Leaving a Legacy

Our daughter Hannah and I were talking last week about all the trees my father planted over the years and the legacy that he left for our family. After purchasing (with the Day family) over 100 acres on Piney Mountain Road here in Jackson County in 1960, Dad took great pleasure in planting a row of 12 different trees along the road up the mountain. Each tree he transplanted was from the property and he loved the variety. If I remember correctly, these trees included American holly, red oak, tulip poplar, dogwood, hemlock, beech, white pine, spruce, maple, walnut, red oak, and sassafras. The trees that still live are huge 63 years later!

Once, after visiting my brother and his wife in Oregon, Dad brought back a number of seedlings from a beautiful Japanese maple that grew in their yard. Each seedling was about 3 inches long and he put them in a baggie with a moistened paper towel. Dad was thrilled as those seedlings grew. We now have two of those Japanese maples that are lovely trees and turn a bright red in the fall. We gave three others to a daughter in Hickory and those trees still grace the front yard of their home. Another daughter planted one in her backyard, they have since moved to another location. When Mom and Dad moved back to Wheaton, Illinois to live in a retirement community, Dad took one of the Japanese maples from Oregon and planted it next to their patio outside their apartment. That tree started in Oregon, was transplanted in North Carolina, and then transplanted in Illinois. As far as I know it is still there. We call all these trees “Grandpa’s Japanese maples” and often recount their origins.

One of my favorite “tree” stories involving my father was shared by my older brother. It began on a trip to visit our parents in Florida…

Mitzi and I had arrived from Oregon the evening before and after breakfast, Dad took us on a walk around the park. As he always did, Dad was naming and admiring the various plants. Dad said, “I have always wanted a Royal Palm. I first saw them in Hawaii during the War and I admire their unique beauty.” I asked Dad if he could plant one here on the lot they leased to park their Airstream travel trailer. Dad said they were allowed to plant as long as they tended the plants and left all perennials when they terminated their lease. I told Dad I wanted to buy him a Royal Palm for his birthday. So the next time we went to town we stopped by a plant nursery. Dad found a beautiful palm about 8 ft. high and I could tell he admired it. Then he looked at the price and immediately started looking at the smaller trees. I asked Dad how fast Royal Palms grow. His reply came as slowly as his answer – “Very slowly”. “Dad,” I said. “You are 85 years old. If you get one of those smaller trees, you are not likely to live long enough for it to grow as tall as you. I’m getting you the bigger one.”

My father enjoyed that Royal Palm for several years and now someone else is enjoying it

Clayton Barker, my father, left a legacy of trees across this country. Many of those trees will live for many years to come. Yet some of those trees have died, some have been cut down to “make room” for something else.

My father left a greater legacy – one that is eternal. Dad’s love for his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is a legacy that will never get cut down and will never die. His children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren who have chosen to follow Jesus as Dad, Grandpa, Great-grandpa did are a legacy that is eternal.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

#In My Garden with God


On our father’s 90th birthday…May, 2014

Our Women’s Community Bible Study will be starting back this week. We will be studying the book of Exodus, so I have been doing a bit of background reading. Exodus is of course the story of  ancient Israel’s exodus from bondage in Egypt. It “reveals what is required of them in a relationship with God, but also what God had graciously done to make that relationship possible.” *

That is the question humans have asked since the beginning of time!

As the Living Word, the Bible tells not only the historical account of the Israeli exodus, but the parallel truth of our journey from the bondage of self and sin to the freedom of Christ’s redemption.

This will be a GOOD study!

I have also been thinking of the “exit” of my Mother to heaven three months ago. Throughout the holidays I thought of her often as memories of Christmas past were recalled. I made the caramel popcorn she always made from Grandma Barker’s recipe. I used her beautiful holly china and silverware that had been her wedding present. ( I left the table “set” for a month because it looked so pretty and reminded me of Mother.)

My brother Garry, (the middle of the three of us standing in the top picture) recently sent me the following thoughts –

“I was musing about the biblical injunction to “honor your father and mother”. When I was young I understood this to mean to obey.  Then when I had older children I saw how precious it was when they showed kindness to me and I tried to do that to mom and dad, thinking that the honoring stopped when they died.  Now I realize that one gives honor to your father and mother by living the way they taught, even when they are gone. May we cherish Christ as they did!”

What a meaningful expression of “honor”. My parents loved God and lived their lives to honor Jesus Christ. They were not perfect. Yet they loved each other, their children, and their wide circle of friends well. Mother’s notebook by her Bible had notes from the last sermon and Sunday School class she attended at College Church. At 90 she still knew she needed to remain in God’s Word and in fellowship.

I saw in my parent’s lives their pursuit of a meaningful relationship with God. I saw them struggle at times when circumstances like caring for aging parents and illness challenged their ability to “die to self”. I saw them seek God’s forgiveness and to walk in forgiveness to others.

As I study the book of Exodus, I know I will be reminded of the spiritual legacy my parents have left us. I also know I will be challenged to be set free from the bondage of sin and the idols that I allow to grab my attention. When God gave Moses the 10 commandments He said –

12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.              Exodus 20:12

May I honor the God of my father (and mother) by living the way they taught, by following God and being an example to future generations.


PS – If you are a women, and live in Jackson County, you are welcome to join our Bible study of the book of  Exodus. It is made up of women from about 15 different churches in our community. Just contact me for details.

Leaving a Legacy

Lincoln and advent

Our daughter Hannah recently shared this story with a group she leads at her church – MOPS – Mothers of Pre-schoolers. She sent it to me and I thought I would pass it on as a “guest blog post”. I hope it blesses you as it did me.
“Thank you for letting me share a story with you today, but first I have a challenge for all of us moms. Whether we birthed our kids, adopted them, and/or fostered them, God still made us moms and we must raise them in this troubled world. This is a heavy responsibility, but one we can accomplish when empowered by God. And, thankfully we also have the encouragement of our friends here at MOPS. So, my challenge for all of us is this:

What legacy are we leaving with our kids?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter
• how much television your kids watch,
• how late their bedtime is,
• whether they sleep with you every night – or in their own room,
• whether you spank or use time outs,
• whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, or both,
• whether you sent your kids to pre-school or home schooled or neither,
• how long it takes for you to upgrade your six year-old to a booster seat.

We moms disagree on all of these topics. But, bottom line, what really matters is how our children understand our FAITH. Do they see it? Do they know the real reason for Christmas?
On the wall of my kitchen hangs this quote I want to share with you. It was written by Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham.

“For the Busy Mother, the pressures of daily living tend not so much to CRUSH as to DISTRACT and DIVERT us from our main purpose. They ‘scatter’ us. How easy I have found it to go through the motions of being a mother but without the real object in view. Our main purpose in life is to lead our children early to know Jesus Christ and to train them to live according to His standards – it’s a daily job. “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.” Time for us mothers is slipping by quickly and we cannot afford to be distracted. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 speaks about the ten commandments and then the Greatest Commandment – to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and might. Specifically that we should “teach them diligently to our children, talk of them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise.”

Twenty one years ago I was riding in a van on the way home from a youth group hayride. I’m from the mountains of North Carolina and the roads are curvy, up and down and around the mountains. The car I was riding in was struck by a speeding Corvette. The crash resulted in two deaths, four hospitalizations, and injuries for the passengers. I sustained a closed head injury and was air lifted to the large hospital 50 miles away in Asheville. I was in a coma for approximately three days.

My parents kept a vigil at my bedside and prayers from folks literally around the world were offered up for me and the others. My father went home on the third day to check in with my siblings who were staying with family friends and pick up changes of clothes for himself and my mother.

While mother was alone with me she began singing Silent Night while gazing at the Christmas lights shining throughout downtown Asheville. Suddenly, as Mom tells it, I began singing with her. I awoke from the coma to join my mom in singing Silent Night.

I’ve told this story probably 200 times and now that I’m a mom, it feels different to tell it. What would I do if this happened to one of my kids? Would I be in constant prayer at her bedside? Of course I would be – but I need to be reminded that life is precious and so fragile. Horrible things happen all the time – many of us in this room have had miscarriages, several have had stillborn babies, perhaps some of you have buried a child, and for lots of us, medical issues are very familiar. My Mom stayed by my side and sang about Jesus to me, and as I woke up, I was singing with her.

That’s my mom’s legacy to me.

As soon as I woke up, all my vital signs improved dramatically and I was only in the hospital for a total of six days – 2 ½ of those I was comatose. Every time I hear Silent Night I thank God for life.

Because of Jesus’s birth and God’s love for us, we can pass on this amazing love to our kids and to each other. Miracles do happen – I am one of them and I am so grateful that I was able to grow up, marry a wonderful man, have four kids, and share this mothering journey with all of y’all.”