Grounded…

It’s Sunday morning and I’m writing this from my cozy green couch. If you know me, you know how significant a statement that is… considering the crazy travel schedule I’ve had the last 6 years.

Last Saturday, I grabbed a last minute lunch with a couple of friends at the Grilled Cheeserie truck that comes to East Nashville on weekends. We were sitting there slurping our gooey cheesey sandwiches when my friend Duane stopped mid-bite and said, “Wait! It’s Saturday! And I’m eating lunch with Debbie Barnett!” It’s a very good thing.

The number one question people are asking me is, “Are you going to miss traveling?”

Yes and no. What I love about traveling is discovering new places, seeing a world of people out there who are just like me and who are very different than me. Experiencing different cultures within our own country is fascinating. We Americans are such an eclectic people! More than anything, I love traveling abroad. It helps me see that this world is both awfully huge and quite small. The vastness of this world becomes evident when you climb on a plane in an all-familiar Nashville, TN  and some 18 hours later you step off into some wild, untamed place like Addis Abba, Ethiopia. But it’s that very thing that makes the world seem so small… because it’s all so attainable.

Anyway, that part of travel I will miss. But here’s a list of what I WON’T miss:

  • being stranded in yet another airport due to delays, cancellations weather and incompetence.
  • being lovingly frisked by TSA agents every few days
  • having constant jet-lag and a body that has no idea what time zone its in
  • swollen ankles & fingers from being 35,000 feet in the air several times a week
  • missing yet another friend’s wedding, birthday, dinner party, graduation, etc
  • feeling like a visitor in my own church
  • conversations back home that always with, “I haven’t seen you in forever!”

And here’s a few things I’ve discovered that I LOVE about being grounded (or not traveling for a living):

  • having a regular sleeping pattern
  • being home on weekends when everyone else is off work as well
  • my mailman now recognizes me and waves
  • not eating “out” for every meal and getting to cook more
  • being able to say “yes” to invitations
  • my plants don’t die
  • discovering the meaning to “Thank God It’s Friday”
  • not having to “catch up” with close friends because we stay caught up.

Don’t get me wrong… I loved what I was doing these last 6 years and see it as such a gift. But suffice it to say… I’m loving the adjustment and thank God every day for the amazing life He has given me.  But I’m happy for the change and ready to embrace a new way of of living it for now. And who knows what the future holds? But I know that He holds me… so I will just hang on and enjoy the ride.

Advertisements

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 66 posts. There were 35 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 7th with 384 views. The most popular post that day was why am i still single, you ask?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, hootenannie.com, and lindseynobles.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for focus, debbie barnett, churro machine, mannequin modeling, and panda bear.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

why am i still single, you ask? July 2010
25 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

2

About: What I’m Thinkin’… November 2009
1 comment

3

a little too personal… October 2010
1 comment

4

Bittersweet… December 2010
3 comments

5

The Temptation To Be Relevant August 2010
6 comments

The Glass is Half.

During an interview, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin was asked, “Would you say you’re a pessimist or an optimist?”  He replied, “I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist.  Christ raised from the dead!”

Really? That’s your answer?

My pastor quoted this in church last night and it got me thinking. Over the years I’ve been posed with the same question.  In job interviews, small group ice breakers, dinner table queries, you name it.

For most of my life, I’ve have been called an optimist.  I’ve even been called Pollyanna on occasion. Polly for short.

But over the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen enough hurt and injustice in this world; have personally been taken advantage of enough times; and have watched too many people I love find themselves scarred from the shrapnel of shattered dreams… that my rose colored glasses have fogged over and are really more of a grayish hue now.

Not to sound dramatic, though I’m good at that, but these tragic and seemingly hopeless situations have shaken my faith at times and caused me to question what I believed, and why I believed it.

It’s taken some time to attune my perspective. And honestly, if I were not a follower of Jesus and had my life not been rescued and renewed by the Spirit of the One who created me… I would simply throw my hands in the air and adopt the title of Queen Pessimist.

But as a believer there’s really only one answer to the question of whether I should be pessimistic or optimistic. The answer is, as Bishop Lesslie Newbigin said, “Neither”.

To be a total Pessimist would mean I’m blinded to hope because the disparity right in front of me has so has blackened my vision to see beyond the now. To be a total optimist means I chose to ignore any negative thought toward the future regardless of how dismal things are currently. The problem with this view is that I am not responding appropriately to what’s in front of me, perhaps burying my head while waiting in anticipation for what I believe is still to come.  But ignoring or being in denial of the negative in front of me renders me ineffective to being a conduit of renewal… right now.

How do I reconcile all of that? By learning to live in the now and the not yet. By being brave and broken, all at once. By willingly entering into someone’s pain because I know it won’t destroy me. When I know I am loved by the God of all grace, and I live in this world as if I really believe it… I can do nothing other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life and hope wherever I go.

So,I’m neither optimist nor pessimist… because Christ came, He died and He rose again. ‘Nuff said.

Psalm 16:8
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Bittersweet…

Change is never easy… and often bittersweet. And often it’s accompanied by having to say goodbye – sometimes to dreams… sometimes to places… and sometimes to people. And sometimes to all three.

Many of you know, that I’ve been working with World Vision for more than 14 years now. If you know me, you know how passionate I am about the work of World Vision, and my experience has deepened immensely over the last 5-6 years while being a part of the amazing team of people at Women of Faith, and being a part of the rich ministry that happens on the road through Chonda Pierce and her crew.

I’ve had the privilege of personally taking part in of over 80,000 World Vision children being sponsored through the tours I’ve been on the last decade or so. That, in and of itself, has been an incredible gift. Not to mention all the rich relationships that have been formed along the way. Thanks to folks like Twila Paris, Ron Kenoly, Avalon, Aaron-Jeffrey, Big Tent Revival, Newsboys, First Call, Cece Winans, Israel Houghton, Margaret Becker, Natalie Grant, Skillet, Martha Munizzi, Mark Lowry and countless independent artists. Oh the stories I could tell (don’t worry – I won’t – what happens on the bus dies with the bus).  All that said, I’ve never taken this gift for granted. There are some hefty sacrifices that come with this line of work… but there’s some pretty sweet perks, too.

However, for the last couple of years I’ve been feeling the weight of not being in “community” where I live. There’s something to be said for having people that walk with you every day. Something to be said for knowing… and for being known. And there’s something to be said when that’s missing in your life.

So, two years ago I started trying to find something full time, off the road, with which I could be as earnest… but it seemed nothing short of futile. However, a few weeks ago, I began conversations with an organization called Siloam Family Health Center. It’s a local clinic here in Nashville (15 min from my home) that serves immigrants and refugees from around the world. They believe in providing quality health care in the name of Christ… to those who are uninsured and could not afford care otherwise. http://www.siloamhealth.org

They have offered me a full time position (w/benefits!) as their Development Writer & Coordinator. My role is to write all content for the organization including web, print, media, donor correspondence and grants. They have also asked me to focus on donor engagement – an area that’s needed more attention.

I’ve gratefully accepted the position.  As a communications & journalism major, I’m thrilled to be “officially” using these skills. And simultaneously saddened to let go of something I’ve cherished for so long. Bittersweet indeed.

Yes, change is hard. But change, in this case, is very good. My soul is already being nourished at Siloam as I’m finding myself smack dab in the midst of my given-by-God abilities and brushing off skills that had become a little rusty. But as they say, it’s like riding a bike. Balancing creativity and business, along with honing my marketing motor skills… is all quickly returning.

I realize there are changes that are not welcome…  a loved one is no longer in your life; you lose a job you love with no immediate prospect; “the change” of life for women 🙂 ; or suddenly being struck with a debilitating disease… the list is literally endless. So please, please do not hear me say that all change is good. I know that many of you are fighting it with all you’ve got. I merely want to encourage those who may be fearing a change that could be life-altering in a great way… to just take the leap. Because the good news is… there’s a God who never changes. Who never wavers. Whose goodness and justice is constant. So even when this world throws us a curve ball we didn’t see comin’… we can rest assured. We are in good hands.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Moisturize… Moisturize… Moisturize…

Dear Readers…

Thought I’d take this opportunity to recommend a GREAT product. I haven’t done much of this but with SO many product options out there, and SO many ads spinning the “truth” about their products… it’s very helpful when people recommend a tried & true product. It saves a lot of frustration, time and money. And I confess, I get a little kick out of doing research and then testing the goods….

So, at the risk of TMI (Too Much Information)… I have a very flaky forehead. Mostly in the Winter months. But this year, even though it’s still early Fall, my flaky forehead has emerged in full force. I mean, it’s a minor phenomenon. Completely fine one day, then wake up the next and I’ve become a scaly shedding lizard.

So, off to Rite Aid I went… ball cap pulled down low over my forehead… in search of a remedy for my full scale (no pun) flakiness.  Researching a head of time, and with some previous experience with Olay products… I decided to try give the “Regenerist” line a try.

The Daily Thermal Mini-Peel is a miracle worker. Mild enough (and suggested) to use every day… it gently removes that top, rough layer of skin and leaves you silky smooth. Follow up with the Age Defying Intensive Nourishing Night Cream. Yep, I’m using it during the day… rebel that I am. But I’m that desperate.

People, it’s a little expensive. I mean, not in comparison to high-end-department store brands. But it’s $22.00 for the mini-peel and $12.00 for the night cream. A little investment… but totally worth it. One use and I already feel like I have a new face.

So if you have a flaky forehead or any other part of your face… stop by Rite Aid or Walgreen’s and pick up these little gems. You won’t regret it.

And here’s to a flake-free Winter.

a little too personal…

Being a believer and follower of Christ… I have come to terms with the fact that, for now, we live in a broken and fallen world. I don’t like it, but I know that “It is what it is” (to quote my friend Bone Hampton – he says this phrase almost never follows anything good).  But because my hope is in Christ and I know that this life and these circumstances are temporary – I wait. And I hope. And I wait.

But every once in awhile. I struggle. Not with doubt, but with patience. With not understanding why earthly restoration is taking… so… stinking… long. “Why Lord, why must You delay your coming back? Why must we wait any longer for You to make all things new and right again?”

Mostly I get like this when the brokenness hits close to home. Because my occupation is one that deals with some of the most broken places and people in the world… it’s important that I learn to sit in the “now and the not yet”. Reconciling current reality with a hope for the future. But I have to admit… this is easier when I don’t have a personal relationship with those who are suffering. I am moved by their photos, their stories, their pleas. But I am not usually undone by them.

But then things hit closer to home. Suddenly friends and family are in the fire. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.

I’m a fixer by nature. And when things are beyond my scope of abilities… I’m not happy. Arrogant, I know. And I’m especially frustrated when I am “reduced” to faith and praying. I say “reduced” in quotes because I know that faith and praying are elevated callings and are by no means considered a reduction. But my sinful nature wreaks havoc on my perspective… and I feel reduced. Oh yea, John 3:30 says “He must increase, and I must decrease.” I often (conveniently) forget that verse.

These last 2 weeks have weighed heavily on my heart. Many of the people I care very much for… have been suffering. And there’s nothing I can do about it. And my ugly arrogant pride rises up and wants to take action. But I’m learning to die to that. Learning to decrease so He will increase. It’s a life-long process, I’m afraid.

Here are some of the people I am praying for if you want to join me – though, I totally understand if you already have your own overwhelming list.

  • Two young teens who I used to tutor just lost their sweet mama, Gwen, to a heart attack this past Sunday. They bury her tonight. Gwen was also an Aunt to one of the other students I tutored.
  • Another friend called me to tell me that her dad was just diagnosed with cancer.
  • Another friend’s mom passed away last week from Scleroderma.  He buries her tomorrow.
  • My own mother called to tell me her “numbers” are bad again. She has Stage 4 Bone Cancer.
  • Another friend who has cancer was told he should have those final conversations with his wife and family.
  • My oldest niece has been in and out of the hospital due to an ulcer and chest pains. She’s 23.
  • Another friend’s marriage ended.
  • And yet another friend recently gave birth to a still born.

This has all happened, roughly, in the last 10 days or so. It’s easy for me to wallow in the chaos of broken places. To dwell my thoughts in places that are dark, and even add to their darkness by obstructing the truth of hope. This can happen when I find comfort in self-pity or delight in drama.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not getting all Pollyanna on you. I’m not suggesting that I, or anyone else, deny the feelings of the pain of our own or each others’ hard places. We are to “bear one anothers’ burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Bear… as in carry, feel, assist… and that can be wearisome for both parties. But, when we are strong enough again, it’s important to help point ourselves and each other toward the cross. Toward Christ Himself. Remember friend?  Remember self?  This is why He did what He did. He has absorbed the punishment and provided life when and where we could not.

So all that to say… I have caught myself being a little overwhelmed with sorrow and concern this week… and rightfully so. I mean, there seems to have been a land-swell of brokenness in the lives of people I care about.  Topped by my normal occupation which requires a passion for people I’ve never met…  it can be quite an emotional flood.

And my reason for blogging all this is simply to remind myself that God is on His throne… and sometimes that’s all I need to know.

Thanks for praying with me.

-Deb

Ray…

I live in a split-level duplex. The man upstairs (no, I don’t mean Him), who I lovingly refer to as “the upstairs roommate” is named Ray. Ray has lived here for 22 years. If the owner of this house ever sells – the buyer must understand that Ray is a package deal. He “ain’t goin’ nowhere”…

Ray drives a truck. But he’s not what you would call a trucker. Though he’s got the right hat. Mesh in the back, bright green, sits up high and a little crooked. Not the cool intentional Ashton Kutcher kinda way – but in that ‘I get dressed without a mirror’ kinda way. And he wears a plaid shirt. And Dungaree’s. Okay, well maybe he is a trucker. He’s technically retired but still has a run every week or so.

I get his mail when he’s gone. And he gets mine and watches for packages. He always brings my trash cans in from the curb. I mow the spot where he parks his car and put his morning paper on his step. We are good neighbors to each other.

When Ray gets home from a string of deliveries…  he likes to come sit on my porch and tell me the play-by-play details of his run. Including all his dive hotel stops and what he ate for dinner each night. Driving a truck can be lonely. I bet he’s been saving up all that chit-chat.

Ray always signs off our conversations by hollering over his shoulder as he clunks up his metal stairway… “Be safe, ya hear?”. He seems serious most of the time, but his crooked smile is sweet and and he laughs easily. And when he laughs his nose crinkles up so much that his glasses slide down to the tip and then he pushes them back into place with his two fingers right in the center of the lenses… leaving two big finger prints right in his eye-line. This apparently doesn’t bother him.

When not on the road, Ray drives an old beat up Chevy Nova painted with gray primer.  He put fake stick-on bullet holes on the trunk. He thinks it’s funny and that it makes him look like he’s “been in a battle”. He likes to think of himself as a “bad ass”. But he also says things like, “I’m goin’ for a little walkie-poo”.

Walkie-poo.  Yep.  That’s what he says.

He also says little gems like, “I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger”. And, “I’m doin’ alright fer an ol’ fella!”

He collects model cars. Hundreds of them. I’ve never been in his apartment but I can see them through the window, in their original boxes, stacked floor to ceiling. He goes to trade shows and has a buddy who buys and sells them on ebay for him. “I don’t need no new-fangled computer… prolly goin’ outa style anyway… so why bother learnin’?”  I try to tell them that one, they’re not “new-fangled”  anymore and two, they’re pretty much gonna stick around. But he’ll have none of it.

Ray is a creature of habit. Every Saturday night, at 5:45pm… he emerges with slicked-back hair and a bolo-tie adorning his plaid shirt. He’s off to Saturday night mass… “Gotta pay God my respects… make sure He knows I’ve been a good boy!”

I adore Ray. He’s sweet and kind and a little doddering. But I know he has a deeper story. I just haven’t figured out what it is yet. It’s taken me 4 years to get him on the porch. He still hasn’t come inside my house yet.  I know that he was almost married once but  then she ran off with someone else.  And I know that he sends every member of his family birthday cards and Christmas cards… “even the ones that don’t speak to me no more.”  He spends most holidays alone, unless he can find a buddy to go to Shoney’s with him.  I’ve invited him, included him and have taken him food but so far he’s refused all the invites. But I’m hopeful. And persistent.

When I first moved into this place 6 years ago… I introduced myself and my roommate at the time… all friendly-like. He quickly put up his hands and said, “I’m just an old guy and I keep to myself.”

And I thought, “We’ll see about that Ray… we’ll see about that.”