Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What books do ya'll like to read? Recently, while attending SMBI, I was required to do some book reports. A.W. Tozer is a deep writer and will make your mind think, but He has alot of good truths. Below is a report I did on one of his books. Hopefully, it will inspire you to go find it and read it too:)

The Crucified Life
by A.W. Tozer
The Crucified Life by A.W. Tozer, is a book about living a deeper Christian life, and about going beyond ourselves and our circumstances to Jesus. It's about learning how to have a relationship with God with nothing in between us and Him. To live with our hands open, and to be surrendered to whatever He wants, and to bring Him glory in all we do. This book challenged me to look to Jesus Christ, and to give Him all of my life, my heart, and my time. No matter what happens, to keep pressing forward to the state of spiritual perfection.
What is a crucified life? To live one's life fully devoted to God in humility, and as a sacrifice pleasing to God. We become dead yet alive at the same time. Dead to our selfish nature, but brilliantly alive in Jesus Christ. Why live a crucified life? The point has everything to do with Jesus. Not with laws and rules. Not in how we look, but to look like Jesus. To have our hearts beat after His, and not get caught up in all the distractions that want to take us away from Jesus. So often we give God our leftover time. What if Jesus had done that to us? We would be doomed to live in darkness. Jesus gave his ALL , and we are called not to anything less than that. What consists in living the crucified life? Turning away from the world, and turning fully to Jesus. Giving up of our trust in ourselves, we need to replace it with full trust in God. We as humans struggle to be in control, but God wants to take that away from us, until we have nothing left. We need to let go, and stop trying to help God. To go beyond the mediocrity and just living halfway, to knowing Jesus deeper with every day.
What keep us from living a crucified life? Pride and stubbornness-we forget we are but mere humans, and that we don't have “rights” as we like to claim we do. Also, our social postions, money, and even fear. Tozer states, “The father of fear is unbelief.” We need to trust God that He does have our best in mind. Once we take down these veils between us and God, it is then that we can look up and see His smiling face. Thankfully, God forgives us of these sins. He does because they are roadblocks between us and Him, and He wants to be able to pour out His spirit on us, so it can reveal to us the things of God. What are the blessings of living a crucified life? Jesus Christ will live within us. He didn't come to save us from the fires of hell, but to make us like Him. He takes our old selves, which have so many issues, and gives us a new self. We can experience spiritual victory. This is not to say that the crucified life is always easy-it's not. But even in the hardships that we experience, beauty can still arise out of the ashes, when we give God our everything. Joy. There is nothing comparable to the joy in being exactly where God wants us to be, and where he joins us in sweet fellowship. We miss the sweetness of God's presence and joy, when we resist what God brings into our lives. We can experience the fullness of God, when we obey Him and are surrendered to His will.
So the question remains, what are we going to do with Christ? Will we know Him personally and remove anything that comes between us so that there can be sweet fellowship? The Crucified Life is a book that challenged me to persevere in my walk with God, and to know God's heart. We are called to do more than just “live”, we are called to live for Christ, and Christ only. Another thing that challenged me was to want God more than anything. Often in life, we want what God GIVES more than we want God, and God wants to give us Himself. As Tozer states, “ Wherever God takes you, go with Him. Whatever He takes you away from, listen to him and follow what He says. Whomever you must ignore, move away from. If you want to be all that God wants you to be, set your face like a flint and go straight to Jesus.”

-Kelsi Barkman

Friday, July 24, 2015


Recently, the phrase "Sacrifice of Praise" stood out to me in a different way. Earlier, I had thought of it as coming before God and praising Him, which is true. What made a difference in the way I thought of it was the word "Sacrifice". The definition of sacrifice can be translated into "surrendering a possession or giving up of something that we desire to hold close".
It's easy to praise God when He answers a prayer, sends us sunshine when we are tired of rain, or heals us from something. Happiness fills our hearts, and we want to praise God. Life feels conquerable.
But we are also to bring God the SACRIFICE of PrAiSe. Which means, praising God even when things don't work out the way we want them too. It means surrendering our will and believing that God is still sovereign no matter what. That He is still good. We often say when our prayers aren't answered the way we want them too, that God didn't answer. But He did. Just not the way we desired. It is in these moments, that we need to come before God and still praise Him. Maybe its on our knees, or with tears running down our face, it doesn't matter how we are, but we need to surrender whatever we are holding close and lay it at Jesus' feet. Sacrificing is giving up of ourselves, and that's why it can be so hard, because we want to hold close the things we love.
For me, bringing God the sacrifice of praise is more than just saying "God, I praise you." It's more than words, its experiencing that sacrifice of praise in my heart. Recently, I was struggling with something and I just wanted to talk to someone, and then I realized that I need to go to God. He knows our hearts, and He knows exactly what we are feeling. Sometimes, we don't want to admit that we are angry or bitter, but God already knows that. So we can confess it to Him, and ask Him to help us through that.
We can know all this, but it comes down to our choices. We can know that we need to let go and praise God anyway, but that will do us no good, if we don't CHOOSE to do it. "Choices can change our lives profoundly. The choice to mend a broken relationship, to say yes to a difficult assignment, to lay aside some important work to play with a child, to visit some forgotten person-these small choices, may affect our lives eternally" (Gloria Gaither) . When we choose to live a life where we praise God no matter what happens in life, it changes perspective. That life is not just about here, but that we have an eternal home to live for and to strive for.
God has a plan for our lives and we need to remember that sometimes things happen for a reason. We might not always know that reason, but the God who created us, can also be trusted with our lives and whatever happens in them.
Sometimes I feel like all I do is mess up, and I wonder if God is going to give up on me. Of course I know, He won't, but it can feel that way. Another quote I love, "Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them... Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight. When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our lives, or in the life of another" (Helen Keller). Sometimes our faults overwhelm us, sometimes we want to ignore them and hope they go away, but if we face them, and take them before our God, He can help us overcome them. We won't always be perfect, we won't always praise God when we should, but we can do our best. We can ask God to help us. It's not through our own strength that we are able to be more, but the strength of Jesus Christ that He enables us with.
Take courage.
Be who God wants you to be.
Take Him that sacrifice of praise.

*More ramblings of Kelsi*

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Did He Return?

We just found this email in our inbox from back before Easter, from Zach. The writing that he sent is a brief but gripping glimpse into the events surrounding Easter. We're really disappointed that we couldn't post this around Easter, but maybe that's a good thing--maybe this will help us see Christ in a new light.

  "Did he return?"
  His friend's voice was the only interruption to the monotonous sound of two pairs of feet on the dirt road, now dry and dusty. 
  "Simon, you mean?"
  "Simon, yes. Or John."
  "Yes," he answered, "John came back. He found nothing."
  In his depression, his friend's prodding was irritating. More irritating than it should have been, he knew. He sighed.
  "Only the head cloth."
  "No angels."
  He allowed his friend's half-question to remain unanswered. It hung in the air, sounding more like a statement.
They walked on, the Judean wind, hot and dusty, pulling at their clothes and turbans. How long they walked in silence, he didn't know. They were alone in their thoughts, and alone on the road, aside from a lone traveler far behind them. The exodus from Jerusalem after Passover had not yet begun.
  Darkness gripped the man's soul. The despair in his thoughts tortured him and made the road seem to stretch into eternity.
  "What will you do now?"
  A lump formed in his throat. Nothing. There was nothing left to do.
  "Nothing. Nothing new. I guess I will..."
  "Go back."
  That was all there was now. His old life. His gut wrenched at the thought of it. Before, when he was with the Rabbi, he had told himself his life would never be the same. The mundane-ness and depression of his old life was gone.
  He had loved the adventure of it all, following the Teacher at a moment's notice up mountains and across the country, into cities and deserts. 
  But he knew now that that was not what had made him happy. That was not what had changed his life. 
  The lump grew, and it hurt.
  His friend broke into his thoughts. "I thought he was the Anointed, Cleophas."
  Please stop, he thought. He only wanted to forget, but his friend didn't hear his thoughts.
  "I thought that today we would be watching him sit on the throne, not...."
  His friend didn't need to finish. The ache in his chest swelled and tears blurred the horizon in front of him as the vision of their dead leader flashed into his mind. 
  He didn't want to remember, because now he knew. Only now, when he had lost it all, did he realize how much had been lost. The traveling and the preaching had not changed him. It had been fulfilling and exciting at first, but the excitement had eventually worn off. 
  He saw now what had changed in his own soul, and he could only see it now because now it was gone. He had found a reason to live. He had, for three years, known what it meant to love God. The Rabbi taught them that. Now he could never get that back.
  He spoke haltingly, trying not to weep with the emptiness he felt inside. Tears streamed down his face nevertheless.
  "Me, too. I already miss him. Did you feel what I felt when he spoke?"
  "I don't know what you mean," answered his friend.
  "When I was with him, I felt different, Yosef. I felt clean. I felt holy. When I was with him, when I heard him pray, I wanted to know Adonai. Like I never had before."
  "Yeshua knew Adonai. He was...he was holy."
  "He was."
  He was. And now he was no more. And I do not feel holy anymore, he thought. I do not desire to know Adonai anymore, not like I did. 
  "He didn't deserve that, Yosef." He said it softly. "He didn't deserve it. How could Adonai let it end like this?" 
  Shame and despair gripped his heart again.
  How could God let him be stripped naked like that? Beaten with such brutality? Crucified! Where were you, Adonai?
  He looked over at his friend, now sobbing softly. As if reading his own thoughts, Yosef asked him, his voice cracking, "Where is Adonai now, my brother?
  They both wept quietly. The monotonous sound of footfalls was louder now, for the pilgrim behind them was a faster walker, and he was now overtaking them.

From Zach: Obviously, the most beautiful parts of this story are not here yet, but on this Easter Sunday, it's easy for me to imagine what these men might have felt as they went home defeated and despairing on that Sunday close to 2,000 years ago. There might be more to come from me, but the rest (and the best) of the story is in Luke 24. 
God bless you!

Saturday, April 18, 2015


So I've been thinking about what to blog about...and I decided to write about some of my friends that have impacted my life. I definitely won't be able to cover all of them...but I'm gonna at least share some.
The Barkman girl cousins....women that I've grown up, that have helped shape who I am today. I love how we can have so much fun together, and laugh ourselves sick...but we can also talk about the deep things of life...and we can all share the love for our Jesus Christ.
My seesters:) I don't know what  I'd do without them. They listen to me, understand, and counsel me:)I love how as you grow up, the years don't really matter anymore. Right now I super miss being able to stop in at Krystal's house for a latte, and to just talk, and to see her adorable little boys. Thankfully, Kenni is still here, and only two or three minutes down the road. I love to randomly pop in:) God has blessed me with these sisters...and I'm so thankful for the example they are , and for the way we can be more than just family, but good friends too:)
My twin Veronica( in the middle) and Leanne:) Veronica and I don't have the same mom ,but we do share the same birthday and are exactly the same age. She is one of the strongest women I know, and has encouraged me so much. She is incredibly giving, and I have more than once been the recipitent of that generous heart. Leanne and I went to bibleschool two years together and hit it off and we still do. One of those wonderful ladies that sticks by you, and I know that when we are together we will definitely have a good time. One of the awesome things about Leanne is that you think she's quiet till you get to know her:)Then her crazy side comes out:)
Add Andrea and Kara. More bible school friends:) We've kept up since bibleschool and still love to hang out, though we have from Ohio to Pennsylvania to cross.
We won't say how late this was...the wacky picture might give a wee bit of an indication:)
Miller cousins...we all live in the same area...so we know each other well :)and its so much fun. :)
they rock:)

Former co-workers. We used to work at Joad Speciality together....Most of us have left but we still get together because we can't bare to stay apart:)Heidi and Hannah are sadly missing on this picture( perhaps its because they're married) :(:)
Brittany and my Phyliss Ann:)aka Heidi:)Two of the sweetest women ever. Britt is another bibleschool chum...she was my dorm mommy:) She has one of the biggest hearts ever. And Heidi. We used to work together, and we used to live a half mile apart, and we used to go to the same church. So practically, we did almost everything together except live in the same house. There is definitely a huge, gaping hole since she moved to South Carolina with her husband, Noley. Oh Phyliss, come back to me:)
Cherie Clarae. My co-author. Okay, well our book isn't published yet, but hopefully someday. Right now she is living in Thailand, and believe it or not, I'm flying over Tuesday to see her!!After a long time of waiting and saving up...yeah, its actually happening:)
Youth girls. Its not quite everybody. Its awesome being in the same youth group. Recently, we did a weekend at a cabin with sessions on prayer....It was really good!
So to all my friends, and even if your not pictured on here...Thank-you for everything you've added to my life. God has blessed me so much!!!!!Wishing all of you a beautiful day! May you feel God's presence close to your heart!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life as a babysitter

Meet Charlie and Maddy. Charlie is in first grade and Maddy is in preschool. Here a tea party is happening with the teddy bear attending also. These kids are so much fun. They add so much to my life. And keep me hopping:)
Meet Arthur. He is three and loves everything that boys love...from guns, to bat and ball, to playing farm, and of course, playing outside:)
 Maddy is full of life and love:)Here, she was trying out my scarf and boots. She loves clothes, so of course, you can never have too many:)
Rice Krispies with a happy face, and of course we try to apply that to life. The happy face, that is:)
 While the others go to school, we get to hang out...and after lunch Arthur likes to ask me "When are we gonna pick up Maddy?":) Which is normally around 1:30...and that always makes him happy.
Yes, this child is cute.

Normally we do homework after he gets home from school. What else normally happens after school?SNACK. You have to have plenty of it:)
They got a kick out of dressing the bear up in Maddy's clothes:)
Maddy and her kitty:)
I really can't imagine life without these kiddos anymore. Yes, we do have our days ,but its been so much fun. I weally do love them:) -Kelsi

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Sovereign Lord

"Though the fig tree does not bud,
and I am alone
and there are no grapes on the vines ,
and I can find no joy in the world right now
though the olive crop fails,
and I have nothing to soothe my open wounds
and the fields produce no food,
and I'm out of a job or hate the one I have;
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no one warms me on cold nights,
and no cattle in the stalls
and I have no tangible basis for feeling secure,
yet I will REJOICE in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour,
The Sovereign Lord is my strength,
he make my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights."
Habukuk 3:17-19
Finding God  by Larry Crabb

Sometimes life is hard. Things happen that we don't understand. God takes us places we don't want to go to. Places of surrender. Of forgiveness. But we don't want to let go and we want to know WHY. We want answers. We want healing. Sometimes more than we want God, and God wants us to want Him more than ANYTHING. We don't always realize that surrender is more than letting go, it's giving our lives completely to someone who will not leave our side, who knows what's best. And when we trust that God is good no matter what, it is then that we can rest in Him. The Lord is sovereign. He is our strength. He loves us unconditionally...no matter how many times we fail, mess up, He is still there and loves us just the same. So basically what I' m trying to say amid all my ramblings, is seek to find God in each moment of life. Choose to rejoice.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"I've seen MIRACLES just happen,
silent PRAYERS get answered,
become BRAND NEW
that's what faith can do."