Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Glory...

I came across this recently while I was looking through my open mic folder. I have never shared it publicly, but must have thought about it since it was in there.

As I was reading through it, I was reminded of the peace that surrounded me as I wrote it and it came upon me again as I spoke the words. So many of my people need that peace right now, I thought I would share it.

This was written in January of this year while I was visiting my mother-in-law and Bill was home preparing to leave for Africa.

The glory of God surrounds me as I sit outside a coffee shop in Southern California. Even though there is a parking lot in front of me and a freeway below me, I sense the beauty and fullness of my creator.

It is in the sun that rises before me and almost blinds me from its brightness, but I will not move – because it is part of the glory. It represents the light of God that continually shines in our darkness. As it rises it reminds me that it is always there - sometimes we have to wait for it…be patient…know what time it is…have faith. His light is always there, we just have to make sure we walk in its path.

His glory is in the fact that it is January, yet here I sit outside. The “normal” calendar I am used to back home in Indiana has little effect here. It is winter, but yet it is not. It is chilly but there is no frost or snow in my view and to me that is amazing and glorious.

God’s glory is in the emails I have read this morning from my dear friend Daniel. His encouraging words that urge us to focus on the power of God inspire me and lift my spirit even higher. Is this possible?

God’s glory is in the voice of my beloved as I spoke to him this morning on the phone…so many miles away, but yet so near as there is no separation between our hearts that are linked in spirit, soul and body. That even though his location in body is far from mine at this moment, I sense his love for me and know it is true and strong. It is especially strong as I sit here because he is the one that introduced me to this wonderful place while we were courting. Because we share that bond, whenever I am here I am reminded of the early days of our love and it feeds the great love that we share today. It is a love that has grown and not stagnated, always expanding in its depth and purpose.

God’s glory is in the wonder in my heart as I contemplate how good God is to me - that He has always been good to me. That I am loved, I am favored, I am treated so well by a Father that is full of love for me. He cares about what I care about, He makes my path straight and eases my burdens with His kindness and love. This morning as I sit here I sense that He is saying to me “I know your life and the burdens you have carried. My eyes have never been blind to your pain and I was always there and had a plan. I knew my love would be enough for you and healing would be your portion. It pleases me that you are at peace and your life is full of good things. Accept my blessings and share them with others. Be the light that is my glory.” January 18, 2011

As I think back on that day, as I was sitting there and basking in what God was speaking to me, it reminded me that many times the measure of what we get from God has to do with how much we are willing to accept and receive. To believe that His love and blessing are not just for others, but are for US. To know that even in the midst of our turmoil, He has a plan, that there is purpose in our struggles. That just as it pleases us to see our children full of joy and blessed, it pleases HIM to see us that way as well. God desires for us to embrace His love for our own life - thats really the only way we can effectively share it with others. I know, these seem to be simple things and I am probably preaching to the choir, but I am troubled sometimes in speaking with friends how this concept seems so far from them. They will believe for others, but not for themselves.

So these are my thoughts on this cold November day in Indiana. They may have been formed while I sat in the sun of California, but they still live in the winter of the midwest.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Dance...

The season has changed and we are into Fall and not far behind will be Winter, cold and snow. It is the way of the midwest and if you live here you ready yourself to let go of the warmth that summer brings...or you move.

Letting seems that is a word rattling around in my head and heart a lot the past few years.  Letting go of anger and disappointment, letting go of some people - not always by choice.  Just letting go.

Hopefully letting go of one thing opens my arms to embrace something else.  That is what I am hoping for in the coming season.

Sitting in the sanctuary of my patio recently, I wrote this piece.  I shared it at a couple recent open mics and it was well received.  Hope you enjoy.

Autumn Dance

The leaves are falling
Colors changing, the green leaving, replaced with orange and gold

I watch them as they drop from the trees
Just a few at first, then they fall in great waves

But before coming to rest on the ground
They dance upon the air

Some twirl and swoop
Others flutter and pause

They stop in mid air, just floating, floating
Enjoying the journey, seeming to say “whee, I am flying!”

There are some brave ones that hang on and wait for a strong wind
And as it catches them they fly high into the air before they give up the ghost and rest on the ground

Falling further than they would have
Had they just released when there was less turbulence

Or maybe, they are not brave at all, but hold on past their time, afraid of the fall
And the wind leaves them no choice and says “its your turn"

However they fall, fall they will and I love the dance as they go
It reminds me of a snow shower as they flutter by, so many at once

But instead of a cold wet kiss they bring a sweet scent as they brush past you
And all the falls of years gone by are stirred inside me and I close my eyes to embrace it

The sight of the turning leaves brings comfort and sadness
Comfort in the beauty and sadness in knowing the season of warmth is coming to an end

Soon the falling leaves give way to falling snow
And all that is left of autumn are bare branches

Branches that reach to the sky in surrender
Dark, bare, exposed – no cover to warm them

They are at the mercy of the season and I identify
Some seasons are dry and cold and you pray for the change

For now, I will just enjoy the dance

Sue Barnard

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Table Of Friends...

This is a long one folks, trying to condense 30 years into a few paragraphs.  It is precious to me, so did not want to cut it short.  It is a story I hope you enjoy and can relate to.

Recently, we had a dinner celebration.  Our very dear friends Dan and Connie were in town and we had a dinner to give them a chance to see some old friends on their short visit to South Bend. 

We meet at Don and Kathy’s home.  They are marvleous hosts and their home is full of comfort and hospitality.  There are 14 of us in attendance - a great number to gather around their large dining table.

Set before us is Goat Cheese and Pesto Torta, Bruschetta and Crostini, Peppadews, German Bologna, Lasagna, and a beautiful Lettuce Salad with lots of goodies hidden in it.  For dessert we have NY style Cheesecake and Marce’s White Chocolate Fantasy Cake.  We mill around, casually nibbling the appetizers, preparing dinner plates, pouring wine and eventually we gather at the table.

It’s a complicated story how we all met and got hooked up, but I will try to make sense of it.  I would guess that all of us have different versions of the tale, so right up front I will say these are my recollections and I can't guarantee the total accuracy of my 52 year old brain.

I don’t remember exact dates after all these years, but know that several from this group have been in my life for over 30 years.  Some I met through a house church I was attending.  We were a small group, but had strong beliefs (the leader of the group was a devout follower of Bill Gothard) and the group was like a family.  We not only tended to peoples spiritual need, but financial needs as well.  It always amazed me at how generous this small group was and what we were able to accomplish.

While we were a tight knit group, we could also be a bit volatile, splitting several times over the years, losing a few and picking up others with each divide.  I was pretty young when a lot of that was happening, with two young children.  I have to admit I did not know what a lot of the “hubbub” was about during these bouts of turmoil, although there were times when I’d pipe up and give my opinion on some things.

The group was very male oriented in the leadership area.  Women had their place and it was pretty much to be at home taking care of their husband, house and children (Thanks Bill Gothard).  Not many worked outside the home.  If you were not absolutely thrilled to be cleaning your house and tending to your husband’s every need, there was a bit of a stigma that got attached to you (and I imagine a lot of prayers were prayed on your behalf).  This attitude really went against the grain of me, as I had some bad vibes from growing up around a dominant, abusive man and I was determined not to follow in some of my relatives footsteps.  I remember like it was yesterday at about 11 years old consciously making the decision after witnessing one of the many incidents of abuse my brother-in-law inflicted on my sister Carol, that no man would ever treat me that way.  And that was only a part of my story where men were concerned — so, I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder in this area.  I am sure the word “rebellious” came up behind a few closed doors when my name was mentioned.  I hold no ill towards those who may have felt that way at the time.  I don’t know if anyone knew my “whole” story and even if they did, still probably would not have known what to do with me!

I loved my family, being married and being a mother, but there were certain aspects of homemaking I did not excel in. I was only about 20 or 21 at the time.  (I had gotten married at 14 and accepted Christ at 15)  Being a mother came pretty naturally to me, but keeping house was a different story.  Eventually, I mastered cooking, baking and finances, but never quite got the hang of keeping a neat house. Often I felt inferior to the other women who seemed to have embraced the love of it, while I only dreaded it.  I thought that perhaps I had missed getting the “cleaning gene” that came with salvation.  Even though several of their homes were often in disarray, as mine usually was, many of the women appeared to get great joy in washing, cleaning and cooking all day.  This was not my story and I felt very guilty about it for years.

When we had fellowship times, I longed to be included in the “male” conversations that were taking place in the living room of the home we met in.  The women usually congregated in the kitchen and talked of canning vegetables, raising children and recipes.  While these things did interest me, the men were usually talking about Jesus and the things of God, and that interested me much more than water bath canning instructions.

The house church had been together a while when Dan and Connie came from California to attend the church.  Dan and the current "lay" pastor had long been friends.   Dan, an ordained minister, eventually took over pastoring.  With Dan and Connie as pastors, a whole new world was opened up to me.  Connie did not fit the mold of the usual pastors wife (she did not play piano).  She was a gifted teacher, as was Dan, and they would share in the pastoring.  While she was a very supportive wife, he was also a supportive husband and acknowledged and encouraged her gifts, which were not just in cooking and keeping house.   Their marriage was the first I took note of where they truly respected each other.  It was a turning point for me.  Dan brought an equality to the women of the church that had been missing and it gave me hope for something more.

As I mentioned before, it is a complicated story with heartaches as well as joys.  Anyone who has been involved in organized church for any length of time can imagine some of our struggles.  Dan was very different from Tom, the man who started the church, and those differences eventually came to a head and we experienced yet another church split.  This time, Dan left and started his own church.

This was a great struggle for my family.  My husband at the time, Dave, really loved Dan.  Dan was able to reach him in ways the other men had not been able to.  Now, I am not saying the men of the church did not try...they did.  But so many of the male bonding activities were centered on sports and Dave was not a sports kind of guy.  So sports oriented were the men that we would change our church service time to accommodate watching the Superbowl.  He would try to participate at times, but would usually come home humiliated, feeling much the same way I did when it came to housework.  He just was not good at it.  He liked debating with the men, but his ideas were usually challenges to the “status quo” and not readily accepted.  While we were in the same situation as the other couples in the church...marriage, job, kids, etc., we were several years younger and still had that push to challenge things...just because.

Dan also had a great influence on me.  As I mentioned before, he and Connie set a great example for respect and equality in marriage.  Her gifts were just as important to highlight as his and he encouraged women to participate in many areas.  I attribute my writing and public speaking today to Dan.  One day we were having a lively discussion on some things very dear to our heart in his living room (I had graduated out of the kitchen with Dan) and he said to me “Write that down”.  I said, “Write what down?”  He replied “What you just said, write it down.”  I did, and it became an article for a newsletter the church produced called “The Salt Mine”.  Not long after that, he asked me to take his place at an event he was scheduled to speak at and could not attend.  I felt very honored to be considered to stand in his stead.  I have not stopped writing or talking since.

We ended up attending both churches for a while.  The “old” church held great pull to us — we helped raise each others kids, got baptized together, shared our joys and heartaches with each other, prayed together.  As I said, I did not quite fit as well as some of the women did, but their influence and encouragement in raising my kids was priceless.  I cannot ignore that through this body of believers I learned to study the bible, the importance of community and witnessed the deep love of God.  It was a great foundation.

We eventually chose Dan’s church.  Some came with him, others stayed behind, new people were added. We grew and thrived there.  It was exciting to be on the ground floor of a new church.  This one was more formal in some ways than the old church, as we had a denomination we were under (Assemblies of God), but still met as a “house church”.  We rented a local hall on Sundays for our meetings and eventually converted Dan and Connie’s garage into a meeting room as well.

We kept connection with many of the people in the “old” church.  It wasn’t always a deep connection, at times only occasionally seeing each other through various events, but it was always good to see them.   Eventually, Dan and Connie left too, moving to a different part of the country (a total of three times in fact), and have settled in Seattle, WA.   We have kept in touch all these years consistently and I treasure their place in my life.

So, we fast forward to today, the table of friends.  Many of us now grandparents, some finding their way to attending the same church together again, others no longer attending any “organized” church at all, and Dan, now a newly ordained Anglican minister!  Talk about never seeing something coming...that would be it.

We gather at Don and Kathy’s house, one of the couples whose marriage was birthed in the “old” church and are still together - 33 years now I believe.  Amazing.  We eat dinner together, and drink wine and sangria.  A few of us that arrived early got to partake of Kathy’s famous “Cosmos”...something that probably would not have happened when we were attending church together “back in the day”.  While I do remember sharing a bit of wine a time or two all those years ago, it never flowed as freely as it does today.  Those of us who chose to partake appear to be moderate, responsible drinkers and it is one of the things we have “grown” in.  We also enjoy discussing wines and such and a few of us attend wine tastings together.  Some of our group choose not to drink alcohol (lips that touch wine will never touch mine), and no one thinks badly of the other for their choices.  Maturity is a wonderful thing.

Here are the names of those in attendance:  Dan & Connie, Don & Kathy, Chuck & Sue S., Barry & Cheryl, Jim & Maggie, Bill & Sue, Mike and Bill P.  I will attempt to connect the dots.  From the “old” days:  Dan, Connie, Don, Kathy, Barry, Maggie, Mike and Bill P.  Those grafted in by re-marriage:  Sue S., Cheryl, Jim and Bill.

Don and Kathy have a long dining table in their spacious country kitchen and in the middle of our meal, Father Dan encourages us to tell our stories of meeting Christ. We encourage him to start with his, and since another attendee, Chuck, was instrumental in that, we hear a bit of his story too.  Kathy tells her story, which brings her to her connection with Barry, who was friends with the man who would become her husband Don. (It was Barry who introduced them)  Maggie shares her story, and her husband Jim, shares his recent health struggles and the wonder of God through it.  Then we hear from Cheryl, whose story is quite amazing and reminds us all that it is the love and grace of Jesus that drew us.  Throughout the evening we all interject a bit of something, especially after we hear the details again of how some of us got connected.  A few help tell another’s story.  Believe it or not, I am not talking a whole lot, mostly just drinking it all in and smiling at the wonder of it all.

I think of how many there had an influence on me as I literally “grew up” amongst them. The connection with Dan and Connie I described earlier.  But many here are forever etched on my heart.  One of my best friends ever, is Bill P.  His story is very deep and early on in our relationship God placed a seed in my heart for him that has planted deep roots that are not easily moved.  He was in and out of my life for many years as he would leave church, come back, leave again and eventually left the area and moved to Seattle.  But we stayed friends, talking on the phone, writing letters.  He eventually found his way back to South Bend and we again went to church together for many years.  He is “Uncle Bill” to my kids and a part of most family dinners and events.

Barry was married to Evie at the time we attended church together and their house became a refuge for me from the chaos of my own.  My first husband and I were struggling on many levels and I confided our deep secrets to Barry and Evie, many times late at night after I finished my shift at a local Cantonese restaurant, “Marks”.  I would show up on their doorstep bearing leftover Egg Drop Soup and they would say, “Stay a while” and that was my cue to bear my soul.  Evie and I became good friends and she was one of the women who really encouraged me in raising my children. 

Barry is forever in my heart for many reasons, but one that stands out is an apology he made to me.  During the time we were attending church, we had a pool party at someone’s home.  At some point a few of the guys thought it a good idea to start throwing women in the pool.   After throwing a couple of the women in, they set their sights on me and grabbed my arms and legs.  As they were carrying me to the pool I asked them not to throw me in.  I did not do well in water and was not a great swimmer and especially do poorly when it comes to “horsing around” in the water.  When I was young, my crazy brother in law, the one that beat my sister, thought it was great fun to hold me under the water one year we were at the lake.   A six foot plus man holding a 10 year old under the water against their will and then laughing about it when they finally let the gasping child free can leave a mark - and it did for me.  The closer they carried me to the water, the more terrified I got.  They ignored my pleas and kept walking towards the pool and when I realized they were going to go through with it, I became hysterical; crying, begging and pleading for them not to.  My hysteria must have moved them, because they put me down at the pools edge, leaving me embarrassed at my outburst, yet grateful it had an impact.  It hurt me that they would allow me to get to that point and not listen in the beginning, but life went on.  Years later, at a church reunion, Barry came to me and apologized sincerely for that day.  It meant a great deal to me that even though much time had passed, he still remembered and thought enough of me to make it right.

There are so many more stories of these friends, these comrades, demonstrating true “agape” love for each other.  It was our common love of God that drew us together and it is that same love that keeps us coming back.  The years have given us the wisdom to know how precious true friendships are and that relationship is really what God is all about.  So many of the “rules” we once thought so important have faded, but what remains is the love.

So as I sit at the end of the table, listening to these friends, watching, observing - I am pleased.  Pleased at who they have become, pleased at who I have become.  I no longer consider myself second class because I hate cleaning house.  In fact, I have no shame in stating that finally, after many years of dreaming about it, this year I have on occasion hired a housekeeper. 

No longer do the men and women talk separately; we all sit together at one table, equally sharing what is on our hearts.  There are no judgements of the “new” spouses, all are welcomed into the mix.  I am witnessing dreams being fulfilled and dreams yet to begin.  Some of us are still struggling with many things, but some of us have found the peace we were seeking all those years ago.  All this warms my heart and I believe, makes God smile.  It is life, it is friendship, it is is God.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Long Road...

I wrote this piece while contemplating how quickly things can change our lives, especially a heartbreak.  One moment all is well and with just a few words, knowledge comes your way that changes everything.  Its at those times you just hope you can feel peace again.

Long Road

The storm that came through is one that rips hearts
It breaks your dreams and upsets your carts

I feel whipped and winded, dazed and confused
It came like a tornado and ripped me in two

It’s a long road back to the calm after the storm
Walking through debris that can cause great harm

Feelings, heartaches, pain strewn about
Seeing it all before me makes me want to shout

Shout to the heavens, cry aloud
Scream at the destruction that is all around

People have been wounded and lives re-arranged
Foundations have crumbled and everything is changed

The pain of it all seems too much to bear
The reality of it just seems so unfair

I look for my center, the peace and the quiet
But all I see are the remains of a riot

My world has been demolished by a raging fire
And there is no trace of the peace I desire

Where did it all go and can I get it back?
Why couldn’t I defend against this destructive attack?

Like most storms there was no way to control it
It came and went in what seemed just a moment

But the power it carried was considerable
The damage it left behind is miserable

It’s a long road back to the calm after the storm
Searching for the way that will bring me home

©Sue Barnard  8/2010

Saturday, January 15, 2011


As we head into this new year I contemplated change.  I have always been a pretty "adaptable" person and count it as one of my strengths that I can accept and even thrive when faced with change.

In this new year I find myself anticipating great change.  I am actually excited at the idea of changes happening in my life and those around me.  I am not sure what those changes will be, but I sense they will be positive.

My contemplation brought about this poem.  I hope it inspires you to embrace the changes you face in your life.


I am passing from one state to another
My form is being transformed, modified and altered

Things will not be as they are now
Nor will they be as they were yesterday

Life is changing

The future course will be different because it will not be left alone
Life is not about leaving things alone

My life is not a protected “eco system” that needs to remain in an uninterrupted state to flourish
No, PLEASE – interrupt my life as it is what keeps me alive

My environment grows from change and the constant flow of activity
My spirit is renewed at the prospect of something unknown being introduced

The challenge of change becomes my victory
There is security in knowing “I can change”

The change of faces in my life no longer saddens me
But is now a spring board to what lies ahead

I am changing

We can fight change and be stagnant
Or we can choose to change and expand

Go with the flow

As we embrace change we remain curious
We look forward to new things in our lives

We don’t fear what lies ahead
But we are excited at the possibilities

Change is coming
Change is here
Change is constant
Change is necessary

Welcome Change

© Sue Barnard

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another Year...

I started this post in 2010 hoping to publish it before the new year. But, that did not happen. Here it is though, reflections on 2010 and hopes for 2011. Enjoy.

Another Year

Well, it’s a cold December morning and I sit in my living room with my coffee and Isabella by my side thinking it is time to do my year end review. About this time every year I look back on the months past and look forward to the new year ahead. And I always ask myself the questions “What did I accomplish and where am I going?”

Of course I think of what I did NOT get done either. I did not lose that 50 pounds I had intended, but I did manage to drop about 10 and keep it off. I will count this as a positive, since each year I seem to end it heavier than when it began. I have progressed in my exercise and now do so on a regular basis. The exercise induced hives that have bothered me so for the past few years are manageable and no longer hinder me to the point of inactivity. So while I did not reach my goal, I am at least heading in the right direction. We’ll carry this one over for 2011.

I did NOT transform my office from chaos to organization. Not even close on that one. I used to be such a filing mavin - not sure when I lost it. It now takes me forever to file things properly and usually happens at tax time rather than throughout the year (much to my husband’s dismay). Although I did purchase a calendar that has a huge “pocket” for each month and used that to put monthly receipts in, so I have some organization. I did however make progress on my photo collection and am 3/4 of the way done. Unfortunately I have been at that point for several months. I was hoping to work on the photos with Anna when she came home for Christmas, but that did not happen.

Ok, enough of the did nots.... move to the dids.

I wrote a lot this year, though you could not tell through my irregular blog entries. Most of my writing was journaling and poetry. So much of my poetry is a chronicle of my journey and reflects what I am going through and this year it still contained anger and disappointment about some things in the past, but it also included some fun things and healing. This year I have been even bolder and more honest with my poetry, not afraid any more of who I might offend. For sure the healing was helped along by the venting through my writing.

I got several opportunities through open mics to perform and hear other artists. I truly enjoy that. The creating of something definitely gives rise to want to share it. When I cook a meal I want people to eat and enjoy it, the cooking of it is not enough. It would be very unsatisfying to prepare a delightful meal and just set it on the table to look at, no one ever partaking of its flavor and nourishment. So too with my writing I find that most times I want to share on some level, even if it is just with Bill or my friend Pam. But usually sharing it with them gives me the confidence to share it to a broader audience and so through this blog or through open mics my creativity has an outlet and gets fed at the same time, as the giving of what I have done urges me to do more.

Just recently we have done bunches of improvements to the house. Painting in the dining room, bathroom, family room and kitchen. New floor, sink, toilet and shower in the bathroom. New counter tops in the kitchen as well as a new sink. We have begun to wade through our unending supply of “stuff” to try and simplify our lives. Possessing so many things seems to take away from my life rather than add to it and makes me a bit nervous. So we are trying to move away from being collectors of more and leaning into being keepers of less.

We had people in our home on a regular basis and I love that. Dinners, birthday celebrations, game nights. Family from the West coast came to visit us and I really love that. South Bend is not the fun capital of the world, but we are here so it makes it pretty special. You feel very loved when people come to see you for you. Note to Anna: I really would come to see you even if you did not live in New York ☺

Since we are heading into our third year of not attending an “organized” church, these times of gathering and fellowship are so important to us. It reminds me what real church is and feeds me more than sitting in a pew. It’s funny because a few years ago I could not imagine being without a regular church and today I cannot imagine ever going back to one. So many reasons for that, but I will only note a couple.  We were taught to be careful with those that were in the “state” I am now, perhaps thinking that they may have a negative effect on us. We were told people not in church “couldn’t take it” or were “out of order”. How sad that our ideas of how God moved were so small. Interesting how walking away from something gives you a clearer perspective. I think its that getting older thing. My over 50 eyes can’t see much clearly unless I hold it away from me...perhaps my older spirit is the same. I hold no ill towards those still part of organized church, in fact, quite the opposite. I remain friends with several people from the church we left and am happy that they find encouragement there.  A dear friend of mine is being ordained in the Anglican Church after being a part of several less formal churches. While it may not be my cup of tea, it brings something to him that is vital and I respect and encourage that.

I loved being in church for over 30 years and encouraged many to find a church they could function in. Without that experience I would not be who I am today. But who I am today is different from who I was before and to quote Stephen King “The world has moved on”, and so I now exist in a different world, just as important, but different. My view of how and where God moves has expanded. Its one of the cool things about God; He is so much bigger and has so many more ideas than we do. Expressing His greatness takes so many forms. So we remain committed to God with all our hearts and pursuing what true church is.  We fellowship regularly, give generously, seek wise counsel when needed and desire to do God's will - all because it is in our hearts to do so, not because we are pressured to.  If God moved me towards being a part of a church again, I would do so. It just has not happened.

In 2010, two dear people in my life left this earth realm, Karen and John. Both had been in my life for over 20 years. While I did not see them often the past few years, they were both at one time very present in my life and made an impact that lasts to this day. They both lived to share the love of Jesus and knowing they were walking this earth made me sleep a bit better at night. They died too young in my opinion (me and God have already had several discussions on this) but I rejoice that they are now in paradise with our Savior.

The year would not be complete without at least one rant, so here is mine.  I have done a lot of contemplating about relationships this year. They have always been so important to me and I can be pretty aggressive in my pursuit of them. If God puts someone on my heart, I stay in contact with them and let them know they are loved and often will try to spend time with them. The past couple years have changed that somewhat. I have become a bit weary of those who say they love me and want to see me, but yet don't return phone calls or are always busy.  While I accept and embrace my role as a gatherer, I am not as persistent as I used to be if I am always the one making contact. I have come to the belief that about 90% of the time, people do what they want to do no matter what excuses they throw out there. If people want to see me, they will make the time. Of course there are circumstances that can prevent this such as sickness, work, location and such...that is the 10% that is uncontrollable in our lives. But we decide what we will do with most of our time outside of work and if you care about someone or enjoy their company, you make time for it. So, if someone counts my friendship as valuable, they will tend to it. It may not be often, but if keeping in touch with particular people means something to you, it will happen if you want it to. It may mean a regular email, a cup of coffee or even just a phone call or note. It does not always have to be some deep, long conversation. Just letting someone know you are thinking of them goes a long way. So, at this time in my life, if after a couple times you don’t respond to phone calls, invites or emails, I am gonna let that go in most cases. There is a lot more I could say on that, but think I will leave it there.

I love to travel and did that this year. San Diego to celebrate my sister-in-law Susan’s birthday (which included a delightful stay at a B&B on a beach - thanks Mommy Barnard), Seattle to see our dear friends Dan and Connie Rice (and family) and two trips to New York to see my baby girl Anna. Bill took two trips to Africa for business and we hope that proves fruitful this year. While it is hard to think of him being so far away, it gives me great pleasure because he has such a love for and call to Africa. Seeing him so fulfilled brings me great joy.

How can I review the year without mentioning my children?  They are my heart and soul.  I wrote a very deep piece about my wonderful kids earlier in the year, so I won’t go on here about it. I just have to say I love them all to pieces and am so proud of them. Shay and Job have blessed with me grandchildren and they are awesome parents. It is a whole other post to do that justice, so I will leave it at that.

As I have written about before, seasons are very deep and moving to me and I make note of their coming and going. God uses them to teach me, remind me and encourage me. The great thing about seasons is that they always change, so as I go through a struggle it gives me hope as I know it will pass and change. It can also be sobering as well, as I see those around me change, move on and sometimes out of my life.  It can bring melancholy to realize something has ended. But then the newness of spring comes around the corner and I see that God will bring other things into my life that require my attention and love and the cycle of life continues.

I am very aware at the end of this year I am 52 years old. It is not just the calendar that reminds me of this - my body that aches more than it used to, my eyes that require ever stronger lenses to function properly and my mind that notes most likely I have more past than I have future on this earth. I am not anxious about that, but it does make me think more about what I am doing and where I am going. Tomorrow is never promised to any of us and no matter what your age we could be gone in a flash. So it is important that we live life always to the fullest and pursue our hopes and dreams. You can keep saying "someday I will do this" or you can just do it (I say as I look in in the mirror).  Live each moment with purpose and passion.

Whats in store for 2011?  More steel cut oats and less sugar.  Writing, writing, writing.  Taking my vitamins everyday.  Sitting less and moving more.  Cooking more but eating less.  The ocean.  Size six jeans.  New things, new places.  Getting rid of more "stuff".  Another hope for 2011 is to connect with you all more often through postings and in person. I love to get feedback from you and hear your thoughts on what I have shared and what is going on in your life.

I will leave you with a poem I wrote the last week of 2010. I really like for my work to be heard, as well as read, as much of the heart of my writing is in the way its delivered. So, I have included a link to the spoken version.

Stepping Back and Moving Forward

The day after Christmas, 2010
2011 all set to begin

This year as I sit the tree lights are dark
When I came downstairs I left them off

No candles are lit, no music is playing
Just the thoughts in my head continuously swaying

Presents have been given and presents received
Knowing that its over brings great relief

I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong
But once its over I’m ready to sing the “New Year” song

I want to move past the year thats ending
Lean into the new one just beginning

This year I will review several times in my mind
The events of my life will hit rewind

What did I accomplish, what did I learn?
Was the respect of my Father God earned?

I have no complaints, my life is grand
Most struggles I face I have the upper hand

The ones that still grip me I keep trying to rise above
Remembering I am surrounded by great love

This year I have traveled to both coasts, I have celebrated life
Had family visit our home, I remain a faithful wife

I get along with my siblings, my kids and my spouse
We spent lots of time improving our house

There is much to be grateful for in the life that is mine
Blessings I don’t have to look far to find

A few glitches remain, a few things undone
A family member sent me a letter that was pretty glum

I was told to “back off” and step away
So I will “step back 5” and give you your space

I am stepping back so I can move forward
Gain some momentum to get past the absurd

The older I get the less drama I need
“Life is short and I want to enjoy it” is my creed

You don’t have to like, love me or care
I have learned that life is not always fair

People will treat you like shit
Even if you don’t deserve it

All I can do is be who I am
Try my best to walk out God’s plan

You can share my life, or you can shun and forget me
Either way I’m not going to park inside your misery

I’ll love, help, pray and hug you
But I’m not going to sing the blues

God can light a path for us to walk
But we gotta choose it and do more than just talk

All that talk but nothing changes
Will keep our lives dark and estranged

Tomorrow is not promised and like I said life is short
My hopes and dreams I will not abort

The coming year brings promise and hope of new things
On that high my soul takes wing

So good bye old year, and all we’ve had to endure
Hello 2011, you’ll be good to us sure

© 2010 Sue Barnard