Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I talked in the Valentine week blog about the autobiography I wrote 26 years ago, and this week I want to tell you some stories I was reminded of about my three biological daughters. (I have awesome stepdaughters and awesome God-daughters but they were not in the autobiography.)

My first daughter is Ginny, better known to the public as Virginia Smith, author, speaker, and singer. Ginny was a real trip as a kid. I knew by the time she was eight that she was smarter than I was. She was shoveling snow one day and I watched her while thinking out loud about a decision I needed to make. She stopped, leaned on the shovel and said, “Mom, you’ve done what everyone else wanted you to do all your life – first Granddaddy and then Daddy. You need to decide what you really want and then do it!” What a concept…I was speechless and could only think “out of the mouths of babes!” That moment made up for previous years when she autographed the walls above her bed and her sister’s with crayons, poured a giant bottle of shampoo into a small bathrug, picked flowers out of the neighbor’s gardens and then rang their doorbells and sold them bouquets, and other memorable actions too numerous to list. Well, maybe just the one where she blackmailed her sister Susie for several years because she accidently put a dent in my car while playing with a rock. I discovered it when I told Ginny to do dishes one night and she said “Susie wants to do them” Susie burst into tears and said “I can’t stand it anymore!” And confessed to me about the dent that I had completely forgotten about. Ginny did all the dishes for a month. She came to me one day when she was thirteen and said, "Mom, don't you think it's time I did something about God?" And so we knelt together to pray and her new life began - the one that has blessed everyone that knows her.

Then there was Susie, the Beauty Pageant winner. A study in extremes, she would cry over children at school who got their feelings hurt and make a special effort to be kind to them. But when her baby sister came along, after she had been my baby for eight years, I overheard her telling the little one that she was ugly. I also peeked around the corner and saw her holding her foot over the new baby who was lying on the floor on a blanket. She never touched her sister but said “Squish” in a very threatening way. That evening at the supper table I mentioned to my oldest two children about an interesting article I read - how in adult therapy they often find out that terrible self images began in infancy when most people thought the babies were too young to understand what was being said. After dinner I again peeked around a corner and heard Susie talking to her baby sister in the crib. “Beth, you’re the prettiest baby in the world. Anybody who ever said you were ugly was just jealous.” As a teen, Susie had the special gift of having a boy seated on each side of her at church, two in the pew in front of her, two in the pew in back of her, and each boy thinking they were the one who was most special to her. She turned that gift into making everyone she meets feel that way - and knowing her heart, it's probably true.

Third was Beth – who at age three stared up at her grandfather with serious speculation and said “You got nickels? I got pockets.” Beth - who at age twelve saw the eggs in the catfish her stepfather was cleaning, and offered to sit on them so they would hatch. Once when she was around ten, Beth asked for sheets with butterflies on them. I said no, the plain white ones were within our price range. Shortly afterwards she had a slumber party and came to me in tears the next day. She showed me how someone had taken a pen and written her name all over the new sheet – and they’d misspelled her last name. I felt so sorry for her I bought her the butterfly sheets. When she was twenty-five she confessed that she’d written on the sheets herself, being sure to misspell her name so I’d believe someone else did it. Beth - who resigned a job managing a movie theatre rather than run a documentary film showing true death scenes just for the horror of it. Beth has been in professional and community theatre since she was eleven years old, acting, teaching, directing. She is a home-school liason for the education system. Beth - whose ambition is to work at Disneyworld, as tour guide on the Jungle Cruise. She says it's because there is a new audience every three minutes. But I suspect it's because it would give her new people in whose life to bring joy every three minutes.

Something happened between the sisters that I’d forgotten about until I was reading that autobiography. When Susie was in college she majored in Communications and we all expected her to become a movie or TV star. Then she was in a car wreck which literally ripped her face. At the time they were talking plastic surgery and teeth problems and we didn’t know that she would end up as lovely as ever. But during that time not only was Susie’s faith in Jesus triumphant, both of her sisters taught me the depths of love that resided in them. They also were both beautiful young women but did not plan a career based on their looks. Each said to me, independently of the other,“ Why couldn’t it have been me instead of Susie?” If that isn’t enough to make a mother’s heart swell with pride I don’t know what is. And though Susie could have gone on to have that star career, she chose a helping profession – loving and teaching Special Needs Children.

All three of my daughters are filled with love and integrity. They are all hard workers and hugely fun to be around. They all give of themselves, far beyond the average person, in order to enrich the lives of others. Knowing what a mess I was during their childhood, I am in awe at what they have allowed the only truly Good Parent to do with their lives.

Children are a gift from God. They are His reward. Psalm 127:3

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Book Reaches Out to Every Female, No Matter Her Age

Virginia Smith has done an amazing job of blending humor and pathos, self-assurance and fear, modern female business sense and ancient maternal instinct in the character and story of Allie Harrod. This second book of the “sister-to-sister” series AGE BEFORE BEAUTY reaches down and finds corresponding emotions in the hearts of every female, no matter what her age. I loved STUCK IN THE MIDDLE and this book leads us deeper into understanding how the home life of a child affects his or her emotions and choices throughout life. She shows us very beautifully, as Jesus did in His stories, that trust in the love of our heavenly Father is the only solid rock on which we can stand.

About the book:

Desperate to stay home with her baby, Allie Harrod launches a new career. Sure, she dropped out of Girl Scouts because she was lousy at cookie sales, but makeup is different, right? She'll do anything to make enough money to cover her share of the household bills, but how can she focus on her business when her list of problems is growing? None of her pre-baby clothes fit, her checking account is dwindling, and her mother-in-law has decided to move in! To top it off, her husband's attractive coworker suddenly needs his help every weekend. Middle sister Joan insists that God has the answers to all her problems, but Allie isn't so sure. Can she really trust him?

You can view a book trailer at Ginny's Web site.

About the author:

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted ten novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom, Stuck in the Middle, and her newest releases, A Taste of Murder and Age before Beauty.

In March of 2008 she was named "Writer of the Year" at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God's truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, "Biblical Truths in Star Trek."
Visit Ginny's Web site.

Ginny's book is on a "blog tour." You can visit the other blogs participating in the tour:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


This week I found a humorous spiritual autobiography I wrote several decades ago when Gary and I had been married a little over a year. Re-reading the stories made me laugh sometimes and sometimes made me cry.

Gary Barkman is my third husband. I was his third wife and we both were afraid to ruin our friendship by getting married. But that was 27 years ago next month and we’re not worried anymore.

I used to think that the only differences between men and women were physical ones. Boy was I wrong! Gary was greatly relieved when he took a course that taught us some basic differences. He attributes to that course the fact that he is my last husband instead of just the present one. The first breakthrough we had was that “men think in headlines and women think in fine print.”

Think about it:
Her: How was your day?
Him: Fine.
Her: What did you do?
Him: Work.
Her: What did you have for lunch?
Him: Food.
Her: What kind of food?
Him: A sandwich.

If the occasion arose the other way around:
Him: How was your day?
Her: Great! Helen and I are becoming good friends. You know, she’s the one at the office who (explanation of Helen). And then I met Anne for lunch. We went to the Chinese restaurant and I had (description of food). And I did twice as much work as this time last month; I think I’m really catching on to this new job (explanation of new job as opposed to old job.)

But that occasion would probably never arise – well, the monologue by her will most likely be given but not the question, because he can tell by looking that her day was ‘fine’ and that’s all that is important.

I have made several observations about men over the years and still believe most of what I wrote 25 years ago – at least for my generation of males.

Men assume that drink carrying (coffee, tea, cola, etc) is a favorite pastime of wives.
When they stay home alone with their children it is babysitting.
When they run the vacuum cleaner, it is ‘helping’ the female.
When they cook a meal it is on Valentine’s Day.
They like to buy presents for females.
They like to look at females.
They fear females are a superior race and spend a lot of energy pretending that fear does not exist.

There is something I have not figured out about being female.

Him: Do we have anything to drink?
Me: (determined not to move out of my chair) Yes.
Him: What?
Me: (gripping the edges of my chair) Pepsi, tea…
Him: No coffee made?
Me: No. (digging my heels into the floor. )
Heavy silence permeates the room for several minutes.
Me: (feeling like a traitor to my very self) Would you like me to make some coffee?
Him: If you want.

I don’t want. But the invisible rope drags me into the kitchen. What is it? Cultural conditioning? Hormones? Lack of iron? When I hand him the cup, he says “Thank you, Sweetheart.” And I feel some strange sort of satisfaction inside. Is it just me or part of the mystery of femaleness?

I appreciate Gary because I never had to earn his approval by being a good housekeeper or having a perfect figure. One morning during a period when I didn’t work outside the home and he worked hard everyday, I noticed him picking up a pair of dirty socks and putting them on. When I asked why, he looked uncomfortable and confessed he hadn’t had any clean ones for three days.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked with tears of remorse.
“I know you had more important things to think about.”
How can you respond to a husband like that except to love washing his socks?

When he was a volunteer fireman, he came home one day after he and another of the crew held phone duty. He relayed their discussion about God. At the end of the conversation, the man said, “You sound like you’ve got it all together.” Gary answered, “No, when you think you’ve got it all together, you’re in trouble. You’ve got to stay like a little child, always ready to learn something new.”

That’s about as ‘all together’ as most of us humans ever get.

Gary and I had some pretty rough times in our relationship from marriage year 3 until marriage year 23 when he got on his knees and asked me to marry him again on our 25th wedding anniversary in 2007. I said “Yes.” And for two years he courted me and restored the love and respect I started out with.

I’m more proud of my husband than ever. Since his paralysis over a year ago, he has had a wonderful positive attitude, determined to find things to joke about, and made sure everybody knows “God didn’t cause this; the devil did. But one way or another God is going to get some glory out of it!”
I just thought he was great 27 years ago. Now he is my hero.

I dedicated that never published autobiography “to my husband because - of all the mistakes I’ve made in life, marrying you was not one of them.” How true that was!

On our first anniversary Gary, who mostly communicated in grunts, pointed fingers, and held out coffee cups wrote me a letter. In it he told me what our year of marriage had taught him about love.

"Love is not a state of mind. Love is giving of yourself.
Love is caring. Love is letting the other person speak when you want to talk. Love is helping someone learn how to love again. Love is giving, a giving that comes from the heart. It is the opening of the heart to someone and leaving yourself wide open to them. Love is a beautiful, precious, and wonderful Gift."

Happy Valentine’s Day!
May God bless us all with the gift of His Love that allows us to love others.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


It is interesting to me that last week I wrote about what being Colonists in the Kingdom was all about because immediately after that post, I saw the Kingdom Colony in action here in my own community. The very next day an ice storm hit and most of the area had no electricity for days. That meant no heat for the majority of families. We lost water for over a day and when it came back on, it was not drinkable. We lost phone lines. After six days electricity was restored to my home, after seven we got phone – and internet – back, and after eight days water was declared safe to drink.

I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed the challenge of learning to cook on a gas grill while dressed in many layers out on my porch. (Especially when it resulted in things like perfect scrambled eggs and homemade potato salad). Reading by candlelight made me admire my pioneer ancestors. Being woken up by the cold and forcing myself to stay awake until the propane heater brought the two rooms we had blocked off livable again made me appreciate heat that one can sleep through without fear of dangerous fumes. We were very blessed by having a propane heater, a gas grill, lots of propane – and a generator for the last three days.

But the thing I loved most about our crisis was seeing the Kingdom Colonists in action. Neighbors on our street came and cleared away the tree limbs and ice that blocked what would be an escape route if we needed one. Neighbors from another town came and chopped down dangerous limbs over our yard and driveway – and hauled them away. Those neighbors were not employees paid by anyone to do that, just volunteers we’d never seen before that would take no pay for their help. Neighbors from other states called on our cell phones to make sure we were okay. Neighbors from our church brought drinkable water from their well. We found out that neighbors we still have not met told our children they would come to our town to check on their parents if needed. Neighbors that are our children brought in food and fuel supplies. And a neighbor who happens to be my sister sent money to cover the extra costs incurred.

I was sorry that the training event where I was to present a ninety minute power point presentation on “Become A Living Parable” had to be cancelled. BUT I was thrilled to see Living Parables in action all around me.

On our local radio station here in Danville, KY and on the radio station in nearby Stanford (and probably others that I just haven’t heard about) the personnel not only kept the public informed about progress and shelters and available help; they took calls of people with needs and calls of people saying they were on the way to meet those needs. They too calls from the lonely, and they calmed the anxious and depressed, and asked that people who lived nearby visit and comfort and share with them. I never heard so many “God bless you’s” and “Keep praying’s” on public communication vehicles (and these were not “Christian” radio stations). I didn’t hear the call where a woman phoned in with complaints – but I did hear the call when she phoned in to apologize for her previous impatience and expressed her gratitude for all the crews working 24/7 to help restore her losses. That and many other calls including other thank you's and prayers for work crews brought tears to my eyes.

Many people who had generators or alternate heat sources took others into their homes. I heard of one lady who worked at a bank in Frankfort and saw an elderly woman of another race looking sad and shivering. On questioning, she discovered that the woman and her husband were without heat or electricity or propane heaters or any alternate shelter. The bank employee, who lived alone, took that elderly couple into her own home for two days until their power was restored.

When Jesus and a lawyer agreed that the great law is ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,” the lawyer asked “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling the parable that we know as “The Good Samaritan” where a Jewish man was in trouble and two people of his own race passed by without helping him before a Samaritan provided all he needed. Then Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of the three was neighbor to him?” and the lawyer answered “He that showed mercy on him.” Jesus said “Go and do thou likewise.”

That was the parable that I saw come alive in my community and region recently; that was the Kingdom Colony at work. I hope I never forget it and am at some time in a position to also become a Living Parable to many.

“Go and do thou likewise!” (Luke 10:25-37)