Desiring to be God's Woman
- 2003 3 Aug
"We don't know what tomorrow brings, but we do know Who brings tomorrow. There is no way that we personally can get through it; it is only through Christ that we can." - Emilie Barnes
Emilie Barnes is a very familiar name in Christian circles. She has written on many home-related topics: organization, healthy eating, gardening, manners for children, and more. In addition to her own two children, she helped to raise her brother's three children, giving her five youngsters under 5 when she was only 21 years old. Her heart, in writing and speaking, is to encourage women in their relationship with the Lord, and to help in the practical areas of their lives. All of us have a story to tell, and Mrs. Barnes is eager to share how the Lord has worked in her life.
Q: Emilie, at the age of 21, you found yourself the mother of five children under age 5. Can you talk about that season of your life and how you managed such a monumental task?
A: I think the only way I was able to survive was organization. I was young, but fortunately I had learned organizational tools from my mother. As a girl of 11, I was ironing, washing, planning for meals, shopping for meals, going to school, learning the dress business, and more. So, by the time I was raising my own family, I really believe that God had equipped me for what was to come. But, it was still a monumental task.
Q: How did you grow in your relationship with the Lord during those years?
A: One of my Scripture verses over the years has been Psalm 73:26 and it says, "My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength. He is all I ever need." I have hung onto that. And, parents can find Scriptures to adopt as their own. We need to be guided in the Word of God and continue to have a teachable spirit, to be willing to be taught. You know - the older women are to teach the younger women, Titus says. I looked at myself one day and said, "I am an older woman!" But, remember, we are all older than someone; even teenagers are older than younger children. It is really sad where the family is going today, but it doesn't have to go there. We can begin to teach younger women as they are starting their families, and then they can pass that onto their children.
I have to say, though, I grew in the Lord most dramatically when the children went off to college and I was an empty-nester. I loved being a mother; it didn't matter what age they were. So, when they were gone, I just cried out to God, "I want to be your woman." He answered that prayer through Florence Littauer, who has been my mentor for more than 20 years. We did seminars together, and she encouraged me to write my first book. I said, "Everything in the world that I know is in this book." Who would have thought a little Jewish girl, who grew up behind her mother's dress shop, with only a high school education, would have been able to write more than 60 books? Only God can do that. He has given me people that love and encourage me. And then, in the last five and a half years, He has taken me through my journey with cancer.
Q: Tell us more about your experience with cancer.
A: I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1997. I could not speak anymore, so at that moment I lost my job, and my husband lost his job as the businessperson for our ministry. We didn't think I would ever be well enough to speak again. I had a bone marrow transplant in 2000 that was very successful, and last September, I spoke for the first time in five years. I cannot say enough about what God has done in our lives. We were married 47 years ago, and when we gave each other the vows, "For richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse,"
I had no idea that I was saying, "I do" to my caregiver. My Bob has done everything to care for me and for our home.
We don't know what tomorrow brings, but we do know Who brings tomorrow. There is no way that we personally can get through it; it is only through Christ that we can. I think my biggest passion today, when I get on a platform to speak, is Philippians 1:21, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Those women will not leave the auditorium without hearing the plan of salvation and how to reach heaven.
Q: Looking back, are there things that you would do differently when raising your family?
A: I look back now and say, "Dear Jesus, I am so sorry," because I would do it differently. I would have sat on my knees and prayed and not on my knees cleaning the floor when I thought that floor was so important. It is not as important as our relationship with God. Bob and I don't even have that floor anymore that I had to scrub and leave so shining. If I could go back, I would spend more quality time with the children, playing games or just rolling around on the floor. It's not that I didn't, it is just that I look back now, and I see the importance of that time with the Lord and the children.
Q: Emilie, is there anything else you would like to share to encourage parents in their relationship with the Lord and how to be strengthened in this season of raising kids?
A: Yes, there is one thing that I often share when I speak. One day, my husband came home from work and he said to me, "Emilie, you love those children more than you love me." That just pierced my heart. I had to go before the Lord to see what my priorities were. I got to thinking, "Emilie, you were a wife to your husband before you were a mother to your children," and that turned me around. As I look back now, our children have made lives of their own, and I thank God that Bob and I developed our relationship as we were going along. Now that we are empty-nesters, we have each other. Even during my time of illness, my husband was so thoughtful. Let me give you an example. I decided I wanted a prayer closet, a real prayer closet. We had a walk-in closet with room for a chair in it. I said to Bob, "Oh, I would love to have a prayer chair that I could put in the closet." One day we were out having lunch. I went to the bathroom, and sitting in the bathroom was the perfect chair. I went out and called Bob, "You've got to come in here and see this chair." Well, weeks went by and one day, about two days before my birthday, I walked into my closet, and there was my prayer chair. It is a slipper chair, made in the 1800s. Bob had made a birthday card for me, and this is what it said: "To my wonderful wife. Happy Birthday!" Remember, this is in the middle of my cancer. I had a bald head twice, I was either over the toilet or sleeping, and he often had to hand feed me. And, I thought, "I am a wonderful wife?" But, that is what makes that priority time as spouses so important.
So, God is our first priority. Our husband or wife, if we have one, is our second priority, then our children and then our home. Now, we haven't even gone to work yet. You see; it takes that much time. But, people will see the results of that in your family. They will.
Emilie Barnes is a nationally recognized home-and-office organization expert, author, speaker, and homemaker. She is also an active participant of the More Hours In My Day time-management seminars she founded with her husband, Bob. A gifted communicator, Emilie has been speaking throughout the United States and Canada for more than 20 years, teaching women creative ways to get organized and simplify their lives. Her seminars show women how to cut cleaning and cooking time in half, save money on grocery bills, set up and stick to a budget, entertain without hassles, and seek God through daily study of His Word. www.HarvestHousePublishers.com is a good place to discover Emilie's books. Emilie and Bob Barnes live in Newport Beach, Calif. They have two grown children who have blessed them with five grandchildren.
Diane Wheeler is the senior staff writer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She lives with her husband, five children and assorted animals in lovely Placerville, Calif. Diane enjoys reading mystery stories, drinking strong coffee, and gardening with her family. Contact her at Diane@TOSMag.com.
Copyright, 2003. Used with permission. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com