Our Friend, The Gentle Giant

I didn’t particularly want to move to Rhode Island.  I was pregnant with our first child and didn’t want to move 1,580 miles away from my family and friends just as I was preparing to experience some amazing “firsts.” But the main reason I didn’t want to move so far away from my support network? K and I could barely stand to be in the same room. This was supposed to be one of the most special times of our life together and we didn’t even like each other. But we were playing nice because we were the grown-ups and we were soon going to be parents, so we had to start acting like we had a clue even if we didn’t.

We visited several churches, and if I’m not mistaken, we found Newport Community Church through a little advertisement in the paper. At the time they were meeting in a little house-like building. NCC was not like the church we’d left in Louisiana, but it was exactly what we needed at that point in the life of our family. We quickly became friends with the pastor and his wife. Barr and Ruth and the other members welcomed us into the church as if we were family. Over the year that we lived in Rhode Island, they became our family away from home.

Our firstborn was the first baby born into the congregation. In many churches, it’s common to have a baby dedication service. The pastor prays for the baby and the parents and the parents express their desire to raise their child to know and love God. Barr had never led a dedication service before. Our baby was his first!  

Not long before we moved from Rhode Island, K’s parents came to visit us.  On the day after they arrived, K’s father, who had been in great health, suffered a heart attack and a subsequent brain bleed. He was transferred to a hospital in Providence. Barr and Ruth and our church family were such a support to us as K’s family flew in to be with us. They provided food and transportation to and from the hospital. K’s dad passed away while he was in the hospital and Barr was holding his hand and praying with the family as Pap left this world and entered heaven.

Even though K and I had Godly mentors in our lives before we met Barr and Ruth, God used that couple to melt the ice that had built up around our hearts. Barr is a wonderful expositor of God’s Word and as we begin to live out the truths that we were learning and moved closer to God, K and I found ourselves moving closer to each other.

Barr and Ruth visited us when we lived in Hawaii. K was out of town for work, but Firstborn and I so enjoyed our time with them. On one of our excursions, Barr and Ruth bought Firstborn a stuffed orange cat. That cat remains one of his most loved possessions. Here are a couple of pictures from the last time we saw Barr and Ruth:

DoleBlakeBarrkneel3-6-03DoleTrainA3-6-03When K’s mom came in town last week, we called Barr and Ruth to see if we could all get together. Ruth is out of town, but Barr drove up to have dinner with us tonight. It was as if we’d never left. I was so encouraged and comforted just by his presence in our home. As soon as he found out Barr was coming, Firstborn started counting down the days. He has been so excited for this day to finally get here. He and the Princess Diva made signs to welcome Barr. And then within 10 minutes of Barr’s arrival, we discovered that Firstborn had a fever. He went back to our room and slept for a couple of hours. He woke up just in time to tell Barr goodbye. It broke my heart. He was so very upset. But we assured him we’re planning to get together again after Ruth is back in town. I’m posting these mostly for my parents (who are huge Barr fans themselves) but feel free to take a look:

IMG_1281IMG_1282IMG_1285IMG_1283IMG_1287Nope. I really didn’t want to move to Rhode Island. But looking back, I am so thankful for the twelve-plus months we spent there. God used our time in Newport and especially our relationship with Barr and Ruth to begin to grow us into the couple and parents and family that He wanted us to be. We’re still a work in progress, but I can see so clearly how instrumental that time was in our lives. I know that’s one of the many reasons that I know that I can trust Him now in the midst of all these question marks.  Thanks, God, for using our time tonight with Barr to remind me that even when I don’t want to go where You’re leading, I’m always glad that I followed.



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18 responses to “Our Friend, The Gentle Giant

  1. I am always amazed when God places just who need in our lives and just the right time. After 14 years, and six moves, you’d think I’d just expect it, but I don’t. Surprised-by-God is always my reoccurring reality.

    This post (especially the last paragraph reminded me of Twila Paris’ song “Where He Leads Me”. With each move that song has been my mantra…

    Happy Friday!

  2. Whimzie, dear, no that I am praying for you. I heart you, girl…oh, and send me your address. Nope, I’m not sending you an encouraging note.

  3. I just put “no” that I’m praying for you. Wow. Me not so good with words right now, either!

  4. Deena

    Blessings to you my sweet friend! Can’t wait to see who the Lord brings into your life during the next stop along the way! Thanks for the testimony of how the Lord used some of his people to mend a broken part of your life.

  5. carpoolqueen

    I’m so glad we had this time together….Why do I feel like singing Carol Burnett?

    I’m sooo glad that you got to hang out with him. I know it was encouragement to your heart.

  6. I’m sitting here in tears (again) after re-reading this twice. I LOVE that God brought that family into your lives at a time when you needed them most.

    I LOVE that they’ve become part of YOUR family. Just looking at those pictures of Barr with your children is a gift to my heart…so I can’t imagine the level of gratitude that rises up in yours.

    How cool that you’re close enough for them to drive down to dinner.

    By the way, this is totally unrelated, but I have a blog friend who graduated from Ouachita that lives in Rhode Island. Have I ever told you that???
    You can link from my sidebar. Her blog is Stephanie’s Mommy Brain.

  7. Amy

    This is such a beautiful story of friendship! Thanks for sharing!! The pictures are fantastic, too!

  8. What a special time you guys had with your friend. I loved how honest you were at the beginning of this post about you and K b/c, my goodness, have we been there.

    I am thankful, too, for growth and for “getting a clue” like you said b/c of the instruments the Lord uses in our lives!

    Hope Firstborn is much better!

  9. Isn’t it great to have great, old friends like that? I’m glad that you had a chance to get together again!

  10. So veddy, veddy cool. The way God works is so humbling and so unseen at the time…I’m with Kellie. Surprised by God is apparently my reality, as well. Just when I think either things are hopeless in a certain situation, or that conversely, they can’t get any better in another–He moves.

    Beautiful, beautiful friendship.

    Hope firstborn is feeling better soon.

  11. Hi!

    I’m the friend Meredith mentioned. 🙂 Her comment about distance in RI made me smile. lol! We’ve been in RI since 1997. New England grows on you after nearly a dozen years. Now you have me wondering if there are any other OBU folks (we’re class of ’97) in the area!!

    Thanks for dropping by and introducing yourself.

  12. That was SO well said. It’s usually when we look back on something that we see the good that HE knew was there all along, even if it didn’t seem good to us at the time. Most times we’re not allowed the big picture that He sees, we’re just asked to trust. He will not lead us to somewhere where He is not.

    Thank you for sharing about you and K. It hit home for me… We moved away from our “home” town for 3 years, it was what we thought was right until everything seemed to be crashing in on us (my husbands job went sour and financial strain), and then God moved us back to our “home”. We kept asking ourselves “were we supposed to move away at all?? what good came from it?”, and it is finally NOW almost a year later that we are in complete awe and amazement of what God is doing in us and how he used that move in our lives!

    His ways are not our ways, but they’re always better! …sometimes we just need to wait to see it.

    I am so happy for you that you have that kind of friendship/mentorship! What a blessing!

  13. I agree with Tiff, I loved your honesty at the beginning of the post. Been there, done that…sometimes it’s reassuring to know that others have as well. And also have come through it. Anyhoo…..very sweet post and it sounds like they are special gems.

    I love how God puts people on our path when we least expect it!

  14. Oh, I love posts like these. I think perhaps my favorite part about being ‘older in the faith’ is that I have stories like this of my own… the ones that I can look at and remember that God triumphs… *sigh* beautiful, just beautiful.

  15. Again you touched my heart by sharing yours. We have an AWESOME God that knows exactly what we need at all times.

    My husband told me one time that unanswered prayers are never unanswered. God just chooses to answer them a different way than how we want things. In the end we always realize our Heavenly Father does know best!

    I am so glad you had a great visit with a dear friend. What an encouragement.

  16. I love how God places people in our lives JUST when we need ’em. Your friends sound like amazing people. What blessings!!!

    Our God is super cool like that!

  17. Alex

    Oh, the pineapple fields and the train! Hawaii misses you!

  18. Pingback: Long Time, No See « Snoodlings

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