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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Times They Are About to be Changin'

Oh, my.

It's been THAT long since I last posted?!

Forgive me...again. I've been pondering why I seem to shrink from this portion of communicating and have come to the conclusion that I need to break this blog out a bit wider. To allow myself (and your comments in response) to cover a broader gamut of thought, opinions, advice, humor, and over all personality.

So that's what I'm going to do in the next few weeks.

Set up a revived blogging spot by which you and I can talk shop. Confer. Opine. Pontificate. Laugh so hard we (nearly!) wet our pants. Okay, so some of you may choose to opt out regarding that. So be it.

Nevertheless, the goal is to meld the varying aspects of life, faith, kids, relationships, failures, dreams, questions, convictions, marriage, and everything else that makes up this life--our lives. And to get through it together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thoughts on a Tabloid Mom's Story

Just finished reading, Through the Storm, and I appreciate and commend both Lynne and Lorilee Craker for filling it with informative reality-check content.

Reality Check: Lynne wasn't some whacked-out Baby Jane stage mom. (But you sell more tabloids if you say she is.)
Reality Check: Lynne never "cashed in" on either of her daughters fame. (I never knew she was a school teacher and ran her own successful daycare until the book. Yes, Britney built her the home she now lives in but last time I checked LOTS of wealthy and famous children had done that happily for their parents).
Reality Check: Lynne made choices she regrets. (Well, what mother or father among us reading this blog hasn't done the same thing?)
Reality Check: Lynne was, is, and will continue to be a Christian whose faith weaves in and through the multiple dynamics of her life. (This seems to be a tough pill for the world to understand and some Christians to accept).
Reality Check: Lynne loves her children.

Lynne didn't do everything right. Heck, none of us have! She admits to passivity and blind, naive, trust with manager types which you and I will probably never see the like of. But through the real and very public storm of her life and children's choices she proved to be One Tough Mother strong.

Here, I'll let Lynne speak for herself (page 164), after refusing to bend to family and Jamie Lynn's managament team's pressure to send her (Jamie Lynn) to a Christian-based residential facility in Tennesse...

"I cannot do this," I said. "This is not what she needs." To say I was raked over the coals would be like saying Louisiana is a tough muggy in July. Jamie, especially, did not mince words, yelling and ranting and accusing me of being co-dependent, among other things. But those lions could roar all they wanted--I would not budge...Standing my ground was not easy. I'd been so passive in so many ways for so long, letting managers and agents and executives decide the paths my children would walk. Not any longer. Not while I was still their mother."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mother Prayer

Please read and pray for the healing of Stephanie, a young mother fighting one tough battle for her life. Who among us reading this can do so without tearing up and drawing our little ones (and big one) closer to our sides and heart? If you have a sister who loves you like this...stop reading and pick up your phone or drive over to her house and tell her how much you love her.

If, like me, your relationship with a sister (or sisters) is unconventional or perhaps strained or non-exisistent, it's okay, bow your head (as I am doing as I type) and give thanks for what it is and who they are. It is what it is I often tell my children, but I'm learning as each calendar year rolls around to give thanks to God for everything and everyone He has allowed to shape me.

Family rarely resembles the cheesy shows from my youth nor the irreverent and shameless caricature crap emanating from the "New Kind of Family" channels illuminating the family rooms of our home. Rather, family with all its glorious and gut-wrenching highs and lows is the petri dish of the holy and difficult; the mundane and self-less.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Thoughts

I can't believe it's nearly the end of October. Ugh. I really don't know how those of you reading this post who blog and work and parent and travel and carry responsibilities in a dozen other areas find time to do even the simple essentials.

I'll be cruising along when I realize a month has gone by since I last spoke with my online comrades. Or fixed a home-cooked meal. So I'm going to settle into a routine today and tomorrow and do my best to post a quasi-profound missive her at One Tough Mother Talk.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time, The Grand Equalizer

Okay, so I'm totally addicted (in the most healthy of ways, mind you) to Facebook and all those other networking connects online. My kids think I'm weird and granted, they have a point, as I squeal out time and again from my office computer, "Oh, my gosh! I can't believe I found ....!"

In the past four days, I've talked with Jeff A. whom I first got to know in 1982 as a seventeen-year old girl desperate to find a way to stop living a double-life as a Christian(i.e. drinking like a fish on weekends and telling jokes, admittedly funny jokes, that would make a sailor blush).

I got a chance to do just that while working with Jeff, one of the "old" adults (um, he was probably all of 24 or so) on an organizational team for an area-wide youth rally in Moberly, MO. This was an opportunity to put my actions where my faith was supposed to be and I dove in for all I was worth. A couple of years later I saw Jeff at Hannibal LaGrange College and then, like so many people in our lives, he went somewhere with his family and that was that.

Fast forward 26 years... a quick facebook search...and there's Jeff with his still beautiful bride Sherry and their now grown (and married) sons. Like me, Jeff has a few pigment-challenged hair follicles on his head. Laugh lines. And I'm sure more than a few stories of failure and success. But as I look at the photos he posted, all I could really think about was the multiple pure expressions of love, affection, joy, and faithfulness on his face. He may not "look" 24 anymore and heaven knows I threw off 17 a long, long, loooooooong, time ago, but in the grand scheme of life, we stand equal.

A bit older.
A bit wiser.
And thankful for the faithful love of our family and Savior.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Facebook....finally

Okay, viewbies, head over to facebook and look me up. Invite me over. Or knock on my cyber-door. I'm really enjoying this communication avenue and look forward to seeing your face and reading your comments.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pleasure

Greetings and salutations from the 75.7% organized office of my Chicago-land home office. All the bookshelves are filled (Priority #1 upon our arrival) and I located my old school, 3-ring binder with actual paper, speaking schedule two nights ago. Books and media inventory are all accounted for and a few pesky online orders which slipped through internet server cracks (hmm, are there cracks in space?) have been filled and shipped out for delivery.


Happy sigh. What a whirlwind it’s been as we packed up belongings and memories of fourteen years and settled into our new space in the bustling suburbs of Chicago. Par for Barnhill-spawnling course, the kids fearlessly sprinted out of their “major life change” starting blocks: Patrick is attending school and playing soccer for Harvest Christian Academy, his transition was seamless and he’s loving the food choices provided at lunch (is there anything more important to a growing 5’11” 13-year old boy?!); Kristen is soon to begin her junior year at Argosy University located nearby in Schaumburg—she’s looking to complete her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Community Counseling; and Ricky Neal will put down academic stakes for two years at community college and then transfer to Liberty University for a degree in Political Science.


Meanwhile, Rick continues to work downstate while actively pursuing Human Resource employment within the Chicago-land area. He’s already mastered the art of the Metra & Amtrack and I’m counting down the days until details allow him to be home with me and the kids.


As for me? Well, my brain and spirit can barely contain the “this-is-so-right” assurance of following God’s leading in all these things. It’s an unshakable settled knowing of being dead-center where you need to be. No doubt some friends and family may still think me crazy but this all came down to "Put obedience where you say you say your faith is," crazy.


I’m evaluating (and re-evaluating) numerous details regarding the direction of my writing, speaking, and responsibilities within the community of faith of Harvest Bible Chapel. This fresh start has me examing a myriad of motives, goals, longings, and "in-the-light-of-eternity" considerations. I'm not at all sure what the end result will be but I rest knowing I don't have to. All that is required of me, yet again, is to obey.


Radio opportunities seem to be just upon the horizon and everything in me still aches and bellows (okay, I’m so not low-key when it comes to my passion for radio) for favor with producers, financial sponsors, entrepreneurs, and anything and everyone who desires to bring radically refreshing radio to Christian women everywhere.


Radio doesn’t care how much you weigh.


Radio doesn’t sum you up based on a clothing label.


Radio doesn’t form a cliché.


Radio doesn’t show wrinkles.


Radio allows women to get down to the basics of life.


I’d appreciate your prayers regarding this all-consuming passion. I can’t shake it. And I don’t believe I’m supposed to. If I’ve learned anything—if there’s anything I know to be true it is this: It is God who is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. So I rest and smile; recalling the timeless Eric Liddell quote, “When I run I feel His pleasure.” Indeed, when I work in radio I feel His pleasure.


P.S. I'd love it if you'd send me an email and let me know the kind of radio-podcasting that you'd like to hear. So much of the "evaluating" I spoke about a few paragraphs before has to do with finding out what YOU like, what YOU need to grow in faith and life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Home at Last

When's the last time you've heard of seven men unloading two 26-foot moving vans in under two hours? Amazing, huh? That's exactly what happened as Rick (The Husband), Kristen, Ricky Neal, and Patrick (The Spawnlings), Andy (The Boyfriend), and Ron and Rod (The Father-in-Law and Brother of Husband), wearily pulled into the driveway of our new home.

Much to our delight, strong, burly men (and one petite but mighty woman) of the Ministry Moving Team of Harvest Bible Chapel, stood ready to dismantle our jam-packed trucks into the spacious confines of our cozy abode. And I'm talking MAJOR moving items (i.e. piano, solid cherry two-piece entertainment center, antique secretary's desk, etc.,) and numerous boxes of downsized-from-what-it-started-out-to-be stuff.

Here it is less than 24-hours later and our place already feels like home. Granted there are small piles here and there but thanks to the service of those mighty men and lone woman, The Barnhill's (and Andy) are able to rest & set around the living room relaxing. Rick and I have already discovered Woodman's Market (i.e. a seeming football field sized building of everything you could ever need regarding food, produce, bakery, and a gadzillion other items).

I couldn't sleep at all last night.

Thinking of all the changes which transpired over the three-hour drive to the place we're going to land for awhile. Goodbyes to friends and friend's children. Goodbye to our home church of twelve years. Goodbye to the home we poured ourselves into as homeowners and parents. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

And hello to new friends; Dave and Terri, two of the aforementioned brawny and petite movers. Hello to the fellowship of believers within our new church family of Harvest Bible Chapel. Hello new school for Patrick and new teachers, new sporting opportunities, and new opportunities to stand around in the chilly-rainy-windy late Fall days of Illinois weather during soccer. Hello to growing "higher up and deeper in" with our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Heavy sigh.
Contented smile.
Weary final keyboarding as my 43-year old body begs for sleep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Places You Will Find Me

Connie checked in via "Comments" and noted she looked forward to seeing me in the Chicagoland area. Well, I thought I'd do a short rundown of the most likely places that just might occur....

1. Barnes & Noble: I'll be parked in a comfy chair reading through one of following material types: Espionage; Spy; Humor (circa, Bloom County); Baking Cookbooks; Apologetics; and anything written by Elizabeth Berg or Jodi Picolt (with exception of her latest book. Oh, dear. What was she thinking?
2. Stein-Mart: Accessories! Purses! Home furnishings! Clothes I can't fit into 73.4% of the time.
3. Nordstrom's Rack: Shoes, my friend, shoes.
4. The Cheesecake Factory: please refer to Stein-Mart clothes disclaimer above.
5. Burnt Toast: see also; Stein-Mart disclaimer.
6. Downtown Musical: Jersey Boys here I come!
7. The Art Institute of Chicago Museum: You say Manet, I say Monet! Let's view them both. (Okay, that was a sad, sad, attempt at humor. Chalk it up to aforementioned blogpost packing mention.)
8. Pool at our Community Center: I may be able to get in a week or two before Fall temperatures force me to the...fitness center?!
9. Well, wouldathunkit! Fitness Center of some sort: I'm thinking Pilates or something 40-something friendly like that.
10. The warm confines of our new home: Getting to know and laughing so hard I snort with new friends.

Be sure to say hello if our paths cross!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One Tired Mother

Sorry for going under-the-radar these past few weeks!

My family is moving to the Chicago area and the extent of my creative writing has been a thick-line Sharpie on heavy-gauge boxes noting "BASEMENT" or "OFFICE." I'm walking around like the Hunchback of Prairie City as I've filled box after box with book after book after book after book.
I have a veritable reference library and fully intend to purchase enough book shelves to display them all upon settling in our new home.

So, my cyber-friends, I beg your continued patience as we move this coming Friday, set up house, and get the 8th grader in school on the 27th and the two college age spawnlings on the road to gainful employment and college courses. I shall do my best to get back in the posting groove post Labor Day.

Until then, enjoy the days and nights with those you love.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summertime and the living is . . . .

a. easy

b. quiet

c. full of change

d. all of the above.

The answer is a resounding "d."


Easy as Rick and I found ourselves at home alone with Patrick (the first time in his thirteen-year old life): one ballgame a week to attend rather than two or three; one meal to fix on the fly as I'm sitting at my computer working; one ticket price for The Dark Knight. Yep, easy and cheap(er) indeed!


Quiet as Rick and I found ourselves home alone with Patrick sans his nearly-twenty year old sister who loves staying up late and discussing profundities of life and faith and his eighteen-year old brother who routinely practices his double-pedal and real life guitar hero skills. Yep, quiet leaving me more than a bit melancholy at times.


Full of change as we sign our names to the sale contract of our home and look toward our future as a family in the NW suburbs of Chicago. A future we smile and greet with arms wide open and full assurance of what is to come. A hope hard won from all which has come before.


"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16


May you too find light in the darkness of change.

May you find smooth paths for your feet as you pursue your dreams.

May the irrepressible joy and peace of knowing there is a God who will never, never, leave you, inundate and saturate your life.


And remember, if you ever find yourself delayed at O'Hare International Airport or caught in a I-90/88 storm of Midwestern proportions, call or email! There will always be freshly-baked Tollhouse cookies and a friendly, cozy, "this close to Heaven" down comforter-laden bed to rest your frazzled mind and body.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kick-Butt Spaghetti Recipe

My thirteen-year old, Patrick, is quite the cook. He eats up (sorry, couldn't resist) Iron Chef and a few months ago when I was checking in from a travel date he told me about a breakfast dish he had prepared for the family. "And the caramelized onions were awesome!"

Say what? Caramelized onions? "Where did you learn to do that?" I asked.

"Watching Bobby Flay," he proudly answered.

So...our goal, this summer as Mom and "only child at home" is to cook together. And Anthony's Pasta Sauce and Meatballs is our first dish. Oh. My. Word. Is it ever tasty! Right now it's simmering on the stove; the aroma wafting through the rooms and making us all drool. The spaghetti's about to drop but I wanted to get this posted so you too can enjoy.

And be sure to check back regularly as Patrick and I will be serving up more dee-lish items as the weeks progress. Now, go cook and prepare to swoon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jamie Lynn

I spent a couple of hours last night and today reading through the seeming inexhaustible dot.com critics, bashers, and pontificating bloggers voicing their thoughts about this young girl's life. I also read more than a few pre-publication spews and rants about Lynne Spears book, Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame & Family in a Tabloid World; and they all pretty much fell into this one gargantuan online category: "Everybody Knows This Woman's Done Everything Wrong Just Look at Her Kids."

You know what I think? Shut-up, already. If I've learned anything over the past twenty+ years of parenting it's this: "Anybody" who thinks they know "Everything" is just "Somebody" who has yet to go through "Anything" with their own flesh and blood (or equally close loved ones.)"

Take me for instance.

In 1981, I watched the child from The Pit of Despair--and his name wasn't Brad. Drat. I watched this kid and all the while I thought, "I will NEVER put up with a kid like this when I'm a mom."

In 1985, I observed a slightly-overweight mother of two-toddlers walk into a Pizza Hut where I was scarfing down slices with my college chums. My jean size? A 9/10. My brain size? 0.09. Yes, I formed the following thoughts while watching her, "Geez, how hard is it to keep your post-pregnancy figure?"

In 1996, I was the mother of an eight, seven, and one-year old. Patrick, the baby, covered me in slobbery wordless "love you, Mommy!" kisses and Kristen and Ricky fought to hold my hand and snuggled up so close to my side that you couldn't have wedged a Power Ranger action figure between us. And I thought, "It's always going to be this good--this easy--and this close between all of us."

Eight+ years later, "Anything" tapped on my front door. (I shouldn't have answered!)

"Anything" is humbling.
"Anything" gets your eyes focused on the home-front rather than the relationships of those around you.
"Anything" sets you back on your rear and keeps you down on your knees.
"Anything" is the Great Equalizer.
"Anything" teaches you the Hard and Fast Rule of Everything Mothering: Outlast em'!

And that's exactly what I thought as I read these words last night, "Around here, everyone has the same focus," Jamie Lynn tells OK!. "The focus is family, and that's a good way to live." "Mama has been here a bunch," she said. "She wants to see the baby all the time. She told me the doctors are always going to be real strict and tell you, `Don't do this and don't do that.' Just follow your instincts. You're the mother and you know what your baby needs. That's what I've done and it seems to have worked."

You know what I think?

Good for you, Lynne Spears for outlasting your girls and sticking with them through their choices & your Mama actions--good and bad, private and excruciatingly public, well-received or despised.

Good for you, Jamie Lynn for choosing to step up when you could have easily (and with a lot less intimidation, no doubt) checked out of the consequences of an unplanned new life.

Good for you, mother and daughter, for closing ranks and dealing with "Anything" together as a united family front.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Love, Mom

I find myself writing near epistles to my two oldest as they work so far away from home this summer. Perhaps these thoughts will infuse your spirit and offer encouragement for the crappy day you just went through. Or project a ray of hope for the one which lies ahead. Maybe you'll want to cut and paste or forward this along to your own "sweet child" who is never too far from your heart. (Somebody grab me a Kleenex for pete's sake!)

First, my sweet child, some encouragement from God's heart:

"As you have received Christ Jesus the LORD, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude..." Colossians 2:6-7

"...But we urge you, brothers, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you: so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need." I Thessalonians 4:11-12

"For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the LORD Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, do not grow weary of doing good." 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

"Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." Prov. 10:4

"Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established. The LORD has made everything for its own purpose." Prov. 16:3-4

"Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD, it will stand." Prov. 19:20-21

"The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, honor, and life." Prov. 22:4

Ah, bub, continue to submit yourself to those in authority over you--human and God. It is a PRICELESS lesson you are learning; if you will learn--that of working well despite how you feel or the recognition or lack thereof. You're going to have good days and bad days. Days your emotions scream, "This is exactly where I need to be." Days your emotions dry up and you are left wondering why on earth you decided to do what you're doing.

This, my sweet son, is life. Working it out real. Continue to pray God will direct your path from day-to-day. Continue to pursue discipline--taking thoughts captive--putting a Jack Bauer choke-hold on anything and everything that sets itself up against the high calling of Christ Jesus in your life. I know you desire to minister in a manner that you can see with your own eyes (and fairly quickly at that) and grow disheartened with the drudgery of dishes and steamy vapors.

I know.

But I know this more; it is in the back room of life that God works out His purposes and plans. I know it is in your faithfulness to the small things of scraping plates and refilling ketchup bottles and mopping floors that His heart is won to trust you with more. I know having an appreciation for hard work is one of the BEST characteristics you can ever attain as a man, future husband, and future leader.

Looking down the road of life, I won't consider you the greatest success because you drive a certain car, live in a certain city, or accumulate X amount of money in your bank account. No, as your mother, I will look upon your life and beam with the grandest pleasure when your life naturally demonstrates a willingness, nay, even an expectation, for being seated in the last row, rather than first; complimenting a waiter or waitress; leaving a tip in a hotel room with a note saying, "Thank you!"; and pro-actively looking for a way to serve another. That's when I will stand most proud.

Love,
Mom

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rock & Roll Girl Post-script

How could I forget this?!

A few months ago I met the amazing James Young of Styx (Note: "JY" to his closest chums; I called him Mr. Young) compliments of my equally 80's obsessed author/friend/well-connected co-hort, Lorilee Craker. Ah, the memories stirred. . . .

Lady: 8th grade server at Brunswick High School Prom; pining for a few Senior boys--hoping one of them would suddenly discover me at the punch table.
Lorelei: Getting a dirty look from my mom when I sang out, "Lorelei, let's liiiive too-getha!"
Suite Madam Blue: My second run-in with a nameless melancholy feeling via musical orchestration. (Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins was my first.)
Grand Illusion: This was one of two first-ever 8-tracks I owned. Who-ha! Fooling Yourself. Come Sail Away. I let'em rip on my Panasonic-6 watt-Stereophonic sound system from P. N. Hirsch.
Sing for the Day: Cranking this up while riding with Jennifer Heisel to school and just feeling good.
Babe: The theme to my first Prom date in 1980; too bad my date was longing for another.
The Best of Times: Softball team school bus rides to games far and wide. Man, I loved my friends!
Kilroy was Here: Let's pretend this never happened, shall we?
Don't Let It End: Exactly how I felt, again, when listening to one of my favorite rock bands 20+ years later.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Faux Steve

I'm an unapologetic 80's Classic Rock kind of girl. Some of you may remember: Foreigner, Styx, and of course, Journey? How many summer nights did I spend belting out lyrics of Snow Blind, Urgent, and Fooling Yourself? (All the while ignoring the gargantuan mistake and horror of Mr. Roboto!) Indeed, my summer nights were filled with great music and no one sang it better than "I'm-convinced- he's-gonna-marry-me-someday-if-I-can-only-meet-him," Steve Perry.


My Steve was mine Faithfully. And my best-friend Cindy reminded me, "Julie, Don't Stop Believing!" So we purchased concert tickets and I really believed somehow, somewhere, the love of my seventeen-year old life would be waiting for me at the
Kansas City arena with Open Arms and at last, instead of living Separate Ways, Worlds Apart, we would be together. What can I say? Girl Can't Help It, she's in deep infatuation.


Fast forward twenty+ years down the Dixie Highway and note my last name is Barnhill, Julie "Happy to Be" Barnhill. Turns out I'll Be Alright Without You, My Steve, but when you're Stone in Love, it can be difficult. Somehow I soldiered on, came to grips with my adulthood and learned to deal with all of the above.


I was fine. Really. But then My Steve went and got older, threatened a hip-replacement, and QUIT Journey just as I getting used to being a 30-something with kids. The Party's Over, indeed. Year after year, thereafter I hoped and prayed My Steve would return. He teased. He threatened. He even whined (methinks embarrassingly so) on VH-1.


But still, no My Steve.


While speaking in the
San Francisco area I'd boldly ask if anyone knew him or could secure his email address. (What? Is there something wrong with that?) One woman's parents had lived across the street from his dad and possibly witnessed My Steve entering the premises. Another had a nephew who was a roadie during the hey-day of the 80's. Yet another said no to My Steve but she could possibly line me up meeting Huey Lewis.


Please. Huey's nice but no My Steve.


Imitator after imitator attempted to fill his microphone. Steve Augeri. Jeff Scott Soto. They should have just stayed home and played Rock Band. But then an item in The Wheel in the Sky of cyber-news. A hit of hope! A Six-Million- Dollar-Man-Neal-Schon kind of hope, mind you....

"Former fans, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster...with healthier hips."


Heart racing, pulse pounding, I dared to believe and clicked over and listened. Then I went to Wal-Mart (lone distributor and shiny waxed action alleys to "Swiftly Approaching Middle-Age Fans Formerly Known as Youthful & Cool") and purchased the album. I mean, CD.


Hello, Journey, my old friend! And to frontman Arnel Pineda and the future of more classic Journey sounds for my teenagers to belt out. Take it from this die-hard lover of classic Journey; this new guy's got the stuff. He's not trying to be My Steve (like anyone could) but he stares rabid believers like me in the eye and asks, Who's Crying Now?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

3:38 AM Thoughts

Sleep has been impossible tonight.

I've decided to kick the Pepsi habit (again) and the accompanying caffeine loss has my left temple pounding. But that's not the main reason I find myself writing so early into the morning. A dose of Excedrin Migraine off-sets the headache but does little, if anything, to alleviate the random thoughts, memories, and questions cycling through my mind...

I've been thinking about the "harvest" of twenty-years of mothering. All the words--thousands upon ten thousands of words I've sown; words of instruction, correction, praise, encouragement, frustration, joy, discouragement, anger, counsel.

I've been mulling over--no, that's far too innocuous a term--I've been evaluating the harvest of my own choices as a young girl, teenager, twenty-something, and beyond (I'll turn 43 in a couple of months); examining the outcome of those willful choices (some worthy, some horrendous) and considered the part they have played in the lives of my own three children.

You reap what you sow.
What goes around comes around.
Mothering is exhaustive work.
God gives strength to the weak!

Kristen and Ricky Neal (19 and 18 respectively) will soon be leaving for the entire summer to work at a Christian camp nestled in the midst of Sequoia National Park. I love the fact they will be together--looking out for one another--and strengthening their friendship as sister and brother. I smile knowing one will be working full-time hours as a dishwasher; the other housecleaning. Hard work coupled with a spirit of service will shape them far more than they realize.

Patrick (13) is more than happy to take on the status of "only" child. And his father and I are looking forward to getting to know him in a manner unlike the years before. We got a hint of what's to come this last school year. Ricky Neal was a Senior, he waited tables at our local Italian Pizzaria, Rosy's, and more evenings than not it was just the three of us--Rick, Patrick, and me, sitting at the table and catching up on the days events.

It was, well, weird at first: being able to finish a complete sentence without someone interrupting; needing to think of more to say often times as there were two less people to carry the conversation. But it was delightful too: listening to our third child (how often his voice was drowned out by the drama of other two!); fixing his favorite meal--night after night; and seeing him, in some ways, for what seems the very first time.

Please excuse the randomness of this post. It was early when I started and a couple of hours later as I finish. Love your children. Don't grow weary in planting and sowing words and actions doused in love and wisdom. Hang in there! Forgive much--of others and yourself.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Woman's Day Magazine

Check out "How to be a Better Mom." and find my quotes as well as other fabulous parenting experts and real moms advice.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Great Prayer

Mama Kelly, one of my posters sent this is to the comments section of the blog. I found it insightful enough to post for one and all to read:

Help us also remember that the mom in the grocery store with three screaming kids is just as irritated and frustrated as you are, and probably more so. The difference is that we standing on the outside giving the dirty looks have the privilege of going home in our quiet vehicle. She, on the other hand, has to take those little munchkins home with her and deal with their insanity all night while trying to figure out how to raise them in the healthy fear of the Lord and her.




Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best Prayer I Have Heard In A Long Time...


Heavenly Father,

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I Did Right

My second child will soon be graduating high school so I've been doing the "looking back" thing a lot of us do around this time of life. It still amazes me to hear him yell, "Mom!" and to know he's talking to ME.

Me! The mother who could barely remember to feed him once I began weaning him off the bottle. (Not to worry. Blueberry Buckle soon became his and my favorite. As for some unholy meat thing labeled "veal," well, he spewed it once and we never looked back.)

Me? The mother who in 1993 believed acting like one tough mother met yelling louder than a three-year old and physically over-powering a toddler when worse came to worse. Unfortunately for Ricky and me, worse came to worse far more often than it should have. You can read all about that period of, Awful Motherhood, (and the lasting change I found) in another book of mine, She's Gonna Blow.

Anyway, back to Graduation Day Pondering.

Yes, I'm still surprised to be his mom at times. Surprised he claims me as his rent too! But after all is pondered, analyzed, and considered, here's what I think: I did A LOT of things right. Yep. Right. Excellently right, if I may say so myself. And I've decided to list a few of them for your maternal reading pleasure. After doing so, make up your own list. Read them to your children (whether they want to listen or not) And treat yourself to a moment of maternal satisfaction.

What I Did Right
  • Asked a million questions regarding the health of my children (gestational development, weird rashes, apnea fears) and never hesitated to get a second and third opinion.
  • Picked up my babies nearly every time they cried.
  • Read, "I Love You Forever," 16,435,943 times. Really.....I'm serious.
  • Going away on week long vacations...without kids.
  • Admitted SpongeBob SquarePants is funny. Stupid, but funny.
  • Saying, "Because I said so, that's why," without guilt or hesitancy.
  • Belting out, Don't Stop Believing, and other classic rock-and-roll at the top of my lungs while stuck in traffic with my children---with the windows rolled down. (I was supposed to marry Steve Perry. He failed to see me amongst the other 30,000+ fans at the Kansas City arena in 1983. "Oh, Julie, our love holds on, holds on....")
  • Saying, "I'm sorry," when I needed to.
  • Baking Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies nearly once a week for the past 20 years.
  • Admitting when I was (am) wrong. (It happens on occassion.)
  • Living my life as authentically and loudly as possible before my children's eyes.

Friday, February 29, 2008

All Julie, All the Time (well, okay, maybe not all the time because you might actually grow weary of looking at my face for that long)

Have you ever hit your computer keyboard in the wee hours of the night (or crack of dawn) hoping to find THE answer to your current parenting dilemma? If so, surf no more! If you've got an "issue" chances are I or one of the other faculty members at iQuestions.com can help. Simply click on the subject you need and listen to real-time answers to your real-time concerns. You're gonna love it!

Julie BarnhillQ: It seems as though people don't like to be honest about how hard parenting really is. Or, is it just me?

Watch Julie Barnhill's Answer
More from Julie Barnhill

Thursday, February 28, 2008

iQuestions Video Answers for Parents

I'm thrilled to be working as an online faculty member with iQuestions.com.

If you've got questions...we've got answers! I'll be posting direct video links on my web site as well as within the blog page as the days progress. What a marvelous way for us to interact and for you to get a dose of One Tough Mother wit and wisdom. Twenty-years of parenting taught me more than a few do's and don'ts which will help equip you to step up during the wonder years of infants, toddlers, pre-schooler, elementary, tweens, teens, and young adults.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh, My Word!

Here's an Official One Tough Educational Edict which is sure to make you chuckle.

Me thinks this story shan't be discussed during Super Tuesday new hits and such. Me also thinks it would be wonderful to declare an equal moratorium of public displays of political flatulence. But, that's just me.