Sunday, December 6, 2015

Choosing Your Battles

Moments ago my peace and quiet was interrupted by what sounds like Romeo and Juliet. Loud strong male voices assaulted my serene morning. Now, with three young men in my home, I can be pretty sure that none of them felt the need to pop a little Shakespeare into the dvd player and turn the volume up to a deafening level, but I thought I should check. I needed to check because my inspiration was waufting away like steam rising from a kettle, while my frustration was boiling like the water inside. Had I just paused and thought it through I would have known that on a Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. no teenage boy is awake enough to even turn on the dvd player let alone appreciate the beauty of romantic siliques.  When I was assured they were all snug in their beds like giant pigs in a blanket, I made my way to the window and realized that my neighbor was listening to a book on tape—at an ear piercing level. Perhaps they wanted to hear it outside where they were working in the garden—and hear they could; as could I and all of the surrounding houses; inside and out.  Now you have to know that what seems like a simple problem with a simple solution isn’t. There is a history here. There have been other confrontations. Let’s just say we have different boundaries than our beloved neighbors. As nice and kind as they may be, (and they are), there has been a history of cars parking across our driveway so we are held captive in our cars or home, children climbing over the fence into our backyard to ask about the wisdom of our removing the dough- boy pool that came with the house, sunrise meetings ( yes I mean at dawn) on their property each week- day morning, attended by 20 or so vocal participants and the many “informational pamphlets” left on our front porch.  Conversations about these events have left things a bit strained which was confirmed when we overheard them discussing with their guests one afternoon, our “insane need” to have the ability to back out of our driveway whenever we wanted.  So excuse me if I don’t don some courage and run over and ask the neighbor to turn the fatally afflicted love birds down. It is a matter of choosing our battles. I will try to wait it out this time because there may be another issue on the horizon that is more urgent, so is it really necessary to turn this into a hill upon which I will stand and fight.

It’s a life lesson isn’t it? Look at parenting for instance. If we hold up to our children each and every thing that is not to our liking, they will tune us out—maybe permanently.  Sometimes we choose our battles, because quietly picking up the 24 dirty cups that appeared on the counter since we did dishes last night is better than complaining about it one more time. Maybe showing a little grace in one area gives us space to be heard when we need to bring up a concern in a more important area.  (No you may not drive yourself to Denny’s at 2:00 a.m.,--just as the bars are closing down, to have a late night breakfast with the rest of the basketball team.—And no I’m not driving you either.)

This is true for our other relationships as well, spouse, family friends, and equally important--ourselves. Choose your battles with yourself. You can be room mom, work outside of the home, make gourmet dinners, keep up a vibrant relationship with the Lord, volunteer in your church ministry, eat healthy and workout each day, put together a life changing baby shower for your friend, volunteer to lead VBS, and still have enough energy left to light a spark of romance with your husband, but should you. When you can’t do it all, do you beat yourself up for your shortcomings? Choose your battles. You can be a great mom and serve up a grocery store, rotisserie chicken for dinner. You can take care of your health but maybe delay your entrance in the Boston Marathon for this year. What are the things that aren’t negotiable for you? Where can you choose to give up the battle in order to win the war? Marriage, family, a few moments of quiet with the Lord, these are some of the things I will choose to battle for. Messy kisses and stories at bed time don’t last forever so don’t succumb to the battle of dust bunnies and dirty dishes. Choose what matters most for now. Let’s put our energies toward something of eternal worth: hugs and love, and peace and Jesus not organized cupboards, size 2 jeans, and noisy neighbors. Choose your battles, save your energy and maybe appreciate a little Shakespeare.

Monday, April 6, 2015

You are My Delight

“No more will anyone call you rejected,

and your country will no longer be called ruined.

You'll be called ‘Hephzibah.’
Isaiah 62:4


Hephzibah, “His delight,”--hard to imagine some days. The Creator of the Universe calls me by name and He has named me His “delight.”

 Truth be told, I don't feel the part most days. With the title comes images of perfect generosity, perfect humility, perfect wisdom and servant-hood, not to mention internal and external beauty as described in Proverbs. He couldn't possibly delight in me when I am short tempered with my children or protective of my alone time to the extent that fangs show and eyes glare when I am asked to do one more thing; drive one more trip to the mall, take on one more project for a co-worker or run one more errand for a family member.  When my hair is frizzy and I haven't had time for a shower I don't feel like anyone's “delight,” but that is what He says I am.


The suggestion that I am delightful could trigger scoffs and howls of laughter from my dear husband—although maybe a “humph” accompanied by eye rolling would be more accurate when on those all to frequent days I forget to carry the balance forward in the checkbook—or even worse make a subtraction error giving us the false illusion that there is more money in our bank account than reality proves to be true. It might be called in to question by my three boy-men who have to hear me complain about odors wafting from their rooms and growing collections of cups, bowls and plates that cover their desks and dressers . Being “delightful” in my eyes or the eyes of others is quite a stretch some days. But somehow whatever the circumstance, whatever the state of frizz, or mathematical mess-ups He delights in me. Awe inspiring isn't it

He rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

“You will be called Hephzibah for the Lord will take delight in you.”
Isaiah. 62:4
Soak it in sister. You are His Delight.

Monday, January 19, 2015

My One Word

Have you heard of My One Word? It is a book that has become a movement of sorts. The premise is; “Lose your long list of resolutions—all your sweeping promises to change and do something about one thing this year instead of nothing about everything. Choose one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year.” My One Word, Ashcraft and Olsen 2012

I’ve been muddling around deciding between two words for a few weeks now. With things like this I tend to be a perfectionist. Somehow unconsciously believing that there is one word that is the perfect word. Just like I think there is one perfect way to write a blog post or an article or to paint a picture, or say I am sorry or decorate cupcakes or a million other things and I procrastinate myself into paralysis, accomplishing nothing. Hence my one word: Courage

Whew! Courage--a scary word to me. I have been fearful all of my life. Fearful of more things than I can list and for more reasons than can say here. Now there are people who know me that would argue this and list different accomplishments that would prove their case: Marriage, children (you don’t enter those places timidly), Africa, a short lived music career, graduate school, speaking engagements…they think that because I have done those things I am courageous. I am not. There are many more undone, half-done things in my life because I was too fearful of completing them. I have been afraid of not being accepted, loved, respected, valued. I have been afraid of being laughed at or pitied. What if I didn’t succeed? What if I did? When will that moment come when the curtain will fall and I will be exposed as a fraud? Someone who doesn’t belong, doesn’t
 have skill, doesn’t deserve—fill in the blank.

So because I need it so badly I have chosen the word COURAGE. I think by choosing that word I have done my first courageous thing.

The ”My One Word” book recommends putting your word all around your environment to remind you of your focus throughout the year. I went on an internet search for sayings and images of courage and came across the most simple and beautiful one and made it the screen saver on both my phone and computer. It comes from C.S. Lewis’ book Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When I picked the saying I didn’t know the background despite having read the book years ago. As it goes, the children and crew of the Dawn Treader are on a dangerous journey when Aslan, in the form of an albatross appears.

 “It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice she felt sure was Aslan.”

 God is with us. He takes unfamiliar forms and uses unfamiliar means but He is there guiding us-- if we have eyes to see. So if He is leading the way why not have courage? Why not jump in and pursue my dreams, my purpose, my passions? What could happen? Oh yeah. A lot could happen; but some of it is good and I’m ready to take a chance. I’m ready to be courageous and follow His leading wherever that will be. Are you?

Pick a word for your year and share it here. Let's encourage each other with our stories of real life.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Joy (Five Minute Friday--an exercise in writing for five minutes on one topic)                      
Bobbi Barnett-Dick

I didn't at first notice when joy left.  It was a gradual parting. She left when the mundane became the norm. When bills and bankruptcy piled so high I couldn't breathe. When  the tension between a husband and wife was more prevalent then the love they shared.

With boxes, un-open and stacked high  from an unwanted move from my dream home I took a job I didn't want because I had to.  With no time to grieve the loss of a life I loved I was plunged into the grief that came with the loss of three loved ones in three years. They weren't  just anyone. They were a mother, a sister, a friend. The grief was palpable. The anger and angst consuming.

I tried reading that gratitude book. Felt only slightly bad when it hit the wall after I threw it in desperation. I was grateful for a roof, for my children, for blue sky. But the roof was leaking the children had two sets of braces that needed to be paid for and the blue sky had long since turned gray and foreboding. What does anyone know of my pain

The crushing burden of it all hit one afternoon when I accepted that once again I could not afford to attend that Writer’s conference I had always dreamed of.  My dreams would have to be packed away…. again playing second fiddle to “real life”—jobs and duty and responsibility. Grabbing a tasteless granola bar from the cabinet where all of the low cal, low taste, fat-free, carb-free options piled high along with my self judgment, I bit into the crisp snack and both felt and heard the crack at the same moment. My molar and the granola bar entered a contest of wills and the molar lost. I spit out a piece of tooth just as I spit out my last bit of hope. I tried to be optimistic…at least it was not a front tooth. I could hide it while we tried to save money to have it repaired. But there was no use. Joy was gone, and now her dear friend Hope was taking flight as well.

Once alone in my room , I fall to my knees, crying out to God with a long list of “Whys.” Why did He turn other people’s pain to blessings, why did He give me dreams I couldn't fulfill and gifts I couldn't use? Why didn’t He love me like He loved others? Why? Why? Why? I am angry now.

Now I am on my face with carpet in my teeth, tears of self pity puddling under my cheek. I am clearly the ugliest I have ever been both physically and spiritually.  The door to my privacy opens and a teenager steps over my hysteria and asks for a ride to the mall.  They literally step over me, my puddles and my piles of used tissue to interrupt my much earned emotional breakdown and they ask me when I could be ready to take them to the mall. I stare at those carpet fibers twirled one around the other and begin the giggle. I giggle at my own childishness and imagine what God must be thinking right about now. The giggle gives way to laughter. I don’t know what is so funny, and my teen thinks I am nuts. Shaking his head he leaves. I believe he is right.

It is then, uninvited she returns. Joy dances into the room as laughter erupts from my comma of self pity.. She brings with her reminders that sooth me. Reminders of daily provision. Reminders of love returned…of gas in the tank….of children who sing….flowers that bloom….kisses that heal.  Joy returns. I have missed her.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Their Eyes

I was driving through what some would call the “rough side of town,” this week. I saw the high-heeled ladies outside of a seedy motel, the homeless man with his dogs, and what were probably run away teens teetering on the edge of a life without hope.  There was a time in my life when I looked away, as if my eyes were afraid to see them. I might have convinced myself, as we often do, that this place was dangerous. ---that looking too long might incur the anger of the addicts, pimps and prostitutes; however today I realize I have been looking away for other reasons.  Today I understand that I look away because despite the clean exterior of my life, I am all too aware that if I were to catch their eye and truly look into them, I would see myself staring back.

I have been broken, abandoned and wounded just as they. I am here in the comfort of my home surrounded by my husband, sons and photographs of precious memories only by the grace of God. I have looked outside of my Creator for love and purpose and followed whomever, when my frailty left me desperate for belonging. I have been on the edge of hopelessness. Truth be told I have fallen deep into the chasm of that hopelessness and were it not for the saving hand of Jesus lifting me out, I would be standing on the very streets as those whose eyes I avoided. 

No, I am not an addict or a drunk. I am not a prostitute or delving into alternative lifestyles—but I could be. I am a sinner just like the rest. I know how deep the wounds are; how easily swayed I can be. I know that because of abuse, neglect and addiction I could be anyone of those individuals I passed that morning.  Yet but for the grace of God…

God’s grace isn’t measured by what blessings He has showered on us but by what sin He has saved us from. I see me when I look in their eyes.

I made a new friend this week—a woman possessed by a passion to be Jesus’ hands and feet to those on the street corners in the “rougher side of town.” Dana Bryant is transforming lives through her organization, Crossing the Jordan. She and her husband Mike follow Jesus into the beautiful places that are the hearts of women and men in need of a life transformed. Through Crossing the Jordan, those in need are receiving help with addiction, housing, jobs, parenting skills, Bible study, and more. Dana looks at the women she ministers to and sees beauty and strength.  May we do the same and see ourselves reflected back in their eyes.

For more information about Crossing the Jordan or to participate in their fundraising gala the “Not Forgotten Ball” go to

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Trying a New Path

(originally posted April 25th 2012)
I began a personal challenge this month and it is proving to be the most difficult thing I have ever attempted. Let me provide a little background: For the last few years I have been working full time, finishing my dissertation, starting a counseling/coaching/speaking ministry, and writing my soon to be best -selling book (tongue in cheek.) I have been doing, or should I say attempting, all of this while trying to be a wife and mother and find my place within the ministry of my church. I have failed miserably on most accounts.
As I looked at myself and my life, I discovered something important. I was desperately unhappy. The necessity t work gave me less time to devote to my ministry, dissertation and writing, the things that feed my soul and energize me. The demands of maintaining a home, marriage and children seemed impossible to fulfill in a manner that satisfied those in my life and accomplished the goal of making them feel like a priority, rather than an interruption to my schedule. How do I balance meeting the needs of others with meeting my own needs?
Everything came to a head one afternoon after many attempts to work on a writing project and my dissertation, I had cleaned house to not only my satisfaction, but to the stringent standards of my more discriminating husband, I thought I had covered everything and would finally address my own list of "to-dos." It was at that moment, when I sat down at the computer, that my husband asked if I would "like," to help with the yard work. I voiced my honest opinion. "No." I would not like to help with the yard work. I would rather not leave my just warmed up seat to work in the yard. I had things I wanted to do, things that I had put off for many days. My poor husband innocently voiced that he always did the yard work and he would like me to help; "But," he said, "I want you to want to help." Well that wasn't going to happen. How could I make myself want to help? When would it ever be my turn to do what I wanted? When would my dreams be fulfilled and my needs be satisfied? I begrudgingly closed the laptop, resentment oozing from every pore. I plastered a fake smile on and went outside where I spent the rest of the day pulling weeds, until all of my inspiration for writing had boiled over and dried up and it was time to start making dinner, I cried self-pitying tears that night, bemoaning the fact that there is never anytime to achieve my goals, my dreams, my hopes. I had no control over my time--over my life.
I decided that night that was no room for me in my life. I would just have to put what I wanted aside, even if I felt it was God's plan for me to be in ministry,. What I actually did was trip and fall into servant-hood with a big chip on my shoulder. It started off as a cynical surrender of myself. (Think of Cinderella with an attitude.) I woke up the next day and immediately started laundry and the dishwasher while I got myself and my children ready for school/work. I defrosted dinner while I packed lunches and washed the dishes before my husband could have a chance to. When I came home from work, when I wanted to sit and stare at the wall, I picked up other's belongings, folded laundry and cleaned toilets. When the house was clean, I drove to the hardware store and purchased a refill for the "weed wacker," and wacked my heart out in our backyard. "I'll show them," I thought, with all of the drama of Katherine Hepburn. "I'll only do for others." "I'll demonstrate what I believe is true; I just don't matter." I cleaned out my teenager's closet, made my elementary age son's bed and restrung my junior higher's guitar (ok so I didn't go that far.) But I did everything that I could think of that would prove to whomever was watching, (as if someone was) that I was going to be a selfless martyr. I didn't just do these and other duties, I did them instantly. If I was in the middle of a project, television show, or book, I instantly stopped what I was doing to do for another. If I just finished one chore and was asked to do something else, I jumped up with as much energy and joy as I could muster and tackled the next request. I also made a conscious decision to not ask anyone to do for me what I could do for myself. (more on this exhausting experience next time.)
A funny thing happened somewhere around week two. My heart changed. Instead of an "I'll show them," attitude, I developed a "How can I show them," attitude. How can I show my husband that he us loved? Acts of service. How can I show my boys they are loved? Notes on the mirrors and homemade chocolate chip cookies (husband likes those too.) Week three cane and went and the oddest thing happened, My anger subsided. I had deep conversations with my sons and my husband asked me on a date. Well as least as close as you come after 19 years, three kids and two dogs. Coffee at Peet's and a nice talk.
I have decided that when I have exhausted every possibility to serve those in my life and I have prayed to see those opportunities that I don't naturally see, and performed those tasks, I will pull out that laptop and write and dream. For this season in my life I need to learn the sacred steps of servant-hood. I'll keep you posted on how my journey continues; but what I have discovered as of now is this: When I lay my plans, hopes and dreams down at the foot of the cross and search, really search for opportunities to serve my family, I am being more Christ-like than I ever was when I tried to "do" ministry.
Please post your thoughts directly to the blog and let's talk.
Posted by Arms Wide Open Ministry at 7:39 PM

Suzanne Larson, EFCA Pastor's WifeApril 21, 2011 at 9:56 PM
Keep Pressing In, Bobbi... Keep Pressing In!


mundayfamily3April 21, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Wow, I have to tell you I have been going through pretty much the same feelings since January...I don't matter and am just a work horse! So I thought...last month I realized that doing all the day to day things that served my family and my job was exactly what made me special and complete. I have also found that seeing me do these things with a servants heart and putting my needs aside did not go unnoticed. My husband starting going out of his way to help me and I did not have to ask. Now that's a gift from God. I really appreciate your sharing because it does make me feel not alone and I find it a confirmation that I am on the right path. It is even harder when your children are grown because you really have to work at being a part of their day to day life and although it takes time I may want to spend on me it is well worth it and in the end what I want....and that is to make my family happy. When I gave away the resentment God replaced it with contentment...does that make sense?


kimmiebApril 21, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Wow!! I have often asked myself how you do it all, cuz I just feel that there are times I have failed miserably! Being a single mom, working, helping friends or family, or Scouts with different things, has left me feeling unappreciated and depressed. It's time to give it up to Jesus, and listen to His word. I know that He wants me to serve others. I know this deep in my heart, what I need to learn is do so with a willing heart and not a poor little me attitude. When I let go of my feelings of resentment and begin to serve with a servant's heart, I know that my attitude will change. I love you sooo much and I am so very proud of you!


ReneeApril 21, 2011 at 10:47 PM
Thank you Ya Ya from your Ya Ya Petite (Renee)it is what I to am going through and I have not even gone back to work yet from my surgery. I feel like I am being pulled in all these different directions and there is not enough of me to go around. I tend to let it get to me and stress out that there is not enough time, but I know if I do everything allowing God to guide me then he will give me the time I need to get what HE wants me to get done not what I feel needs to get done. I luv u and miss u!


Linda StrawnApril 25, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Bobbi, Your words resonated big time with me. Lately, I've been feeling the effects not with how much time I spend on "me", but on the time spent on other things outside the family. Although these other things are worthwhile, they caused my plate to "overfloweth" due to the fact that I had a hard time saying "no". I reached a boiling point last month that forced me to take a long, hard look at how I've been budgeting my time. I sought the Lord and He directed me to painfully resign from some of the activities I've been involved in. I've discovered not only a tremendous sense of relief, but that life can go on quite well without my help and input. It's far better to do a few things well, than to do many things halfheartedly and with resentment.


9860a8bc-7031-11e0-b52c-000bcdca4d7aApril 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Well said and lived, my friend. May God continue to teach us such humility and servanthood, even when we're kicking and screaming at first. =)


BobbiApril 26, 2011 at 9:40 PM
Terrye, so glad that you posted. Yes it DOES make sense. Just when we think we have matured in our relationship with the Lord, we realize (at least I do) how far I need to go. Christ was the ultimate example of servanthood and calls us to be like Him as completely as possible. For me this means serving my family despite my desires to accomplish anything else. Just when I think I am doing it, I realize there is more to do. The truth is we are called to be even more than a servant. We are called to be a SLAVE. Whew! Don't think I am very good at that. One thing that rang true for me this week was realizing that in any relationship I am called to give 100% of me. It's not about giving 50% and waiitng to get %50 back from the other. I have to give 100% at all times. All we can do is keep trying to do our best for Christ, one day at a time.

Lives Interrupted

(originally posted Jan. 25, 2011)
You know those times when you are moving along life's path, reaching towards the goals you believe that God has placed in your life when suddenly, BAMM! something unexpected happens? You sought the Lord and pursued the direction which you felt led to follow; however, along the way financial sources dry up, a child is born with special needs, a job is lost, a marriage is shaken and your plans,those plans that you felt originated with God, are derailed... interrupted. I am reading a study on Jonah, by Priscilla Shirer where she says, "Interruptions have a way of revealing whether we really mean it when we say, 'Lord, not my will but Yours be done.' " How do we respond when this happens? How do we know when an interruption is an attempt to lead us off course and when God has sent it to direct us towards a new course? When is it interruption and when is it intervention? What are your thoughts?

On another subject: some of you have asked why you don't appear on the bottom of the blog page as a "follower." You can become a follower by clicking on the "follow" button OR you can subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the subscribe box. Only those who are "followers" have there names posted at the bottom of the blog page; however either way you should be automatically notified when there is a post on the blog. Hope this info helps.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Posted by Arms Wide Open Ministry at 2:36 PM


Arms Wide Open MinistryFebruary 2, 2011 at 12:51 PM
test post


Arms Wide Open MinistryFebruary 2, 2011 at 12:53 PM
OK friends, I don't know exactly why but some of you have said that your comments don't display on the blog. I did two test posts and one came through and one didn't???
All I can say is keep trying.