I have decided share with you the first chapter of my book. I hope it will be a blessing to you. Please forgive the odd spacing. It is not transferring well. Hugs, Barbara
Polka-Dot Star Flowers: Real Help for Real People
B a r b a r a S m i t h
Copyright © 2008 Barbara Smith
All rights reserved.
To my Mother for always believing in me
To my Husband for bringing out the very
best in me
To my son Colin for loving me even when I
have been wrong
And to all my Dear Friends who have held
my hand along the way
Thank you all,
Polka-dot Star Flowers
Real help for real people
Something is missing. I see it missing in the faces of people I pass on the street. I see
the world looking for it in the movies I watch and in the books I read. It seems most of
the world is looking for the missing piece of the puzzle. Everyone has an idea what it
looks like, yet few find it. It is in our midst, but for most people it is just out of reach. We
recognize it when we see it though. We long for it, and sometimes we even find it for a
time, yet somehow, for most of us it always slips away. You were looking for it when
you picked up this book. You were probably looking for it in the last several books you
read, but this time it is going to be different: because this time you are not going to be
given a to-do list. This time you are going to be given what you are seeking: joy!
I found it and it is deep inside of me. Nothing can take it from me. Nothing can
change it. It is like the air I breathe. It is always with me. I have found the pot of gold at
the end of the rainbow, and it is not money, it is joy. Moreover, it is a joy that cannot be
taken from you. I am going to share the secret of lasting joy with you. If your life seems
nothing but grey, come with me. Take my hand and step into a life filled with joy.
That joy is Jesus. He loves you. Jesus loves you so much, that he gave up heaven for
a time, and lived as a man. He, the creator of all, became part of the creation. He came to
live, to teach, to die, and to rise again. He came to bear our sins as only God can do, and
to free us from them. He came to give us life and that abundantly. With that life will
I have a joy that can only come from God, because it is God. It is His spirit inside of
me. It has brought me through deep waters. I am planted in God’s love, and in His joy,
and I want to share that joy with you. God planned for you to have a joy-filled life. He
wrote a love story to us. It is a story filled with joy. Many people seem to miss that part
of the story. So I am here, writing to you this day to help you look deeply into the eyes
and heart of God. I want you to find the joy God is waiting to give you. It is His free gift.
It is a gift of love.
I am going to tell you my story in the next few pages. In the past, I have been
reluctant to reveal so much of myself. Then one day I realized that my story might bring
hope to another heart. There just might be another soul out there that had been wounded,
and needed healing. God was showing me that by keeping my past hurts tucked away, I
was robbing someone else of the chance to find a joy filled life. I think you need to hear
my story, so that you can see that the joy I have is not a natural one. It did not come from
an easy, trouble-free life. It came from Jesus. His heart touched mine. I hope that my
story can touch your heart briefly, so then Jesus can touch it forever. He can give each of
you what he has so freely given to me, joy.
I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of nine. I have never doubted the truth of that
commitment. God took hold of something deep inside me, and that has never wavered. I
feel Him with me every moment of my day.
I really do not remember a time without His heart with mine. I had a less than lovely
childhood. My parents had a lot of trouble- most of which I was blissfully unaware of
until they divorced when I was 11. I will not go into details, but it was an ugly divorce. I
suppose they all are. Both parents remarried, and both divorced again. Both married for a
third time. I lived with my mother and we moved to Iowa when I was 15. I had little
contact with my father. I met Tim (my now hubby) when I was a sophomore in high
school. He was a senior. We became fast friends. At the end of the school year, knowing
he was off to college soon I tried everything I could think of to get him to ask me out. I
finally asked him. That was it. We talked of “when we get married” from that night on.
We went along as typical teenagers do. I cannot see the use of going into detail here, but
you can fill in the pieces. We married when I was 17. Our first child was born 9 months
Tim finished nursing school, and then I started. Life went on, as lives tend to do.
Three children, and several moves later I got meningitis. I almost died. My parents had
been called to come (they were several states away). God was merciful and I lived. I had
such severe headaches I could no longer work. I had always wanted to be a stay at home
mom, but the world convinced me that was no longer a choice currently. God used that
illness to bring me home. I never worked again, even after I finally recovered.
It was after this, I think due to the fear of how tied up in each other we were, and that
he had almost lost me, that my husband had an affair. When I found out, I cried out to
God. I had always felt God with me, but had never gone to church after my parents
divorce. I begged and pleaded. I groveled. I really did. We managed to save our marriage.
It was one of the hardest times in my life, or so I thought. Worse was coming.
We had baby #4 after that. We found a place in the country, and rebuilt our lives. We
began to go to church together. Life seemed sweet. My husband became a Christian and
two years later baby #5 was on his way. I got a call one night. It was a police officer. He
asked me where my 13-year-old daughter was. I told him in bed. He asked me to go to
the door. There stood a police officer with her on our doorstep. She had tried to run away.
I found out that night that she had become involved with a girl at school who was into
“Satan worship”. I will not go into the personal details, except to say we were worried
about her safety. We ended up sending her to a boarding school for a year. We did not
know what else to do. We felt we could not effectively limit contact with this girl by
ourselves, as this girls parents were not willing to help. They saw nothing wrong in their
daughter’s activities. We got advice from several different professionals and they
recommended we not have her in our home until she had gotten professional help
breaking away from her influence. We could find only one school that would accept her,
and it was several states away. It took a full half of our income to have her there. It was
so painful, and God taught me a lot. We had pulled our kids from school by then, and
began home schooling. Our daughter came home a full year later, a professing Christian
and life went on. We began to live a very different kind of life. We read the Bible a lot,
and tried to live out what we thought was there. We had made many mistakes, but at the
time, it seemed we were on the right path. Babies kept coming, and I felt so very blessed.
In 1999, I was expecting baby # 10. Two weeks from my due date, our house burned
to the ground. We were asleep inside when the fire started. God woke me, and we all
escaped unharmed. We lost everything.
Two weeks later another daughter was born by c-section. We rented a house and
planned to rebuild. A month later, my oldest daughter announced she was moving out.
She hated all of us, and wanted out. She moved out and got heavily involved with
everything we had tried to protect her from. She eventually moved in with a man older
than her father. I thought my heart might never recover. I had lost everything it seemed.
My home was gone. All of our things were gone. We had been blessed to get out of a
burning house with all of children alive, only to lose this daughter to the world. We had
no contact with her at all. It all seemed so hopeless. Yet little by little, joy began to shine
through. The light on the inside soon lit up the darkness on the outside. We did rebuild.
Life went on. I studied the Bible. I counted my blessings. A few years later that daughter
hit bottom. She called. Mr. wonderful was not so wonderful. She left him and pulled her
life together. She went to college and received her four-year degree in only three years.
She graduated with high honors despite the fact that she had completely supported
herself, working full time, while in school. Things were looking on track again. God
blessed us with two more children over the next few years and life again was sweet.
In 2002, I found my then almost 19-year-old son engaged in serious self-destructive
behavior. He had problems with smoking in the past and we had found a porn magazine
in our home once. It appears the extent of his problems were much more serious than we
had realized. I will not go into details, but this was much more than smoking or dirty
magazines. When discovered he fled our home. I spoke to my son a few times on the
phone in the weeks to follow. I begged him to get help. He assured me he was going to
“work it out”.
A year later, when our 13th child was born he asked if he and his girlfriend could
come out to see the baby. I agreed. While here, an argument arose. His girlfriend then
told us that she knew how awfully we had treated him, throwing him out for smoking. I
told her she did not know the whole story. My son perceived I might tell her, and
attempted to run me over with his truck. I got a very badly bruised arm, and one heck of a
backache, but was other wise unharmed. I am not sure how I was not killed. One moment
the truck was dragging me backwards, and the next I was on my feet a couple of yards
away. I think my poor angel must get tired. I did not know where that son was for years.
He and I were so close as he was growing up, it was wonderful, then to not even know if
he was alive for almost four years was unimaginable. God kept me close. It still hurt. I
Life goes on. I have learned to trust in Christ alone as my happiness. Everything else
must be kept loosely in my hand. He alone can be my source of joy, because he alone is
unchanging. He alone is love. God has kept me, and loved me. I have poured myself into
being a wife and mother. I love my dear husband, who is a changed man. He is the lover
and partner all women dream of. It was not always so.
Then one day out of the blue, we got a call. It was from the child my husband had
fathered as a 16-year-old teenager. That child had been given up for adoption. I always
knew. She had found us. We have made her a part of our lives. She is flesh of my
husband, and we are one flesh. I could see no reason to constantly remind my dear
husband of his former mistakes. I accepted her as my own. She is a sweet spirit and we
love her and her husband dearly. She visits us, and we visit her.
We call her often, and she calls us often. She is treated in every way as the other
children are. They call her their sister- except our oldest daughter, who refuses to accept
her as a part of our family. Our oldest will not forgive us for making her a part of the
family. We had never told the children of this daughter. We did not know where she was,
and if we would ever have any contact with her. There did not seem to be any reason to
tell our children. At this time, my oldest daughter says she will never speak to me again.
It seems I have made so many mistakes with her. I never meant to. Each time we seem to
be over those mistakes, I make new ones. It hurts, and I lean on God.
Last year I joined an online weight loss group. I was too fat. I wanted to get this
weight off. I made myself at home on the boards, and enjoyed the friendship I found
there. As people got to know me, I started getting emails asking for advice. My marriage
is now a good, solid, happy one; they asked how I got that. My kids do so well in our
home school, and people began asking questions about that also. My day-to-day life is
filled with sunshine and joy. I have chosen to let God’s blessings make up for the pain of
this world. I look into His face each morning, and find the joy I need to carry on. The
pain of my past has been laid at the cross. I refused to pick it up again. I started
answering the emails. It seemed they just kept coming. I started two threads to make it
easier. I felt I was being allowed by God to share the love He had given me. The Bible
tells us that the older women should teach the younger how to love. I have tried to do
that. One of the threads has over 19,000 posts now. I have received over 600 private
emails, women asking for advice, or thanking me for my words. I felt God was using my
pain to help others heal.
I ended up with a ministry of sorts, just a ministry of love, of listening. Of pointing the
way to Jesus, who has been faithful to me all these years. Despite my mistakes. Despite
my pain. Love still wins. The sweet fellowship I get with Christ is worth it all. Nothing
this world has hit me with compares. I just wanted to share the peace and love I found in
the Bible with others. So there I was, teaching and loving and listening.
Then one Friday my dear second son, who I have such a sweet relationship with- the
son who has comforted me in many of my trials, the son who calls or emails me daily,
who asks me on dates so we can have some alone time, called and asked if he could meet
with me. At that meeting, he made the painful revelation that he had been living a lie for
years, feeling unable to talk to me about it… that he is gay.
Once again, my world shattered. I was on my knees. My husband looked like a
walking dead man. Grief had covered me like a wave. I looked again to Christ alone. He
held me tight. This place was so dark, but I could feel Christ holding me still. I still
believed, I still trusted. I did not doubt God. He sees more than I ever will.
My worst struggle was the women on my threads. I suppose that sounds so trivial. I
felt God placed me there to minister. I felt I was helping His kingdom in my own small
way. I wondered how many of those women would still want my advice if they knew all
of this? I never thought until then that my past mattered, because I thought I was past it. I
felt the problems with my older two kids were a direct result of things that happened
before my husband was saved. I decided to just tell them my whole story. All of it. I
posted a blog that contained a lot of what I have written here. I asked each of the women
to please read it that day.
I said I would drop off the threads unless they requested me to stay. I stayed off the
computer for two days. I could not bear to look. My mom, who was my partner on one of
the threads, called me. She wanted to know if I was reading the responses. I told her I
could not bear to look. She told me to get on there and read, so I did. I want to tell you
that I received email after email of loving support, page after page of women who loved
me, in spite of my past. Despite all the mistakes that had gone before. They reached out
in true Christian love to me. I think I received about 60 emails that first two days. I had
not even known that many women were reading my posts. Many of the ones who
responded had been reading along, but never posting. As I read their loving words to me
the tears began again, but they were cleansing tears. Tears like morning rain, refreshing
and renewing. I had exactly two women who responded in a negative fashion. They not
only felt I had no right to talk about God with my past, but warned the other women that
they would be punished if they had anything to do with me. They posted on the actual
thread, warning all who were there of God’s anger with them for loving me. 100% of the
other woman stayed anyway.
So I continued the work God had placed in my hands, I picked up the pieces of my
heart and placed them in the hands of Jesus. I prayed over my son. I searched the
scriptures for direction. I decided God was telling me that loving my son was all he was
asking me to do. If God had wanted to change my son’s heart, he was big enough to do it
without my help. I have tried to act as someone’s Holy Spirit in the past, and I am a
complete failure at it. I have made the decision to leave being God to God. He never
asked me to try to do his job. He asked me to love his children.
My son is one of them, and I love him dearly. Our relationship is still as strong and
sweet as it was before I knew he was gay. He is still the same man he was; only now
there are no hidden secrets between us. I made the decision to let love win, and it has. I
cannot say I understand what the future will bring for my son, but I can trust him to
God’s care. God is faithful and I know he will guide my son just as he guides us all, with
love and grace.
My past is not always been a beautiful one. I made many, many mistakes. I now
realize that all those mistakes are part of who I am. I cannot fix my past. I cannot change
one moment, one mistake. I can say I am sorry, and I have, many times. I must live with
the results of my choices; I cannot go back and chose better. I can only go on from where
I am with an open heart. I can only trust God to keep me. I have trusted God to heal my
heart, and He has. I still believe every word in the Bible. I still believe God loves me. I
still believe he has a purpose for all he has allowed to happen to me. I feel he wants me to
share my life, so that others may be healed. Like Job of old, I will trust Him. Though he
slay me, yet will I trust him.
I have prayed long and hard over this book. The only thing I can say is that God seems
fit to use me, broken and flawed as I am. I do not understand that. I am the last one I
would pick to share God’s message. I thought I would rather crawl into a hole than tell all
of this. Yet God has whispered to my heart. I cannot hide. Maybe someone else is in need
of His love. My message is not about me. It is not about my success or failure in this life.
It is about love. It is about joy. It is about redemption. It is about a love and joy only
Christ can give us.
If you are in a place in your life where joy seems lost, if you feel your past will hold
you back from a future of happiness and love, I am reaching out to you. The darkness in
your life is about to lift. Take my hand. Trust me, you are about to walk into the light of
God’s love. Step with me into joy! Hugs, Barbara