SEEDS . . . planting in the hard times

Back in the “old days,” many folks grew their own food.
Small backyard gardens, small family farms on a couple of acres . . .
neighbors shared when the crops were good and during the times of the
season when there was an overabundance, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers
were handed out by the bagful – canning vegetables was a common skill many
homemakers were familiar with and pantries of jars of those delicious vegetables
were a delightful sight in the middle of winter.

Many of my relatives were farmers who raised their own food, both vegetable and
animal and my family often took vacations to visit their farms and memories of
BIG breakfasts made up of what they raised are extremely tasty memories!

Those farmers knew about the value of the seeds they placed in the ground at the
right time to get the best yield — they knew about the importance of the quality of
the ground and the quality of the seed and the proper care and tending to be able to
reap the crops they needed to feed their families and neighbors.

As I think about those days that seem so long ago . . .
I am struck by the need I have today to understand the importance of the quality
of the ground, the preparation of the soil, the nutrients I put in to myself if I want to
reap the crop I am looking for to nourish my family and share with my neighbors.

–the ground, for me, is my heart, my soul, and my mind
all that makes up my inner being, the essence of who I am, me
(during the hard times, it is vital that I know the condition of my soil)

–preparation of the soil
how each Life event prepares me for the next step on my path,
sometimes tilling, sometimes digging up major pieces of my “soil”
(during the hard times, I need to review what has “prepared” me
to this point, what is my foundation, do I know what I believe and why I believe it)

–the nutrients
what I consume through listening, through watching, through reading and
how all that “intake” affects my thinking, my behavior, my motivations
(during the hard times, I need to closely monitor what I am listening to and
watching and reading. There is so much negative, fear-filled, rude talk all
around – am I filling myself with that “stuff” that will spill over into my
behavior and my words?)

–the crop
what grows on my path, what grows within me, the “unseen” force that
drives my behavior and “infects” all I come in contact with in line with the
old-time adage: you reap what you sow
(during the hard times, I need to carfully and as honestly as possible
review what my “crop” looks and sounds like. Am I using language I would
never have used before, am I speaking rudely, am I being insulting to
anyone who does not agree with me, am I destroying relationships?)

Perhaps, I need to be a little more careful about the SEEDS I take within
my heart, my soul, and my mind . . . if the “crop” produced indicates the
SEEDS planted (apple trees don’t come from watermelon seeds),
a review of what has come from my SEEDS will show me where I need to
start choosing different SEEDS by choosing what crops I want to see in
my life . . . 

SEEDS are vital to continuing life—
what seeds am I taking into myself . . .
what seeds am I spreading . . .
what crop am I expecting to get . . .
what crop am I getting . . .

SEEDS have a cycle of life—
germination—>growth—>reproduction—>pollination—>spreading seeds

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Diversity . . . how do I feel about our mixed world?

Today there is SO much DIVERSITY –
every way I turn,
I am confronted through daily interactions with people
highlighting “differences” in cultures, philosophies,
politics, religion, language, food . . . everything!

I started wondering how the early followers of “the way”
were able to be described as “of one heart and soul” and
what that really meant. From my Judeo-Christian background that
seemed like an important place to start looking at how “believers”
should react to diversity.

So I looked at the Hebrew meaning of the words “heart” and “soul” and
the circumstances of this group which began on the day of Pentecost and,
fortunately, the writer of Acts describes as diverse, “from every nation.”
(Acts 2:1, 5, 46 — Acts 4:32)

lev (heart) and nefesh (soul):
The three special functions, knowing, feeling, and willing,
ascribed by modern psychologists to the mind,
were attributed to the heart by the Biblical writers—
All modes of feeling, from the lowest physical forms, as hunger and thirst,
to the highest spiritual forms, as reverence and remorse,
are attributed by the Hebrews to the heart.

As the whole physical and psychical life is centralized in the heart,
so the whole moral life springs from and issues out of it. (

To love God with all our heart and all our soul, means to love with the entirety of our being . . .
SO maybe that is where I have to begin to understand
how the early followers of “the way” were of one heart and soul
while being such a diverse community . . . a common focus – GOD!

DIVERSITY . . . my reactions to our differences should call me
to look into my heart for the insights that tell me why I react the way I do—
why my automatic response to a person of color or to a head scarf on a woman
or to a motorcycle rider or a teen wearing low-riding jeans or a screaming child
is what it is . . . why? NOT why are they the way they are, BUT why do I
feel the way I do when i see them?

It may take a deeper, personal look inside of me to be able to understand
the answers to these questions about my world today . . . slower steps before I decide

Jeanne Hicks Barnett
March 8, 2016—March 8, 2020

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It leaves me wondering . . . a heart prayer








and so my heart cries . . . HOW LONG, GOD . . . HOW LONG???­
We have no HOPE but YOU, GOD, 
to bring an end to the abuses of person against person, 
to the elevation of self above all, 
to the rise of darkness and blindness in our hearts . . .
send your Light into our hearts, 
renew your Spirit in our souls, 
reveal yourself in our lives . . .
PLEASE, GOD . . . PLEASE, save us from ourselves!

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FASTING – the fast GOD wants . . .

Isaiah 58 talks about “fasting.”
Some people talk about fasting for health reasons,
some for spiritual reasons,
some for personal cleansing
(physical and psychologically),
so it is a subject that interests many.

While reading Isaiah 58, I noted some interesting points
(just my opinions about some of the statements made)
in this Old Testament chapter from a book that was written to identify the
ingratitiude, incorrigibleness, universal corruption and degeneracy of the people
according to GOD.

BUT GOD . . . criticizes the people
verse 2: “Oh yes, they seek me day after day and
[claim to] delight in knowing my ways.
As if they were an upright nation
that had not abandoned the rulings of their God . . .”

BUT GOD . . . gets more specific
some might read the first few verses of Isaiah 58 and
pull out the Ten Commandments as a checklist of
which “rulings of God” they had abandoned

BUT GOD . . . has a different list
it is NOT the Law (the Ten Commandments) that GOD says
are at the root of the criticisms but their treatment of fellow human beings
and makes it clear beginning with the statement:
“Here is the sort of fast I want”

GOD SAID . . . I do not have to guess
here is what I should be doing—
these are the things GOD wants me to do—
NOT “judging” myself or others by that list
of Ten Commandments,
but asking myself how am I treating others,
do my actions show a heart of compassion
like GOD’s shown in GOD’s description:
Adonai passed before him and proclaimed:
“YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai]
is God, merciful and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in grace and truth
Exodus 34:6
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

GOD SAID . . . be holy
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves
also in all your behavior;
because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16
(Leviticus 20:26, 20:7, 19:2, 11:44, 11:45)

SO . . . what should my fast look like
how should I live every day—
self-righteous because I have not done any of
the things on the list of Ten Commandments OR
showing compassion to others, being compassionate
I think I need to start a new fast today!

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Beat down . . . a Life Perspective

Oh, that poor holly bush . . .
bent down to the ground
by its ice-covered branches,
unable to stand up straight and
it doesn’t look like it can survive—
it looks hopeless.
BUT . . .

How often have I felt beat down by life,
by something that happened TO me that
I had nothing to do with, or very little to
do with that I could see . . .

How often have I thought I would not be able
to make it through this time,
that this was the time the weight of what was happening
would finally crush me . . .

How often have I cried out in the depths of despair,
in the midst of unbearable agony,
choking on tears and unintelligible sounds
that overwhelmed my very being . . .

When I think about it, there have been a number of
really dark periods that felt bigger than me
and even one when I planned to end it all as the
only answer I could see at the time . . .
however—here I am!

So this “real-life parable” about a bush in the front of my house
that appeared to be a victim of an ice storm speaks to me and
seems to draw me to remember — not the pain, but the deliverance
and my repeated recovery of some semblance of myself.

GOD, that Higher Power I believe in, has somehow brought me
through many times when I knew I could not make it,
I could not take another step, I could not take another breath,
and yet . . . I did. Not always a steady step and certainly not always
a strong breathing in of continued existence, BUT I look back and see
that there was some force that “carried” me when all I wanted to do
was wallow in self pity and admit defeat—and that is what brings me
back to that “spark of Hope,”
that “point of Light,”
that “will to Live” again and again.

Like that bush that appeared to be beyond hope,
I cling to the history I have that, even when I do not understand how,
the warmth of GOD’s Love will melt the ice surrounding my heart,
that hardness that blocks light and shuts out those wanting to help me
and somehow restores HOPE, the LIFEblood of existence.

My history of failures, my history of being a “victim” (real or imagined),
my history of falling down,
my history of feeling shame and guilt and rejection . . .
my history reminds me that my survival,
my reaching toward tomorrow,
is all about GOD, the inner spirit within me,
the unseen force that never leaves me nor forsakes me
even when I walk into a dark pit and feel wrapped in despair,
as I remember . . . the icicles start to melt,
a little light starts to appear,
and my heart is renewed in its hope for this moment.

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PIZZA . . . hidden messages . . .

  Pizza has always been a major part of my life from childhood to senior citizen,
but I had never thought about the “hidden messages” in that delicious food that I consumed innocently just because it tasted good.

earliest memories of my childhood are of our weekly tradition of making homemade pizza and watching old black and white scary movies as a family on a weekend evening.

Mom would make a pizza crust and she and dad would fry up sausage, chop up green peppers and onions, shred mozzarella cheese (and dad always added a little cheddar cheese), and make the sauce.
After setting all the individual items on a counter, each of us would surround the crust with its sauce and be given an item to put on the pizza in the order given by mom.

While the pizza was cooked to its amazing perfection from our group efforts,
we washed our hands and went into the living room to choose a movie to watch,
which usually gave the pizza plenty of time to finish cooking.
After getting our pizza, we sat with mom on the couch while dad controlled the VCR from his chair.

The beginning one-third to one-half of the movie gave us plenty of time to eat our pizza
before the “scary” part drove us to climb up the back of the couch to escape the “threat” on the screen!
(It did actually happen when we watched “The Killer Shrews”—we have laughed about it over the years.)

That pizza-making tradition was something mom and dad continued for the rest of their lives. They never ate a store-bought pizza without “fixing” it with their special additions.
When, in 1980, they moved to Searcy, Arkansas, and we began having an annual
Hicks family Holiday gathering sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day,
there was always one day that was “pizza day” and mom made her homemade crusts
and dad helped her chop ingredients, fry sausage, and put the pizzas together and
then we would all gather in the living room, usually watch a bowl game and eat our pizza.
Every year it was a reminder of childhood in our family and somehow was our “comfort food” without our even thinking about it.

CHANGES: after 2009, our family holiday gatherings changed. Like most families, we had family struggling with personal issues and the resulting “explosion” served to make future gatherings never the same again and, after 2009, we never had the entire family together again for that special Hicks family Holiday gathering and mom and dad’s pizza.

With the recent passing of mom and dad, I have been confronted with many memories
and mom’s homemade pizza is a major one. I had never realized or stopped to think about it before, but mom used making that pizza to send several very important messages to our young hearts:
1) working together as a family, we made something we could all enjoy
2) each of us was an important part of the process and each of us felt we had contributed to the final outcome
3) our parents prepped the ingredients so that we could “help” without knife skills at our young ages
so we never even thought about the idea that we couldn’t do something to help
4) we had fun making the pizza and never thought about it as a chore – we looked forward to it every week
and could count on it happening
5) we “celebrated” our accomplishment as we talked about how great it tasted while we watched the movie

Hidden messages . . . in that special pizza . . . in mom’s pizza process
Hidden messages . . . planting wisdom for life in unsuspecting hearts
Hidden messages . . . YES! messages hidden in our hearts to be discovered later—
the ultimate comfort food!

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Seasons of Life and Loss . . .

to everything,
there is
a season . . .

I have heard that passage from Ecclesiastes 3 read many times and
I have heard it applied
to many situations,
but somehow, right now,
it holds a depth of meaning
I never felt before as
I face the loss of the one who brought me into this world . . . mom

These verses before always seemed to be used to encourage the need to recognize that, as we pass through this world,
we will find that each “event” does indeed pass as other “things” demand their time on my path . . .

somehow, it does not bring me comfort or even hope as this dark time is moving ever so slowly
forward, as mom’s physical frame goes through the process of
transitioning out of my reach.

I guess the only pinpoint of light is that I KNOW in my heart that
mom’s spirit is eternal and
the GOD who is Love knows her by name,
numbered her days before there was even one,
has been with her through every trial and every triumph, and
is, even now, holding her and guiding her
as HE draws her deeper into His Everlasting Arms,
to her place of rest with Him,
to hear Him say,
“well done, my good and
faithful servant . . .
enter into the joy of the Lord”

My heart longs to hold on to her as so many memories flood my mind and flow from my eyes . . .
as my heart shatters into pieces as it tries to release her to
the “better place” I hear spoken of
words that are intended as words of comfort,
but bring none to me as it means
she is gone from me,
taking her hugs,
her smile,
her music and
I am left with trying to hold onto the memories that tend to fade over time and
ultimately realizing I can only hold onto the LOVE she gave and
received all her life and
treasure those deposits she buried deep within my heart . . .
her LOVE . . .
the very essence of her . . .
that is what the treasure of the season of her life is for me to hold and
she will continue to flow through my life often without my realizing it.

My mom . . . the treasure of her Life is what I hold onto . . .
her heart for the hurting . . .
her amazing Love for family, for friends, for strangers . . .
her trust in GOD . . .

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