Here I Am Lord

By: Marcy Barthelette

I recently shared with you my personal celebration of the fourth anniversary of Gatepost Weekly which Casey has grown into an amazing communication tool, but I didn’t share my journey as a writer during these four plus years. In the beginning, I supposed it would be a   bridge keeping us connected as a Christian family throughout an epidemic that crippled our world and has changed it in so many ways. I’m sure I never thought I’d still be doing what I’m doing, but it gave me a challenge during those very trying months of isolation. At that time, I planned ahead quite a bit, putting together several series that required a lot of research. In short, I depended on myself.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I stopped trying to plan and started listening and watching for tiny threads that could become an actual story, of sorts. There are clues all around us if we make the effort to be observant and I needed to start using all my senses to absorb any nudges, as I like to think of them, that might relay a message that needed to be shared.

Sometimes those threads began weaving an idea during a sermon, sometimes a particular praise song touched me. Then there were times when a friend of mine would simply drop a comment in passing that seemed to need more clarification. Yet again, there were times when strangers whose perspectives differed greatly from mine provided the material for a meaningful discussion. The words of another writer might birth the seed for an important topic and, of course, scripture always provides incredible insights.

And more often than you may realize, Pastor Dennis and I had been working on the same message in a given week, sometimes from the same perspective and sometimes opposite positions. A few months into writing for the Gatepost Weekly, I began to realize that my line of communication with the Lord had strengthened. I was depending on Him to provide the meat of what I would write. I stopped pushing myself to beat my deadline and just let God do what he does best…he guides us. But here’s the thing…we have to choose to listen.

The Lord replied, “I’ll go myself, and I’ll help you.” Exodus 33:14 CEB

This scripture was the verse of the day on YouVersion one day last week, and it obviously was meant for Moses, when God made known his demand that Moses lead God’s people, Moses’ people, out of slavery and into the Promised Land. I dug a little deeper into Exodus to find some context and it became clear that it’s a message meant for all of us.

Each of us was created long ago for a unique purpose and it can be easy to overlook or to ignore, but if we search our hearts and discover whatever it is that we do well, we will be on the journey of discovering our purpose. We needn’t waste time trying to adapt to someone else’s unique qualities, we weren’t created to mimic anyone else. We are asked to utilize the skills or talents we are given to encourage others to know that they are loved as God’s own children just as we are.

You may not see helping neighbors with maintenance chores as being a gift or talent, but it is. Just because you really should reserve your less than stellar singing voice for the shower shouldn’t prevent you from inviting a new acquaintance to church for some uplifting praise and worship music. Your ability to reach out to a stranger in need of a hug may just be a normal part of your daily routine, but it’s a gift that many of us just don’t have. If you enjoy indulging in the culinary arts and share the rewards with a busy working mom or dad, that’s a gift much appreciated. And if you share a few moments of your busy day with the kids in your neighborhood, you’ll impact their very impressionable lives more than you may ever know.

We tend to view personality traits that help others as being skills beyond our reach. They aren’t. The best gifts of all are the little things we do for each other, the things we take for granted. But the receivers of those gifts of kindness see them as much more. If you haven’t already found your talent or special skill, make an effort to do so. Maybe you’re ready to explore a newly discovered gift. Dive right in! As little children we mimic our parents to learn important life skills. But we reach a level of maturity that demands we not mimic others; we must stand tall in our own shoes. Don’t concern yourself with being like your best friend. Be yourself. God will go with you, and he will help you.

The world doesn’t need another copy of someone else, the world needs you. Bob Goff, Live in Grace, Walk in Love



Let God Let You Be Your Very Best You

By: Marcy Barthelette

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence…Love others as well as you love yourself.” Portions of Matthew 22:37,39 MSG

Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get anything right? Of course you have…it’s a human condition. For instance, my husband rushes through the door with a bag in his hand and excitedly proclaims that he just found something I’m really going to like. He unveils his precious “find” and my response creeps out before I filter it; “Why did you think I would like that?”

His crestfallen expression immediately induces feelings of remorse, but the words are out. I can’t stuff them back in and there’s no way that I can cushion the blow that my careless comment has dealt. It doesn’t matter that I was in the middle of concentrating on an article or a drawing or maybe even rearranging kitchen cabinets. I needed to think before speaking. It is the bane of my existence and Ken’s as well. I’m an immediate person, sometimes I just need a roll of duck tape for my mouth, and he’s a more contemplative soul. So, how do we solve this issue of totally opposite personalities. To be honest, sometimes we don’t do a very good job and sometimes feelings are hurt. That’s when we both usually take a time-out.

After he grinds the rust off a few old tools or sands a wooden handle to perfection and I have everything in my cabinets aligned the way I want, at least for that day, we spend some time together remembering why we are a couple and the promises we made a long time ago. We also recall the person God has called us to be. Sometimes the word “sorry” enters the conversation, but, as often as not, we just get back to being us. We’re pretty confident in who we are as a couple but we continue working at making us better every day.

The bigger question is, do we work as hard at being what God wants us to be? Pastor Dennis asked us Sunday if we choose to adhere to what scripture tells us over what society lures us to accept. Do we dive deep into scripture in order to learn God’s plan or do we fill our days with every kind of materialistic self-improvement tip or product designed to lure us down the pathway of self-importance? Like it or not, we’re all guilty of making a wrong turn. The Good News is that God doesn’t demand that we come to Him in perfect running order, we just need an honest, repentant heart, and the will to change. He’ll help us with the rest.

Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God…God brings the best out of you, develops well-informed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 MSG

We were left with a final question on Sunday and it’s a very important one. How do we interact with those who engage in behaviors that do not conform to God’s word without becoming a part of those behaviors. That’s not a Pastor Dennis quote but just a different way of verbalizing it. How do we love the person but not the behavior and still make that person feel loved. I can tell you, I struggle with this question more often than I would like. The only answer I can offer is that if we stay closely attached to our Father, the vine, we will grow into strong branches that will encourage good fruit. We need to be always aware that God made every single one of us and he doesn’t want to lose even one of His precious sheep. We need to remember, “There but for the grace of God, go I?

We often hear the phrase, “be in this world, but not of it.” It isn’t biblical but is appropriate in this context. We’re all on a journey in search of home. The choices we make on this journey will determine our eternal home. We are no better or no worse than anyone  else, and whatever we’re hanging onto that separates us from Him, we need to “Let Go and Let God.” If we can walk the walk, and talk the talk every day that we live, perhaps someone else will be encouraged to make their own decision to answer His call as well. Isn’t that what he asks of us?

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NLT

Sometimes I like to consider a passage from different perspectives. The Message expresses this passage, another of my favorites, very well.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.
Micah 6:8 MSG


“The Appropriate Pruning Time”

By: Marcy Barthelette

I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing He prunes back so it will bear even more. John 15:1-2

I don’t know about you, but my tiny thread of patience is growing even thinner dealing with storm after storm, after yet another series of storms. I just may have mentioned in the past that patience is not one of my strengths, but come on, this spring has offered up a plethora of storms. I choose the word plethora because one of our beloved weather forecasters used it often during the hours of continuous coverage when tornado warnings were in place. It seemed inconsistent with his typical vocabulary so it stuck. I think I’m becoming much too familiar with those weather people.

At any rate, the storms have been ruling our life’s schedule for weeks now. Questions like, “Do we have enough time to sneak in a grocery run?” “Is the grass dry enough to mow before the next rain/hail event?” “Do we need to park a vehicle in our neighbor’s extra garage?” “Where did you put those documents or keys or my wallet?” Well, you know, it’s all packed to go into the storm shelter. And so it goes. Our weather Apps seem to be issuing constant notifications of another round of all kinds of destructive weather.

I just want to spend some time in my landscape beds. If the bunnies have left anything for me, I’ll need to prune and deadhead to keep whatever remains out there in a healthy condition. Spring is the optimum time for pruning lilacs, azaleas, and other early shrubs, just after their blooms die off. Blooms appear on the previous year’s wood, so, if you wait until later in summer or fall, you’ll be cutting off next year’s blooms. The foliage left behind by my spring bulb plants needs to be cut back when it begins to fade, and the few blooms that the bunnies didn’t eat need to be protected, somehow, from those sharp little teeth.  

Our oaks and maples are always in need of pruning, but many of the dead branches are too high to reach. This is when spring storms come in handy. You see, God does a pretty good job of pruning away what doesn’t belong. His spring storms bring dead branches to the earth where they can be ground for mulch or thrown on the fire.

Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.  John 15:6

He does the same for us. Sometimes we carry around too much baggage and it damages our ability to live like Jesus taught us by His own example. He knows we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but He wants to offer us the opportunity to be better. When trouble comes your way and things just can’t seem to go right, He may be pruning you a bit to equip you for something much better. So even as I say, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me now,” I know that whatever is happening is part of a much larger blueprint, and whatever God has in store, He’ll let me know in His good time.

I share a few of the lyrics from the lovely praise song, Tend, and hope they say something special to you. They capture the essence of one of my favorite scripture passages from John, used above, and taken this time from The Message. You can hear the whole song on YouTube.

In the landscape of my life, You don’t rush through any season, You always take your time. A careful hand, a gentle guide, You take what’s dead away and You prune what’s running wild.


So be the gardener of my heart, tend the soil of my soul

Break up the fallow ground, cut back the overgrown

And I won’t shy away, I will let the branches fall

So what You want can stay and what You love can grow.

Emmy Rose, Jessie Early, and Michaela Gentile



A Uniquely Ordinary Life

By: Marcy Barthelette

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

I learned early in life that books could take me to places I could only dream of and introduce me to people who would become my heroes. I devoured stories about men and women who made great scientific discoveries or fought valiantly for our nation’s freedom and I feasted on tales of explorers setting foot on new ground. I dived into the Mayflower’s cruise across the Atlantic with gusto. I rode alongside Paul Revere to alert the countryside of eminent danger. I sat through long, restless nights with Abe Lincoln and best of all, I travelled the Missouri River and then the mighty Columbia with Lewis and Clark. More recently, I wondered how it would feel to be Thomas Edison and invent the light bulb or Jonas Salk and develop the vaccine for polio. And how about being the first man to step from a space ship down onto the moon?

As an adult, imagine my surprise at the reality that sailing on the Mayflower was certainly no party cruise. It involved tremendous sacrifice and a lot of plain old fortitude. The revolution meant grueling years of fighting and loneliness and being without food, clean water or even shoes. Freedom wasn’t and never will be free. Old Abe was a man revered by many but hated by many more. His desire to keep our country united cost him dearly. And as for Lewis and Clark, for every new wonder they beheld in this land of plenty, there was a danger that threatened to claim their lives. Mr. Edison endured numerous failures along the way to perfecting that light bulb and Mr. Salk spent countless years in the lab before a reliable vaccine finally made its way to the population. I can’t even imagine the rigorous training required to facilitate human space travel, but I assure you Neil Armstrong felt every moment of it. Have I lost my enthusiasm for their stories? Certainly not, but reality does illuminate them through a new lens.

As I muse over all the dreams I’ve dreamt about finding cures for disease or traveling the world to discover unknown islands or caverns, I have often felt my life has been very dull indeed. All that adventure fueled my rich imagination but it also left me wondering why my life seemed so ordinary. When we view life from the perspective of one event, we fail to see the cumulative depth of even our own stories. But as a whole book, they create an exciting story that is uniquely our own.

I’ve visited the re-created Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts and walked the soil that Pilgrims so diligently worked. I’ve strolled the Freedom Trail in Boston and seen the home that once belonged to Paul Revere. I’ve been to Gettysburg, where one can almost hear the cannons roar as President Lincoln prepares to deliver his Emancipation Proclamation. And, while I’ve never made it to the west coast, I have visited Missouri sites where Lewis and Clark passed through, and I still have hope of traveling their journey to that far shore. I’ve seen the tales of science and space travel in museums across our country. I have listened to the roar of the mighty Niagara as it tumbles over cliffs to pools below. I’ve stood atop Pike’s Peak and gazed at the other surrounding “fourteeners,” their name alluding to their height. I’ve watched snow form from the trees on one side of Clingman’s Dome and dump itself on the other side. I’ve dipped my toes into the Atlantic from Maine to Florida and marveled at the blue-green waters and white sugar sand beaches of the Gulf shore.

As a child, I was blessed by the love and protection of parents who had little materially, but were wealthy beyond measure in their dedication to showing me, by example, the way I should live. As I grew into adulthood and spread my wings, I wasn’t always the person they taught me to be and I certainly wasn’t always the person God created me to be. But life’s  events began to turn me around. As an expectant mom, I felt the sheer delight of new life stirring within me and I later laughed at a toothless little grin until I realized that adorable smiling little face was expressing the joy of downloading all that strained food I’d worked so hard to prepare into her diaper. How could I ever have thought that was cute? I’ve cheered toddlers through their first steps and sent kindergartners off into a big world of new beginnings. I’ve cried tears of joy at graduations, weddings, and births of another generation. I’ve been a working mom and a single mom. I’ve seen life from many angles.

For many, but not all, of my adventures and misadventures, I’ve had a wonderful husband at my side to share the experience. We became a blended family when our kids where thirteen, twelve, and ten. We’ve sat up many nights with a sick or anxious child but spent many more at programs and games and holidays with those same children. And in our older years, we’ve celebrated and agonized with our grandchildren through those same growth cycles. Life goes on.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the events in my life and, large or small, they create a composite that is uniquely me, a rich tapestry woven together with threads of all the people and experiences that have filled these years. Contrary to my earlier belief, there’s nothing ordinary about my story. It’s filled with twists and turns, successes and failures, good times and trying times. It’s the life God gave me and He’s traveled every road with me, even if I forgot momentarily that He was there. He’s never let me down and He never will. And I am absolutely certain He still has a few adventures ahead for me.  

Every book has its calm waters that set the stage for an exciting finish. Our lives are much like that. We don’t have to travel to find adventures. They’re all around us, on the other side of town, across the street, and in our own backyards, just waiting for us to open the cover of the book and turn the page. If you sometimes think your time on earth is or has been meaningless, take a closer look at all God has done for you, go out and write a new chapter, then repeat a much-used phrase from our beloved Pastor Phil, “It’s all good!” And it’s all uniquely YOU!



My Roller Coaster Week

By: Marcy Barthelette

It’s Sunday evening. Mother’s Day is drawing to a close and so is a roller-coaster week. We’ve experienced euphoric highs and some very scary lows.

For most of us, the week began with a forecast of severe storms, so I went through my usual checklist for readying the storm shelter. We coasted through that first storm pretty well, but the shelter remained stocked and our car stayed in a neighbor’s garage for two more days because another round of storms was making tracks for our area.

On Tuesday, our youngest daughter had a bone scan following an abnormal lab result discovered during a routine visit with her oncologist. And then came the waiting. We were blessed with a quick turn around on the results and even more blessed that the outcome was excellent…no evidence of disease in the bones. That was our really high point. Only hours later, we found ourselves in the storm shelter waiting for the tornado that struck Monett and Aurora to make its way to Clever. Miraculously, it broke apart after doing its mischief in those two towns. So Wednesday we were cautious, then up, then down, and up again. It was dizzying!

On Friday, we attended the event at Aldersgate featuring Ethan and Sara Forhetz where we received a dynamic message that challenged each of to take a closer look at our faith.

Saturday, the Aurora Borealis made an appearance in the Ozarks and, though we couldn’t see it from our home, our kids in the country had an awesome experience staring into the very face of one of God’s many wonders. They shared incredible photos with us.  

By Sunday, we thought we couldn’t possibly handle much more excitement, but we had decided to visit Silver Dollar City, and though I was skeptical of trying this on Mother’s Day, we went. Ken has great memories of hearing Rhonda Vincent when she was very young and just getting her start in the world of Bluegrass music. In fact, his kids played with her younger brother at the various Bluegrass festivals. It’s very questionable that you will get in to one of her shows but we managed to be in the right place at the right time and were ushered to two of only a few remaining seats. None too soon either. The show began momentarily and we needn’t have worried about missing church because we had a good old-fashioned country church type gospel sing.

As the last offering of her show, Rhonda announced that she wanted to have a choir on stage and invited any audience members who wished to join her to come down. I knew Ken wanted to go, but he kept hesitating until I nearly pushed him into the aisle. As he started up the stairs, I saw him with his arm around a lady whom I soon realized was a dear old friend whom we hadn’t seen in a while. They had a great time singing, Ken visited briefly with Rhonda, and old friends got together for a bit of a reunion. It turns out that Kathy’s husband had pushed her into the aisle as well. What are the odds that we would all be there in that building at the same time, that Ken and Kathy would reach those stairs at the same moment and we would all four be treated to a totally unexpected afternoon together. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I don’t think any of the past week’s roller coaster had anything to do with chance. God was with us every moment of every day, during the good and the bad times.

The fun didn’t end there. The four of us went around a few corners to a different venue to hear our own Casey and Kelly Freeland, along with their band, and they surely didn’t disappoint. I hadn’t heard Casey and the Attaboys in a long time but I quickly recalled how truly entertaining they are. We hear them in our own church but it’s fun to see them in a different setting playing and singing the music they all love. Wish we could see them much more often.

Our last stop was on the log cabin porch listening to the Homestead Pickers playing some great gospel and some really fun Bluegrass. What an end to such a beautiful day. The weather was great, I had Mother’s Day wishes from all the kids, we got to see old and dear friends, and heard some of the best music you could ever hope to hear. I don’t know what new adventures may have happened by the time you read this. But one thing I do know, the Lord is the same; yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our lives may pass through countless twists and turns, we may journey to the deepest valleys and the highest mountaintops. Wherever we travel, whatever circumstances we encounter, He will be right there by our side. Through all of this topsy, turvy week, I have felt His peace around me, tugging me a little closer and bringing me comfort. I pray you have that peace as well.

The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need…Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid…my cup overflows with blessings! (Excerpts from the twenty third Psalm)


All You Ever Wanted to Know About Ants

By: Marcy Barthelette

A few weeks ago, we took a leisurely drive down to Table Rock State Park and stopped by the campground for a visit with our youngest daughter’s family. We had no specific plans so we enjoyed a laid back afternoon talking, walking, and sharing a few snacks. At some point, we noticed that our granddaughter, now thirteen, was crouched to the ground pointing her phone at something that was consuming her entire focus. She was actually recording a colony of ants as they were transporting a chunk from one of our said snacks across the pavement, presumably to their cozy little anthill.

Needless to say, this parade of tiny insects encountered numerous obstacles on their journey—you know, a leaf here, a stick there, not to mention a sizeable crack in the pavement. It must have looked like the Grand Canyon to those tiny creatures. By now, all ten of our eyes were keeping track of the ant colony’s progress and cracking a few jokes about them as well. Our guys exhibit quite a bit of wit in this type of situation.

Needless to say, we’ve all experienced an invasion of ants in our homes or on a long awaited picnic and, trust me, no one is quicker to react to ants in the kitchen than I am, but if we get down to their level and really take a good look, these are interesting and industrious creatures. Just for fun, here are a few ant facts, all gleaned from the internet, so they must be true. I did choose to quote the more reliable of my resources, National Geographic:

Depending on the species, an ant can carry up to fifty times its own weight.

Worldwide, there are about twelve thousand species and ants can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Ants live very long lives. The queen of one particular species can survive up to thirty years.

Watch your step!

In the year 2000, an anthill in Argentina was determined to be a single colony of some thirty three ant populations merged into one super colony that stretched 3700 miles with millions of nests and billions of workers.

There are more fun facts but I’ll let you check them out for yourselves.

Perhaps the most interesting factor in the life of the ant colony is that each group of ants has a specific job to do and they all work together for the good of everyone in the colony.

How does all this ant info possibly connect to anything other than a fun afternoon for our family…well, here it is folks. Last Sunday morning, twenty young sixth graders stood in front of the 11:11 congregation and, after many weeks of study, community service projects, team-building activities and leadership opportunities here in our church, they openly professed their faith. Some were baptized, others reaffirmed their baptisms, and some entered into full member fellowship with Aldersgate. They took that big first step, but what comes next?

At the same time these young people made their vows, we, as a church took a vow to support them. That means we all need to strive to set an example that glorifies God. We may never have a conversation with any of these confirmands, but if they see us doing something contrary to Bible teachings, it can make a lasting impression. It may say, “If they can do it, so can I!”  

Just like those industrious ants, we need to focus together on the task at hand. If one stumbles, others should rush to carry the load. If one doesn’t feel worthy, we should build that one up until their faith is strengthened. If one should turn away, we should not rest until we have done all we can to return that one to the family. After all, Jesus did, and He was our example. May we, as the adult ants in this colony, do all we can to teach by example, to encourage, to build up all our young people so they can become good leaders of our families, our churches, our communities. May that fire in their hearts for Jesus at the moment they made their vows continue to burn brightly when they face adversaries or begin to doubt. They will stumble as we all do, but let’s be there to lift them back up and restore their faith. People of Aldersgate, we’re all on a journey and we’re all homeward bound. Our path is filled with challenges, but together we can do, just like the ants.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6


Stormy Skies

By: Marcy Barthelette

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39

Last week left some of us wondering where Jesus was when the rains came tumbling down in torrents, flooding streets and streams, and causing day to resemble night. For a bit I thought we might be having another solar eclipse, a very long one. Everyone we talked to was joking about building arks. For most of us, the storms were an inconvenience, but for some, rapidly rising water became a life and death trial. Several notable water rescues were reported by local news stations. And our weather forecasting teams were in their element, warning everyone to “turn around, don’t drown” and making sure we knew all our severe weather safety tips. They claim they aren’t sharing their predictions of baseball sized hail, sixty mile an hour winds, and, oh yes, the stray tornado or two that will likely pop up, to frighten us. They just want us to be prepared.  

We all know that the tag line of any story gathers more interest and higher ratings when it hints at frightening consequences or an unpredictable outcome. Alas, our trusted weather icons are no different. And so, when we hear predictions of large hail, the vehicles go in the garage. Strong wind means the deck furniture is clustered and its profile reduced. If the forecast includes possible tornadoes, my go-bag is packed for a trip to the safe room if and when the siren sounds. And we don’t hesitate to take advantage of that safe room if needed.

How did we manage back in the days when all the sophisticated weather predicting technology didn’t exist. When the sky darkened and we heard thunder in the distance, we went inside because we assumed it was going to rain. If winds were howling and we heard a sound that resembled a freight train, we rushed to the basement or cellar to ride it out. If we lived near water and saw it rising, we knew when it was time for us to evacuate.

Then and now, one thread probably remains the same, the unknown always packs a punch of good old-fashioned fear. It’s a natural human emotion and we’ve all fallen prey to it at one time or another. And the storms of our lives may be natural disasters, I’ve personally been witness to many of those, or they may be metaphorical. Our storms could be of a financial nature, or they could result from health issues. Broken relationships, lost careers, depression or PTSD are just a few of the storms we must navigate. And, my friends, none are easy.

We have a great family living across the street from us and they have a philosophy about life that seems very sound to me. It goes something like this: If I live to see another day, I’ll have more time to spend with family and friends. But if I die tonight, I’ll have eternity to spend with Jesus. Either way I’m a winner! I can’t think of a better way to approach life.

We all live in an ocean filled with both tranquil days and raging waves but with Jesus at the helm, all is well! As you travel through the storms of life and find yourself approaching an unexpected or imperfect ending, fear not! Just around the corner lies a perfect new beginning.

Jesus wasn’t thrown off by thunderstorms [when he walked this earth], and He’s not caught

off guard by the storms in our lives now. It might look like Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat,

but He’s actually fixing the rudder. Bob Goff, Live in Grace, Walk in Love (Paraphrased)

This story developed a Postscript: I had just completed writing on Sunday evening and was settled into starting a new puzzle while Ken surfed the online news stories of the day. The storms of the weekend were winding down and our lives were beginning to feel normal again. I’d taken my phone with me in anticipation of a good night text from my granddaughter and it suddenly jumped to life with a weather service warning of a tornado near us. We made a hasty trip to our safe room where we waited through the sound of wailing sirens, wind and heavy rain until our local warning expired. Luckily, we hadn’t lost power and our cell phones had a decent signal through the steel walls that shielded us. And, praise God, we were spared to live another day. We learned that the tornado had touched down just a couple of miles from our home. Once the adrenaline spike wore off we watched radar for a couple more hours to be sure the storms had cleared our kids’ home as well.

We were safe, but this past weekend had been costly for many in mid America. Some lost loved ones to raging water and twisting winds. Others lost all their material possessions and are wondering where to start picking up the pieces. To them we offer our prayers and whatever tangible assistance we can.

We just never know when unexpected storms will shove us down a path we never expected, but we can be ready for whatever comes if we choose to let Jesus take the helm of our boat. And that sunshine we woke to on Monday morning? Well, it sure looked good!


Keeping the Lines Open

By: Marcy Barthelette

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

In recent weeks, Ken and I have traveled a lot of backroads, searching for spring. And we found it, around every curve, deep in every valley, and atop every hill. Drifts of yellow daffodils marked homesteads long forgotten. The humble violet hugged the ground in regal purple hues. Pear trees created clouds of creamy white and draped them over the landscape. Our beloved redbud trees painted the hillsides and roadways in beautiful shades of pink. And then came the dogwood and they really showed their stuff this year.  

The backroads were not the only places springing to life. Neighborhoods and business complexes all around the Ozarks joined in the parade of colors, the latest being azaleas. I think it is safe to say that spring 2024 has officially sprung!

I also think it very fitting that in this part of the world, we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in springtime, when everything is waking to new life. It’s hard for me to imagine saying Happy Easter in fall when leaves are turning color and tumbling to the ground. The resurrection is all about new life, a new way of communicating with God, through Jesus, the Intercessor.

It was also in spring, April of 2020, in fact, when a new publication, a new way of communicating, was introduced to the Aldersgate family. It was called the Gatepost Weekly and it was intended to keep our family of believers connected during the COVID pandemic. It informed churchgoers of the various programs that were being offered via Zoom. We learned that we could attend services and meetings online and, while most would prefer in-person worship, the internet, through various media kept us hearing our familiar music, sharing in communion, and learning how to cope with all the challenges we facedthrough the messages of our pastors. And for those who can’t attend in-person, our services remain online each week. Once the pandemic ended, and while we recovered from the darkness of a winter season into the new life of spring, communication was still the key element for keeping our family connected.

Today, our weekly email message provides information about activities happening at Aldersgate, trips and projects for our youth and a quick connection for them to sign up, news of Bible studies, ministry opportunities, introductions to new staff members and so much more. Gatepost Weekly continues to be a valuable element in our communications program.

I recall Casey Freeland’s request, four years ago, that I consider writing an article for the print version of Gatepost. At the same time, she casually mentioned this new email endeavor that she was preparing to birth and suggested I might want to write something for it. I gave it a try and we’re still going strong. To all of you who read or comment or encourage the words I share, I say a heartfelt thank you. And I extend my gratitude to Casey for creating eye-catching announcements and coordinating everything that goes into the making of a great publication, one that continues to keep us all connected and informed. I especially thank her for offering me the opportunity to contribute. It truly does bless me. Happy fourth anniversary to Gatepost Weekly! Here’s to many more.

As Christians, we have the responsibility and the privilege of maintaining our personal lines of communication with God, of keeping them free and uncluttered from the distractions of the world around us. Jesus suffered and died that we might be offered the gift of resurrection, from wherever we have fallen. So, as the earth is coming back to life in all its glory, listen for His voice, tell Him what’s on your mind. He’s always there and He wants to hear from you. Rejoice….Christ lives!

Rejoice always! I Thessalonians 5:16




Helicopters Diving to Earth

By: Marcy Barthelette

Then God said: Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.

Genesis 1:11

No need for concern about my title…I’m not referring to those large birds that carry people. These helicopters are the twirly, whirly seed pods that dive into our yard every spring populating the holes in our gutter guards, hiding behind windshield wipers, filling every crack in any pavement, and making a general nuisance of themselves. They fall from a silver maple out front and two lovely red maples in the back yard. I don’t know if everyone knows them as helicopters or not, but we have described them as such for as long as I can remember. Before we know it, they’ll be poking new life through the earth in huge numbers and creating havoc in my landscape beds. They love to hide underneath larger plants until their roots grow deep enough that I have difficulty pulling them.   

A closer study of these little gems of nature reveals a blueprint for life that only God could create. The helicopters consist of a seed tucked deep in the pointed end of the structure. The top part is a much thinner membrane that is the single blade of these fearless fliers. The design is so simple, the heavier seed on the point falls to the ground first, followed by the delicate blade, twisting and turning in the breeze. There have been mornings when I’ve looked out over the yard and witnessed thousands of those wispy little blades standing tall above the grass, having safely delivered their payload. The blade will wither and fall away while the seed begins to swell, ultimately breaking free from its shell. Tiny roots will reach down in hope of finding fertile soil. And soon, a tiny new tree will emerge. A perfect plan, an incredible design, and one of the many miracles that surround us every day.

But, alas, so many detours can block those healthy little trees from becoming the giants that grace our lawn and shade us from the sun. My research into the fate of maple seeds introduced their scientific name as samaras. Personally, I like helicopters better and I think it describes them perfectly. I learned that my trees, the red and silver maple, along with the Norway maple, take top production honors. Some estimates suggested twelve to twenty thousand in a single year. That’s one tree and we have three.

The seeds are not particular where they fall and require no specific soil or conditions. The germination rate can reach seventy-five to eighty percent in two to six days and total germination is often eighty-five to ninety-one percent. Our three trees can produce thirty to sixty thousand seeds per year and using the lowest rate of germination, we could have twenty-seven to forty-five thousand trees planted by nature in our yard. Of course, some of them blow into neighboring yards and many are quickly scooped up by birds and squirrels. Many more meet the fate of the mower blade while still others become victims of my keen eye and unforgiving hands. In the end, no new trees survive our onslaught and that of the critters, because when you add two very prolific oak trees to our equally prolific maples, we have quite enough trees, thank you. But don’t fret… because some of those seeds drifted off to other locations and some were carried by birds and other critters who feasted on their goodness. God’s perfect plan was not thwarted just because we eliminated the newly sprouted trees from our yard. They will thrive in their new homes and become beautiful trees.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our trees. They give us wonderful shade from hot summer sun, offer a nesting place for birds and squirrels, and fall is a continuous palette of reds, yellows, and oranges with coppery highlights. Even more, I love the individual plan that God set forth for every living thing. His plan is one of intricate simplicity. You may view those two words as a contradiction, but when applied to the whole of a lifespan, they are accurately descriptive. And guess what….He has a perfect plan for you too.

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22