurry mess :)

As we approached these unusual crops of wind turbines, I guess I hoped to see some kind of fast and furious blade show, but nature didn’t treat us to such a display on our travel days going out and coming home. That’s probably something I should be thankful for now that I come to think of it. When the wind gets going in Kansas, it can turn into The Wizard of Oz all over again!

No, we saw no evidence of wind until we were nearly parallel with the turbines, and even then the blades barely moved. But move they did. We spectators just had to watch sharp to spot the wind’s workings on those particular days.

As Christians, I wonder how sharp the spectators around us have to watch to spot evidence of God’s Spirit moving in our lives. Do they have to get right up close to notice anything different about us? Or do fruits of the Spirit such as love, peace, gentleness, and self-control flow so freely from our lives that others are treated to an obvious display of His work whenever they look in our direction?

If there’s any kind of fast and furious show that others can observe in our lives, how about we make it a show of the Spirit? May they see evidence of Him — even at a distance!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galations 5:22-23a

*My photo

Diamonds for Dessert — An Engagement!

Those of you who are my Facebook friends have already heard our big news, but for the rest of you, let me announce it once more — our baby got engaged on her birthday! Kelli’s boyfriend Jake prepared her a picnic supper complete with candles and twinkly lights, then took a knee when it was time for dessert and asked her to be his wife. Nothing quite like a dessert of diamonds, huh?! :)

Wish you could see the ring better, but the attempts at getting a close-up just haven’t worked. Take my word for it, though — it’s gorgeous! Yes, I made a trip over to see Kelli a couple of days after the ring landed on her finger. To make the occasion even more fun, Kristin drove up and met us, and you guessed it — we started the hunt for the bridal gown! Just had to squeeze that in before Kristin’s schedule at the university gets too hectic…

By the way, do they make a cute couple, or what?! Sorry, just some motherly pride slipping out there :) And if my thoughts seem all over the place, it’s because they are :) If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know there are a kajillion things to think about. I’m trying my best not to think of them all at once. Since the wedding won’t be until next summer (probably May or July), my brain will be on all things bridal for quite awhile :)

Best thing? Kelli and Jake are happy. We’re happy. We heard that Jake’s parents are happy. Such a blessing to see God at work in their lives, bringing them together to share the rest of their lives with each other. Pretty exciting to watch the birth of a marriage…

Many of you have already offered words of congratulations and shared excitement. What fun that has been! Just as God’s Word tells us to “mourn with those who mourn”, the same verse tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). I’ve found out over the past few days just how much it increases our joy when others rejoice with us. Thanks for sharing in our happiness!

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Love That Propels

Mother love is a powerful thing, isn’t it? It’s a force you don’t want to mess with or get in the way of when a mom’s on a mission. I’d do just about anything –and have — for the two girls pictured above. My daughters. My babies.

I could tell you about the time I drove across a flooded highway trying to get to Kristin (the one on the left) when she was in college and desperately needed me. I know, of course, that it was a crazy and dangerous thing to do, but what can I say… she needed me. And my love for her propelled me.

Today, though, since it’s Kelli’s birthday, I thought I’d tell you the most recent tale of how love for her propelled me into a shopping quest that dominated our vacation days. I never planned it that way, but what can I say… she asked, and I responded :)

Kristin and Shawn got to go to Colorado with us last month, but not Kelli. She couldn’t get away from work, and we all felt bad about it. When she called one day early in vacation week to see what we were up to, Kristin innocently asked her if there was anything she’d want us to shop for. Kelli thought for a minute and then said she’d kind of like to have some turquoise. Nothing too expensive, but she had been wanting some.

That’s all it took. As soon as I heard her request, I morphed into a female version of Indiana Jones on a quest — not for a famous artifact, but for the undescribed piece of turquoise jewelry my youngest daughter had alluded to. Everywhere we went, I kept my eyes peeled for turquoise, taking time to go in every shop that held the remotest possibility of harboring my elusive purchase.

Kristin hung in there with me most of the week, giving me her opinion and modeling necklace after necklace. I managed to draw Don and Shawn into the search a few times, but they did their best to avoid it when they could. By the end of the week, I grew desperate because the only thing I’d found that I truly thought she’d like was priced around $250 — and it was on sale for 75% off! A real deal, yes, but still too steep for me.

The last day of our trip, after hiking the McCullough Gulch trail (the one I wrote about in my Backdrop of Beauty post), we were all pretty well exhausted and in need of a rest before packing up to head home the next morning. I, however, couldn’t rest. My turquoise mission was still not accomplished. I knew I had to keep looking. The only place left to look was nearby Frisco — and I was taking Don with me :)

The only thing that kept this travel weary, hike-worn body going was pure love. Yes, love for my youngest daughter propelled me onward. I wish I could tell you that I struck gold — or should I say turquoise — in Frisco, but I didn’t. I just couldn’t find anything that I thought would suit her taste (unless you want to count the Harry & David truffles I bought for her at the outlets in Silverthorne!).

So even though I ultimately failed in my turquoise mission, the love that propelled me all week stayed strong. Just ask my family. They are my witnesses. No one could have tried harder than I did.

Like I said earlier, mother love is a powerful thing. About the only thing that can outdo it is the love of God. His love for us propels Him, too. He loves us so much He took on a body of flesh and came all the way to earth to make His purchase. And He didn’t let the high price stop Him the way I did. He came. He paid the price. He accomplished His mission.

Love for us still propels the Father. He moves. He acts on our behalf. He loves us. Just ask me. I’m a witness.

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf!” Psalm 66:5

*Our photo

Second Chance Winner…and Story

7069080021_091e2cbf4b_zThe big day is here — my birthday and the day to draw the name of a winner for the Second Chance Giveaway. Remember the one involving a Cheesecake Factory gift card? Who could forget?! :)

Without further ado, the lucky winner is… Mary at The Provident Woman! I’ll get your yummy prize to you, Mary, as soon as you send me your mailing address. Congratulations and happy indulging!

I’d also like to share something special with all of you — one of the most beautiful accounts ever told of someone else who was given a second chance. Some of you know the story as “The Prodigal Son”. What’s even more beautiful is that the same second — and even unlimited — chances are available to all of us through our heavenly Father. Oh, how He loves us! Picture Him as the father in this story…

The Parable of the Lost Son –Luke 15:11-24

11Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13″Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17″When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21″The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22″But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Celebrate with me! We have a Father who will run to us with open arms!

*Flickr photo by wilkristin, Creative Commons License