Lessons of Love From the Heart of a Child

It was at this time that the disciples came to Jesus with the question, “Who is really greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. “Believe me,” he said, “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18:1-4 (PHILLIPS)

It was the heart of one very precious little boy that would teach me the next lesson in love.

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Aiden was born January 4, 2011. He had an infectious smile and energy of life. As he began to grow, there was this magical excitement and joy that he eluded whenever I would arrive. “Grammy, Grammy you’re here!!”, he would proclaim as he ran to give me a hug. There was a purity of love such as I had never known before. He had no expectations, no desires to change me. He loved me as I was and trusted me with all his heart. There was a sparkle of joy that filled his entire being just because I walked into the room.

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Do You Know God’s All Sufficient Love for You?

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

So it was that I arrived into Orlando, Florida where I would spend the next 10 years of my life. While I drove the truck, my nephew came a day behind with my car, Mom and her cat. A few months later, Ron came to join us as well. My life settled in, as Florida Cardiology became my extended family. I found a church home. God graciously allowed my finances to stabilize. Tithing plus had become a part of my life, as I trusted God with providing all that I needed. (Tithing plus meaning 10% was the minimum I gave, plus whatever additional giving God directed beyond that). Life had its ups and downs; as is always the case with life on earth. It was in Orlando that I found my voice in poetry, speaking in the jail ministry, and writing.

God's Sovereignty

The desire that God bless me with my very own Prince Charming to love me would awaken again. Twice more I would believe I found him and twice more my heart would be crushed. Then, one day; sobbing uncontrollably; I screamed into heaven, “Why God must you always break my heart? Why would you not give me this one thing?” Then, I suddenly realized the truth. It was as a soft, gentle whisper in my mind, “My dear child, don’t you see. It was you who has broken my heart over and over again. Do you not realize that I am enough? My love is greater than anything I could give you on earth.” There it was—God’s truth for me. So, with a somewhat heavy heart; I laid down my dream. Perhaps, I was not yet ready to bury it; but, I did lay it down ever so gently to rest.  Oh, yes; there would be moments in which I would mourn the dream itself. It had been a fantasy which had been very much alive in my heart and now it was gone. My focus turned to God alone. That was when I found my voice in poetry, writing and speaking. This blog was born and I began publishing books.

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Whatever Life Brings

When God asked me to leave Springfield; there was a part of me that once more felt crushed.  Yet, I would trust Him to have a better plan.  Clearly, I could not trust my own heart.  Today’s poem takes us back to that long, lonely drive to Florida.  Driving a huge overloaded truck and pulling a trailer.  So many long trips alone had I driven over my lifetime.  So many battles with illness, I had felt alone.  I, who thought of myself as a fragile female who desired more than anything to have some one love and protect me from all of life’s trials; was always the one left to overcome so many obstacles alone in this world.  How often, as I walked this journey of life; did I stop to cry and wonder why!!

Ah, but you see: every step of the way; God has been there beside me. There is much more of my story to tell.  That was only a moment in time.

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Whatever Life Brings

By Effie Darlene Barba

 

I felt the tears falling like rain

I did not fully understand

All this sorrow, all of this pain

My broken heart by Your command

 

Lord I wanted to trust Your heart

When You commanded me to go

It was hard for me to depart

When all within me still said no

 

And yet, Dear God, I know Your love

That gave Your Precious Son for me

So, help me seek Your will above

All else, though I can’t clearly see

 

Oh, Lord; please come, give me your peace

And fill me with a faith, Your own

That all this moaning spirit cease

My joy I find in you alone

 

And crucify my own desire

When not conformed unto Your will

When in the midst of raging fire

Please make my heart be ever still

 

Help me to see Your loving Grace

That only knows what’s best for me

Help me to seek Your lovely face

And make my selfish thoughts to flee

 

I need You now to shine your light

So deep within this heart of mine

I cannot change by my own might

Transform my thoughts to Your design

 

And so whatever you command

I bow before Your throne today

I trust Your Grace to help me stand

Tomorrow’s Grace to show the way

 

I only want what You want God

So rip from me these lesser things

Alone, this road I’ll gladly trod

And follow You, whatever life brings

 

Photo Courtesy of  Sergey Zvyagin

©Effie Darlene Barba, 2016

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Can I Ever Really Repay God for His Grace?

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJV

By the spring of 2003, a restlessness grew deep within. I knew God was drawing me; but where and why?  Having just returned from a Nurse practitioner conference, I was throwing away the pamphlets and brochures when one fell open. There I saw an advertisement for a job with Florida Cardiology in Orlando, Florida. It had been Orlando where my daughter was born. It was Orlando where I had met Pete. So, I applied and was offered the job. While considering what to do, I received a call with a job offer in Oklahoma as well that I had not even applied for. The doctor who hired me in Springfield had left and was head of a program there. He was a man I highly respected; yet, after much prayerful consideration, I felt compelled to go to Orlando. Why would I leave Springfield? Was I running to something new or away from something?

Dear God

During the time in Springfield I had begun to recover from the debt of “survival” credit cards used while battling cancer and ulcerative colitis. I had slowly recovered from the havoc that the steroids had wrought on my body. I had been found to have a mass on the pancreas which after many biopsies was idiopathic chronic pancreatitis. Also, in Springfield, I thought I had found Prince Charming; only, he really wasn’t. Infatuation? Fantasy? Or real love? How does a romantic heart know the truth? Somehow, I had always confused my compassionate empathy for a hurting soul with love. Every bleeding, wounded soul I met presented a possible love.

 

SO, NEXT LESSON IN LOVE:

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Can I Look in The Mirror and Still Feel Loved?

 

I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me. Psalm 108:3-6

As I sat and stared at an empty page this morning, I prayed. Prayer is my only hope. From the time I post the previous post to the moment I begin the next, my mind is prayerfully searching to know where to turn and what to write. That is sometimes easier when I am doing a series through any book of the Bible; because, then I must focus on God’s word and from that wait for God to guide my understanding through commentaries, prayerful searching and even listening to sermons. Certainly, at work I must focus on work; yet, as I walk the halls between tasks, I sometimes hear a word, a thought that inspires my understanding of the scripture at hand. That is Grace.

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When I finished the series on the gospel of John in mid-February, I felt compelled to begin a series about love. Before I started the series, I questioned God in earnest as to why this series. Yet, the longer I questioned; the stronger the conviction came. As I have opened up to each of you all my own failures along this road toward discovering the truth of love, I have at times felt very vulnerable and very frail. As always, God has been faithful to reveal to this weary heart His Grace each step of the way. Along this journey of writing the story of my life, God has revealed to me truths about me as well. Truths as shunned to know as I have been forced to look deep into the mirror of my own life, my own heart. When there was a time it would have been easier to just blame Miguel, Pete, Terry or even Mom for their role in breaking my heart; now, I couldn’t.

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What Is the Second Greatest Enemy to Love?

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Psalm 119:35-37

As I have pointed out previously, anger is enemy number one of love. Our hearts are so quickly filled by anger so as to crush any hope of love. There is another enemy which can grow like a cancer within our hearts preventing any hope of feeling true love. That enemy is covetousness. Much like anger it begins with a thought or desire deep within our hearts and then grows until it destroys joy, love and hope. It is very subtle at the beginning. We may look at something and just for a moment desire that it was ours. We may see a couple in love and wish that was ours. We may see another who has a nicer home or car and wish it was ours. Someone may have a better position, better grades, greater success, better health, and the list goes on. Whatever it might be, a small seed of discontent starts within our heart which can grow rapidly creating doubt, fear, and depression; while at the same time choking out any signs of love within our feeble hearts. It is no wonder, “Do Not Covet” is one of the 10 commandments. (Exodus 20:17)

Faith

To covet is defined as to yearn to possess or have something. That can be anything!! Then when we don’t have it and we see someone else who does, we become jealous or envious. We wonder why “God loves them better. Why would they have that? Haven’t I been faithful?” If we look at the apostles, this too was evident within their hearts. They were always wanting to know who would be greater, sit closer to Jesus, or suffer less. Paul even spoke of his own struggles with coveting in Romans 7. So, how do we destroy the cancer of coveting; so, that we might know the joy of having hearts filled with love? Faith!! Faith is the key. Let me help you to understand this; as this is a lesson I too must often go back for a refresher course. A seed I often need to destroy before it takes root in my own heart.

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Poetry Sunday: A Daughter’s Surprise

This series on love has been quite intense at times I know.  Perhaps today we can just take a moment to laugh at even ourselves.  As I pointed out, God is always at work to transform this heart of mine.  The years that Mom lived under my care were at times challenging; but, oh so revealing.  She lives now in an assisted living because the care she needs is more than I can provide and still work; yet, now we can laugh about our lives together.  I never miss going to see her and sitting for a while.  I take her treats, gifts and “things” every week so she doesn’t worry.  Sometimes I pick her up to go to the movies or out to eat.  She seems much happier there, since she doesn’t have to worry all day, “Oh what will I do if Darlene dies in a car crash!  Or can’t make it home!”  This poem I wrote for a humorous poetry contest.  When I read it to Mom, she laughed at each verse.  Then she said, “So, true.”

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A Daughter’s Surprise

By Effie Darlene Barba

 

It was a quarter til six

Before the sunrise

Came a tap at my door

Awoke by surprise

I pretended to snore

 

The pounding grew louder

Now she called my name

As “Yes Mom,” I said

She then did proclaim

Quite loud “Are you dead?”

 

How do I answer?

I thought for a while

Oh what do I say

And then came a smile

I answered this way

 

“Yes mom, I’m dead, but

Don’t call the police

For an hour or two

Or three at the least

Until I say to”

 

She paused a moment

“I wanted to eat

I don’t want oatmeal

Or some cream of wheat

I really do feel

 

I want to have eggs

And toast so you see

You need to get up

And cook them for me

With maybe a cup

 

Of fresh coffee to”

So needless to say

There would be no hope

To sleep in today

Although I could MOPE!

 

I tried then to smile

As her breakfast I cooked

Her face then a scold

She spoke as she looked,

“You are getting old!”

 

“Oh, by the way can

You go to the store

My diapers are low

And I really need more

A hundred or so

 

I must not run out

I use ten every day

Down to nine hundred

Well there is no way!!

Such worry and dread!”

 

As she wrung her hands,

“Oh, me oh my, dear

What should I now do?

This worry and fear

My mind all askew”

 

                                “Where was I? Oh Yeah!”

“Then when you get back

My Laundry needs done

But please leave my lunch

With a sweet roll or bun

I love you a bunch”

 

“Thank you for breakfast

It really was nice

For dinner perhaps

Some chicken and rice

For snack then some wraps”

 

“Oh, my now I’m tired

I must go to sleep”

And off mom did go

To sound slumber deep

The sun now aglow

 

I went to get dressed

And to my surprise

There in the mirror

I saw there- mom’s eyes

Then it was clearer

 

That she had been right

I am getting old

The thought did occur

As life does unfold

One day I’ll be her

 

So today I must laugh

Today I will sing

And dance through this day

As though it were spring

No time to delay

 

No time then to waste

No time to be sad

No time for sorrow

No time to be mad

Maybe tomorrow

Sometimes in relationships we need to stop a moment to laugh at ourselves Laughter can be healing Click To Tweet Love covers 1000 wrongs when we look deep within our self & remember the Grace we were given Click To Tweet

©Effie Darlene Barba, 2016

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Why Is God Always Working to Perfect Me in Love?

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. Psalm 138:8

God never gives up on me! Think about the impact of knowing that truth. I don’t mean just knowing it with your mind; but, really knowing that truth in every fiber of your being. He is always, constantly concerned with “perfecting” my heart. He loves me just as I am with all my blemishes and brokenness. While at the same time, He loves me too much to leave me there as He found me. Steadily, gently with great compassion and love; He is always about the work of transforming my heart to be a little more like Him. He wants for me to have the best of His Joy, His peace, and His love in my heart. He also knows what needs to be transformed within my childish heart to help me see Him clearer, know Him better, and to comprehend the magnitude of His love toward me.

Perfecting love

About 9 months after I had moved to Springfield, I began to get phone calls from Mom that were desperate pleas for “Help.” She was battling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Each time I would take off, take her to her psychiatrist who would adjust her medications. I arranged for her to get counseling as well. Then, I would return to Springfield which was four hours from Dexter. After about a month of weekly trips, I realized that Mom was not getting any better. Although, she had thought she would be glad when “I and my kids finally left so she could rest;” that wasn’t the case. Now she needed me.

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What to Do When Feeling Alone, Afraid, And Ashamed

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord ,According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:1-4

In the quiet moments alone, do you ever look back over your life and cry? Have you ever felt misunderstood? With a heart full of love, you so wanted to do or say the right thing; but, every word seemed to be misinterpreted and in the end you feel alone and rejected. At the end of the day you end up with so many “would haves”, “could haves”, or “should haves.” Maybe, it has to do with a diet you failed again. Maybe, it had to do with a financial decision you now regret. Whatever the reason, have you ever come to the end of the day and wondered if there is any purpose for you? Have you ever wondered whether any of it matters? Your joy is gone, your hope is gone and your only prayer is that when the morning breaks, peace and joy will have returned. Yet, your sorrow is worse because you feel that you have failed God once more. You hope that “knowledge that you are loved” will once more fill your heart with song, if only you could feel that again.  So what do you do?

Sustaining love

 

My time in Springfield was a time to heal the brokenness inside. Beyond having met and known new friends who accepted me as I was; there was also the time alone to reflect upon my life. It actually was when I first began to write about my life. Writing was a way that I could reflect and writing pushed me even further to search the scripture to discover the promises of God. Promises that could restore my heart whenever I felt broken, lonely, unloved, and unworthy.  Too often, I would find myself in that state at the end of the day.  Yet, it was those feelings that drove me to the scriptures even more and drove me to my knees a lot.  One  scripture that can restore hope in those times is this one from 2 Peter.

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7 Amazing Characteristics Found in A True Friend’s Love

 

A friend loves at all times…
there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.…. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 17:7; 18:24; 27:6 NKJV)

My time in Springfield was a time of healing, making friends, and learning to laugh again. I loved my job and found friends among my co-workers. So, many years my life had consisted of “carrying so many burdens”. Certainly, I had some very good friends along the way; but, during the years of abuse I had kept it to those few whom I could trust with my “secret.” Then, in Dexter I had become isolated. Perhaps it was the shame of yet another failed marriage. Perhaps it was that I was too tired battling for my life. Perhaps it was the emotional fatigue that comes from the financial struggles which I was determined to shelter my children from knowing the financial truth. Whatever the reason, I had withdrawn into a time of solitude. Now it was time to learn the value of friends once more.

Friends

There is a very special love that true friends have for each other. Within the scripture we see those bonds; David and Jonathan, Jesus with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Paul with Barnabas and Timothy. Friendships which stood the test of time. Friends are precious treasures, gifts from God to help guide us along this journey of life. We must never take those gifts for granted. To have friends; we need to also learn how to be good friends as well.

What are the characteristics of true friends?

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