Author Archives: Amy Barnes

About Amy Barnes

Jesus, Hubby, Kids, Homeschool, Writing, Being Creative!

Delirious

As I was up with the baby every couple of hours last night (We Love Teething!!), I am just too delirious to post this morning!  My eyes are half open, but I did manage to squeeze in this article this morning for all of you who are exploring a “calling…”

Enjoy!

“Kingdom work is supernatural work, no matter what your calling is. If it doesn’t require real faith, a desperate dependence on God to be with you in order to succeed, then either it’s not God’s calling or you don’t get it yet.”  Jon Bloom

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/don-t-feel-qualified-for-your-calling

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Drama Queen

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Colossians 4:5-6

Have you ever been egged on in the wrong direction?  Perhaps someone has done you wrong.  Although the Spirit whispers in your ear, “good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11), the spark of injustice just wants to catch on to some fuel somewhere and start the fires of offense a-burnin’.  In that moment, we know just who to call.  Do we call Saintly Sally who is going to instinctively respond with sound and faithful instruction because she is a woman of the word?  Probably not.  Nope, we scroll through our contacts and find Salacious Sarah, one whom we can be confident will share in our piteous affliction and offer up a nice little dose of gasoline to grow that flame to epic proportions.  Fire feels good.  And sometimes we just want to feel something.  This is why drama queens exist.  They are addicted to emotional swings- highs, lows, OMG’s, she-did-what’s?, oh-no-he-didn’ts and oh-girl-kick-him-to-the-curbs.  Not that I know, or am…er, uh…. one or something.

Paul tells us in Colossians to be wise in the way act– toward unbelievers in particularly. We don’t want to add more fuel to their fires.  If an unbeliever has issues with anxiety, our speech should not lead them to more anxiety (Pr 12:25- “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.)  If they have anger issues, our responses to them shouldn’t incite their anger further (Pr 15:1- “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”).  If they are battling depression, we don’t want to deepen their pit (Pr 16:24- “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”).

The Proverbs are chock-full of verses about drama queens.  It has another word for them.  Fools.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11

When we’re handed a juicy little morsel, we can join right on in and start wagging an oh-don’t-even-get-me-started-on-that finger, and we become just what we sound like.  Fools.  The Bible also calls us perverted.  “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:28).  Yup, foolish, perverted drama queens.

Oh, how beautiful it would be to have a heart that the Scriptures describe.  Lord, may it be.  “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends”  (Proverbs 17:9).  

I’m praying that the Lord changes this drama queen and gives me instead a heart that wants to cover an offense up–just throw a fire blanket right over the top of it.  Promote love instead of dissension.  Endorse unity instead of division.  That in each situation, rather than passing a rather tasty little morsel along to another, or joining in on the “I’m offended” pity party, I’ll just have a heart like His, and cover it up in love.  That all of my speech would be full of grace– kind-hearted and peace-making, and that it would be perfectly seasoned with the salt of the Word, making it palatable for even the pickiest eaters.  Praise be to God, the only One who can transform us by the renewing of our minds!

 

XO

 

 

Eeyore

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him.  But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.”  John 12:42-43

Recognition feels good.

When we get dolled up, we expect to hear a “you look great!” from our husbands or significant others.  When we do something nice for someone, we love to hear “thank you!”  When we’re good at what we do, we thrive on reward in the form of raises, tips, trophies, certificates, or double-glances.  How do we respond when we don’t get the return?  If you don’t get a compliment from your husband or a thank-you card or a nod at the office, do you get upset?  Maybe we can overlook one offense, maybe two.  But what does it look like when we are in a season of drought?  When the positives coming our way are just few and far in-between, or worse yet, when we are expecting a certain amount of recognition or attention from someone in particular who just isn’t giving it?

Recently, I was just being a little brat about something.  I had reached out to someone I really respect about something with little affirmation in return.  I gave a stiff upper lip and put on some false humility and told myself it really didn’t matter what they thought anyway.  Then it happened again and again in other areas and with other people.  Before I knew it, I was trapped in an out-of-control pouty pity party.  I had become Eeyore.

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“Thaaaanks for noticing me.”

It wasn’t until I brought my little pity party to my husband’s attention that I realized what was going on.  I had it packaged up nice and pretty: so-and-so just didn’t such-and-such and this happened and that didn’t happen, and I think it must mean that they think this and that about me.  And this and that just aren’t true.  Waaah.

He’s so calm and patient with me.  A man’s man whose edges have been softened by three sisters and one emotional wife.  He knows when to tread lightly.

“Maybe God is using this time to teach you how to focus on your need for Him alone instead of trying to get praise from man.”  Ouch.

Wait a minute.  Doesn’t he KNOW that MY love language is WORDS OF AFFIRMATION?  What are we supposed to do, just cross off an ENTIRE love language because it’s the SELFISH one!?  Okay then, what’s my other language option…..oh…GIFTS!  Seriously!?  HOW COME ALL OF MY LANGUAGES ARE THE UNGODLY ONES!?  My husband is pretty much a resounding 100% Acts of Service. Blechhhhh.  Sometimes marriage can feel like a cruel joke.

His first attempt at restoring me gently…….BLOCKED!  I continue, going on and on about poor poor me, blah blah blah.  Undeterred (a seasoned veteran), he tries again.

“Babe, I really just think God is using this time to teach you how to focus on your need for Him alone instead of trying to get praise from man.”

Oh.

All of a sudden, the spirals of pride I had barreled up inside of me came springing out and I was left, maybe for the first time in my life, speechless.

Then, being the spiritual schizophrenic that I am, I began to thank God for putting up with me….a sinner who has no place seeking praise from anyone.  I force myself to remember the hard times, the times when I had to press my forehead so hard into the ground in sorrow that it left carpet marks.  The times when I needed a savior, not an Atta-Girl.

Seeking praise from men can get us caught up in our pride so much that we stifle the praise due to our Creator.  As we press into Him, the thumbs-ups from others around us fade into gray in comparison to the great calling that He has on our lives–living for His glory.  Just as those first-century believers who were too afraid to confess their newfound faith in the synagogues for fear of what the Pharisees might do to them, we can lose our footing and fall off of the narrow path when we get caught in the web of seeking affirmation from others, even to the point of denying the very one who has called us.  Peter, anyone?

Sometimes I’ll hear of people asking, “what would you do if money were no object?  If you could do anything at all, and money didn’t matter, what would you do?”  That’s an interesting question.  But, let me ask it in a different way.  What would you do if what other people thought didn’t matter?  If you could just strip away everyone’s responses and opinions about everything you did, what would you do?  If you allow yourself to be honest, you might find that you think about what they think about a lot more often than you think you do.  If the only thing that mattered was what God thought about something, what would your life look like?  How would you love and raise your kids?  How would you look for a spouse?  How would you dress?  How would you serve your husband?  Where would you go?  What would you do?

Guess what?  The only thing that matters is what God thinks about something!   That’s it!  We are to live to please Him alone (which requires faith–which is also a gift of God).  Jesus said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).  This doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to hate people (obviously).  It means that our insane love and devotion to Him should make all other loves look like hate in comparison.  He is all that matters.  His opinion counts!  All glory is due to Him, all praise belongs to Him, and our lives are not our own.  We were bought with a price.  As we seek His precious face and fall more and more in love with Him, the brattiness gets burned out and we learn to look for His approval alone.

I hope you all had a great 3-day weekend (it was GORGEOUS here in San Diego)!  As a side note, I would like to humbly ask for prayer.  I am in the middle of writing my first Bible study, and am going to a huge writing conference in about a month to meet with some agents and editors.  Please pray that God would just have His way with the whole thing, and that He would continue to provide me with the words that I need to finish up the study.  He is so good to me.  Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for letting me serve you in whatever way through this blog.  In wake of the upcoming deadline, I will be reducing my blogs to a few days a week for the time being.  Thank you so much for your support and understanding!  Love you all!

XO

 

Game Show

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A few months ago, I was a game show contestant on Let’s Ask America.  Add it to the loooong list of random things that I’ve done!

The show works like this:  you skype in from your house and they split screen you with 3 other people.  Then, you’re asked Family Feud style polling questions and you earn money for each correct question.  At three pre-determined points in the game, the contestant with  the least amount of money is kicked off and goes home empty-handed.  Not me, my friend.  I won!

It didn’t look that way at the beginning.  At the first cutoff I was tied for last place and had to do a tiebreaker called “The Dash for Cash!”  The host gives you a random assignment like be the first one to go make tinfoil balls and bring them back and juggle them, or fill a soup ladle with something and run back to the camera and drink it.  I remember waiting for his instruction, not knowing what in the world awaited me.  Mine was the “pajama” episode, and I was decked out in a pink cheetah onesie.  The host told us to run and put on another pair of pajamas and come back.  Heart racing, I looked down to see the last night’s jammies crumpled up on my bedroom floor.  I had never been so stoked to not put away my dirty laundry!  I jumped off the bed, thankful for the onesie’s one big long zipper, jumped out, threw on my sweats and whatever shirt was next to it, and ran back onto my bed still getting situated while seeing that I was the first one back.

Our wandering hearts tend to want to keep our dirty laundry nearby in case we need a quick change.  We zip up our Christian onesie on Sunday mornings or when the topic comes up in conversation, covering up what’s really underneath.  The pink cheetah spotted cover-all looks nothing like the spotless robe of Christ.  We are ready, with dirty laundry always near our feet, to change our look quickly depending on whose presence we’re in.  One minute we’re Pink Cheetah Christian and the next we’re Sexy Suzy or Clubbin’ Carla or Cussing Carol or Drunkard Danielle or Worried Wilma, or, we just put on our sweatpants and do our best to blend in with everyone else.  We are deceived.  “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  The righteousness of Christ isn’t something that can be taken on and off.  It comes from our hearts and makes us shine.  It’s not something that we have to explain in words.  It should be seen in our actions.  If someone were to spend 30 minutes with you, would they know you’re in Christ?  Or do you look just like the rest of the world?  “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Cor 2:14-15).  What do you smell like?

I love what it says in James.  “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:21-25).

When we look intently into God’s word, ingesting His perfect instruction and then actually doing what it says, our reflection becomes genuine, looking more and more like Christ.  Putting on a variety of outfits means nothing–God searches our hearts and knows who we really are.  We shouldn’t be worrying about what everyone thinks about what we’re wearing, but instead be concerned about what our hearts look like.  Where we stand with him.  If our lives are a pure reflection of our Creator.  We wait for the day when we will see it all clearly, but for now, we look into the mirror of His word and let the Spirit do the sanctifying work needed to see Jesus in our reflection.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  1 Cor 13:12

Ask

Have you ever gotten one of those gifts wrapped in a box and then another and then another and then another and then another….?  My husband is notorious for this.  He will throw in things like a set of hand weights or maybe a shoe to throw someone off and make it exciting.

One of the most exciting things in my life and one of the most amazing parts about being a parent is getting to unwrap the gift of my daughters–to watch intently as the layers are peeled back to reveal more of the gift of who they are.  Their little personalities.  For me, it started during pregnancy.  I could tell that Kiara was going to be a little spitfire.  I first felt her move at 11 weeks and I don’t think she’s stopped since then.  That little girl is FULL of life, and has a HUGE personality in a teeny tiny little body.  She is just straight up fun.  My little Petunia.  Khloe was quiet but strong.  She wouldn’t kick for hours, then POW, right in the gut.  There was a sweetness to her.  She was happy being where she was.  And from what I can tell so far, that’s who she is.  When she smiles, her whole face smiles.  It shines out from her sweet spirit. Always happy, ALWAYS smiling, just a good baby.  My little Rosebud.  They are the greatest joys of my life.

God’s been revealing to me some special little things about Kiara lately, glimmers that remind me even of myself when I was that little.  I have always been a learner, eager to know more.  I loved school and could never get enough information.  I’m starting to see this little trait start popping up in Kiara.  She wants to continuously be learning something.  She gets bored with the 24 piece puzzles now and goes straight for the 100 piecers.  She loves a challenge.  She asks me 1000 times a day what letter things start with and is picking up patterns and words and ideas.  She is constantly asking for more.  It’s so exciting for me as her mom to see her little interests unfold, and I am thrilled to give her all that she asks for–to teach her as much as her little brain wants to know and to watch her get it.  It is such a blessing to learn about her and who God made her to be, and to train her up in her bent.

When I read through scripture, I feel just like that three-year-old.  I can’t get enough.  I want to know as much as my little toddler-sized brain can handle. I want to let it seep into my spirit and take hold of my soul.  I want a challenge.  It’s in my nature.  I want to get to know more about God and His character.  I want to pick up the patterns and words and ideas.  When it says “mercy,”  I don’t want that to be just another word to me as it’s always been.  I want to know what mercy means.  What grace really means.  What love really is.  I want to hear the Holy Spirit’s whisper as he peels back another layer of who He made me to be and what He wants to teach me.  And when I get to a place that I just don’t understand, I ask Him 1000 questions and He is faithful to answer, just like a parent who wants to give their child good gifts.  I’m still like that 3-year-old though, throwing fits and only thinking about myself and whiiiiiiiiiining when He asks me to do something that maybe I don’t want to do.  But we’re working on that.

“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:12).

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Proverbs 2:6

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously without finding fault.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”  James 1:5

God will fulfill the desires of your heart when they are also the desires of His.  Last night, Pastor Jobey talked about how when his kids ask for dinner, he’s always going to feed them dinner.  When they ask for dessert, they sometimes get it and they sometimes don’t, depending on the circumstances.  If you desire to learn more about God’s nature, to gain wisdom about something, ask in faith and God will never turn you down.  He loves you and wants to saturate your little brain with as much of Him as you can handle!  Ask away!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7

YOLO

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14

Think of who you would rank as the three biggest celebrities alive on earth right now.  Whether by beauty, music, words, atheticism or acting ability, celebrities amplify an otherwise normal life to make their mark on this planet as big as they can.  Okay–now think back 20 years.  Who would you have considered the top 3 celebrities then?  (I was like 10.  My top 3 consisted of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Rider Strong and Andrew Keegan.  HA!)  Where are those 3 now?  How quickly things change.

There’s a hit song by Drake called The Motto.  Don’t look it up.  It’s terrible.   It’s a song with the lovely Lil’ Wayne where they talk about money and sex.  Original!  In it, he coins the term “Yolo.”  You Only Live Once.  (I laugh every time I hear the word, because for me, Yolo was a podunk town that hosted a band review I use to twirl a baton in in junior high.  Go Huskies!  HA!)

The Motto.  You Only Live Once.  The banner of our generation.

You Only Live Once.  Let’s get money and take duckface pictures and waste our lives!  Let’s glorify ME!

Trouble is, it’s a lie.  Cuz guess what homies…you can only live once, or you can be born twice.

Step out and look at our world from above:

Earth-Western-Hemisphere

Yup, there’s Kim Kardashian in all her glory.  Right there in that tiny little speck of Los Angeles.  In 20 years, will anyone still be Keeping Up With her?

The name of the game is bringing glory to HIS grace.  That’s the point of this whole thing.  Glorifying who God is and what He’s done for us.  You can either be the part that brings glory to His grace by CONTRAST, or by similarity. Either way, He’s going to get the glory.  The light shines brightly in the darkest areas.  Are you the part that shines, or are you in the darkness it shines out of?

“…you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Phil 2:15

A celebrity can amplify their years on earth, getting as much fame and wealth and worldly significance as they can muster up, but that glory is limited.  No matter who you are, you can’t add any years to your life.  You can’t make your life more than the mist it is– a tiny blip on the timeline of our universe.  The world spends so much time trying to copy these people in their limited glory, so that their glory is a cheap imitation of glory that’s already cheap and small in relation to the big picture.

What do you want to chase?  Glory that will fade in 20 years, or glory that will last an eternity?  If my little life is just a mist that is here one day and gone the next, what is the best way I can spend it?  Is the limit of my life’s glory, the most I can muster up, the white boots and red lipstick and pom poms that I sported for a few months of my existence?  What does that look like in the scheme of it all?  Nothing!  Who cares!?

I want to make my mist-of-a-life a heavy downpour.  A rainstorm.  Something that at least generated some significance.  Here’s a few ways I can do that:

1-  Make my small life count.  YOLO as your motto?  Nahh.  How about Don’t Waste Your Life.  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  Phil 3:8

2- Make my small life last.  “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”  John 11:25

3- Make my small life multiply.  “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”  Psalm 103:17-18

We can make the most of our lives by making the most of Christ.  We can beat YOLO with eternal life.  We can multiply the impact of our lives by leaving a legacy through our kids and other people.  Training them up in Him so that they make the most of him, and so on, and so on.

In ancient times, people tried to build a huge tower thinking they could reach heaven with it.  We’ve been to the moon and still can’t reach it.  If we waste our lives trying to build ourselves into demi-gods, we’re just building a big tower trying to reach heaven, when our best attempts are puny at best.  He’s given us the vehicle to make our lives count, though, and it looks like this–less of me, more of Him.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Phil 2:3-8