About Me

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I have discovered that walking a very narrow path leads to broad places of peace, contentment, and provision. I work as a freelance consultant in the areas of cultural heritage, public history and museums, From 2009-2016, I was the executive director of the Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, (now called New France - the OTHER Colonial America, an eighteenth century French colonial historic site and National Historic Landmark.) My PhD research for the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) is in the Department of Museum Studies and looks at the interpretation of diversity at the American Historic House Museum. I also developed and facilitate an inspirational program for Christian grandparents, Gathering Grandparents.

Monday, April 16, 2018

"Fiction is Like a Spider's Web"

An acquaintance messaged me after reading a short promo about Pastor's Ex-Wife, asking if it was my story or just one I made up. Then she divulged that she had been married to an abusive church leader - had escaped, is happily remarried but that reading about my book made her tears flow. She said, "One never knows the pain hid under a smile." I wrote Pastor's Ex-Wife because too many women have pain hidden under their smiles and do not think there is anyone who might be safe enough to trust to walk back through the pain with them until it is healed.

Like Virginia Woolf wrote, “Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.” So, I will not answer explicitly if the story is mine. Terry Soldan shares aspects of my story, but like all believable characters, she is herself, incarnate on paper but not to be found in any earthly address. However, hers is a powerful voice that shouts #MeToo to any who find the curiosity and the courage to listen. 

Another friend criticized the story for ending unresolved. One thing is resolved. Terry faced her own past and was able to move forward in a way that turned years of abuse into a positive mission - to serve as the anonymous church critic - visiting and reporting on churches so that people could have a sense of whether they might fit in before going for the first time. Yes, her pain leaks into her reviews but her experience allows for an authentic critique of various common experiences across the spectrum of the American Protestant Church.

Will there be a sequel? I've toyed with writing one using letters to the anonymous church critic but I have some other stories I'd like to write first. Pastor's Ex-Wife is written to confront an issue that forces its victims into shame and conflict and to provide hope that there are ways of escape and that all that is asserted to be correct Christian behavior and beliefs is not necessarily so without watering down the love of God, His act to separate our sins as far from us as east is from west and the power of His resurrection. Like Terry Soldan, my life does not always conform to what people think I should do or not do and I have discovered that God does not respect anyone's boxes much less allow Himself to remain confined in one.

I would really like Pastor's Ex-Wife to be made into a movie.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Why I Write Fiction or Faith & Cotton Malone

Recently I encountered Steve Berry's books and have read the first three in the Cotton Malone series. I like them. They utilize fiction to explore emotional and current political themes which is what I did in Pastor's Ex-Wife and #whyIwritefiction anyway. I plan to work my way through the series because they are fun. However, I would love to engage with Berry on the topic of faith, which has a consistent role in his books. It seems that, for Berry, faith is a default position that people persist in without any objective, rational evidence or independent verification process. I would love for him to read and respond to my book Faith Wise Faith Ways (available on Amazon). It looks at my experiences of faith and faithlessness over more than forty years walking in active relationship with the personal God who created the universe and who is the best Rewarder. I think most people have a false definition of faith that matches Berry's assumptions. Just an opinion and a challenge.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Hopefully Not Gratuitous Writing Eight Weeks After a Stroke

Eight weeks ago tomorrow I had a hemorrhagic stroke - a brain bleed- from which I am improving daily. At first I could not wield either spoon or toothbrush. My handwriting was illegible. My speech was impaired - not finding words but articulating them and making my mouth work. Now you would be hard-pressed to notice that my face is a bit different with the right side of my mouth fairly in-congruent to my left when smiling or that I almost always drool slightly on the right. For an author/speaker like I am, this relatively minor stroke hit me in major ways. It has taken all these weeks to gain enough stamina to do a half day of very entry level clerical work before I must sleep again. My mind functions as well as always but it gets tired fast and it takes forever to read material that requires concentration because I keep having to take breaks. Driving is still too hard - not manipulating the car, I can do that! - maintaining the global awareness and concentration. It physically hurts my head. I can walk about half a mile before I am too tired to continue and before it is obvious that my right foot drags. I take a cane when I go for a walk. I'm not sure how long it will take for me to function at what used to be normal, or if I ever will, actually. But there are so many things to be grateful for - the stroke happened where I could be cared for instead of some random rest area between northern Vermont and southeastern Missouri - or France or England, for that matter. It was a minor stroke with comparatively few lingering impairments. I received final approval for my PhD two weeks prior to the stroke. I was invited to contribute a chapter to a peer reviewed academic book just two weeks ago - long enough into the recovery process to know I can fulfill the assignment. Thankfully, I have an assortment of books already written and formatted for sale on Amazon, both for kindle and in print. This gives the potential for income during the interim where I am challenged to have the energy to work and to look for a new position, hopefully in Lexington, Kentucky, thanks to my finished doctorate. So, there is a huge silver lining and the opportunity to focus on marketing these books -starting with the one I hope someday to see as a feature film, my novel about the #metoo incidence of sexual (and other) abuse in the context of the Protestant American church. So, once again I am paying close attention to this blog, to my www.teamlesley.com website, to Facebook, Twitter @LesleyBarker and LinkedIn. Hopefully, as I take time to reflect on this recovery process as it impacts my work and writing, you will not find it gratuitous or self-serving but receive it in the vein it is offered, reflection, analysis, musing, wondering and wandering....

By Lesley Barker

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

#WhyIwriteFiction


"Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion." - Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie

When I was challenged to write a book about abused pastor's wives by a friend who had escaped such a marriage, I felt it would be more effective to make it fiction. This has seemed to work. My friends who have read Pastor's Ex-Wife have consistently reported that the book has "opened" their hearts. It is a serious book about a timely and horrible issue made even more relevant by the #metoo movement.

I would love people to read and reflect back on this book. Does it open your heart? How? Does other fiction do that? When and why? Does Pastor's Ex-Wife ring true to you? Could you #metoo about something that happened at a church or by a member of the clergy? Do you think it crosses boundaries? Does it violate scripture or offend Christians or does it open an unhealed wound that has grown somewhat gangrene? Could this become a movie?

c. 2018
By Lesley Barker


Friday, June 02, 2017

What's Next?

This week marks the beginning of a new season in my life. I have finished writing the PhD dissertation. Thanks to Ron McDaniel, it will be ready to formally submit in August and to defend by November. My St. Louis house has been sold as of yesterday morning, at a significant loss, but to the person the Lord showed me was to be the next owner several years ago before he and his family became my tenants. I finished writing an orientation exhibit for the museum in Ste. Genevieve that will keep as priorities the kingdom values  that I instilled in the site while I was the director: honor, redemption & restoration, transformation and wisdom. The "finishing season" that the Lord had me in for the past 3+ years is over. To Him be the glory.

So what's next?

Since November I have been developing a program called Gathering Grandparents - see the page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Grandparentsgathering). It is a grassroots program (inspired by Ellen Boehm) that takes about 3 hours during which grandparents are better positioned to pray effectively for their grandchildren. Between now and when I have successfully defended the PhD dissertation, I believe that I will be traveling a lot, facilitating Grandparents Gatherings around the country and perhaps in some other countries. I am actively seeking to schedule Grandparents Gatherings between now and October so if you feel to host one, please let's talk about when and where it should be.

This interval will also be given to advancing the sale of the books I have written and continue to write. Obviously, it will be good to have the books available as I speak and do the Grandparents Gatherings. It is time to grow my own audience. Pastor's Ex-Wife, Called to Write? Don't Know How?, and Strategic Prayer Guide are each available now in paperback and in digital form for the Kindle on Amazon.com. I am proud of them all. They are all quite different. I'm working on two other books - Faith Wise, Faith Ways and, a book of poems - By Still Water - now. In addition, I plan to compile a new edition of the Eye Can Too! Read series as a single volume with a paperback edition as well. I have some other projects - fiction and nonfiction started. So let's watch how this happens. Or, as Josiah Cullen (Josiah's Fire by Tahni Cullen) says, "Picture it done."



Friday, February 03, 2017

Called to Write? Don't Know How? by Lesley Barker - New book launching!

DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL (116×184)It seems that God is assigning people to write books who have no writing experience. Perhaps this is because these people have been given spiritual understanding that the rest of us need now. Several people have approached me, recently, for advice with the statement, "God has called me to write a book but I don't know how." At first I envied the assignments, going to God in person to ask why He was telling other people to write books but not telling me which books to work on, called, as I have been for many years, to write. (Even in second grade, if asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to be a writer.) So, as is normal with God, He answered - the Scriptural answer would be: "Dummy, you have not (a book writing assignment) because you have not asked for one before now." Oh. And then He further answered, as He often does, with a picture. I saw myself pulling a scroll out of something I know to be mine to handle and presenting it to the woman who, most recently, asked me to help her. It became a short but practical booklet that explains the book-writing process using the three phases that Dorothy Sayers juxtaposed with the members of the Christian Trinity: "the book as thought", "the book as written", and "the book as read". The booklet is meant to be used during the writing process. It does not prescribe specific details about how to do anything. Rather, it goes step by step through the process, identifying the decisions and choices that need to be made and it includes frequent "Pauses to Pray and Reflect" so that the whole experience becomes a collaboration with that holiest muse, the Holy Spirit, Himself. Get it for your kindle e-reader here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7Y81H5. And, please, if you know anyone who is called to write a book but does not know how to do it, share this resource with them! Thanks.

By Lesley Barker

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New project

Before Thanksgiving I should be finished writing the first draft of a booklet to help people who feel called by God to write a specific book for a specific audience, now, but who have no experience writing. I plan for it to be between 30 and 50 pages and to be an e-book self-published on the Amazon kindle platform before Christmas. I am writing it in a colloquial format designed to be a dialog between myself, the reader and God. To achieve this I am punctuating the book with frequent pauses for prayer and reflection. If the booklet is successful, people who read it will make the kinds of decisions regarding the topic, audience, purpose, format and structure of the book that will produce encouragement, confidence and the staying power they need to get their book written. It will also provide tips about the craft of writing, revising, editing, proofreading as well as about producing and disseminating the finished book to the readers.

Are you such a person, called to write a book but don't know how? Do you know people who are called to write a specific book? I would like to build an audience for this book that can give it a boost when it launches so I am setting a goal to identify 100 people who will buy a copy within the first week that it is available. If you know people who have been called to write a book but don't know how to do it, please consider telling them about this project. Watch this blog or the Lesley Pendleton Barker Facebook PAGE for details about when the book launches on Amazon.

This booklet will be a great a resource to frame and accompany a unique workshop or retreat for new writers who have been called to write. If you would be interested in hosting or attending this kind of writing workshop or retreat, please let me know.